Terrie Williams, with Joe Cooney
$13.95 U.S./$18.95 CAN
by Robert H. Colson
a conversation with a retained search firm executive, he
told me about a very senior financial position he was trying
to fill. He made a point of saying that the person being
replaced was excellent technically but did not meet the
company’s requirements for “personal skills.”
How often have we heard that an accountant or finance person
is great technically, but does not interact well, or does
not network well, or does not quite measure up on management
skills are an old concern for accounting and finance professionals.
Although many have attempted to address them, there remains
a lot of room for improvement.
Personal Touch, by Terrie Williams, with Joe Cooney,
is an excellent primer on the basics of building and maintaining
business relationships. Williams presents material in a
series of anecdotes (some autobiographical) that are easy
to read and make their points very clearly. Some anecdotes
are interesting, others are provocative. Most involve well-known
individuals with whom Williams has worked or consulted.
The anecdotal style and the clarity of the presentation
make this book ideally suited for someone who wants to take
the first steps toward building business relationships.
It would also be an entertaining refresher course for more-experienced
individuals who might find the inspiration to adjust their
lives to spend some time on successful business relationship
does not advise us to do anything that most of cannot do
already. She offers no new techniques or earth-moving ideas,
but she is very adept at explaining how to succeed in basic
elements of building productive and successful business
relationships. The topics that she presents as fundamental
include the following:
The chapter “What Goes Around, Comes Around…”
is a good reminder that we really do reap what we sow.
You’ll appreciate the potential impact of what you
say and do much more after reading it.
Her advice on connecting with people in “Teri, Terry,
Terrie: What’s in a Name?” is fundamental
and important. I wish all those people I meet who immediately
start looking past my shoulder for someone more important
to talk with would read this chapter. Everyone should
resolve to follow her advice to devote full attention
to each individual.
Her short chapter on “The Art of Conversation”
will help you avoid being either a bore or a boor.
Following the few points in the short chapter on “Communication:
The Writes and Wrongs” would make anyone a more
effective speaker and writer. I liked her advice on how
to communicate private information in a meeting without
Williams’ chapter on “You Never Get a Second
Chance to Make a First Impression” zapped me back
to a time in high school when I heard the same mantra
from my mother. We have all heard it. I thought about
all the times my life took a certain course because of
a first impression made—sometimes good, rarely bad,
but frequently not very memorable.
than half of the book is devoted to 12 chapters dealing
with reputation. Williams covers basic material in this
section, including: hard work; why performance counts; and
the importance of honesty, persistence, and watching out
for others. This material is really about integrity and
competence, mixed with useful ideas about how to successfully
make these virtues the cornerstones of building business
relationships. These are time-honored ideas, and ones that
are as much needed today as in any other era.
addition to young business professionals trying to make
habits of the basic building blocks of business relationships
and more-experienced people looking for a motivational refresher,
The Personal Touch would also be suitable for discussion
groups or for college employment preparation seminars. Almost
anyone looking for a new position or a promotion would also
find something here that would be of use.
personal narrative style prompts self-examination and consideration
of how the reader can adopt or adapt Williams’ advice.
Without doubt, this book is intended as advice, aimed especially
at young people. For us older readers, however, the engaging
personality that filters through the pages reminds us that
we, too, could add the personal touch to someone in our
sphere of activities. Who knows? It might lead to something
H. Colson, PhD, CPA, is editor-in-chief of The CPA