I found this hard to get into at the beginning - the author seemed to be spending too much time on her back story and not enough time talking about ac...moreI found this hard to get into at the beginning - the author seemed to be spending too much time on her back story and not enough time talking about actually being on the trail. As I read further the inclusion of the back story made sense and I ended up enjoying the book as a whole. It could have been improved with some editing changes as to when/how back story was first introduced.(less)
The first part gives a really good description of mindfulness meditation. The rest of the book talks more about applications of this related to specif...moreThe first part gives a really good description of mindfulness meditation. The rest of the book talks more about applications of this related to specific situations - dealing with chronic pain, trauma, stress, etc. This part could easily have been edited down, in my opinion. But the first part was very helpful.(less)
I'm also currently reading Industrial Chocolate Manufacture and Use, edited by the same author, and while this one is a lot shorter and contains less information, it's also a lot easier to understand.
Written for senior level high-school or undergraduate students it gives the basics of the science and processes involved in industrial chocolate manufacturing, reveals some interesting tidbits about very well-known products, and includes a list of fairly simple experiments that demonstrate the main principles discussed and actually sound fun to do. (And in many cases you can still eat the experimental materials when you're done!)(less)
Less about being a "titleless leader" than about being a good employee. I would have liked to see more coverage of non-work related applications (alth...moreLess about being a "titleless leader" than about being a good employee. I would have liked to see more coverage of non-work related applications (although the fact that the book was published by Career Press explains the narrower focus), and more.... insight, I guess. The points made all seemed rather obvious to me. That said, I don't actually see this behaviour modeled in the real world all that frequently, so I can see the need for a book that clearly and concisely outlines it. Which this book accomplishes quite well. (less)
Surprisingly interesting for a very long book about the quest to be the first to climb a mountain, a goal that seems so... arbitrary.
(I must admit, m...moreSurprisingly interesting for a very long book about the quest to be the first to climb a mountain, a goal that seems so... arbitrary.
(I must admit, my favorites of the men described were the ones who invented new ways to survey the landscape, new photo- and videographic equipment and approaches, new or improved oxygen equipment. I get that the climbs were about what achieving the summit would symbolize, but those technical advancements just seem so much more useful.)
But the main thing I learned from reading this? I have no desire to climb Everest. Exhaustion, frost-bite, nearly asphyxiating before coughing up the completely frozen/destroyed mucus lining of your larynx... *shudder*.(less)
One of the main ideas in this book is that everyone wants to be loved - that is, "to feel ourselves the object of concern: our presence is noted, our...moreOne of the main ideas in this book is that everyone wants to be loved - that is, "to feel ourselves the object of concern: our presence is noted, our name is registered, our views are listened to, our failings are treated with indulgence and our needs are ministered to." People who are viewed as having higher status are more likely to receive this sort of attention. And so anxiety around our status level tends to have more of an emotional impact than it would if it were merely an issue of access to resources or power.
In this spirit, I was surprised at how very gentle this book is. Reading it felt like being wrapped up in a warm blanket. (I got a similar feeling from de Botton's related TED Talk.)
I found this book both irritating and thought-provoking. And by "irritating", I mean VERY irritating. It's really short and yet it took me two months...moreI found this book both irritating and thought-provoking. And by "irritating", I mean VERY irritating. It's really short and yet it took me two months to read it because I'd read half a page and want to pitch it against the wall.
There's a certain style of writing that I've found in some other philosophy books as well, where the author seems to be less concerned about clearly explaining an idea and more concerned with sounding clever and playing around with language. This book could be the poster child of that style.
But that said, I'm flipping through the book while writing this review, and anywhere I stop and read a sentence or two, it makes me think. So definitely worth the read, even though I found it really hard to get through.(less)
By the time I got around to reading this book I had already seen the TED talk, and the RSA Animate video, and read enough blog posts reviewing or refe...moreBy the time I got around to reading this book I had already seen the TED talk, and the RSA Animate video, and read enough blog posts reviewing or referring to this book that it felt like a reread. Which is okay - the message is important enough to warrant a refresher.
What I really liked about this book, which I hadn't encountered in the various other versions of the message, was the short (15 book) reading list provided at the end. It was wide-ranging in subject matter, covered both fiction and non-, and included a thoughtful paragraph summary and a quote or paraphrase indicating how each book related to the main message of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Very well done - I wish more authors did this.(less)
This book examines the world of skilled temporary professionals: how and why people become contractors, why companies choose to hire them, how the per...moreThis book examines the world of skilled temporary professionals: how and why people become contractors, why companies choose to hire them, how the permanent employees they work beside view and interact with them, the role staffing agencies play, and what life as a contractor is like. It concludes with a suggestion of a new way to view the changing economy, outside of the traditional approach of organizations and markets.
Having worked a number of years as a consultant (not exactly the same as the contractors this book investigates, but similar), I was still surprised to find how many of the typical views and approaches of contractors I've internalized. Rather than learning something new about how contractors view the work world, mainly I was just recognizing my own views described in the words of others.
Instead, because the authors often explain the views and interactions of contractors in terms of how they differ from permanent employees, I ended up learning more about traditional employment (something I have little real-world experience in). Which is kind of ironic.(less)
This book takes the view that major businesses, (at least those that are going to be successful in the long run), are going through a fundamental shif...moreThis book takes the view that major businesses, (at least those that are going to be successful in the long run), are going through a fundamental shift from a bureaucratic to a collaborative system of organization.
By collaboration the author means working together to achieve a shared objective that cannot be reached without the contribution of all, and, in particular, he is most interested in situations where the people working together are from very different backgrounds, with very different bases of knowledge and expertise, coming together for fairly brief periods, with no expectations of ongoing relationships. These could be internal employees (task teams made up of people from different divisions, functions, countries, and/or levels of the hierarchy), or even between different companies (collaborating with a supplier, for example). Although not mentioned in this book, I think the use of contractors (as explored in the recently read Gurus, Hired Guns, and Warm Bodies) can also fall into this category.
The main arguments made:
- Great results can be achieved by switching to a collaborative system in terms of continuous improvement and learning, balancing competing priorities, and adjusting quickly to changing environmental demands. BUT, if you don't do it right, you just end up with a mess.
- Extended collaboration requires:
a) a shift in culture from a paternalistic bureaucracy based on loyalty to a culture of contribution;
b) a change in the social infrastructure so that people can create and share an understanding of the overall goal/strategy and so they have access to the people and info (internal or external) they need for collaboration;
c) overcoming the tendency to regress to a simpler form of organization ("just doing my job", small group solidarity, loyalty to protectors);
d) interactive leadership that partially inverts the normal relationships (encouraging criticism of strategy and policy from lower-level positions, bringing customers into the decision-making process).
- This whole process is fairly new, and there are still major problems to solve, including:
a) Accountability: how do you evaluate and reward contribution to the strategic mission when people aren't being assigned well-defined tasks?
b) Careers: there is a lack of support for the mobility required of workers in an environment where tasks and projects change frequently. And this whole approach creates greater insecurity for any but the most sought-after employees. (less)