Category: Cool Friends

Dan Pink’s Favorite Books

Our Cool Friend Dan Pink, author of Free Agent Nation, A Whole New Mind, and most recently When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, posted a list titled "20 Books That Have Mattered to Me." Tom is thrilled to be on this short list, where he's in the company of Frederick Douglass, Charles Darwin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Michael Lewis, and more. Unable to choose only one of Tom's books, Dan put all of them, along with Peter Drucker's, as one entry on the list. So, visit Dan's post, pick a few books, and start reading. And, while you're at it, read a few of Dan's books, too. We suggest you try them all.

Richard Thaler Won the Nobel Prize in Economics

Our Cool Friend Richard Thaler was awarded a Nobel prize! We applaud him and his work in Behavioral Economics, a field he is considered by many to have invented. We interviewed him back in 2008, soon after his book Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, written with Cass Sunstein (a lawyer), was first published. The nub is that you may think you're making rational financial decisions, but maybe you're not. To get an idea of what his work is about, you can read our Cool Friend interview, or this article from the Economist, which describes the theory simply and completely. Congratulations to Richard Thaler from Tom and all of us here at!

HOW Chicago and a Cool Friend

Tom bumped into a Cool Friend at the HOW Design Conference in Chicago. Not surprisingly, John Maeda was among the speakers, and he and Tom got a chance to have a bit of conversation. We interviewed Maeda in 2006, when he was part of the Simplicity Consortium at the MIT Media Lab. From there he progressed to being the president of RISD, and now he's a design partner at Kleiner Perkins.

Audvisor: A Cool Friend’s Cool New Project

When we interviewed Rajesh Setty for our Cool Friends collection, he described himself as a serial entrepreneur. Since then, he's skipped from one good idea to another, always with the the same goal, the tag line for his blog, "Bringing Ideas to Life, With Love!"

Tom participated in a recent project, Audvisor. In Setty's words:

"Audvisor is the world's first push-button learning app for smartphones. We bring the world's top experts to share their insights in 3 minutes or less. The insights are delivered Pandora-style. Listeners can pick topic(s) or expert(s), push a button, and start learning. You can read more and download the app at"

He sent us these links, for your convenience:

1. Audvisor on iOS
2. Audvisor on Android
3. Audvisor buzz on Twitter
4. Audvisor on Product Hunt
5. Audvisor on FB

Cool Friend: Bob Sutton (No. 2)

Bob Sutton returns to talk with about his new book, Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less, which he coauthored with fellow Stanford professor Huggy Rao. Filled with impressive case studies, the book describes what works as well as common pitfalls. One of our favorite ideas is characterizing two models for scaling as Catholicism vs. Buddhism. Curious? You can learn more by reading Sutton's new Cool Friends interview. You can also visit the book website,, or follow Bob on Twitter @work_matters.

Cool Friend: Dennis Littky

For the second time, we've interviewed Dennis Littky, the co-founder and co-director of Big Picture Learning. Read his new Cool Friends interview to learn how he's brought the project-based curriculum that has worked so well at the high school level (92% graduation rate!) to higher education. Big Picture's new program, College Unbound, helps those with interrupted college careers to finish getting their degrees.

Dennis Littky's CF interview

Best of the Cool Friends:
Paco Underhill

This first full week of retail's holiday season is a great time to revisit our chat with an expert on the subject of shopping, Paco Underhill. He's the president and founder of Envirosell, a New York consultancy that does research on shoppers' behavior, shopping environments, layout, and merchandising. We interviewed him back in 2001, a year after publication of his first book Why We Buy: the Science of Shopping, which has since been updated for "the Internet, the Global Consumer, and Beyond." His latest is What Women Want, and his company has done the research. If you're aiming at maximizing sales in this holiday season, you might want to take a look at the book (also an audiobook), or this video from the Envirosell website featuring Paco speaking on the forces guiding shoppers worldwide.

Get started reading with Paco Underhill's Cool Friends interview. And ... Happy Holidays!

Best of the Cool Friends
Marti Barletta

One of Tom's favorite topics is the Women's Market, so who better than Marti Barletta to be included in the best of the Cool Friends? Her first book was Marketing to Women, and we talked to her about it in 2004. Her second book was PrimeTime Women, a label she gave to women aged 50 to 70, who needed a better descriptor than "Mature Market." That 2007 interview begins with a discussion of marketers' problem getting their ads onto the screens that people are actually looking at. That discussion continues to this day.

Best of the Cool Friends
John Maeda

John Maeda became a Cool Friend back in 2006, when he was an MIT professor and a member of the MIT Media Lab. Now, he is president of Rhode Island School of Design. An arts administrator with technology in his background, he is at the forefront of the push to get STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) changed to STEAM (A for Art), a campaign Tom has embraced, as you can see in his recent "What I've Come/Am Coming to Believe" posting. In light of the effort by both Maeda and Tom to gain recognition for the importance of art in education, now is a good time to revisit Maeda's Cool Friends interview.

Best of the Cool Friends
Ed Michaels

In keeping with Tom's latest eBook, People First!, we're highlighting a Cool Friend who wrote the book on Talent. Ed Michaels was part of a McKinsey & Co. group who studied the practices of 20 companies that excelled at finding and keeping talented employees. The study resulted in a 2001 book outlining the findings, and Ed Michaels was a coauthor of that book, The War for Talent. Tom's chosen to bring the topic up for discussion a decade later, so it might be a good time to take a look at this Cool Friends interview. You'll find some still useful insights.