Tag: Novel

Misbehaving, The Making of Behavioral Economics

Richard H. Thaler has brought humanity back to economics with his wonderfully entertaining novel, Misbehaving, The Making of Behavioral Economics. In the academia of economics, humans are perceived as rational individuals, making proper decisions founded on logic. Yet, as we all know, human beings are hardly perfect.

We’re prone to mistakes, to misperceptions, to mishaps. Thaler, a distinguished economist himself, has recognized this fallacy and is seeking to change that perception in his field, thus bringing economics back down to Earth. His clear and often comedic prose breathes life into the pages, engaging readers’ interest while teaching them at the same time.

By identifying with human nature through our universal inclination toward mistakes, Thaler touches upon something many educational novels miss, humanity. He realizes that the standards of rationality which have characterized economics through the centuries is not fool-proof, and he is exploring an oft-neglected though necessary facet of market behavior.

Incorporating recent psychological discoveries with a clear comprehension of broad economic behavior, Thaler is able to shed light on how we, as individuals, should behave in the current marketplace. He offers insight into how to make smarter economic decisions despite our natural predisposition for impulsive, irrational, emotional behaviors. However, his advice is not merely limited to personal finance, for it also encompasses general trends in commercial building, in the NFL draft, and even in current ride-sharing behemoth Uber.

What’s more is that this book could, quite frankly, indicate a paradigm shift in economic theory. His findings pose interesting possibilities for the science, potentially bringing it roaring back to life in academic circles. By acknowledging the very real possibility of human foible in economic discretion, Thaler is being a realist. The fact that he is able to introduce such an intriguing and innovative perspective with such a candid tone is merely an added benefit.

While I’m not saying this book is entirely comprehensive, or even entirely accurate, I am saying it poses questions that need to be asked, that need to addressed. All science should reflect contemporary thought, and contemporary evidence. Thaler does just that with a gusto that simply cannot be ignored.

By combining anecdotal evidence with market theory, Richard Thaler remarkably brings economics to life. His engaging prose, direct manner of speaking, and outright hilarious memories offer any reader a memorable and valuable literary experience.

How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery

Des Hague, Pegasus, Book ReviewIt would seem that in today’s popular culture creativity is often associated with some sort of innate ability or inherited trait. Yet, such is not only misinformation, it’s nonsense. Each and every one of us holds the ability to make things better, to improve our lives, to innovate. I think that perhaps the reason so many do not believe themselves to be creative is because of this ridiculous notion that only those who are born with “it” can be creative. The fact is that creativity, like anything else, is the product of effort, of trying to be successful. When entrepreneurs create a product, it did not simply spring to mind in its entirety. Rather, said entrepreneur had an idea, an idea others have likely had, to be honest, and then he/she acted on it. It is the action here that distinguishes the would-be entrepreneur from the million dollar man. The million dollar man tried, failed, tried and failed again, and then tried again and again until they triumphed.

My preface aside, this is largely what How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery concerns. The author, Kevin Ashton, does a brilliant job of illustrating an abundance of man’s major breakthroughs and backing up said breakthroughs with the facts that led up to it. Spoiler alert: they were not spontaneous. They took years and years of effort from seemingly “average” individuals who displayed resilience, not genius.

In describing these various stories, Ashton exposes the facts behind the fiction, the truth behind the legends. Beginning his book with a tale of Mozart composing entirely in his head, as though his masterpieces are some sort of spontaneous creation and his committing notes to paper a mere record of what has already occurred, Ashton soon proves that creativity is the product of time and effort. Creation is work and Ashton manages to elaborate upon this fact with meticulous attention to detail, narrating with to-the-point prose and an engaging voice.

Yet, while the book is certainly worth reading, you could also just read the first chapter and understand the entire point. In fact, Ashton’s plot structure of moving from story-to-story to merely articulate the same exact message over and over again can be a bit tedious; and to be frank, I kept hoping the book would develop into something more. It didn’t.

Regardless, ultimately, I recommend it. How To Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery is certainly inspiring, and does a wonderful job of bringing a very real, tangible, measurable dimension to creativity. We are all “ordinary,” but with one extraordinary accomplishment, we become a legend.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t delves into several fascinating facets of business that all-too-often go neglected. While Collins’ former book focused on establishing greatness in a company at its conception, Good to Great emphasizes the transformation. Can a company turn over a new leaf? Can a company transform a legacy of mediocrity into a legend of greatness?

Collins chose to answer this timeless question through a meticulous structure that is inherent in his novel. Using rigid benchmarks, Collins and his team organized companies by good and great, and then looked at their inner workings, examining what exactly separated the average from the spectacular.

Collins split his findings into several sections including but not limited to:

Level Five Leaders: The leadership required to achieve a level of greatness was stunning. Meticulous, inspirational, and empathetic, these leaders provide a stellar example in all that they do.

The Hedgehog Concept: Companies must exceed expectations and mere competence. They must strive for perfection. As they say, “Shoot for the moon and you may land among the stars.” One must raise the bar in order to transcend average limitations. What was average before is less than average now. As human beings, we continually improve upon ourselves in an effort to not just better ourselves, but to better the world around as well. Yet, it all starts with expectation and the mental limits we set for ourselves. We should set high expectations and not just set those expectations, but strive to exceed them. It is only by force of will that a company can become better than good, and that company must believe it will be better than good in order for that dream to come to fruition.

-A Culture of Discipline: Discipline is absolutely required for any company to transcend the mere boundaries of competence. Yet, capitalistic ventures must be sure to not fall victim to the boredom inherent in routine also. While discipline is certainly a pillar of success, so is innovation and entrepreneurship. A schedule should be maintained, but said schedule should also allot time for creativity and encourage innovation. By balancing these two integral facets of business, leaders will foster a culture of capitalistic excellence that never becomes entrenched in stagnation.

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: If something is at fault with the system, CEO’s must be careful to not impulsively enact a massive restructuring program within the company. In fact, those enterprises that do so are almost guaranteed to never make the leap from good to great. Rather, company leaders should identify the issue and instead formulate a more appropriate, less extreme solution. Through compromise, a company can rectify issues and proceed to greatness despite any initial setbacks.

All in all, I’d recommend thumbing through Good to Great. Although not entirely comprehensive, it is certainly worth the read.

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.