Readers approaching this book because they have a pressing decision may be annoyed by the Heaths’ lumbering pace, but for...

DECISIVE

HOW TO MAKE BETTER CHOICES IN LIFE AND WORK

A manual on how to become more rational when facing difficult decisions at work and in your personal life.

The brothers Heath (Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard, 2010, etc.) are a writing team with a couple of best-selling business titles under their belt. Chip, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Dan, a senior fellow at Duke’s Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, specialize in writing about how human behavior affects organizations. Their present collaboration examines a variety of decision-making processes in business and personal life—whom to hire, which job to take, which schools to apply to, whom to pursue a romantic relationship with—and argues that those processes matter more to the outcome than the decisions themselves. The Heaths argue that humans are hampered by four “enemies” of decision-making rooted in our unconscious behavior: narrow focus, confirmation bias, short-term emotion and overconfidence in the outcome. They propose a four-step model called WRAP (“Widen your options, Reality-test your assumptions, Attain distance before deciding, and Prepare to be wrong”) that they believe provides a template for good decision-making. All this is presented in the introductory chapter. The rest of the book fleshes out the Heaths’ thesis with dozens of examples of best practices—e.g., Sam Walton’s bus tour of competitors to decide how to speed customers through checkout lines; an Intel executive’s insight that enabled him to drop a safe product line and focus on a riskier one; a San Diego nonprofit’s struggle to decide to stick with their increasingly successful local mission or attempt a national one.

Readers approaching this book because they have a pressing decision may be annoyed by the Heaths’ lumbering pace, but for those who want to improve decision-making overall, the workshop style of the narrative should prove helpful.

Pub Date: March 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-307-95639-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown Business

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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BEATING THE STREET

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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