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. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss. 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. 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.

4. Women & Money: Owning the Power to Control Your Destiny 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.

5. When Markets Collide: Investment Strategies for the Age of Global Economic Change by Mohamed El-Erian. Formerly the head of Harvard University’s endowment and now the chief at bond-investment firm PIMCO, El-Erian says the global financial system is reeling from the first shocks of a major transformation. The engine of growth is shifting from the U.S. economy to smaller players, including India and China. As the poorer countries have begun financing the rich ones, investors are facing new opportunities—and new risks, says the author.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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? 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. Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman. The Malcolm Gladwell-Freakonomics 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.

11. Debt Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About by Kevin Trudeau. f 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.

12. Six Disciplines® Execution Revolution: Solving the One Business Problem That Makes Solving All Other Problems Easier by Gary Harpst. A blueprint for creating a strategy and executing it, from a software executive and small-business coach.

13. 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.

14. Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. Li and Bernoff, both of consultant Forrester Research, here provide a case-study-rich look at social networking, the Web phenomena that’s behind the likes of Facebook and YouTube. The “groundswell” in question, they say, is “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.” This can cause a crisis for business—or an opportunity. Among the companies they show as profiting from the trend are Procter & Gamble, Best Buy, and Dell.

15. Perfect Selling by Linda Richardson. A sales trainer’s five-step guide for closing any deal. Rather than selling, you should be connecting with customers and helping them resolve their questions and objections, Richardson instructs.

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