A galvanizing amalgam of personal history, acquired business wisdom and mentorship.

SMART PEOPLE SHOULD BUILD THINGS

HOW TO RESTORE OUR CULTURE OF ACHIEVEMENT, BUILD A PATH FOR ENTREPRENEURS, AND CREATE NEW JOBS IN AMERICA

A small-business guidebook promoting entrepreneurialism over a corporate career.

Yang, the founder of Venture for America, a program steering new college graduates toward startup businesses, believes in the power of innovation and venture development. In his first book, which could be perceived as a thinly veiled promotional vehicle for his nonprofit organization, the author clearly advances the idea of new business-building rather than universities’ robotically funneling top grads toward traditional high-profile arenas like financial institutions, law firms or management consultancies. “I meet seniors in college all the time,” writes Yang, “and they have a very vague idea of what roles are available to them beyond the obvious ones and little sense of how the economy functions.” On the other hand, he writes, there are unlimited possibilities in startup businesses once candidates gain training and on-site experience. Yang generously shares his own personal journey: being raised “conscious of money,” spending uninspiring years in law school, then creating a succession of influential companies that made him a millionaire at age 34. His success story of finding fulfillment in the nonprofit sector after overcoming the harsh realities of student loan debt and fleeting job satisfaction forms the foundation of the book’s principles of entrepreneurial team building, dedication and earnest product development. Yang firmly believes initiatives like Venture for America stimulate new graduates to build startup businesses rather than becoming individual contributors in what is often a creativity-stifling corporate world environment. This enterprising outlook expands employment options and opportunities in nontraditional job sectors, as well. The author’s use of business statistics and bullet-pointed lists of his own lessons learned are enlightening and frequently surprising and moves much of his pro-entrepreneurship slant from conventional wisdom into fact-based guidance for the “young, hungry talent” he hopes will help rebuild the American economy.

A galvanizing amalgam of personal history, acquired business wisdom and mentorship.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-229204-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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