Sure to be required reading in business school—and for fans of Coulombe’s creation as well.

BECOMING TRADER JOE

HOW I DID BUSINESS MY WAY & STILL BEAT THE BIG GUYS

The founder of the popular grocery store chain delivers a memoir wrapped in a handbook for would-be entrepreneurs.

Coulombe (1930-2020) was a born wheeler-dealer, turning a 1958 partnership with Rexall Drugs in Los Angeles into a small grocery chain called Pronto Markets. The chain flourished for lack of competition, with market leader 7-Eleven effectively held back from the region until California laws changed and barriers to entry fell. Annual sales at Pronto and its successor, Trader Joe’s, “grew at a compound rate of 19 percent per year” from the founding until Coulombe left the company in 1988; he reckons sales and net worth growth to be about that today. Success in a business with historically tight margins came from an ability to pivot nimbly, drop products that didn’t work (including, in Southern California, bullets until the assassination of Robert Kennedy), and procure products wisely from suppliers with as few middlemen as possible. “The fundamental job of a retailer is to buy goods whole, cut them into pieces, and sell the pieces to the ultimate consumers,” he writes, going on to gloss each of those mandates. Unusually for the sector, Coulombe also offered high rates of pay, which kept turnover—a huge hidden cost—low. The author, who takes a gruffly scholarly approach to many business problems, keyed Trader Joe’s to demographic changes that recognized the anti–mass-market sentiments of the counterculture and the rise in international travel that led Americans to appreciate such things as high-quality coffee and wine. Any student of social trends, logistics, and supply chains will learn much from Coulombe’s pages and the stern dicta they contain, as, for example, when he offers this formula: “my preference is to have a few stores, as far apart as possible, and to make them as high-volume as possible.”

Sure to be required reading in business school—and for fans of Coulombe’s creation as well.

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4002-2543-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperCollins Leadership

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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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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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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