I recently finished reading Sebastian Junger’s excellent new book Tribe: on Homecoming and Belonging. It’s a slim volume that addresses something really important: how hardship builds group cohesion and solidarity. Continue reading…
I recently finished reading a new book about startups. It’s called The Science of Growth: How Facebook Beat Friendster and How Nine Other Startups Left the Rest in the Dust. It’s written by Sean Ammirati, who is a partner at Birchmere Ventures and an Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon, where he teaches a courses on entrepreneurship. He was previously COO of ReadWriteWeb and cofounded mSpoke, a content recommendation engine that was acquired by LinkedIn.
The book is a spiritual successor to Four Steps to the Epiphany, in that it is an intellectual framework for thinking about high-growth entrepreneurship written someone with deep experience in the field. While there’s a cursory similarity to Good to Great / Great by Choice in comparing pairs of winner/loser companies, it really shines as a way of thinking about, talking about, and analyzing startups at different stages of growth: Continue reading…
I recently finished reading The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in business by Patrick Lencioni. You’ve definitely heard Lencioni’s other books: Death by Meeting and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team were two which popularized the trend in the late aughts of the business book as a fable.
This book is more of a typical nonfiction business book: a main idea broken into several components with tactics combined with stories and case studies from consulting engagement it’s plus personal anecdotes all rolled into one concise and clearly written book. Continue reading…
A claim leveled against business books sometimes is that the book repeats the same concept over and over again and could have been better served as a long magazine article.
And indeed many books start out as long magazine articles. Hoffman, Yeh, & Casnocha published a 4.5k word article: “Tours of Duty: The New Employer-Employee Contract” in Harvard Business Review in June of 2013. A little over a year later, the 224 page book, The Alliance (my reading notes on that), was published. The article lays out the primary ideas behind the book:
- Engage employees on a “tour of duty” basis
- Support, and even fund the development of your employee’s networks
- Foster alumni networks for former employees
The goal of a book is not to inform, it is to persuade.
Because a book is longer, you are spending more time thinking about the idea. Because a book is physical (most of the time) you see it on your table, on your shelf. Maybe people ask you about it. As you go through example after example and additional data points around the ideas, you start to notice how those ideas fit into your world and you start imagining how you might implement those ideas in your life.
That’s why book summaries and even magazine articles are good if you want to “get the gist” of it. But the value of an idea is not in knowing it, but in acting on it. Books are more likely to drive action. Props to Seth Godin because I’m almost positive I got this idea from him somewhere, even though I couldn’t find it while doing research for this article
I recently finished The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh. It’s a book about rethinking the relationship between employees and employers. I’d say the audience is primarily executives and managers, well as HR leaders. Both as an employee and as a founder, I found it an interesting read. It’s a fairly quick read, which is nice as most business books drag out their ideas for far too long. There’s also a companion website that allows people to follow up and learn more about their ideas. Continue reading…