It’s Not Complicated: The Art and Science of Complexity in Business
by Rick Nason
This book may fundamentally change the way you think. Or it may give you a framework to understand why you intuitively know that conventional management practices are sometimes incongruent with reality.
“This book is about systems thinking, and more specifically the important distinction between simple, complicated, and complex systems as applied to common business problems… The world of business is usually complex rather than complicated. That may seem like word play, but the difference between ‘complicated thinking’ and ‘complexity thinking’ is profound. This important distinction is well accepted in the scientific community but is virtually unknown in business.” Nason explains, “The ability to manage complexity is the key to competitive advantage.”
50 Economics Classics: Your shortcut to the most important ideas on capitalism, finance, and the global economy
by Tom Butler-Bowden
Tom Butler-Bowdon has summarized 50 economics books spanning 240 years (1776 to 2016), however 40% of the books were published in the 21st-century, thus offering contemporary relevance with historical context. Indeed he notes in the introduction, “if there is anything that the financial crisis of 2007-08 told us, it is that economic and financial history matters.”
Each book is distilled to about six pages. Among the many topics covered are: the euro, the Great Depression, subprime loans and the 2008 financial crisis, the value of a college education, the economics of cities, free trade, protectionism, globalization, the gold standard, income inequality, innovation and entrepreneurship, investing in the stock market, employment, technology, poverty, famines, crime, foreign aid, property, dead capital, and behavioral economics.
Here are some selected highlights. Continue reading
101 Things I Learned in Law School
by Vibeke Norgaard Martin with Matthew Frederick
Vibeke Norgaard Martin is a lawyer who has practiced commercial litigation and civil rights law. She has also taught law at U.C. Berkeley. Here are some of her insights on how to think like a lawyer.
“Honesty and truthfulness are not the same thing. Being honest means not telling lies. Being truthful means actively making known the full truth of a matter. Lawyers must be honest, but they do not have to be truthful… Counsel may not deliberately mislead the court, but has no obligation to tell the defendant’s whole story.”
“Intent can be essential; motive rarely is. Motive is the reason someone has for committing a crime. It can help the prosecution identify and indict a defendant, but it doesn’t provide direct evidence of guilt. Personal financial difficulty, could suggest an individual had a motive to commit a robbery, but it provides, at best, only circumstantial evidence that he did so. Intent is the resolution to commit a crime. A defendant’s possession of tools for breaking a safe suggests an intent to commit burglary and theft, and may serve as direct evidence of his guilt.” Continue reading
101 Things I Learned in Culinary School
by Louis Eguaras with Matthew Frederick
“The culinary world is ever evolving, as familiar techniques and experiences continually give way to new ones and force chefs to reevaluate their comfort zones. A chef’s understanding of food and cooking thereby needs to extend beyond knowledge of ingredients, technique, tools, and equipment. A chef must be a scholar of colors, textures, and fragrances. He or she must know the history of food, its chemistry and alchemy, the art of presentation, and how to keep customers safe. A chef has to know how to manage and meet customers’ needs and expectations, how to create and manage budgets, and how to delegate and answer to those working around him or her.”
This book introduces a variety of such topics. Here’s a sample of 10 items covered in the book.
“Why the chef’s jacket is double breasted. The front of a chef’s jacket is reversible. This allows a chef to wear the clean side over the dirty side if entering the dining room to greet guests. Additionally, the double layer of heavy cotton protects against hot spills and splatters. Cloth toggles are used instead of buttons, which can snag, break, or melt into food. The vented cuffs turn up, getting them out of the way of foods and leaving a fresh edge to turn down when entering the dining room.”
“Good beef is 30 days old. Beef is aged to allow an animal’s natural enzymes to break down tough connective tissues, resulting in deeper flavor and improved texture. Dry aging needs at least 11 days and may take more than 30 days. The meat is hung and exposed to climate controlled air, where it loses 15 to 30% of its weight, mostly due to water evaporation, becomes meatier and more buttery, and develops a more concentrated flavor. Dry aged beef is rarely found in supermarkets.”
101 Things to Learn in Art School
by Kit White
“Artists assimilate a whole range of psychological, aesthetic, political, and emotional data points, and they then make forms to organize and give meaning to them. That takes skill and practice, working in tandem with intelligence and keen observation… Basic form-giving skills help the student make the bridge between thought and embodiment.”
Kit White is an associate professor in the MFA program at Pratt Institute. Here’s a sample of his insights:
“Art is continuing a dialogue that stretches back through thousands of years. What you make is your contribution to that dialogue. Therefore, be conscious of what has come before you and the conversation that surrounds you. Try not to repeat what has already been said. Study art history and stay alert to the dialogue of your moment.”
“Composition is the foundation of image making. It is the spatial relationships between all of the parts in an image. Whether a drawing, a painting, a sculpture, a photograph, a video, or an installation, how a thing is composed determines its look, its feel, and its meaning. Compositional variation, like musical tunes, is limitless.”
101 Things I Learned in Film School
by Neil Landau with Matthew Frederick
“In my… twenty years of teaching, screenwriting, and filmmaking, I have been continually struck by how the creative process of filmmaking is at once painstakingly deliberate and fortuitously experimental,” writes Neil Landau, who teaches at the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television.
Creating a film or television program entails a variety of skills including budgeting, screenwriting, directing, acting, and numerous technical proficiencies. Here’s a sampling of the insights shared by the author.
“Film is a director’s medium; television is a writer’s medium. A movie is a one-of-a-kind undertaking: The production team and actors come together for several weeks or months to create a unique world that disappears upon the completion of filming. A strong director is essential in defining this world—form its artistic details to its broad nuances, script approval to casting, set design to special effects, and lighting and equipment to the overall visual style. A successful television series, by comparison, is long running, and production becomes rather standardized during its first season. The greatest challenge becomes the generation of new material each week, giving the gifted writer a proportionately greater opportunity to shine.”
The Decision Makeover: An Intentional Approach to Living the Life You Want
by Mike Whitaker
The Decision Makeover is about replacing haphazard decision making with a mindful approach based on advancing our priorities. “Trial and error does not focus upon why each of our options makes sense in the big picture. The question should be: Does this choice best support my personal definition of success? … It takes discipline to ignore the noise and focus on only a few key goals. When we focus, things get done.”
Whitaker says that that we gain success momentum from a series of interdependent decisions. He describes the success formula waterfall: awareness, prime goals, decisions, dividends, momentum, success. “Good decision making allows you to pick up speed and make faster progress.”
Each year we make thousands of minor decisions, dozens of medium decisions, and perhaps one big decision. “Medium decisions are best illustrated as ‘course corrections’—like a boat captain. Since the boat’s destination is one of our big decisions… These medium decisions assure progress toward our success.” Continue reading