The business she’s in is almost beside the point: Corcoran could be selling plumbing supplies, and the story would still fly.

USE WHAT YOU’VE GOT

AND OTHER BUSINESS LESSONS I LEARNED FROM MY MOM

A New York City real-estate bigwig ebulliently describes the creation and life of her business, pegging her account to anecdotally rich advice acquired at her mother's knee.

In the fierce, insular NYC property market, it takes a tough and smart customer to survive, let alone get ahead, and Corcoran is just such a creature. She grew up not poor, but mighty cramped, with nine siblings and one bathroom on their single floor in a three-family house in Edgewater, New Jersey. Corcoran explains that she quickly learned to have a sense of humor and a nimble pair of feet, while her mother doled out the homespun wisdom. All of this might simply be cute, except that Barbara Ann actually applied Mom’s horse sense to the running of her business; she draws parallels between the situations in which her mother offered the advice and those in which she made use of them at work. None of Mom’s counsel will sweep you off your feet: perception can create reality; maximize the positive and minimize the negative; be honest and fair; don't be afraid to bully the bully; organize yourself (“socks are always in the sock drawer”); “offer the bigger piece, and yours will taste even better.” What makes Corcoran different is the way she deploys them every day in a business better known for secrecy and backstabbing. No shrinking violet, though mercifully free of bluster, she has some dishy stories about her days in the market, especially regarding Donald Trump, “the King of the Least for the Most.” But readers will likely be more enamored of those flashbacks to her youth and the ways in which the Corcoran family made vibrant what could easily have ground them down. Mom takes the cake here, but you have to toast Barbara Ann for applying her dictums.

The business she’s in is almost beside the point: Corcoran could be selling plumbing supplies, and the story would still fly.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2003

ISBN: 1-59184-002-3

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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