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Maarten de Vries (Barcelona)

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How to Win Friends and Influence People
How to Win Friends and Influence People
by Dale Carnegie
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring journey, back to the basics of human nature!, 1 April 2012
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This book really takes you back to the basics of human nature and, being human yourself, it's so easy to recognise all the things he is talking about, and link them to your personal experiences, both at work and at home. It shows you why negativity NEVER works and you ALWAYS have to give people the benefit of the doubt, if you want to make friends with them and influence them. The only alternative is to avoid them altogether, and that is a luxury you don't always have, so you'd better start to see things from their point of view, if you're not doing that already ;o) BTW The book finishes with Dale Carnegie's personal life story, which shows what an inspirational person he was. If we can all be a bit more like him, the World will be a better place for it!


The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers
The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers
by James M Citrin
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.36

4.0 out of 5 stars a good read, if you like blue chip companies, 4 Dec. 2011
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I agree with just about everything Keith Appleyard wrote in his review. My favourite pattern was the "20/80 rule", which says that it's what you do in the last 20% of your job that will have 80% impact on your career. I also found the difference between "potential value" and "experential value" useful. And I agree that you can have an "extraordinary career" outside an American blue chip company too, although this book doesn't cover that.


The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures
The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures
by Dan Roam
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As Einstein said: simple... but not too simple, 13 Nov. 2011
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I was already a fan of visual thinking (a so-called black pen person), but I still wondered what a book on this topic would look like. Some other reviewers complained that it was too simplistic, but what were they expecting from a book called "On the Back of the Napkin?" On the contrary, I found that it boiled down the complex topics of solving business problems into a couple of useful "tools", such as:

a) How to break down a problem into 6 different aspects, which is actually what our brains do anyway: what/who, how much (how many), where, when, how and, last of all, why;
b) How you can draw a different picture for each aspect, namely a portrait, chart, map, timeline, flowchart and multivariable plot;
c) How you can draw a picture in different ways: Simple vs Elaborate, Qualitative vs quantitative, Vision vs execution, Individual vs compare and Deltas vs as-is situation (SQVID)

I still have to apply these tools in practice, and it may not actually be as easy as it seems to change my current drawing habits, but I do think it will lead me to draw a wider variety of pictures than I was drawing before. I also discovered the website [...], which is worth taking a look at.


The Corporation [DVD] [2006]
The Corporation [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Mikela Jay
Price: £4.90

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars depressing, but brilliant, 13 Nov. 2011
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This review is from: The Corporation [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
This documentary is about the incredible power of the big corporations and how they abuse it. I learnt many things from it, starting with how they were able to accumulate this power in the first place. It was when, in America, they assumed and were granted the same legal status as a person, allowing them to buy and sell property, sue others etc. In doing this, corporations started to lead their own lives, just like a real person, but without a conscience. As a result, you can actually compare a corporation to a person, but it wouldn't be a very nice one. In fact, according to this documentary, it would be a psycopath, and they have plenty of examples to prove it!

So what is to be done about it? The film doesn't prescribe a particular solution, but it shows some examples of success stories of the people vs the corporation. In Bolivia (?), protesters stopped a big corporation from privatising the water supply and even making it illegal to collect rainwater without paying for it! Then there are some American states and towns, who revoked some of the rights of corporations to act as a person, effectively reversing the decision that got us into this mess in the first place. I'm not sure that would be easy on a national scale, letalone a global one, but it shows that we can use the law to shift atleast some of the power from the corporations back to the governments, who (hopefully) represent the people.

But, unlikely as it seems, some of the change will have to come from within the corporations themselves. They need to embrace sustainability, corporate social responsibility etc, rather than just paying lip service to it. The film includes an inspirational example, in the form of Ray Anderson, the CEO of the World's largest carpet maker, Interface, who sadly passed away recently. It's not so much what he said, because a lot of that is well known, but it's the way he said it. It made such an impression on me that I actually wrote it down...

Ray anderson, CEO Interface, addressing civic and business leaders, North Carolina State University: "Do I know you well enough to call you fellow plunderers? There is not an industrial company on Earth or an institution of any kind, not mine, not yours, not anyone's, that is sustainable. I stand convicted by me myself alone, not by anyone else, as a plunderer of the Earth, but not by our civilization's definition. By our civilization's definition, I'm a captain of industry, in the eyes of many a kind of modern day hero, but really, really, the first industrial revolution is flawed, it is not working, it is is unsustainable, it is the mistake, and we must move on to another and better industrial revolution and get it right this time."

Later he writes: "When I think of what could be, I visualize an organization of people, commited to a purpose, and the purpose is doing no harm. I see a company that has severed the umbilical chord to earth for its raw materials, taking raw materials that have already been extracted and using them over and over again, driving the process with renewable energy. It is our plan, it remains our plan, to climb Mount Sustainability. That mountain is higher than Everest, infinitely higher than Everest, far more difficult to scale, the point at the top symbolizing zero footprint."

The documentary states that "Since 1995, Interface has reduced its ecological footprint by one third. Its stated goal is to be sustainable by 2020." If you look on their website ([...]) today, you'll see that they are still on track to accomplish "Mission Zero" in Ray's name, even though he is no longer there to guide them. I hope they succeed, and I hope many others will follow.


The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer
The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World's Greatest Manufacturer
by Jeffrey K. Liker
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars does what it says on the tin, 6 Nov. 2011
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This book explains "The Toyota Way" in a clear and detailed way. If that's what you're looking for, then "genchi genbutsu" (go and see for yourself ;o). The only thing I wonder is what has happened to Toyota in recent years, with the quality problems they have been having. Judging by Liker's intimate knowledge of Toyota, I'm sure he can explain why this happened, how it has been adressed and, even more importantly, how Toyota has learnt from it and raised the bar even further. Time for an updated version perhaps?


Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation
by Tim Brown
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.29

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting, but could have been better, 5 Nov. 2011
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I did enjoy this book and some of the cases in it, but I have to agree with some of the other reviews that it is a bit high-level, both in terms of the techniques of design thinking and the cases. It would have been great to show some actual examples of brainstorm sessions, sketches of ideas, lessons learned etc to bring the material to life. A good book, but I was expecting even more from one of the world leaders in design thinking.


Seven Wonders of the Industrial World
Seven Wonders of the Industrial World
by Deborah Cadbury
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great story telling, covering all aspects of these epic projects!, 30 July 2011
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Really enjoyed this book. Great choice of "wonders", although I'm sure Deborah had many others to choose from. Great balance between all the different aspects of these epic projects. Between the technical aspects and the human ones. Between the fascinating personalities of the chief engineers and key figures, and the unbelievable toil and hardship of the workers. Deborah must have done a hell of a lot of research to cover all these angles! The only qualm I have is that I sometimes struggled to visualise some of the technical challenges she described, but that's hardly surprising, considering just how complex they were. Maybe some more illustrations might have helped me to understand them better, but I didn't enjoy the book any less for lack of them. Highly recommended!


Papershow Starter Kit
Papershow Starter Kit

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this product and your audience will love you for it ;o), 10 Jun. 2011
The technology of the pen and the paper is fantastic: extremely easy to use, 100% reliable, completely portable and
very affordable. There are a couple of minor bugs in the software application that goes with it, and the battery life could be better, but there's nothing that can't be fixed with simple workarounds and a spare battery. At this price, what are you waiting for?


Pirates of Silicon Valley [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Pirates of Silicon Valley [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Anthony Michael Hall
Price: £10.91

4.0 out of 5 stars the forerunner of "The Social Network"..., 19 May 2011
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If you've just seen "The Social Network" (about the beginnings of Facebook), then this film may feel a bit dated, but then it is set in the 80s, so it's supposed to be dated! It's a great way to picture (literally) what "the good old days of IT" were like, which in turn helps you appreciate how incredibly fast things have been moving ever since. It also shows that the IT industry has always been a giant soap opera of key individuals, not (just) their companies, where lots of cliches apply, like "nice guys finish last", but also "what goes around comes around."
This film just begs for a modern sequel, showing the spectacular return of Steve Jobs and the meteoric rise of Apple to beat Microsoft and become the World's most valuable company, even though Microsoft still owns a healthy chunk of it. If this sequel is made, I will definitely watch it!


Business Intelligence for Dummies
Business Intelligence for Dummies
by Swain Scheps
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.60

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but plenty of room for improvement, 25 April 2011
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It's interesting, and perhaps telling, that this books gets rave reviews on amazon.com, and 2 pretty negative reviews on amazon.co.uk. It does an okay job of explaining what BI is from a business perspective, although the author sometimes slips in words, like "normalization", without explaining them first, or at all, which I wouldn't expect from a "Dummies" book. The whole thing would have been a lot better with more concrete examples, diagrams and screenshots to bring the concepts to life. I don't understand why the "BI and Technology" section came right at the end of the book, and I found it too light on some key concepts like data quality management. The whole section on "The BI Lifecycle" and "Implementing BI" is largely about IT and project management in general, i.e. too generic for a book about BI. It would have been better to focus on the BI specific aspects and include the generic stuff in an appendix, or simply refer to "Project Management for Dummies" instead. Speaking of which, I generally find the Dummies books to cheesy for my liking, and this one is no exception. For the next edition, I would atleast do a "find and replace" on "rubber hits the road".


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