Monday, March 24, 2008

Stop asking, ‘Why me?’ and start saying, ‘Why not me?’

Say Cheek
The Power of Adversity
Al Weatherhead
(www.hrpub.com)

Approach adversity humbly and creatively

Behind the so-called ‘deaths by natural causes’ of heart attack and stroke can be major, life-changing adversities like divorce or job loss, says Al Weatherhead in The Power of Adversity.
“Nor can we rule out personal adversity and its role in distracting us and affecting our judgment at crucial moments, from the pilot landing an airplane, to the mechanic servicing brakes, to the stressed-out mom and dad behind the wheel of the family car running a red light or not seeing a stop sign,” he adds, on an equally sombre note.

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'Many of our problems are self-inflicted'

Bill of Health
An AMC for well-being
We take annual maintenance contracts (AMCs) for almost all the gadgets we use. “Why not, then, look at the need for a similar contract on a daily level, say, a DMC or daily maintenance contract, to ensure good health?” asks Dr B. S. Tiruvadanan, a Chennai-based consultant surgeon, specialising in gastroenterology.
“Today’s life is characterised by speed. In fact, so much speed that we don’t have time for ourselves,” he rues. “The ‘contract,’ therefore, is essentially about giving oneself the time. Time to take the mind off worries, to exercise and keep fit, and to think what really one wants to pursue,” explains the doctor, during an interaction with Business Line.

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'Great people give great, personalised service'

Manage Mentor
Hug Your People
Jack Mitchell
(www.landmarkonthenet.com)

What do the vacant looks of your staff say?

One thing everyone wants is appreciation. If you aren’t passing enough of it around in your organisation, make a beginning with Jack Mitchell’s Hug Your People. A hug can, of course, be a bear hug, but metaphorically it is “any positive act, gesture, or deed that personalises a relationship and creates a ‘Wow, these people care about me’ feeling,” explains Mitchell.

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The medical radiation

Books 2 Byte
Power to Save the World: The truth about nuclear energy
Gwyneth Cravens
(www.aaknopf.com)

Unregulated CT scans

The largest group in the world that has received radiation greater than the normal level consists of people who have been treated with nuclear medicine, writes Gwyneth Cravens in Power to Save the World: The truth about nuclear energy. It can’t be denied, though, that ‘millions have benefited from the early detection of ailments thanks to X-rays and computerised tomography (CT) scans and from radiation treatments.’

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'Make your life a grudge-free zone'

Books 2 Byte
Basic Black
Cathie Black
(www.crownpublishing.com)

Get out there and network

What do you normally do if, at the workplace, a colleague responds to your e-mail with a sharp critique, cc-ing others in your department? Or, if someone interrupts you at a meeting to shoot down your idea? Or, when a group of people in the office goes out for lunch to discuss an upcoming project and you’re not invited?
A common response may be to sulk. But, before you get into any such well-entrenched modes, listen to what Cathie Black says in Basic Black.

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'Content, channel and connectivity'

Books 2 Byte
The Trusted Firm
Fiona Czerniawska
(www.landmarkonthenet.com)

The 3C strategy of thought leadership

With easy access to effective technology and the Internet, there are many new possibilities to train and develop people. Yet, technology can cover only a part of people’s development, says Fiona Czerniawska in The Trusted Firm.

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Pitfalls of privatisation

Book Value
Bad Samaritans
Ha-Joon Chang
(www.randomhouse.co.uk)

Privatisation problems

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are generally adversely compared to the private sector. However, the root causes of their inefficiency – viz. the principal-agent problem, the free-rider problem, and the soft budget constraint – are not unique to SOEs, argues Ha-Joon Chang in ‘Bad Samaritans’ . Large private-sector firms with dispersed ownership can also display these foibles, he adds, while discussing the pitfalls of privatisation.

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The fair exchange principle

Book Value
How to Make one Hell of a Profit and still get to Heaven
John F. Demartini
(www.hayhouse.co.in)

Balance your exchanges

Your wealth and fulfilment in life are expressions of your heart, mind, and soul, says John F. Demartini in ‘How to Make one Hell of a Profit and still get to Heaven’ . “The more the latter are awakened, the more the former may be elevated,” he adds. “In other words, incorporate your heart, mind, and soul into your business. Put your spirit into your work. Pour on your inspiration.”

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The ‘LifeNet’

Book Value
The Millionaire Zone: Seven Winning Steps to a Seven-Figure Fortune
Jennifer Openshaw
(www.landmarkonthenet.com)

Stir out of comfort zone

Individualism, isolation and inactivity. Break out of this ‘I’ problem and adopt the ‘S’ solution, advises Jennifer Openshaw in ‘The Millionaire Zone: Seven Winning Steps to a Seven-Figure Fortune’ . ‘Supported, surrounded, and sure of yourself’ are the words in her S-framework to help you with a safety net. ‘LifeNet,’ as she calls it, has your life’s network of familiar people, places and resources, to assist you in building your net worth.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

`Commitment ... the difference between buying and believing'

Books of Account
Truth
Lynn Upshaw
Amacom (www.landmarkonthenet.com)

Integrity window

Rumi, you may know, as a 13th century Persian poet, who sang, “Close the language-door and open the love-window. The moon won’t use the door, only the window.”
So with, truth, we may say, to a world that has gotten used to you-know-what. Which is why Lynn Upshaw’s new book from Amacom, despite its apparently anachronistic title, Truth, may yet be the right prescription.

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The ‘natural entrepreneurs'

Book Mark
Riding the Indian Tiger
Wiliam Nobrega and Ashish Sinha
(www.landmarkonthenet.com)

The next wave in India

What will drive India’s growth after information technology (IT) and outsourcing? Not one sector, but many, say Wiliam Nobrega and Ashish Sinha in Riding the Indian Tiger.
“The next wave,” according to them, holds promise for hi-tech manufacturing, distribution and logistics, pharmaceutical and medical devices, financial services, education, renewable energy, agribusiness, fashion apparel, media and entertainment, hospitality and leisure, and private healthcare.

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Nuggets of verbal dottiness!

Book Mark
Lost in Translation
Charlie Croker
(www.mombooks.com)

Treats for the traveller

It may not be unusual to find ‘snakes’ listed along with ‘hamburgers, pizzas, and ice cream,’ at a roadside restaurant. But, how about, ‘complimentary glass wine or bear,’ in a Nepali hotel? Or, ‘French fried ships,’ in Cairo, or ‘All our eggs made with 3 omeletes,’ at a cafĂ© in the Empire State Building? “All over the world, from Beijing to Buenos Aires, in hotels and restaurants and taxis and zoos, these priceless nuggets of verbal dottiness lie in wait, ready to brighten the lives of the jaded voyagers who chance upon them,” assures Charlie Croker in Lost in Translation.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Past 1,000 posts...

Book Peek has crossed the 1,000-posts mark! :)
Thanks, everybody, for the support.
Good work, Padmaja, collaborating in blogging.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Quirky and amusing ways to remember ‘stuff'

Say Cheek
i before e (except after c)
Judy Parkinson
(www.landmarkonthenet.com)

Jog your memory with tested tools

You can choose between ‘dead monkeys smell bad,’ and ‘dad, mum, sister, brother,’ if long division is trouble remembering. The phrases will guide you through the sequence, ‘divide, multiply, subtract, bring down.’ Similarly, ‘All hairy men will buy razors,’ should help you recollect the soil components, as ‘air, humus, mineral salts, water, bacteria, and rock particles’.
But why tools to get the grey matter going? Because memory is a funny business, cautions Judy Parkinson in ‘i before e (except after c)’.

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'You need to have patience, if you want to develop something new'

Stories Retold

Every child can become a good human being

During the 1970s, Sugata Sanyal was part of the teams that worked on some of the early computer applications in the country, be they in weather forecasting, or defence. Currently, he is Professor in the School of Technology and Computer Science at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai (www.tifr.res.in/sanyal).
“Looking back, we did go through a series of experiences spanning a long period of time,” he reminisces, over a telephonic and e-mail interaction with Business Line, talking about his tryst with high-level research and development work.

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'The skill of listening with the third ear'

Manage Mentor
Coach and Couch
Elisabet Engellau
(www.landmarkonthenet.com)

When coaching give client time to reflect

Empathic listening makes coaching effective, writes Elisabet Engellau in one of the essays included in Coach and Couch. “Some people have a natural inclination for empathic listening. They allow the other person their full attention and create a constructive, positive atmosphere for further understanding by both parties,” she explains.

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The automation of scorecard

Books 2 Byte
Scorecard Best Practices
Raef Lawson, Toby Hatch, and Denis Desroches
(www.wiley.com)

Traffic lights for performance

Searching for ‘a management tool that would give you and all of your executives current information on the health of your organisation and where you stand with respect to achieving your corporate goals’? Raef Lawson, Toby Hatch, and Denis Desroches offer help in ‘Scorecard Best Practices’.

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The ‘functional’ work settings

Books 2 Byte
Managing Employee Retention
Jack J. Phillips and Adele O. Connell
(www.shrm.org)

Dysfunctional and functional turnover

How does Cisco Systems, which has a reputation for attracting and keeping the best talent, approach employee turnover? It distinguishes between dysfunctional and functional turnover, explain Jack J. Phillips and Adele O. Connell in ‘Managing Employee Retention’.
“Employees with a negative rating are either terminated for substandard performance or quit because they see the inevitable consequences of their performance. This is called functional turnover,” the authors elucidate.

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‘Affordance' - a word for the future

Books 2 Byte
The Design of Future Things
Donald A. Norman
(www.landmarkonthenet.com/)

Animal lessons for automation

A word for the future that you can’t afford to not know is ‘affordance.’ The word, according to its inventor J.J. Gibson, a psychologist, refers to ‘the range of activities that an animal or person can perform upon an object in the world.’ Affordances are not fixed properties, but they are relationships that hold between objects and agents, explains Donald A. Norman in The Design of Future Things.

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'See the man behind the project'

Book Value
Sugar in Milk
Bakhtiar K. Dadabhoy
(www.rupapublications.com)

Research-based investment

One of the chapters in ‘Sugar in Milk’ by Bakhtiar K. Dadabhoy is about Ardeshir Darabshaw Shroff (1899-1965), the titan of Indian finance. “Shroff had a phenomenal memory and had the names and portfolios of at least 250 clients stored in his memory,” narrates the author. “Any new transactio n would immediately be filed away till it was time to advise the client once again.”

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'Forgetting is frustrating'

Book Value
That Memory Book
Cathryn Jakobson Ramin
(www.virago.co.uk)

When we fail

Forgetfulness plagues us at the most inconvenient and embarrassing moments, cautions Cathryn Jakobson Ramin in ‘That Memory Book’ . Among the examples she cites are of people who left their ATM card in the cash machines more than once, and those trying to desperately remember the security code they’d punched in for a decade.

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The ‘tournament theory’

Book Value
The Logic of Life: Uncovering the new economics of everything
Tim Harford
(www.landmarkonthenet.com)

Tournament of ESOPs

Why is office life so frustrating? Why do your colleagues stab you in the back while your boss is paid a fortune for lounging around? And why does your undoubted talents go unrewarded?
Tim Harford of ‘The Undercover Economist’ fame has answers to these and more questions in ‘The Logic of Life: Uncovering the new economics of everything’ . He argues that rational behaviour is much more widespread than you would expect and that it crops up in the most unexpected places.

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'See beyond today’s certainties to tomorrow’s uncertainties'

Book Mark
The Second Bounce of the Ball
Ronald Cohen
(www.land%20markonthenet.com)

Add bounce to your biz

If you want to build a thriving business you have to see beyond today’s certainties to tomorrow’s uncertainties, advises Ronald Cohen in The Second Bounce of the Ball. For instance, the current ‘bounce’ in the pharma sector, according to Cohen, is happening due to obesity, at which drug companies are directing their research. “But the smart pharmaceutical entrepreneur is already thinking beyond that - to the next bounce of the obesity ball.” For, “the next bounce could be the opportunity on which to build a thriving business.”

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Establishing and strengthening the personal relationships

Book Mark
We Are Smarter Than Me
Barry Libert and Jon Spector
(www.pearsoned.co.in)

Beyond any singular ‘me’

Each of our brains has some 10 billion neurons linked to one another through about 10,000 synapses. Imagine then the power of many of us connected through technology! That is “the new and potent ‘we’” which is far smarter than any singular ‘me’, declares We Are Smarter Than Me by Barry Libert and Jon Spector and thousands of contributors.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

The best way to use the brain is to use it!

Bill of Health

Keep pushing your brain

The 5 Rs of memory, or learning, are Reception, Registration, Reinforcement, Retention, and Recall, says Prof K. Ganapathy, President, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation, Chennai. “Learning is directly proportional to one’s interest in the subject, how much one is motivated, how badly one wants to achieve the goal set for oneself,” he elaborates, when recently interacting with Business Line.

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Systems thinking

Manage Mentor
Leadership Sutras
Debashis Chatterjee
(www.landmarkonthenet.com)

Synergise organisations and communities

In corporations, we are paid to think of and solve problems, but how many of us realise that sometimes our thinking itself is a problem? Thus questions Debashis Chatterjee in Leadership Sutras. A thinking mind often lapses into rigid patterns, and clings to definitions and dogmas, the author rues. As antidote, he suggests the use of systems thinking.

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The relationship between leaders and tribes

Books 2 Byte
Tribal Leadership
Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright(www.landmarkonthenet.com)

Tribal power

Birds flock and fish school. What about people? They ‘tribe,’ says a new book by three authors from CultureSync. “Every company, indeed, every organisation, is a tribe, or if it’s large enough, a network of tribes – groups of twenty to 150 people in which everyone knows everyone else, or at least knows of everyone else,” write Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright in Tribal Leadership.

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The Internet ... future of distance education

Books 2 Byte
Using Edu-Tainment for Distance Education in Community Work
Esta de Fossard
(www.sagepublications.com)

The IT medicine

In Egypt, it is not the doctor but the pharmacist who is a key player in the health system. As in many developing countries, the pharmacist in Egypt is the first responder to individuals seeking medical advice and assistance. Thus documents a case study in a recent book by Esta de Fossard.

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The Wedding Web site

Books 2 Byte
Big Think Strategy
Bernd H. Schmitt
(www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

What is a ‘big’ idea?

About ten years ago, a newlywed couple wanted to start an independent business. “After a process of idea sourcing, they had lots of ideas centred around the concept of wedding,” narrates Bernd H. Schmitt in a new book from Harvard Business School Press.

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Coaching for coaching-marketing

Book Mark
Niche Marketing for Coaching
Hannah McNamara
(www.vivagroupindia.com)

Counsel for coaches

A fast-growing profession may be coaching. But the phone doesn’t ring all by itself, observes Hannah McNamara in Niche Marketing for Coaching. People walki ng past your home don’t telepathically know that there’s a coach inside who could help them to achieve their goals, she adds.

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Income and expenditure

Book Mark
How India Earns, Spends and Saves
Rajesh Shukla
(www.ncaer.org)

Spending disparity

Urban households spend around 45 per cent of their income on food while the rural ones spend 55 per cent, notes Rajesh Shukla’s How India Earns, Spends and Saves, a study by the Max New York Life Insurance Ltd and the National Council of Applied Economic Research. An interesting finding is about the ownership profile of consumer durables.

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Marketing techniques

Book Mark
Problems in Marketing
Luiz Moutinho and Charles S. Chien
(www.sagepublications.com)

Learning from problems

Check if your organisation has something similar to what is depicted in the following case: “Pillsbury’s internal network allows its employees in over 70 countries access to data of several kinds, including consumer feedback that has been logged into a massive database (based on 3,500 calls a day to the 800 number printed on every Pillsbury product), manufacturing (testing equipment at new plants, statistics on production quality and packaging) and so on.

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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Characteristics of a project in trouble

Manage Mentor
Project Management Survival
Richard Jones
(www.vivagroupindia.com)

Managing challenging projects

If you have herded cats, or kept spinning plates on sticks, you may perhaps be aware of the problems that Richard Jones discusses in Project Management Survival.
Given the common reality that projects run into rough weather, this recent book is aimed not at ‘people in charge of straightforward, neat projects where team members are handpicked, where there are never any problems with management and where everything goes right.’

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Dealing with a `deal'

BookValue
The Point of the Deal
Danny Ertel and Mark Gordon
(www.tatamcgrawhill.com)

‘Yes’ is not enough

Move from ‘dealmaker mentality’ to ‘implementation mindset,’ urges a fresh title from Harvard Business School Press. Else, the deal would only look on paper, and end up in tatters, bemoan the authors Danny Ertel and Mark Gordon, founding partners of Vantage Partners, in ‘The Point of the Deal’.

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Initiating action to manage stress

Book Value
Coping with Life Stress: The Indian experience
Meena Hariharan and Radhanath Rath
(www.sagepublications.com)

’Warning signals’

In the busy urban life, we often fail to notice the fact that our stress levels overshoot the OSL (optimum stress level), write Meena Hariharan and Radhanath Rath in ‘Coping with Life Stress: The Indian experience’. “When one remains in the arousal zone for a long duration, the bio-psychological system sends several signals,” they caution, in this new book. It is desirable, therefore, to take a conscious note of these signals and initiate action to manage stress.

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Getting the balance sheet right

Book Value
Thinking IFRS?
Ernst & Young
(www.ey.com)

Coping with global accounting standards

What impact will a switchover to global accounting standards in 2011, as aspired for by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, have on the different industries? Ernst & Young explores this question in ‘Thinking IFRS?
For starters, the abbreviation stands for International Financial Reporting Standards, the new series of pronouncements from the IASB (International Accounting Standards Board), though in a broader context, IFRS refers to the entire body of the Board’s pronouncements.

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