HR Management & Compliance

Hot List: The BusinessWeek Bestseller List

BusinessWeek ranks business books that are the most recent bestsellers and provides a short summary.

1. Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Are you unsure where your true talents lie? Do you feel that you are both a person who gets things done and someone who offers penetrating analysis? Well, you can discover whether you are truly an “achiever” or an “analytical” by completing the online quiz. Then, the book will give you “ideas for action” and tips for how best you can work with others. More of a patiencetester than strengthsfinder, the quiz/book is probably best for those who have lots of time on their hands.

2. The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss. Author Ferriss isn’t shy about tooting his own horn: He says he “speaks six languages, runs a multinational firm from wireless locations worldwide, and has been a world-record holder in tango, a national champion in kickboxing, and an actor in a hit television series in Hong Kong.” Is this the sort of person you really want to be taking advice from? Anyway, Ferris offers recommendations and resources for everything from eliminating wasted time to oursourcing your job and getting cheap airfare. Discover your dreams and live them!

3. Jim Cramer’s Stay Mad For Life by James J. Cramer with Cliff Mason. In this broad how-to, CNBC’s wild man advises readers to “free themselves” from the hunt for quick returns. Instead, he says, most people should focus on paying off credit cards, optimizing their 401(k) plans and individual retirement accounts, and getting the right kinds of insurance. His “twenty new rules for investing” offer such tips as “don’t let short-term bad news scare you out of a good long-term stock” and “never buy the best house in a bad neighborhood.” It’s a down-to-earth primer for sobering times.

4. Creating a World Without Poverty by Muhammad Yunus.  Yunus and the Bangladesh-based Grameen Bank that he founded were the winners of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. The bank pioneered microcredit, which provides poor people with small loans to start their own businesses. Now, Yunus is championing a new concept: “social business,” or enterprise that goes beyond the profit motive to benefit society. This book explains the concept—and challenges skeptics to imagine a different way of doing business.

5. The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. You probably don’t realize it, but life is a series of highly improbable yet earthshaking events. That’s the argument of The Black Swan, which in many ways is a re-do of the author’s 2001 best-seller, Fooled by Randomness. The highly entertaining new book, though, is longer, better-grounded, and with more advice about how to live in the presence of deep unpredictability. The core of The Black Swan argues that economists, journalists, and corporate planners behave as if they’re living in predictable “Mediocristan” when they’re really in “Extremistan.” It’s a richly enjoyable read with an important message.

6. You’re Broke Because You Want to Be by Larry Winget. Here’s some basic training for overcoming debt and making a buck, from a tough-guy television personality. “Get a calendar,” says Winget. “Stop eating out.” This is elementary instruction for those who really don’t have their lives together.

7. Women & Money by Suze Orman. Why is it that women need so many pep talks about money? In her eighth personal-finance book, Orman does little more than echo the now-tired sentiment that “women still don’t want to take responsibility when it comes to their money.” It seems that gals have “a totally dysfunctional relationship” with lucre, and therefore it’s necessary for more trees to die to help them get on top of the situation. There’s plenty of inspirational talk along with basic information on bank accounts, credit reports, retirement planning, and insurance. Strictly for beginners.

8. Made To Stick by Dan Heath. Calling Malcolm Gladwell: Just remember, it’s the sincerest form of flattery. In this “complement to The Tipping Point,” the brothers Heath set out to define just what makes some ideas stick in the mind while others melt away. They discover six principles that are essential to getting people to pay attention to, believe, and care about an idea. With a host of stories involving everyone from baseball great Leo Durocher to venture capitalist John Doerr, there’s plenty to keep marketing directors entertained during their next plane trips.

9. The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. If words like “service,” “authenticity,” and “generosity” have you checking your wallet, this fable about finding success through giving probably isn’t for you. “Receiving is the natural result of giving,” the consultant Pindar instructs the ambitious young Joe. Also: “There’s nothing wrong with making money.” Now, did you really need to hear that?

10. The Compassionate Samurai by Brian Klemmer. Are you a pushover? Too good-hearted to be a Type-A achiever? Klemmer, whose company provides motivational seminars for a number of corporate clients, tells how you can maintain your humane ways while becoming more able to get things done.

11. Free Lunch by David Cay Johnston. New York Times reporter Johnston’s previous book, Perfectly Legal, was about how the tax system was rigged to benefit the wealthy few. Now, he’s offering further evidence on how the rich use the system to get richer. Free Lunch is a sprawling project that rails against lobbying, outsourcing, private military contractors, stock option backdating, and global job outsourcing. It’s insightful, investigative reporting couched in occasionally shrill language.

12. Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson. Would-be entrepreneurs face a thicket of possible obstacles: How much to plan, how much to spend to get going, how to recruit a team, how to best concentrate the founder’s energy, and more. Masterson, of e-newsletter and author of several other motivational volumes, offers guidance for those contemplating starting their own businesses.

13. Dare to Prepare by Ronald M. Shapiro with Gregory Jordan. Lawyer and baseball agent Shapiro is a believer in methodical preparation—and an opponent of winging it. There’s a reason why successful pitchers watch the film and study the opposing batters: Getting your ducks in a row can make a difference, the author says. In this volume, he discusses preparation with a range of achievers, from New York Mets manager Willie Randolph and Goldman, Sachs veteran Lisa Fontenelli to concert pianist Leon Fleisher.

14. Our Iceberg Is Melting by John Kotter, Holger Rathgeber. A simple fable about animals who face devastating change-and can’t bear to deal with it. Does this sound familiar? This year’s Who Moved My Cheese? maybe? Anyway, skip the story about icebergs and penguins and go directly to page 130 for the authors’ “eight step process of successful change.” Then, spend the time you’ve saved mulling over how these commonsense suggestions can be put into place at your organization.

15. The Breakthrough Company by Keith R. McFarland. Consultant and Business Week Online columnist McFarland has analyzed thousands of companies to come up with nine “extraordinary performers,” whose “secrets” have allowed them to achieve “breakthrough” success. The winners include Paychex, Chico’s, Polaris, and SAS Institute. Specific action steps conclude each of the author’s analytical chapters.

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