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Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas)

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Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed
Without Their Permission: How the 21st Century Will Be Made, Not Managed
by Alexis Ohanian
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More heat than light, 31 Oct 2013
What follows is a review of this book, not an evaluation of its author, although In Part I, Alexis Ohanian provides some biographical information about his experiences with as a startup co-founder (with Steve Huffman) of reddit, hipmunk, and Breadpig. This is the "memoir" component. In Part II, he shifts his attention to information, insights, and counsel that he hopes will be of interest and value to those among his readers who aspire to launch a new enterprise. This is the advice component. "I'll break it all down so that you can do it too -- everything from taking that great idea you had last night over drinks to closing that first round of funding that'll let you quit your job and turn that cocktail concoction into a real business." In the final Part, he shares what he believes to be the most important do's and don'ts concerning online entrepreneurship. "Whether you want to embrace the Internet for fun, profit, or the good of humankind (or all or any of the above), this book has you covered."

I agree with Ohanian: Don't launch a new business unless you have a product and/or service that people really want and no one else offers it.
I agree with Thomas Edison: "Vision without execution is hallucination."
I do not agree with Ohanian that" the 21st century will be made, not managed." Whatever is made MUST be managed. Why else make it?

"I'm writing this book to inspire as much as to inform." I think there are several points that should be kept in mind when deciding whether or not to make the investment that obtaining and then reading this book require. First, Ohanian's account of his own experiences is highly subjective. All I know about him is what he shares in the book. Presumably his successes, thus far, are directly related to a unique combination of talent, mindset, temperament, work ethic, formal education, and at least an element of luck. Also, many of his recommendations have little (if any) relevance and potential application (even with some modification) within the offline world of business.

These are among the dozens of business subjects of special interest me, also listed to suggest the scope of Ohanian's coverage.

o A Perfect Marketplace of Ideas (Pages 6-8)
o Sometimes You Just Have to Stand Up (25-32)
o Reddit (61-62, 68, 80 & 109)
o hipmunk (70-74, 77, & 144)
o How to Win Deals and Interest Industry Titans" (76-80)
o Creation of Breadpig (87)
o Identify Genuine Need, and Know What You're Doing (94-98)
o Ignore Thy Competition (107-110)
o Traction (125-127)
o There's Nothing Fun About Funding (141-144)
o How America Gets Her Swagger Back (146-151)
o With Our Powers Combined (167-173)
o 'We Trusted People Too Much" (192-196)
o Lies, Damned Lies, and the Entertainment Industry (214-219)
o It's Up to Us to Keep the Internet Free (and Keep This Book Relevant) (229-231)

Better advice on almost all of these subjects is readily available elsewhere. Those who are determined to achieve success will locate it without any advice from me.

I rate this book Five Stars as a manifesto, as a call to action, for those with a great idea to proceed without permission, especially from those defending the status quo who are most threatened by the idea if (HUGE "if") it does indeed prove to be disruptive. I rate it (at most) Two Stars as an operations manual for achieving a success with a great idea. Alexis Ohanian provides far more heat than light. His material is sometimes very entertaining but inconsistently informative. Hence if allowed, a 3.5 Star rating.

Years ago during an interview, Rod Steiger was asked if young people ever requested career advice. "Oh sure, all the time. So I look them in the eye and ask, 'Do you want to be an actor or do you [begin italics] have to be [end italics] an actor?' The longer it takes them to answer, the less likely they'll ever make it." I have the same attitude toward aspiring entrepreneurs.

Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World
Grounded: How Leaders Stay Rooted in an Uncertain World
by Bob Rosen
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.13

5.0 out of 5 stars The leadership skills needed to cope with speed, impermanence, complexity, transparency, competition, and globalization, 30 Oct 2013
Over the years, I have interviewed hundreds of thought leaders (many of them CEOs) and have learned that, however different they may be in most respects, all of them agree on the importance of having effective leadership at all levels and in all areas so that the given enterprise can respond effectively to a tsunami of forces that include speed, impermanence, complexity, transparency, competition, and globalization.

In this volume, Bob Rosen provides an abundance of information, in sights, and counsel that will help almost any executive in almost any organization to help it cope with those forces "in an uncertain world" in which change occurs faster and has greater impact than at any prior time that I can recall.

As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of the fact that all great leaders have a "green thumb" for "growing" others to become good-to-great leaders. So let's view an organization (whatever its size and nature may be) as a "garden" whose health is entrusted to its leaders, its "gardeners."

After more than 25 years of research and analysis of research on challenges that leaders face, he and his colleagues at Healthy Companies made several remarkable discoveries. "Leaders who are truly healthy in all sense of the word are evolved human beings [begin italics] and [end italics] extremely effective leaders. As we dug deeper into the qualities that make up this healthy leader, we unearthed three unequivocal truths. These findings form the themes and substance of Grounded." They are:

1. Who you are drives what you do [and don't do].
2. Who you are [for better or worse] is grounded in your healthy [or unhealthy] roots.
3. Healthy leaders build teams and organizations that outperform.

Rosen devotes Part II (Chapters 4-22) to "The Roots of Healthy Leadership" in terms of physical, emotional, intellectual, social, vocational, and spiritual health. He carefully explains how to improve one's health in each of these dimensions, and then in Chapter 22, "On Becoming a Healthy Leader," he reiterates several key points.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Rosen's coverage.

o Finding a Solution by Digging Deep (Pages 9-11)
o Science Supports the Healthy Leader (19-23)
o Inside the Healthy Leader Model (26-30)
o Managing Your Energy (52-55)
o Failed Leadership Arises from Ignorance (72-74)
o What Emotions Derail You? (87-90)
o Bend, Don't Break: Things to Consider (98-99)
o Leading with an Adaptive Mindset (122-124)
o Embrace Opposites (131-135)
o Four Pillars of Healthy Relationships (157-160)
o The Journey of Self-Improvement (191-193)
o The Drive to Succeed: Playing to Win (200-202)
o Purposeful Leaders In Action (220-222)
o Putting Your Global Literacy Into Action (230-232)
o Making Connections with Stakeholders at Every Turn (288-292)
o Leveraging Talent for Growth (296-299)

When concluding his book, Rosen reassures his reader, "By discovering and demonstrating your true self, you can lead the way into a new age, a time of health and prosperity." He then cordially invites his reader to check out the resources at three websites that his firm, Healthy Companies, created: [...] [...] and [...] "We hope that you will visit us and share your thoughts about what you've read. We welcome your personal stories about your own voyage of discovery into the roots of healthy leadership."

I realize that no brief commentary such as mine can do full justice to the quality and value of the material that Bob Rosen provides in abundance. However, I hope that I have given at least some indication of why I hold him and his work in such high regard.

EGO vs. EQ:  How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps With Emotional Intelligence
EGO vs. EQ: How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps With Emotional Intelligence
by Jen Skirkani
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.62

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How to "open the door to identify your own ego traps with some simple actions to remedy them", 29 Oct 2013
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of Mark Goulston's book, Get Out of Your Own Way at Work... and Help Others Do the Same: Conquering Self-Defeating Behavior on the Job. Over more years than I wish to acknowledge, I learned two especially valuable lessons: Almost all human limits are self-imposed, and, We cannot always control what happens to us but we [begin italics] can [end italics] control how we respond to what happens to us.

Jen Shirkani is convinced (and I agree) that the nature and extent of an executive's emotional intelligence (EQ) will probably determine the nature and extent of her or his effectiveness as a leader and manager. She shares this explanation by Daniel Goleman that EQ is "the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships."

She focuses on eight traps and explains how to avoid or overcome them. All are directly or indirectly the result of what I would characterize as an unhealthy ego, one that is essentially narcissistic in nature, and one with an insatiable appetite for attention, adoration, and approval.

The title of her book is somewhat misleading because it suggests an adversarial relationship between ego and EQ when, in fact or at least in my own opinion, those with a healthy ego are most likely to develop EQ, The troublemakers are those, with an unhealthy ego, who are delusional about their own strengths and virtues, feel threatened by strengths and virtues admired in others, resent and reject constructive criticism, and in countless other ways are thoughtless and insensitive except when their own self-interests are involved. Some unhealthy egos are terminally ill but many (if not most) of the others can - over time -be healed by healthier values, attitudes, and behavior. How? Shirkani explains how in her book.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Shirkani's coverage.

o Eight Steps to Sidestep When Ruling the Mountaintop (Pages xxi-xxvi)
o A Closer Look at Ignoring Feedback You Don't Like (7-15)
o EQ Antidote to Ignoring Feedback You Don't Like (19-22)
o The Battle of Ego vs. EQ: Believing Your Technical Skills Trump Your Leadership Skills (36-38)
o The Battle of Ego vs. EQ: Surrounding Yourself with More of You (54-58)
o What to Do When You're Surrounded by You (60-61)
o The Battle of Ego vs. EQ: Not Letting Go of Control (70-72)
o Beware of Level Jumping (88-89)
o EQ Antidote to Underestimating How Much You Are Being Watched (103-108)
o EQ Antidote to Losing Touch with Frontline Experience (123-126)
o Relapsing Back to Your Old Ways (129-131)
o EQ Antidote to Relapsing Back to Your Old Ways (141-143)
o The Time and Attention Factor (149-151)
o A few simple ideas to lessen ego and maximize EQ (157-158)

Shirkani makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices that include bullet-point and hollow-point checklists of key points, Tables, clusters of "Tips" such as "Five Tips for Handling the Feedback Process (Page 23), and "In a Nutshell" summaries of key points as well as "Applying the Three Rs" (Recognize, Read, and Respond) at the conclusion of each chapter. These devices will help facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of important material later.

Who will derive the greatest benefit from reading and then (I hope) re-reading this book? I highly recommend it to all executives but especially to those who have supervisory responsibilities at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Also, to others now preparing for a career in business or have only recently embarked upon one. Of course, the value of the insights, and counsel that Sirkani provides in abundance will be determined almost entirely by how effectively a reader applies what he or she learns.

I do suspect that those in greatest need of what Jen Sirkani offers are least likely to be aware of or acknowledge that need, much less be willing and willing and able to address it in a responsible manner. However, her book will be invaluable to countless others, especially those now preparing for a career as well as those who have only recently embarked upon one.

Unlimited Sales Success: 12 Simple Steps for Selling More Than You Ever Thought Possible
Unlimited Sales Success: 12 Simple Steps for Selling More Than You Ever Thought Possible
by Brian Tracy
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.03

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ignore the title and subtitle and focus instead on how this book could perhaps help you achieve your goals, 29 Oct 2013
I have read and reviewed many of Brian Tracy's previously published books (including those that focus on salesmanship, such as Advanced Selling Strategies and Be a Sales Superstar) and thus have a different perspective on this book than would someone who shares Tracy's thoughts about sales success for the first time.

There are no head-snapping revelations nor any breakthrough insights. Anyone in need of those should seek them elsewhere. The same is also true for those who have little (if any) direct contact with consumers, other than electronically. Therefore, the information, insights, and counsel that the Tracys provide in this volume will probably be of greatest value to those who (a) have not read any if the prior books, (b) have relatively little experience in relationship sales, (c) need to understand the basics, and (d) also need an uncomplicated but sound system within which to manage their resources, especially their time and energy.

These are among the dozens of cultivation and solicitation fundamentals that the Tracys cover.

o Seven Steps to Mental Fitness (Pages 16-17)
o Key Result Areas (40-44)
o Characteristics of a Good Prospect (56-60)
o Recognize Poor Prospects (60-64)
o Customer Analysis (66-68)
o The Golden Triangle of Selling (76-77)
o The New Model of Selling (90-97)
Comment: Actually, it is somewhat updated to accommodate a "new" marketplace.
o Create Your Positioning (112-113)
o Three Forms of Reciprocity (135-136)
o Presentation Methods (155-160)
o Dealing with Price Objections, and, Dealing wit Price on the Phone (174-176 and 177-178)
o Why Closing Is Difficult, and, The New Model of Selling (187-189)
o The "Let me think it over" Close (199-201)
o The Second Sale (208-210)
o The Ultimate Question (219-221)
o Three Key Activities (228-229)
o The Seven Secrets to Success in Selling (243-247)
Comment: They are "secrets" only to those who are learning about them for the first time.

Basic stuff? Of course...but not obvious to those who are relatively inexperienced in relationship selling. The Tracys may view the 12 steps for selling that they recommend as "simple" but, again, they're not simple for those who most need this book. To suggest otherwise is misleading. Indeed, if the steps were simple, literally anyone and everyone could sell more than they "ever thought possible." That said, it is true that self-imposed limits preclude "unlimited sales success."

Having authored or co-authored more than 60 books thus far, Brian Tracy may now have little (if anything) new to share about sales or leadership or personal growth or professional development. Recycling of at least some material may be inevitable. However, almost everything he recommends is sound and sensible. For most of those who read his books, what he recommends is also do-able.

Unlimited Sales Success is certainly not for everyone, nor can those who read the book be certain that it will enable them to have unlimited sales success. For at least some people, what Brian Tracy and Michael Tracy provide can be invaluable if (HUGE "if") the material is put to effective use. Success in any human endeavor really is that easy...and that difficult.

Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career (The 99U Book Series)
Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career (The 99U Book Series)
Price: £4.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you a prospective Free Radical? "Potential" means "you ain't done it yet." Darrell Royal, 29 Oct 2013
Jocelyn Glei edited this volume to which she and 21 others contributed their "insights on making things happen," as did Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance, who also wrote the Foreword: "You're a Free Radical, Run with It." This is one of the first volumes in the 99U Box Series published by Amazon. Visit the 99U by Behance website and you will encounter this brief explanation: "For too long, the creative world has focused on idea generation at the expense of idea execution. As the legendary inventor Thomas Edison famously said, 'Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration.' To truly make great ideas a reality, we must act, experiment, fail, adapt, and learn on a daily basis. 99U is Behance's effort to provide this "missing curriculum" for making ideas happen. Through our Webby Award-winning website, popular events, and bestselling books, we share pragmatic, action-oriented insights from leading researchers and visionary creatives. At 99U, we don't want to give you more ideas--we want to empower you to make good on the ones you've got." It was Edison who also said, "Vision without execution is hallucination." Darrell Royal's observation is even more volume to this book: "potential" means "you ain't done it yet."

The brief but insightful essays are divided within four sections: Creating Opportunities, Building Expertise, Cultivating Relationships, and Taking Risks. Each section also has a Q&A with a prominent knowledge leader:

o Robert Safian on Rediscovering Your Career, Constantly
o Joshua Foer on Learning to Live Outside Your Comfort Zone
o Sunny Bates on Networking in a Connection Economy
o Tina Seelig on Re-Engineering the Way We Think About Mistakes

These are among the dozens of explanations special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of the book's coverage. The prefix for each is "How to..."

Cultivate craft before passion, Cal Newport (Pages 27-32)
Make your own luck, Glei (53-58)
Find your own sweet spot, Belsky (63-67)
Focus on getting better, rather then being good, Heidi Grant Halvorson (75-81)
Develop mastery through deliberate practice, Tony Schwartz (85-90)
Note: Schwartz examines the breakthrough research of Anders Ericsson and associates at Florida State University
Reprogram daily habits, Scott Young (105-110)
Build resilient relationships, Michael Bungay Stanier (141-146)
Create a killer collaborative team, David Burkus (161-166)
Lead in a world of co-creation, Mark McGuinness (171-177)
Demystify the fear factor in failure, Michael Schwalbe (187-192)
Lean into uncertainty, Jonathan Fields (215-220)
Make purposeful bets in a random world, Frans Johansson (225-231)

As I hope these subject areas suggest, the shared objective of those who contributed the material provided in this volume is to help each reader understand -- insofar as unleashing and maximizing their potential are concerned -- what works, what doesn't...and why. They are determined to provide each reader with "insights on making ideas happen."

With regard to the term Free Radical, Belsky explains: "Free Radicals want to take their careers into their own hands and put the world to work for them. Free Radicals are resilient, self-reliant, and extremely potent. You'll find them working solo, in small teams, or within large companies. As the world changes [ever-faster and more disruptively], Free Radicals have re-imagined 'work' as we know it. No doubt we have lofty expectations."

For those who aspire to become a Free Radical, here is your manifesto and operations manual.

Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt
Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt
by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "low confidence is the result of failure but the source of success", 23 Oct 2013
In this thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic observes, "The main difference between people who lack confidence and those who don't is that the former are unable (or unwilling) to distort reality in their favor. That's right, the successful distortion of reality is the chief underlying reason so many people don't experience low confidence when they should. Whereas pessimism leads to realism, optimism promotes the fabrication of alternative realities -- lying, not to others, but to themselves."

In this context, I am reminded of Bud Tribble's comments about Steve Jobs, quoted by Walter Isaacson in his biography of the insanely great innovator: "Steve has a reality distortion field. In his presence, reality is malleable. He can convince anyone of practically anything. It wears off when he's not around, but it makes it hard to have realistic schedules." According to Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak, "His reality distortion is when he has an illogical vision of the future, such as telling me that I could design the BREAKOUT game in just a few days. You realize that it can't be true, but he somehow makes it true." Debi Coleman recalls, "He reminded me of Rasputin. He laser-beamed in on you and didn't blink. It didn't matter if he was serving purple Kool-Aid. You drank it." Isaacson adds, "At the root of the reality distortion field was Jobs's belief that the rules didn't apply to him." In this and in countless other respects, Steve Jobs was indeed one-of-a-kind.

For most of us, Chamorro-Premuzic asserts -- and I agree -- that we should not aspire to have high confidence, but to have high competence. If we focus on achievement, it will increase self-confidence naturally diminishing low self-esteem, insecurity, and self-doubt. Presumably Chamorro-Premuzic agrees with Henry Ford about the importance of attitude: ""Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right." Presumably, Ford would agree with him about the importance of competence. Let's add Thomas Edison to the discussion. He observed, "Vision without execution is hallucination." Confidence based on competence, on achievement, is no delusion. It has been earned through productive effort. In an important sense, competence speaks for itself...especially to those who gain it.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Chamorro-Premuzic's coverage.

o Most Confident People Are Deluded, and, Ignorance Ain't Bliss (Pages 12-15 and 15-19)
o The Confidence -- Competence Grid (28-34)
o You Can Benefit from Insecurities (35-40)
o Successful People Are Rarely Themselves (53-56)
o If Character Is Destiny, Reputation Is Fate (64-70)
o Everyone's A Psychologist (73-77)
o Three Things That Top Performers Do Better (102-112)
o How to Master Interpersonal Relations (117-120)
o The Toxicity of High Social Confidence (124-126)
o The Adaptive Side of Lower Social Conscience (126-132)
o Influencing Others (141-147)
o The Unhealthy Side of High Confidence (183-197)
o All You Need Is a Bit of Willpower & Low Confidence (207-210)
o Success Is the Best Medicine for Your Insecurities (211-214)
o A More Competent, Less Confident World (217-220)

Chamorro-Premuzic urges his readers to aspire not to have high confidence, but to have high competence. He show them "how to make that happen" in this book. I commend him on his skillful use of reader-friendly devices as he explains why people should aspire not to have high confidence, but to have high competence. They include relevant and thought-provoking quotations throughout the narrative; bullet point and numeric checklists of key points, dates, sequence steps, etc.; strategic placement of subheads (e.g. "Self-Knowledge Matters More Than Self-Belief" on Page 84 and "Embracing Low Confidence" on Page 211; and a "Using It" section at the conclusion of Chapters 1-7 to facilitate effective application of relevant information, insights, and counsel.

In his final paragraph, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic observes cites and then responds to an observation: "According to Alfred Adler, 'To be human is to feel inferior.' Perhaps, but competence gains relieve our natural feelings of inferiority, at least temporarily. Indeed, inferiority [begin italics] motivates [end italics] us to try to achieve things. The more weaknesses you perceive in yourself, the more you will be motivated to improve, and the harder [and smarter] you will work. Low confidence is the result of failure but the source of success."

Fish Can't See Water: How National Culture Can Make or Break Your Corporate Strategy
Fish Can't See Water: How National Culture Can Make or Break Your Corporate Strategy
by Kai Hammerich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "deep and often invisible natural programming" can affect the strategy execution of an organization, 22 Oct 2013
Kai Hammerich and Richard Lewis have selected and rigorously explored a subject of great interest to me: the dynamics of interaction between and among cultural values that are sometimes incompatible or at least resistant to compromise, accommodation, and consensus. Cultural differences almost inevitably result in cultural confrontations. They help to explain why many (if not most) mergers and acquisitions either fail or fall far short of original expectations. They also help to explain civil wars, tribal feuds, and dysfunctional families.

In this volume, Hammerich and Lewis focus on these specific phenomena:

o How values, beliefs, and assumptions are embedded in an organization by its founder(s) and leaders
o The "Lewis Model" that triangulates national cultures (i.e. linear-active, multi-active, and reactive national)
o The defining traits of key nations (e.g. France, Italy, Great Britain, and USA)
o The "Cultural Dynamics Model" ® and the concept of a cultural dynamic
o Lifecycle periods (e.g. organizational, such as those discussed by Ichak Adizes in Corporate Lifecycles: How and Why Corporations Grow and Die and What to Do About It)
o The growth period during which companies expand the nature and extent of their operations
o The maturity period with its phases of efficiency, scale, and in some instances consolidation
o "Whither the West" in terms of the impact of what Tom Friedman characterizes as a "flat world" has on western nations as they compete globally
o An existential crisis whose details are best revealed within the narrative, in context

How can business leaders "see the water that surrounds them," water that may be red with ferocious competition, white with uncertainty, or blue (as W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne suggest) with opportunity? Hammerich and Lewis recommend a five-step framework:

1. Determine the main dimensions of the [given] company's strategy and cultural alignment using the Cultural Dynamics Model ®
2. Classify the national type that reflects the embedded national values using the Lewis model
3. Identify where the company is in its lifecycle
4. Establish how national culture may have enabled and/or derailed success at the most recent transformation point and could impact the organization at the next
5. Diagnose signs of a potential crisis that could accentuate a cultural dynamic and create a life-threatening situation for the company

Hammerich and Lewis explain how to prepare for, implement, and then sustain -- rather than complete -- a process of constant adjustment, one prescribed by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago: "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." It was true then and is even truer now when change is the only constant and it occurs faster and with greater impact than at any prior time that I can recall.

Confident that the world will become multicultural but one in which differences are respected and diversity is appreciated. Kai Hammerich and Richard Lewis conclude, "Organizational culture is the result of all the decisions made and actions taken in an organization over time. Culture is behaviour and behaviour defines culture. Culture is man-made and therefore can be directed by man. Thus, whichever direction the world takes, we can only point the finger in one direction -- toward ourselves. And herein lies our biggest opportunity!"

Office Politics Handbook: Winning the Game of Power and Politics at Work
Office Politics Handbook: Winning the Game of Power and Politics at Work
by Jack Godwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.42

5.0 out of 5 stars How to survive and then thrive by effectively managing micropolitics in the contemporary workplace, 16 Oct 2013
As I began to read this book, I was reminded of another, Jeff Pfeffer's Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don't. For those who have not as yet read it, he observes, "Over the years, I've learned a great deal about power and will now share with you what I hope you will find most interesting and, more to the point, most useful." In the Introduction, for example, he suggests that having power is related to living a longer and healthier life, that power and the visibility and stature that accompany them can produce wealth, and that power is part of leadership and necessary to get things done, whatever the nature and extent of the given objectives may be. "Power is desirable to many, albeit not all, people, for what it can provide and also a goal in and of itself."

Although Pfeffer does not invoke the core metaphor from Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" in The Republic, I think it is especially relevant to the various misconceptions about power that Pfeffer refutes. The situation in Plato's allegory is that people are located in a darkened cave watching shadows dance on a wall. (The source of light is outside the cave.) They think they are watching ultimate realities. Rather, what they observe are images, yes, but also distortions. The same is true of the "just world hypothesis" that the world is predictable, comprehensible, and therefore potentially controllable. Worse yet, it implies that "people get what they deserve; that is, that the good people are likely to be rewarded and the bad to be punished. Most important," Pfeffer adds, "the phenomenon works in reverse: if someone is seen to prosper, there is a social psychological tendency for observers to decide that the lucky person must have done something to deserve his good fortune."

I mention all this to frame my thoughts about Jack Godwin's "handbook," written for those who want to "win the game of power and politics at work." The information, insights, and counsel he provides -- in my opinion -- tend to be less theoretical, more practical than Pfeffer's but both are convinced -- and I agree -- that unless and until a person has sufficient self-control (i.e. power) and understands certain realities however painful they may be, that person is highly vulnerable to being controlled by others. Stated another way, without self-mastery, people can become enslaved (as Ernest Becker suggests in Denial of Death) to fulfilling others' expectations of them.

As a political scientist, Godwin has an insatiable curiosity to understand what works and what doesn't work during sociopolitical interaction...also why. In 1867, Otto Von Bismarck suggested, "Politics is the art of the possible." Godwin would add that politics can also be viewed as a "game" with competitors, rules, and rewards. He would also add that it usually has some scientific elements -- discussed in his book -- that can have decisive impact on the process of competition.

I was especially interested in sharing Godwin's thoughts about what he characterizes as "the gods of micropolitics," those eight political archetypes that personify "the constituent elements of the [begin italics] anthropo politicus [end italics]," the so-called political animal. Accompanied by my comments, they are:

o The Servant Leader (Pages 132-141)
Comment: Leads by example, earns respect and trust of followers; views leadership as a privilege.

o The Rebel (142-148)
Comment: Often the "devil's advocate" to any proposed idea or initiative; allergic to status quo.

o The Mentor (148-156)
Comment: Loves to learn and then share knowledge with others; influences with wisdom and sound judgment.

o The Recluse (156-162)
Comment: May often be a principled introvert rather than anti-social; definitely anti-political.

o The Judo Master (162-169)
Comment: Has mastered leverage to exploit weakness or vulnerability; highly resilient and dexterous.

o The Resister (169-174)
Comment: Also principled and conscience-driven; agreement and compliance must be earned rather than forced.

o The Opportunist (175-182)
Comment: Very alert to others' weaknesses and vulnerabilities; master of timing and exploitation.

o The Survivor (182-188)
Comment: No matter what happens to and/or around this person, this "god" or "goddess" of micropolitics will sustain loyalty and commitment.

However named, these are indeed familiar types within a workforce environment. There are important lessons to be learned from each and Godwin suggests several. It should be noted that the most effective office politicians demonstrate some of the defining characteristics of several different archetypes. Also, I agree with Godwin that "micropolitics is a combination of one-time calculation and general pattern recognition."

In a workplace as well as in a school or on a school playground, bullying generates a variety of responses from those who observe it. Here's what Jack Godwin suggests: "First, model the virtues you would have others emulate, especially emotional self-control and professional detachment, which will help you avoid excessive use of force. Second, talk about bullying and encourage others to do so. We need to create [and then sustain] a culture in which people (at least) aren't afraid to talk about bullying. Finally, when you see it, stop it. Don't assume someone else will stop it. Make it your duty. Stand up and say [begin italics] that's enough [end italics]. Repeat after me: [begin italics] That's far enough [end italics]."

Lessons from the Sandbox: Using the 13 Gifts of Childhood to Rediscover the Keys to Business Success: Rediscovering the Keys to Business Success
Lessons from the Sandbox: Using the 13 Gifts of Childhood to Rediscover the Keys to Business Success: Rediscovering the Keys to Business Success
by Alan S. Gregerman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars "I have spent my adult life trying to see the world again as I once did as a child." Pablo Picasso, 14 Oct 2013
Alan Gregerman's core thesis is that there are 13 "gifts from childhood" that can help those who embrace them to "rediscover the keys to business growth." In this context, I am reminded of several lessons that Robert Fulghum shares in All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. "Hold hands when you cross the street," for example, and "Clean up your own mess." I selected the Picasso quotation for the title of this brief
commentary because it is directly relevant to Gregerman's and Fulghum's perspectives on what many of us have lost since childhood.

Gregerman devotes a separate chapter to each "gift" and the first is play. He inserts comments made years ago by Fred Rogers: "Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood." It is also an essential element within a healthy workplace environment, as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains during his TED program, "Flow, "the secret to happiness." Gregerman discusses this equation: childhood growth = living + exploring + belonging. With only minor modification, the same equation would be relevant to most of the companies annually ranked among the most admired and best to work for are also annually listed among those most profitable with the greatest cap value in their industry segment. Coincidence? I don't think so. Healthy, wholesome play is indeed a serious matter for "children of all ages."

These are among the dozens of Gregerman's observations of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of his coverage and, more to the point, the focus of his counsel.

To compete successfully in the future, companies will need....

o To redefine the nature and content of work and recognize the importance of play (Page 23)
o To create an even greater sense of enthusiasm and energy for their customers, employees, and shareholders. (45)
o To know where they are going and how they intend to get there. They will also need to ask the right questions along the way. (61)

o To keep their eyes on the clock. (75)
Comment: I think the most important process improvements are reductions of first pass yield and of cycle time.

o Leaders who create workplace environments in which real magic can happen. (89)
Comment: What Gregerman means by "magic" is essentially what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi means by "flow."

o To look at themselves and their world with much greater curiosity. (123)
o To ask the right questions and answer them in ways [by a process] that will thrill customers, employees, and shareholders. (139)
o To try new things and make faster and more intelligent mistakes. (153)
o To innovate consistently and skillfully in all aspects of their businesses. (167)
o To do a much better job of getting all their people to participate in ways that make a [significant] difference. (191)
o To create and nurture safe places for people and their ideas. (205
o To inspire all of their employees to accomplish [both] great and small things. (219)

During the course of his lively and eloquent narrative, Gregerman provides an abundance of information, insights, and counsel to help business leaders achieve these and other strategic objectives. It remains for each reader to determine which portions of the material and, especially, which of the "gifts" are most relevant to her or his own needs, interests, goals, objectives, resources, etc.

Recent and extensive major studies conducted by highly reputable research firms such as BlessingWhite, Gallup, and TowersWatson reveal that, on average, less than 30% of a workforce in a U.S. company are actively and productively engaged; the others are either passively engaged (i.e. "mailing it in") or actively undermining the company's efforts to succeed. For those in need of help to increase the number of those in their organization who are actively and productively engaged, Alan Gregerman's assistance would be of incalculable value. Also, I highly recommend his most recent book, The Necessity of Strangers: The Intriguing Truth About Insight, Innovation, and Success, as well as Surrounded by Geniuses: Unlocking the Brilliance in Yourself, Your Colleagues and Your Organization. All three books: All three books are brilliant and practical as well as entertaining. Great stuff!

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All
Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All
by Thomas Kelley
Edition: Hardcover

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How almost anyone can develop a creative, human-centered mindset and help achieve breakthrough innovations, 14 Oct 2013
I have read Tom Kelley's books and am well aware of David Kelley's leadership of IDEO and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design ("") at Stanford University. Individually, each is among the most influential and highly regarded authorities on creative and innovative thinking. What we have in this volume is a unique and compelling collaboration on information, insights, and counsel that can help their reader to "unleash the creative potential within." They insist -- and I agree -- that literally anyone can live a more creative life, at work and elsewhere, in all situations in which they have problems to solve, questions to answer, goals to set, tasks to complete, and relationships to nourish.

The Kelleys challenge all manner of misconceptions, such as the common refrain "I'm just not creative." In fact, they suggest, "As brothers who have worked together for thirty years at the forefront of innovation, we have come to see this set of misconceptions as 'the creativity myth.' It is a myth that far too many people share. This book is about the opposite of that myth. It is about what we call 'creative confidence.' And at its foundation is the belief that we are [begin italics] all [end italics]...Creative confidence is a way of seeing that potential and your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt. We hope you'll join us on our quest to embrace creative confidence in our lives. Together, we can all make the world a better place."

Incremental innovation may sometimes be the most effective way to improve one or more aspects of one's life as well as of a company. For example, in 2004, a leadership team led by Jørgen Vig Knudstorp transformed LEGO - "brick by brick" - into one of the world's most innovative as well as most profitable and fastest growing toy companies.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of the Kelleys' coverage.

o Creativity Now (Pages 7-10)
o Three Key Factors to Balance (23-26)
o Design-Driven Innovation (26-28)
o Nurturing Creative Thinkers, and A Growth State of Mind (32-36)
o The Failure Paradox, and Designing for Courage (44-49)
o Permission to Fail (53-57)
o Drawing Confidence (63-67)
o Cultivate a Creative Spark (78-81)
o Empathize with Your End User (89-92)
o Do Observations in the Field (93-98)
o Reframe Challenges (103-105)
o Cultivate Creative Serendipity (109-111)
o The "Do Something" Mindset: Live in the Active Voice (119-122)
o Experiment to Learn (134-136)
o Find Your Sweet Spot (165-167)
o Strategies to Get Started With (253-260)

Here are three of several reasons why I think this is Tom Kelley's most valuable book...thus far...and why I think his collaboration with David Kelley achieves a level of excellence that neither brother could (probably) have achieved alone. First, like world-class musicians in a jazz band, they are playing the same song (let's say "All Blues" with Miles Davis) but with different instruments and with improvisation that enriches rather than detracts from the pure quality of the group's sound. The Kelleys are masters of carefully nurtured spontaneity.

Also, they are passionate advocates, indeed evangelists about helping as many people as possible to think innovatively about how they can [begin italics] live [end italics] more innovatively. The Kelleys know that developing that mindset will require courage to overcome significant -- albeit self-generated -- fear. That is why the ten strategies they recommend near the conclusion of the book take human nature (for better or worse) into full account. Although heaven knows the disruptive innovations for which IDEO is renowned are exciting, the reality is that most people have convinced themselves that they are incapable of generating them, even when in collaboration with others. They lack courage because they lack confidence.

Finally, the Kelleys are committed to being eager and enthusiastic collaborators with their readers as well as with their students, their colleagues and their clients. To those plagued by self-doubts, struggling with self-imposed limits, they have an emotional intelligence that provides a reassurance, anchored in reality rather than delusional PMA, that people really can believe in what is possible for them. First, they have to imagine it and then summon the courage to believe they can achieve it. Any journey of personal discovery is necessarily perilous. Tom Kelley and David Kelley are ideal companions for that journey.

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