A clearly worded handbook for covering the business basics.


Improve Your Odds


A debut guide offers a systematic plan for entrepreneurs to improve their companies.

“No company ever becomes best in class by accident,” Yong repeats throughout his book, reiterating it especially when he’s underscoring the long odds against any new business venture succeeding. He sees the prevalent perception in the entrepreneurial world as running at sharp odds to the actual reality. “If you ask business owners whether or not they consider themselves leaders,” he writes, “there is a good chance that almost all of them will answer in the affirmative,” when in truth most of them are followers, consciously or unconsciously aping the success strategies of others rather than tailor-fitting strategies of their own. This volume, written in many short, easily digestible segments, is meant as a corrective to this kind of lemming mentality. It’s a step-by-step breakdown of basic business-world principles that most experienced hands will likely find elementary but which, Yong maintains, are overlooked far more frequently than they should be. These principles revolve around four “pillars”: the entrepreneur, ideas or innovations, employees, and customers. On the personal level, Yong argues that effective leadership remains a powerful antidote to the “disharmony” of faulty expectations. He stresses the power of corporate culture and innovation as well (“Remember that structure is a form of strategy”), but the strongest points of his book involve the externals: building and inspiring a band of workers and creating a loyal customer base. Entrepreneurs at all levels of experience are urged to liken the assembling of a core group of employees to recruiting for a championship sports team, and readers are reminded of something far too many businesses forget: customers are the one indispensable key to any company’s success. Yong’s prose can sometimes be stultifyingly droning (“To maximize your customer relationships, it is important to identify them and get to know who they are and why they are buying from you,” etc.), but what he lacks in subtlety, he makes up for in forcefulness.

A clearly worded handbook for covering the business basics.

Pub Date: May 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-71887-2

Page Count: 258

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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