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Never Be Closing: How to Sell Better Without Screwing Your Clients, Your Colleagues, or Yourself
Never Be Closing: How to Sell Better Without Screwing Your Clients, Your Colleagues, or Yourself
by Tim Hurson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.65
20 used & new from CDN$ 16.14

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why "Productive Thinking" can accelerate personal growth and professional development, Aug. 7 2014
In the film version of his play, Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet adds a new character, Blake (played by Alec Baldwin), who visits the Chicago office of a real estate company and challenges the under-performing sales force: ""A-B-C. A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing. Always be closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING. A-I-D-A. Attention, Interest, Decision, Action. Attention - Do I have you attention? Interest - Are you interested? I know you are, because it's f**k or walk. You close or you hit the bricks." The ABC approach is to say and do whatever is necessary - even if it's illegal and/or unethical - to make the sale.

I thought of that opening scene as I began to read Never Be Closing by Tim Hurson and Tim Dunne. They suggest another approach: NBC. (Steven Yastrow recommends a similar approach in Ditch the Pitch: The Art of Improvised Persuasion. He's convinced - and I agree - that the most effective communications are those that do not seem like a "pitch." Rather, they seem natural, unrehearsed, straightforward, improvised, etc.) According to Hurson and Dunne, their approach -- Productive Selling -- "isn't just a catalog of techniques to wrestle money out of a client's pocket. It' a comprehensive strategy that starts with a well-researched process for identifying and solving problems...At its essence, Productive Selling is about helping people solve problems. It focuses the power of a deliberate problem-solving process to help people. It shows you how to access your creativity to establish and maintain relationships that will be truly useful for both you and your clients over time."

Hurson introduced the Productive Thinking Model (PTM) in his previously published book, Think Better: An Innovator's Guide to Productive Thinking. In this final chapter, he asserts that -- as practiced in much of corporate America -- training "is an astonishing waste of resources" when there is no follow-through on front-end training to embed and then strengthen even more the skills taught. In fact, the word "training" has lost its meaning because it is now more commonly used to refer to information transfer rather than skill development. "Hurson prefers the word "entraining." Why? "In chemistry, to entrain means to trap suspended particles in a solution and carry them along. This concept is an apt metaphor for skill development...Entraining results in a new and different workflow. Keeping those new skill particles suspended in your workflow requires the forging of new synaptic connections, new neural pathways."

Hence the importance, the urgent importance, of mastering the Productive Thinking Model by completing a six-step process:

1. "What's Going On?": Complete a rigorous and comprehensive situation analysis.
2. "What's Success?": Determine the metrics by which impact will be measured while pursuing the given objective.
3. "What's the Question?": Peter Drucker is dead-on: "There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all." Make certain that the right question or the right problem has been identified. Drill down beyond symptoms,
4. Generate Answers: Assemble diverse points of view and brainstorm, guided and informed by the five underlying principles listed later
5. Forge the Solution: "Refine the most promising answers into robust solutions." Re-read Drucker quote.
6. Align Resources: Formulate an action plan and timeframe, then obtain resources and allocate accordingly.

The Productive Thinking framework is based on a set of underlying principles that are ways of thinking that pervade the creative problem-solving process. Here are five, accompanied by comments of mine:

1. "Be Aware of Patterned Thinking." Albert Einstein once suggested that the way of thinking that created the problems is not the way of thinking needed to solve them. Viewed another way, James O'Toole cautions against becoming hostage of what he characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom."

2. "Separate Your Thinking." That is, separate creative thinking from analytical thinking. Both can be immensely valuable but not simultaneously. The most productive brainstorming sessions generate lots of ideas. Each must then be evaluated. These are two mental processes that must be separated or neither will succeed.

3. "Reach for the Third Third." That is, during an ideation session, the first third tends to generate ideas that are average, mediocre, etc. The second third is when participants begin to reach, stretch, ask "What if?" and "Why Not?" challenge assumptions and premises, and begin to generate a few promising options. Only during the third portion of the session do breakthrough ideas begin to occur. The first two portions are essential to reaching the third.

4. "Look for Unexpected Connections." With all due respect to the importance of "connecting the dots," only on rare occasion when beginning the process are all the dots apparent. Here's how I explain this: Everyone can see all the dots in the box; the challenge is to locate others outside the given box (or inside other boxes) that must also be considered. Probably at least some of which should also be connected. More often than not, all of the chains in a box are incomplete. That's a major cause of problems to be solved.

5. "The Power of the Debrief." Hurson and Dunne provide specific tools that can be of great assistance during this critically important process of review, evaluation, confirmation or revision, and then (hopefully) commitment to appropriate action(s). Prior to major initiatives, a rigorous briefing can help to ensure its success. Similarly, an even more rigorous debriefing later will help to ensure that lessons learned will then of substantial value in months and years to come.

Throughout Never Be Closing, they provide a wealth of information, insights, and counsel that can help leaders in any organization -- whatever its size and nature may be -- to establish and then continuously improve Productive Thinking sales initiatives "without screwing" their clients, their colleagues, or themselves."

The title of this commentary correctly suggests that "Productive Thinking" can accelerate personal growth and professional development. What about organizations? I am also convinced that Productive Thinking at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise will enable it to achieve and then sustain outstanding performance in a global marketplace in which competition is more ferocious each day.

There is an observation by Yogi Berra quoted in Think Better that is one of two with which I conclude this brief commentary: "In theory there's no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is." Here's the other, from Thomas Edison: "Vision without execution is hallucination." My sincere hope is that everyone who reads this book will become well-prepared to do much less "selling" and much more "achieving."

A Literary Education and Other Essays
A Literary Education and Other Essays
Price: CDN$ 9.53

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, eloquent evidence of one writer's education: "First reality, then ideas", Aug. 7 2014
I have read most of Joseph Epstein's collections of essays dating back to Divorced in America: Marriage in an Age of Possibility (1974) but Essays in Biography was the first I have reviewed and A Literary Education will be the second. With regard to his background, here is a brief bio provided by Amazon: "Joseph Epstein is the author of the best-selling Snobbery and of Friendship, as well as the short story collections The Goldin Boys and Fabulous Small Jews, among other books, and was formerly editor of the American Scholar. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, the Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines." This is the 13th collection of Epstein's essays, with the earliest, "A Stillness at Little Rock," published in the New Leader Magazine in 1959.

The title of my review refers to what Epstein discusses in his introductory essay, "A Literary Education: On Being Well-Versed in Literature." He concludes this essay with an observation by Bertolt Brecht: "First grub, then ethics." As for Epstein, "A bad idea, I would say. A better idea is, `First reality, then ideas.' This in any case is what my own education has taught me." Also, he suggests, the material in this volume "is not united by the biographical or any other theme but instead covers the range of my interests and preoccupations as an essayist over a writing career that spans more then fifty years: education, language, the arts, magazines, intellectuals, the culture."

There are thirteen essays, with the earliest dating back to 1969. In it, "Coming of Age in Chicago," he shares a number of experiences with which I could immediately identify. I am a year older than he and also grew up in Chicago. He speaks for me and countless others when observing, "When I look back on it now, it all seems a bit like bad Damon Runyan, but it was very rich stuff at the time. The entire set-up was one I felt wonderfully comfortable in."

These are among the dozens of subjects or themes that he discusses with rigor and eloquence:

o What it means to be "well-versed in literature"
o Fraternity life at the University of Illinois
0 The defining characteristics of the 1950s
o The power of permanent opposition
o How and why Chicago was a "toddlin' town"
o Radical changes in society in the 1960s and 1970s
o What cosmetic surgery "is really all about"
o Whose country 'tis of thee?
o Why boredom is not easily defined but can be described
o What to do about the arts...especially poetry
o Culture and capitalism
o The "academic zoo" in which theory rules
o Will the liberal arts ever arise from the dead?
o The feud between prescriptives and descriptives in linguistics
o The New Leader paradigm and what it reveals

Whenever I read one of Joseph Epstein's collections of essays, I am again reminded of Whitman's statement in "Song of Myself" when asking, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then. I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes." Here is someone who can channel Myron Cohen, Descartes, Garrison Kielor, and E.B. the same essay and sometimes in the same paragraph.

Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent: How Organizations Leverage On-the-Job Development (J-B SIOP Professional Practice Series)
Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent: How Organizations Leverage On-the-Job Development (J-B SIOP Professional Practice Series)
Price: CDN$ 58.91

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why knowledge shared with others can have almost incalculable value to everyone involved, Aug. 6 2014
This is a substantial volume, co-edited by Cynthia McCauley and Morgan McCall, to which they and more than 30 associates have contributed information, insights, and counsel that will help leaders in almost any organization -- whatever its size and nature may be -- to accelerate, nourish, and sustain on-the-job development of leadership and management skills at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise.

Some of the most valuable material is provided within mini-case studies of organizations that include (listed in alpha order) Eaton, Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, HEINEKEN, IBM, Kelly Services, Microsoft, 3M, Tata Group, and Yum! Brands. Chapters are organized within five Sections. During the course of the narrative, readers will learn how their organizations can

o Develop experience-driven leadership
o Put experience at the center of talent development systems
o Design job experiences for leader development
o Maximize learning from experience

Most people find that the most valuable business lessons they learn are from failure than from success, from what hasn't worked than from what has. In fact, each "failure" (however defined) offers a precious learning opportunity. Individuals need to take full advantage of what is learned from those experiences. Moreover, of equal (if not greater) importance, organizations need a culture within which there are constant and successful knowledge transfers between and among those who comprise the workforce.

The best teachers tend to be avid students and the best way to learn is to teach other. This is precisely what Peter Senge has in mind when advocating what he characterizes as "the total learning organization" in The Fifth Disciple. Review the aforementioned strategic objectives and note the reference to "experience" in each. The value of lessons learned from experience is compounded in direct proportion to the number of people with whom they are shared, and, in extended proportion to the number of people with whom they share those lessons. This really is a two-part challenge, as suggested by Carla O'Dell and C. Jackson Grayson Jr. in If Only We Knew What We Know: The Transfer of Internal Knowledge and Best Practice.

They focus on what they call "beds of knowledge" which are "hidden resources of intelligence that exist in almost every organization, relatively untapped and unmined." They suggest all manner of effective strategies to "tap into "this hidden asset, capturing it, organizing it, transferring it, and using it to create customer value, operational excellence, and product innovation -- all the while increasing profits and effectiveness."

Almost all organizations claim that their "most valuable assets walk out the door at the end of each business day." That is correct. Almost all intellectual "capital" is stored between two ears and much (too much) of it is, for whatever reasons, inaccessible to others except in "small change."

Almost everything anyone needs to know about how to leverage on-the-job development can be found in Using Experience to Develop Leadership Talent. One of the many substantial benefits of the approach taken in this book is that as workers share experience-driven knowledge, they will become convinced of the value of such interaction -- to them as well as to associates -- and will become "evangelists" of experience-driven learning.

In the final chapter, "Concluding Thoughts," Cynthia McCauley and Morgan McCall observe: "Leaders have always learned from their experiences and they will continue to do so even without organizational intervention. However, a the authors in this book demonstrate, line managers and HR professionals can create the conditions for more learning by more leaders and for learning focused in areas that will advance the business strategy and the health of the organization. And they can deflect or dampen the forces that thwart learning from experience."


Independence: The Tangled Roots of the American Revolution
Independence: The Tangled Roots of the American Revolution
by Thomas P. Slaughter
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.08
32 used & new from CDN$ 20.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Independence: The Tangled Roots of the American Revolution, Aug. 5 2014
The question posed by Adams in a letter to Thomas Jefferson evokes others such as “What were the roots of the process that led to the Declaration of Independence?” and “What could have –prevented the war that followed? In the same letter, Adams then suggests, “The Revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760 to 1775, in the course of fifteen years before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington.” In fact, as Thomas Slaughter suggests, its roots were indeed “tangled.”

As early as 1689, colonials were already outraged by the fact that they did not have the same rights and representation as those in Britain did. “Disputes over sovereignty had begun in the seventeenth century with the very first charters on which the colonies based their claims; they continued as the colonies made treaties and waged war with Indians, skirted the Navigation Acts of 1651-1673, and then turned violently against British authority in Bacon’s Rebellion and the colonial uprisings associated with the Glorious Revolution of 1689.”

As I worked my way through Slaughter’s narrative, I kept asking myself, “Why wasn’t independence declared sooner?” Slaughter suggests several reasons, all of them plausible. At one point, he discusses “social processes across the colonies ” that had to be completed. That makes sense but surely there were other factors at play. The aforementioned “rights” that had been denied to colonials, for example, the thoroughly discussed issue of taxation without representation. I tend to view the timing of the Declaration as being about right, after every effort had been to redress various grievances. Those in authority in Britain – including King George – were primarily concerned about controlling the colonies and had little (if any) interest in addressing anything else.

Thomas Slaughter does a brilliant job of untangling various “roots,” while suggesting, “Americans did not win separation from the British Empire, but they declared their independence in 1776, as they had been doing individually and collectively for the first 170 years…Americans continue to seek the independence at the core of our culture. It remains the lodestone of our politics, our ideology, and our wish for the rest of the world, and it I an anchor that inhibits our ability to define community broadly and generously. It is who we are and what we are – a link to our past, a defining feature of our present, and our legacy for the future.”

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out three others: John Ferling's Setting the World Ablaze: Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and the American Revolution, Edmund S. Morgan's American Heroes: Profiles of Men and Women Who Shaped Early America, and Bernard Bailyn ‘s The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution.

A Little History of Literature
A Little History of Literature
by John Sutherland
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 16.62
40 used & new from CDN$ 15.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant perspectives on a wealth of (mostly British) literature, Aug. 5 2014
Since childhood, I have cherished books as "magic carpets" by which to visit human experiences that would not have otherwise been accessible to me. The ten-year siege of Troy, for example, and then Odysseus' ten-year return voyage to Ithaca as well as the Italian Renaissance (and Dante), the Age of Elizabeth (and Shakespeare), and more recently, Hawthorne's New England, Dickens' London, Twain's Mississippi, and Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County.

More often than not, I am reading and/or re-reading three or four books at any one time and that was the situation recently when accompanying two of my favorite authors, Michael Dirda and John Sutherlnd, during their explorations of great literature in this book as well as in Dirda's On Conan Doyle (2012) and Classics for Pleasure (2007).

This is not a definitive or even rigorous analysis of each of the major British authors and their major works. Rather, Sutherland shares what is of greatest interest to him. He also discusses transitions from literary one period to the next as well as recurring themes, correlations, and legacies. His selections and comments are subjective and that suits me just fine. In some cases I was revisiting old friends such as Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Austen, Dickens, Hardy, Conrad, and Orwell. In other instances, he shares his perspectives on literary subjects that range from "Fabulous Beginnings: Myth" and "The Book of Books: The King James Bible" to "Under the Blankets: Literature and Children" and "Magical Realisms: Borges, Grass, Rushdie, and Márquez." Given Sutherland's stated purposes, the scope of coverage is far greater than the depth of commentary.

Here is Dallas there is a Farmer's Market near the downtown area at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now share a few brief excerpts that suggest the thrust and flavor of Sutherland's style:

o "British literature is founded on this 3,182-line Anglo-Saxon poem [i.e. Gilgamesh]. It was probably composed in the eight century, drawing on old fables that went even further back into the mists of time. It was brought to England in some earlier form by invading European, then it was recited orally for centuries with countless variations, before being transcribed by an unknown monk (who made some tactful Christian insertions) in the tenth century." (Page 15)

o "The great epics [e.g. Iliad, Odyssey, Aeneid, Beowulf] are still highly enjoyable to read, although mot of us will be obliged to read them at one remove, in translation. In many ways, epics are literary dinosaurs. They once dominated, by virtue of sheer size, but now they belong in the museum of literature. We can still admire them, as we admire the other mighty works of our national ancestors, but, sadly, we seem no longer able to make them." (19)

o "In our respect for the Authorized Version [i.e. of the King James Bible] -- the only true great work of literature in English for which we can thank a king -- we should never forget William Tyndale. He is an author of equal standing, one might claim, with the greatest in his language. And that does not exclude Shakespeare." (53)

o The Romantic movement "burned too hot to last long. Effectively it was burned out in Britain by the time of [Sir Walter] Scott' death in 1832 and the country's own 'quiet' political revolution, the First reform Bill. But Romanticism changed, forever, the ways in which literature was written and read. It bequeathed to the writers who came after, and who cared to use it, a new power. Not bright stars, but burning stars." (100)

o Despite passage of the Obscene Publications Art in 1959 that allowed publication of "works of art" such as Lawrence's novel, Lady Chatterley' Lover, "The fight again censorship in the world continues, as every issue of the London-based journal, Index on Censorship, testifies. It is a constant battle. Literature, literary history demonstrates, can do great thing under oppression, in chains. or in exile. It can even, like the phoenix, rise from the flames of its own destruction. It is a glorious vindication of the human spirit that it can do so." (167)

o Final thoughts: "What's the worst thing that could happen in the future? If readers were to become swamped -- buried under a mass of information they could not process into knowledge -- that would be very bad. But I remain hopeful, and with good reason. Literature, that wonderfully creative product of the human mind, will, in whatever new forms and adaptations it takes, forever be a part of our lives, enriching our lives. I say ours, but I should say yours -- and your children's." (266)

Sutherland devotes an entire chapter, the sixteenth, to Charles Dickens (1812-187) and suggests "five good arguments why modern readers should also see that Dickens is the greatest ever novelist. First is that Dickens was, over the course of his long writing career, uniquely inventive...The second reason for Dickens's greatness is that he was the first novelist not merely to make children the heroes and heroines of his fiction (as in Oliver Twist) but also to make his reader appreciate how vulnerable and easily bruised a child is, and how unlike an adult's is the child's-view of the world...He was to become a mirror of his changing age -- the third reason we consider him a great writer. No novelist has been more sensitive to his own times than Dickens...Our fourth point. It was not simply the fact that Dickens's fiction [begin italics] reflected [end italics]. He was the first novelist to appreciate that fiction could [begin italics] change [end italics] the world...Lastly, and most importantly, one of the things that gives Dickens's novels their everlasting appeal is his honest belief in the essential goodness of people. Us, that is."

As indicated earlier, given Sutherland's stated purposes, the scope of his coverage is far greater than the depth of commentary. In my opinion, the primary purpose of the material is to provide what can be viewed as a "map" that help each reader to determine the nature and extent of her or his subsequent exploration. If book are magic carpets, and I believe they are, we still need magicians to identify possible destinations. Thank you so much, John Sutherland!

* * *

John Sutherland is Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College, London. He has taught students at every level and is the author and editor of more than twenty books. His most recent book, the popular Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives, was also published by Yale University Press in the US, and has earned widespread acclaim. I urge you to check out his Amazon page.

The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance
The Art of Learning: An Inner Journey to Optimal Performance
by Josh Waitzkin
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.71
42 used & new from CDN$ 6.12

5.0 out of 5 stars One man's "inner journey" to achieve his own optimal performance, Aug. 3 2014
It is important to keep in mind that the material in this book indicates what Josh Waitzkin learned about learning during what he characterizes as his "inner journey to optimal performance" at the highest levels of competition in chess. The material centers on the process to his optimal performance. Had he competed in professional baseball, he would never have played for an MLB team. So, as other reviews have duly noted, this book's title is somewhat misleading.

However, although Waitzkin never became a world champion or even a grandmaster in chess, he was a better player than most of those with whom he competed. Indeed, he was a National Chess Champion at age nine and won other national titles again another seven times. He also became a master of Tai Chi Chuan and earned 21 National Championships and several World Championships. Finally, he was the subject a book and film based on it, Searching for Bobby Fischer.

In recent years, I have been grateful to Anders Ericsson and his research associates at Florida State University for all that I have learned from them about optimal performance. The key revelations correlate with what Maitzkin shares. For example, the importance of focus and commitment: "My growth became defined by [begin italics] barrierlessness [end italics]. Pure concentration didn't allow thought or false construction to impede my awareness, and I observed clear connections between different life experiences through the common mode of consciousness by which they were perceived."

Also, overcoming exhaustion during practice or competition as he did in finals against "the Buffalo" in Taiwan. Although "spent" and down 2-0 with only seconds remaining, he somehow battled back to tie. His one last move "had to be perfectly timed because if it didn't work I might just collapse." There would be a two-minute overtime. "They went to find the Buffalo. For twenty minutes I paced the area, red hot - if there was a place beyond the zone, I was there." However, his opponent could not continue so the officials declared a shared title. "Buffalo and I swayed on the first place podium together, hugging and holding each other up." Both had achieved an optimal performance.

This is what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi had in mind when formulating his concept of "flow," the psychology of optimal experience. During flow, people typically experience deep enjoyment, maximum creativity, and a total engagement with the moment. I recall countless times when Michael Jordan was in such a state and didn't miss a three-point shot, when Tiger Woods didn't miss a putt, when Wayne Gretsky knew -- before anyone else did -- where the puck would go, as did Bill Russell who knew -- before anyone else did -- where the rebound would go. Flow has often been called "being in a zone." Waitzkin discusses this in Chapter 17.

These are among the subjects that Waitzkin discusses that were of greatest interest to me:

o Manhattan as an environment within which competition is most likely to thrive
o The significance of Bruce Pandolfini during Waitzkin's "inner journey"
o How and why Waitzkin had to lose and understand losing before he could win in competition
o The best and worst of the competition at the National Chess Championship
o What Waitzkin learned about himself during competition
o What the chess and Tai Chi Chuan mindsets share in common
o Their most significance differences
o How to and why "make smaller circles"
o Using pain and adversity to one's advantage
o How to and why "slow down time"
o How to and why build one's "trigger"
o What "winning" and "losing" really mean in terms of personal growth
o Why self-discovery is an endless process, not an ultimate destination

I want to repeat what I suggested earlier: This really isn't a book about THE art of learning; rather, it offers what Waitzkin learned about learning. And in terms of optimal performance, that is a relative determination. Paradoxically, it also involves a hierarchy. In essence, the challenge is to become the best you can be while doing whatever it is that you do. Jordan didn't make all his shots, Woods didn't sink all his putts, Gretsky didn't always get to the puck first, and Russell didn't haul down every rebound. You get my point. It seems to me that Josh Waitzkin has come remarkably close to being the best Josh Waitzkin he could be, as did each of the others just mentioned again. Oscar Wilde once observed, "Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." I agree.

Here are his concluding remarks: "The ideas I've shared in these pages have worked for me and it's my hope that they suggest a structure and direction. But there is no such thing as a fixed recipe for victory or happiness. If my approach feels right, take it, hone it, give it your own flavor. Leave my numbers behind. In the end, mastery involves the discovering the most resonant information and integrating it so deeply and fully it disappears and allows us to fly free."

Intel Trinity,The: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company
Intel Trinity,The: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers CA
Price: CDN$ 24.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How a crucible of leadership created Intel, "the world's most important company", July 29 2014
What we have in this volume is a biography of a great organization rather than a history of it. Moreover, Michael Malone focuses on three quite different leaders - Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andrew Grove - who overcame their several and significant differences in order to build what became, and remained for decades, "the world's most important company."

According to Malone, "Anyone who attempts the history of a giant corporation that is half a century old faces the inevitable problem of weighing eras and subjects." I agree and it's obvious that he explored just about all the essential sources when assembling the historical material he needed to do full justice to Noyce, Moore, and Grove as well as to Intel, the company they led for several decades. That was a significant challenge and there were others. "It becomes even more complex when you try to tell the story through not one or two founders, but three -- all of them very different in personality and not even necessarily liking one another. Finally, there is the challenge of writing about a technology company. How deep do you go into the arcana of bits and bytes, silicon and software, transistors and teraFLOPS, without losing the average reader or insulting the tech-savvy reader?"

These are among the subjects of greatest interest to me that Malone examines with rigor and eloquence:

o When and why Intel was founded
o The defining characteristics of each of the "trinity": Noyce, Moore, and Grove
o The extent to which the differences between and among them help to explain how and why Intel became "the world's most important company"
o The nature and extent of that importance
o The most valuable business lessons to be learned from Intel's "darkest moments"
o The significance of "Moore' Law" and its relevance to today's global marketplace
o The significance of Intel 4004 in 1971
o Why Intel abandoned the memory business and focused on microprocessors in 1985
o The "legacy" of each of the three: Noyce, Moore, and Grove

Here in Dallas near the downtown area, there is a Farmer's Market at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that spirit, I now offer a representative selection of brief excerpts from the narrative that suggest the thrust and flavor of Malone' style:

o "To understand Intel and the three men who led it, you must first understand the Silicon Valley and its beginnings. To do that, you need to know the stories of Shockley Transistor, the Traitorous Eight, and Fairchild Semiconductor. Without that understanding, Intel Corporation will remain -- as it does to most people -- an enigma." (Page 3)

o "With Grove, Intel beat or destroyed them all...but might well have destroyed itself in the process had not Gordon Moore been there to temper Andy's ferocity and round his sharp corners. Gordon was Bob's foundation and Andy's conscience: a remarkable feat of partnership and adaptation, given that he was dealing with two of the biggest personalities of the age. He was the insulator between these two charged characters -- and perhaps most remarkable of all, he filled that role (and dealt with growing fame and wealth) while remaining true to himself." (116)

o "Was Bob Graham's firing good for Intel? History says that indeed it was. The company was heading into a difficult era, one that threatened to tear it in two. And as much as it needed a talented marketer to sell its revolutionary new products, it needed even more a numbers-oriented marketer who could convince the equally number-oriented engineers and scientists inside Intel to follow his lead. And in Gelbach, Intel found exactly the right man." (183)

o "At the heart of this story about Intel is the message that the company succeeded and reached the pinnacle of the modern economy not because its leadership was so brilliant (although it was) nor because its employees were so bright (though they were), nor that it had the best products (sometimes yes, most times no), nor that it made fewer mistakes than its competitors (completely wrong), but because Intel, more than any company America has ever known, had the ability to [begin italics] learn [end italics] -- from its successes and even more from its failures." (371)

o Grove on a shared epiphany in the middle of 1985: "I looked out the window at the Ferris Wheel of the Great America amusement park revolving in the distance, then I turned back to Gordon and asked, 'If we got kicked out and brought in a new CEO, what do you think he would do?' Gordon answered without hesitation, 'He would get us out of memories.' I stared at him, numb, and then said, 'Why shouldn't you and I walk out the door, then come back and do it ourselves?'" (390)

o "Most of all for the three men of Intel's Trinity, even in the worst times, working at Intel was [begin italics] exciting [end italics]. It was the most engrossing thing in their already remarkable lives. And that excitement -- of competition, of advancing technology, of transforming the world, and most of all being part of the Intel family -- made it worthwhile to come to work each day even if they were already living legends and billionaires." (487)

o Grove's most revealing reflections: "Gordon did impress me at the beginning but more than that, he always stood by me. Bob impressed me, too, but there was so much that I didn't like about him. His charisma put me off. His management style put me off. His inability to make decisions put me off. So did his unwillingness to actually learn the business. I didn't like those things in him that the world most admired him for." But then there was the time when Noyce crawled under Grove's car as snow began to fall and attached chains to the tires "while me and my wife and our daughters just stood there, watching helplessly. That was the best of him. So was his risk taking, his impressive physical courage, and his intellectual clarity. That was the part of him I loved, not all the famous stuff." Grove's rigid face could no longer betray his emotions but in his eyes, tears begin to swell. "After all these years, I miss Bob the most." (498)

In my opinion, Michael Malone not only met but indeed prevailed when taking on various challenges noted earlier. I think his approach is best described as that of a cultural anthropologist whose primary interest is in the "Trinity": Noyce the charismatic father, Grove the truculent son, and Moore, the holy spirit of high tech. Their collaboration was, as I characterize it, a "crucible of leadership," one that accomplished so much, at least for a significant period of time. Intel powered the global Internet economy while reconciling its endless need to drive chip technology forward at the exponential pace of Moore's law with its retrograde pull of its glorious past. Paraphrasing a line from Shakespeare's play, Macbeth, this is a tale well-told, full of sound and fury, much that may never occur again.

Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World
Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master's Insights on China, the United States, and the World
by Graham Allison
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 13.68
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5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and invaluable perspectives on global developments that are certain to become even more challenging…and promising, July 28 2014
Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill, with Ali Wyne, examine the global perspectives of Lee Kuan Yew. Never heard of him? Allow Henry Kissinger to introduce him: "I have had the privilege of meeting many world leaders over the past half century; none, however, has taught me more than Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore's first premier and its guiding spirit ever since." What we have here is an extended Q&A format during which Yew responds to a series of questions that address eight major subjects:
A separate chapter is devoted to each.

1. The Future of China
2. The Future of the United States
3. The Future of U.S.-China Relations
4. The Future of India
5. The Future of Islamic Extremism
6. The Future of National Economic Growth
7. The Future of Geopolitics
8. The Future of Democracy

Then in Chapter 9, "How Lee Kuan Yew Thinks," his answers to the questions posed "reveal much about the principles and worldview that have shaped his political choices." These are among Yew's observations of greatest interest and value to me:

* * *

o Straight-line extrapolations from such a remarkable record [i.e. China's rapidly growing consumer market] are not realistic. China has more handicaps going forward and more obstacles to overcome than most observers recognize.

o China is not going to become a liberal democracy; if it did, it would collapse.

o I understood Deng Xiaoping when he said: if 200,000 students have to be shot, shoot them, because the alternative is China in chaos for another 100 years.

o The U.S. is going through a bumpy patch with its debt and deficits, but I have no doubt that America will not be reduced to second-rate status.

o Presidents do not get reelected if they give a hard dose of medicine to their people.

o The baiting of China by American human rights groups, and the threatening of loss of most-favored-nation status and other sanctions by the U.S. Congress and the administration for violations of human rights and missile technology transfers...ignore differences of culture, values, and history, and subordinate the strategic considerations of China-U.S. relations to an American agenda.

o Americans seem to think that Asia is like a movie and that you can freeze developments out whenever the U.S. becomes intensely involved elsewhere in the world. It does not work like that...The U.S. cannot come and go as it pleases.

o Islam has not been a problem. However, contemporary radical Islamism is a very serious problem.

o The Russian population is declining. It is not clear why, but alcoholism plays a role; so do pessimism, a declining fertility rate, and declining life expectancy.

o There is no viable alternative to global integration...Globalism is the only answer that is fair, acceptable, and will uphold world peace.

o They [the BRICS, the emerging economies in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] are different countries on different continents that happen to be growing faster than other combinations of countries, so somebody said: why not bring them all together and make them into a global force?...The Chinese and Indians do not share the same dreams.

o I do not want to be remembered as a statesman...Anybody who thinks he is a statesman needs to see a psychiatrist.

* * *

According to the co-authors, "The purpose of this slim volume is not to look back on the past 50 years, remarkable as Lee's contributions to them have been. Rather, our focus is the future and the specific challenges that the United Stated will face during the next quarter century."

Here are complementary observations by Kissinger: "Lee's analyses shed light on the most important challenge that the United States confronts over the long term: how to build a fundamental and organic relationship with Asia, including China. There is nobody who can teach us more about the scope of this effort than Lee Kuan Yew."

I am grateful to Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill, and Ali Wyne for the skill with which they prepared for, conducted, and then prepared for publication a unique and timely an interaction with one of the world's most influential thought leaders, Lee Kuan Yew. I also appreciate Henry Kissinger's contributions. This book is a "must read" for anyone interested in and (hopefully) concerned about global challenges that await all of us in months and years to come.

American Heroes
American Heroes
by Edmund S Morgan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 22.05
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5.0 out of 5 stars No one else in our own time has "known so well the materials of New England history during the period that he covered.", July 28 2014
This review is from: American Heroes (Hardcover)
What we have in this volume are sixteen essays that share information and insights that Edmund Morgan accumulated during more than four decades of teaching and research. I am hard-pressed to think of a better classroom teacher who produced more scholarly books and essays of higher quality. I cherish the two graduate courses I took from him at Yale. This was the latest of his 25 books, published two years before his death at age 97. It is a "scholarly" work, to be sure, but as is also true of Morgan's other works and indeed of his classroom style, it is by no means formal in an academic, sometimes pedantic sense. He loved sharing stories that entertained as well as informed but that had to be historically accurate and authentic as well as relevant to the given point made.

For example, here is a story he includes in the Preface:

* * *

There were the two Boston carters, my personal favorites, who stood down the royal governor of Massachusetts on a wintry day in 1705. They were carrying a heavy load of wood on a narrow road, drifted with snow, when they encountered the governor coming from the opposite direction. Since they did not turn off the road to let the governor's coach pass, he leapt out and bade them give way. One of them then, according to the governor's own testimony," answered boldly, without any other words, 'I am as good flesh and blood as you; I will not give way, you may goe out of the way.'" When the governor then drew his sword and advanced to teach the man a lesson, the carter "layd hold on the governor and broke the sword in his hand," a supreme gesture of contempt for authority and its might. This is an excellent example of the heroism that Morgan examines throughout his lively as well as eloquent narrative, focusing on dozens of others who also had the courage of their convictions and acted upon them when in harm's way.

* * *

Morgan wryly notes that the people he selected, "whether public heroes or simply my own favorites, have all surprised me in one way of another. Something about them has sent me looking at the records they left behind, often looking for a second time, having second thoughts. Many of these pieces are the result of second thought about what I said earlier in biographies or biographical sketches."

Morgan recalls Benjamin Franklin's assertion (in 1748, writing as Poor Richard) that Hero "when he comes, takes life and goods together; his business and glory it is, to destroy man and the works of man...Hero, therefore, is the worst of the three [destroyers]," the others being Plague and Famine. Morgan then observes, "Only one hero in my gallery comes close to fitting Franklin's unflattering description: Christopher Columbus, subject of the first selection. Except in his daring to go where others feared to go, he does not meet my criteria for a hero. But how could I leave him out?"

Columbus is among the Conqueror" discussed in the first chapter, and Morgan then shifts his attention Puritans, witches, and Quakers in the next eleven Chapters, taking the narrative to profiles of Ezra Stiles and Timothy Dwight in Chapter Twelve. He concludes with five essays that discuss the leaders of the American Revolution. "Franklin is truly my hero, and so is Washington, two men for whom my admiration never stops growing." There are also others who also demonstrate heroism in one form or another. In the Epilogue, Morgan has this to say about the "genius" of Perry Miller, one of Morgan's professors at Harvard:

"Miler's distinction lay in an extraordinary ability to discover order where others saw chaos, and to express his deepest insights without uttering the, by tracing unsuspected patterns in the raw materials of the past. Only one who has examined the raw materials for himself can fully appreciate the beauty of those patterns in [Miller's classic work] The New England Mind or how faithfully they encompass the materials. No one but Miller, in fact, has in our time known so well the materials of New England history during the period that he covered."

Channeling Bernard of Chartres, a 12th century French monk, he would insist that he was a dwarf standing atop Miller's shoulders. I am among those who believe that no one but Edmund Morgan has in our own time "known so well the materials of New England history during the period that he covered." Those who question that need only read this book.

How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching
How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching
by Susan A. Ambrose
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 36.80
39 used & new from CDN$ 28.51

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At least in higher education in the United States, how learning can work...and why, sometimes, it doesn't, July 26 2014
At the outset, having read and then re-read this book, I wish to share a few introductory observations. There are hundreds (if not thousands) of ways that informal as well as formal education works. Also, how learning occurs in public schools tends to differ significantly from how it occurs in public suburban and private (day or boarding) schools. Moreover, how learning occurs in colleges and universities differs significantly from how it occurs in corporate education programs, be they formal or informal.
In the Introduction, Richard Mayer suggests that this book "is the latest advancement in the continuing task of applying the science of learning to education -- particularly, college teaching." That is a key point.

Here's another. Whenever I read a book or article about the "learning environment" in inner-city schools in the United States, I am again reminded of an incident one evening in Concord (MA) long ago, after Ralph Waldo Emerson delivered a lecture on the principles of transcendentalism. He agreed to answer a few questions. And elderly farmer in bib overalls stood up and removed his cap. "Yes sir? You have a question?" Long pause. "How do you transcend an empty stomach?" The context, the culture within which education is offered usually is a major factor in terms of how receptive students are. Most of the material in this book is, as Mayer suggests, relevant to higher education.

The co-authors -- Susan Ambrose, Michael Bridges, Michelle DiPietro, Marsha Lovell, and Marie Norman -- introduce and focus on seven research-based principles for smart teaching. Here they are, accompanied by a comment of mine.

1. Students prior knowledge can help or hinder learning.
Comment: The same can be said of those who teach them.

2. How students organize knowledge influences how they learn and apply what they know.
Comment: Few students in school learn how to study, learn, obtain and manage information, etc.

3. Students' motivation determines, directs, and sustains what they do learn.
Comment: I agree. All learning worthy of the name must be self-motivated, even when supervised.

4. To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when [and how] to apply what they have learned.
Comments: Decades of research by K. Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University have determined that practice must be "deep" and "deliberate," conducted under strict supervision by an expert in the given field, to achieve peak performance. Also, what is generally referred to as the "10,000 Rule" applies. Otherwise, repetitive practice -- insofar as achieving peak performance is concerned -- is worthless...or worse. Why? Because it reinforces, indeed strengthens bad habits, techniques, etc.

5. Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students' learning.
Comment: See my response to #4.

6. Students' current level of development interacts with the social, emotional, and intellectual climate of the course to impact learning.
Comment: I am among those who are convinced that much (most?) of the most valuable learning occurs outside of an academic (i.e. classroom) environment. That said, what happens within that environment can help to guide, inform, and nourish learning elsewhere.

7. To become self-directed learners, students must learn to monitor and adjust their approaches to learning.
Comment: Again, I agree, while adding that (a) self-directed learning presupposes self-motivated learning and (b) evaluation skills can, indeed must be mastered under expert superstition.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of co-authors' coverage.

o Methods to Gauge the Extent and Nature of Students' Prior Knowledge (Pages 27-31)
o Methods to Activate Prior Knowledge (31-35)
o Methods to Help Students Recognize Inappropriate Prior Behavior (35-37)
O Methods to Correct Inaccurate Knowledge (37-38)

Note: I am reminded of the fact that, years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan observed that people are entitled to their own opinions but not to their own facts.

o What Does Research Tell Us About Knowledge Organization? (46-58)
o Strategies That Help Students Build Positive Expectancies (85-88)
o Strategies That Address Values and Expectancies (89)
o Integration of Component Skills (103-107)
o What Does Practice Tell Us About Practice (127-130)

To repeat: Decades of research by K. Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University have determined that practice must be "deep" and "deliberate," conducted under strict supervision by an expert in the given field, to achieve peak performance. Also, what is generally referred to as the "10,000 Rule" applies. Otherwise, repetitive practice -- insofar as achieving peak performance is concerned -- is worthless...or worse. Why? Because it reinforces, indeed strengthens bad habits, techniques, etc.

o The Chickering Model of Human Development, and, Intellectual Development (160-166)
o Students' Beliefs About Intelligence and Learning (180-186)
o Beliefs About Intelligence and Learning (200-202)
o Evaluating One's Own Strengths and Weaknesses (206-210)
o Applying the Seven Principles to Ourselves (217-224)

Obviously, no brief commentary such as this can do full justice to the scope and depth of the material that Susan Ambrose, Michael Bridges, Michelle DiPietro, Marsha Lovell, and Marie Norman provide. However, I hope this review helps those who read it to decide whether or not this volume is of interest and can of value to them.

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