HR Management & Compliance

BusinessWeek’s Bestseller List

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

1. StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test from Gallup’s Now, Discover Your Strengths 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. Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny 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.

3. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich 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!

4. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely. “We are pawns in a game whose forces we largely fail to comprehend,” says MIT economist Ariely. The author then proceeds to demonstrate what he means by describing a series of his economics experiments, including ones in which subjects abruptly switch to a cheaper brand of chocolate when the price is discounted trivially from one penny to the “irresistible” price of zero. Entertaining and enlightening.

5. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die 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.

6. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable 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.
7. How Come That Idiot’s Rich and I’m Not? by Robert Shemin. Self-professed “Rich Idiot” Shemin offers a narrative that describes his rise to riches and the lessons learned that can help readers. Does this sound like Robert Kiyosaki? Well, Shemin’s account isn’t so different, offering as it does an action plan and a set of rules for success.

8. Jim Cramer’s Stay Mad for Life: Get Rich, Stay Rich (Make Your Kids Even Richer) 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.

9. Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions 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.

10. It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff. When U.S. Navy Captain Abrashoff took over the U.S.S. Benfold, he came to understand that no matter how technologically advanced one’s enterprise, you have to motivate the crew to achieve. His recommendations: Reward high achievers, lead by example, create a climate of trust, and lots more. The lessons aren’t exactly original, but the unusual context makes this a worthy addition to the literature of motivation.

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