Todd Ordal

Book Review: Never Kick a Cow Chip on a Hot Day

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership, Book Reviews

There are occasions when I receive requests to review books. As long as they are about leadership or organizational or personal development, I try to make time to do the reviews. Unless it’s a pre-published book, I decline the offer to have a copy sent to me and, instead, purchase my copy. I do read the books (I’m told some “reviewers” do not). I am guessing that about eighty percent of the time, I feel the investment of time and money was worth it, fifteen percent of the time, I either force myself to finish, or I abandon the book. Five percent of the time, I hit a real winner early in the game! Todd Ordal’s new book is one of those five percenters!


Mr. Ordal has put his evident leadership and execution experience into the design of this excellent book. He peppers each chapter with “Real Lesson:” paragraphs such as:

Todd Ordal
Real Lesson: The world is full of nice people, but only the kind ones are effective advisors and executives.
— Ordal, Todd (2015-12-01). Never Kick a Cow Chip on a Hot Day

Each chapter also has a Chapter Review, usually comprising a “Listen up,” “Quick Wins,” and “Graduate Work” paragraph. Here’s an example from the first chapter so that you get a feel for how helpful this is for the reader.

Chapter Review:

Listen Up: I’m hopeful that much of what you read above resonated with you, but it is imperative that you immediately pick one mantra to work on— yes, right now! Identify two or three activities to support that mantra and get them on your calendar. It only takes a few minutes to make a singular change. If you dedicate time to just one change a day, the annual return on your investment will be substantial.
Quick Wins: Share these mantras with three trusted colleagues who are in a position to observe you in your leadership role. Get their feedback on your performance level in these areas to see how you can improve on each one.
Graduate Work: Create your own annual personal development plan from these mantras. Make sure that you cement behavioral changes in one area before you tackle another one. By the end of the year, you— and others— will see significant improvement!
— Ordal, Todd (2015-12-01). Never Kick a Cow Chip on a Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want to Be (pp. 23-24). Morgan James Publishing. Kindle Edition.

You can see how helpful this is. Much to my frustration, I had several extended interruptions in reading this excellent book. To make sure I kept the continuity, I went back to the previously read chapters, read the review, and was able to pick up and continue my reading easily. These succinct and to-the-point summaries comprising the Real Lessons and Chapter Review will make this a go-to book when the reader wants to refresh her or his memory on a critical point.


Ordal’s extensive experience as a business leader is evident in the content of this book. His sense of humor is evident throughout, and he demonstrates that he takes his professional leadership seriously while he does not take himself too seriously. Contrary to the title and contrary to Jeffrey Pfeffer’s assertions, there is no “Leadership BS” in this book. The lessons, suggestions, and supporting arguments are well thought out and geared toward actual implementation. The goal is to achieve results.

I like to draw a hard line between strategy and execution (including planning) because the crafting of strategy is about thinking rather than planning and executing. However, if you cannot execute on those thoughts and those compelling ideas, then it is unlikely you will get anywhere!
— Ordal, Todd (2015-12-01). Never Kick a Cow Chip on a Hot Day

And I could not agree more. The difficulty with our Leadership Coaching, Leadership, and Personal Development “industry” is that we do not see things through to execution. Generally, as coaches or consultants, we tend to leave the performance to the client and do little by way of practical help in implementation. Ordal goes out of his way to help the reader avoid that mistake. Chapter four is dedicated to assisting executives in understanding the difference between dreams and reality in an efficient manner.

Holding the leader accountable: Chapter nine reminds us that “It’s Called Leading, Not Presiding—Leadership Comes With Obligations.” Ordal also reminds us several times throughout the book that successful executives are not lovely, but they are kind. In this chapter, he outlines our obligations: Procreate, Unchain and engage your people, Sharpen your saw, Make a profit, Think deeply, Create clarity from chaos, Create a safe and trusting environment.

I could go on, but I won’t because this review might wind up being longer than this excellent, concise book. I think I’ve given you a flavor of what to expect. If you are at all interested in being a leader or understanding what makes a good leader for you to follow, then this book is a must-read. It will become a “go-to” reference.

[Reformatted 9/2020 for our new website.]