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DISRUPTION GAMES

HOW TO THRIVE ON SERIAL FAILURE

An intriguing learn-from-failure investment manual with a hard-edged practical side.

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A business book on the nature of startup failure and success.

As this work begins, entrepreneur Undheim, who previously wrote Leadership From Below (2008), immediately tackles the age-old idea that success breeds success, citing a much broader and more flexible notion of what leads to success in venture capitalism and startups. In these pages, he seeks to differentiate between simple failure—in which nothing is advanced, no attitudes are changed, and nothing is learned—and something he calls “reflexive failure,” an entirely richer and more fruitful process. For failure to be instructive, Undheim writes, “it must have a deep cost in time and energy.” People shouldn’t seek out failure, of course, but they should seek risks, which can very often not work out as intended. The author urges readers to get a feel for the rules of disruption while always keeping in mind the potential downsides of both failure and success. Building a startup demands a lot of attention—“sometimes more [than] you have to give,” Undheim writes. “The risk is high. Is it truly worth risking your kids’ college savings? Your job? Your ability to pay the mortgage?” In clear, engaging prose, the author offers many specific examples; the sheer number of unsuccessful startups mentioned in these pages is, in its own strange way, curiously uplifting. There’s also plenty of insightful generalization, as when the author reminds readers, for instance, that the process of innovation isn’t simply mechanistic, because businesses are social systems governed by many interlocking forces. Undheim’s book is very clearly not for beginners, but experienced venture capitalists will find much of his outside-the-box thinking to be thought-provoking.

An intriguing learn-from-failure investment manual with a hard-edged practical side.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64764-728-5

Page Count: 226

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2020

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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