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Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement

New York Times columnist Brooks (Bobos in Paradise) raids Malcolm Gladwell's pop psychology turf in a wobbly treatise on brain science, human nature, and public policy. Essentially a satirical novel interleaved with disquisitions on mirror neurons and behavioral economics, the narrative chronicles the life cycle of a fictional couple—Harold, a historian working at a think tank, and Erica, a Chinese-Chicana cable-TV executive—as a case study of the nonrational roots of social behaviors, from mating and shopping to voting. Their story lets Brooks mock the affluent and trendy while advancing soft neoconservative themes: that genetically ingrained emotions and biases trump reason; that social problems require cultural remedies (charter schools, not welfare payments); that the class divide is about intelligence, deportment, and taste, not money or power. Brooks is an engaging guide to the "cognitive revolution" in psychology, but what he shows us amounts mainly to restating platitudes. (Women like men with money, we learn, while men like women with breasts.) His attempt to inflate recent research on neural mechanisms into a grand worldview yields little except buzz concepts—"society is a layering of networks"—no more persuasive than the rationalist dogmas he derides.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem: The Definitive Work on Self-Esteem by the Leading Pioneer in the Field

Nathaniel Branden's book is the culmination of a lifetime of clinical practice and study, already hailed in its hardcover edition as a classic and the most significant work on the topic. Immense in scope and vision and filled with insight into human motivation and behavior, The Six Pillars Of Self-Esteem is essential reading for anyone with a personal or professional interest in self-esteem. The book demonstrates compellingly why self-esteem is basic to psychological health, achievement, personal happiness, and positive relationships. Branden introduces the six pillars-six action-based practices for daily living that provide the foundation for self-esteem-and explores the central importance of self-esteem in five areas: the workplace, parenting, education, psychotherapy, and the culture at large. The work provides concrete guidelines for teachers, parents, managers, and therapists who are responsible for developing the self-esteem of others. And it shows why-in today's chaotic and competitive world-self-esteem is fundamental to our personal and professional power.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future

Reich (Supercapitalism), secretary of labor under Bill Clinton and former economic adviser to President Obama, argues that Obama's stimulus package will not catalyze real recovery because it fails to address 40 years of increasing income inequality. The lessons are in the roots of and responses to the Great Depression, according to Reich, who compares the speculation frenzies of the 1920s–1930s with present-day ones, while showing how Keynesian forerunners like FDR's Federal Reserve Board chair, Marriner Eccles, diagnosed wealth disparity as the leading stress leading up to the Depression. By contrast, sharing the gains of an expanding economy with the middle class brought unprecedented prosperity in the postwar decades, as the majority of workers earned enough to buy what they produced. Despite occasional muddled analyses (of the offshoring of industrial production in the 1990s, for example), Reich's thesis is well argued and frighteningly plausible: without a return to the "basic bargain" (that workers are also consumers), the "aftershock" of the Great Recession includes long-term high unemployment and a political backlash--a crisis, he notes with a sort of grim optimism, that just might be painful enough to encourage necessary structural reforms.


The Book of Awesome

In this adaptation of his blog www.1000awesomethings.com, Pasricha celebrates the simple pleasures of everyday living. Focusing on both tangible pleasures and simple experiences, Pasricha provides a contemporary take on everyday inspiration that skips the typical Chicken Soup for the Soul fare: "When you push the button for the elevator and it's already there," ("Ding!"); "When the boss goes out of town" ("Who's up for a three-hour lunch?"); "Peeling that thin plastic film off new electronics" ("Welcome to the world, remote control"). Other items get more substantial discussions, including the other side of the pillow, old playground equipment, hotel lobby bathrooms, the last day of school, and the five-second rule. Though tongue-in-cheek, Pasricha emerges a committed but inviting optimist, combating life's unending stream of bad news by identifying opportunities to "share a universal high five with humanity." Readers looking for simple, unsentimental pick-me-ups should find this happy browsing.


Business Model Generation - A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers

Business Model Generation is a handbook for visionaries, game changers, and challengers striving to defy outmoded business models and design tomorrow's enterprises. If your organization needs to adapt to harsh new realities, but you don't yet have a strategy that will get you out in front of your competitors, you need Business Model Generation.

Co-created by 470 "Business Model Canvas" practitioners from 45 countries, the book features a beautiful, highly visual, 4-color design that takes powerful strategic ideas and tools, and makes them easy to implement in your organization. It explains the most common Business Model patterns, based on concepts from leading business thinkers, and helps you reinterpret them for your own context. You will learn how to systematically understand, design, and implement a game-changing business model--or analyze and renovate an old one. Along the way, you'll understand at a much deeper level your customers, distribution channels, partners, revenue streams, costs, and your core value proposition.

Business Model Generation features practical innovation techniques used today by leading consultants and companies worldwide, including 3M, Ericsson, Capgemini, Deloitte, and others. Designed for doers, it is for those ready to abandon outmoded thinking and embrace new models of value creation: for executives, consultants, entrepreneurs, and leaders of all organizations. If you're ready to change the rules, you belong to "the business model generation!"

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America [Hardcover]

Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) delivers a trenchant look into the burgeoning business of positive thinking. A bout with breast cancer puts the author face to face with this new breed of frenetic positive thinking promoted by everyone from scientists to gurus and activists. Chided for her anger and distress by doctors and fellow cancer patients and survivors, Ehrenreich explores the insistence upon optimism as a cultural and national trait, discovering its symbiotic relationship with American capitalism and how poverty, obesity, unemployment and relationship problems are being marketed as obstacles that can be overcome with the right (read: positive) mindset. Building on Max Weber's insights into the relationship between Calvinism and capitalism, Ehrenreich sees the dark roots of positive thinking emerging from 19th-century religious movements. Mary Baker Eddy, William James and Norman Vincent Peale paved the path for today's secular $9.6 billion self-improvement industry and positive psychology institutes. The author concludes by suggesting that the bungled invasion of Iraq and current economic mess may be intricately tied to this reckless national penchant for self-delusion and a lack of anxious vigilance, necessary to societal survival.