Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Apolo Ohno's New Book

Just finished Apolo's new book, Zero Regrets (Atria Books, 2010), and was surprised by how easy the book read because it did start out a bit slow and cumbersome. As Apolo continued to share some of his personal life, his closeness to his father, and how he feels about his absent mother, the book just got better and better.

Apolo gives his readers insights into his own thought processes for staying fit, getting ready for competition, healing and sometimes rebuilding after competitions, and what his thoughts were during some of his best Olympic moments. He also discusses how inexperienced he was with his skating equipment when he first began and how that spurred him to learn more and do more on the ice.

He includes a motivation page before each chapter where he provides motivational messages and more insights into his own psyche. One example is the page for Chapter 12. He writes about maturity, "When you're  younger, you just hammer. You're naive, in a sense. You don't know. You don't know what it's like to fail. You have no Olympic medals. You have nothing to lose."

His Dancing With the Stars fans will be glad to know he includes an entire chapter on his experiences on the dance stage. Apolo ends the book with, "It's the yin and the yang. It's infinity. The possibilities are endless. In pursuit of zero regrets."

It's a good read and a good look at one of the most well known Olympic champions of the past few years.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Zero Regrets by Apolo Anton Ohno

I'm in the middle of reading Zero Regrets (Simon and Schuster, 2010) by Apolo Anton Ohno. The writing style is a bit different than many books but it does read like Apolo Ohno talks when he is doing media interviews. Ohno goes into his background including a few passages about his absent mother and how influential his father has been in his life.

He also writes about his troubling start in speed skating and how much he was afraid to fail plus he details some of his teenage years hanging out with some not so savory and counterproductive street kids. So far, there are some really nice phrases about always doing things in one's life that will always produce zero regrets. Ohno talks about doing whatever one selects to do with their live by giving it 100 percent.

So far the book is really good and Ohno really is motivating. Hopefully the remainder of the book will be just as good.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Get-It-Done Guy's ebook Review

I've only read the first two chapters of the 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More written by Stever Robbins (downloadable at http://www.getitdoneguysnews.com/) and if the remaining chapters are close to the quality of the first two chapters,  this will be a must have business book.

Chapter or Step 1 is on living and working on purpose. Finding a purpose for one's personal and professional life by developing a Life Map is a great, workable idea to get people to sit down and map out a mission, vision, goals, and steps to get where they want to be in life. I've read other books that suggest that you sit down and write our missions and visions and for some people that is too much like work and too confining. There are just some people who donot want to and cannot write.

Creating a visual life map is a great way to get it all out in the open and start working towards the main goal. Robbins also provides some good tips on identifying one's top goals both personal and professional.

Chapter 2 is about overcoming procrastination. As someone who has spent 32 years married to someone who procrastinates procrastinating, this chapter gave new and good tips on overcoming this much maligned condition.  Turn tasks into habits. Break down tasks into chunks and using a life map to keep moving, are just really great ideas that can easily be followed without adding a bunch more work and time to one's life.

The other 7 steps include:

Step 3 Conquer your technology
Step 4 Cultivate focus
Step 5 Stay organized both physically and mentally
Step 6 Don't waste time
Step 7 Optimize
Step 8 Build stronger relationships
Step 9 Leverage

Check out the first two chapters of the book and take a look at the web site, both are written to read quickly and all provide some help for those that are drowning in work and can't remember why they are working so long and so hard.

Friday, October 01, 2010

An Article by Rebecca Costa - Author of Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction

Superman Versus Supermemes

By Rebecca Costa,

Author of The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction

In the new film Waiting for Superman -- which chronicles the collapse of the American educational system -- a forlorn mother waits in a gymnasium with thousands of other parents for her lottery number to be called. The drawing will determine which students will attend a good school, and which will be relegated to a failing institution. The mother explains the gravity of the situation: "It's the difference between whether my son goes to college, or goes to prison. . ."

How did we allow our educational systems to fall so far, so fast? When did the welfare of our children go the same way as healthcare, the safety of our food and the callous obliteration of our environment? How did we allow ourselves to become obese, dependent on antidepressants, and willing to wage inhumane wars over oil, land and beliefs?

Something is happening. Everyone knows we are leaving a worse world behind for our children.

But up to this point, we have been looking at these problems as separate issues. But would it surprise you to know that there is a dangerous commonality emerging -- an intricate interconnectedness between our seemingly intractable problems?

In The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction, I describe a context, a framework, an explanation, for our inability to address our greatest threats by going straight to the source of the problem. The book points to the fact that our most challenging problems have one frightening characteristic in common: they are so complex, so difficult to get our arms around, they may be beyond the capabilities the human brain has evolved to this point. After all, there is a limit to what our brains have physically evolved to fix.

In the book, I explain that complexity is a condition where there are many more wrong choices than right ones. So over time, we become "incompetent pickers" who can't determine which solutions will work.

When complexity makes it impossible to obtain facts and proceed on a rational basis, humans have a history of conveniently substituting facts with unproven beliefs. This substitution preceded the collapse of every great civilization before our time: it happened to the Mayans, the Romans, the Khmer, and the Egyptians. The powerful, pervasive beliefs and behaviors we adopt in lieu of facts are called supermemes (named after Richard Dawkin's 1976 discovery of memes.)

Which supermemes currently prevent progress in education? The Watchman's Rattle describes five universal behaviors that inhibit solving the problem once and for all:

1) Irrational Opposition: This occurs when people are more comfortable rejecting remedies rather than advocating solutions. If every solution which is proposed can be found to be flawed then none will be adopted. Simply put, across-the-board opposition results in gridlock.

2) Counterfeit Correlation: When we hastily determine the relationship between a cause and effect(s), this leads to an incorrect diagnosis our problems. We are left to pursue one ineffective remedy after another, all the while wasting precious time and resources as the problem continues to grow in magnitude. In the case of education, we have sited everything from outdated textbooks, the eradication of physical education, poor school lunch programs and low teacher salaries as the culprit -- but how many of these quick-fixes are based on valid scientific studies?

3) Personalization of Blame: As soon as we hold each individual accountable for debt, obesity, and depression, and other such issues, society is off the hook. Blame the parents for the fact that they aren't more involved in their children's education and the systemic problem doesn't have to be addressed.

4) Silo Thinking: In tackling complex, multi-dimensional problems, it is crucial that nations, organizations, and individuals work in tandem. Adopting a territorial mindset greatly impedes progress. In the case of education, why aren't neuroscientists who understand how the human brain learns part of the discussion? Does it make sense to fix education without first understanding how the brain loads content, solves problems and retains information?

5) Extreme Economics: The financial bottom line becomes the unilateral litmus test in determining which solutions are valid. Economic considerations drive decisions for everything, from hospital care, immigration policy, to whether each child needs a locker, computer or physical education. We begin to speak in economic terms such as "investing in our children's education." Really? Since when was education an investment? It was supposed to be a "right."

It must be obvious by now that reforming the education system is a complex problem that cannot be solved by simply raising teacher salaries, increasing parental participation, or providing schools with the latest technology. Quick fixes don't make a dent when it comes to highly complex problems. The solution to complexity is to launch a wide variety of rational, progressive and innovative solutions in tandem. Some will succeed, some will fail, but we avoid the problem of trying to pick the winners from the losers when we no longer have the capability to. If we launch solutions aimed at overcoming all five of the supermemes that stand in the way of progress, there will no longer be any need for worried parents to sit in a gymnasium and hope they get lucky.

When it comes to education, here's the bottom line: In the battle between Superman and the Supermemes, who comes out on top?

We decide.

And the time to decide is now.

© 2010 Rebecca Costa, author of The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction.

Author Bio

Rebecca Costa is a sociobiologist whose unique expertise is to spot and explain emerging trends in relationship to human evolution, global markets, and new technologies. Costa joins distinguished business leaders, Nobel Laureates, scientists, innovators and Pulitzer Prize -- winning authors from around the world to address growing concerns over dangerous threats such as global warming, pandemic viruses, terrorism, nuclear proliferation and failing public education. A popular speaker at thought-leader and technology conferences as well as major universities, Costa is the former CEO of Silicon Valley start-up Dazai Advertising, Inc. Costa's clients included technology giants such as Apple Computer, Hewlett- Packard, Oracle Corporation, 3M, Amdahl, Seibel Systems and General Electric. She graduated from the University of California with a BA in Social Sciences. Rebecca Costa lives on the central coast of California.

For more information please visit http://www.rebeccacosta.com/ and follow the author on Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Twenty Years of Discovering New Writers

I stopped in Barnes&Noble to do one of my favorite activities, browsing books this weekend. Before leaving the store, I have to also look through the hundreds of different magazines lining the racks. In all of the years that I have been shopping at B&W, I have never had a chance to review their Discover Great New Writers program.

There was a nice booklet in the store explaining how B&W seeks out the best new writing talents by asking a select  group of booksellers to handpick exciting titles by even more exciting new writers. This particular booklet said the program is in its 20th year. The centerfold listed just a few of the writes selected over they years, and oh what a list.

Alice Sebold, Patricia Cornwell, Cormac McCarthy, Ian McEwan, and Anita Shreve are just a few of the names included on the list. For this year's list of new writers, B&W had the following among others reviewed in the booklet:

  • The Blind Contessa's New Machine: A Novel by Carey Wallace
  • Stiltsville by Susanna Danil
  • Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers
  • Every Man in this Village is a Liar by Megan K. Stack
  • Mentor: A Memoir by Tom Grimes
Although none of the books were business related, it helps to read new writers for a new perspective and it is great just to read for fun sometimes. Check the program booklet out the next time you are in Barnes and Noble.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Latest Best Selling Business Book List from Amazon

The latest list of bestselling business books from amazon.com has many familiar titles on it as well as many new books. It pays to visit the bestsellers list online as well as in the many printed business publications such as The Wall Street Journal or Business Week.

Take a look at the list and let us know your favorites and why. Enjoy your reading. Here is the link.


Monday, July 05, 2010

The Value of Reading Business Books

I am currently reviewing a book called Wrong Why Experts Keep Failing Us-and How to Know When Not to Trust Them (Little, Brown and Company, June 2010) by David H. Freeman. You can see a full review later today at suite101.com.

Freeman's premise is that we consumers cannot trust any scientific finding or believe anyone that calls him or herself an expert in any type of profession. He also mentions that he believes that all of the business books with all of the many theories on improvements for business, procedural, and personal, are overburdening us and may be slowing down production versus helping.

He also mentions that some of the business book authors may not be the experts that readers are led to believe. His thoughts have some basis when considering the quantity of business theories represented and if the managers reading those books try to implement every theory within the company.

Professionals reading business books for personal and professional can benefit the most from the readings by keeping an open mind to all theories and then selecting only those theories that can most contribute to  their individual needs. I have been reviewing business books off and on for over 20 years and I agree that with so many different takes on communication, leadership, management, Lean, and the list goes on, that trying to implement all or parts of all them can over complicate versus supply solutions.

Reading business books of any type from any author is an activity that I recommend to any professional. One does not have to feel deficient if they decide a particular theory doesn't have the right fit and they decide to pass on it. Or, readers can benefit by taking bits and parts of multiple theories to make a plan that feels right.

Freedman also mentions the overuse of case studies. I do agree with him on this point. So many business books are filled with case study after case study that it gets difficult to keep track of what worked when, how and for who. Case studies do have their value when used in moderation.

Regardless, of whether author's are or are not the experts they claim, or whether their theories are taken from other theories and then modified, it is vital that professions keep reading as part of their professional development. Take the experts' thoughts and writings for what they are worth and use the advice that seems to fit the situation.

Freedman's book is going to create a few waves in the worlds of science, business, and journalism. He himself uses case studies to bring home his point to dispute expert findings.  After readers take the time to read his book, he asks at the end if the readers believes is an expert enough to believe his theories of if they think the book is wrong.

It is a thought provoking read. Just keep an open mind as you make your way through it.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Posting to FaceBook Account

I have just linked my whatswritetoday business book review blog to my FaceBook account. Hopefully my new blog posts will start posting to all of my friends and associates on FaceBook. Looking forwarding to sharing the many wonderful and helpful books about business, marketing, leadership, and life in general with all of you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Learn Competitive Business Tactics from Business Books

With the economic recovery still struggling to take hold, many businesses continue to cut costs where they can, especially in the training budgets. Many companies cut the professional development for their employees while trying to save money during slow times. One way to help employees stay current with new trends is to suggest or provide an arsenal or at least a small library of business books.

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, an online shoe retailer, is releasing his new book later this month, tells readers that Zappos was shaped by good, relevant books. He encourages his employees to read for both professional and personal growth.

There are many new business books that can help companies get back into the competitive business game including Hsieh's new book Delivering Happiness A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. Other new books on topics such as change, why one's work should matter, motivation, management, open leadership, and Sustainable Excellence by Colin Dickerman due out in October, 2010.

So if you are looking for an effective, low cost method of enhancing employee's development, take a drive to the local bookstore or the local library and start looking the business sections.  

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Author of New Book for Women Entrepreneurs Shares Six Tips Below

Six Tips for Women Entrepreneurs

By Peri H. Pakroo J.D.,

Author of The Women's Small Business Start-Up Kit: A Step-by-Step Legal Guide

More women than ever before are grabbing the reins and starting their own businesses. The number of women-owned small businesses is growing approximately twice as quickly as the national average for all start-ups.

For entrepreneurs of all stripes -- women and men included -- the pre-start-up phase is typically characterized by a flood of questions about what exactly it takes to make it in business. Are there different answers to these questions for men versus women? Not really. Every business needs to be based on a solid idea, aimed at a profitable market or niche, have solid systems in place, and market itself effectively. And of course, the legal and bureaucratic rules facing women entrepreneurs are exactly the same as those facing men.
But as many women business owners will tell you, the road to success for women often involves its own unique set of curves. Surveys of women business owners show that women's business concerns tend to skew towards issues such as finding work-life balance, start-up (or expansion) financing, and marketing. The following tips address some of the issues and concerns that are most commonly faced by women entrepreneurs.

1. Start a business that works for you and fits with your personal life. There are no rules as to what a "real" business looks like. For some businesspeople, success might mean an international operation with hundreds of employees and annual revenues in the tens of millions. For others, a small consulting firm or artisan business that pays a healthy salary and allows generous personal freedom might be considered the pinnacle of success. The key is to take the time early in the planning process to consider this question and decide for yourself what your ideal vision is for your business and your personal life.
2. Don't sweat the bureaucracy. A lot of would-be entrepreneurs, women and men alike, find themselves stuck on the verge of taking the leap into starting a business, but confused about how to tackle the legal rules of getting started. This hang-up is always grounded more in fear than reality; the truth is that clearing the bureaucratic hurdles isn't usually big deal.

You can usually start a sole proprietorship (the legal term for a one-owner business) or a partnership (a business with more than one owner) by registering with just one government office. And for business owners who want protection from personal liability for business debts -- often referred to by the legal jargon "limited liability" -- the simplest corporations or limited liability companies (LLCs) require only a couple more registration tasks to complete.

Of course, there's a lot more to launching a successful small business than dealing with bureaucratic requirements. For starters, you'll need to have a sound business idea, and you'll need to be able to develop good management skills to guide it to success. This is where you should put your mental energy and good ideas; don't waste precious brain cells worrying about the legal hurdles.

3. For businesses with moderate to significant overhead, it is crucial to start the business with adequate funds. Starting a business without enough money to ride out the early lean days (described as "undercapitalization") is the most common reason that businesses fail. Undercapitalization is less of an issue with small service-based businesses that don't have many fixed expenses. But businesses with overhead such as rent, salaries for employees, utility bills, inventory, equipment, insurance, or other fixed costs absolutely need to plan carefully and pull together enough funding to support the fledgling business as it works up to speed.

Also, though it's important to start your business with enough capital, that doesn't mean that every business needs piles and piles of money to get off the ground. Plenty of mega-successful businesses were started on a shoestring: Apple Computer started in a garage; Hewlett-Packard started in the dining room of the Packard home; the list goes on and on. Generally speaking, a business that can find creative, thrifty ways to provide its product or service -- especially in its early days -- will typically find more success than a business that adopts a "spend more money" approach.

4. If you need start-up or expansion financing, consider sources other than traditional banks. One of the concerns most commonly cited by women entrepreneurs is difficulty finding start-up financing. And it's little wonder: traditional banks typically don't lend money to new ventures that don't have a track record of success or creditworthiness. Instead of focusing on conventional big-chain banks, start-ups should instead look for local community banks, credit unions, and other local financial institutions that have a vested interest in the health of the local economy. Often, their application processes and criteria are softer than the big banks.

Two resources that women should definitely look into are Women's Business Centers and community development financial institutions. Women's Business Centers (WBCs) exist nationwide and focus on supporting women entrepreneurs through business training and counseling, and access to credit and capital, among other services. Community development financial institutions (CDFIs), which are certified by the U.S. Treasury, are a fast-growing segment of the business financing market specializing in loans to underserved communities and populations. CDFIs usually -- but not always -- have a specific focus such as improving economic opportunities in blighted communities or supporting women- or minority-owned entrepreneurs. Both WBCs and CDFIs can be especially helpful for start-ups, businesses with poor credit, and businesses seeking relatively small loans, generally up to $100,000. Even better, they often offer guidance and expertise to your business in addition to financing, which will help your chances of success.

As an example, the fabulous nonprofit where I teach entrepreneurship classes -- WESST in Albuquerque -- is both a WBC and a CDFI. It offers a wide range of high-quality classes on business planning, financial management, and marketing, plus offers loans and one-on-one counseling. With an organization like WESST on its side, a business gets a major boost in its chances of success.

5. Network like a social butterfly -- it is one of the best ways to market your business and create profitable opportunities. Networking involves actively cultivating relationships with people, businesses, community leaders, and others who present possible opportunities for your business -- not just as potential customers, but also as vendors, partners, investors, or other roles. Remember, networking is not the same thing as sales! Rather than the simple goal of making a sale, a huge goal of networking is to inform other businesspeople and influential people about what you do in hopes that they will recommend your business to their circle of contacts.

I look at networking more as a self-employed lifestyle than a specific activity. You are "networking" every time you attend an event held by a local trade association, get to know other business owners and community leaders, send an email introducing two of your contacts to each other, write a letter to the editor, participate in an online discussion group, or have lunch with another local business owner.

6. Forge relationships with contacts before you need help from them. For example, if you need the support of a local politician on an upcoming city zoning decision, you'll have a better chance of getting the politician's vote if he or she already knows you and thinks favorably of your business than if you place a call to his or her office out of the blue.

© 2010 Peri H. Pakroo J.D., author of The Women's Small Business Start-Up Kit: A Step-by-Step Legal Guide

Author Bio

Peri Pakroo is a business and communications consultant, specializing in legal and start-up issues for businesses and nonprofits. She has started, participated in, and consulted with start-up businesses for 20 years. She is the author of The Women's Small Business Start-Up Kit (Nolo) and top-selling business books. Her blog is at www.peripakroo.com.

For more information, please visit www.nolo.com and follow the author on Twitter and Facebook.

Go to http://bit.ly/Nolo_WomensSmallBusinessStartUpKit to access an e-galley of The Women's Small Business Start-Up Kit on NetGalley. It can be read on the Nook, Kindle, Sony e-reader, or on your computer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Books Showcasing Gary Smith's Writings

Gary Smith has been a writer for Sports Illustrated for more than 25 years. He has written stories about all types of sports including professional, college, and high school. Smith has been pegged as one of the greatest article writers of our time.

His features are not just stories about sports, they are much more about life itself. Smith has won numerous awards including four National Magazine Awards, the most won by any writer to-date. There are two books, Going Deep 20 Classic Sports Stories (Sports Illustrated, 2008) and Beyond the Game (Grove Press, 2000) that together showcase 35 of his award winning, unforgettable, hauntingly told stories.

His writings really are novellas which readers can get heavily involved with the plot that just happens to be based on fact and true life. On the surface, Smith's writings don't appear to have too many business lessons to teach, but underneath there is always a lesson to be had on how to be a better person both professionally and personally.

Smith's stories tell us about perseverance, hope, truth, how to listen, how to talk, and above all else, integrity. All of which are great principles to apply to any business situation. Take a look at these two books, they are worth the read, maybe several reads.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Anywhere Book - Global Connectivity

A very interesting book by Emily Nagle Green called Anywhere How Global Connectivity Is Revolutionizing the Way We Do Business (McGraw Hill, 2010) introduces a new business model that I believe as the author does that we have only seen a small bit of the power that all of the connectivity we have now will create in the future. Get the book. It is a great read and it will change the way you think about the future of the Internet, your cell phone, and the global network.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green Book Review

The greenest thing about a new book called Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green by Jay Conrad Levinson and Shel Horowitz (John Wiley & Sons, 2010) is the color of the cover.

There is one chapter mid-way through the book that is less than 20 pages long that explores green marketing. The remainder of the book is really just a repeat of some of Levinson's and Horowitz's other marketing books. There is nothing new in this book except a few added chapters on marketing with a social cause and using social media.

The authors do explain the fact this book is "based heavily on Shel's earlier book Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First." Unfortunately people who buy the book based on the title will be greenwashed by the promising title.

Both authors write good books. This book just does not live up to its title. The only green marketing tips that are useful are from a section called Turn Green into Gold and include the following tips on making green an organization-wide effort by:

• Green your operations.

• Green your marketing.

• Green your stakeholders.

The book was disappointing to say the least in its delivering of green marketing theories, ideals, practices and promises.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Recent Book Reviews

The latest list of business book reviews I've posted on suite101.com include the following:

  1. Who Turned Out the Lights? Your Guided Tour to the Energy Crisis, Harper, 2009 by Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson. The link is http://referencebooks.suite101.com/article.cfm/good_consumers_guide_to_energy_crisis.
  2. Complicit How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable, Bloomberg Press, 2010, by Mark Gilbert. The link to it ishttp://businessbooks.suite101.com/article.cfm/complicit_book_review.
  3. Open by Andre Aggassi, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. This may not be a business book but it is a very well written autobiography that gives a pretty good idea about the business of tennis. The link is http://athletebiographies.suite101.com/article.cfm/open_book_review.

I'm also working on a new book review, Master Your Debt: Slash Your Monthly Payments and Become Debt Free by Jordan Goodman, and I will post the link to it or put up a summary review here.

Hope you all reading something helpful and really good. If so, let me know what it is...til next time. I got some reading to do.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Paul Hawken's Green Commerce Books

Paul Hawken is a best selling author of several green commerce books. The Ecology of Commerce (Collins Business, 1993), Natural Capitalism (Little, Brown and Company, 1999), and Blessed Unrest (Penguin Books, 2007).

These three books plus a few others he has written or co-authored have been hailed as some of the most insightful, provocative, and visionary ideas on eco business. Hawken's is a world-renowned environmentalist, small business owner, and highly respected author.

In the book Natural Capitalism, Hawken's presents a fourth type of capital that businesses need to aware of in order to be successful and to be environmentally acurate. The three commonly known capital includes human capital (employees, intelligence), financial capital (cash, investments), manufactured capital (infrastructure, machines, tools, and factories), and the fourth is natural capital (resources, living systems, and ecosystem services).

I've read parts of all three of the books mentioned above. Hawken's is insightful and provides theories and solutions that can easily be recognized as having been thought through to the last detail.

If any business owner, manager, supervisor, or anyone having an interest in learning true environmental theory that can be put into practice, these three books make for a great place to start.