This is the second book that Phil Terry asked us to read as part of the Creative Good fellows program. It was writted by Jeff Hawkins, creator of the PalmPilot and Treo. Turns out Jeff's other passion is trying to understand how the brain works.
This book lays out his theory of how the mind works in layman's terms. Hawkins premise is that the brain uses a "memory-prediction" framework to operate, and states that his model fills in a lot of holes in existing models of how the brain works. In other words, the brain store past experiences as patterns, and uses those patterns to predict how future events will occur. If future events differ from the predictions, the brain parses the new patterns and adjusts its predictions accordingly.
The model is simple at heart, and makes a lot of sense to this layman. Hawkins' goal is to ultimately build computerized brains, and expresses disappointment at current efforts to do so. This book is a well thought-out argument that thumbs its nose at current thinking, and in my experience, this will only help in achieving Hawkins' ultimate goal of building a functioning brain.(less)
I'm not sure how Freakonomics got on my radar, but it falls squarely into the Gladwell and Surowiecki school of writing that take a look at conventional subjects and turn them on their ears with reasonably well-argued cases, which I enjoy.
Figuring out how incentives influence behavior has interested me since reading Naked Economics over a year ago, and Freakonomics seemed--like Naked Economics--that it would be a fun read.
While Dubner's and Levitt present interesting correlations between things like Roe v. Wade and the radical crime drop in the 1990s, their theories are often speculative. Still, it's a fun read, it encouraged me to think about the radical correlations they were drawing, and it reminded me--as if I need reminding!--that it's important to question the conventional wisdom about cause and effect relationships every so often.(less)
We all negotiate every day. Where to go to the movies, what to eat for dinner, how much to sell your $50M revenue company for, how much your salary wi...moreWe all negotiate every day. Where to go to the movies, what to eat for dinner, how much to sell your $50M revenue company for, how much your salary will be at your new job, etc. This is a very useful read, focused on breaking down how you can approach negotiations. Most of the advice you will apply only in the higher-stakes negotiations, but it gives you a good framework for how to approach any negotiation. For example, it tells you how to discern situations when you should make the first offer, and when you shouldn't, when to be ruthless, and when not to be, etc. I'd bet that it's one of the best bang-for-the-buck books you'll read all year... I'd bet it'll help you make a few more $$$ the next time you have to negotiate a salary.(less)
Gratzon founded an ice cream company and a long distance company that each did millions in revenue, and he claimed to do it without working a day in h...moreGratzon founded an ice cream company and a long distance company that each did millions in revenue, and he claimed to do it without working a day in his life. How did he pull this off?
By following his bliss.
Gratzon argues that life is too short to spend it working, and that if you do what you enjoy, and figure out ways to simplify, joy and success will follow.
He's provided food for thought for me, and this easy to read and enjoyable book will definitely get re-read every so often.
This book is part of the curriculum of the 2005 Creative Good Fellows program that I'm taking part in. It outlines a holistic method to develop a business model for one's business: the external forces, internal capabilities, and financial targets all work in conjunction with each other to paint a picture of a business' health and growth oppotunities.
The first half of the book describes how to use this model to "confront reality" and look at your business how it actually is, instead of how you want it to be. The emphasis on seeking out reasons for change and reacting to the root causes (instead of reacting simply to the change) make intuitive sense to me. A long-term outlook balanced with fulfilling short-term objectives is a party line often preached but not followed in corporate America.
The second half of the book describes case studies of heroic CEOs who used Charan and Bossidy's model to right companies (in industries where fundamental structural change has occurred) or to ride out cyclical changes and position their companies for future growth.
It's an easy read and there are some very good ideas in here (specifically: the notions that seeking out diversity of perspectives, focusing on the consumer's needs, and keeping an eye on the reasons "why" industry change occurs are healthy for a business), and makes me want to check out Charan and Bossidy's better-known book, Execution.(less)
This is Semler's second book, and it reads a lot like a management strategy guide containing principles with anecdotes from Semco that illustrate those principles compared to Maverick, which read like a story of the highs and lows of the organizational experiments conducted at Semco.
Semler's main points thus far are: 1. Ask "why" several times when making a decision Asking "why" ensures that you make a decision for the right reasons, and are not doing so because "that's the way it has always been done," or because the highest-ranking official in the room thinks that proceeding with Decision X is the right way to go.
2. Respect and trust your employees as if they are adults Respecting and trusting your employees is a no-brainer. There are too many companies around that treat their employees as if they were children, not trusting them to make decisions about products, expenses, performance goals, dress, or about a host of other subjects. Setting expectations are a self-fulfilling prophecy--expect someone to act a certain way, and MUCH more often than not, they will. Also, allowing your employees a voice and a hand in the process by which your organization is run and by which your strategy is determing will benefit the company in the long run, for two reasons. First, they will be able to shape their environment to maximize productivity (instead of decrees coming down from on high from someone in HR) and will feel ownership in building your products. And second, there is a dearth of research that shows that any one person has had continuingly brilliant vision and strategy to implement that vision.
3. Be a hard-ass about hitting performance numbers Hitting performance numbers is important at Semco because nothing else matters--work time, location, dress, etc. They play tight with the numbers because they play loose with everything else. That's not to say that employees are fired for missing numbers, but there had better be good reasons for why those numbers were missed.
So far, it has been as enlightening as Semler's first book, and I look forward to reading much more on the subject of organizational behavior and structure.(less)
if you like pro basketball, you'll enjoy this book about the phoenix suns' playoff run in 2005-06. McCallum (who also writes excellently for sports il...moreif you like pro basketball, you'll enjoy this book about the phoenix suns' playoff run in 2005-06. McCallum (who also writes excellently for sports illustrated) spent the whole season with the suns' players and coaching staff. he spins fun and entertaining yarns and provides insight into the dynamics of a pro team that you'll be hard-pressed to get anywhere else. it's an easy read, and i thoroughly enjoyed this.(less)
I first heard of Guy Kawasaki when his brilliant college graduation speech passed through my email client several years ago. His speech impressed with his practical insight, entertainment value, and conciseness. I later learned that he had evangelized the original Macintosh while at Apple, which made his book on startups a no-brainer read for me.
The Art of the Start is a quick read, and is written in Kawasaki's entertaining and informative style. It details the lessons he has learned that are relevant to people starting up new businesses, new business units, or developing new products inside an existing company.
Kawasaki covers such topics as: pitching, writing a business plan, raising capital, bootstrapping, recruiting, branding, and rainmaking, among others. I agreed with much of his high-level content--for example, the best way to build a brand is to build a good product--but this book has such good tactical information that I'm going to return this copy to the library and buy one to use as a reference.