Sunday, June 29, 2014

June Books

Remember when, "What are you doing; reading War and Peace?" used to convey one's impatience with another person's slowness? I haven't heard it in awhile, so I'm not sure the younger generation would know what to make of it. But since I am reading War and Peace right now, and unlikely to finish it before Monday, here is my list of books for the month. The complete list for 2014 is available here.

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

How can we make intelligent decisions about our increasingly technology-driven lives if we don't understand the difference between the myths of pseudoscience and the testable hypotheses of science? Pulitzer Prize-winning author and distinguished astronomer Carl Sagan argues that scientific thinking is critical not only to the pursuit of truth but to the very well-being of our democratic institutions.

Casting a wide net through history and culture, Sagan examines and authoritatively debunks such celebrated fallacies of the past as witchcraft, faith healing, demons, and UFOs. And yet, disturbingly, in today's so-called information age, pseudoscience is burgeoning with stories of alien abduction, channeling past lives, and communal hallucinations commanding growing attention and respect. As Sagan demonstrates with lucid eloquence, the siren song of unreason is not just a cultural wrong turn but a dangerous plunge into darkness that threatens our most basic freedoms.

Series of short essays about a scientific approach to various phenomena. Clear and cogent, but I didn't come away with much, although the manual for detecting witches was shocking. Spoiler alert: you're going down Broom Hilda. Your innocence confirms your trickery.

In this revolutionary bestseller, innovation expert Clayton M. Christensen says outstanding companies can do everything right and still lose their market leadership—or worse, disappear altogether. And not only does he prove what he says, but he tells others how to avoid a similar fate.

Focusing on “disruptive technology,” Christensen shows why most companies miss out on new waves of innovation. Whether in electronics or retailing, a successful company with established products will get pushed aside unless managers know when to abandon traditional business practices. Using the lessons of successes and failures from leading companies, The Innovator’s Dilemma presents a set of rules for capitalizing on the phenomenon of disruptive innovation.

Find out:

When it is right not to listen to customers.
When to invest in developing lower-performance products that promise lower margins.
When to pursue small markets at the expense of seemingly larger and more lucrative ones.
Sharp, cogent, and provocative, The Innovator’s Dilemma is one of the most talked-about books of our time—and one no savvy manager or entrepreneur should be without.(

Why making your product better and listening to your customers will never lead to disruptive change, and how knowing the market is not always a help. A little slow at times, but worth the effort.

This is a book about a group of Belgrade's young idealists and their pirate radio station B92, who began with the naive desire to simply play music, but ended up facing two wars, economic sanctions, violent police and government crackdowns, the attentions of armed gangsters and neo-Nazi politicians, and ultimately became the leaders of an opposition movement forced into exile. Before Milosevic was finally ousted in October 2000, B92 would be shut down and resume broadcasting four times as, through an inspired combination of courage, imagination, and black humor—and a playlist, from The Clash's "White Riot" to Public Enemy's rap manifesto, "Fight the Power," which in sound and spirit, echoed the street fighting in which they sometimes took part—it somehow persisted in disseminating the truth. Matthew Collin knows the founders of the station well and has had extraordinary access to the key personalities and their archives. He first reported on the station as part of a feature on Belgrade's mass street protest in 1996. The book is based on in-depth, first person interviews and exhaustive background research. "Matthew Collin captures the conviction of a generation whose culture and identity were under siege...."

Romantic picture of the rebels who helped bring Milosevic down. I still have only a fuzzy understanding regarding the death of Yugoslavia and the related wars, but this helped me understand the degree of opposition faced by the regime, especially in Belgrade.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in nine Americans works in sales. Every day more than fifteen million people earn their keep by persuading someone else to make a purchase.

But dig deeper and a startling truth emerges:

Yes, one in nine Americans works in sales. But so do the other eight.

Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, entrepreneurs enticing funders to invest, or parents and teachers cajoling children to study, we spend our days trying to move others. Like it or not, we’re all in sales now.

To Sell Is Human offers a fresh look at the art and science of selling. As he did in Drive and A Whole New Mind, Daniel H. Pink draws on a rich trove of social science for his counterintuitive insights. He reveals the new ABCs of moving others (it's no longer "Always Be Closing"), explains why extraverts don't make the best salespeople, and shows how giving people an "off-ramp" for their actions can matter more than actually changing their minds.

Along the way, Pink describes the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another's perspective, the five frames that can make your message clearer and more persuasive, and much more. The result is a perceptive and practical book--one that will change how you see the world and transform what you do at work, at school, and at home.

Anytime you are trying to get someone to do something, you are "selling." Something to keep in mind at home and work.

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