A skillfully written, professionally designed guide that offers tips and strategies that should resonate with anyone in a...

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THE ORDERLY CONVERSATION

BUSINESS PRESENTATIONS REDEFINED

Two communication trainers attempt to redefine the concept of business presentations.

Given the way business is changing in an age of digital communications and social media, it was probably inevitable that someone would take a fresh look at live, in-person presentations. According to Ludwig and Owen-Boger, who professionally offer training in presentation skills, “much of what you have been taught about presenting has to be replaced.” The authors believe that people shouldn’t give speeches, but have conversations—“an exchange between a presenter and an audience.” They employ a nonthreatening method, and cleverly format the book to effectively immerse readers in their training techniques. Readers follow eight people, each with his or her own needs and objectives, as they go through a presentation training workshop. The authors describe the background of each participant (such as Terry, a new IT director who’s “[n]ervous with executive leadership,” or Luis, an entrepreneur who wants to “[p]roject a professional image”) and show how each learns new skills to alleviate his or her concerns. Along the way, readers are sure to identify with one or more of the participants, and relate to some of the challenges they face in their organizations. In addition to the book’s nice balance of explanation and demonstration, it has other novel features that make it stand out. For example, the authors use two different typefaces to identify themselves when they “speak,” and precede each chapter with key bullet points (much like presentation slides). The book uses graphics such as handwritten name cards, Post-it notes and flip charts to enhance the realism of the workshop environment, as well as helpful sidebars that address specific questions (such as, “How long should I pause?” and “How can I eliminate ‘ums’?”). The overall effect is both practical and involving.

A skillfully written, professionally designed guide that offers tips and strategies that should resonate with anyone in a business setting.

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0983870326

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Granville Circle Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2014

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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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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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