A comprehensive and cogent exploration of financial principles.

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In this financial guide, an investment entrepreneur offers a framework for business wealth creation.

Volk began in banking and took three companies, two of which he co-founded, public. Correctly observing that “shareholder wealth creation is the single most important corporate financial performance metric,” he explores a model that helps entrepreneurs and business leaders learn how to produce that wealth. In what amounts to a polished financial textbook, the author provides historical context regarding monetary concepts as well as specifics for how to proceed, ultimately revealing a useful “Value Equation” that takes into account six key variables. Volk begins with the compelling tale of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, to illustrate the wealth creation possibilities of a business based on a winning idea. Volk employs contemporary business cases that dramatize how a strong model can overcome even the most stunning deficiencies. One captivating story, for example, is FUBU, a maker of branded clothing established in Daymond John’s home. Denied a bank loan 26 times, John and his mother used a house mortgage to fund the business. When his company had plenty of orders but was almost broke due to cash flow issues, John was finally able to secure financing, and 25 years later, he turned the operation into a $6 billion business. Compelling anecdotes such as FUBU’s add relevancy and liveliness to a book that otherwise concentrates on financial principles.

In pondering what makes a successful business model, Volk proposes that it basically involves “just Six Variables.” They are: “1. Sales 2. Business investment 3. Operating profit margin 4. Amount of interest costing proceeds (other people’s money) 5. Cost of other people’s money 6. Annual maintenance capital expense.” These variables are discussed in considerable detail in the remainder of the volume. With authority and clarity, the author walks readers through each of them, citing business cases as well as examples from his own experience and offering explanations in the lucid text. The variables are most often accompanied by financial formulas that are more engaging than one might imagine. For instance, “Mort’s Model,” which illustrates cost of capital versus cost of equity, was created by Mort Fleischer, Volk’s business partner; it humorously incorporates a Yiddish term that represents “Other People’s Money.” The author wisely converts the generalized formulas into specifics; he uses a restaurant case study throughout the book because, he says, this type of business model is relatively uncomplicated. The heart of the work is “The V-Formula,” the Value Equation developed by Volk in 1999. He deftly demonstrates the applicability and flexibility of this formula in numerous iterations, using the restaurant case study as well as the example of a real estate financing company he co-founded. The accompanying data tables make it easier to comprehend the formula in action. Volk also includes sound background material, providing a general discussion of how public companies function financially, differences in stock markets, and mergers and acquisitions, liberally referencing experts on these subjects. But this work is primarily an in-depth financial examination of business wealth creation.

A comprehensive and cogent exploration of financial principles.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-119-87564-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: June 19, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022



Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary.

By Wharton School professor Berger’s account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they’re grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation (“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), and you’re likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not “Can you help me?” but “Can you be a helper?” As Berger notes, there’s a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It’s the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: “Well, you could…” induces all concerned “to recognize that there might be other possibilities.” Berger’s counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn’t help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to “try talking to yourself in the third person (‘You can do it!’)” in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It’s intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as “I pay all bills…on time”), and it’s helpful to keep in mind that “the right words used at the right time can have immense power.”

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063204935

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023


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

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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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