Summary of Plain Talk

Lessons from a Business Maverick

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Plain Talk book summary
No hierarchy. Extra money for achievement. No exec perks. It turned around Nucor. The CEO says it will work for you.


9 Overall

10 Applicability

8 Innovation

9 Style


Perhaps the highest praise for this refreshing little memoir is this: if certain other captains of industry had read Ken Iverson’s book when it was published in 1998 and heeded its advice, investors would have been spared billions in losses and a slew of corporate scandals would have been averted. Iverson, head of steel maker Nucor Corporation, injects much-needed common sense into the often-bureaucratic, hierarchical world of corporate boardrooms and corner offices. This persuasive text, written in the sort of clear, muscular prose you’d expect from a steel man, will make you want to give up your executive parking space and embrace an egalitarian corporate structure. recommends this engaging work to managers who want to look at their jobs a new way.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What Nucor’s philosophy of "painsharing" is
  • How flattening your corporate hierarchy can yield big results
  • How to manage with common sense


Common Sense Management
Steel maker Nucor is a throwback to the United States' old economy, yet it's a company that has become almost revolutionary in American business simply by sticking to common sense values. Nucor offers a tangle of surprising contradictions. Although its 7,000 workers...
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About the Authors

Nucor Chairman Ken Iverson earned engineering degrees from Cornell and Purdue. He joined Nuclear Corp. of America in 1962. When it faced bankruptcy in 1965, the company’s board promoted him to president. The company, which changed its name to Nucor, became the nation’s third-largest steel maker. Iverson has served on the boards of Wal-Mart and Wachovia Corporation. Tom Varian is a principal at Strategic Communications Services in North Carolina.

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