Schmuck U.

Ok, now I know there’s a website for everything. But the satirical nature of this website I found hilarious.  The icing on the cake would be if Schmuck University had a real .edu extension so the concept will have to do instead. I would suggest a course entitled “FU: How best to implement the YoYo Principle,”  as well. Too bad the site hasn’t been updated in a few years, such potential!

the eternal struggle

Philosophers and theologians know this as the ever pressing battle between good and evil. But for us in the business world, it’s the ever looming question about having (or being) a good manager or a bad one. Robert Sutton of Standford got his “credentials” as a “shock jock” with his first book, The No Asshole Rule. But his second book, Good Boss, Bad Boss is an excellent collection of anecdotes and practical suggestions that one can use to improve one’s managerial skills. Even though it is a quick read, it is definitely a thought provoking book.

analytical guestimation

Although the battle will rage between classical macro-economist and behavioral economists for decades to come, Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational provides insight into the human psyche that go far beyond supply and demand.  An amazing storyteller, the book gives example after example of how humans don’t necessarily make decisions in as logical way as we all might have thought.  Although many of the concepts aren’t revolutionary (e.g. anchoring, distraction, thought process quantity), the concepts described have far reaching application: public policy creation, marketing campaigns, incentive policies and many others.

getting to the next level

There are a plethora of leadership and strategy books out there, but few take an analytical approach to figuring out why some just survive and others succeed far past expectations. In Good to Great, Jim Collins and his research assistants poured over data to find pairs of companies in similar industries. Concrete examples are included, describing which characteristics of leaders and corporate missions help these organizations; these lessons apply to everyone’s professional and personal life.  The downside: not all of these techniques for great success work in all situations. It’d be curious to know if the author talked about the flexibility of leaders too.

landing on the deck

Slides are ubiqtuos. Powerpoint even more so. And the title “PowerPoint Jockey” is used with pride as if some one had just won the Kentucky Derby. Edward Tufte is a little militant (ok, he probably borders on nuts) but his this 2003 article or the full paper does have an interesting take on how to best form presentations.

thanksgiving inc

The post-holiday season is filled with stories about family and the meals that we’ve over indulged in. This article keeps me laughing (and thinking) every time I go back and read it. The humorous tone of Kim Severson’s New York Times article The CEO of Thanksgiving doesn’t quite do justice to the leadership concepts that we she references — ones that we could all use a reminder of now and then. Although be careful what you wish for when using the ideas to manage your next family meal; my sister responded that she wanted to be “restaffed” because the job assigned “wasn’t good for her professional development.”