HR Management & Compliance

Hot List: BusinessWeek’s Best Seller List

BusinessWeek magazine ranks the 15 best selling hardcover and paperback business books for August 2009 and  gives a short summary.

1. Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. As you’d expect with Gladwell, there are lots of surprises in his explanation of why some people succeed fantastically. Pluck and smarts get less play here than such matters as one’s birth month and access to the right resources at just the right time. There are many points worth pondering in this enjoyable volume.

2. How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In by Jim Collins. The author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t has taken a look at the other side of the coin: What happens inside great companies that go bad. Collins found that the seeds of decline and decay are often sown—unnoticed—in companies at the top of their game. In this book, he explains how to spot the signs and stop decline before it goes too far.

3. House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street by William D. Cohan. Cohan’s hot-selling behind-the-scenes account of the financial recklessness at the heart of investment bank Bear Stearns’ collapse is a vividly told page-turner. It’s the definitive work, to date, on the events that signaled, and help set off, the financial crisis.

4. Fool’s Gold: How the Bold Dream of a Small Tribe at J.P. Morgan Was Corrupted by Wall Street Greed and Unleashed a Catastrophe by Gillian Tett. The finance writer and editor for The Financial Times focuses on the creation, evolution, and spread of the collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) that spelled serious trouble for a number of banks and insurance companies. Tett’s book can be technical, but it goes to the heart of the financial crisis.

5. Strengths-Based Leadership by Tom Rath. This is the latest of the “strengths movement” titles, all of which aim at helping readers recognize and polish their true talents. Here, the authors say they identify keys to leadership and help executives build effective teams.

6. TJ Walker’s Secret to Foolproof Presentationsby TJ Walker. Tips and techniques for memorable speeches.

7.Bailout Riches!: How Everyday Investors Can Make a Fortune Buying Bad Loans for Pennies on the Dollar by Bill Bartmann and Jonathan Rozek. How to get your hands on some of the discounted debt now in circulation.

8. The Housing Boom and Bust by Thomas Sowell. The causes and the culprits behind the burst bubble.

9. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Entertaining and anecdote-packed, Made to Stick spells out six traits that can confer long life on an idea. In short, a good idea that is badly packaged might as well be a bad idea—so give your good ideas half a chance.

10. Womenomics by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay. Two broadcasters spell out how power has shifted toward women.

11. Peaks and Valleys: Making Good And Bad Times Work For You–At Work And In Life by Spencer Johnson. The author of the hypersuccessful Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life has delivered a quick and easy read in the form of a parable about a young man who lives in a valley learning wisdom from an old man dwelling on a nearby peak. The basic lesson: better decisions boost your odds of winding up on higher ground.

12. Thank God It’s Monday!: How to Create a Workplace You and Your Customers Love by Roxanne Emmerich. Consultant and public speaker Emmerich writes that passion and creativity are the keys to changing a dysfunctional company into one with happier and more productive workers, as well as happier and more loyal customers.

13. The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters by Alexander Green. An examination of the role of money in our lives.

14. Who’s Got Your Back: The Breakthrough Program to Build Deep, Trusting Relationships That Create Success–and Won’t Let You Fail by Keith Ferrazzi. The author of the bestselling Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time is back with a program for achieving success based on the methods in various 12-step programs. The main message here has two parts: You can’t achieve greatness without getting a boost, and, luckily, you’re surrounded by people who want to lend a helping hand.

15. Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street by Kate Kelly. Kelly, who covered Bear’s demise for The Wall Street Journal, has put together a vivid re-creation of the bank’s panicked struggle to retain its independence over the course of a weekend in March 2008. The you-are-there factor is high, with the characters and the urgent conversations brought to life.