Ready, Set, Self-Start-Up!: Seven New Books on Being the Best in Business

Aigner, Geoff. Leadership Beyond Good Intentions: What It Takes To Really Make a Difference. Allen & Unwin, dist. by Trafalgar Square. Apr. 2012. c.216p. bibliog. ISBN 9781742373942. pap. $19.95. BUS

Leadership trainer Aigner gears this book primarily toward the skilled, willing, and dedicated workers who want to change the world (or at least part of it), but face a myriad of problems and frustrations. He directs readers to look inward to temper their desire to lead change with a willingness to change themselves. Aigner encourages these leaders to understand the fundamental human tensions that occur whenever a system is shaken up. For example, working with others who have different viewpoints, values, and politics is quite challenging, and change agents‚ more enthusiastic than most‚ often get in the way of themselves. Most helpful is Aigner’s observation, threaded throughout the book, that the high expectations and fantasies of the change agent are destined to fail unless another, more realistic mental outlook is adopted. VERDICT This title offers a wealth of support and advice toward achieving real results, particularly for those working in nonprofits and needing a morale boost.

Baum, Ken with Bob Andelman. Mind Over Business: How To Unleash Your Business and Sales Success by Rewiring the Mind/ Body Connection. Prentice-Hall. Mar. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9780735204621. pap. $16.
Myers, Lorii.
3 Off the Tee: Make It Happen. Leda. Mar. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780986790034. pap. $18.95. BUS

These two business books, both by sports enthusiasts, focus on the cognitive aspects of business and life success. Sport and business performance psychologist Baum (The Mental Edge) with Andelman (coauthor, The Profiler) discusses how to reach peak performance by using mental edge techniques, among them positive thinking, goal setting, meditation, and visualization, in which readers see themselves succeeding in difficult situations. Baum stresses the need for self-motivation and time management, and provides exercises that guide readers to discover what they truly want to achieve and to focus on the positive in every situation (e.g., a loss is still a learning experience). Golf enthusiast Myers ( 3 Off the Tee: Targeting Success ) uses golf analogies to urge readers to stay focused, make decisions, and take their best shots. Her book is patterned around golfing the front nine, and the achievement of each goal is represented by sinking the ball (e.g., 1st hole‚ enable awareness, 4th hole‚ revisit your mental-stability boot camp, etc.). Within this framework, she encourages readers to up their likability factor, combine passion and creativity, and leave a legacy. VERDICT Both books have something to offer, but Mind Over Business is more sophisticated and expands on the usual goal-achievement literature.

Covey, Stephen M.R. & Greg Link with Rebecca R. Merrill. Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World. Free Pr: S. & S. 2012. c.296p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781451651454. $27. BUS

According to best-selling author Covey (The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything) and leadership consultant Link, the biggest impediment to global economic health is not the economics of the financial crisis but the loss of trust the crisis caused. To help resolve this situation, Covey shares the insights and practical advice of leaders and organizations throughout the world that are building high-trust relationships and cultures, which they believe will foster greater economic prosperity, energy, and joy. The authors make the case for the importance of trust and then teach readers how to trust in an untrustworthy world: by coupling the universal innate propensity to trust with a high level of critical analysis. Examples from prominent companies like eBay, quotations from respected managers like sociologist Peter Drucker, exercises for reflective thinking, and even Dilbert cartoons make this a highly readable book for a lay audience as well as business executives. [N.B.: Stephen M.R. Covey is the son of the Stephen R. Covey who authored The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People .] VERDICT This book not only raises interesting points but offers well-researched data and techniques with which to respond to them successfully. Well done! [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/11.]

Hoffman, Reid & Ben Casnocha. The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. Crown Business. 2012. c.272p. bibliog. ISBN 9780307888907. $26. BUS

Entrepreneur and investor Hoffman (cofounder & chairman, LinkedIn) and entrepreneur and author Casnocha (My Start-Up Life: What a (Very) Young CEO Learned on His Journey Through Silicon Valley) aim to help readers deal with the changing career landscape by explaining competition and addressing how to gain an edge over one’s professional rivals. Hoffman and Casnocha teach readers what they call ABZ planning, which is similar to the model of creAction developed in Leonard Schlesinger’s Just Start (mentioned below). This book goes further, however, emphasizing the importance of building relationships and, eventually, a powerful network from which one can gain insight, find better opportunities, and make wiser career decisions. The authors discuss how to maintain relationships with allies, assess the value of weaker connections, act as a bridge between contacts, and take intelligent risks. Numerous case studies featuring notable figures like best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz exemplify the many ways career growth and success can take place. VERDICT An energetic guide to high-intensity networking. Recommended for readers looking to expand their field of relationships.

Schlesinger, Leonard A. & others. Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future. Harvard Business Pr. Mar. 2012. c.224p. ISBN 9781422143612. $27. BUS

Schlesinger (president, Babson Coll.) and organizational learning consultant Charles F. Kiefer (president, Innovation Associates), with journalist Paul B. Brown (coauthor, Your Attention Please: How To Appeal to Today’s Distracted, Disinterested, Disengaged, Disenchanted, and Busy Consumer ), aim to show readers a new way to plan for business or personal success in an unpredictable world. Bringing together academic research with proven practices, the authors teach a process they call creAction, which emphasizes acting and creating rather than overthinking and analyzing. The gist is that one begins with a strong desire to achieve a particular thing, then takes a small step toward that goal as soon as possible. This action is followed by an evaluation of the results, and then another small step in pursuit of the goal. While the authors primarily encourage readers to start doing something, they also provide criteria for understanding current situations and assessing acceptable losses. A particularly useful chapter covers how to get others to commit to a cause or business plan and provides exercises to help do just that. VERDICT For readers stuck in neutral gear, this book, written by seasoned experts, creates the impetus to move forward.

Tracy, Brian. Earn What You’re Really Worth: Maximize Your Income at Any Time in Any Market. Vanguard: Perseus. Mar. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9781593156305. $25.99. BUS

According to personal development expert and business consultant Tracy (Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways To Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time), every employee is earning what he or she has decided to earn, and career advancement depends on taking the initiative to make it happen. Using business principles, exercises, and case studies, Tracy helps readers become masters of change with the ability to reevaluate and reengineer life continually, restructure work, and refocus time, talent, and energy with an eye on future goals. In a vein similar to Hoffman’s The Start-Up of You (reviewed above), this book stresses the importance of always networking and maintaining contacts in the marketplace while affirming that credibility and competence are also keys to getting a good job. VERDICT Tracy not only gives readers a pep talk on succeeding but also step-by-step guidance in making that success happen. Recommended particularly for those feeling stuck in a rut or who are in a job transition.

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