A thoughtful and enthusiastic high-concept assessment of how top companies succeed.



A look at how examples from politics can transform brand marketing.

In this debut business book, Bernard argues that the most successful companies, haven’t found success through traditional branding practices, but by treating their businesses like political campaigns. Companies such as Amazon, Tesla, and Uber—the “Transcenders” of the book’s subtitle—set own their agendas, according to this book’s framing, instead of responding only to competitors’ actions. They distill their core messages into concise, memorable slogans that help to turn customers into true believers. Bernard opens by analyzing several political campaigns, including those of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, to highlight elements of his framework, such as those mentioned above; in subsequent chapters, he uses these concepts to analyze the actions of booming companies. For example, he looks at how Starbucks presents itself as a “third place” that isn’t one’s home or work, and how skincare company Glossier went from covering makeup trends to setting them. The final chapter offers a few recommendations for readers looking to apply similar models to their own businesses. Bernard’s prose style, with its distracting abundance of capitalized terms (“As a Transcender leader, [Apple co-founder Steve] Jobs recognized that he needed two things: a winning Campaign Agenda and winning product candidates”) that may not appeal to all readers. However, like the companies he profiles, he knows how to make a convincing case, and he does a good job of presenting and supporting his arguments. The book is at its strongest when it highlights key elements of successful campaigns, as when Bernard recommends replacing the classic “elevator pitch” with something briefer that one can present when elevator doors are closing: “if you can only communicate four words to your customer on an elevator, it should be the Campaign Agenda, since it is far more important to Communicate the Agendathan it is to promote the brand.” The chapter offering tips to readers on applying the framework to their own businesses, however, is mostly quite general, focusing more on concepts than actionable steps.

A thoughtful and enthusiastic high-concept assessment of how top companies succeed.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5445-2232-6

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Lioncrest Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2022

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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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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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