Book Smarts......4 business book reviews for the new year

Every now and then at work you need a little insight. A little extra pump in your latte. Sometimes the endorse to "do better" doesn't come from a leader at your work, in fact at least I'd say the ratio should be more like 60/40, as you should seek counsel from people in your community network in different industries and even people you don't know.... Those people are authors.

The following books have been a work/life blessing and may be perfect for you to find the extra boost for innovation and leadership or just plain work relief.


1. Freakonomics by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner

Freakonomics is probably one of the greatest books on actually explaining capitalism in the open labor market. In one chapter, they explain competitiveness by using such comparisons to that of drug dealers when looking at the stereotype that all drug dealers are rich. They further explain how when their are many people willing and able to do a job, that job is not going to pay much, showing that intense competition will drive prices down. Regardless of if you are even remotely interested in business, this book will get you thinking about be productive in ways you never thought of as well as the the more important reason of the "why" behind what works. It also acts as way to soak up more knowledge if you are not getting any in your workplace.


2.  100 Tricks to Appear Smarter in Meetings by Sarah Cooper

This book is probably the most realistic of any I have ever read. While it is more of a comedic jab at corporate life, you will soon actually start identifying types of people in your office that actual do the exact things listed in this book. It is almost like a playbook for the less confident finger gunner in your "The parrot" that will always delegate, never offer innovative ideas but always has a fresh suit and shuts down ideas that aren't their own. One of the key strategies for appearing smart is #5 "Repeat the last thing the engineer said but very, very slowly." Another is how to handle yourself in a conference room, step one, sit by the leader, so people think your co-leading the meeting. This book goes on and on, but it is a great one to lighten a stressful day at work.

3. The Secret Sauce by Dotty Bollinger

This book was actually given to me by a close friend. As far as business books, this one is written as direct as it gets. While most books about leadership use vague actions and tell you to "display confidence" and then "lead by example" things will start to turn around, they don't give you actual examples or specific direction of what the truly mean. Thus, anyone can literally interpret those things incorrectly, which I find many do. One book I read recently said "be your own boss and own yourself"....what in the actual hell. Unless you own the company, you cant really walk around making your own rules or you'll be fired and "own yourself", I want to throat punch that author. But this book not only gives you real world scenarios of things that both did and did not work, but is written rather directly. I have only found two other business books that actually spoke to some type of specific instruction, it is very hard for those that don't have the actual experience to write about. Another thing I liked, which wont be for everyone, is the fact that this is a faith based book. Typically those two things are not often mixed, however the reference points between the verses and decision making actual pair up perfectly. The book is a perfect uplifting for someoneto remind them that what strong leadership is all about. It will remind you why you do what you do and to not stray from the decisions you make.


3. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

If the world was going to end, you could consider this book the Mayan calendar (for your company). It gives great insight into the imperative building blocks of a company and how, if skipped, your going to fail. Not to be a Debbi-Downer. One can use this book to help identify key strategies for building a better team and ensuring internal cohesiveness in-line. When you walk down the hall and see one C-suite member literally running from meeting to meeting to meeting because she very well, most likely is holding the company together, and then you see another that looks like an old version of Bert from Mary Poppins that is on one of his never ending strolls about the building, you start to see that even your leadership team isn't aligned. This book points out things to look for within your organization's health to really be able to gauge your future with a company. You'll be able to see which departments have their shit together, which you can rely on as well as ones that have completely thrown accountability out the window. This nook does a great job of chopping up the key assets needed within a strong team from management and up. If anything it will offeryou insight into your current organization to either offer up change management internal or perform your own change management.

2017 will bring all types of change for everyone, hopefully these will help start to revive your strength or give you the push you need to make the decision you know is right for you.


C. & G.