A likable and engagingly presented program for simplifying approaches to life.



A wide-ranging guide focuses on the basics of business and life.

A great number of business-oriented self-help books, Contento notes at the beginning of his own work, tend to aim advice at the small percentage of managers who have already figured out the fundamentals of corporate culture and advancement. He intends his own manual to address the great majority of people who perhaps haven’t grasped quite so much. His guide, he contends, is not only for managers who have become indifferent or burned out, but also for the unemployed adolescent dreaming of success and the recent business graduate looking for a job. The precepts he lays out for such readers are the opposite of the multilayered complexity that’s common in other business motivation books—he believes that the key to success in business and life is to “deliver simplicity.” He proceeds to apply this basic idea to many different practical aspects of working life, always keeping things very direct and straightforward. “Success is positive; failure is negative. Simplicity is positive; complexity is negative,” he writes in one such passage. “Your job is to be positive and to deliver simplicity. By telling your boss you ‘can’t’ do something, you’re introducing complexity into her life.” He gives in-depth coverage to subjects that many of his readers may mistakenly consider obvious or self-evident, things like productivity, mentoring, networking, and punctuality. Contento is a very engaging writer, and he rounds off each of his fast-paced chapters with convenient summaries. His decision to stir in ample stories from his own experiences adds a palpable sense of unguarded authenticity to what are, after all, reductively simple observations about personal responsibility. Readers need not be planning careers as entrepreneurs to find a great many worthwhile reminders in these pages.

A likable and engagingly presented program for simplifying approaches to life.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-228-84216-3

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Tellwell Talent

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2021

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“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 welcome contribution from a newcomer who provides both a different view and balance in addressing one of the country's...


A fresh, provocative analysis of the debate on education and employment.

Up-and-coming economist Moretti (Economics/Univ. of California, Berkeley) takes issue with the “[w]idespread misconception…that the problem of inequality in the United States is all about the gap between the top one percent and the remaining 99 percent.” The most important aspect of inequality today, he writes, is the widening gap between the 45 million workers with college degrees and the 80 million without—a difference he claims affects every area of peoples' lives. The college-educated part of the population underpins the growth of America's economy of innovation in life sciences, information technology, media and other areas of globally leading research work. Moretti studies the relationship among geographic concentration, innovation and workplace education levels to identify the direct and indirect benefits. He shows that this clustering favors the promotion of self-feeding processes of growth, directly affecting wage levels, both in the innovative industries as well as the sectors that service them. Indirect benefits also accrue from knowledge and other spillovers, which accompany clustering in innovation hubs. Moretti presents research-based evidence supporting his view that the public and private economic benefits of education and research are such that increased federal subsidies would more than pay for themselves. The author fears the development of geographic segregation and Balkanization along education lines if these issues of long-term economic benefits are left inadequately addressed.

A welcome contribution from a newcomer who provides both a different view and balance in addressing one of the country's more profound problems.

Pub Date: May 5, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-547-75011-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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