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Friday, July 23, 2010

Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits

Within the pages of this transformational book, Dr. Wayne W. Dyer reveals how to change the self-defeating thinking patterns that have prevented you from living at the highest levels of success, happiness, and health. Even though you may know what to think, actually changing those thinking habits that have been with you since childhood might be somewhat challenging.

If I changed, it would create family dramas . . . I’m too old or too young . . . I’m far too busy and tired . . . I can’t afford the things I truly want . . . It would be very difficult for me to do things differently . . . and I’ve always been this way . . . may all seem to be true, but they’re in fact just excuses. So the business of modifying habituated thinking patterns really comes down to tossing out the same tired old excuses and examining your beliefs in a new and truthful light.

In this groundbreaking work, Wayne presents a compendium of conscious and subconscious crutches employed by virtually everyone, along with ways to cast them aside once and for all. You’ll learn to apply specific questions to any excuse, and then proceed through the steps of a new paradigm. The old, habituated ways of thinking will melt away as you experience the absurdity of hanging on to them.

You’ll ultimately realize that there are no excuses worth defending, ever, even if they’ve always been part of your life—and the joy of releasing them will resonate throughout your very being. When you eliminate the need to explain your shortcomings or failures, you’ll awaken to the life of your dreams.

Excuses . . . Begone!


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Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking


Starred Review. Best-selling author Gladwell (The Tipping Point) has a dazzling ability to find commonality in disparate fields of study. As he displays again in this entertaining and illuminating look at how we make snap judgments—about people's intentions, the authenticity of a work of art, even military strategy—he can parse for general readers the intricacies of fascinating but little-known fields like professional food tasting (why does Coke taste different from Pepsi?). Gladwell's conclusion, after studying how people make instant decisions in a wide range of fields from psychology to police work, is that we can make better instant judgments by training our mind and senses to focus on the most relevant facts—and that less input (as long as it's the right input) is better than more. Perhaps the most stunning example he gives of this counterintuitive truth is the most expensive war game ever conducted by the Pentagon, in which a wily marine officer, playing "a rogue military commander" in the Persian Gulf and unencumbered by hierarchy, bureaucracy and too much technology, humiliated American forces whose chiefs were bogged down in matrixes, systems for decision making and information overload. But if one sets aside Gladwell's dazzle, some questions and apparent inconsistencies emerge. If doctors are given an algorithm, or formula, in which only four facts are needed to determine if a patient is having a heart attack, is that really educating the doctor's decision-making ability—or is it taking the decision out of the doctor's hands altogether and handing it over to the algorithm? Still, each case study is satisfying, and Gladwell imparts his own evident pleasure in delving into a wide range of fields and seeking an underlying truth.

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life: The Breakthrough Program for Conquering Anxiety, Depression, Obsessiveness, Anger, and Impulsiveness

Clinical neuroscientist and psychiatrist Amen uses nuclear brain imaging to diagnose and treat behavioral problems. He explains how the brain works, what happens when things go wrong, and how to optimize brain function. Five sections of the brain are discussed, and case studies clearly illustrate possible problems. The accompanying brain-scan photos are difficult to read with an untrained eye. Although Amen provides step-by-step "prescriptions" geared toward optimizing and healing the different sections of the brain ("create a library of wonderful experiences"; "try meditation/self-hypnosis"), 80 percent of the patients in his case studies were given medication to treat their behavioral problems. The audience for this book is ambiguous. While it encourages readers to evaluate themselves and others, it would be more useful to a professional in the social sciences than to the general reader. Buy where self-help or brain-research books are popular.?Maria Uzdavinis, Rochester P.L., NH

In this age of do-it-yourself health care (heck, if the doctor only sees you for 10 minutes each visit, what other options are there?), Change Your Brain, Change Your Life fits in perfectly. Filled with "brain prescriptions" (among them cognitive exercises and nutritional advice) that are geared toward readers who've experienced anxiety, depression, impulsiveness, excessive anger or worry, and obsessive behavior, Change Your Brain, Change Your Life milks the mind-body connection for all it's worth.

Written by a psychiatrist and neuroscientist who has also authored a book on attention deficit disorder, Change Your Brain contains dozens of brain scans of patients with various neurological problems, from caffeine, nicotine, and heroin addiction to manic-depression to epilepsy. These scans, often showing large gaps in neurological activity or areas of extreme overactivity, are downright frightening to look at, and Dr. Amen should know better than to resort to such scare tactics. But he should also be commended for advocating natural remedies, including deep breathing, guided imagery, meditation, self-hypnosis, and biofeedback for treating disorders that are so frequently dealt with by prescription only. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Download Link: http://www.mediafire.com/?3dkzjbzqjebdkyp

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Get Off Your "But": How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself

Starred Review. In Stephenson's powerful and practical debut, the psychotherapist and professional speaker reveals how to banish self-doubt and insecurity in a world where they may seem omnipresent. Beginning with the source of his own struggle, a rare and painful disease that causes his bones to weaken and break under minimal pressure, Stephenson offers a structured approach to a wide array of topics, including dating, weight loss, lack of motivation, friendship, finances, and goals. While his advice is encouraging and insightful, Stephenson's text is also notable for examples, mottos and resonant personal stories of enormous obstacles and accomplishments (his work with the Clinton administration, attaining his Ph.D., opening his own private practice). Though his unwavering optimism can be daunting (bringing one's day-to-day gripes into sharp relief), Stephenson is empowering and uplifting throughout, and should prove helpful whether facing a lifelong challenge or a more immediate battle.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity

With first-chapter allusions to martial arts, "flow," "mind like water," and other concepts borrowed from the East (and usually mangled), you'd almost think this self-helper from David Allen should have been called Zen and the Art of Schedule Maintenance.

Not quite. Yes, Getting Things Done offers a complete system for downloading all those free-floating gotta-do's clogging your brain into a sophisticated framework of files and action lists--all purportedly to free your mind to focus on whatever you're working on. However, it still operates from the decidedly Western notion that if we could just get really, really organized, we could turn ourselves into 24/7 productivity machines. (To wit, Allen, whom the New Economy bible Fast Company has dubbed "the personal productivity guru," suggests that instead of meditating on crouching tigers and hidden dragons while you wait for a plane, you should unsheathe that high-tech saber known as the cell phone and attack that list of calls you need to return.)

As whole-life-organizing systems go, Allen's is pretty good, even fun and therapeutic. It starts with the exhortation to take every unaccounted-for scrap of paper in your workstation that you can't junk, The next step is to write down every unaccounted-for gotta-do cramming your head onto its own scrap of paper. Finally, throw the whole stew into a giant "in-basket"

That's where the processing and prioritizing begin; in Allen's system, it get a little convoluted at times, rife as it is with fancy terms, subterms, and sub-subterms for even the simplest concepts. Thank goodness the spine of his system is captured on a straightforward, one-page flowchart that you can pin over your desk and repeatedly consult without having to refer back to the book. That alone is worth the purchase price. Also of value is Allen's ingenious Two-Minute Rule: if there's anything you absolutely must do that you can do right now in two minutes or less, then do it now, thus freeing up your time and mind tenfold over the long term. It's commonsense advice so obvious that most of us completely overlook it, much to our detriment; Allen excels at dispensing such wisdom in this useful, if somewhat belabored, self-improver aimed at everyone from CEOs to soccer moms (who we all know are more organized than most CEOs to start with). --Timothy Murphy

Download Link: http://www.mediafire.com/?mju2mxt2gtn

Monday, July 19, 2010

Purple Cow, New Edition: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

The classic bestseller that taught the business world that safe is risky; very good is bad; and above all, you're either remarkable or invisible

In 2002, Seth Godin asked a simple question that turned the business world upside down: What do Starbucks and JetBlue and Apple and Dutch Boy and Hard Candy have that other companies don't? How did they confound critics and achieve spectacular growth, leaving behind formerly tried-and-true brands?

Godin showed that the traditional Ps that marketers had used for decades to get their products noticed-pricing, promotion, publicity, packaging, etc.-weren't working anymore. Marketers were ignoring the most important P of all: the Purple Cow.

Cows, after you've seen one or two or ten, are boring. A Purple Cow, though . . . now that would be something. Godin defines a Purple Cow as anything phenomenal, counterintuitive, exciting . . . remarkable. Every day, consumers ignore a lot of brown cows, but you can bet they won't ignore a Purple Cow.

You can't paint your product or service purple after the fact. You have to be inherently purple or no one will talk about you. Godin urges you to emulate companies that are consistently remarkable in everything they do, which drives explosive word of mouth.

Purple Cow launched a movement to create products and services that are worth marketing in the first place. Now this expanded edition includes dozens of new examples from readers who've taken the message to heart.

The world is changing ever more rapidly, and the rules of marketing are no different, writes Godin, the field's reigning guru. The old ways-run-of-the-mill TV commercials, ads in the Wall Street Journal and so on-don't work like they used to, because such messages are so plentiful that consumers have tuned them out. This means you have to toss out everything you know and do something "remarkable" (the way a purple cow in a field of Guernseys would be remarkable) to have any effect at all, writes Godin (Permission Marketing; Unleashing the Ideavirus). He cites companies like HBO, Starbucks and JetBlue, all of which created new ways of doing old businesses and saw their brands sizzle as a result. Godin's style is punchy and irreverent, using short, sharp messages to drive his points home. As a result the book is fiery, but not entirely cohesive; at times it resembles a stream-of-consciousness monologue. Still, his wide-ranging advice-be outrageous, tell the truth, test the limits and never settle for just "very good"-is solid and timely.

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant

Kim and Mauborgne's blue ocean metaphor elegantly summarizes their vision of the kind of expanding, competitor-free markets that innovative companies can navigate. Unlike "red oceans," which are well explored and crowded with competitors, "blue oceans" represent "untapped market space" and the "opportunity for highly profitable growth." The only reason more big companies don't set sail for them, they suggest, is that "the dominant focus of strategy work over the past twenty-five years has been on competition-based red ocean strategies"-i.e., finding new ways to cut costs and grow revenue by taking away market share from the competition. With this groundbreaking book, Kim and Mauborgne-both professors at France's INSEAD, the second largest business school in the world-aim to repair that bias. Using dozens of examples-from Southwest Airlines and the Cirque du Soleil to Curves and Starbucks-they present the tools and frameworks they've developed specifically for the task of analyzing blue oceans. They urge companies to "value innovation" that focuses on "utility, price, and cost positions," to "create and capture new demand" and to "focus on the big picture, not the numbers." And while their heavyweight analytical tools may be of real use only to serious strategy planners, their overall vision will inspire entrepreneurs of all stripes, and most of their ideas are presented in a direct, jargon-free manner. Theirs is not the typical business management book's vague call to action; it is a precise, actionable plan for changing the way companies do business with one resounding piece of advice: swim for open waters.

"Blue Ocean Strategy will have you wondering why companies need so much persuasion to stay out of shark-infested waters." -- BusinessWeek, April 4th 2005

"Blue Ocean raises pertinent questions… and delivers valuable answers." -- American Way, March 2005

"Companies struggling to stay afloat in the market's...red oceans would do well to look into Blue Ocean Strategy." -- Fort Worth Star Telegram, 14 February 2005

"The book is clearly written, offering many examples of blue-ocean strategies and the techniques to develop such a scheme." -- Globe and Mail, June 8, 2005

Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco

The leveraged buyout of the RJR Nabisco Corporation for $25 billion is a landmark in American business history, a story of avarice on an epic scale. Two versions of the fierce competition for the largest buyout ever consummated are presented by skilled journalists with contrasting styles. Burrough and Helyar are clearly fascinated with the personalities of the players in the deal and with the trappings of corporate wealth. The restless, flamboyant personality of Ross Johnson, CEO of RJR Nabisco, is portrayed as the key to the events that were to unfold. The colorful description of all of the players and the events will likely have broad appeal. Lampert signals the complexity of her story by introducing her narrative with a three-page cast of characters. Her focus on the strategy of the players and on the fast-paced action provides a more concise description of a deal big enough to augment the wealth of many rich people. Business libraries will want both versions of this story of capitalism drawn to the extreme, but students, looking for a more comprehensive treatment, will favor Lampert's version.
- Joseph Barth, U.S. Military Acad. Lib., West Point, N.Y.

“Impressive qualities... delicious scenes... a cinematic yet extraordinarily careful book.” (Ken Auletta, New York Daily News )

“A superlative book...steadily builds suspense until the very end.” (Los Angeles Times Book Review )

“It’s hard to imagine a better story...and it’s hard to imagine a better account” (Chicago Tribune )

“The most piercing and compelling narrative of a deal to date.” (Boston Globe )

“The fascinating inside story of the largest corporate takeover in American history… It reads like a novel.” (Today Show )

Awaken the Giant Within : How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny!

Anthony Robbins, the nation's leader in the science of peak performance, shows you his most effective strategies and techniques for mastering your emotions, your body, your relationships, your finances, and your life. The acknowledged expert in the psychology of change, Anthony Robbins provides a step-by-step program teaching the fundamental lessons of self-mastery that will enable you to discover your true purpose, take control of your life and harness the forces that shape your destiny.

Influence The Psychology Of Persuasion

Arguably the best book ever on what is increasingly becoming the science of persuasion. Whether you're a mere consumer or someone weaving the web of persuasion to urge others to buy or vote for your product, this is an essential book for understanding the psychological foundations of marketing. Recommended.

For marketers, this book is among the most important books written in the last ten years. (Journal of Mariketing Research )

Influence should be required reading for all business majors. (Journal of Retailing )

This book will strike chords deep in the hearts and psyches of all of us. (Best Sellers Magazine )

The material in Cialdini’s Influence is a proverbial gold mine. (Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology )

Predictably Irrational; The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Irrational behavior is a part of human nature, but as MIT professor Ariely has discovered in 20 years of researching behavioral economics, people tend to behave irrationally in a predictable fashion. Drawing on psychology and economics, behavioral economics can show us why cautious people make poor decisions about sex when aroused, why patients get greater relief from a more expensive drug over its cheaper counterpart and why honest people may steal office supplies or communal food, but not money. According to Ariely, our understanding of economics, now based on the assumption of a rational subject, should, in fact, be based on our systematic, unsurprising irrationality. Ariely argues that greater understanding of previously ignored or misunderstood forces (emotions, relativity and social norms) that influence our economic behavior brings a variety of opportunities for reexamining individual motivation and consumer choice, as well as economic and educational policy. Ariely's intelligent, exuberant style and thought-provoking arguments make for a fascinating, eye-opening read.

"A marvelous book that is both thought-provoking and highly entertaining, ranging from the power of placebos to the pleasures of Pepsi. Ariely unmasks the subtle but powerful tricks that our minds play on us, and shows us how we can prevent being fooled."

Jerome Groopman, Recanati Chair of Medicine, Harvard Medical School,and New York Times bestselling author of How Doctors Think

"Dan Ariely is a genius at understanding human behavior: no economist does a better job of uncovering and explaining the hidden reasons for the weird ways we act, in the marketplace and out. Predictably Irrational will reshape the way you see the world, and yourself, for good."

James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds

"Filled with clever experiments, engaging ideas, and delightful anecdotes. Dan Ariely is a wise and amusing guide to the foibles, errors, and bloopers of everyday decision making."

Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and New York Times bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness

"This is going to be the most influential, talked-about book in years. It is so full of dazzling insights--and so engaging--that once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down."

Daniel McFadden, 2000 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Morris Cox Professor of Economics, University of California at Berkeley

Dan Ariely is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT, where he holds a joint appointment between MIT's Media Laboratory and the Sloan School of Management. He is also a researcher at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and a visiting professor at Duke University. Ariely wrote this book while he was a fellow at the Institute for Advance Study at Princeton. His work has been featured in leading scholarly journals and a variety of popular media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, theWashington Post, the Boston Globe, Scientific American, and Science. Ariely has appeared on CNN and National Public Radio. He divides his time between Durham, North Carolina, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the rest of the world.

Strengths-Based Leadership

From the author of the long-running # 1 bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0 comes a landmark study of great leaders, teams, and the reasons why people follow.

Nearly a decade ago, Gallup unveiled the results of a landmark 30-year research project that ignited a global conversation on the topic of strengths. More than 3 million people have since taken Gallup's StrengthsFinder assessment, which forms the core of several books on this topic, including the #1 international bestseller StrengthsFinder 2.0.

In recent years, while continuing to learn more about strengths, Gallup scientists have also been examining decades of data on the topic of leadership. They studied more than 1 million work teams, conducted more than 20,000 in-depth interviews with leaders, and even interviewed more than 10,000 followers around the world to ask exactly why they followed the most important leader in their life.

In Strengths Based Leadership, #1 New York Times bestselling author Tom Rath and renowned leadership consultant Barry Conchie reveal the results of this research. Based on their discoveries, the book identifies three keys to being a more effective leader: knowing your strengths and investing in others' strengths, getting people with the right strengths on your team, and understanding and meeting the four basic needs of those who look to you for leadership.

As you read Strengths Based Leadership, you'll hear firsthand accounts from some of the most successful organizational leaders in recent history, from the founder of Teach For America to the president of The Ritz-Carlton, as they discuss how their unique strengths have driven their success. Filled with novel research and actionable ideas, Strengths Based Leadership will give you a new road map for leading people toward a better future.

Download Link: http://www.mediafire.com/?1mdkmlzumzl

Using Your Brain for a Change - NLP

Let's start off with the disclaimer: I am a fan of Richard Bandler and his professional work. This is not an "objective" review. I do and train others to do NLP professionally. Richard in addition to being one of the creative geniuses behind the development of the technology does what works. This book is the movement forward for Richard (in publication) that steps away from "old" NLP to "new" NLP in terms of the utilization of submodalities. This was a massive jump for Richard in terms of his thinking about and practice of NLP (IMHO). NLP was and remains organized around how people make the distinctions that create their subjective experience ... or reality as they know it to be. The first movement was the realization of the impact and power of representational systems (the five senses - visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory and gustatory). The first wave of books by Richard and John (Grinder) are about how to access and utilize this information to model subjective experience and instigate change. Internal representations (V-A-K-O/G) were the critical component of "old" NLP for generating behavioral response and change. "New" NLP suggests that the critical components are the submodalities (smaller more precise elements of internal representation within the larger V-A-K-O/G distinctions). As is typical this book is in the form of edited transcripts taken from live training. The best way in is to read it as though it were occurring in real time - straight through letting it unfold and emerge for you as you go. What you'll find will be a series of descriptions and techniques for eliciting, recognizing and utilizing submodalities. In "Using Your Brain for Change" Richard says he's going to give the reader a "manual for running the brain" and in so doing offers a slew of examples of personal change work that are possible using submodalities and the techniques offered. Specifically 'visual' submodalities. In NLP terms this book could be called the "Swish Manual" - a particularly effect NLP change technique. However as with all NLP techniques this too is just a technique, not NLP. That said this is an excellent primer to doing "new" NLP and what's possible when you do. Enjoy this next step into NLP as one more on an ongoing journey ...


13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown

Though this blistering book identifies many causes of the recent financial crisis, from housing policy to minimum capital requirements for banks, the authors lay ultimate blame on a dominant deregulatory ideology and Wall Street's corresponding political influence. Johnson, professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and Kwak, a former consultant for McKinsey, follow American finance's rocky road from the debate between Jefferson and Hamilton over the first Bank of the United States through frequent friction between Big Finance and democracy to the Obama administration's responses to the crises. The authors take a highly critical stance toward recent palliative measures, arguing that nationalization of the banks would have been preferable to the bailouts, which have allowed the banks to further consolidate power and resources. Given the swelling size of the six megabanks, the authors make a persuasive case that the financial system cannot be secure until those banks that are too big to fail are somehow broken up. This intelligent, nuanced book might be too technical for general-interest readers, but it synthesizes a significant amount of research while advancing a coherent and compelling point of view.

Johnson and Kwak are the coauthors of The Baseline Scenario, a leading economic blog that pulls no punches when criticizing current economic policy. Just when you thought we were past the worst of the financial crisis, they are here to tell us that another potentially worse meltdown looms ahead in the future, due to the fact that nothing has really changed in the way large financial institutions do business. After the failures of banks like IndyMac, WaMu, and Wachovia, there are now just a handful of banks left that control not only all the money but also the political influence to prevent the kind of reform that is needed to rein in the industry from indulging in the risk-taking practices that got us in trouble in the first place. The government has already set the precedent that these financial institutions are “too big to fail,” thus shifting all the risk onto the American taxpayer if and when the next financial crisis occurs. The authors propose enacting strong legislation that will effectively reduce the size and scope of our national banks and make them “small enough to fail.” --Carolyn Phelan



The Secret

Supporters will hail this New Age self-help book on the law of attraction as a groundbreaking and life-changing work, finding validation in its thesis that one's positive thoughts are powerful magnets that attract wealth, health, happiness... and did we mention wealth? Detractors will be appalled by this as well as when the book argues that fleeting negative thoughts are powerful enough to create terminal illness, poverty and even widespread disasters. The audio version of this controversial book, read by Byrne and contributing authors such as John Gray and Neale Donald Walsch, is uneven at best. The cheesy, obvious sound effects will not do much to add intellectual respectability to a work that has been widely denounced as pseudoscience. Mostly, this audio is hampered by its confusing and disjointed organization—techniques that worked reasonably well in the print version and the movie, such as cutting every few seconds from one enthusiastic expert to another, make for a choppy and somewhat bewildering listening experience. The gentle cadences of Rhonda Byrne's breathy, Aussie-infused voice are certainly the best part of the audio, but her material is scarce and provides mostly connective tissue between the testimonials.

Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. For the first time, all the pieces of The Secret come together in an incredible revelation that will be life-transforming for all who experience it.

In this book, you'll learn how to use The Secret in every aspect of your life -- money, health, relationships, happiness, and in every interaction you have in the world. You'll begin to understand the hidden, untapped power that's within you, and this revelation can bring joy to every aspect of your life.

The Secret contains wisdom from modern-day teachers -- men and women who have used it to achieve health, wealth, and happiness. By applying the knowledge of The Secret, they bring to light compelling stories of eradicating disease, acquiring massive wealth, overcoming obstacles, and achieving what many would regard as impossible.

Download Link: http://www.mediafire.com/?asrg5wulmhxjr3x

Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive

"This easy-to-read summary of the social-psychological research on persuasion really does tell people how to get to 'yes.' Since we are all selling something, including ourselves, all the time, everyone can, and will be, reading this amazing book."-- Jeffrey Pfeffer, professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and author of What Were They Thinking? Unconventional Wisdom About Management

"Yes! is the single best introduction to and distillation of research and wisdom on how to change people's minds, including your own."-- Warren Bennis, Distinguished Professor of Business, University of Southern California, author of On Becoming a Leader and coauthor of Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls

"Yes! is the Freakonomics of social psychology. This book changed my way of looking at the world. This thinking is the real deal. Don't miss out!"-- Daniel Finkelstein, Comment Editor,The Times (London)

"If you had a team of bright guys looking for research that you can actually use to improve your effectiveness, and they wrote it up for you with wit and style, putting it in nifty little reports of three to five pages, would that be useful? YES! This book is the trifecta: first-rate research, lively writing, and practical advice. Read it, enjoy it, use it."-- Dale Dauten, nationally syndicated King Features columnist and author of The Gifted Boss

Blair Hardman brings competent and generally pleasant—if not particularly animated or memorable—delivery to this practical collection of tips and tricks. The content itself—divided into 50 minichapters—proves ready-made for the audiobook format. Listeners with short commutes can sample a tidbit or two on each leg of their journey and not find the listening disjointing, though the concluding sections devoted to the nuances of cross-cultural persuasive communication may not be quite as easily digested as the more general findings and insights. Fans of Freakonomics and The Tipping Point form a built-in audience for whom the relevance of the material will likely trump any concerns about the dry presentation. A Free Press hardcover(Reviews, Apr. 14).

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable: With a new section: "On Robustness and Fragility"


Four hundred years ago, Francis Bacon warned that our minds are wired to deceive us. "Beware the fallacies into which undisciplined thinkers most easily fall--they are the real distorting prisms of human nature." Chief among them: "Assuming more order than exists in chaotic nature." Now consider the typical stock market report: "Today investors bid shares down out of concern over Iranian oil production." Sigh. We're still doing it.

Our brains are wired for narrative, not statistical uncertainty. And so we tell ourselves simple stories to explain complex thing we don't--and, most importantly, can't--know. The truth is that we have no idea why stock markets go up or down on any given day, and whatever reason we give is sure to be grossly simplified, if not flat out wrong.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb first made this argument in Fooled by Randomness, an engaging look at the history and reasons for our predilection for self-deception when it comes to statistics. Now, in The Black Swan: the Impact of the Highly Improbable, he focuses on that most dismal of sciences, predicting the future. Forecasting is not just at the heart of Wall Street, but it’s something each of us does every time we make an insurance payment or strap on a seat belt.

The problem, Nassim explains, is that we place too much weight on the odds that past events will repeat (diligently trying to follow the path of the "millionaire next door," when unrepeatable chance is a better explanation). Instead, the really important events are rare and unpredictable. He calls them Black Swans, which is a reference to a 17th century philosophical thought experiment. In Europe all anyone had ever seen were white swans; indeed, "all swans are white" had long been used as the standard example of a scientific truth. So what was the chance of seeing a black one? Impossible to calculate, or at least they were until 1697, when explorers found Cygnus atratus in Australia.

Nassim argues that most of the really big events in our world are rare and unpredictable, and thus trying to extract generalizable stories to explain them may be emotionally satisfying, but it's practically useless. September 11th is one such example, and stock market crashes are another. Or, as he puts it, "History does not crawl, it jumps." Our assumptions grow out of the bell-curve predictability of what he calls "Mediocristan," while our world is really shaped by the wild powerlaw swings of "Extremistan."

In full disclosure, I'm a long admirer of Taleb's work and a few of my comments on drafts found their way into the book. I, too, look at the world through the powerlaw lens, and I too find that it reveals how many of our assumptions are wrong. But Taleb takes this to a new level with a delightful romp through history, economics, and the frailties of human nature. --Chris Anderson

In business and government, major money is spent on prediction. Uselessly, according to Taleb, who administers a severe thrashing to MBA- and Nobel Prize-credentialed experts who make their living from economic forecasting. A financial trader and current rebel with a cause, Taleb is mathematically oriented and alludes to statistical concepts that underlie models of prediction, while his expressive energy is expended on roller-coaster passages, bordering on gleeful diatribes, on why experts are wrong. They neglect Taleb's metaphor of "the black swan," whose discovery invalidated the theory that all swans are white. Taleb rides this manifestation of the unpredicted event into a range of phenomena, such as why a book becomes a best-seller or how an entrepreneur becomes a billionaire, taking pit stops with philosophers who have addressed the meaning of the unexpected and confounding. Taleb projects a strong presence here that will tempt outside-the-box thinkers into giving him a look. Gilbert Taylor

Switch - How to Change Things When Change is Hard

"Change is hard." "People hate change." Those were two of the most common quotes we heard when we began to study change.

But it occurred to us that if people hate change, they have a funny way of showing it. Every iPhone sold serves as counter-evidence. So does every text message sent, every corporate merger finalized, every aluminum can recycled. And we haven’t even mentioned the biggest changes: Getting married. Having kids. (If people hate change, then having a kid is an awfully dumb decision.)

It puzzled us--why do some huge changes, like marriage, come joyously, while some trivial changes, like submitting an expense report on time, meet fierce resistance?

We found the answer in the research of some brilliant psychologists who’d discovered that people have two separate “systems” in their brains—a rational system and an emotional system. The rational system is a thoughtful, logical planner. The emotional system is, well, emotional—and impulsive and instinctual.

When these two systems are in alignment, change can come quickly and easily (as when a dreamy-eyed couple gets married). When they’re not, change can be grueling (as anyone who has struggled with a diet can attest).

In those situations where change is hard, is it possible to align the two systems? Is it possible to overcome our internal "schizophrenia" about change? We believe it is.

In our research, we studied people trying to make difficult changes: People fighting to lose weight and keep it off. Managers trying to overhaul an entrenched bureaucracy. Activists combatting seemingly intractable problems such as child malnutrition. They succeeded--and, to our surprise, we found striking similarities in the strategies they used. They seemed to share a similar game plan. We wanted, in Switch, to make that game plan available to everyone, in hopes that we could show people how to make the hard changes in life a little bit easier. --Chip and Dan Heath

From Publishers Weekly

The Heath brothers (coauthors of Made to Stick) address motivating employees, family members, and ourselves in their analysis of why we too often fear change. Change is not inherently frightening, but our ability to alter our habits can be complicated by the disjunction between our rational and irrational minds: the self that wants to be swimsuit-season ready and the self that acquiesces to another slice of cake anyway. The trick is to find the balance between our powerful drives and our reason. The authors' lessons are backed up by anecdotes that deal with such things as new methods used to reform abusive parents, the revitalization of a dying South Dakota town, and the rebranding of megastore Target. Through these lively examples, the Heaths speak energetically and encouragingly on how to modify our behaviors and businesses. This clever discussion is an entertaining and educational must-read for executives and for ordinary citizens looking to get out of a rut. (Mar.)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win

THE NEW YORK TIMES, WALL STREET JOURNAL, AND USA TODAY BESTSELLER!

Before you ask, "Why aren't my employees working harder?" . . . ask yourself, "Why are my employees working?"

ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE WHY OF WORK:

"Will help managers create a sense of purpose among employees, motivating them and inspiring them to break out to do more."—Publishers Weekly

"Principled, timely, and engaging, The Why of Work teaches that building a culture of abundance and common purpose is essential to organizational success." -- Stephen R. Covey, bestselling author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"Will have a major impact on how individuals shape their attitude to work, how organizations create abundant cultures, and how leaders turn personal meaning into public good." -- Jigmi Y. Thinley, Prime Minister of Bhutan

"The Why of Work shows a better, different way to build and lead organizations. It is an insightful guide to how leaders can infuse meaning into their organizations." -- Jeffrey Pfeffer, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business and author of Power: Why Some People Have It—and Others Don't

"This book brings the question 'why' to the place in which we spend most of our adult lives, giving us insightful tools to help make a meaningful difference in people's lives." -- Don Hall, Jr., president and CEO, Hallmark Cards, Inc.

"This is a must read for anyone who works, leads others at work, or works to build a supportive environment." -- Beverly Kaye, founder/CEO, Career Systems International, and coauthor of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay

"Breaks new ground . . . . Going beyond competence and commitment to create abundance at work could be the next frontier for leaders." -- Paul Humphries, EVP Human Resources, Flextronics

"The Why of Work opens the door to significant employee engagement. The alignment between company values and those of customers and communities can indeed give employees a sense of purpose while delivering great results to customers!" -- Paula S. Larson, Chief HR Officer, Invesys

"Blackstone has proved that finding superior leaders produces superior results. Dave Ulrich has brought this thinking to a new level at Blackstone. Every private equity investor and senior manager must read this book." -- James Quella, Senior Operating Partner, The Blackstone Group

According to studies, we all work for the same thing--and it's not just money. It's meaning. Through our work, we seek a sense of purpose, contribution, connection, value, and hope. Digging down to the meaning of work taps our resilience in hard times and our passion in good times. That's the simple but profound premise behind this groundbreaking book by renowned management expert Dave Ulrich and psychologist Wendy Ulrich. They've talked to thousands of people--from rank-and-file workers to clients and customers to top-level executives--and synthesized major disciplines to identify the "why" behind our most successful experiences.

Using the model of the "abundant organization," they provide you with the "how" to create meaning and value in your own workplace. Learn how to:

  • Ask the seven questions that drive abundance
  • Understand the needs of your customers and staff
  • Personalize the work to motivate your employees
  • Build and grow your business in any economy

By following the Ulrichs' step-by-step guidelines, you will set off a chain reaction of positive and enduring effects. Employees who fi nd meaning in their work are more competent, committed, and eager to contribute—and their contribution will result in increased customer commitment, which delivers a winning performance on the bottom line.

The Why of Work includes targeted checklists, questionnaires, and other useful tools to help you turn aspirations into action. Using the proven principles of abundance, you can coordinate your needs with those of your employers, your employees, and your customers--and create a vision that resonates for years to come. When you understand why we work, you know how to succeed.

DAVE ULRICH, PH.D., is a professor of business at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, and cofounder of The RBL Group. He has written 23 books that cover topics in HR, leadership, and organization; he serves on the Board of Directors for Herman Miller and the Board of Trustees of Southern Virginia University; and he is a Fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources.

WENDY ULRICH, PH.D., M.B.A., has been a practicing psychologist for over 20 years. She is the founder of Sixteen Stones Center for Growth, which offers seminar-retreats on creating abundance and meaning, and she has authored two books on personal change.

About the Authors

Dave Ulrich's work passion has been how to build organization capabilities (systems, processes, cultures) that create value to multiple stakeholders, then to help leaders build intangible value in organizations. Working with over half of the Fortune 200 and with companies throughout the world, he provides seminars, writes books, and coaches leaders to build sustainable organizations by turning customer and investor expectations into personal and organizational actions. He helps leaders move beyond employee engagement to helping employees find real meaning from work. He is a professor of business at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan and co-founder of The RBL Group. He has written 15 books covering topics in HR and Leadership; is currently on the Board of Directors for Herman Miller; is a Fellow in the National Academy of Human Resources; and is on the Board of Trustees of Southern Virginia University.

Wendy Ulrich, Ph.D., has been a psychologist in private practice in Michigan for over twenty years. She is founder of Sixteen Stones Center for Growth in Utah, offering seminar-retreats on abundance. Their work with organizations and individuals intersects at helping people find meaning at work. Dave works to rethink and redefine how organizations work and Wendy works to help individuals rethink and redefine their own lives. At the same time, they are committed to the importance of the organization's responsibility to shareholders and investors as they respond to external conditions.

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