A fast-paced account of a key business institution, its deeds and misdeeds.

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THE FIRM

THE STORY OF MCKINSEY AND ITS SECRET INFLUENCE ON AMERICAN BUSINESS

A history of the McKinsey consulting business and an evaluation of whether it is a “net increaser of ‘value’ or merely the most capable mercenary force in the corporate world.”

In a timely book, Fortune and New York Observer contributor McDonald (Last Man Standing: The Ascent of Jamie Dimon and JPMorgan Chase, 2010) probes the leading business consulting company in the country, considering McKinsey's role in the functioning of America’s corporations and their leadership. The author leaves no doubt about his own critical views as he discusses such questions as whether the firm's advice is worth what its customer pay. He discusses the extent to which it has been “preying on the insecurity of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ ” by feeding on the tendency of one organization to imitate another or simply providing corporate leadership with cover stories from the outside “disinterested expert” who recommends what corporations want to do anyway. McDonald asserts that McKinsey “made the bulk of its money helping its clients slash costs” and suggests the company may have been the impetus for more job losses than any entity in U.S. corporate history. Originally, business consulting provided a way for corporations to maneuver around antitrust laws and a vehicle for swapping intelligence and business practices. Marvin Bower, successor of the founder, made McKinsey into the force it became as top companies like General Motors were recruited as clients in the 1930s. Contracts to reorganize national security and defense during the Eisenhower administration gave the company new leverage and clients. McDonald discusses whether the advice the company gave during the 1990s to clients like Enron and Citibank may have contributed to subsequent economic crises. He also emphasizes the firm's defense that they only provide advice; others choose whether to implement it.

A fast-paced account of a key business institution, its deeds and misdeeds.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4391-9097-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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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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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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