Illuminating—and liberating—advice for small-business owners.


Live Free or DIY


An entrepreneur and efficiency expert discusses the importance of team-building, testing, time management, and more in this debut business startup guide.

For Crawford, a big trap that entrepreneurs fall into is doing everything themselves, bogging them down in tasks that could more effectively and efficiently be done by others. In this guide, he urges a focus on assembling a “small-business C-suite” of “five experts even the smallest of businesses can’t live without”—chief operating officer, chief legal officer, chief financial officer, chief human resources officer, and chief marketing officer—to free CEOs for the “laser focus” required to successfully launch and grow the products or services that they’re passionate about. He showcases the return on investment of this strategy by drawing on his own experiences launching shipping and legal businesses as well as other examples, including a detailed “Sue’s Bagels” startup scenario. He discusses how the use of technology (to automate and outsource business tasks, among other chores) gives small-business owners a level playing field and even an edge on their bigger competitors. He then segues into planning, recommending using the one-sheet Business Canvas Model, “as developed by theorist and author Alexander Osterwalder, with the help of 470 cocreators,” to determine value proposition, customer segments, and more. He emphasizes testing assumptions, with Sue’s Bagels, for example, transforming itself into an office-delivery service following the discovery that customers most valued convenience. Crawford covers issues requiring formal business documents (capital funding, incorporation, etc.) and concludes with his vision of time management, a lively Lego-type approach of prioritizing and grouping the “pieces” of one’s day. The author, an engaging and persuasive efficiency evangelist, offers excellent time- and money-saving tips to budding entrepreneurs. While he now has his own efficiency consulting business, and refers to it several times in this narrative, he is not overly self-promotional. Instead, he convincingly details the hidden costs, including work and life imbalances, that come from failing to leverage experts at the outset. While he touches on some topics (such as funding) too briefly at times, he always writes clearly and provides many helpful recaps along the way. Overall, this is an extremely valuable startup primer.

Illuminating—and liberating—advice for small-business owners.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-692-67123-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Redwood Digital Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 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 deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.


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

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