HR Management & Compliance

HOT LIST: 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. 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 New Paradigm for Financial Markets: The Credit Crisis of 2008 and What It Means by George Soros. To understand the current financial crisis, says investor philanthropist Soros, we need a new paradigm that breaks with the old truism that financial markets tend toward equilibrium. Here, he expands upon his “theory of reflexitivity,” discussed in previous books. In this case, his insight suggests that “every bubble consists of a trend and a misconception that interact in a reflexive manner.” In other words (I think), we have trouble seeing the world as it is because we are simultaneously engaged in trying to shape it. The New Paradigm is compact—but don’t mistake it for an airplane read.

4. 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: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, 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: The Impact of the Highly Improbable 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. 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: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference,” 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 One Minute Entrepreneur: The Secret to Creating and Sustaining a Successful Business by Ken Blanchard, Don Hutson, and Ethan Willis. Building on the successful formula behind his long-running hit The One Minute Manager, Blanchard and his team have produced another bit of fiction, this time with lessons for 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.

7. 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.”

8. 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.

9. Debt Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau. If you’re deep in debt and struggling to get out, this book offers fundamentals on what to do. Trudeau, author of The Weight Loss Cure They Don’t Want You to Know About, has a low opinion of credit card companies and expends a good deal of rhetoric denouncing it. But if you’re looking to improve your credit score, the basics are here.

10. 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.

11. Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions by John Kotter and 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? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life 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.

12. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marchall Goldsmith with 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.

13. The Answer: Grow Any Business, Achieve Financial Freedom, and Live an Extraordinary Life by John Assaraf and Murray Smith. Author Assaraf and small-business coach Smith extend the argument of the best-selling The Secret to encourage readers “to harness the unlimited power of your mind and imagination in order to achieve exactly what your heart desires.” There’s plenty of hokum enveloped in a veneer of scientific mumbo-jumbo.

14. The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard, PhD, and Spencer Johnson, M.D. First published in 1981, The One Minute Manager helped to create the now flourishing genre of business fables: simple, instructive stories involving fictional characters. Here, an unnamed “young man” learns from an enlightened manager about three practical managerial techniques, all built around the idea that people must come first. “The people that he worked with felt that he was honestly on their side from the very beginning. And that made all the difference.”

15. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman. The Malcolm Gladwell-Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything wannabes never seem to stop. Here, an “organizational expert” and a psychologist examine recent findings from the field of social psychology and behavioral economics. This is a pretty thin collection of stories, and some of its examples may seem familiar already.

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