REVIEWS of BUSINESS BOOKS

 

Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.   

Tom Morales          

  160 Degree Deviations of Jerome Alexander, Llumina Press, 2002

   The author describes various encounters with individuals and managers that are so preoccupied and driven by their own advancement and agenda that they ignore the corporate mission and direction.  The term 160 degrees is derived from the fact that even the most loyal employee sometimes, for what ever reasons, are slightly out of phase with the companies goals.  The real villains are those that are more like 180 degrees out of sync.  The author identifies twenty characteristics that these self centered "bad guys" often possess.  Deviators may exhibit a few or many of the twenty traits.  Upon completion of the book, I concluded that the author met many of these "jerks" and they had a significant impact on his career and happiness.  I can not accept the premise that there is a significant population in corporate America that meet the author's template.  I suspect that the author considers himself a victim and is searching for excuses for not meeting his professional goals.   Don't get entangled in the web that others control your success or failure.  Only you control your destiny.  Distance yourself from those that don't contribute and are consumed with greed.   

 

Inside Out, Myron J. Radio & Rod N. Johnson, Beaver Pond Press 2002

   Inside Out takes a new approach to the ever increasing interest in personal and professional development.  I have read and commented on many books dealing with this subject, however none like this.  The approach the authors use in this text is interesting and I dare say unique.  They use classic children's stories to make their points.  I didn't discover any new principles concerning professional development.  I did find the lessons refreshing and memorable.  This book would work well in a group session where the lessons could be discussed and the group members could add their own slant on the points of the stories. 

 

The Perfect Store, Adam Cohen, Little, Brown and Company 2002

   This is a fascinating account of the history of eBay the on line auction site.  The company's founder Pierre Omidyar started the site as much as a community as a business.  Initially called AuctionWeb it was just a hobby and a chance for Omidyar to practice programming for the internet.  The idea was to provide a place for buyers and sellers to meet and do business.  When he listed his broken laser pointer, with a description that it didn't work even with new batteries and it sold for fourteen dollars he realized the idea might have a real future.  In just a few years eBay was the most successful commercial site on the internet and Omidyar was worth a cool four billion dollars.  The author does a masterful job of leading the reader through the history of the company and detailing where it stubbed its toe and how management learned from the few mistakes it made.  This book is really enjoyable to read and also provides some valuable lessons in business.  I give a A+.   


The Oracle of Oracle, Florence M Stone, Amacom 2002 

   The Oracle of Oracle documents the history of the Oracle company and the leadership that its founder Larry Ellison has demonstrated.  Larry  started the now software giant in 1977 with two associates.  Edward Oats, Robert Miner and Ellison were all programmers.  He has been the company's number one cheerleader and salesman and as such has often promised more than the company was ready to deliver.  "He has been called a braggart, playboy, salesman, and a visionary.  Whatever, his attitude of kill or be killed by the competition has served him well.  The future of of Oracle is open for discussion, but with Larry leading the charge the odds are in their favor.   


A Good Hard Kick In The Ass,  Rob Adams, Crown Business 2001

   Very interesting book on the essentials of a business start-up.  If you are considering starting any business you should read at least the first few chapters.  In general the book is aimed at the business person planning the start-up of a large business.  One that has the potential of growing to many millions of dollars.  However there are several points that are applicable to any business, old, new, big or small.  The first point is market validation.  The second, third and fourth points are market validation.  You must know the market and customer you are pursuing.  You must know what your customer's biggest pain is and how your product or service is going to relieve this pain.  I suspect if everyone that was contemplating starting a business did a comprehensive market validation about half would never go through with their original plan.

 

    

Jack, Straight From The Gut  Jack Welch with John A. Bryne Warner Business Books, 2001

This is truly an insight in the operations of the General Electric Corp. during the last twenty years.  Jack Welch was more than the CEO, he was the inspirational leader that led G.E. to post revenues of ~ $125.9 billion in 2000. In the twenty years he was at the helm, earnings increased from roughly $1.6 billion to $14.1 billion. He had a unique management style that made him both loved and detested by the employees.  In the early to mid eighties one fourth of all employees would leave the company.  That is almost 120,000 people.  This led to the branding of Mr. Welch as neutron Jack.  The one thing for sure, no one had an ego larger than his, and it was revealed in his every day dealings.  The fact is Jack was the best at what he did and he knew it.  If you don't have time to sit down and read this book buy the audio version and listen to it on your way back and forth to work.  It will make the drive seem shorter and will you will be better prepared to do whatever you do at work.  Let me close with a quote.  What does the future hold "Change as you have never seen it, at speed you've never seen.  What fun for those who relish it.  What fear for those who don't grasp it."

                                                 

Next, The Future Just Happened, Michael Lewis, W.W. Norton & Company Inc. 2001

Do the names Jonathan Lebed, Marcus Arnold, Justin Frankel or Daniel Sheldon mean anything to you?  I would bet that most Americans have never heard of any of the four.  I would also wager that if you answered yes, you fall into one or both of the following categories.  A.) Under the age of twenty-five or B.) very familiar and avid user of the Internet.  The four individuals have at least two things in common.  They were under twenty years old when they made their mark and used "the new masks offered up by the Internet to reinvent themselves in a manner that was, from the point of view of the central authority, disturbing."  "Next" tells their stories in a very unique manner.  However the book is also declaring our world has been changed by the Internet forever.  Don't bother to look back to see how, look to the future before you get trampled.  At fifteen Jonathon armed with only an AOL and E-trade account made over $800,000 in six months of stock trading.  Between September 1999  and February 2000 a $12,000 one day gain was his smallest.  How did he do it?  Grab a copy of "Next" and hang on.