Sunday, May 27, 2018

Summer reading: Business, career books to put on your list

Washington Post

Planning on doing some summer reading?

Throw one of these books into your beach tote at the suggestion of the staff and faculty at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business.

These reads are meant to help you get ahead in your career, better manage teams, sharpen your leadership skills or just learn something new.

The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar (2010): This looks at how we make choices and how that shapes our lives. One of Iyengar's findings is that too much choice is demotivating. Sometimes we prefer limited choice.

The Clash of the Culture by John C. Bogle (2012): It's been said there are only two reasons to take risks in investing: Because you want to or because you have to. Jack Bogle, the retired chief executive of the Vanguard Group, discusses the "want to" reason for taking risks. His book lambastes publicly traded financial firms that have performed poorly because of risk-taking. Bogle believes many of these companies had speculative rather than investment mindsets, emphasized short-term rather than long-term profitability, and traded frequently without regard to the costs versus the benefits of the trades.

The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman (2014): Kay and Shipman use neuroscience to examine and discuss research on the roots of confidence in our brains. In a practical, reader-friendly style, they provide examples of female leaders from all types of industries to show how confidence affects leadership and success. They offer some great tips to women about building confidence, such as taking more action and more risks, and avoiding all the people-pleasing and perfectionistic behaviors. This book is highly recommend for all women and even their daughters.

Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner (2014): This demonstrates how to approach problem-solving in a completely different way. It can be eye-opening to see how attitude and perception affect decision-making.

Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (2008): The book is co-authored by a powerful duo — the creator of the field of behavioral economics and a prolific legal writer who has been an adviser to President Barack Obama.

Thaler and Sunstein draw from the results of behavioral experiments to show how to nudge individuals to make better decisions. These nudges are produced by what the authors call "choice architecture," and can be used to help people better investments, save more for retirement and follow a more healthful diet, among others. This is a timely and smart book for anyone interested in behavioral science, business and public policy.

Uncontrolled: The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics and Society by Jim Manzi (2012): Manzi explains how we can use quantitative evidence for better business decision-making. No competent leader can ignore this trend.

The Necessity of Strangers: The Intriguing Truth About Insight, Innovation and Success by Alan Gregerman (2013): This is a thought-provoking book that will challenge the way you think about innovation and collaboration.

Gregerman provides compelling examples, engaging stories and practical guidance regarding how strangers can help us be more creative and achieve greater collaboration.

Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by David Kelley and Tom Kelley (2013): IDEO founder David Kelley and his brother and partner in IDEO, Tom Kelley, have written a compelling book that shows that creativity is not magic — it is a skill that can be developed. In an inspiring narrative, the authors demonstrate that everyone has the potential to be creative and provide incredibly useful insights that will give us the break out of our ruts and be more creative.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty (2014): This lengthy best-seller addresses income and wealth inequality, one of the most important economic issues of our time. Piketty draws on data across countries and over time in making the case that income inequality is a natural outcome in market economies. The book has engendered a great deal of attention and controversy, unusual for a serious economic treatise, but illustrating the importance of inequality.

GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso (2014): Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal, tells the story of how she grew her vintage clothing business on eBay to a $100 million fashion e-retailer with 350 employees that ships to 60 countries around the world. Amoruso is refreshingly candid about her ups and downs along the way and remarkably thrifty for a fashionista (one chapter is titled "Money looks better in the bank than on your feet").

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