A worthy book about building closer relationships between management and frontline staff through casual mentoring.

The Casual Mentor

Hoppin argues that informal mentoring programs are far more effective than organized, human resources–mandated workplace systems.

Hoppin, a long-time proponent of informal mentoring, spent much of his career as a district sales manager for a major pharmaceutical company. During that time, he proposed and helped organize a casual mentoring program that he felt had an immensely positive impact on both mentees and mentors. After retiring, he decided to share his arguments for informal mentoring through this debut book. He begins with a chapter about his experiences in childhood, then touches on how he benefited from being a casual mentee throughout his career. Hoppin offers his arguments in favor of informal mentorship, citing other publications to back up his claims. He then discusses how being a casual mentor himself had a significant impact on his direct reports and touches on how he helped to create an informal mentorship program for his company. Hoppin also discusses how such mentoring can help develop a line of succession. He wraps up with two substantial appendices: Appendix A is an example of a district coordinator program plan, and Appendix B discusses the interpersonal skills required for selling successfully. Hoppin sprinkles “best of” lists throughout the book, offering summaries of the most critical aspects of the subject under discussion, which help the reader focus on these important points. While heavy on reminiscences and light on more general guidelines (and game plans) for using informal mentoring in other settings, the book provides some cogent arguments for the value of such programs. The author’s discussion of interpersonal skills in the second appendix is rather off-topic but nonetheless delivers useful information for anyone in a sales-related position.

A worthy book about building closer relationships between management and frontline staff through casual mentoring.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4917-8458-7

Page Count: 138

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2016

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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. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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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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