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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



What I Didn't Learn in Business School: How Strategy Works in the Real World by Jay B. Barney and Trish Gorman Clifford (Harvard Business Review Press) Readers discover how business strategy really works in What I Didn't Learn in Business School.

Meet Justin Campbell. He's a new MBA graduate who's landed a job with a strategy consultancy. His engagement team is on a mission: help HGS Inc., a specialty chemicals firm, define and execute a strategy for exploiting a textile technology the company developed.
Justin and his team deploy state-of-the-art strategy tools to analyze the attractiveness of potential markets for the technology. But they soon realize the tools don't help them grapple with the human side of strategy including political forces swirling within HGS. Everyone involved in the engagement is biased and insecure, brilliant and hardworking, selfish and lazy, loyal and dedicated. The political and organizational forces swirling within HGS complicate his analyses and test his fundamental understanding of important strategic concepts.

Justin and his cohorts aren't real What I Didn't Learn in Business School is a business novel. But they're realistic: they're just like us. They are humans, not human resources, and they each have their own personality, motives, and skills. Their story reveals the limitations of strategy tools and demonstrates tactics for navigating the messy, human dynamics that can make or break a company's strategy efforts. Readers see both the strengths and the limitations of common strategy tools.

What I Didn't Learn in Business School uses the power of story to present lessons for anyone seeking to excel at strategy management. The action moves quickly, and at the end of each chapter, readers find provocative questions that help them tease out vital insights that they can apply in their own work.



Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) reveals a game that, according to John Perkins, is "as old as Empire" but has taken on new and terrifying dimensions in an era of globalization. And Perkins should know. For many years he worked for an international consulting firm where his main job was to convince LDCs (less developed countries) around the world to accept multibillion-dollar loans for infrastructure projects and to see to it that most of this money ended up at Halliburton, Bechtel, Brown and Root, and other United States engineering and construction companies. This book, which many people warned Perkins not to write, is a blistering attack on a little-known phenomenon that has had dire consequences on both the victimized countries and the U.S.

Juice: The Creative Fuel That Drives World-Class Inventors by Evan I. Schwartz (Harvard Business School Press) Creating new possibilities. Finding hidden problems. Blasting through knowledge barriers. That's the job of inventors. And just as invention has fueled the progress of humankind for centuries, the same thinking patterns that produced breakthroughs from the steam engine to the gene sequencer will spawn the inventions on which we'll build our future.

But what drives invention? Where do the mental leap, the "Aha!" and the "Eureka!" come from? What makes one person, company, or country more inventive than another? What motivates someone to search for a problem, brainstorm a solution, and create that next big thing?

This groundbreaking book takes us inside the laboratories and the minds of some of today's most prolific inventors to demystify the process by which they imagine and create. Evan I. Schwartz argues that invention is less about serendipity and genius than it is about a relentless inner compulsion to question and discover. This creative energy, says Schwartz, is the fuel-the "juice"-that drives the best inventors. And this special form of creativity is latent in each of us.

Juice juxtaposes the stories of classic inventors with a new breed of innovators, such as hypersonic sound inventor Woody Norris, genomics pioneer Lee Hood, mechanical whiz Dean Kamen, business systems inventor Jay Walker, and biomimicry trailblazer James McLurkin. Schwartz reveals the brilliant strategies-such as crossing knowledge boundaries, visualizing results, applying analogies, and embracing failure-that enable inventors to transform improbable ideas into reality. We learn, for example, how a connection between slot machines and pill-bottle caps might improve the world of preventive medicine; how mud and weeds are being used to help carry a nation out of poverty; and how the development of a diagnostic nanochip could extend human lifespans.

Powerful and inspiring, Juice will convince you that anything imaginable is possible. There is so much left to be invented. Let's turn on the juice.

The United States has a culture that accepts and rewards invention better than anywhere else in the world, and this is combined with a huge market capable of accepting the volumes of product that are needed to establish a viable business and the capital markets that can fund it.

The author of this book is a contributing writer to MIT's Technology Review. He used this background to have discussions with a few dozen inventors and to consolidate their thoughts into this book. The book is a bit different from other books in the invention catagory in that it also discusses such things as why the particular invention is good, and why it makes business sense. Some of the discussions in the book deal with things like the law suits that come from trying to enforce the patent rights of inventions.

At a time when the companies are getting bigger, they are also getting less able to invent. This is an interesting book on JUICE, the creative fuel that drives the inventor.

Leg the Spread: A Woman's Adventures Inside the Trillion-Dollar Boys Club of CommoditiesTrading by Cari Lynn (Broadway) In the Futures market, it’s all about minimizing risk and maximizing your wallet. Buying something gives you one leg—selling something gives you another—and if you’ve got two legs to stand on, that’s your spread. Anyone can make money by legging the spread, but if you’re a woman, you need something else: the presence, savvy, and stomach to run with the bulls and make your way in this ultimate boys club.

Welcome to the jungle.

The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (known in the financial world as “the Merc”) is the busiest Futures exchange in the world: a hair-raising, high-pressure den of iniquity with enough yelling, bullying, and mayhem to rattle even the toughest of hardball commodities traders. And if you’re a woman, the Merc can be the seventh circle of hell, given the sexual harassment, verbal vulgarity, and blatant condescension that comes with the turf. But that fact hasn’t stopped a handful of talented and determined women from crashing the frat party of the Merc and making millions while they’re at it.
When Cari Lynn first ventured onto the floor of the Merc in early 2000, she did so because she, like so many others, was riveted by the amount of money that could be made through trading with seemingly little effort. But she quickly discovered that only a handful of females have ever made it into the trading pits—a testosterone-saturated world where the men are often monsters and there’s no room for boys, let alone women. Leg the Spread is the highly entertaining account of
Lynn’s years as a clerk at the Merc, a job that taught her not only the cutthroat rules of engagement, but just how far both men and women will go when they stand to win or lose everything in the blink of an eye.
From learning the fast-moving art of “arb”—the hand signals used to generate trades—to learning to shout over the roar of the pits, Leg the Spread follows Lynn as she discovers the rush of high-stakes moneymaking, and herself. Along the way, she shares the stories of the Merc’s women traders, a motley crew of personalities who show her how to play the game. From Natalie, who bares her midriff and records her trades with a pink pom-pom pen, but is known to throw a punch to stand her ground, to Bev, who hustles billions of dollars in contracts every day and whose sway over the market is so great that major players like Goldman Sachs refuse to trade if she’s not in the pit, Lynn provides a riveting portrait of what it takes to prove your moxie daily in the midst of this ultimate men’s club.
Packed with jaw-dropping stories of bad behavior, good instincts, breathtaking greed, and heroic courage, Leg the Spread is an uproarious, adrenaline-fueled memoir that offers a completely new take on women and Wall Street—and an unprecedented entrée into one of the last true financial playgrounds.

Excerpt: In the Futures market, it's all about minimizing risk and maximizing your wallet. Buying something gives you one leg, but you've got big potential to lose unless you sell something to get the other leg. If you can come full circle, and you've got two legs to stand on, that's your spread. This takes expertise and guts, and it shouldn't matter whether you're male or female--but it does. It's a man's world in trading; as a woman you can make your money by legging the spread, or . . .

Before I officially set foot on the Futures trading floor, I was told a cautionary tale about a young woman trader, whom I'll call Anne McKenzie. When I asked her real name, the veteran trader who was confiding in me became squirmy. "I don't want to say, besides, you'll never find anything on her anyway." He stressed never. Unable to resist, I asked why. He writhed some more. He was merely an acquaintance of a friend of mine whom I'd just met, so he owed me no further explanation. But he offered me an ultimatum: "I will tell you this story if you promise not to ask anything more about it." I promised.

It was in the late 1980s, and Anne McKenzie lived a few blocks from my apartment, in a cluster of condominiums called
Sandburg Village. Hers was a high-rise like most here in downtown Chicago: a tower with dozens of floors, a doorman, a swimming pool, and a view of Lake Michigan--the coveted lake view. A half turn southeast and you'd see the solid black-beamed Hancock building and contrasting marble Water Tower Place grazing the skyline. If you looked due south, to the Loop, you could see the Sears Tower--the country's tallest--and all the other skyscrapers in its shadow, including the world's largest and busiest Futures trading forums: the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where McKenzie worked, and the neighboring Chicago Board of Trade.

On a blustery night McKenzie stood on the top floor of Sandburg, named for the Chicago writer Carl Sandburg, whose first published work was entitled "In Reckless Ecstasy." I imagine she still felt that ringing in her ears from all the shouting and commotion, and that fluttering in her chest from the fear and the awe, from the challenge of a volatile market, and the challenge of being one of the few females to try to play the game. McKenzie was around my age, early thirties. Her brand-spanking-new car--a Porsche, perhaps, that one trade alone had bought--was in the garage many stories below. Her condo, without a doubt, looked over the lake. She had been making the money, standing next to the men, enduring their taunts, their come-ons, their doubting her. She had earned their respect, at least enough so that they said hello to her, even though it was often just a breezy nod as they dashed past her to the inner circle of the pit. McKenzie had yet to make it to the inner circle, but she had the taste of success on her lips--and it seemed the sweetest sugar there was.

And then:
Monday, October 19, 1987. The ticker scrolls by. The numbers are starting to drop. For the first couple of minutes, it's just a slide. It's like you're skidding on ice, but you still have your balance, you're still standing. McKenzie watches $5,000 disappear. It's going to be a bad day, she says to herself. In a minute, $5,000 turns to $20,000, and a bad day instantly turns into a bad month. But this is only the beginning.

The numbers nose-dive. Traders are yelling out quotes, and the yells are accelerating into bloodcurdling screams. It's sheer panic--a room full of hundreds of men and less than a handful of women, all in hysteria. At first, it's luxury that slips away--that new candy-colored BMW convertible you had your eye on, the A-frame condo in
Aspen. A few minutes pass--minutes that seem like half seconds, flashing by like the ticker, all bright lights, there, then gone. The Dow is flashing: down 100, down 200, down, down, down. Chaos breaks out, men jump over one another, pushing, kicking, cursing the air--it's like war; every person for him- or herself. The rules don't matter much anymore. All eyes are glued, in disbelief, to the electronic price-reporting boards. The numbers flip at a dizzying pace. It's as if each board were a clock and some little devil has got hold of the levers and is twirling the hands round and round. Usually the numbers tick off with a sort of rhythm; they now are plummeting too quickly for the boards to even keep up.

Now it isn't only the
Paris vacation you've lost, it's the second car in your garage--tick--it's your retirement savings--tick--it's your kids' college fund--tick--it's your only remaining car--tick--it's your mortgage. You're watching it all slip through your fingers--five minutes ago you were trying to make it better, trying to still play the game; now you just want to get out. But it's way past too late.

Right next to you, a man in his early forties, father of two, has a breakdown. He's a seasoned trader, had purchased his seat at the Mercantile Exchange ten years ago for $700,000. He was trading against it, as many traders do, using the seat as collateral. In less than a minute, he has just watched his seat, plus everything else, disappear. He is now bankrupt, he owes money, and he's lost the right to trade. In less than a minute. He sinks right there on the steps of the pit, his head collapsing into his hands, and sobs. On the other side of you, another trader grabs his tie and lifts it above his head as if he's hanging himself. Across the pit, a big-shot new guy lurches over and throws up on his $600 pair of Bruno Maglis. He, like everyone on the trading floor, had tried dumping everything, his whole position in the Market. But you can't, not when everyone's dumping and no one's buying; the bid-ask spread isn't just huge, it's nonexistent. People are wiping themselves out on a single trade, because once you're in a spot like that, it's like standing in front of a speeding train.

Now you hardly remember all those days when making money seemed effortless. One trade--boom! Three thousand!--it took less than a minute. Five thousand dollars! Ten thousand, thirty thousand! And now, losing it seems just as easy, sand through your fingers. One second it's a handful, the next, it's gone, taken by the wind.

Only, you never realized that losing everything after you've had it is worse than never having had it at all.

It's all over the news--Crash! Dive! Meltdown! Massacre! The newspapers will run it as the cover story: each front page, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, will show similar photos: the average trader--a thirty-year-old white guy--overcome with rage, terror, even tears. They'll term it Black Monday; it will go down in the books as the day when $1 trillion evaporated in the single largest stock market drop in history.

It didn't matter to Anne McKenzie that everyone was feeling it. Self-absorption was part of the business, and so was greed. And here it was, in all its manifestations: it was only she who mattered, and money.

Trading is about making money. A job well done is not indicated by a problem solved or a task completed, nor by a promotion or the degree to which you've helped someone else. A job well done is indicated by money, and money alone. Money is the measure of your worth.

Not only was McKenzie out of money, but she, like thousands of other traders, received a margin call. It was just as if she had maxed out a credit card. Those faceless, nameless people who ran the show were coming to claim what seems like yours, but is rightfully theirs. For a Futures trader, the IRS-like figure is the clearing firm. They can be your best friend when they back you and enable you to start trading, or they can be your worst enemy when they're coming for you. Somewhere in the clearing firm that represented McKenzie, a notice went off on her account. The red alert: she owed money.

"Hello, Ms. Anne McKenzie, you have a margin call of $80,000. You need to wire the money to us within forty-eight hours or else we'll be forced to liquidate your position. You will be liable for any resulting deficit. Thank you."

On the next call, the voice wasn't as friendly. "Ms. McKenzie, you now have a margin call of $1 million. You must wire this money immediately or we will be forced to take action." That day in October was a busy one for clearing firms. Some clearing firms even had to resort to sending a representative to the trading floor to drag the blown-out trader off. Those were the traders for whom the gambler's last-ditch mentality had taken over, If I can just keep going I can make back something, anything! But the clearing firms knew better. The clearing-firm representatives had the loathsome task of recovering these corpses; corpses that were still warm enough to do lethal damage in the trading pits.

For McKenzie, the third call was the charm: "We've implemented our right to increase the margin requirement. You have a margin call of $3 million." Three million dollars? Unlike other traders, she had never even had that much money, and now she owed it. So if having zero made her nothing, what in the hell was negative three million? She was shit. Lower than shit, and how do you face that?

She decided that you don't.

Anne McKenzie took a forty-story swan dive from the top of her
Sandburg Village condominium--in reckless ecstasy.

The veteran trader who told me about McKenzie turned out to be right--I'd find nothing on her. The day I heard the story, I was unexplainably entranced. I began scouring old newspapers. I combed death records and obituaries. I spent hours on the Internet searching every possible keyword I could think of. Nothing. How could someone leap off a high-rise and there be no mention of it? Anywhere? I began to wonder if my confidant was fabricating the whole story. Aside from the fact that there didn't seem to be a logical motive for him to do that--he was a well-respected trader who also taught and wrote about technical aspects of trading--his discomfiture made me believe he was telling the truth. Almost immediately after mentioning he had a story for me, he'd acted as if his better judgment had kicked in and that he wanted to take his words right back. He ended up drilling into me the "you didn't hear this from me" defense, only he seemed to do so not out of a need to be secretive, or private, or even dramatic, but more in an uneasy, backpedaling, fidgety way that, I believe, stemmed from the edges of fear.

I didn't understand it at the time; what possibly could he be afraid of? Of course, this conversation took place when I was a wide-eyed neophyte in the Futures trading world, before I had spent two years on the trading floor; before I really understood how money--just the very allure of money--could make people do very strange things; before I learned that McKenzie was far from the first trader to choose such a final option, and would likely be far from the last; and before I came to realize that fear was something that existed everywhere on the trading floor, encircling every trader in every pit. For fear was the only force that offset greed, and greed seemed to come stitched into the very polyester fibers of a trading jacket. Even people who weren't necessarily greedy in any other aspects of life, once they slid their arms into the trading jacket, once they affixed their badge with their acronym, the transformation was, dare I say, inevitable.

Anne McKenzie's tale was my dubious welcome into this world. Perhaps she had been welcomed in the more traditional way of being handed a roll of toilet paper and told, "This place is not for weak stomachs." It would be more than two years before I would finally stumble upon McKenzie's real name--and it would happen under similar circumstances, laced with discomfort and fear. The veteran trader had told me the truth all right--just not the whole story.

A typical trader--a male in his early thirties, golf shirt, khakis, sneakers, and the telltale brightly colored polyester trader's jacket--was extolling his philosophy of Futures trading to me. He emphasized his enthusiasm with dramatic hand gestures: "I make money on the Up," he swooped the air with his arm. "And I make money on the Down." He sliced the air the other way. His eyes were glowing. It was the glow of making thousands of dollars in a minute flat. The glow of hitting a million a year--when you're twenty-five years old. It's the Life Is Good When You're Me glow. And many Futures traders here, on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, have it.

Today, like any typical day, the Floor resembled a Super Bowl stadium: a 70,000-square-foot arena where everyone was on their feet, screaming, pushing, shoving, anything they could do to get the trade; they were all dressed in vibrant colors, as if they were supporting teams; digital boards--scoreboards, for the sake of the analogy--lined the walls, blinking, flashing, dipping, rising; and the testosterone was almost tangible. The energy of the trading floor was undeniable, everything moved fast, fast, fast, watch out, or you'd get trampled! Several thousand people worked here, and they all seemed to be racing in different directions. It was like this five days a week, all year round. I still find it amazing, actually, that this apparent insanity works as effectively as it does, but Futures trading has been efficient for over a hundred years.

And not just efficient--but, potentially, downright lucrative. Some of the wealthiest people in the world stand in these trading pits. But what the trader didn't admit to me at that moment was that when the glow was not there, when you'd bet that the Market was going to rise, but instead it plummeted, when you lost money on the Up, as well as the Down, that's when you were caught. And the money always seemed to disappear faster than it had come to you. And then, the only dramatic gesture you were making was the invisible slit to the throat. For every glowing eye, there is an accident site. And the trader is bleeding money.

I suppose my journey began with a romanticism along the lines of, "What's a nice girl like you doing in a place like this?" and I'm still not entirely sure how it is that a young, soft-voiced, rather nonmaterialistic, rather introverted writer found herself on the trading floor. But there I was, in the midst of the opposite of everything that made me feel comfortable, the opposite of everything that I defined as my ideals.

Spiritual Capital: Wealth We Can Live by by Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) presents a new vision of capitalist society that transcends the greed, materialism, and meaninglessness so rampant today. It offers an idea of wealth, profit, and capital that's about more than simply money. "Profit," under this system, would be not merely for private gain but would be used in part for public good. "Wealth" would be that which enriches the deeper aspects of our lives, gained by drawing upon our most fundamental purposes and highest motivations and finding a way to embed these in our work. "Capital" is amassed by serving - in corporate philosophy and practice - the pressing concerns of our world. The author's dream of getting a critical mass of people and organizations to act for what's right rather than for self-serving reasons. Ideally, spiritual capital would reflect a values-based business culture. Instead of emphasizing shareholder value, it would promote "stakeholder value," where stakeholders include the whole human race and the planet itself.

offers a highly critical view of the business and ethical practices of capitalism as it is practiced today, with its amorality vested in short-term self-interest, reaping profits, obsession with shareholder value, isolationist thinking, and reckless disregard of long-term consquences. Arguing for the need for a radical new philosophy for corporate governance that adjusts the meaning and purpose of wealth creation, and using the principles of "spiritual capital" and "spiritual intelligence" to define the needs of humanity and human government, Spiritual Capital is a passionately presented charge for people to make a difference.

Danah Zohar was born and educated in the United States. She studied Physics and Philosophy at MIT and then did her postgraduate work in Philosophy, Religion & Psychology at Harvard University. She is the author of the best-selling The Quantum Self and The Quantum Society, books which extend the language and principles of quantum physics into a new understanding of human consciousness, psychology and social organization. In 1997 she published Who’s Afraid of Schrodinger’s Cat?, a survey of twentieth-century scientific ideas, and her business book, ReWiring the Corporate Brain: Using the New Science to Rethink How We Structure and Lead Organizations. In February 2000 she published SQ: Spiritual Intelligence -- The Ultimate Intelligence.

For the past several years, Zohar has been active in management education and consultancy. Companies to which she has made in-house presentations at senior management level have included The Swedish Forestry Commission, Volvo, Astra Pharmaceutical, Werner Lambert Pharmaceutical, Philip Morris Tabacco, Marks & Spencer, Shell, British Telecom, Motorola, Philips, Norwich Union Financial Services, Merita Financial Services (Finland), Skandia Insurance and Financial Services, The Bank of International Settlements, Scottish Enterprise, Fife Enterprise, BMW, McCann Erikson and McKinsey. She was on the faculty of Shell UK’s "Challenges for Change" senior management training program and has addressed the leadership team leading Shell USA’s transformation process for senior management.

Danah Zohar lectures widely throughout the world at conferences organized by such bodies as UNESCO, The European Cultural Foundation, The Davos World Economic Forum, The World Business Academy, YPO, IFTDO (the International Federation of Training and Development Organizations), the British Cabinet Office, Japan’s Council for the Growth of Future Generations, The American National Education Association (NEA), Britain’s Industrial Society, and the Australian National Government. She has addressed members of The Swedish National Parliament and has worked with local government representatives and educators in several countries. Zohar is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management in the UK and at Macquarie University Graduate School of Management in Sydney. Dr. Ian Marshall is a Jungian-oriented psychiatrist and psychotherapist and the co-author of several of Danah Zohar’s books. He studied Philosophy and Psychology at Oxford University before entering medical school at London University. He conducts workshops internationally with Danah Zohar.  

The Highest Goal: The Secret That Sustains You in Every Moment by Michael Ray, Jim Collins (Berrett-Koehler Publishers) reveals the secret discovered by thousands of people who have taken the author's Stanford Business School creativity course: that living from the highest goal produces power, inspiration, and guidance that helps one persist even through the worst of times, and ultimately leads to success. The book combines practical business advice with spiritual motivation and creative insights. In addition, it discusses proven steps that people can use on a daily basis to take a personal stand and turn the chaos of difficult times into a complete and fulfilling life.

Dubbed "the most creative man in Silicon Valley" by Fast Company magazine, Michael Ray created and taught Stanford University's celebrated Personal Creativity in Business course for 25 years.

From the beginning, Ray's course had a more profound impact on graduates than he'd ever intended. They seemed to blossom, to have access to some secret source of energy and inspiration. They found new ways to contribute to their organizations, thrived on diversity, fought gracefully, treated others with compassion, acceptance, appreciation, and respect. As one graduate put it, "This is transformation that works and lasts."

Ray came to realize that his creativity course was helping people discover what he calls their "highest goal"-the one force that gives real meaning to your life, that speaks to the very core of your being. It's what makes you feel connected, motivated and sustained. It has nothing to do with worldly success or achievement, but Ray found that all of the successful people who had been through his course had a sustained connection to it. In fact, it was what they ultimately attributed their success to.

Here, through practical exercises, stories and reflections, Ray helps you discover your own highest goal. By getting in touch with this inner resource, following a path in tune with it, and letting it inform your every decision, you'll vastly improve not only your own life, but also the lives of everyone around you. Ray shows you how to open this inner font of creativity, compassion, and courage.

Michael Ray is the first John G. McCoy-Banc One Corporation Professor of Creativity and Innovation and of Marketing (Emeritus) at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. He is a social psychologist and the author of numerous books, including Creativity in Business (with Rochelle Myers), The Path of the Everyday Hero (with Lorna Catford), and The Creative Spirit (with Daniel Goleman and Paul Kaufman), the companion book to the PBS series inspired by his course. He lives his highest goal not only in his work life but also as a husband, father, grandfather, spiritual student, and meditation teacher. He has consulted and lectured widely and has served as a director of a major retailer, a food company, a catalog company, a start-up airline, and three companies in the communication industry. He works with an active group of teachers to bring the principles of this book to organizations and individuals worldwide.

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