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12/5/2005

Best Business Books of 2005

Filed under: — 11:08 pm

…according to strategy+business. The article is on their website and requires registration. Some of my favorites include The World is Flat, Everything Bad is Good For You, Winning, and All Marketers Are Liars. My resolution for 2005 was to read a book a month (textbooks excluded… not that it mattered). Looks like I’m at 7 books this year and less than a month to go. More book reviews, coming soon…

Link: strategy+business

11/26/2005

Corporate Canaries by Gary Sutton

Filed under: — 3:32 pm

I just finished a new book entitled Corporate Canaries: Avoid Business Disasters with a Coal Miner’s Secrets by Gary Sutton. I have to agree with the testimonials, especially the following: “If managers could read only one book, this should be it” (Bartley, WSJ).

Sutton is a veteran ‘turnaround expert’. He’s seen a number of mistakes and problems common to businesses these days. Gary presents five chapters all with the same theme. The chapters begin describing about the author’s grandfather’s experiences in the mining industry. From that story the reader is then presented with similar (modern business) examples and how to keep the canary from falling from its perch. I think I enjoyed this book so much because it provided solutions to problems that had been solved.

Corporate Canaries is a quick 140-page read with five key points: You Can’t Outgrow Losses, Debt’s a Killer, Fools Fly Blind, Any Decision Beats No Decision and finally Markets Grow and Markets Die. In other words, margin is important; you can’t win merely with mergers and sales increses. Debt is obviously great for growth but can (and often times does) kill a company. Fools Fly Blind refers to those companies which have lost sight of their mission. On top of that, controls are essential to one’s success. The last two chapters are self-explanatory and Sutton provides his own advice on what to do to avoid potential problems when faced with hard decisions.

I highly recommend this book. It was great to sit down for a few hours and just read it through. If not for the business lessons but the interesting stories about the mines…

11/19/2005

God’s Debris by Scott Adams

Filed under: — 10:02 pm

Here’s a great piece of work by Scott Adams, God’s Debris. From the introduction:

The target audience for God’s Debris is people who enjoy having their brains spun around inside their skulls. After a certain age most people are uncomfortable with new ideas. That certain age varies by person, but if you’re over fifty-five (mentally) you probably won’t enjoy this thought experiment. If you’re eighty going on thirty-five, you might like it. If you’re twenty-three, your odds of liking it are very good.

There’s a free download available.

Here’s a thought:

“The steering wheel and the engine are of equal importance.
It is a human impulse—composed of equal parts arrogance
and instinct—to believe we can rank everything in
our environment. Importance is not an intrinsic quality of
the universe. It exists only in our delusion-filled minds. I
can assure you that humans are not in any form or fashion
more important than rocks or steering wheels or engines.”

Update: I finished the book…

In fact I finished it the night I discovered it. I enjoyed the story and obviously couldn’t put it down. Last year I took an introduction to philosophy course (having taken one in high school as well) and every page seemed highly relevent and extremely interesting. In fact I went back and emailed the book to the instructor. I’ve emailied it to a number of friends, in fact. Scott Adams takes some of the deepest thoughts and somehow made them light and easy to read through. Well, for the most part. Some places bogged down but overall I enjoyed the characters’ points-of-view and modern-day applications. I’d recommend this to anyone, especially business geeks who primarily read business books (such as yours truly). God’s Debris is, put simply, a book that can transform you into one of those “well rounded” individuals I keep hearing about.

10/7/2005

Everyone is An Expert by Seth Godin

Filed under: — 11:59 am

Seth has posted the “almost” sequel to his last ebook (Who’s There) with an introduction to Squidoo and answers some fundamental questions like “Where are the experts?” and “Can I be one?”.

The book, Everyone is An Expert, introduces readers to a familiar scene: searching for information online. But, as Seth so perfectly puts it, searching should be called poking. You poke around websites, find information, even poke a few ads. Instead of always using a search engine such as Google, what if there were a “librarian you trusted”? This librarian has to be a person; someone you trust.

Seth talks about blogs and how they’re on a continuum. He raises an interesting question: are blogs useful only for regular readers? He argues no, not if we have a “nowblog” or a “lens”. A lens is a single page that highlights one person’s view of one tiny part of the web. This is significantly different from the dynamics of a blog; lenses point to content instead of holding it. Squidoo is “a tool for lensmasters”.

I’m particularly interested in building my own lenses. I’ve often felt theres so much I’d like to communicate but hardly anyone to communicate it to. Hopefully Seth’s new tool will solve that problem. Plus, you can (theoretically) make money doing it!

Sources: Seth’s Blog, Squidoo

10/6/2005

She Knows Best

Filed under: — 11:44 pm

I’m going out on a limb here and assuming a number of my readers are guys… with that said, I’ve stumbled upon a new blog over at b5.media (Jeremy, did I ever get a chance to congratulate you?)

Arieanna is the author of a new blog entitled She Knows Best and, well, she does… and when she doesn’t, she does some research.

The logo says ‘lifestyle tips for guys’ and one can never have too many tips. (Also see: CARGO).

Arieanna, I’m your newest, biggest fan.

9/26/2005

What’s In A Name?

Filed under: — 12:48 am

Freakonomics mentions the fact that ‘DeShawn Williams’ will not get a call back. Even if his resume is identical to ‘Jake Williams’… who will.

Seth makes an interesting point:

Standing out is not the same thing as being remarkable. Standing out can just as easily get you ostracized. I don’t think Purple is the same as just being different.

Anyway, Mr. Godin may be linkless but you can read more about the importance of names on page 168 of Freakonomics…

Update: J D Moore points out the fact that a number of HR departments now format resumes to remove this kind of discrimination. Good point.

9/8/2005

Read The World Is Flat by Friedman

Filed under: — 7:56 pm

Wow, I went through the first 30 pages yesterday at the pool and I feel like the next 443 pages won’t be a disappointment whatsoever:


I told Viek that I love hearing an Indian who used to head up GE’s CT business in Milwaukee but now runs Wipro’s consulting business in Silicon Valley tell me about his former French colleague who has moved to Bangalore to work for GE.

That is a flat world.

8/15/2005

The Big Moo

Filed under: — 4:22 pm

Seth Godin has gathered a number of co-authors (32 actually) to put together a new business book entitled The Big Moo.

Our goal is to sell a million copies before the end of the year and to raise millions for three worthy charities.

Personally, I’m a little skeptical about a new book at this point. Does one write a business book because they have a great new set of ideas? …or do they happen to arise when a it’s time for a new to be written? Don’t get me wrong, Seth et al have awesome intentions (and they’re all very smart people).. but I really wonder what each of these people can say about organizations becoming remarkable. I’m quite excited to see the collaboration of people like Gladwell and Mr. Peters. Frankly, I’d like to find out a bit more (before the end of October). Seth, is there any way I could take a look or get some more information on your book?

In any case, I’m excited to read it… their seconday goal is to “transform thousands of organizations–corporations, non-profits, community groups, whatever” by selling galleys of 100 (at $2 each) for people to hand out to others in their organization.

7/20/2005

The Personal MBA 40

Filed under: — 1:12 pm

Josh has put together his final list of reads for his “Personal MBA”. His proposal on ChangeThis has finally been accepted and I’m pretty excited for him.

I’m on my way over to personalmba.com to join the conversation…

6/30/2005

A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age by Dan Pink

Filed under: — 12:02 am

Again, I picked some great books for my vacation reads. Dan Pink (blog) starts off A Whole New Mind by introducing the reader to the brain. For those of you unaware, the left and right side are no where near equal. Pink argues that society is moving from the left side (logical) to the right (emotion). Surely its not that simple, but Dan certainly makes it easy to understand. His book, too, looks at society and how things are changing. We no longer live in a time of necessity. This becomes quite clear when our overwhelming number of choices end up bringing us to Target to purchase designer toiletbrushes. The brush is hardly a need, its a want. There are a number of metaphorial toiletbrushes filing the world around us.

Some main concepts Dan introduces us to are Asia, Automation, and Abundance and also the ideas of high-concept and high-touch. In a world being shaped by AAA (nothing to do with cars) it’s now time to focus and become high-concept and high-touch. In order to suceed, he argues, there are six senses one must master. Design. Story. Sympathy. Empathy. Play. Meaning. These senses echo Tom Peters and Seth Godin (Design and Story, respectively) which only reinforce the importance of this new ‘Conceptual Age’ which is upon us.

What’s interesting is Dan offers a ‘Portfolio’ at the end of each sense’s chapter which outline activities to sharpen that sense. For instance, Empathy points to a EQ test. The book not only serves as an interesting look at where society is headed but gives you a guidebook on how to prepare yourself. But, Dan argues, each of these senses are already innate and largely present in our lives. The point is, society is beginning to expect one to utalize them more widely.

With jobs being sent off to Asia are you sure you’re doing something that can’t be done cheaper or faster by a computer (or asian)? Are you enjoying life or just going through the motions? This is a very interesting business book that I could, again, recommend to just about anyone. I think students and parents should definitely read this book because it speaks volumes to you and what you might do about your (or your children’s) future.

6/29/2005

Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner

Filed under: — 11:40 pm

Vacationing on Lake Powell gave me plenty of time to read. One day on the houseboat I sat down and read Freakonomics. Well, it ended up being 2 or 3 sittings throughout the day… but the point is, it was amazingly hard to put down. Freakonomics, as the title suggests, is an exploration of some of the lesser known facts of life. Levitt is the economist who uses the simplest of tools (statistics/probability, incentives, etc) to analyze a number of disjoint subjects (sumo, real estate, parenting). Levitt’s co-author, Stepher Dubner, is a great writer who was just as equally important to the book. Together they produced an excellent read.

This book is easily my favorite. As mentioned, I couldn’t put it down. It’s hardly cohesive but each chapter rolls into the next with more insight and analysis that truly makes you think and wonder. The book poses a number of questions (and answers some, too) but also leaves the reader with a number of stories, histories and facts. With these it becomes easy to come up with your own questions and wonder what the implications are.

The most interesting, in my opinion, is the section on abortion. Certainly the most talked about as well. The facts are just too convenient to suggest anything else: legalized abortion reduced crime in the 1990’s. Doesn’t sound right? Seems slightly immoral? Definitely. Just one reason why I enjoyed this book.

I think the next best section is the detailed analysis of a gang (franchise?). I honestly thought that everything I needed to know about life was buried deep inside Grand Theft Auto. Boy was I wrong…

Simply put: these authors are a powerful combination. The book had some interesting history lessons, practical advice and profound analyses of society. I’d recommend this book to anyone.

6/8/2005

Read and Keep Up With the Future

Filed under: — 2:16 pm

800-CEO-READ Blog: Joel Barker has a new book coming out this month … what caught our attention was a list of publications at the end of book. These are periodicals you should be reading to keep up with what is coming next.

The lengthy list (who has time for 35 magazines a month!) is a good one at that. What I found interesting is between my dad, my brother and I, we’ve got the list pretty much covered. I guess if we sat down and had a few conversations a month about our recent reads we’d be pretty future-savvy…

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