An entertaining romp through corporate life that covers pithy truths in a sugar coating of funny, memorable anecdotes.

Looking Down On Leaders

A BIRD'S EYE VIEW OF BUSINESS AND BOSSES

An executive coach by trade, Martin, in his debut, takes a look at the lighter side of leadership.

As Martin explains in the first chapter, busy executives and business leaders don’t have time to plow through yet another dense academic tome about how to succeed as a coach or leader. Instead, Martin chooses to teach by storytelling. The book is a collection of strange-but-true tales collected during his years as an accountant, a manager and finally as an executive coach. While the names may have been changed to protect the guilty, the stories are, for the most part, too bizarre to be fictional. There’s Alfred Wang, the CFO who called to cancel a meeting because he’d just remembered he was getting married that day; Stefan the Spreadsheet King, who was bogging down a crucial labor negotiation, until the police arrived to arrest him for failing to pay alimony, car insurance and speeding fines; and Charlotte, whose passionate affair with a co-worker tanked her career when she emailed him a love letter and accidentally sent it to the entire company. Not meant merely as entertainment, the stories come packaged with a few words of wisdom for any executive. For example, Charlotte’s story emphasizes the importance of double checking every business email before hitting send. In Alfred’s case, he was a resident of Hong Kong, where marriage tends to include so many wedding ceremonies that forgetting one is a distinct possibility. Martin uses this anecdote as an example of what can happen when different cultures clash and there’s a lack of understanding on one or both sides. In each chapter, the parables provide a clear, and usually amusing, example of the business realities Martin is trying to impart. His nonlinear approach results in a book that can be picked up and put down and read in bits and pieces without losing any of the material’s benefits. As Martin puts it, “[R]eal leadership is much more of an art than a science....This book is just a gentle ramble through the buzzing, steamy global business jungle.”

An entertaining romp through corporate life that covers pithy truths in a sugar coating of funny, memorable anecdotes.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4905-4405-2

Page Count: 268

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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