Category: What Tom's Reading

LEADERSHIP/MANAGEMENT/”PEOPLE FIRST” BOOK LIST

My niece, who is at the Tuck business school, asked me for a list of best leadership and management books. I put the list below together in haste. Despite the hastiness, I thought you might be interested.

Herewith:

LEADERSHIP

Jeff Pfeffer, Leadership BS
Robert Sutton, Good Boss, Bad Boss
Robert Sutton, The No Asshole Rule
Dov Frohman, Leadership the Hard Way
Richard Branson, The Virgin Way
Robert Cialdini, Influence
Adam Grant, Give and Take
Edgar Schein, Helping
Laura Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, The Power of Small
Laura Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, The Power of Nice
Laura Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, Grit to Great
John Kotter, Leading Change
Thomas Gilovich and Lee Ross, The Wisest One in the Room
Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
Sally Helgesen, The Female Advantage
Warren Bennis, Leaders
Warren Bennis, On Becoming a Leader
Susan Scott, Fierce Leadership
Betsy Myers, Take the Lead
George Kohlrieser, Hostage at the Table
Max Bazerman, The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See

MANAGEMENT

Rich Karlgaard, The Soft Edge
Henry Mintzberg, Mintzberg on Management
Henry Mintzberg, Managers Not MBAs
David Marquet, Turn the Ship Around!
Mike Abrashoff, It's Your Ship
Leonard Berry and Kent Seltman, Management Lessons From Mayo Clinic
Dan Pink, To Sell Is Human
Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, Execution
Susan Cain, Quiet
Frank Partnoy, Wait
John Mackey and Raj Sisodia, Conscious Capitalism
Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, First, Break All the Rules

PROFIT THROUGH PUTTING PEOPLE (REALLY) FIRST BUSINESS BOOK CLUB

The following related list comes from a draft of my new book [Ed.: work in progress], The Excellence Dividend:

Business by and large has a lousy rep, and management books by and large focus on things that are broken and how to fix them. Yet there is also a robust body of "good news by putting people (REALLY) first" books—e.g., the informal list below. How about a year-long ... "Profit Through Putting People First Business Book Club" for you and/or your leadership team?

Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over—and Collaboration Is In, by Peter Shankman with Karen Kelly
Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives, by Kip Tindell, CEO Container Store (Container Store is the #1 U.S. company to work for/Fortune)
Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, by John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods, and Raj Sisodia
Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, by Raj Sisodia, Jag Sheth, and David Wolfe
The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits, by Zeynep Ton
Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love, by Richard Sheridan, CEO Menlo Innovations
Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job, by Dennis Bakke, former CEO, AES
Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down, by Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies
The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch 'Em Kick Butt, by Hal Rosenbluth, former CEO, Rosenbluth International
Patients Come Second: Leading Change By Changing the Way You Lead, by Paul Spiegelman & Britt Berrett
It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, by Mike Abrashoff, former commander, USS Benfold
Turn the Ship Around! How to Create Leadership at Every Level, by L. David Marquet
Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham
Hidden Champions: Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders, by Hermann Simon (#1 "management guru"/Germany)
Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America, by George Whalin
The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, by Rich Karlgaard, publisher, Forbes
Everybody Wins: The Story and Lessons Behind RE/MAX, by Phil Harkins & Keith Hollihan
The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, by Tony Hsieh, Zappos
Camellia: A Very Different Company
Fans, Not Customers: How to Create Growth Companies in a No Growth World, by Vernon Hill
Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School, by Richard Branson
Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning, by Mihaly Csikszentmihali
Enough. The Measures of Money, Business, and Life, by John Bogle
An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

Humanity: Quotes Collected by Tom

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"—Mary Oliver

"If you ask me what I have come to do in this world, I who am an artist, I will reply: I am here to live my life out loud."—Émile Zola

(Get the PDF)

"[The novel] traced the very ordinary life of a very ordinary woman—a life with few moments of high drama, but which was also remarkable. The extraordinary in the ordinary. It was a theme I often discussed with my students—how we can never consider anybody's life 'ordinary,' how every human existence is a novel with its own compelling narrative. Even if, on the surface, it seems prosaic, the fact remains that each individual life is charged with contradictions and complexities. And no matter much we wish to keep things simple and uneventful, we cannot help but collide with mess. It is our destiny—because mess, the drama we create for ourselves, is an intrinsic part of being alive."
—Hannah, from State of the Union by Douglas Kennedy

"Make each day a Masterpiece!"—John Wooden

"Make your life itself a creative work of art."—Mike Ray, The Highest Goal

"Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional."—Mark Sanborn, The Fred Factor

"The only thing you have power over is to get good at what you do. That’s all there is; there ain’t no more!"
—Sally Field

"Self-reliance never comes 'naturally' to adults because they have been so conditioned to think non-authentically that it feels wrenching to do otherwise. ... Self Reliance is a last resort to which a person is driven in desperation only when he or she realizes 'that imitation is suicide, that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion.'"
—Lawrence Buell, Emerson

"For Marx, the path to social betterment was through collective resistance of the proletariat to the economic injustices of the capitalist system that produced such misshapenness and fragmentation. For Emerson, the key was to jolt individuals into realizing the untapped power of energy, knowledge and creativity of which all people, at least in principle, are capable. He too hated all systems of human oppression; but his central project, and the basis of his legacy, was to unchain individual minds."
—Lawrence Buell, Emerson

"All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves we were all self-employed ... finding our food, feeding ourselves. That's where human history began. ... As civilization came we suppressed it. We became labor because they stamped us, 'You are labor.' We forgot that we are entrepreneurs."
—Muhammad Yunus

"We make our own traps.
"We construct our own cage.
"We build our own roadblocks."
—Douglas Kennedy, State of the Union

"... the delight of being totally within one's own element—of identifying fully with one's work and seeing it as an expression of one's character ... this affection must be so strong that it persists during leisure hours and even makes its way into dreams ... the mind knows no deadlines or constraints and is open to its inner energies ..."
—Robert Grudin, The Grace of Great Things: Creativity and Innovation

"To have a firm persuasion in our work—to feel that what we do is right for ourselves and good for the world at exactly the same time—is one of the great triumphs of human existence."
—David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

"This is the true joy of Life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one ... the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."
—G.B. Shaw, Man and Superman

"All of our artistic and religious traditions take equally great pains to inform us that we must never mistake a good career for good work. Life is a creative, intimate, unpredictable conversation if it is nothing else—and our life and our work are both the result of the way we hold that passionate conversation."
—David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

"If I can reduce my work to just a job I have to do, then I keep myself safely away from the losses to be endured in putting my heart’s desires at stake."
—David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

"When was the last time you asked, 'What do I want to be?'"
—Sara Ann Friedman, Work Matters

"Strive for Excellence. Ignore success."—Bill Young, race car driver

"Do one thing every day that scares you."—Eleanor Roosevelt

"HAPPINESS" & "LEISURE" PER ARISTOTLE:

HAPPINESS: Eudaimonia ... well-doing, living flourishingly. Megalopsychos ... "great-souled," "magnanimous." More: respect and concern for others; duty to improve oneself; using one's gifts to the fullest extent possible; fully aware; making one's own choices.

LEISURE: pursue excellence; reflect; deepen understanding; opportunity to work for higher ends. ["Rest" vs. "leisure."]

Source: A.C. Grayling, The Meaning of Things: Applying Philosophy to Life

"The antidote to exhaustion is not rest, it is wholeheartedness."
—David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

"It's no longer enough to be a 'change agent.' You must be a change insurgent—provoking, prodding, warning everyone in sight that complacency is death."
—Bob Reich

"Distinct ... or ... Extinct"—Tom Peters

"Nobody gives you power. You just take it."—Roseanne

"Well-behaved women rarely make history."—Anita Borg, Institute for Women and Technology

"To Hell With Well Behaved ... Recently a young mother asked for advice. What, she wanted to know, was she to do with a 7-year-old who was obstreperous, outspoken, and inconveniently willful? 'Keep her,' I replied. ... The suffragettes refused to be polite in demanding what they wanted or grateful for getting what they deserved. Works for me."
—Anna Quindlen

"You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend or not."
—Isabel Allende

"It's always showtime."—David D'Alessandro, Career Warfare

"Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the grateful and appreciating heart."
—Henry Clay

"Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones."
—Churchill

"We do no great things, only small things with great love."
—Mother Teresa

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble."
—Helen Keller

"Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness."
—Lucius Annaeus Seneca

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."
—Henry James

PROFITABLE BUSINESS

K = R = P
Kindness = Repeat Business = Profit

K = R = P
Kindness = Employee Retention = Profit

—Tom Peters

"One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life is to forgive everybody of everything every night right before going to bed."
—Bernard Baruch

"The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated."
—William James

"Appreciative words are the most powerful force for good on earth."
—George W. Crane

"The two most powerful things in existence: a kind word and a thoughtful gesture."
—Ken Langone

"One kind word can warm three winter months."—Japanese Proverb

"Employees who don't feel significant rarely make significant contributions."
—Mark Sanborn

"Every child is born an artist. The trick is to remain an artist."—Picasso

 

"My wife and I went to a [kindergarten] parent-teacher conference and were informed that our budding refrigerator artist, Christopher, would be receiving a grade of Unsatisfactory in art. We were shocked. How could any child—let alone our child—receive a poor grade in art at such a young age? His teacher informed us that he had refused to color within the lines, which was a state requirement for demonstrating 'grade-level motor skills.'"
—Jordan Ayan, AHA!

 

"How many artists are there in the room? Would you please raise your hands. FIRST GRADE: En mass the children leapt from their seats, arms waving. Every child was an artist. SECOND GRADE: About half the kids raised their hands, shoulder high, no higher. The hands were still. THIRD GRADE: At best, 10 kids out of 30 would raise a hand, tentatively, self-consciously. By the time I reached SIXTH GRADE, no more than one or two kids raised their hands, and then ever so slightly, betraying a fear of being identified by the group as a 'closet artist.' The point is: Every school I visited was participating in the systematic suppression of creative genius."
—Gordon MacKenzie, Orbiting the Giant Hairball

"The key question isn't 'What fosters creativity?' But it is why in God's name isn't everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create? But why do people not create or innovate? We have got to abandon that sense of amazement in the face of creativity, as if it were a miracle if anybody created anything."
—Abe Maslow

"The purpose of professional schools is to educate competent mediocrities."
—Peter Drucker

 

EXUBERANCE: THE PASSION FOR LIFE, BY KAY REDFIELD JAMISON

"The Greeks bequeathed to us one of the most beautiful words in our language—the word enthusiasm'—en theos—a god within. The grandeur of human actions is measured by the inspiration from which they spring. Happy is he who bears a god within, and who obeys it."
—Louis Pasteur

KRJ: "Exuberance is, at its quick, contagious. As it spreads pell-mell through a group, exuberance excites, it delights, and it dispels tension. It alerts the group to change and possibility."

"A leader is someone who creates infectious enthusiasm."
—Ted Turner

KRJ: "'Glorious' was a term [John] Muir would invoke time and again ... despite his conscious attempts to eradicate it from his writing. 'Glorious' and 'joy' and 'exhilaration': no matter how often he scratched out these words once he had written them, they sprang up time and again ..."

KRJ: "To meet Roosevelt, said Churchill, 'with all his buoyant sparkle, his iridescence,' was like 'opening a bottle of champagne.' Churchill, who knew both champagne and human nature, recognized ebullient leadership when he saw it."

"At a time of weakness and mounting despair in the democratic world, Roosevelt stood out by his astonishing appetite for life and by his apparently complete freedom from fear of the future; as a man who welcomed the future eagerly as such, and conveyed the feeling that whatever the times might bring, all would be grist to his mill, nothing would be too formidable or crushing to be subdued. He had unheard of energy and gusto ... and was a spontaneous, optimistic, pleasure-loving ruler with unparalleled capacity for creating confidence."
—Isaiah Berlin on FDR

"Churchill had a very powerful mind, but a romantic and unquantitative one. If he thought about a course of action long enough, if he achieved it alone in his own inner consciousness and desired it passionately, he convinced himself it must be possible. Then, with incomparable invention, eloquence and high spirits, he set out to convince everyone else that it was not only possible, but the only course of action open to man."
—C.P. Snow

"We are all worms. But I do believe that I am a glow-worm."
—Churchill on Churchill

"Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. To convince them, you must yourself believe."
—Winston Churchill

"The multitudes were swept forward till their pace was the same as his."
—Churchill on T.E. Lawrence

"He brought back a real joy to music."—Wynton Marsalis on Louis Armstrong

"If you want to build a ship, don't gather people together to collect wood, and don't assign them tasks and work, but instead teach them to long for the sea."
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery (The Little Prince)

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in one pretty and well preserved piece, but to skid across the line broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out, leaking oil, shouting 'GERONIMO!'"
—Bill McKenna, professional motorcycle racer

"The object of life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting, 'Holy Shit, What a Ride!!!'"
—Mavis Leyrer (feisty octogenarian, living in Seattle)

HTSH/HANDS THAT SHAPE HUMANITY: ENGAGE!

"Commit! Engage! Try! Fail! Get up! Try again! Fail again! Try again! But never, ever stop moving on! Progress for humanity is engendered by those in any station who join and savor the fray by giving one hundred percent of themselves to their modest or immodest dreams! Not by those fearful souls who remain glued to the sidelines, stifled by tradition, awash in cynicism and petrified of losing face or giving offense to the reigning authorities.

"Key words: Commit! Engage! Try! Fail! Persist!"

Source: HTSH/Hands That Shape Humanity, Tom Peters’ contribution of "most important advice"—for display at a Bishop Tutu exhibit in South Africa

"In Tom’s world, it's always better to try a swan dive and deliver a colossal belly flop than to step timidly off the board while holding your nose."Fast Company, review of Re-Imagine!

Reading!

The interviewer at strategy+business magazine, Theodore Kinni, got more than he'd asked for when he called Tom to talk about his four favorite books. The result is a roadmap for your reading strategy en route to business acumen and, ultimately, success: "Tom Peters Wants You to Read."

PODIUM BANGERS

I BANG (!!!!!!!!) EIGHT BOOKS (heavy load!) ON THE PODIUM DURING MY SPEECHES.

They fall into two categories:

The first set of four makes it clear that there is more to life than the giant firms the “gurus” focus on (I’m often guilty). There are a ton of excellent/amazing/super-cool mid-sized businesses out there to emulate. Many are in "boring" industries. My name for them is "Small-ish/Mid-sized Niche Dominators." THEY ARE THE BACKBONE OF NATIONAL ECONOMIC EXCELLENCE. (Poster children: Germany's Mittelstand—until recently, Germany was the world's #1 exporter, courtesy their mid-sized dynamos; one report called the mittelstanders "agile creatures darting between the legs of the multinational monsters.") The slogan that captures the nature of these firms best comes from George Whalin in Retail Superstars: "Be the best. It's the only market that's not crowded."

The next three books focus on the so-called "soft stuff"—e.g., putting people (REALLY) first. The Soft Edge in particular is a gem among gems. (Soft Edge is particularly near and dear to my heart. I've long said that In Search of Excellence can be captured in just six words:"Hard is soft. Soft is hard." The so-called "hard" stuff—such as the plans and the numbers—are really the soft, squishy, and often fictional stuff. The so-called "soft" stuff—such as the people and culture and relationships—are the true "hard" Bedrock of Excellence.)

The last, The Second Machine Age, is simply the best book written to date on the implications of the tech tsunami that is rolling in.

Read 'em!
(Please.)

To wit ...

Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham

Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America, by George Whalin

Hidden Champions: Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders, by Hermann Simon (said by some to be Germany's #1 "management guru")

The Future Is Small: Why AIM [Alternative Investment Market] Will Be the World’s Best Market Beyond the Credit Boom, by Gervais Williams

The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, by Rich Karlgaard, publisher, Forbes

The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits?, by Zeynep Ton, MIT

Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love, by Richard Sheridan, CEO Menlo Innovations

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, MIT

(more…)

Profit Through Putting People First
(“Good Guys”) Business Book Club

Most business books focus on what's broken. This selection focuses on organizations that work & shine—by (actually, far beyond lip service) "Putting People First." Why not a book club? I've known organizations where such groups had very high impact.

Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management Is Over—and Collaboration Is In, by Peter Shankman with Karen Kelly
Uncontainable: How Passion, Commitment, and Conscious Capitalism Built a Business Where Everyone Thrives, by Kip Tindell, CEO Container Store (#1 company to work for USA)
Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business, by John Mackey, CEO Whole Foods, and Raj Sisodia
Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose, by Raj Sisodia, Jag Sheth, and David Wolfe
The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits, by Zeynep Ton, MIT
Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love, by Richard Sheridan, CEO Menlo Innovations (enterprise software)
Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down, by Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies
The Customer Comes Second: Put Your People First and Watch 'Em Kick Butt, by Hal Rosenbluth, former CEO, Rosenbluth International
It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, by Mike Abrashoff, former commander, USS Benfold
Turn the Ship Around; How to Create Leadership at Every Level, by L. David Marquet, former commander, SSN Sante Fe (Nuclear sub)
Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big, by Bo Burlingham
Hidden Champions: Success Strategies of Unknown World Market Leaders, by Hermann Simon (German Mittelstand companies)
Retail Superstars: Inside the 25 Best Independent Stores in America, by George Whalin
Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job, by Dennis Bakke, former CEO, AES Corporation
The Dream Manager, by Matthew Kelly
The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success, by Rich Karlgaard, publisher, Forbes
Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, by Tony Hseih, CEO Zappos
Camellia: A Very Different Company
Fans Not Customers: How to Create Growth Companies in a No Growth World, by Vernon Hill, former CEO, Commerce ("Wow") Bank
Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won't Teach You at Business School, by Richard Branson

Reading List 2012

I am trying my damnedest to get a tenuous grip on the extraordinary-revolutionary-earthflipping change that surrounds us and which is accelerating madly. Below is an idiosyncratic reading list I've pulled together. In addition to nonfiction, there are a handful of well-researched ultra-sane sci-fi novels by the likes of David Wilson and Neal Stephenson. Also you'll find a couple of my favorites on the financial crisis; and a Cold War collection that is here because it is the ultimate study of leadership with consequences amidst uncertainty and ambiguity. A few others touch on decision-making and the typically faulty interpretation of cause and effect—and the power of being wrong. (And, of course, there's a duo on the eclipse of men!)

Etc.

Herewith, 55 books with my "14 Musts" in boldface:

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend BiologyRay Kurzweil

How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed—Ray Kurzweil

Redesigning Humans: Choosing Our Genes, Changing Our Future—Gregory Stock

Wetware: A Computer in Every Living Cell—Dennis Bray

Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life—Nick Lane

Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century—P.W. Singer

America the Vulnerable: Inside the New Threat Matrix of Digital Espionage, Crime, and WarfareJoel Brenner

Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It—Richard Clarke & Robert Knake

Worm: The First Digital World War—Mark Bowden

Fab: The Coming Revolution on Your Desktop—From Personal Computers to Personal FabricationNeil Gershenfeld

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution—Chris Anderson

The New Industrial Revolution: Consumers, Globalization and the End of Mass Production—Peter Marsh

The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs—Michael Belfiore

Makers—Cory Doctorow

AmpedDaniel Wilson

Robopocalypse—Daniel Wilson

Freedom—Daniel Suarez

Kill Decision—Daniel Suarez

REAMDE—Neal Stephenson

Cryptonomicon—Neal Stephenson

Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the EconomyErik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee

The Coming Jobs War—Jim Clifton

Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age—Steven Johnson

Open Services Innovation: Rethinking Your Business to Grow and Compete in a New Era—Henry Chesbrough

The Power of Co-Creation: Build It With Them to Boost Growth, Productivity, and ProfitsVenkat Ramaswamy & Francis Gouillart

Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World—Tony Wagner

Everything Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us SmarterSteven Johnson

Women and Gaming: The Sims and 21st Century Learning—James Paul Gee & Elisabeth Hayes

Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World—Jane McGonigal

Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter—Tom Bissell

The Social Conquest of EarthE.O. Wilson

Games Primates Play: An Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships—Dario Maestripieri

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined—Steven Pinker

The End of Men and the Rise of WomenHanna Rosin

The Richer Sex: How the New Majority of Female Breadwinners Is Transforming Sex, Love and Family—Liza Mundy

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don't—Nate Silver

Ubiquity: The Science of History ... Or Why the World Is Simpler Than We ThinkMark Buchanan

The Ambiguities of Experience—James March

The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations, and the PublicLynn Stout

Age of Greed: The Triumph of Finance and the Decline of America, 1970 to the Present—Jeff Madrick

Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk—Satyajit Das

Enough. True Measures of Money, Business, and LifeJohn Bogle

Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the HumanitiesMartha Nussbaum

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder—Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting BetterDoug Lemov, Erica Woolway & Katie Yezzi

The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills—Daniel Coyle

Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong—Alina Tugend

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error—Kathryn Schulz

Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas—Natasha Schüll

Redesigning Leadership (Design, Technology, Business, Life)—John Maeda

The Plentitude: Creativity, Innovation, and Making Stuff—Rich Gold

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Master of the Senate—Robert Caro

Berlin 1961: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Most Dangerous Place on Earth—Frederick Kempe

Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World—Evan Thomas

Eisenhower 1956: The President's Year of Crisis—Suez and the Brink of War—David Nichols

Bonus:

Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate ConductP.M. Forni

[The list is also available as a PDF.]

The Wisdom of David Ogilvy

At an event in Manila sponsored by Ogilvy & Mather, I received as a gift D.O.: The unpublished papers of David Ogilvy—a selection of his writings from the files of his partners. I am a longtime fan of Ogilvy, and found it to be a sterling gift. Here are a few of the gems I unearthed:

On what matters to Clients:

It is not enough for an agency to be respected for its professional competence. Indeed, there isn't much to choose between the competence of big agencies. What so often makes the difference is the character of the men and women who represent the agency at the top level, with clients and the business community. If they are respected as admirable people, the agency gets business—whether from present clients or prospective ones.

From a summation of Ogilvy & Mather's "corporate culture":

A Nice Place to Work

Some of our people spend their entire working lives in our agency. We do our damnedest to make it a happy experience. I put this first, believing that superior service to our clients, and profits for our stockholders, depend on it. ...

[TP: note the extraordinary "put this first."]

More from D.O.'s summation of Ogilvy & Mather's "corporate culture":

Raise your sights!
Blaze new trails!
Compete with the immortals!

[TP: characteristically soaring aspirations from D.O.]

On the quality of people O & M seeks:

Wanted by Ogilvy & Mather International

Trumpeter Swans

[TP: Do your HR folks use language like this? FYI, the department store chain Nordstrom does use similar language regarding every hire for even the most mundane slots.]

On leaders:

I believe that it is more important for a leader to be trained in psychiatry than cybernetics. The head of a big company recently said to me, 'I am no longer a Chairman. I have had to become a psychiatric nurse.' Today's executive is under pressure unknown to the last generation.

[TP: If only we would get this!]

On general behavior:

Never send a letter on the day you write it.

[TP: If only we would apply this standard to email!!]

Quite a haul, eh?

And She Called on Robin …
And the Heavens Parted

In Intuition, a stunning novel about the politics of science by Allegra Goodman, "Marion," see below, is the head of a department where some powerful research is being conducted. Among many other things, near the end of the book, correctly or not, one of the post-docs becomes a whistle blower—and creates a godawful mess. As I said, the allegations may or may not have been warranted, but in a flash (below) the psychological problem which led to the post-doc's meltdown becomes clear, after years, to super-logical, demanding boss Marion. The play here is subtle. This may do nothing for you, but I carry the quote around with me. In my case, it is-was a bombshell upon 3rd or 4th reading, and its strength only grows—I've probably read it, no kidding, 50 times now.

Give it a shot:

Marion ... glanced at the raised hands [she was presenting a paper] and enjoyed the interest in her work. She ... gazed at her former post-doc, her rebellious child with her hand raised. 'What do you need now?' she asked herself. Strange, she'd never posed the question that way before. She'd always considered what her post-doc demanded, what she did or did not deserve. What did she need? That was the puzzle, but as was so often the case, framing the question properly went a long way. What did she need? In that calm, clear, nearly joyous moment after her talk, the answer began to come to Marion. Ah, yes, of course, she thought with some surprise. And she called on Robin.

Obviously (but not obviously to blunt Marion for years), the post-doc "simply" needed recognition. And I think there is an enormous message here. A lot of bosses are Marions. And a lot of employees are kin to our post-doc. Of course, you may just think I'm nuts about this one wee paragraph. Fair enough.

A Book Worthy of Your Time & Attention

Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage, by Richard Stengel (Stengel, now editor of Time magazine, was a confidant of Mandela's.)

From "Look the Part":

"[Mandela has beautiful posture. You will never see him hunched over with his head anything but upright and looking ahead. On Robben Island, he was always aware of how he walked and carried himself. He knew he needed to be seen as standing up to the authorities, literally and figuratively ... He knew that people took their cues from him, and if he were confident and unbowed, they would be too."

"[Mandela] understood the power of image. ... 'Appearances constitute reality,' he once told me."

"In the election in 1994, his smile was the campaign. That smiling iconic campaign poster—on billboards, on highways, on street lamps, at tea shops and fruit stalls. It told black voters that he would be their champion and white voters that he would be their protector. It was the smile of the proverb 'tout comprendre, c'est tout pardoner'—to understand is to forgive all. It was political Prozac for a nervous electorate."

"Ultimately the smile was symbolic of how Mandela molded himself. At every stage of his life he decided who he wanted to be and created the appearance--and then the reality--of that person. He became who he wanted to be."

From "Have a Core Principal—Everything Else Is Tactics"

"Nelson Mandela is a man of principle—exactly one: Equal rights for all, regardless of race, class, or gender. Pretty much everything else is a tactic. I know this seems like an exaggeration—but to a degree very few people suspect, Mandela is a thoroughgoing pragmatist who was willing to compromise, change, adapt, and refine his strategy as long as it got him to the promised land."

From "See the Good in Others"* [*One of the best essays I have ever read.]

"Some call it a blind spot, others naïveté, but Mandela sees almost everyone as virtuous until proven otherwise. He starts with an assumption you are dealing with him in good faith. He believes that, just as pretending to be brave can lead to acts of real bravery, seeing the good in other people improves the chances that they will reveal their better selves."

"Mandela ... consciously chose to err on the side of generosity. By behaving honorably, even to people who may not deserve it, he believes you can influence them to behave more honorably than they otherwise would. This sometimes proved to be a useful tactic, particularly after he was released from prison, when his open, trusting attitude made him appear to be a man who could rise above bitterness. When he urged South Africans to 'forget the past,' most of them believed that he had. This had a double effect: It made whites trust Mandela more and it made them feel more generous toward the people they had so recently oppressed."

"Mandela sees the good in others both because it is in his nature and in his interest. At times that has meant being blindsided, but he has always been willing to take that risk. And it is a risk. ... Mandela goes out on a limb and makes himself vulnerable by trusting others. ... We rarely equate risk with trying to see what is decent, honest, and good in the people in our daily lives. ... 'People will feel I see too much good in people, and I've tried to adjust because whether it is so or not, it is something I think is profitable. It's a good thing to assume, to act on the basis that others are men of integrity and honor, because you need to attract integrity and honor. I believe in that.'"

Read it!
Absorb it!
Ponder it!
Take Advantage of It!

Most important article I've read in a long time/The Atlantic July-August 2010:

"The End of Men: How Women Are Taking Control—Of Everything"

Opening lines/précis:

"Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women's progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn't the end point? What if modern, post-industrial society is simply better suited to women? A report on the unprecedented role reversal now underway—and its vast cultural consequences."

Other:

"Man has been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But for the first time in human history, that is changing—and with shocking speed."

[There are examples from around the world not just U.S. In the likes of Korea, desire for a child to be a girl is soaring.] [In the USA, efforts to improve the odds of conceiving a girl rather than a boy are now commonplace.]

"As thinking and communicating have come to eclipse physical strength and stamina as the keys to economic success, those societies that take advantage of the talents of all their adults, not just half of them, have pulled away from the rest."

"The evidence is all around you [e.g.] in the wreckage of the Great Recession, in which three-quarters of the eight million jobs lost were lost by men. The worst-hit industries were overwhelmingly male and deeply identified with macho: construction, manufacturing, high finance."

"Of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., all but two are occupied primarily by women."

"Women hold 51.4% of managerial and professional jobs—up from 26.1% in 1980. ... In 1970, women contributed 2 to 6 percent of the family income. Now the typical working wife brings home 42.2%—and four in 10 mothers are the primary breadwinners in their family."

"What's clear is that schools, like the economy, now value the self-control, focus and verbal aptitude that seem to come more easily to young girls."

"Increasing numbers of women—unable to find men with similar income and education—are forgoing marriage altogether. In 1970, 84% of women ages 30 to 44 were married; now 60% are."