From The Introduction
From Chapter 1
From Chapter 2
From Chapter 7
Kevin Cope is not only a successful executive & sought-after keynote speaker, he is also the author of Seeing the Big Picture, a #1 Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times bestseller. For over twenty-five years, Kevin has promoted the idea that the brightest minds in business consistently make smarter, faster, and more profitable decisions that drive clear and measurable results. In other words, they have strong business acumen.
Recognizing that business acumen is not only essential, but also lacking in many organizations, Kevin founded Acumen Learning in 2002, the leader in business acumen training. Kevin’s ideas and business models have been taught to some of the world’s most respected and successful companies – including 18 of the Fortune 50, reaching tens of thousands of participants in over 30 countries, with companies such as AT&T, Coca-Cola, Disney, GE, KPMG, Merck, Nissan, Rolls Royce, The Home Depot, Verizon, Wal-Mart, and many others.
In 2012, ISA, The Association of Learning Providers, recognized Acumen Learning as their Training Company of the Year. Not only has Kevin been featured as a top-rated speaker at various national conventions, including SHRM and ASTD, he has been a guest on NPR and Business Insanity Talk Radio in addition to appearing in Chief Executive Magazine and Industry Week articles.
Kevin’s experience in business development includes initiating several startups, working in Europe for 18 months, and being a top-leader in a Fortune 500 company. His specialty is teaching business people – no matter their role and no matter their experience – how to look at business through the lens of 5 Business Drivers and use the company’s financial statements to measure progress. Kevin believes that business people must identify goals and obtain results in these 5 Business Drivers in order to achieve the most important objective for any company – long-term, sustainable profitability in support of its mission.
"Cope's book will help all employees of an organization understand the essence of how business works, plain and simple."
"If you're interested in speaking the language of business more fluently, this book is your dictionary."
"We teach Cope's five business drivers to our leaders, regardless of the department they work for, to build the business acumen they need to improve our company's financial strength. Seeing the Big Picture, introduces these drivers and unveils a framework for thinking about business that will bring clarity to anyone looking to make a difference in their company's financial performance."
"Cope has discovered a drop-dead simple way of getting to the crux of business. His fiver-drivers business model is at the core of how my team and I think – and perform! Read this book, build your business acumen, and make and impact!"
"If you want to become a credible advisor within your company and with your customers, make reading this book a priority. From knowing the five business drivers to making sense of financial statements, Seeing the Big Picture will help you get a seat at the decision table."
"Many of us (myself included!) work hard to equip leaders and employees with the essentials for business vitality – no one has done so with more fidelity, clarity, and precision than Kevin Cope. The wonderfully accessible tools in this book are the first investment any leader must make to build a sustainably competitive enterprise. If it comes down to paying the rent or buying this book, let your landlord wait."
I strongly believe that the first job of any leader is to inspire trust. Whether that leader is a surgeon leading a team through an intricate medical procedure, an executive leading a team in implementing a strategy, or a quarterback leading a football team to a comeback victory—it’s trust in the leader that inspires others to willingly choose to follow.
So what inspires trust? Trust is the confidence that emerges when character and competence converge. If I were questioning whether or not I needed surgery, I wouldn’t trust a dishonest and self-serving surgeon—no matter how competent he or she might be. Nor would I trust a quarterback who’s unable to make plays or deliver results—even if he has impeccable character. But when I see the consistent demonstration of both character and competence, I do trust. And Kevin Cope, the author of this exceptional book, is a person who consistently demonstrates both—and is a person I trust
Kevin is a long-time friend and confidant. As such, he listens empathically and offers sound advice when I ask for it. He is also a business colleague who worked with me for several years in a time of unprecedented business growth, opportunity, and challenge. In that role, I have seen him time and again roll up his sleeves and find a way to get the job done superbly well. While I wouldn’t trust Kevin to quarterback a fourth quarter comeback (believe me, I’ve played flag football with him!), and I definitely wouldn’t trust him to perform surgery on me (he’s not a doctor), I absolutely do trust Kevin’s ideas on business, organizations, and people. He’s earned that trust through a demonstrated track record of character and competence—particularly in the area of business acumen.
In fact, it is because of my trust in Kevin in these areas that I strongly encouraged him to write this book. His “five drivers” model and his ideas concerning business are simply too good—too valuable, too insightful, too clear—to not share. Kevin has the gift of being able to take complex issues and make them simple. Never is this gift more needed than in the world of business acumen, particularly regarding how business works and how organizations make money and successfully grow. And when it comes to understanding how business acumen can transform an individual—and, in turn, an organization—there is no one I trust more than Kevin Cope.
But enough said about my friend Kevin; now let’s talk about you. You’re picking up this book because you likely work for a business or for some type of organization that needs to operate on sound business principles.
Now just because a person works for a business doesn’t mean he or she fully understands business. You and I both know plenty of bright business graduates who can’t quite seem to apply that knowledge in relevant ways that create value for the business. We’ve all run across colleagues and peers who have years of experience and know everything there is to know about their particular function—HR, operations, marketing, sales, R & D, or some other role—but who would rather have a root canal than to have to give an opinion or interpretation of the company’s latest financial results.
We’re also aware of those who think they know business when all they really know is the jargon of business—often number crunchers who, as Oscar Wilde put it, “know the price of everything but the value of nothing.” We likewise see countless passionate entrepreneurs who are certain they understand business, but start companies that fail to gain any traction and end up not even getting off the ground.
In short, just because a person is “in” business doesn’t mean that person “gets” business. That’s where this book comes in. It’s the best book I know to explain how business really works and how organizations make money. It’s actionable. It’s simple without being simplistic. And it’s written in an engaging and insightful style.
So if you’re that business grad or entrepreneur who can’t put your finger on why success seems to elude you . . . or that functional expert with years of experience who’s tired of being overlooked when your company presents new career opportunities . . . or that numbers person who’s wrestling with how you can become relevant to those who don’t look at the numbers in the same way you do . . . or—like me—an executive who’s looking for a quick reference field guide to help you focus your team on the simple fundamentals of business success . . . this book is for you.
Whatever your situation—and whether you’re just getting started in business, trying to get reenergized about your business, or actually running a business—I strongly encourage you to read Seeing the Big Picture and carefully consider what Kevin has to say. I am convinced that doing so will help you become a more competent businessperson. And if you combine that competence with strong character, you’ll inspire your peers, your team, your boss or your CEO, to trust your decisions. They’ll come to see you not only as a leader of people, but also as a leader of the business. And that’s what good business acumen is all about.