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Own The Room: discover your signature voice to master your leadership presence

By Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins, 2013, Harvard Press, Boston, MA

Reviewed 20 Oct, 2016

This book is about more than “owning the room.” It’s about how to establish the right presence and subordinant/peer connection in your organization. It is especially valuable for people climbing the corporate ladder and how to think about both yourself and others for the benefit of the firm. A good read.

The Euro: How a common currency threatens the future of Europe

By Joseph E. Stiglitz, 2016, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, NY

Reviewed 22 Sep, 2016

After Brexit and the implications to both the European Union, the Euro and the global economy, I decided to see what this Nobel Prize winning author had to say about the future of the Euro. While just a bit technical, this book had some great insights into problems with the current system. He gets into considerable detail about how the Euro is set to lead to disaster for the individual countries and Europe as a whole. It gave some good insights as to why attempts to solve the problems of the failing countries like Greece are just going to make the problems worse and what needs to be done to get the EU working well again.

Leadership and Self-Deception: getting out of the box

By The Arbinger Institute, 2010 Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., Oakland, CA

Reviewed 22 Sep, 2016

This book is about how you can either inhibit or enhance your relationship with others by the way you think about those relationships. It is done in story form and quite interesting. I liked the way they bridged the gap between work, home, and personal relationships. A good read. Thanks to Kellie R. for the book.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended On It

By Chris Voss with Tahl Raz, 2016, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY

Reviewed 25 Aug, 2016

Since it was written by a top-notch ex-FBI negotiator, I couldn’t resist this book. I wasn’t disappointed. The author does a great job moving beyond the old, well established and somewhat creaky rules of negotiating. Instead, he presents lessons he learned and how he learned them over the years. It gets to important areas of how to pose questions, mirror conversations, and how to look for that elusive Black Swan. Well worth the read.

Success and Luck: Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy

By Robert H. Frank, 2016, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Reviewed 25 Aug, 2016

OK, you know that I like to read. This book came off a list of books that leading CEO’s are reading (Thank you, McKinsey). I’m glad I read it. Here’s the problem. While interesting, it isn’t a compelling book. I didn’t take any notes or action items from it. So my suggestion is that if you like reading about game theory and irrational decision making, go for it. But for the rest of us, go find something a bit more compelling.

The Distribution Trap: Keeping Your Innovations from Becoming Commodities

By Andrew R. Thomas and Timothy J. Wilkinson, 2010, ABC-CIO, LLC, Santa Barbara, CA

Reviewed 26 Jul, 2016

First let me apologize. This book is out of print, but it is available from used book sites like Alibris.com. It really makes a number of good points that make it worth the effort. The authors do a great job of pointing out the pitfalls of working with the big box stores like Walmart and Home Depot and the subsequent outsourcing that occurs to allegedly keep your costs down. I do wish they had covered some of the newer legal issues and control issues in distribution. If you find yourself going down this dangerous path, this is a must read.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

By Ashlee Vance, 2015 Harper Collins Publishing, New York, NY

Reviewed 26 Jul, 2016

For the first half of this book, I thought it was about another smart rich guy, but after the second half, I realized that it was about more, much more. The real measure of a leader is how they deal with adversity, and believe me, this guy has seen plenty. Whether he is the next coming of Steve Jobs is still up in the air, but he certainly has done a great job rewriting the books on car manufacturing and space travel. I’m sold….a very worthwhile read but caution: it’s going to make you want to buy a Tesla.

The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century

By George Friedman. 2010, Doubleday, New York, NY

Reviewed 23 Jun, 2016

This is a terrific book. The author has a good grasp of global political and economic issues and is able to weave that knowledge into valuable insights as to what we should be expecting in the future. I found the insights new and refreshing from the usual slop we hear on the news and in most newspapers. He covers everything from the rise of terrorism (don’t worry, it’s being dealt with) to the next phase development for China (they’re doing many of the wrong things). Highly recommended.

Monetizing Innovation: How Smart Companies Design the Product Around the Price

By Madhavan Ramanujam and Georg Tacke, 2016, Wiley, Hoboken, New Jersey

Reviewed 23 Jun, 2016

This is a well written book with plenty of sage advice throughout. There is a great discussion of pricing models. There is a bit too much of “we need to do this for you.” They also tried to take a page from Nagle’s Pricing Effects, and it didn’t work as well as Tom’s original work.

Smarter, Faster, Better: The secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

By Charles Duhigg, 2016, Random House, New York, NY

Reviewed 19 May, 2016

I really liked this book. It offers a clear path with how to do a better job thinking about things in business and life. The author has plenty of well discussed examples from playing poker and flying aircraft. They talk about “cognitive tunnels” that cause managers (and pilots, unfortunately) to get into trouble because they fail to have the right model in their head when needed. He talks about how desperation is not a bad thing and how it can actual improve the results of what you are doing. There are some good ideas about how to immerse people in data so that they really see what needs to be done and execute. Again, a very good read.

Friend & Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both

By Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer, 2015, Crown Publishing Group, New York, NY

Reviewed 19 May, 2016

This book does just what the title says. But it does more than that–much more. The discussion on hierarchal vs. flat systems was good. It gets down to problems that women have when they have to compete in business. But the best part was how and when to develop trust and how to fix it when you do things that cause distrust. A worthwhile read.

Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

By Michael Lewis, 2014, WW. Norton & Company, New York. NY

Reviewed 20 Apr, 2016

OK, it takes a lot to get me to read a “25th Anniversary Edition” that has no changes from the original except an epilogue. Well, after watching both the actual implosion and movie The Big Short by Lewis, I decided to give this one a try. It was worth it. If you want to know some of the antics and attitudes that led to the decline of Salomon Bros. and the entire brokerage industry, this book is a great, though somewhat disgusting, review of Lewis’ years at Salomon Bros. He is quite frank about the problems and his rise in the firm. I liked the read, though it was a bit dusty.

The Laws of Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life

By John Maeda, 2006, MIT Business Press, Cambridge, MA

Reviewed 18 Nov, 2015

Like its title, this book is a simple and quick read, and it will have some worthwhile insights for those of you in engineering and design. While the author has a fair number of examples that contribute to his point, in his desire for simplicity, he uses a few too many acronyms. A reasonable read but not as good as some of the other books on simplicity out there.

Hard Facts: Dangerous Half-Truths & Total Nonsense; Profiting from Evidence-Based Management

By Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert L. Sutton, 2006 Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA

Reviewed 18 Nov, 2015

Over the years, I’ve seen many executives make lousy decisions, some even bankrupting their companies in doing so. I’d like to say that if they had read this book, they might have done better, but I doubt it. This is a great book for open-minded people who want to do a better job running their organization. It’s about more than the title indicates, it’s about moving beyond bad decision-making processes and skills and empowering people to do a better job for their organizations. For those people who prefer to continue making bad decisions, don’t waste your time.

The New Emerging Market Multinationals: Four Strategies for Disrupting Markets and Building Brands

By Amitava Chattopadhyay and Rajeev Batra with Aysegul Ozsomer, 2012 Tata McGraw-Hill, New York, NY

Reviewed 24 Sep, 2015

This book outlines the specifics of four distinct strategies that Emerging Multinational Companies (EMNC’s) are using to expand globally. They had a great section on building customer insight competencies. It’s not about how you do it but about how you build the competency to keep doing it. Their work on evolving from a low- to high-value brand was interesting and provided plenty of examples. Those global companies that don’t believe they have to worry about EMNC’s as competitors will wish they had read this book. It’s a good one. That’s to my good friend Vishal Kumar for giving me a copy of this book.