Book Review: Finding The Fork In The Road

March 24, 2011

Linda Finkle’s book “Finding the Fork in the Road: The Art of Maximizing the Potential of Business Partnerships,” is not one I would normally read, simply because I don’t have a specific interest in business partnerships. But Linda sent me a free copy of her book to review, along with a very nice handwritten note, and she followed that up with several nice, personal e-mails. That goes a long way with me, so I read the book and I’m happy to say I can recommend it if you are involved in or considering a partnership.

Linda focuses on the interpersonal aspects of having a partner in business. The book is very well written and includes 19 checklists that address all phases of the life cycle of a partnership. If you currently have a partner or are considering going into business with someone, you and your partner can work through these checklists together and prepare for all the major issues you are likely to encounter as you build your working relationship.

The book includes a lot of sound advice about communicating with your partner. I love this quote from Francis Garagnon that Linda includes in her book:

Between what I think I want to say, what I believe I am saying, what you believe you understood, and what you actually understood, there are at least nine possibilities for misunderstandings. (p. 92).

In her chapter on building a healthy relationship through communication, she shares Finkle’s Rules of Engagement (p. 96):

1. Remember you are adults, not children. Children are taught not to scream, accuse, throw things, call names, stomp out of the room, tattle, etc. Don’t be guilty of these things.

2. Follow the golden rule. Be respectful and treat others as you want to be treated.

3. Time out is OK. If emotions are high, its OK to agree to stop and come back to the discussion.

4. Listen more than talk. It really isn’t all about you.

5. WAIT. This stands for Why Am I Talking? Ask yourself whether you have something significant to say or you’re talking just to be heard.

6. Keep a clean sweatsock handy. If you can’t control yourself stuff the sweatsock in your mouth.

7. Clearly state your objective. Whether it’s a decision, to share information, ask for input, etc., lack of clarity on your part will result in assumptions by the other party.

8. Be honest, not brutal. Honesty is essential, brutality is not.

9. Care more about the outcome than being right. Who cares if you’re right? All that matters is a successful outcome.

The book has a lot of sage advice just like these rules of engagement. It’s a quick read, and even if you are not considering a partnership, you should find useful tips on how to get along with others at work.

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Comments (9)

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  1. Elizabeth Rickert says:


    Finkle’s WAIT concept is tremendous. I wish I had thought of it.

    I write trainings on how to do meeting facilitation, and one of the hardest things to get group leaders to do is to stay quiet.

    To me, good meeting facilitation is like architecture: it’s about using words to provide structure for a topic — to create a large conceptual space for people can explore and share realizations together. You frame it out, then leave the discovery to the group. Too much talking on the part of the facilitator puts up too many word-walls, restricting the view and impeding the journey.

    Likewise, really good discussion one-on-one is like inviting your partner to explore new spaces together. In either case, one-sidedness kills collaboration.

    “Why Am I Talking?” gives a wonderful reminder that in a good conversation, our silences, as well as our words, have a positive impact… and listening for cues about what the other person needs and wants is a huge part of winning in any negotiation.

    Bret, thanks for widening your reach with this book review. It shows how all these varied topics reall tap into the same principles of human behavior and communication. We can all benefit from the wider persepctive.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    It’s not one I would normally read, but the author made a very personal effort. I was impressed. I figure she practices what she preaches and I like that. Thanks, Beth. Bret

  2. Haipin Cua says:

    Hi Bret,

    Props to Ms. Finkle WAIT concept. I can’t say that I haven’t heard or seen her “rules of engagement” list in just about any “communication” book out there, but WAIT is brand new to me and i’d have to say that personally, I’d have to give that concept a shot. Thanks.

    I googled Linda Finkle and found several people with the same name. Do you have the link to her website or blog?


    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I think this is it, Haipin. Thanks! Bret

  3. Haipin Cua says:

    Thanks Bret. I’ll check her stuff out.

  4. What do you think of #8 on your list Bret? From being in your class you seem like a brutally honest person.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Marisela! I used to describe myself as brutally honest, but I think I got that encouragement from an old Richard Pryor movie 🙂 Now, I am surely very direct, but I try to be helpful, but sometimes the truth is not always comfortable. Thanks! Bret

  5. Bret.

    Thank you for the great review!

    I think that in regards of partnerships in general- in life or business- you must have good value alignments; generational as well as personal. Aligning those values gives a partnership much better changes to survive.

    — Jaana Eubanks

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Welcome, Jaana! This was a good book for relationships in general. As you point out, its hard to have a good relationship when values are not aligned. Thanks! Bret