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J. Straub (Cleveland Heights, OH United States)

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Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life
by Spencer Johnson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 15.88
203 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Don't be left without cheese, a reminder for business & life, April 21 2003
In language reminiscent of "One fish, two fish; red fish, blue fish", Spencer guides us through his sub-one-hundred page parable illustrating how different types of people react to change and creating a clear picture of the model to emulate. Though, on surface, the book may seem like a somewhat childish, the lessons presented are both ageless and timeless. Spencer proffers that it is better to adapt to change than be staunchly opposed to it. He further instructs that searching for change to adapt to it proactively is better than simply adapting to it when it shows up. Simple lessons, but they are clearly something that many in our society lack understanding of or desire to do. Moreover, they are relevant regardless of exactly what your job is. While some may read it as a book about looking for and adapting to change within their organization, others may read it as a book about adapting to market conditions.
The book seems particularly suited for reading in groups, as the humorous names of the characters can be used to remind one another of the bad behaviors that each person is falling into in a friendly, funny, unthreatening way.

Many Miles to Go
Many Miles to Go
by Brian Tracy
Edition: Hardcover
23 used & new from CDN$ 2.83

5.0 out of 5 stars Learning about life from crossing the Sahara, April 20 2003
This review is from: Many Miles to Go (Hardcover)
Many Miles to Go combines a enthralling real-life story of Tracy's trek across Africa's Sahara desert and his reflective commentary on what he learned and what we could learn from his experiences. Unlike the typical business or personal development book, Many Miles to Go is a narrative that also has the remarkable ability to deliver Tracy's key points about success both in your career and life. If the book had to be summarized in just a few words, they would be to set a goal and begin moving towards it and to treat each experience along the way as preparation for something later. The book is a must-read for anyone who wants to reach, as Tracy would say, their full potential.

Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends
Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends
by Tim Sanders
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Showing a Little Love Can Go a Long Way in Business, April 19 2003
Yahoo's Tim Sanders describes in Love is the Killer App how he stumbled on a very successful philosophy. Sanders advocates taking a true interest in someone's career or business and trying to help them through introductions and advice with no specific expectation of remuneration. He says that first, you will be perceived as an expert of sorts (for knowing what or who you know) and second that the person will feel somewhat endeared to you for thinking of them. The benefits, he suggests, in the long run will reward you.
Sanders also suggests that you read as much as possible, so that you have a little bit of knowledge about any subject that could come up. He stresses that books are far more useful than newspapers/magazines/etc. as they extrapolate on their subject and are able to provide an abundant source of additional information should the need arise (though he does point out that magazines do have particular value in some instances).
All-in-all the book does have some valuable suggestions and is definitely worth reading. Some of his suggestions are very specific to sales people for service industries and may be difficult to implement if you work for a product-centric company or are not in sales. Most suggestions, though, are universal. If you want a way to be happier, have more professional acquaintances, and go further in life, this book should be a definite addition to your reading list.

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less
The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less
by Richard Koch
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.00
48 used & new from CDN$ 3.60

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Explination of Concept; Don't Read Cover-to-Cover, Dec 1 2002
In The 80/20 Principle, Koch proffers that 20 percent of what companies and individuals do generates over 80 percent of their positive results (a theory that he attributes to Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist around the turn of the 20th century). Koch proposes that by identifying the 20 percent of the activities that generate 80 percent of the results and increasing the effort put into those 20-percent activities you can dramatically improve results. To this end he provides an astute evaluation of the economic and social realities of business.
Koch goes further, though, and tries to extrapolate the 80/20 theory to success, happiness and life in general. While some of what he suggests makes sense, his examples seem to get progressively weaker as he moves away from the world of business.
The book's other main flaw results from its severe organizational problems. Koch seems to have a very limited number of examples - and because of their repeated re-use (and in many cases their limited pertinence to the topic at hand) the book seems to weave in and out of topics, making it somewhat difficult to follow for anything else than a linear read.
The principal, itself, is almost a truism, which as Koch points out, is not thought about nearly enough. The books main strength is that he explains the concept quite well. Unfortunately, the extrapolation to life in general and the organizational difficulties make 80 percent of the book just not worth reading. Read the first two chapters - they explain the principal - and the last chapter (which basically explains all of the extrapolation theories) then put the book down - you will have read the 20% of the book that contains over 80% of the value!

by Kevin Freiberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.89
105 used & new from CDN$ 0.74

5.0 out of 5 stars You'd Have To Be Nuts Not To Read It, Sept. 5 2002
This review is from: Nuts! (Paperback)
In Nuts! the Freibergs (husband and wife, co-authors) detail and explain the success of Southwest Airlines. They go far beyond simply analyzing the company and its key "LUV" ingredient for success.
Through consulting and their later work in preparation for this book, the Freibergs have intimate knowledge of Southwest's operations, and put it to good use in presenting the company to readers. Moreover, they overtly show their enthusiasm for Southwest: the book is packed with words of praise from the Fribergs, Southwest employees, customers, and outsiders including GE's Jack Welch. All of these testimonials help to make the case that employees really do love what they do.
The book is separated into four sections: the first details the history of Southwest. The second focuses on how Southwest does business; the third deals with the building blocks of the company's success. Finally, the book concludes -- and culminates -- with a section on how readers can incorporate Southwest techniques within their own business or work environment.
These "secrets" to success are simple: trust your people, treat them as people (not "resources" or "employees"), celebrate the good, and make information easily available to everyone. As simple as they may be, the authors argue that many companies overlook them in deference to policy and procedure. Nuts! advocates that the People come first, the customers second, and everything else starts at third.
Even the best books have their problems, and Nuts! is hurt by the excessive presentation of anecdotes and letters from customers in boxes, which you must stop to read. While they defiantly add something to the book, readability would have been improved by including them in-line with the text.
Overall, this book is clearly a must-read for managers and employees alike. It is an enjoyable fast read and most everyone will take something valuable away from it!

by John Nathan
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 3.44

5.0 out of 5 stars Unveiling the Sony Mystique, Aug. 31 2002
This review is from: Sony (Paperback)
Many business books focus exclusively on the physical evidence left behind by a business: the profit and loss statements, product plans and reviews while ignoring the essence of the company. In Sony: The Private Life, Nathan goes far beyond the polished exterior that Sony projects to the world; far beyond simplicity of the money that Sony made and spent. Instead he presents Sony as the complex creature that it is.
The book combines interviews with Sony executives and extensive research. From the first day in post WWII Japan to mid-1998 with offices worldwide, Nathan chronicles the growth of the company. Special attention is paid to how Sony designs and develops products. Nathan delves into the creation of Sony's highly profitable Trinitron line and the birth of the Walkman. Attention is paid to how Sony desires to be consistently different-and-better than its competition, though in some cases, the result is simply being different.
Unfortunately, Nathan seems to walk the company walk in some cases, not delving into controversial subjects as deeply as readers might like. This may, simply, be due to the lack of additional sources on the subject, as much of the book is spent discussing activities that occurred far from the public view. However, as Nathan had already completed several projects for Sony before writing the book, one has to question whether he was able to maintain complete objectivity. In fact, sometimes, Nathan seems more awful of Sony and the Sony founders than he describes most Sony employees as being.
Overall, Sony: The Private Life is an exceptional book. It provides valuable insight into the operations and management style of a Japanese company. Moreover, Nathan's attention to the players, as opposed to simply the company, allows readers understanding to go far beyond that provided by most business books. If you want to understand Sony or Japanese corporations in general, this is the book to buy.

Taco Titan: The Glen Bell Story
Taco Titan: The Glen Bell Story
by Debra Lee Baldwin
Edition: Hardcover
13 used & new from CDN$ 20.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Good Profile, Not So Good Business Book, Aug. 28 2002
One might think a book containing Glen Bell's "recipes for success" would be primarily a business book; Taco Titan most definitely is not.

In Taco Titan, Baldwin through a mix of research, interviews with friends, family and Bell himself pieces together the Taco Titan's life, from early childhood living in near-poverty to the rise of Taco Bell and culminating with the establishment of Bell Gardens. Baldwin clearly has great admiration for Bell, and she certainly hits upon all of the key points in his (and Taco Bell's) life. The book is well written, easy to read, and the occasional use of suspense and foreshadowing makes it hard to put down.
Unfortunately, the entire story is presented as seen through rose-colored glasses. The book is a combination of biography and autobiography in the worst way. In an autobiography, the subject, reflecting on his or her life generally is somewhat introspective and points out things that they wish they had done differentially. In a biography, the biographer points out both the subject's success and failings. From reading this book, one would get the idea that everything in Bell's life simply fell into place. It mentions not one mistake nor any regrets on the part of Bell. Moreover the "recipes for success" at the end of each chapter seem to suggest that each experience was not only perfect, but a standard to be emulated. A number things that one might perceive as set backs are presented (such as when Bell, during his divorce, "gives" his entire net worth to his wife) but they are glossed over, and generally presented as a choice Bell made, not a product of circumstance.
Since this is the only book on Taco Bell, if you want to know about the company and its founder, it is the book to buy. Just don't expect to learn much more than a timeline of Bell's life from it.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now
If I Knew Then What I Know Now
by Richard Edler
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
31 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars If I Knew Then What I Know Now, I Wouldn't Have Bought It, Aug. 28 2002
There are a great many good books that share insight from business leaders on how young want-to-be-executives can advance through the ranks, unfortunately this isn't one of them.
On the positive side, there are a number of excellent quotes within the book, ranging from a suggestion of managing time by opening mail at 4:30 PM and thus not loosing control of your day every time a so-called emergency occurs to encouraging everyone to take more risks. The quotes are arranged into sections by their relevance to a particular topic. These topics include "things you should know", "things you'll be better off knowing", "things you'll be nicer off knowing" and "things learned the hard way". Edler does an exceptional job explaining some of the more cryptic or just incredibly short quotes.
Unfortunately, filling the 200-or-so pages not containing valuable insight are repeated suggestions to spend more time with family and find religion. While these topics are obviously important to their contributors, one really has to wonder if these people would be where they are now, if they had taken their own advice. Moreover, while the suggestions are clearly valid, they really don't need to be repeated numerous times throughout the book; some editorial discursion should have been exercised.
The 242 page book will take most readers only about an hour to complete, as many pages contain only 25-50 words, in very large print (note that this is not designed to be a "big print" book as Edler's side-column notes are generally printed in a very small print). Moreover, many of these "CEOs and Other Smart Executives" are virtual unknowns, like many of the companies that they work for. There are some pleasant surprises buried within, but much is simply filler.
If you are looking for a waxing, philosophical guide to living what the contributors feel would have been a better life, for them, then this is the book for you. If on the other hand, you are looking for a book about how to advance through the ranks, and become the successor to one of these contributors, you would be better served elsewhere.

Inside The Cult Of Kibu: And Other Tales Of The Millennial Gold Rush
Inside The Cult Of Kibu: And Other Tales Of The Millennial Gold Rush
by Lori Gottlieb
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 2.98

3.0 out of 5 stars Collection of Anecdotes, Little Else, Aug. 27 2002
For a book classified as "business" this book spends a remarkably small amount of time discussing business. Instead, Inside the Cult of Kibu is a collection of anecdotes from Gottlieb's experiences at Kibu and others' experiences working at dot-coms and in the dot-com world.

The book's greatest strength is clearly its organization: each of the ten chapters contains anecdotes regarding only one topic, ranging from hiring to IPOs to layoffs and the post-dot-com. The book is an enjoyable read composed of brief stories held together by Gottlieb's and Jabobs' commentary. Each chapter starts with Gottlieb's experience at Kibu which gives what would otherwise have been a very scattered book a consistent flow and feeling.
As enjoyable as it is to read; however, at the end the book leaves the reader with little else than a sense of the absurdity of the whole dot-com bubble. There is no discussion of why dot-coms failed, or even why some gathered the "cult" following that they did. Instead, the book might be best described as the transcription of a bar conversation: every few minutes you will laugh, but at the end of the night you really haven't gotten a whole lot out of it.
If you were part of the dot-com euphoria, than you probably will enjoy the book as a memoir. If however, you are trying to learn about, understand or analyze, you will be left severely disappointed by Inside the Cult of Kibu.

Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure
Startup: A Silicon Valley Adventure
by Jerry Kaplan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.08
59 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Chronology of a Failure, Aug. 25 2002
In Startup, Go's Jerry Kaplan (better known for his later success with recounts how he and his team built the company from an idea, and how due to internal politics and competition the walls came tumbling down.
Kaplan takes us through the twists and turns of forming a company, describing, in detail, how he secured venture capital and found Go's first few key people. He comments extensively on the changing competitive landscape throughout Go's history. The EO spin-off, IBM and AT&T deals and all other major events in Go's life are detailed. The book is a quick read, written like a first person novel, not a stuffy business book.
The book's biggest flaw, however, is that it is written entirely from Kaplan's perspective. Throughout, he blames situation, competitors and others for the various problems that Go encountered; Kaplan though, fails to review his own actions and how they may have contributed to Go's demise -- unfortunately this could have been the most beneficial analysis: allowing us to learn from what Kaplan perceived as his mistakes.
Over all, Startup is well written, and a "must read" for anyone working for or contemplating starting a tech company.

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