Sincere, valuable insights from a self-improving businessman.

The Road to Self

REFLECTIONS FROM A SOULFUL CEO

A property manager and developer shares his journey to a more enlightened view of business and life in this debut memoir.

In 1990, the 41-year-old Goodman, a managing partner of a Minnesota-based property management company that his father founded, was “alone and struggling in my relationships,” so he took a road trip to California “to find some answers and garner the peace I had been seeking.” This book is a distillation of the new perspectives he gained during that journey, and how he’s lived by them ever since. He organizes this book into 32 chapters that provide brief essays on various concepts, including “Trust the Universe,” “Heal Your Fear, Heal Your Anger,” and “Choose Social Responsibility.” Goodman also touches on some of his own key challenges, including being sexually abused by a housekeeper as a child and his difficulties finding a long-term romantic partner as an adult. He emphasizes the value of expressing emotions and developing good listening skills, outlining how he improved in these areas in order to improve his relationships, particularly with his father (now deceased) and his son. The author also shares several stories about his real estate business, including his championing of mind/body programs for residents and staff at his company’s senior living facilities. Goodman, now serving as chairman of his company, brings a charming humility to his narrative. For example, he explains how consultants had to tell him that he was “sending mixed messages” by looking over employees’ shoulders while also encouraging them to use their own judgment. He’s particularly touching on the topic of his father, expressing gratitude for his parent’s participation in therapy, which demonstrated “that change is possible at any age.” Other authors have certainly expressed similar views, including the epiphanies of a midlife California road trip, but this book offers a sweet, succinct discussion on how to live a better, happier life.

Sincere, valuable insights from a self-improving businessman.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9980001-0-7

Page Count: 152

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2015

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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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A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

THE ART OF SOLITUDE

A teacher and scholar of Buddhism offers a formally varied account of the available rewards of solitude.

“As Mother Ayahuasca takes me in her arms, I realize that last night I vomited up my attachment to Buddhism. In passing out, I died. In coming to, I was, so to speak, reborn. I no longer have to fight these battles, I repeat to myself. I am no longer a combatant in the dharma wars. It feels as if the course of my life has shifted onto another vector, like a train shunted off its familiar track onto a new trajectory.” Readers of Batchelor’s previous books (Secular Buddhism: Imagining the Dharma in an Uncertain World, 2017, etc.) will recognize in this passage the culmination of his decadeslong shift away from the religious commitments of Buddhism toward an ecumenical and homegrown philosophy of life. Writing in a variety of modes—memoir, history, collage, essay, biography, and meditation instruction—the author doesn’t argue for his approach to solitude as much as offer it for contemplation. Essentially, Batchelor implies that if you read what Buddha said here and what Montaigne said there, and if you consider something the author has noticed, and if you reflect on your own experience, you have the possibility to improve the quality of your life. For introspective readers, it’s easy to hear in this approach a direct response to Pascal’s claim that “all of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Batchelor wants to relieve us of this inability by offering his example of how to do just that. “Solitude is an art. Mental training is needed to refine and stabilize it,” he writes. “When you practice solitude, you dedicate yourself to the care of the soul.” Whatever a soul is, the author goes a long way toward soothing it.

A very welcome instance of philosophy that can help readers live a good life.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-25093-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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