Book Reviews Category
Why do some people seem to have all the luck? The answer is simple: people with a more positive outlook can recognise opportunities that others miss. How? By converting negativity into a powerfully positive working and personal life.
Bob Selden’s new book ‘DON’T’ shows you how to avoid the negativity in your life and your relationships. ‘DON’T’ shows you how to filter out negative words and phrases which create both negative thinking in your brain and negative behaviour in your life. The book suggests words, phrases and actions to encourage the very opposite of negativity. You’ll soon learn how positive words can and will activate the positive parts of your mind.
Bob Selden’s ‘DON’T’’ answers the question ‘can the words we use in general conversation actually impact our relationships?’ The answer is yes, we do behave according to the words we hear and use. For example, recent studies show young male drivers increase their speed when they hear words like ‘tough’ and ‘rough’ – yet words like ‘pink’ and ‘gentle’ make them slow down. We are surrounded and misled by thousands of negative messages every day.
Using multiple how-to examples, scientific studies and stories from real-life, ‘DON’T’’ is packed with practical insights into what makes us who we are. Discover how to transform your working and personal life into positive successes which flows from a new understanding of positive action and perception.
What makes some people more successful and dynamic than others? Is it luck, upbringing, training? Or could it be something as simple and powerful as the words we use? Read Bob Selden’s new book ‘DON’T’’ and take a new path.
As I read this book, it put me in mind of so many stories I’ve heard and experienced in my own management career. In short, I was hooked with the stories penned by Paul Smith, which led me to think about my own stories. It also started me thinking about how I could use more stories in my own work. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself.
In “Lead With a Story”, Smith sets out with the aim of having the reader “start crafting, collecting, and telling stories today”. All the stories are about particular aspects of leadership and how stories can assist the manager navigate successfully through various leadership challenges.Read More
I didn’t know whether to review “The Man Who Risked It All” as either a novel or a self-help book, for it is both. For although the cover labels the book “a novel” in fact it does both brilliantly and seamlessly.
The story tells of a young man, Alan Greenmor, born of an American mother and French father who grew up in the US (speaking fluent French with his mother) and now living in Paris. The story begins with Alan about to take the first step towards his suicide from the Eiffel Tower, only to be persuaded to stop by a stranger who does a deal with him. The deal is that the man will look after Alan, put him back on the road to health, wealth and happiness; in exchange, Alan must do everything the man asks.
The early chapters are full of self-reflection as the stranger takes Alan through a process of self-development that is both stimulating and sometimes torturous. Mystery arrives when Alan finds himself being followed by strange men and women. Then of course, there is romance in the form of Audrey who appears in his life tumultuously, only to disappear mysteriously just as the romance is reaching its peak. That’s the novel component.
The dialogue between the stranger (now known as Dubrieul) and Alan takes Alan through an intense piece of psychotherapy that is easily followed and has many great messages for the reader – that’s the self-help bit.
Alan’s adventures in his work place add a further dimension to this novel – corporate politics and shareholder greed that Alan has to confront and overcome on his way to becoming a better person. In doing so, there’s a very clear message about the avarice of those who play the share market for their gain at the expense of the company’s long term future. Brilliant!
All in all an impressive novel and also very useful should you need some reminders about positive self-management.
Leadership Strategies for Women: Lessons from Four Queens on Leadership and Career Development. Paul Vanderbroeck. Springer, Heidelberg 2013.
Paul Vanderbroeck, a historian, former HR Executive and Leadership Coach has written a fascinating book on leadership; to be more specific, on leadership strategies for women.
Based on the historical stories of four famous queens – Cleopatra, Isabella, Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great – Vanderbroeck uses their stories to enlighten today’s women leaders and potential women leaders on how to fully develop their leadership potential.
The book is very well structured and well written. One can immediately tell that Vanderbroeck is an experienced leadership coach. The introduction clearly sets out why the book was written; why these particular Queens were chosen to expound the author’s leadership strategies; what the reader may expect to find in the book; and finally how to get the most out of the book.
True to his word, the author takes us through the development of each Queen’s career as a leader. Vanderbroeck does not sugar-coat their stories – each Queen’s particular strengths and weaknesses are laid bare, and that makes very useful learning for the reader. Each story concludes with what today’s women leaders can learn from this Queen, including a short list of the top six Do’s and Don’ts.
In addition to this being a very interesting read, what I particularly liked about the book is the author’s ability to lay out some very clear guidelines for developing both a successful career and a leadership persona for women in what is still very much a man’s world when it comes to leadership.
The book concludes with six points women can follow to develop their careers and nine essential leadership competencies for women leaders to build on.
This just happens to be my 100th review of management books and I’m delighted to say that it’s up there with some of the best I’ve read. This book is a must for all women in management.
The Respect Effect: Using the Science of Neuroleadership to Inspire a More Loyal and Productive Workplace
The Respect Effect
Paul Meshanko, McGraw Hill, 2013
Author Paul Meshanko has written a well researched and practical book on the effectiveness of “respect” as both a value and a behaviour in organisational success. Even without the benefit of the author’s research and experience, one could probably quite accurately guess the four reasons he lists for focussing on the value of respect for one another – the potential cost of disrespect (e.g. discrimination-related violations), the case for social justice, the biological impact on our brains of both respect and disrespect, and the increase in employee engagement through respecting one another in the workplace. However, Meshanko lists a fifth reason that is often overlooked by other authors – the legacy we leave (say five or ten years from now) in the impact that our relationship had on them. In Meshanko’s words “We remember people we met by how we typically felt when we were in their presence”.
For me, this last reason underpins the necessary focus managers need to place on respect.
Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change
Josephy Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan and Al Switzlet. McGraw-Hill, 2013.
There are lots of books on influence and change – this is certainly amongst the better ones. The authors have developed a simple yet effective model for influencing change by looking at what successful change leaders have done around the world.
The book is engaging. Short cases and stories from people who have made significant social, business and personal change have been used to illustrate and demonstrate the effectiveness of the model. I particularly liked the way the stories are seamlessly integrated within the text to demonstrate key points. There are also numerous short cases separately boxed at appropriate points to read immediately or later.
At the heart of the success of this book is the focus on behaviour – what successful leaders do to influence others. This makes it particularly easy for the reader to see how he or she could also apply these behaviours in their own situation.
The book is well set out in two parts. Part One sets up the context for the model – what leaders do to successfully influence change. Part Two then goes on to describe the influence model – the six sources leaders need to tap into.
The section on Structural Motivation – Change Their Economy (one of the six sources), was especially well handled. Basically this section is about extrinsic rewards and their usefulness (or otherwise). The use of rewards (particularly extrinsic) as a motivator has been written about by many authors. Some say they work, others say they should be avoided as people are inherently intrinsically motivated. In fact when introducing the topic, the authors themselves suggest “We’re about to step on dangerous ground”. However, my fears were soon allayed when they continued with “In a well balanced change effort, rewards come third. Influencers first ensure that vital behaviors connect to intrinsic motivation. Next they line up social support. They double check both of these areas before they finally choose extrinsic rewards to motivate behavior”.
This a great book on influencing change and should be read and used by all of us who are endeavouring to implement social, structural, business or personal change.
A Seriously Useful Author’s Guide to Writing a Marketable Book
by Charlie Wilson, Troubadour Publishing Ltd. 2012
There are many books for authors on how to write a book and here comes another one. I’ve now reviewed quite a few of these and Writing a Marketable Book is amongst the better ones.
For starters, author Charlie Wilson has published a number of successful books, so she immediately has credibility. Wilson takes us through the entire gambit of authoring and publishing from a self-analysis of have we got what it takes, through to marketing and beyond.
Wilson displays an easy writing style with plenty of examples of how to and how not to succeed with your book. Each chapter is well structured with key points (such as Try This, Remember) examples (two types unmarketable books – UMB and marketable books – MB) and a Toolkit where she invites you to set up a place for putting all the good bits of info you glean.
As the title suggests, this book emphasises the marketability of the book and the author proposes this should start right at the beginning – Thinking and Planning. I liked the fact that the book caters (in separate sections) for fiction and non-fiction writers, including the title, content/setting, structure, characters plot etc., all the while keeping in mind the intended audience and how to sell the concept to them.
As an author myself, the key question is, “Did I learn anything new?” I have to say that I did and I’ll be putting this into practise very shortly, so that’s a good recommendation for intended readers.
Job Interview Success: Be your own Coach by Jenny Rogers. McGraw-Hill
As someone who has also been in the recruitment field, I was impressed with this book not only because it covered the obvious topics (such as dress code, handling nerves etc.) but because Rogers often puts a different spin on them (such as acting as a facilitator if you happen to be asked to participate in a team assessment centre).
This is not only a “must read” for anyone about to apply for a new position (either within or external), but I’d strongly suggest it become a “must do”. Highly recommended.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to match the intent of one’s communication more closely to its impact. For example, Chapter 5 “Make it Safe” and Chapter 6 “Master My Stories” are great starting points.
Whilst the book can be read and used as a stand-alone guide for improving one’s conversations and overall communication skills, it would probably be more effective to undertake as many of the learning experiences offered as possible. “Conversation Transformation” will not only transform your conversations, it will transform your relationships.
Writing: A User Manual
Having reviewed over 100 books, I normally précis and critique the book. For once, I digressed from my normal format – Why? Well, for any budding (or for that matter experienced) author, I’d be depriving the reader of the discovery of some great examples of how to successfully write a novel if I said too much. Suffice to say there’s a surfeit of ideas and advice ranging from how to get started through keeping the project alive to delivering the finished manuscript, that you must read.
Likeable Business is in fact a series of stories – stories of how businesses and business leaders have developed their businesses to be the best in their field. Unlike so many books of a similar ilk, the vast majority of author Dave Kerpen’s stories are about positive events – how people have succeeded, not where they failed. So, it’s a very invigorating and uplifting book to read and from which to learn.
Lead with a Story: A Guide to Crafting Business Narratives that Captivate, Convince and Inspire
I think this book should be essential reading for every manager. Apart from the impact the book will have on the way managers communicate, as Smith points out in the introduction “Some (stories) will make you laugh, some might make you cry (I did!), most will make you think. More important, I hope this book makes you do something”. Me too, go for it!
“DRIVE” is a book that has been needed for a long time. It’s about what motivates all of us and in particular, the misconceptions some people have, notably business leaders, about the subject. As author Daniel H. Pink points out in the introduction “I will show that much of what we believe about the subject just isn’t so”.
Pink does a great job of reviewing the literature and history of motivation in a way that is practical and easy to read. Above all, he explains things in a way that also makes it relevant for practising managers to implement. Pink pulls all of this together in what he describes as “Type I” behaviour – the things that really motivate us.Read More
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Featured Member: Meryl DavidWhat motivates me most now is to see others do a great job in communication and if I can help bring out the best of their communication abilities in the people I work with, my long years of delivering communication solutions for organisations have been well worth it.
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