Uplifting reading about the little company that could.



A journalist and business consultant’s story of how a small Vermont-based company showed a money-hungry corporate world what could happen when employees “brought their consciences to work with them.”

When Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield started Ben & Jerry’s in 1978, their goals were simply to “make enough money to live on while they enjoyed themselves.” Their hard work and deliciously innovative ideas brought them national notice just a few years later. Despite their ambition to create “the best ice cream in the world,” they were reluctant to grow Ben & Jerry’s beyond Vermont since both realized that big businesses were “harmful to the environment [and] to…employees.” So they worked on ways that would allow their company to pursue expansion alongside objectives that benefited workers, communities and the planet. The end result was the development of a radical business vision called “linked prosperity.” As Ben & Jerry’s prospered, so would everyone and everything that had contributed to its success. The company worked with product suppliers dedicated to helping marginalized groups or the manufacture of eco-friendly products. And it aligned itself with progressive social movements like the anti-nuclear campaign and with nonprofit human welfare organizations like the Children’s Defense. However, the larger Ben & Jerry’s became, the harder it struggled against internal and external pressures to focus exclusively on profit. Multinational giant Unilever eventually bought the company out in 2000. Nevertheless, the deal it struck with Unilever gave it enough control over its mission that it was able to keep up the fight to remain socially responsible. Rich in details about the colorful yet committed individuals who built Ben & Jerry’s, Edmondson’s book shows what is possible when people dream together with integrity and purpose.

Uplifting reading about the little company that could.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60994-813-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Berrett-Koehler

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

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


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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More uncommonly sensible investment guidance from a master of the game. Drawing on his experience at Fidelity's Magellan Fund, a high- profile vehicle he quit at age 46 in 1990 after a spectacularly successful 13-year tenure as managing director, Lynch (One Up on Wall Street, 1988) makes a strong case for common stocks over bonds, CDs, or other forms of debt. In breezy, anecdotal fashion, the author also encourages individuals to go it alone in the market rather than to bank on money managers whose performance seldom justifies their generous compensation. With the caveat that there's as much art as science to picking issues with upside potential, Lynch commends legwork and observation. ``Spending more time at the mall,'' he argues, invariably is a better way to unearth appreciation candidates than relying on technical, timing, or other costly divining services prized by professionals. The author provides detailed briefings on how he researches industries, special situations, and mutual funds. Particularly instructive are his candid discussions of where he went wrong as well as right in his search for undervalued securities. Throughout the genial text, Lynch offers wry, on-target advisories under the rubric of ``Peter's Principles.'' Commenting on the profits that have accrued to those acquiring shares in enterprises privatized by the British government, he notes: ``Whatever the Queen is selling, buy it.'' In praise of corporate parsimony, the author suggests that, ``all else being equal, invest in the company with the fewest photos in the annual report.'' Another bull's-eye for a consummate pro, with appeal for market veterans and rookies alike. (Charts and tabular material— not seen.)

Pub Date: March 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-75915-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

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