Tag: Books (page 2 of 2)

Man’s Search for Meaning

Between 1942 and 1945, Viktor E. Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, labored throughout four different Nazi concentration camps while his family and Des Hague Book Review - Man's Search for Meaningpregnant wife did the same elsewhere. Despite his grueling existence throughout those years, with his entirely family perishing, Frankl lays out in his famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning (1946) (German: …trotzdem Ja zum Leben sagen: Ein Psychologe erlebt das Konzentrationslager), how he had managed to survive the Nazi death camps by developing and applying his theories on finding meaning in all forms of existence.

Man’s Search for Meaning is based on Frankl’s own experience as an inmate in Nazi concentration camps as well as the experiences of survivors that he later went on to treat in his practice once the Nazi’s had been defeated in the Second World War. Man’s Search for Meaning is considered, by the Library of Congress, as one of the top ten most influential books in the United States. Frankl’s ideas and experiences gave rise to what is now called Logotherapy, which differentiates itself from the methods of other famous Austrian psychiatrists, Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler, by its doctrine of will to meaning.

According to his theory, a prisoner’s longevity or ability to survive the suffering inflicted on them was affected by how the prisoner imagined their future. Frankl’s conclusion is that the meaning of life can be found within every moment we live, even when faced with suffering or imminent death. In Frankl’s own experience, he describes how he and other prisoners were marching one bitterly cold morning back to camp (Auschwitz), with guards abusing them on the way, and the image of his wife was something that would keep him moving.

The title of this book in German is interesting and a translation of it is: ..Nevertheless say ‘yes’ to life: A psychologist experiences the concentration camps. The meaning that I have taken from this book, which is something that has stuck with me throughout the years, is that one thing we need to focus on is simply doing good things. Doing things that have meaning for ourselves, more so than for others. Now, when you do something that has meaning to you, that you thoroughly enjoy, you are likely to find success.

As I state in part six of my Speaker Series, Leading Through Adversity,  don’t chase success. Do things that have meaning to you, do good things, and success will chase you. This is something I quickly realized after reading Man’s Search for Meaning, which makes me wish I had read it decades earlier.

Des Hague Discusses His "Why's" in the 7th Installment of "Leading Through adversity from Des Hague on Vimeo.

4 Books Worth Reading This Fall

The books that have been reviewed on this website, so far, have all been books for which the authors incorporate great data driven discussions and ideas. These books can be extremely beneficial to anyone, regardless of what stage of their career may be.

The following 4 books come highly recommended by Adam Grant, a professor at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. At 34 years old, Adam Grant is recognized as the youngest tenured professor at Wharton as well as being its most highly rated professor. Therefore, a book recommendation from him is certainly a recommendation to take serious.

As Adam wrote in his original LinkedIn post:  “Here’s a preview of the exciting new books on work and psychology. Instead of just spouting their opinions, these authors bring us real data”

1. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges (Amy Cuddy, December 29)

Presence, by Harvard University professor Amy Cuddy, covers some of the most challenges situations people often finds themselves in in the work world. This book is built upon Cuddy’s popular TED talk about “power posing” and explains how changing the way we carry ourselves can help us achieve new levels of success.

2. Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family(Anne-Marie Slaughter, September 29):

Equality in the workplace for men and women has been found to be very beneficial for a business. Anne-Marie Slaughter happens to be the first woman in charge of direct policy planning for the State Department. Already well known for her submission on why women still can’t have it all that was published in the Atlantic, Slaughter uses Unfinished Business to discuss how equality in the workplace and at home can be created through efforts by both individuals and policymakers.

3. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (Philip Tetlock, September 29)

If you could only known the future of your business or career? Years of research have led Philip Tetlock, a Wharton professor as well, to co-create the Good Judgment Project (GJP). Bringing together thousands of volunteers across several fields as varied as entertainment to plumbing, GJP works to harness the collective wisdom of the volunteers to forecast world events – so far they have been rather successful. In Superforecasting, Tetlock and co-author Dan Gardner, seek to arm the reader with the tools to turn them into “superforecasters” like the group of volunteers that the GJP has assembled since 2011.

4. Friend and Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both (Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer, September 29)

Not knowing how to navigate the tension between cooperation and competition can really hold us back. In Friend and Foe, researchers Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzerpresent unique research that they have conducted across several fields that can help us find this right balance. Some of this valuable research answers many longstanding questions posed by people trying their best to succeed in the business world: How do we obtain power and how do we keep it? What is the best order to go in for an interview? How do we build trust and, more importantly, repair broken trust?

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Understanding human behavior, no matter how complex it may seem, can be valuable when launching a business or moving into a new aspect of your career. Luckily for you businessmen and women out there, Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions is an excellent, and highly comprehensive guide toward understanding how not rational our decisions Dan Ariely - Predictably Irrationalusually are.

Predictably Irrational, in the own words of Dan Ariely is meant to make the reader fundamentally rethink what makes them and the people around them tick. To do this, Ariely presents scientific experiments as well as several amusing anecdotes. But why should you trust what Ariely has to say about the way we make decisions? Dan Ariely happens to be the world’s leading behavioral economist and teaches psychology, as well as behavioral economics, at Duke University. Ariely is also the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University, where he leads research on topics ranging from how we spend money, why people cheat to social justice.

This book is valuable for someone launching a company or starting a new career because it makes them think and reconsider if the decisions they are making truly are as rational as they think. What you will find is that they likely aren’t. For a long time, economist have painted this image of a human making the most rational and self interested decisions, but this book begins to unmask that in ways that can be beneficial to a CEO.

If, as a business leader, you first learn how your decisions are not as rational as you think they are and, at the same time, learn how your customers make decisions, you will be able to adapt and shape your business in such ways that you can take advantage of how customers think and make decision. This could potentially lead toward your business being able to better anticipate the needs of your customers.

Aside from the various experiments Ariely runs on his own students, he also presents examples on how we decide to support a business. Why do we choose to pay a few extra dollars for a cup of coffee even though the coffee across the street is cheaper and likely just as good? Companies like Starbucks Coffee, for example, have been successful in the way they have changed how customers looking for coffee think about price and the product. Ultimately, as a business leader, your goal will most likely be to change the way your potential customers think about your business in relation to the competition.

Crazy Is a Compliment

As someone who has spent much of her career guiding innovators and entrepreneurs, Linda Rottenberg, author of Crazy Is a Compliment: Taking Smart Risks in the Pursuit of Big Dreams, understands that when someone launches a new business or project there will be those who call them crazy. Perhaps many might take offense to this but for Linda, however, this is a compliment. In Crazy is a Compliment, Linda argues that if people aren’t calling you crazy when you are starting something new, then you likely

Crazy is a Compliment Book, Linda Rottenbergaren’t thinking big enough.

First, it should be noted that in Crazy Is a Compliment, Linda Rottenberg is not arguing for young, up and coming entrepreneurs to take insane risks, or to give up everything in order to pursue an idea that’s not as well thought out. Instead, Rottenberg calls for entrepreneurs to take on smart risks – risking just enough to get into the game. As the CEO of Endeavor, a nonprofit she founded in 1997 to help and guide high-impact entrepreneurs, Linda has interacted with entrepreneurs of all walks of life. Since 1997, Endeavor has has gone through 40,000 screenings of potential candidates out of which 1,000 across 20 countries have been chosen. The candidates were helped by Rottenberg and Endeavor in taking those critical steps that all companies must take when wanting to grow. As of 2012, these entrepreneurs have generated over $6 billion in revenue and created over 225,000 jobs. This goes to show what smart risk taking can achieve.

Rottenberg draws on examples of some well known innovators, influencers and brands, going through how they took risks and embraced an entrepreneur’s mindset to get to where they are know. This includes Walt Disney and companies like MTV. Rottenberg also introduces readers to entrepreneurs who have gone through Endeavor’s guiding programs, many of whom started with just an idea and which now earn them millions.

This book is a great read for anyone, be it anyone starting a new job or someone who has recently been tapped as a CEO. It isn’t just a book worthy of being read by those seeking to follow through with their own ideas. Many people, in all positions, can benefit from smart risk taking to give themselves that opportunity to truly stand out from the rest.

Competing for the Future

Management practices that worked in the old days shouldn’t always be counted on presently. With all the changes that have gone on in the business world, and especially in the realm of leadership, a necessary skill to have is thinking about the future. The future doesn’t mean just some 5 to 10 year plan your company has in mind, it goes far beyond that.

A great book to help business leaders learn this important skill is Gary Hamel and Des Hague BusinessC.K. Prahalad’s, Competing for the Future. Hamel is the founder of Strategos, which formed in 1995 and has since been a leading consulting firm with offices worldwide. The late C.K. Prahalad was a distinguished scholar from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business in the University of Michigan but passed away in 2010. Like Hamel, Prahalad was a prevalent voice within the business world. That they wrote this together, with the share of their knowledge, makes it a great book already.

The authors themselves state that the goal of the book is to help business leaders learn how to imagine the future and then work on creating that future that they imagined. It’s not enough to just increase performance, let’s say, or restructure your company. What you ultimately learn from Competing for the Future is strategy – how to strategize and how to execute that strategy with your company’s future in mind.

Another great aspect of this book is that it isn’t just a must read for the Executives. Managers and other leaders within a company should not hesitate in picking it up. The more people within a company’s leadership team that are working and strategizing with a future in mind the better. Management teams, for example, can learn that a moving toward the future they want for a company depends a lot on just how fast the company can learn about the upcoming future in comparison to competitors.

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments

Sometimes, advice that can be extremely useful for your business can come from the strangest or most unexpected places. This time, advice coming from deep in the trenches of Hollywood may be just what you need to guide you on the long journey that comes with starting or owning a growing business.Unknown

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments: Ten Essential Tools for Business Forged in the Trenches of Hollywood, was written by Jeff B. Cohen, a former child actor and now a powerful attorney within the business side of Hollywood. To many, Jeff Cohen will always be “Chunk,” a character in Steven Spielberg’s cult classic, The Goonies. But throughout the years, it is clear that Cohen moved away from acting and focused his attention on how Hollywood does business and has found ways to apply it to business in general, not just entertainment. Cohen’s goal with this book is to share Hollywood’s applicable methodology for negotiating deals, managing time, and crisis management at the highest levels of a business.

In The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments, what you get is Cohen’s honesty and straightforward approach to becoming a better negotiator – among other things. Being a great negotiator is an essential trait for Hollywood actors and their agents, but knowing how to negotiate is essential elsewhere as well. One useful piece of advice taken from Cohen’s book is as follows: “Take Yes for Yes and take a No for Maybe.” Being persistent is important, but another piece of advice to go with that, that is also great as well is that one must deal with the reality of the situation. Accept what the reality is and don’t get caught up in what is hoped for.

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments is a quick read, perfect for the summer if you are taking a small break but want to return packing great ideas and even greater motivation.

Best Books for Business

Warren Buffett, as one of his business partners has witnessed, is a big reader and likewise, he admires people who also read a lot. But it is not enough to just read any old business book. There are some pretty terrible books out there, but there are also some that are a must read whether you are a young entrepreneur or an experienced CEO.

1. Peter F. Drucker’s The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done (1967)

In the Effective Executive, Drucker highlights the unique skills that make an executive effective. This ranges from time management, to whether or not they know how to best utilize the various strengths found throughout their organization. According to Drucker, being an effective executive also involves having the ability and will to do what others have overlooked while avoiding making decisions that are unproductive. Although this book was written several decades ago, it remains very relevant.

2. L. David Marquet’s Turn This Ship Around! A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders (2012)

What makes this book unique is that Marquet was not a businessman. Instead, he was the newly appointed Captain of a United States nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Santa Fe (SSN-763). At that time, the USS Santa Fe was said to be the worst performing submarine in the Navy’s fleet. To add to that, Captain Marquet knew very little about it – he was expecting to command a different submarine class altogether. When Captain Marquet unknowingly gave his crew members an order that was actually impossible for them to followed, but they tried to anyway, he identified the problem keeping the Santa Fe behind – The nuclear attack submarine was full of followers, not leaders. By promoting leadership at all levels, Captain Marquet turned the Santa Fe from the worst performing ship to one of the Navy’s best.

3. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936)

Self-help books tend to sell rather well, but this is the first best-selling self-help book ever. Although published in 1936, this book has remained at the top with sales totalling 15 million. One fan of this book is Warren Buffett. When he was 20 years old, he took a course on the book and it is said that to this day he still has the certificate of completion for the course hanging in his office.

4. Clayton M. Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma (1997)

Businessman and Harvard professor Clayton Christensen demonstrates, through interesting examples, how companies focus far too much on customer’s current needs or abilities and end up missing out on opportunities. This heavy focus on the current needs of customers distracts companies from developing updated business models or from the adoption of new, innovative technology that will serve to meet future or unstated needs of clients. With the business world always changing, this book is excellent in helping leaders learn to notice changes and obstacles coming their way.

5. Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things (2014)

This book is aimed not at entrepreneurs just getting started on their business, but at “wartime CEOs.” They are CEOs who, in Horowitz own honesty, have screwed up one way or another. This brutally honest book provides advice on how to spot the next moves and uses examples from Horowitz’s own rise as a leader within the tech industry as a venture Capitalist and half of the firm Andreessen Horowitz and as a successful CEO after the dot-com crash.

6. Blake Master and Peter Thiel’s Zero to One (2014)

Zero to One originated from a set of notes collected by Master that made up a class on startups that Thiel at Stanford University in 2012. As student in the class, Master, a graduate of Stanford and Stanford Law took what he learned from Thiel and founded his own startup. Zero to One goes through events of Thiel’s own life, such as his cofounding of PayPal and early investments in Facebook. Of the many advice he gives on how to build successful startups, the best one is that to be successful a business must differentiate itself from the competition.

7. Warren Buffett and Lawrence Cunningham’s The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Investors and Managers (2014)

A collection of letters written over the span of 30 years that give invaluable insight into the mind of one of the greatest businessmen and investors around. With humour and humility, Buffet even reveals some of his errors throughout his long journey in the world of business and this only serves to add to the value this book possesses for investors and leaders. It is important to note that this book is not about Buffett’s investment strategies, but about his role in the managements of a company now worth over $300 billion, Berkshire. It is focused on the long term and consistent, which is really the best takeaway from being in Buffett’s presence.