Thursday, March 25, 2010

Five Business Books You Should Read Right Now

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1. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

According to Pink (A Whole New Mind), everything we think we know about what motivates us is wrong. He pits the latest scientific discoveries about the mind against the outmoded wisdom that claims people can only be motivated by the hope of gain and the fear of loss. Pink cites a dizzying number of studies revealing that carrot and stick can actually significantly reduce the ability of workers to produce creative solutions to problems. What motivates us once our basic survival needs are met is the ability to grow and develop, to realize our fullest potential.

2. America, Welcome to the Poorhouse

When I first got this book I have to admit it was the picture and title on the cover that caught my original attention. I put it aside for about a month and the other day I had a flight with a small layover down to Houston, TX so I took this book along. The moment I started reading the introduction I got hooked -- and by the time I got to Houston about 3 hours later I had read all 190+ pages. Let me just say this -- by the time you get 5 pages in you will be angry; by the time you get all the way through the book you'll be mad as h-e-double hockey sticks! The author tells us the way things are and how we got here -- and let me tell you it isn't a pretty picture. She doesn't hold any punches back. This isn't an anti-Republican book, nor is it anti-Democrat. She puts the blame where it belongs. She traces the corruption of our political system that helped create the groundwork that let a lot of the financial mess happen in the first place. If you ever thought for one minute Senators care about your interests -- you got another think coming.

3. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

If you are going to write a guide to crafting sticky ideas, your book had better embody your principles. Authors Chip and Dan Heath succeed admirably. What I love about "Made to Stick" is that it is not merely entertaining (though it is), it provides practical, tangible strategies for creating sticky ideas. Once you understand these recommendations, you can boil them down to a set of touchstone points to evaluate your own work. This sets "Made to Stick" apart from the work of Malcolm Gladwell, whom the Heath brothers cite as an inspiration. I enjoyed Gladwell's books but could not necessarily apply his ideas to my own work.

4. This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly

The authors say it is "almost comical" that no governments reveal their true financial condition today, nor have they done so in the past. The lack of transparency and the shenanigans that go on behind the curtains contribute, of course, to the human suffering that ensues in crisis after crisis. One needs to find this book comical if one is not to slip into a permanent depression about the utter failure of national leaders to address shortcomings in national domestic and foreign economic policies in order to avoid systemic crises. No one has, from the 13th century onward, anywhere in the world.

5. Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

For a former baseball player Billy Beane is a rare bird as a baseball GM. He used real baseball statistics, the kind the sabermetricians use to make great trade and bring a strong team back to Oakland. He had a great advantage over other GMs because he took advantage of their ignorance and tendencies to rely on the somewhat biased eyes of basebll scouts. What Michael Lewis did with this book was to show the world of baseball how Billy Beane did it and now I am sure that other GMs like Brian Cashman at New York and Theo Epstein in Boston are catching on. I don't know how much Steve Phillips put into action when he was the Mets GM. His lack of great success there indicates that he [robably didn't follow it enough. But now as an ESPN commentator he definitely mentions it. This book si so good that the term moneyball now means the strategy that Billy Beane used. So the title of this book became a baseball term! This book is a must for managers, general managers and owners of professional baseball teams. It is also great for the fans and the fantasy baseball enthusiasts.

Link of the day - I will pay you $25, if you come up with a cool domain name for me.