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

READ REVIEW

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more