Schtick to Business

Schtick to Business: What the masters of comedy can teach you about breaking rules, being fearless, and building a serious career

by Peter McGraw

This book is about applying the wisdom of successful comedians to business management. Topics include targeting your audience and differentiating your brand, the creative process, innovation, diversity, teamwork, and writing skills. Peter McGraw is a behavioral economist, professor, and director of the Humor Research Lab (HuRL). Continue reading “Schtick to Business”

Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will

Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will

by Geoff Colvin

“The number of people who wrongly believed they could never be replaced by a computer keeps growing.” So what are the skills in which humans can maintain a competitive advantage over machines?

“Skills of interaction are becoming the key to success… Now, as technology drives forward more powerfully every year, the transition to the newly valuable skills of empathizing, collaborating, creating, leading, and building relationships is happening faster than corporations, governments, education systems, or most human psyches can keep up with.”  Continue reading “Humans are Underrated: What High Achievers Know that Brilliant Machines Never Will”

The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Create Lasting Success

The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Create Lasting Success

by Rich Karlgaard

It is noteworthy that a prominent business journalist from Silicon Valley—where technology and IPOs dominate headlines—wrote a book about the human factors of business success. “The yin and yang of effective management has always been about the search for the right spot between data truth and human truth.”

“Hard-edge execution is all about managing exactly to the numbers. The people who live on the hard edge of business are good at making the trains run on time. They focus on profit. Their language is time, money, and numbers. Every company in the world needs these employees.”

“Soft-edge excellence—in trust, smarts, teams, taste, and story—tends to attract loyal customers and committed employees.” Karlgaard says the soft edge is “the heart and soul” of your company. Continue reading “The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Create Lasting Success”

Humble Inquiry

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

by Edgar H. Schein

Retired MIT Sloan School of Management professor Edgar Schein asserts, “Without good upward communication, organizations can be neither effective nor safe… Your organization may be underperforming because various employees or groups do not recognize the degree to which they are, in fact, interdependent.” The gist of this book is about creating a trusting environment with open communication across hierarchical boundaries. This entails less telling, more asking, and better listening.

“The U.S. culture is strongly built on the tacit assumptions of pragmatism, individualism, and status through achievement… Given those cultural biases, doing and telling are inevitably valued more than asking and relationship building. However, as tasks become more complex and interdependent, collaboration, teamwork, and relationship building will become more necessary. That, in turn, will require leaders to become more skilled in humble inquiry.”

Continue reading “Humble Inquiry”

Team of Teams

team-of-teams

Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World

by General Stanley McChrystal with Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell

When General Stanley McChrystal took command of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in 2003, he was fighting a 21st-century war with a 20th-century military. This engaging book is about the reconfiguration which  led to faster decisions and greater results. McChrystal’s mission was to defeat Al Quaeda in Iraq (AQI), but his leadership insights are applicable to business as well. Continue reading “Team of Teams”

What Keeps Leaders Up at Night

what-keeps-leaders-up-at-night

What Keeps Leaders Up at Night: Recognizing and Resolving Your Most Troubling Management Issues

by Nicole Lipkin

In this excellent book, clinical psychologist Nicole Lipkin explains the psychology behind many of the human behaviors that affect productivity and sound decision making in the workplace. “Good leadership requires dealing effectively with messy, quirky, unpredictable, confusing, irrational, and clumsy people. That is what makes the business of leadership so insanely difficult and complex.” Continue reading “What Keeps Leaders Up at Night”

The Articulate Executive in Action

the-articulate-executive-in-action

The Articulate Executive in Action

by Granville N. Toogood

This book is about the importance of communication skills in business, with a particular emphasis on meetings and presentations.  “If you’re not competent with language, you’re not likely to connect, no matter how smart you are.” The main theme is what Toogood calls communication value added (CVA), of which there are seven principles: “Never bore. Give value. Rule your PowerPoint—don’t let it rule you. Talk from experience. Know whom you’re talking to. Tell stories. And be ready.” Continue reading “The Articulate Executive in Action”