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. 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!
3. The One Minute Entrepreneur: The Secret to Creating and Sustaining a Successful Business by Ken Blanchard, Don Hutson, and Ethan Willis. Buildin gon the successful formula behind his long-running hit The One Minute Manger, Blancardh and his team have produced another bit of fiction, this time with lessons for the would-be entrepreneurs. Here, the fictional Jud McCarley rises from his wayward youth through college and on to small-business success, guided by teachings from such real-life figures as Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.
4. The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim 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.
5. Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions by John Kotter and Holger Rathgerber. 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.
6. The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales Resource, New Edition by Jeffrey Gitomer. Multi-book author Gitomer’s original effort has been reconfigured and republished. Like his other works, this one runs on high energy and such maxims as “more sales are made with friendship than salesmanship” and, from its list of 10.5 Commandments of Sales Success, “you don’t get great at selling in a day. You get great at selling day by day.”
7. Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism by Kevin Phillips. Former Nixon campaign aide turned critic of capitalism Kevin Phillips is back with a book that links the current “global crisis of American capitalism” to the politics of peak oil, the rise of financial mercantilism, the triumph of market fundamentalism, and even the spread of religious conservatism. Philips’ thesis is one that’s now being trumpeted by a bevy of other writers: The financial disaster signals the moment when the U.S. empire begins to follow past powers, from Rome to Britain, into long-term decline.
8. 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.
9. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marchall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter. Are there things you do that have helped you succeed so far, but that how have your career idling in neutral? Executive coach Goldsmith identifies 20 such ways of behaving, from an obsessive need to show how smart you are to a habit of withholding information. The authors also provide a program to help you change your irritating ways. But will this stuff really help you get ahead? Let’s put it this way: Don’t pass up any chances to marry the boss’s daughter.
10. Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance by Marcus Buckingham. Buckingham is the co-author of two best-selling books that were the foundation of what he terms “the strengths movement,” First, Break All the Rulesand Now, Discover Your Strengths. This time he considers how to apply your skills for best advantage. Like the book StrengthsFinder 2.0, this volume sends you to the Web for initial instruction. Then there are drills and inspirational passages, including lessons on how to create a strong team.