Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

by David Epstein

“The response, in every field, to a ballooning library of human knowledge and an interconnected world has been to exalt increasingly narrow focus… Both training and professional incentives are aligning to accelerate specialization, creating intellectual archipelagos.”

In Range, David Epstein examines the advantages of having a range of experiences, a broader perspective, an interdisciplinary approach, and the value of flexible thinking and reasoning in a world full complexity and uncertainty where precise, deterministic solutions are unknowable.

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The Profession

The Profession: a Memoir of Community, Race, and the Arc of Policing in America

by Bill Bratton with Peter Knobler   

Bill Bratton was sworn in as a Boston police officer in 1970 and rose to become chief or commissioner of six major police departments in three different states. He deserves a lot of credit for dramatically reducing crime, most notably as New York City Transit Police chief in the early 1990s and as commissioner of the NYPD in the mid-1990s.

Chapters two through six cover Bratton’s career through his first stint as NYPD commissioner until his falling out with Mayor Giuliani—basically a retelling of Bratton’s first book, Turnaround. Chapter seven covers his years as chief of LAPD; the writers were sloppy with the details in this chapter. Chapter eight is about Bratton’s second turn as NYPD commissioner under Mayor de Blasio.

The remainder of the book deals with contemporary issues related to race, implicit bias, terrorism, and the defund-the-police movement. I imagine Bratton wrote this book out of frustration with the anti-police climate and the resulting unraveling of 25+ years of crime reduction. It is extremely informative and he offers a valuable perspective. I read all 476 pages with great interest.

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Go Luck Yourself: 40 Ways to Stack the Odds in Your Brand’s Favour

Go Luck Yourself: 40 Ways to Stack the Odds in Your Brand’s Favour

by Andy Nairn

“After almost 30 years in advertising, I’ve often been struck by the pivotal role that chance plays… Luck remains a dirty secret because it’s seen to undermine the virtues of hard work, talent, and intelligence that are at the heart of any successful business culture… I believe that luck exists—and also that you can improve it.”

Andy Nairn is co-founder of Lucky Generals, a creative agency in the UK whose clients include Yorkshire Tea and the Co-op. His book consists of 40 bite-sized chapters divided into to four sections:

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Discover Your True North

Discover Your True North

by Bill George

The term True North refers to “the internal compass that guides you successfully through life… It is derived from your most deeply held beliefs, your values, and the principles you lead by.” Quoting Warren Bennis, “Leadership is character.”

Everybody develops their own True North. “Today authenticity is seen as the gold standard for leadership… The reality is that no one can be authentic by trying to be like someone else. You can learn from others’ experiences, but you cannot be successful trying to be like them. People will only trust you when you are genuine and authentic.”

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The Book of Joy

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams 

To celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, Archbishop Desmond Tutu spent five days in Dharamsala, India discussing the theme of joy with his friend. “Together they explored how we can transform joy from an ephemeral state into an enduring trait, from a fleeting feeling into a lasting way of being.”

What really comes through in this book is that these two have a fun and authentic rapport. The discussion was facilitated by their co-author Douglas Abrams and Thupten Jinpa, who translates for the Dalai Lama when needed.

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Media Planning from Recency to Engagement

Media Planning from Recency to Engagement

by Erwin Ephron (1934-2013)    

Erwin Ephron was a media executive at several ad agencies. He was a proponent of the recency model of media planning, which aims to be present when people are most receptive to the advertising. Recency attempts “to intercept the next purchase with a brand message.”

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Hillstrom’s Pricing

Hillstrom’s Pricing: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Optimizing Customer Behavior via Prices

by Kevin Hillstrom

This fascinating booklet is about how the mix of price levels a retailer offers in its selection of merchandise affects customer behavior. In his 30-year career in retail, Kevin Hillstrom worked for Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer, and Land’s End as well as 225 clients in his consulting practice.

The author examines sales data by price range, merchandise category, channel, and customer life cycle (new customers vs. repeat customers) over a span of five years. Most pages include a spreadsheet or graph showing data from a hypothetical company with declining sales, along with commentary on how the author analyzes the numbers to figure out what’s going on. The target audience for the booklet appears to be catalog and ecommerce retailers. Continue reading “Hillstrom’s Pricing”

2021 Castlin Manifesto: Strategy in Polemy

2021 Castlin Manifesto: Strategy in Polemy

by JP Castlin

JP Castlin is a strategic thinker and consultant based in Sweden. Major themes in his Manifesto are complexity and emergent strategy. In the chapter on marketing, he is not shy about challenging prominent figures. The paper is 71 pages including an impressive 9-page bibliography with academic papers, articles, and books cited throughout the text. Continue reading “2021 Castlin Manifesto: Strategy in Polemy”

Small Business Finance and Valuation

Small Business Finance and Valuation

by Rick Nason and Dan Nordqvist

A finance professor and a CPA have teamed up to explain finance and risk management concepts specifically for small business, defined as assets under $5 million. They acknowledge that the objectives of small business owners often differ from those of a Fortune 500 CFO, whose focus is typically maximizing shareholder value. Freedom, peace of mind, and other quality of life issues may be more important to a small business owner. Continue reading “Small Business Finance and Valuation”