Freeing Yourself from Anxiety

Freeing Yourself from Anxiety: 4 Simple Steps to Overcome Worry and Create the Life You Want

by Tamar E. Chansky, Ph.D.

2020 has been a mentally-draining year. In this 287-page book, psychologist Tamar Chansky explains why our minds get overwhelmed with worry and she offers advice on how to deal with it. Here are some highlights.

Anxiety is “the first-reaction of a sensitive system that is wired to keep us alert to danger and protected from harm… But today, with our best interests in mind, anxiety sometimes makes mistakes, overshooting… grabbing your attention from what you need to focus on and insisting that you instead grapple with worst-case scenarios.”  Continue reading “Freeing Yourself from Anxiety”

Authentic Leadership

Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value

by Bill George

Former Medtronic chairman and CEO Bill George wrote this book following a series of corporate scandals, including Enron, Sunbeam, Tyco, and Worldcom—just to name a few. These companies imploded because management was fixated on maximizing short-term shareholder value.

To paraphrase my favorite line in the book: you are running a business, not a stock. That said, the compound annual growth rate of Medtronic split-adjusted stock price was 28.5% during George’s 12-year tenure, according to my calculations. Not too shabby!

The first part of the book deals with the character, values, and sense of purpose required to inspire employees. George also shares his wisdom and personal experiences regarding customers, quality, market share, growth, innovation, acquisitions, FDA approval delays, Wall Street analysts, and corporate governance. Continue reading “Authentic Leadership”

Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption

Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption

by Leo M. Tilman and Gen. Charles Jacoby (Ret.)

“The need for agility in business, government and warfare arises precisely from the uncertainty and complexity of the competitive environment.”

I imagine both co-authors of Agility have some battle scars—Tilman from Bear Stearns during the 2008 financial industry crisis and Jacoby from his career in the U.S. Army where he achieved the rank of 4-star general. Kidding aside, this book goes beyond military metaphors and presents a fusion of military and business thinking about risk intelligence and uncertainty as well as a leadership approach that emphasizes truth (as opposed to assumptions), trust, clear communication, and executional dexterity throughout the organization.

Complex adaptive systems “are constantly changing and evolving. They lack centralized control. They are inhabited by a multitude of stakeholders driven by distinct objectives, risk tolerances and modes of operation. These players interact in dynamic tension with one another, alternating between the urge to recoil from and engage in risk-taking and aggression. Their actions and adaptations lead to entirely unpredictable patterns and outcomes.” Continue reading “Agility: How to Navigate the Unknown and Seize Opportunity in a World of Disruption”

The Flaw of Averages

The Flaw of Averages: Why We Underestimate Risk in the Face of Uncertainty

by Sam L. Savage

This is a book about how to manage in a world of uncertainty. The beginning section presents a number of statistical concepts in simplified language; more sophisticated techniques follow. The author discusses how these concepts apply in a wide variety of contexts including oil exploration, pharmaceutical R&D, the stock market, the housing bubble, weather, climate change, health care, gene pools, the war of terror, and supply chains. He also describes some illogical accounting rules required by the FASB and the SEC. Continue reading “The Flaw of Averages”

Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency

Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency

by Tom DeMarco

Slack is an outstanding management book full of wisdom about corporate culture, change, failure, learning, quality, risk management, productivity, and managing people.

“You can’t grow if you can’t change at all.” Slack is “the lubricant of change… Slack represents operational capacity sacrificed in the interests of long-term health… Learning to think of it that way (instead of as waste) is what distinguishes organizations that are ‘in business’ from those that are merely busy.”

Continue reading “Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency”

Rethinking Risk Management: Critically Examining Old Ideas and New Concepts

Rethinking Risk Management: Critically Examining Old Ideas and New Concepts

by Rick Nason

Rick Nason challenges the status quo of risk management which mindlessly follows third-party frameworks and does too little independent thinking. He argues that risk management acts as “The Department of No” while ignoring upside risk. He envisions risk management as a strategic player in value creation rather than a cost center. Continue reading “Rethinking Risk Management: Critically Examining Old Ideas and New Concepts”

The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor

The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor

by Howard Marks

Howard Marks is the co-founder and co-chairman of Oaktree Capital Management and he ranks #374 on the 2017 Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. In this book he covers 20 topics: second-level thinking; market efficiency and its limitations; intrinsic value; the relationship between price and value; understanding risk; recognizing risk; controlling risk; market cycles; the pendulum; combating negative influences; contrarianism; finding bargains; patient opportunism; knowing what you don’t know; having a sense for where we stand; appreciating the role of luck; investing defensively; avoiding pitfalls; adding value; and pulling it all together.

Can you guess which one is the most important thing?  Continue reading “The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor”