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The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties
The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties
by Carol Berkin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.28
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5.0 out of 5 stars How and why the Bill of Rights "is the most important element in the Constitution", May 14 2015
Once the war for independence from Britain had been won, the most important question to be addressed was this: "Should broad power and authority reside in the federal government or should it reside in the state governments?" Part of the answer can be found in the Constitution whose ratification began with Delaware on December 7, 1787, and ended when the final state, Rhode Island, ratified it on May 29, 1790. It was only with this ratification that the new nation could cope with other challenges, notably survival.

Frankly, until having read Carol Berkin's book, I had given little thought to how important the Bill of Rights has been to the Constitution, much less to how important it would prove to be during the subsequent development of a new nation that began with thirteen states and now has fifty. When James Madison proposed the Bill of Rights, Belkin observes, "the young nation faced a great ideological divide with regard to [the aforementioned] question: should broad power broad power and authority reside in the federal government or should it reside in the state governments, where the Antifederalists insisted it could best protect the people's liberties?"

She goes on to observe, "This confrontation between states' rights and national authority started with the fierce debates over ratification of the Constitution, and it continued in the First Federal Congress, in the state legislatures, and in the press as Washington's first administration began."

Berkin's comments about Madison and his unique significance are especially insightful: "Madison's Bill of Rights was thus more a political strategy than a statement of America's most cherished values. Yet Madison was keenly aware of its potential to set a high standard for the relationship between citizens and the men who governed them."

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Berkin's coverage:

o Articles of Confederation conference (Pages 7-12)
o Ratification of Constitution (17-31 and 105-106)
o State ratification conventions (18-21, 26-31, and 105-106)
o Antifederalists (33-42 and 126-128)
o James Madison's views on Bill of Rights (39-42, 59-61, and 65-66)
o First Federal Congress: 1784 (43-63)
o Federalists in House (47-50, 53-56, 65-67, 99-114, 135-137, and 188-191)
o James Madison's nine proposals (71-103)
o Elbridge Gerry (62-70, 87-93, 95-102, 108-113, 120-121, and 186-187)
o Committee of Eleven (120-193)
o Development of Federal Government (87-88, 134-135, and 140-143)
o Federalists in Senate (166-117)
o Legacy of American Revolution (139-143)
o Ratification of Bill of Rights (126-130)
o Bios of Senate members (155-173)
o Bios of House members (175-215)

During the president campaign in 2016, presumably there will be differences of opinion again -- sometimes severe differences of opinion -- about states rights versus the federal government as well as individual rights versus collective rights at the state and federal levels; also between and among the executive, judicial, and legislative branches. I agree with Berkin that the Union victory in the Civil War "led to a new, greatly expanded role for the guarantees of the Bill of Rights but it is worth noting, in this context, that women were not permitted to vote until 1920 (Amendment XIX) and segregation in schools was not declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court until 1954.

Here are Carol Berkin's concluding thoughts: "Despite the fidelity of meaning that marks the history of federalism, the Bill of Rights as fulfilled James Madison's fervent hope that this 'parchment barrier' would benefit the civic and moral development of the nation. It has proved a strong bulwark for our liberties and a safeguard against the majority's abuse of minorities. And it has established the vocabulary for our most critical discussions of, fiercest debates over, who we are what we think it best to do."

In this context, I am again reminded of the final stanza of one of James Weldon Johnson's poems, " Lift ev'ry voice and sing":

"God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee,
Shadowed beneath thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land."

No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends
No Ordinary Disruption: The Four Global Forces Breaking All the Trends
by Richard Dobbs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.23
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5.0 out of 5 stars How to understand the nature and implications of four disruptive forces, reset intuitions accordingly, and thrive, May 13 2015
In No Ordinary Disruption, Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan Woetzel explain how to cope with "four global forces breaking all the trends": emerging growth markets (including cities) as the new gravitational centers of economic activity, increasingly faster pace of technological breakthroughs and adoptions, aging demographics, and globalization of trade driven by connectedness and interactivity.

For example, with regard to emerging growth markets (including cities) as the new gravitational centers of economic activity, they offer five specific recommendations (Pages 23-30):

1. Get to know the newcomers...and others who do business with them. Are there any significant cultural issues and sensitivities unique to the given emerging market?

2. Create new services...or new applications more appropriate to newcomers' unmet or insufficiently met needs.

3. Tap urban talent and innovation pools...and seek the counsel of those who best understand the relevant dos and don’ts, such as business school faculty and business journalists.

4. Think of cities as laboratories...collaborate with allies on many low-cost, low-risk experiments. Collaborate with anyone/everyone to learn more and do better than would otherwise be possible.

5. Manage operational complexity...especially costs and other criteria for prudent resource allocation.

Dobbs, Manyika, and Woetzel: "The portraits we take of cities [and other emerging markets] must capture the dynamism underneath the surface and highlight the brightness of opportunities, while toning down the alarming flares of risk. Most of all, they must be able to project forward motion.”
These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Dobbs, Manyika, and Woetzel’s coverage:

o Shifting Economic Centers of Gravity (Pages 16-18)
o Accelerating Innovation (33-34)
o The Disruptive Dozen (34-39)
o Accelerating Adoption (41-43)
o A Structural Change (61-64)
o A New Wave of Globalization: Trade in Goods and Services (72-83)
o The Next Three Billion Consumers: How to Adapt (98-109)
o Reversing the Cycle of Resource Opportunity: How to Adapt (120-128)
o Trend Break (132-135)
o End of an Era Farewell to Increasingly Cheaper Capital: How to Adapt (140-147)
o Overcoming Dislocation in the Market Because of a Jobs Gap: How to Adapt (156-164)
o Trend Break (166-168)
o Rise of New Competitors and a Changing Basis of Competition: How to Adapt (174-179)
o Concluding Thoughts (201-207)

I commend Dobbs, Manyika, and Woetzel on their brilliant organization and presentation of material. For example, effective adaptation is essential to coping with the four disruptive forces. Hence the importance of their insights and counsel with regard to how to adapt to resource management improvements (9-10 and 120-128), urbanization (23-30), technological disruption (45-52), the new consuming class (25-26 and 98-109), aging trend (64-70), interconnected world (83-89), capital cost changes (140-147), labor market gap (156-164), and new competition (174-179).

They also address a key question: "What can leaders do to reset the intuitions of their organizations? Here is a composite of Dobbs, Manyika, and Woetzel response: "One fundamental realization is that to drive the necessary change, leaders must develop the capabilities to reset their own intuition. McKinsey research and client experience suggest that 50 percent of all efforts to transform companies fail either because senior role models fail to drive change or because of the inherent tendency to defend the status quo...Another key to survival is to embed curiosity and learning in an organization. In an era of rapid change, full of examples of companies that have become casualties of stasis, successful leaders must adapt to be 'students in a way that maybe we haven't been before,' as Tom Peters puts it...It is also essential to surround yourself with the right people, those who are able to act ass ‘reset catalysts’ for an entire organization. Large organizations and groups of people don't simply respond with alacrity to commands and edicts issued from on high...Agility is another vital attribute necessary to thrive in trend break era...Lastly, and most importantly, all leaders have to resist the temptation to focus on the hazards of the period ahead instead of the opportunities it presents."

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine can possibility do full justice to the invaluable information, insights, and counsel that Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan Woetzel provide. However, I hope I have at least indicated why I think No Ordinary Disruption is a brilliant achievement, indeed a must read for all business leaders as well as for those who aspire to become one. Bravo!

* * *

Richard Dobbs is a director of the McKinsey Global Institute and a director in McKinsey’s London office, James Manyika is a director of the McKinsey Global Institute and a director in the San Francisco office, and Jonathan Woetzel is a director of the McKinsey Global Institute and a director in the Shanghai office.

The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance
The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance
by Jim Whitehurst
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 28.13
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5.0 out of 5 stars How and why to focus everyone's attention on what is most important, doing so with passion to achieve breakthrough results, May 13 2015
, May 13, 2015
By Robert Morris (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance (Hardcover)
Almost everything I know about the "open" concept and mindset I have learned from Henry Chesbrough and Linus Torvalds. According to Chesbrough in Open Business Models (2006), for example, "A business model performs two important functions: it creates value and it captures a portion of that value. It creates value by defining a series of activities from raw materials through to the final consumer that will yield a new product or service with value being added throughout the various activities. The business model captures value by establishing a unique resource, asset, or position within that series of activities, where the firm enjoys a competitive advantage."

Having thus established a frame-of-reference, Chesbrough continues: "An open business model uses this new division of innovation labor - both in the creation of value and in the capture of a portion of that value. Open models create value by leveraging many more ideas, due to their inclusion of a variety of external concepts. Open models can also enable greater value capture, by using a key asset, resource, or position not only in the company's own business model but also in other companies businesses."

Jim Whitehurst is the CEO of Red Hat, the largest open source software company in the world. He and Red Hat demonstrate what Chesbrough describes in these brief excerpts. As Whitehurst explains, open source "successfully harnesses the power and commitment of talent and engagers that talent in an ongoing way over time." That is, "the term 'open source' is traditionally used in the software arena [e.g. Linux] and designates a process in which anyone can contribute to or access code, unlike traditional software development, which is proprietary and owned by the company that produces it and governed by international property la=w. In open source, those who do the work volunteer their time and effort, and these volunteer, participative communities are both long running and capable of tackling multiple problems and opportunities simultaneously."

Almost everything Whitehurst has learned about all this is shared in this book, thereby demonstrating the "open" concept and mindset.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Whitehurst's coverage:

o Gary Hamel'a Foreword (Pages ix-xiv)
o The Open Organization (8-11)
o Leading the Open Organization (11-15)
o Conscious Capitalism: It Starts with a Purpose (27-32)
o The Leader's Role: Leading a Passionate Organization (34-52)
o The Power of Engagement (58-65)
o Leveraging 360-Degree Accountability (65-72)
o The Leader's Role: Scaling Up Engagement (72-78)
o It's Not a Democracy (87-90)
o Building a Culture of Thought Leaders (93-97)
o Beyond Brainstorming (112-118)
o Adopting a New Mind-Set (118-123)
o The Leader's Role: Knocking Down Barriers to Collaboration (126-131)
o The Power of Including Others (137-149)
o Slower Decisions Lead to Faster Results (152-157)
o Introducing the Catalyst in Chief (164-166)
o The Leader's Role: Leverage Your Soap Box (166-179)
o The Boundaries of Participative Organizations (183-187)
o There's No Going Back (188-192)
o Learning from Linux (196-202)

These are among the reasons that I find the open concept so exciting in terms of what is yet possible in the evolution of two terms, workforce and workplace.

1. It eliminates limits on who can be involved.
2. It also eliminates limits on what each participant can contribute.
3. The focus is on collaboration and, especially, on collective judgment.
4. Success of the given initiative has higher priority than does anything else.
5. There is accountability at both the individual and group levels.
6. Influence will be determined by value added in a pure meritocracy.
7. Leaders are selected by those led. (See #6)
8. Leadership nourishes passion, scales engagement, eliminates barriers, and leverages the group's "soap box" (i.e. collective strength).
9. Resources are distributed with market-like mechanisms.
10 "Why" matters much more than "what."

It is no coincidence that most of the companies annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for (e.g. The Container Store, W.L. Gore, Pixar, Red Hat, Whole Foods, and Zappos) are also ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in their competitive marketplace. In ways and to the extent that are appropriate to their needs, goals, and resources, all are open organizations.

Jim Whitehurst encourages those who read this book to check out and join the discussion "of what is possible when you open yourself to the possibilities of working in an open source way." I agree with him, as do Chesbrough and Torvalds, that business leaders must put aside conventional thinking "and begin to tap into the power of participative communities in all aspects of our lives and businesses." The potential really is limitless.

HBR Guide to Office Politics (HBR Guide Series)
HBR Guide to Office Politics (HBR Guide Series)
by Karen Dillon
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.79
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rise above rivalry, avoid power games, and build better relationships to accelerate personal growth and professional development, May 12 2015
In HBR Guide to Office Politics, published by Harvard Business Review Press 2014), Karen Dillon offers an abundance of information, in sights, and counsel that can help almost anyone to rise above rivalry, avoid power games, and build better relationships, not only at work but in all other dimensions of their lives.

I cannot recall a prior time when I have observed or heard about more incivility in the workplace than I do now. Courtesy is hardly common. There is severe pressure on everyone to produce more and better work in less time, and at a lower cost. Electronic devices enable almost anyone to connect with almost anyone else, anywhere and at any time and yet many (most?) workers, paradoxically, feel out-of-touch with, if not alienated from their associates. This is the context, the workplace culture, within office politics are most likely to thrive.

At the outset, she offers four invaluable caveats to those who find themselves engulfed in "playing politics."

o <strong>Question your reaction</strong>: When people appear to be playing political games, we often think we know their motives, but sometimes we're off the mark. Step back and reevaluate: What else could be driving the behavior? Maybe it's not as vengeful as it seems -- or even intentional.

o <strong>Try removing yourself from the equation</strong>: Everybody brings her own quirks, worries, and stresses to work. What you assume is a personal attack may have absolutely noting to do with you.

o <strong>Accept that not all conflict is bad</strong>: Great performance can come out of being challenged by an aggressive colleague or being forced to collaborate with someone you can't stand. We can and often do rise to challenges. Don't assume 'uncomfortable' means bad."

o <strong> Keep your cool</strong>: Office bullies and other game players win every time they see they've rattled you. Never give them that satisfaction -- you'll just perpetuate the problem. Stay composed, and they'll lose their power.

She wrote this book for those who are now in urgent need of assistance with achieving these goals: to increase their influence without compromising their integrity, contend with backstabbers and bullies, working their way through really difficult conversations, manage tensions when resources are scarce and prospects are ambiguous, obtain their fair share of choice assignments (including promotions), and meanwhile, avoid the feeling that all conflict is bad.

With regard to the last point, it is well worth keeping in mind Harry Truman's definition of politics as "the art of getting things done." Those who comprise a workforce must decide which politics will be acceptable to help their organization to get the "right things done" and done right.

Karen Dillon concludes: "So what's the main takeaway, if I had to boil it down to one? As organizational development and HR expert Susan Heathfield puts it, don't try to be the boss's pet -- be [begin italics] everyone's [end italics] pet. That is, devote your energy to being a terrific employee and colleague. You'll find that you're less preoccupied with all the jockeying that's going on around you-- and more focused on positive pursuits like performance, growth, and fulfillment."

Dissent: The History of an American Idea
Dissent: The History of an American Idea
by Ralph Young
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 32.57
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5.0 out of 5 stars "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." Edmund Burke, May 11 2015
On occasion, I read two or more books at the same time if they address many of the same issues. For example, this book and Carol Belkin's The Bill of Rights: The Fight to Secure America's Liberties. Dissent has indeed been one of the most powerful forces prior to, during, and following the War for Independence. It is also true had there been no Bill of Rights and what its ten amendments establish, it would have been difficult -- if not impossible -- to protest anything within the legal framework that has since preserved and protected the "inalienable right" to which the Declaration of Independence refers.

According to Belkin, "Despite the fluidity of meaning that marks the history of federalism, the Bill of Rights has fulfilled James Madison's fervent hope that this 'parchment barrier' would benefit from civic and moral development of the nation. It has proved a strong bulwark for our liberties and a safeguard against the majority's abuse of minorities. And it has established the vocabulary for our most critical discussion of, and fiercest debates over, who we are and what we think is best to do."

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Ralph Young's coverage:

o Dissent: American Revolution (Pages 55-78)
o Dissent: War of 1812 (91-93)
o Slave resistance and rebellion (115-122)
o Dissent: Mexican War (161-166)
o Dissent: Spanish American War (184-186)
o John Brown (185-189)
o Dissent: Civil War (191-212 and 204-205)
o Ku Klux Klan (216-220)
o Haymarket (262-2630
o Emma Goldman (320-335)
o Dissent: World War One (327-344)
o Sacco and Vanzetti (344-348)
o America First Movement (392-396)
o Dissent: World War Two (393-406)
o House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC): Pete Seeger and Paul Robeson hearings (410-413)
o Freedom Riders (430-432)
o Martin Luther King, Jr. and Selma (445-447)
o Dissent: Vietnam War (455-460)
o Eugene McCarthy (470-472)

In the final chapter, Young shifts his attention to the new elements that have entered the dissent narrative, notably the social media that "have the impact of reaching massive audiences and raising public awareness of [alleged] injustice." I agree with him that postings on Twitter and Facebook "spread the word of protestors of the time and place of the next rally or demonstration or civil disobedience action or spontaneous 'flash protest"...The possibilities are endless for dissenters to utilize these new tools to spread the word, educate people, and increase participation in their movement." However, Young goes on to share his concerns about dissent that does not serve as "the fuel for progress." He refers to irresponsible dissent that is, best uninformed and self-serving, and at worst, unethical or even criminal. There are significant needs that need to be addressed, such as demanding more responsible journalism, demanding that politicians "are beholden to the people and not to those who bankroll them, we need to question authority, we need to speak out [as he has], we need to make sure that 'We the People' really means something. We need to dissent."

Obviously it is impossible for a brief commentary such as mine to do full justice to the abundance of insights, and counsel that Ralph Young provides but I hope that I have at least indicated why I hold his book in such regard. The idea of dissent can be traced back in time thousands of years but its nature and extent as well as its potential power are probably most evident in the history of the United States.

As I began to read this book for the second time, I was again reminded of this observation by Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and the Birth of Modernist Art
In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and the Birth of Modernist Art
by Sue Roe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.21
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5.0 out of 5 stars A lively story of unknown artists with “closely overlapping lives” who have since become household names, May 11 2015
Many years ago, there was a CBS Radio series called "You Are There" that later became a television series hosted by Walter Cronkite. He returned in time to an especially significant event in history to provide an eyewitness account of, for example, John Cassavetes as Plato in The Death of Socrates, James Dean as Robert Ford (outlaw) in The Capture of Jesse James, Paul Newman as Marcus Brutus in The Assassination of Julius Caesar and as Nathan Hale in The Fate of Nathan Hale, Jeanette Nolan as Sarah Bernhardt in The Final Performance of Sarah Bernhardt, Kim Stanley as Cleopatra in The Death of Cleopatra, Rod Steiger as Richard Burbage in The First Command Performance of Romeo and Juliet, Beatrice Straight as Anne Boleyn in The Crisis of Anne Boleyn, and Joanne Woodward in The Oklahoma Land Rush.

I commend Roe on her consummate skills that enable her to transport her reader back in time to early- 20th century Paris much as Woody Allen for those who see his film, Midnight in Paris, to the years there after the First World War. Pablo Picasso was probably the gravitational center of the culture before that war but even his dominant personality could not subdue, only enhance, the charm and historical significance of Montmartre’s cafes and cabarets, galleries and studios, shops and private homes during the first decade of the 2oth century. She really made me feel as if I were there in the milieu. I could almost hear her voice assure, "all things are as they were then, except you are there! "

As Roe explains, "The cross-fertilization of painting, writing, and music and dance produced a panorama of activity characterized by the early works of Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck and Modigliani, the appearance of the Ballet Russes and the salons of Gertrude Stein."The Larger framework for this book's structure also includes the World's Fair, major art exhibitions (of both paintings and sculpture), ballet and symphony performances, and relevant social, economic, and political developments in Europe as well as in the United States.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Roe’s coverage:

o Montmartre village (Pages xiii-xvi)
o Henri Matisse (17-23,55-56, 107-113, and 169-171)
o André Dorain (18-19 and 105-113)
o Pablo Picasso (23-25, 36-39, 56-58, 78-81, 87-94, 157-162, and 270-274)
o Picture sellers in Montmartre village (28-35)
o Paul Cézanne (31-33 and 204-206)
o Maurice Vlaminck (43-48, 85-86, 111-112, and 246-248)
o Georges Braque (61-68, 81-82, 178-179, 237-238, and 243-246))
o Serge Diaghilev (69-70, 204-206, and 303-304)
o Bateau-Lavoir (75-79, 140-141, 154-155, and 179-180)
o Gertrude Stein (97-00 and 134-140)
o Amedeo Modigliani (142-148 and 208-210)
o Picasso and Matisse (154-155 and 175-177)
o Gauguin's influence on Picasso (160-161)
o Salon d'Automne (204-206 and 303-304
o Ballet Russes (258-262 and 286-289)

There is a Farmer’s Market near the downtown area here in Dallas at which merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as samples of their wares. In that same spirit, I now offer three excepts from Rose’s narrative that are representative of her skills:

o "The real revolution in the arts first took place not, as is commonly supposed, in the 1920s, to the accompaniment of the Charleston, black jazz, and mint juleps, but more quietly and intimately, in the shadow of the windmills -- artificial and real -- and in the cafés and cabarets of Montmartre during the first decade of the twentieth century. The unknown artists who gathered there and lived closely overlapping lives are

o "There had always been painters in Montmartre; its reputation as the centre of artistic life dated back to the reign of Louis VI, who was a great supporter if the arts. (Montmartre appears in records dating back to the twelfth century.) The Abbey of Montmartre founded under his rule and built on the site now occupied by St. Peter's Church, between the Place du Tertre and the Sacré Coeur, attracted generous donations, earning Paris the title of 'Ville de Lettres'. Montmartre's reputation had originally been founded not on prostitutes but on nuns, some of whom achieved sainthood." (Page 15)

o "'What I am searching for, [Modigliani] wrote in one of his sketchbooks, 'is neither the real nor the unreal, but the Subconscious, the mystery of what is Instinctive in the human race'. The new go0al for the modern artists was to find ways of expressing the interior life. In their own way, Picasso and Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck, Diaghilev and Poiret, Marie Laurencin and Gertrude Stein were all by now engaged in this quest.” (211)

o "The struggles of a few dedicated, near-destitute artists working in the broken-down shacks and hovels of rural Montmartre seemed to have created the foundation for the wider arena of modern art. In retrospect, the bohemian world of the artists in Montmartre in the first decade of the century may be seen as a kind of living [begin italics] parade [end italics], a brief, dynamic, entertaining drama containing all the seeds of the main, twentieth- century show -- and all the fun of the fair." (312)

Sue Roe provides a superb Bibliography to which I presume to add David McCullough’s The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris, Gabrieller Selz's Unstill Life: A Daughter's Memoir of Art and Love in the Age of Abstraction, Anne Sinclair's My Grandfather's Gallery: A Famliy Memoir of Art and War, and Paul Durand-Ruel: Memoir of the First Impressionist Art Dealer (1831-1922) co-authored by Flavie Durand-Ruel and Paul-Louis Durand-Ruel.

Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life
Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life
by Tom Rath
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 23.63
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How and why being "fully charged" can help to eliminate all limits that are self-imposed, May 5 2015
Humans need to be re-charged as do the marvelous electronic devices on which many of us now depend. In fact, an abundance of recent and extensive research by Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University (among others) indicates that -- on average -- peak performers require at least eight hours of rest (including sleep) and that is true of athletes as well as of performing artists. With rare exception, they must also commit at least 10,000 hours of highly disciplined practice under strict, expert supervision.

In his latest book, Tom Rath identifies three "keys" that can help almost anyone to re-energize both their attitude and their effort: They believe they are doing something that will benefit others, they are creating many more positive rather than negative moments (for others as well as for themselves), and they are making choices that can help to improve their mental, emotional, and spiritual as well as physical health.

In this context, I am reminded of an incident that occurred long ago after Ralph Waldo Emerson explained transcendentalism to those who filled a church in Concord, Massachusetts. He had agreed to answer a few questions. An elderly farmer, hat in hand, stood up. "Mr. Emerson, I have a question." Emerson smiled. "Sir, how do you transcend an empty stomach?"

I agree with Rath that, with all due respect to the importance of rigorous and sufficient practice and of rising above trivial and temporary irritations, we must also replenish our sources of energy in terms of rest, as mentioned, but also nutrition and physical exercise. Most important of all, we must develop the right mindset.

In Part I, for example, Rath suggests HOW to (a) create meaning with small wins by abandoning the relentless pursuit of "happiness," (b) get a charge from within by pursuing "life, liberty, and meaningfulness," (c) make work a purpose, not just a place, (d) avoid upward comparison by preventing money from killing meaning and purpose, (e) "double down on your talents," leveraging them now, and serving wherever and whenever you and your talents are needed, (f) cast a shadow rather than existing in one by converting your dream into a job, (g) put purpose before business by focusing on less to achieve more, and (h) use purpose to avoid stagnation and decay. He also includes specific "Ideas for Action" on Page 160.

o The Three Keys to a Full Charge (Pages 7-8)
o Abandon the Pursuit of Happiness (13-14)
o Get a Charge from Within (19-22)
o Go Beyond Engagement (29-30)
o Avoid Upward Comparison (33-34)
o Double Down on Your Talents (40-41)
o Craft Your Dream Into Your Job (48-50)
o Focus on Less to Do More (54-56)
o Since Pavlov's Bell (56-59)
o Keep Your Mission in Mind (64-67)
o Focus on the Frequency (75-77)

o At Least Pay Attention (82-83)
Note: Rath makes an excellent point: "Even when you can't say something nice, go ahead and say something. Contrary to what I as told growing up, negative comments are less harmful than ignoring someone...Even negative feedback is better than nothing at all."

o Use Questions to Spark Conversation (86-89)
o Want What You Already Have (94-95)
o Used Pro-Social Incentives (108-109)
o Develop the Ultimate Strength (115-116)
o Use Short-Term Thinking for Better Health (121-123)
o Set Better Defaults (129-130)
o Keep Sitting from Sapping Your Energy (134-136)
o Fight Light, Heat, and Noise (143-144)
o Avoid Secondhand Stress (147-149)
o Push "Pause" Before Responding (153-154)

Rath encourages those who read this book to embrace opportunities to establish habits that will nourish their mental, physical, and emotional health. That sounds easy, doesn't it? Well, having helped to pave several roads to hell with my good intentions, I have found it very difficult. Steven Wright once observed, "You can't have everything. Where would you put it?" That's true. However, most of us can have much better health than we have now.

Toward the end of his book, Rath suggests: "Start with work that creates meaning. Invest in each interaction to strengthen your relationships. Make sure you have the energy you need to do your best. Doing these three things, in combination, is the definition of being charged and adding a positive charge to those around you." Quite true. Energizing others - business associates, family members, neighbors, and friends -- will be one of the best ways to energize yourself.

I think this is the most important book Tom Rath has written (at least thus far) because, in my opinion, the material he provides will have greater practical value to more people if (HUGE "if") they read and then re-read Pages 3-161 with appropriate care before proceeding through Part A in the "Tools and Resources" section that follows. (Additional resources and PDF discussion guides for groups, teams, and organizations are available at Please take full advantage of the supplementary benefits they offer.) This book may well save your life. I am certain that it can at least make your life happier, healthier, and more productive. What are you waiting for?

Connection Culture
Connection Culture
Price: CDN$ 14.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Here are 'the elements of workplace cultures that help people and organizations thrive for sustained periods of time, April 30 2015
Most of the companies annually ranked among those that are most highly admired and best to work for are also annually ranked among those that are most profitable and have the greatest cap value in their competitive marketplace. That is no coincidence. However different they may be in most respects, all of them have a culture within which personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive. In his latest book, written with Jason Pankau and Katharine Stallard, Michael Lee Stallard examines the elements of such a workplace culture.

As he explains, "An organization's culture reflects the predominant ways of thinking, behaving, and working. To appreciate the importance of culture in the workplace, consider your own experiences. Over the course of your career, have you experienced times when you were eager to get to work in the morning, you were so immersed in your work that the hours flew by, and by the end of the day you didn't want to stop working? What was it about the job that made you feel that way? How about the opposite? Have you experienced times when you struggled to get to work in the morning, the hours passed ever so slowly, and by the end of the day you were exhausted? Again, what was it about the job that made you feel that way?"

Over the years, I have worked within or closely observed hundreds of workplace cultures and agree with Stallard that understanding the factors that create a connection culture, one that enables people to thrive, is extremely important. Stallard notes, "According to Gallup's employee engagement research, 70 to 74 percent of American workers are not engaged in their jobs. Globally, that percentage rises to 87 to 89 percent (Gallup 2013). Disengaged people show up for the paycheck, but don't perform anywhere near what they are capable of if they were in a culture that energized and engaged them. This lack of employee engagement is a problem that's about to become much bigger. The business world is becoming a much more global and competitive place, with standards going up all the time. Organizations with a large percentage of disengaged employees may not survive. Individuals who fall behind thanks to poor work cultures will also be in trouble."

Connection Culture describes a new way of thinking about leadership based on the universal need to feel connected to others as opposed to feeling unsupported, left out or lonely. The book describes the connection culture leadership model, supporting research, case studies, and 15 building blocks to create a connection culture. In one part of the book, Stallard recommends ten ways to improve your connection skills, accompanied by my brief annotations:

1. Recognize varying connection needs. With people? With great music? With nature?
2. Be present in conversations. Focus on eye contact and listening with intent.
3. Develop the ability to empathize. What is another person feeling? Why?
4. Develop the habit of emphasizing positives. That said, beware of denial and delusion.
5. Control your tone of voice. What you say is less important than how you say it and weather you walk the talk.
6. Negotiate with a mindset to solve a problem rather than "win." That said, the best resolution is one that is a "win" for everyone involved.
7. Provide autonomy in execution. That is especially important when delegating. Specify What, When, and Why. Defer to How.
8. Learn and apply the five languages of appreciation. They are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, gifts, and physical touch.
Note: The intentions of authentic people are seldom (if ever) misunderstood.
9. Apologize when you make a mistake. If you don't, the disconnect may become irreparable.
10. Develop social skills and relationship skills, and recognize the differences between them. Being liked does not necessarily mean you are respected and trusted.

Stallard focuses on six specific needs: respect, recognition, belonging, autonomy, personal growth, and meaning. "This list is derived from personal research, as well as research and insights from A.H. Maslow on hierarchy of needs and need deficits, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on flow and optimal experience, Richard M. Ryan and Edward L. Deci on autonomy, and Viktor E. Frankl on meaning. The first three needs (respect, recognition, and belonging) are relational needs. When these needs are met, we feel connected to the people we work with. The next two (autonomy and personal growth) are task mastery needs, which affect how connected we feel to the work we are doing. Finally, the sixth need, meaning, is an existential need." He provides research from neuroscience and organizational behavior to support his connection culture model.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of coverage in Connection Culture:

o Three Psychosocial Cultures: Connection, Control, and Indifference (Pages xv-vii)
o The Competitive Advantage of Connection (1-9)
o Michael's personal epiphany from experience at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (2-5)
o Shared vision, identity, empathy, and compassion (13-15, 75-81, and 62-75))
0 Shard understanding and knowledge flow (15-16 and 81-85)
o Connection: universal character strengths (21-23 and 99-102)
o Mini-case studies (29-50)

Note: The mini-case studies include "Alan Mulally's 'Encore' at Ford," "Admiral Vernon Clark and Restoring Navy Pride," "Frances Hesselbein Saves the Girl Scouts," "Mike Krzyzewski's 'Aha Moment.'"

o Google (41-42, 58-59, and 68-69)
o Summary of research on organizational and individual wellness
o Summary of research on the decline of connection (53-54 and 60-64)
o Summary of research on organizational health and sustainability (56-60)
o Five Reasons Connection Cultures Need to Be a High Priority (65-66)
o Hiring, developing and promoting for competence and connection skills (72-75)
o Helping others to develop connection skills (77-81)
o Pixar's connection culture (88-91)
o Three types of people in the context of connection (93)

One of Stallard's key points is that the foundation of a workplace culture includes but is not limited to how people work together; it also includes personal interaction between and among those involved: how people treat each people. I agree that everyone within an organization needs to develop connection skills, especially leaders, and I am convinced that, whatever their size and nature may be, all organizations need effective leadership at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Specifically, in a healthy culture, employees who feel connected perform at the top of their game, give a best effort, align their behavior with organizational goals, help improve the quality of decision-making and problem-solving, and contribute as much as they can to improving what is done and how it is done.

I commend Michael Lee Stallard, Jason Pankau, and Katharine Stallard on the abundance of invaluable information, insights, and counsel in a concise volume of a little more than hundred pages (which includes the introduction and fascinating story about the rise of the rock band U2), accompanied by two appendices. Today's time starved leaders and those who aspire to be leaders are sure to appreciate this book because it eliminates the fluff, cuts to the chase and is loaded with actionable recommendations. Almost all of this material is relevant to almost any organization in which there is an urgent need to elimination disconnection between and among its workforce, especially insofar as communication, cooperation, and (most important) collaboration are concerned.

Efforts to eliminate disconnections will no doubt encounter stout resistance, usually cultural in nature, the result of what Jim O'Toole so aptly characterizes as "the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom." Do not despair. Keep in mind this memorable observation by Margaret Mead: "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Does It Work?: 10 Principles for Delivering True Business Value in Digital Marketing
Does It Work?: 10 Principles for Delivering True Business Value in Digital Marketing
by Shane Atchison
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.95
29 used & new from CDN$ 15.15

5.0 out of 5 stars How and why brilliant ideas well-executed in “the conditions that allow magic to happen” can achieve business objectives, April 28 2015
Those who have read Shane Atchison and Jason Burby's previous book, Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions, already know that they are diehard pragmatists, driven by a determination to understand what works in the business world, what doesn't, and why. Then they share what they have learned with as many people as possible.

In this volume they introduce a four-step process with ten core principles that will help business leaders in almost any organization (whatever its size and nature may be) to deliver "true business value in digital marketing." My own opinion is that the process and principles could also be of substantial value to those who create or increase demand offline.

More than 70 business leaders were interviewed and portions of their contributions are strategically inserted throughout Atchison and Burby's lively and eloquent narrative. This is more than a clever reader-friendly device. The comments are relevant and, more often than not, enrich the give point from a unique perspective.

These are among the dozens of passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Atchison and Burby’s coverage:

o Does It Work? Philosophy (Pages 10-18)
o Goal setting (20-47)
o Alignment (48-79)
o Google (82-84 and 265-267)
o Creativity and big ideas (92-97)
o Digital talent (106-129)
o "Additional Thoughts" about creating a culture for unicorns (149-155)
o Measurement (156-181
o Relative-value modeling (182-205)
o "A Culture of Optimization" (220-222)
o "One Size Fits No One" (228-253)
o "Framework for Innovation" (254-283)
o Digital marketing as actionable and measurable (304-307)

The "Does It Work?" process is rather simple but, more often than not, a deceptively challenging journey rather than a destination. Here are the steps: Set Goals, Inspire Brilliant Creativity, Measure the Results, and Make a Difference. These are stages, really, rather than steps. They are also sequential and interdependent. Failure is assured if right goals are not set and/or there are no brilliant ideas and/or the measurement is insufficient (or worse yet inaccurate) and/or there is little if any) impact of efforts expended.

Hence the great importance of the ten core principles that can guide and direct the planning and implementation of the given initiative. I think the "Does It Work?" process can succeed in almost any competitive marketplace, online or offline. I also think it can help to establish or strengthen a workplace culture within which the workers’ personal growth and professional development are most likely to thrive.

That is indeed a compelling vision, isn’t it? However, it would be a good idea to keep in mind an observation made by Thomas Edison long ago: “Vision without execution is hallucination.”

Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game
Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game
by Mark Miller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 30.35
38 used & new from CDN$ 18.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Beware of Whack-a-Mole leadership and management, April 28 2015
I have read and reviewed all of Mark Miller's previous books, including Great Leaders Grow and The Secret (both in collaboration with Ken Blanchard) and consider Miller one of the most observant and insightful business thinkers in thought leadership. Once again in Chess Not Checkers, he calls upon his highly developed skills as a raconteur to provide information, insights, and counsel in the form of a business narrative. That is, he establishes a setting, introduces characters, builds tension with conflicts that occur during the plot development, and eventually there is a climax with resolution of the key issues.

The details of this narrative are best revealed in context. However, I am comfortable suggesting what the major issues are that Miller addresses, based on his own wide and deep background in leadership, management, personal growth, and professional development. These issues are involved when attempting to answer questions such as these:

o How best to identify the most important questions to ask and the most difficult to solve?
o How best to identify those answers and solutions?
o How to balance collective judgment with individual initiative?
o Every "game" has its rules and some games are more complicated than others. How to decide which game and how best to play it?
o How to keep score? That is, how to measure what is most important?
o How to create a sense of urgency to obtain buy-in for proposed action?
o How to create a sense of "One for all, all for one"?
o How to get talent and work in proper alignment?
o How to know when to stay the course, change it, or end the given "journey"?
o To what extent should a "turnaround mindset" be sustained after a turnaround has succeeded?

The new CEO and the other players in Miller's narrative face the same questions, problems, challenges, frustrations, ambiguities, anxieties, etc. that counterparts in the so-called "real world" do. Their "journey" of personal growth and professional development is an endless process rather than an ultimate destination. The same is true of those who read this book as well as those they supervise and others who supervise them. Ecclesiastes once suggested that "there is nothing new" whereas Heraclitus suggested that "everything changes, nothing changes." They are both correct.

All organizations need effective leaders at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Every day, there are "games" played at those levels and in those areas. Sometimes it's checkers, other times it's chess. All organizations need leaders who are masters at both games and constantly strengthen their skills at both.

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