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News & Opinion

Business Beach Reads?

Sally Haldorson

July 21, 2011


We try to keep most of our recommendations oriented around business reading, but we do get an eclectic selection of books sent to us. Since I'm about to take a few days of stay-cation, it seemed just the right time to suggest this multifarious collection of reads appropriate for hot summer days. These books may not spark a change revolution in your company or inspire the perfect new product to rush into development, but, they will entertain you and make you think--just a little, but not too much, because after all, it is vacation.

We try to keep most of our recommendations oriented around business reading, but we do get an eclectic selection of books sent to us. Since I'm about to take a few days of stay-cation, it seemed just the right time to suggest this multifarious collection of reads appropriate for hot summer days. These books may not spark a change revolution in your company or inspire the perfect new product to rush into development, but, they will entertain you and make you think--just a little, but not too much, because after all, it is vacation. STORIES ABOUT BAD GUYS GONE GOOD Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: How I went from Gang Member to Multimillionaire Entrepreneur by Ryan Blair with Don Yaeger About:
Ryan Blair knows about building a business from the ground up. Like many entrepreneurs he had no formal business education. But he had great survival instincts, tenacity, and above all, a "nothing to lose" mindset. This book is an inspirational guide for people who are willing to put in the hard work, time, and dedication needed to see their vision through to the end. Blair shares lessons from his mentors and advice from his own life-changing experiences, and provides readers with a road map for entrepreneurial success.
"You can tell a lot about a person by his or her prized possession. Besides the artwork that I own, the items I collect are not what would fetch a fortune at Sotheby's. Rather than things intended to impress someone else, my collection reminds me of the people who taught me to be a better businessman, employer, philanthropist, and person. [...] These are the things I surround myself with. Their purpose is to remind me to ask myself daily whether or not I am living up to the lessons learned from each person along the way."
Mob Rules: What the Mafia Can Teach the Legitimate Businessman by Louis Ferrante About:
As an associate of the Gambino family, Ferrante relied on his instincts to pull off some of the biggest heists in U.S. history. By the age of twenty-one, he had netted millions of dollars for his employers. His natural talent for management led Mafia bosses to rely on him. After being arrested and serving an eight-and-a-half-year prison sentence, Ferrante went straight. He realized that the Mob's most valuable business lessons would allow him to survive and thrive in the real world.
Lesson 61: The Mafia Spends Very Little on Office Supplies*: Cutting Overhead "I was shaking down this guy, Larry, who owned a large auto parts distributorship. Larry made tons of bread and had no problem throwing a few crumbs my way. Then one day, the payments stopped. Larry claimed his business no longer made a profit. I was standing in Larry's office when he cried poverty. He was wearing python-skin shoes, kicked up onto a Louis Whatever-the-King desk. He had a thirty-thousand-dollar Bulgari watch on his wrist, a fifty-dollar cigar was stinking up his office, and a giant TV hung on the wall. Outside his office, at least fifty people worked at their desks. [...] Scrutinize your expenses. Every nickel you cut from overhead is an extra nickel in your purse."
STORIES ABOUT BAD GUYS DOING BAD The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of A Serial Imposter by Mark Seal About:
A real-life "Talented Mr. Ripley," the unbelievable thirty-year run of a shape-shifting con man. The story of Clark Rockefeller is a stranger-than-fiction twist on the classic American success story of the self-made man-because Clark Rockefeller was totally made up. The career con man who convincingly passed himself off as Rockefeller was born in a small village in Germany. At seventeen, obsessed with getting to America, he flew into the country on dubious student visa documents and his journey of deception began.
Clark Rockefeller not only snowed the school with his famous family name and promised munificence, he snowed the parents in the living room, they both had to admit, so much that they were comfortable leaving their daughter with him at times. "He would watch the girls," said the mother. "Is Uncle Clark a genius?" asked the daughter. "Perhaps," said the father. "I don't know. But he's a bright guy. I'll tell you that. He knew how to push people's button, what to say, to get their attention."
The Steal: A Cultural History of Shoplifting by Rachel Shteir About:
[T]he first serious study of shoplifting, looking to history to reveal the roots of our modern dilemma. Dismissed by academia, sensationalized by the mainstream media, and largely misunderstood, shoplifting has become the territory of moralists, mischievous teenagers, tabloid television, and self-help gurus. But shoplifting incurs remarkable real-life costs for retailers and consumers....The theft of one $5 item from Whole Foods can require sales of hundreds of dollars to break even.
"When the first trial of a shoplifter who was not a prostitute or a professional took place in England in the spring of 1800, it turned on the question of whether she really stole or whether she was a victim of dishonest shopkeepers. The trial is notorious because this alleged shoplifter belonged to literary royalty: Jane Leigh Perrot was Jane Austen's aunt."
A STORY ABOUT GOOD GUYS DOING GOOD The Sorcerers and Their Apprentices: How the Digital Magicians of the MIT Media Lab Are Creating the Innovative Technologies That Will Transform Our Lives by Frank Moss About:
If you've ever read a book on an e-reader, unleashed your inner rock star by playing Guitar Hero, built a robot with LEGO Mindstorms, or ridden in a vehicle with child-safe air bags, then you've experienced just a few of the astounding innovations that have come out of the MIT Media Lab over the past twenty-five years....In this exhilarating tour of the Media Lab's inner sanctums, we'll meet these professors and their students--the sorcerers and their apprentices--witness firsthand the creative magic behind [the] inventions....
"Though they might not look like Rosie, the comical housekeeper from the 1960s TV animated sitcom The Jetsons, some robots have been put to work doing things humans would rather not be bothered to do in the home. Still, the impact of robots on ordinary people's everyday lives has been extremely limited to date. The majority of robots in people's homes today are merely toys and gadgets, entertaining but largely impractical holiday and birthday gifts that spend most of their lifetime in the recipients' storage closets." However, this is about to change because the barriers to widespread integration of robots in our lives and homes are about to come tumbling down.
BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE YOU PONDER Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson (and Kurt Anderson) About:
Redefining the classic essay, this modern edition of Ralph Waldo Emerson's most famous work, Self-Reliance, includes self-reflections from both historical and contemporary luminaries. With quotes from the likes of Henry Ford and Helen Keller to modern-day thought leaders like Jesse Dylan, Steve Pressfield, and Milton Glaser, we're reminded of the relevance of Emerson's powerful words today.
"Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. (Emerson) "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trail and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved." (Helen Keller)
Off Balance: Getting Beyond the Work-Life Balance Myth to Personal and Professional Satisfaction by Matthew Kelly About:
One of the major issues in our lives today is work-life balance. Everyone wants it; no one has it. But Matthew Kelly believes that work- life balance was a mistake from the start. Because we don't really want balance. We want satisfaction. Kelly lays out the system he uses with his clients, his team, and himself to find deep, long-term satisfaction both personally and professionally.
"Systems drive behaviors. Certain behaviors lead to certain outcomes. If you know what outcome you desire, the next step is to identify what type of behaviors will produce that outcome."
BOOKS THAT WILL MAKE YOU LAUGH Write More Good: An Absolutely Phony Guide by The Bureau Chiefs About:
In the grand tradition of The Onion and The Daily Show, the media satirists behind the sensationally popular Twitter feed @FakeAPStylebook have produced the definitive guide on how (not) to write, tuned to the precise frequency of the Internet age. Maybe it's time to face up to reality: writing clearly, checking facts, and correcting typos are dying arts. Whether you're a jaded producer of media or a nitpicking consumer of it, this book will help you to embrace, not resist the lowering standards for the printed word!
Chapter 7: The Shiny Money Box, or, Technology and the Death of All Paper "If you are doing research on the Internet, never use anything in the first page of results. In order to make it seem as though you took more than ten seconds to Google the facts and figures in your article, take your information from the fifth or sixth page of Google results. Even better, don't use Google at all. Instead, try a more obscure tool like Lycos or Gigablast, to keep everyone guessing about how you found your sources."
Damn You, Auto Correct! by Jillian Madison About:
If you own an iPhone, Blackberry, Droid, or any smartphone, there's a good chance you've screamed that phrase out at least once. Filled with submissions from readers of her popular website, this laugh-out-loud [Ed: Seriously...the people in this office cry with laughter over this book] funny book features cringe-worthy exchanges with parents, friends, significant others, and co-workers that contain some of the most unintentionally hilarious--and mortifying--mistakes ever caused by Autocorrect.
Seriously...some of the best examples would be completely inappropriate to put on this respectable(?) blog. Pick up a copy of the book or check out Madison's website for a taste.

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