A must-read for managers who are trying to navigate today’s workplace.




In a business world where collaborative spaces frequently replace private offices, a productivity expert pleads for a balance between the two.

Though the author begins by stating that the purpose of her guide is to help harried workers regain control over their lives and jobs, she clearly aims her advice at the head office. In chapters such as “The ‘Human’ Part of Human Capital,” Thomas (Personal Productivity Secrets, 2012) addresses senior leadership directly. Using research that mines sources in businesses and academia, she makes a convincing case that managers in today’s economy must nurture employees physically and psychologically to coax the best job performance from them. She suggests, for instance, that workers have the opportunity to nap when tired, work outside the office when they want to, and experience nature—either by going outside or playing wildlife recordings at their desks. Lest CEOs think she wants to turn offices into playgrounds, Thomas repeatedly calls for moderation in their design. Some employees require quiet, private spaces to get things done, while others prefer to be surrounded by activity. The ideal office, she writes, combines several different settings along with the flexibility for employees to work remotely. With bold claims (“Managers who have the outdated bias that employees must be supervised in order to be productive should have a skill update”), she identifies the two biggest executive challenges today: customizing management style to suit individual workers’ needs and getting staff members the training they require to avoid distractions in the office. Thomas calls the latter “attention management” and explains that it doesn’t come naturally. Rather, both workers and managers must receive instruction on how to do it. With its succinct chapters and useful margin notes, the book is an ideal accompaniment for in-office training sessions. The end of each chapter offers helpful nuggets of information, such as “Takeaways You Can Tweet,” a fun and unusual aspect of this thorough work that acknowledges the importance of social media.

A must-read for managers who are trying to navigate today’s workplace.

Pub Date: Feb. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9980095-0-6

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Burget Ave Press

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2017

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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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