Archive 2011

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On December 14, 1911, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole. He triumphed in a tightly contested race to the bottom of the world: Irishman Ernest Shackleton had come within 97 km of the pole on an expedition three years previously, and Briton Robert Scott was hot on Amundsen’s heels:  On January 17, 1912, a mere five weeks after Amundsen’s conquest, the exhausted British team arrived at the sweet spot, deflated to find the Norwegian flag blowing mockingly in the wind. Scott’s team perished in Antarctica a few weeks later.

In honor of the brave men who risked their lives in the name of science and discovery, here are some links to stories about their leadership and endeavors:

The Lost Men

Shackleton’s Way

Leading at the Edge

The Muppets have featured an eclectic mix of villains in their movies throughout the years. Doc Hopper was the owner of a chain of restaurants whose specialty was frogs legs in The Muppet Movie; Long John Silver was the pirate with a dark ulterior motive in Muppet Treasure Island; and greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge is the baddie in The Muppet Christmas Carol. In the latest installment of the Muppet franchise, the antihero is an oil tycoon called Tex Richman (played by Chris Cooper). Some people have expressed outrage that a businessman with such good, selfless intentions as the owner of an oil company is portrayed as the bad guy in a kids’ movie. BP’s Tony Hayward and his ilk probably cry themselves to sleep because of their unfair, undemocratic depiction.

Fox Business Network anchor Eric Bolling has accused “liberal Hollywood, the left” of brainwashing children. Bolling also denounced other kids’ entertainment, such as Captain Planet and Sesame Street. “We’re teaching our kids class warfare. Where are we, Communist China?” Parents may be shocked to discover that hidden messages also appear in Happy Feet 2, claims Kyle Smith, film critic for the New York Post: “Penguins are seen being victimized by pollution and other environmental degradations associated with the industrial age. Well played, lefties: This is Kiddie Karl Marx.” To quote The Simpsons’ character, Helen Lovejoy, “Won’t somebody please think of the children?”

Where do you stand on the oil debate? Are you a Muppet, a puppet, a plutocrat or do you just want to be green, like Kermit, even if it isn’t easy? For an insight into all sides of the argument, click on these links:

Power Hungry

Blowout in the Gulf

When Oil Peaked

According to a Gallup survey, 71% of Americans feel “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” at work. During tough economic times, employee engagement probably is not foremost on a manager’s list of concerns, but it should be. When staffers are not engaged, their productivity, and thus the performance of the firm as a whole, suffers. In the current harsh economic climate, when hundreds of businesses are shutting down every day, you cannot afford to sacrifice the productivity of your workers via a lack of engagement, which, unlike the macroeconomy, is something you can influence. To learn more about the importance of employee engagement and how you can improve it, click on the following links:

Re-Engage

The Ownership Quotient

The Art of Engagement

The recent financial crisis has underlined the importance of ethics in the workplace. Millennials (born 1981-1999) are the next generation of business leaders. To create awareness of the need for ethical behavior among these young potentials, Professor Steven Pyser at the Fox School of Business and Management at Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has established the “Global Ethics Case Competition: Root Causes of Integrity in Action.” The aim of the contest is to mimic the real-world business environment and to empower students – our future leaders – to instill integrity and ethics into their daily decisions.

Using numerous business tools, including getAbstract, The Wall Street Journal and Business Performance Improvement Resource, participants coordinated complex business tasks in face-to-face and virtual environments for the competition. First, they selected an exemplary company from the Ethisphere Institute’s “2011 World’s Most Ethical Companies List.” Then, through group consensus, they framed their cases and responses and benchmarked exemplary corporations. The final will take place on Thursday, November 17, 2011 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm at Fox School of Business and Management in 113 Speakman Hall. Good luck to all the finalists!

To learn more about ethics in the workplace, click on these links:

Ethics for the Real World

Ethics 101

Ethics for Everyone

Cave Henricks Communications is a media relations and consulting firm that provides a valuable service by offering authors a platform from which to promote their work and garnering media attention for books. This week, getAbstract was delighted to hear from Claudia Dizenzo Mueller, Cave Henricks Communications’ publicity manager, who learned about getAbstract from a subscriber at a wedding she had recently attended. With Claudia’s interest piqued, she decided to interview getAbstract’s vice president, Arnhild Walz-Rasilier, to find out more about getAbstract’s service to customers, authors and publishers:

Q: Who are your subscribers? 

A: Present and future decision makers in business. People committed to lifelong learning with an interest in business and/or ambition to climb the professional career ladder.

Q: What do they seek from getAbstract?

A: Carefully selected books across the entire publishing arena that fit their fields of interest, as well as outstanding releases that help answer their questions and provide new insights for their professional development.

Q: How do getAbstract’s summaries go beyond what you can learn from a book jacket or description on Amazon.com?

A: Every abstract contains a review, an overview of the book’s content and a few selected “key quotes” (less than 300 words in total). Armed with that information, readers can make truly informed purchasing decisions. Executives, managers and business professionals rely on and trust our recommendations, which makes getAbstract the leader in precision book marketing.

getAbstract provides an objective and independent presentation of top titles with an unbiased professional opinion.

Q: How do you decide which books to include in your summary listings?

A: Our professional editors screen 11,000 new business titles annually and pick the best in leadership, strategy, management, marketing, human resources, finance, international business, economics, politics, technology and career development. The editors select extraordinary titles, as determined by their assessments of each book’s relevance, applicability, degree of innovation and style.

Q: What are your sources of information about books coming down the publishing pipeline?

A: getAbstract appreciates long-standing relationships with more than 450 international publisher partners, which regularly provide their catalogs and newsletters announcing new releases. We carefully watch publishers’ costs, and we thus ask them not to submit any hard copies before our editorial team has made sure that the work in question has potential to meet our strict selection criteria. Following that assessment, getAbstract selects the titles we would like to evaluate. We also carefully follow business publications for books worth promoting.

On top of this routine, we receive unsolicited books sent by authors and publishers on a daily basis.  Also, more and more authors and publishers contact us directly, asking how to get their works promoted in the getAbstract library.

Q: Do you accept these unsolicited submissions from authors and publishers?  From marketers/publicists?

A: We send these books through our usual assessment process. From time to time, we come across a title which makes it to our final selection. However, the majority of these books don’t meet our selection criteria.

Q: Do you rate and evaluate books, or simply summarize them?

A: Yes, we evaluate and rate by innovation, applicability and style.  We invite you to visit our website www.getAbstract.com to check on each and every recommended book. You will find close to 8,000 abstracts in our library.

Q: Will getAbstract review eBooks or self-published titles?

A: In general, yes.

Q: Who writes the summaries for getAbstract?

A: Our editorial capacity is built on a network of more than 120 high-level business journalists and business editors in the US, Europe and Asia. We create book recommendations in English, German, Spanish, Russian and Chinese.

For more information on Cave Henricks Communications, please visit the firm’s website or follow it on Twitter.

11-11-11

2011/11/11

Today’s date has triggered palindrome mania:

“Eva, can I stab bats in a cave?”

“Mr. Owl ate my metal worm.”

“Was it a rat I saw?”

“A nut for a jar of tuna”

“Ma is as selfless as I am”

“Dammit, I’m mad!”

“A Santa lived as a devil at NASA”

getAbstract wanted to join in the fun, but it’s a lot harder than it looks. Click on these links for summaries about a Toyota, mom, dad and a racecar

Earth is now home to more than seven billion people. Although no one can definitively confirm who the planet’s seven billionth person is, numerous countries have chosen a symbolic representative. The aim is to draw attention to the issue of rapid population growth. Danica Camacho, a baby born in the Philippines on Monday October 31 has the honor of representing her country. Pyotr Nicolayev, born in Kaliningrad on Monday, is Russia’s representative.

Astoundingly, Bosnia’s Adnan Nevic, the person the UN chose to symbolize the six billionth person born, is only 12 years old today. The world’s population is increasing exponentially, putting pressure on our precious resources. For some expert predictions on how the human race will cope with the problem of a rising population and other demographic and resource-related issues, click on these links:

Shock of Grey

Aqua Shock

The New North

Playwright David Henry Hwang, a Chinese-American, is finding great success with his Broadway show, Chinglish, a comedy documenting the cultural differences between America and China. The protagonist, an American businessman, travels to a provincial city in China, where he tries to win a contract to create signage for public buildings. Chinese translations of Chinese signs into English are famous for their overly literal interpretations, and these mistranslations became Hwang’s muse. For instance, one sign for a fire extinguisher in China reads “Hand Grenade.” In another case, a warning for a wet surface reads “slip carefully,” while a request to keep off the grass reads “The grass is smiling at you. Please detour.” “Don’t feed the birds” becomes “The fowl cannot eat.”

According to Hwang, “Chinglish is about attempts to communicate across cultures and the barriers that separate us, and the most superficial of those is language…But then sometimes, even if you’re speaking the words literally, you may as well be speaking a different language because some of the underlying cultural assumptions are so different.”

Chinglish is a comedy about a real-world communication barrier. Take the first step to overcoming this obstacle by clicking on these links:

The Mindful International Manager

Rice Wine with the Minister

Leading with Cultural Intelligence

Each year, getAbstract assesses more than 10,000 English and German business books. The nominees for the getAbstract International Book Award represent the best and most innovative business books of 2011, making them the “crème de la crème.”

We are proud to announce that the winners of the English category are Tom Devine and Tarek F. Maassarani for The Corporate Whistleblower’s Survival Guide (published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers) and Ian Morris for Why the West Rules – for Now (published in English by Farrar, Straus and Giroux inside the US and by Profile Books outside the US).

In the German category, the award goes to Tobias Schrödel for Hacking für Manager (published by Gabler) and Manfred Hoefle for Managerismus (published by Wiley-VCH, the German branch of John Wiley & Sons).

Congratulations to the winning authors.

Citizens of Seattle can sleep a little sounder tonight; Phoenix Jones and his Rain City Superhero Movement are patrolling the streets and fighting crime – with pepper spray. Benjamin Fodor, aka Phoenix Jones, a superhero clad in black and gold spandex, has appeared in a Seattle court to defend his role in a spate of recent pepper-spray attacks. Jones and his band of merry men deploy their weapon on the streets of Seattle at night when they feel intervention is required to prevent violence and break up brawls. Jones is not alone: An estimated 300-400 real-life superheroes, inspired by comics and movies such as Kick Ass, are currently keeping watch over America’s streets.

Jones has taken the law into his own hands in a radical way. But what would you do if you discovered that people – perhaps members of your firm – were engaged in unethical or unlawful practices? Would you ignore the issue to safeguard yourself? Or would you take a leaf from Jones’s book and bring the perpetrators to justice? In The Corporate Whistleblower’s Survival Guide, the winners of the 2011 getAbstract International Book Award, Tom Devine and Tarek F. Maassarani, explain how you can pull the plug on illicit practices at work while protecting yourself.

For some further examples of whistle-blowing in practice, click on these links:

No One Would Listen

Extraordinary Circumstances 

Enron

RIP Steve Jobs

2011/10/6

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, has died aged 56 following a long battle with cancer. While Jobs was notoriously difficult to work with, arrogant and abrasive, his legacy is remarkable. Jobs was a true visionary. He turned quixotic, fanciful ideas into reality. His bold creativity revolutionized not just the technology industry, but the music industry, the gaming industry and the entertainment industry – and the way the world accesses and views information in general. From its humble beginnings as a garage start-up in 1976, Apple surpassed Exxon Mobil to become the world’s most valuable public company earlier this year. Jobs inspired others to emulate him, and his impact on the world will be felt for generations to come.

Those who worked with him, and competed against him, are best equipped to describe Jobs’s legacy:

“Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor. Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.” (Tim Cook, Apple CEO)

“Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.” (President Barack Obama)

“For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honour. I will miss Steve immensely.“ (Microsoft founder Bill Gates)

“The digital age has lost its leading light.” (Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg)

Rest in peace, Steve Jobs.

Harold Hackett has a very special hobby. Since May 1996, Hackett, an inhabitant of Prince Edward Island, Canada, has dispatched more than 4,800 plastic bottles containing messages into the Atlantic. His messages follow a standard format: They are all printed on fluorescent paper, they document the date that he tossed the bottles into the ocean, and they request that the recipients reply. Hackett doesn’t supply his telephone number; he wants letters. The bottles float away from the coast, and about seven or eight miles out, they are pulled in various directions by the tide. Since he began his hobby, Hackett has received more than 3,100 replies from people who have discovered his bottles in Russia, Africa, Holland, France, Scotland, Ireland, the Caribbean, Canada, the US and South America. He often receives messages that are connected to bottles he pitched into the sea 10 or 15 years previously. He has made thousands of pen pals and has accumulated a massive collection of poignant letters and stories from people around the world. getAbstract was touched by Hackett’s passion, even though approximately 1,700 of Hackett’s bottles are littering the ocean, lost at sea. Hackett is committed pursuing his pastime until the day he dies.

Hackett discovered his hobby just as the Internet was taking off. You can emulate Hackett by reaching out to people across the world. But with modern social networking technologies, you shouldn’t have to wait 15 years for a reply. For some of the most up-to-date information on social networking, take a look at these links:

The Dragonfly Effect

The Thank You Economy

UnMarketing 

Since 1915, the scientific community has generally accepted Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity: E = MC2. This equation explains that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. When matter travels at speed, it gains mass and thus requires more energy to accelerate. As matter approaches the speed of light – the universe’s ultimate speed limit – propelling its huge mass would require infinite energy.

However, scientists at Cern, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, believe they may have found that subatomic particles called neutrinos can travel faster than the speed of light. As BBC’s Jason Palmer explains, “Neutrinos come in a number of types, and have recently been seen to switch spontaneously from one type to another. The team prepares a beam of just one type, muon neutrinos, sending them from Cern to an underground laboratory at Gran Sasso in Italy to see how many show up as a different type, tau neutrinos.” In a series of experiments spanning three years, Cern’s scientists have found that the neutrinos reached their destination a few billionths of a second before light could cover the same distance. The scientists, unable to find an error in their calculations but assuming one exists, have opened their results to the scientific community to help them understand, and perhaps falsify, their results – wikiscience! If Cern’s observations are correct, the scientists will blow open a whole century of physics research.

To learn more about the evolution of physics, here is a brief history – up until 2011:

The End of Discovery

The Fabric of the Cosmos

Critical Mass

getAbstract Inc. CEO Michel Koopman and his wife, Erika, decided to celebrate his birthday by gathering a number of their friends at an event honoring the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Southern Florida. This organization has granted more than 7,500 wishes since it was founded in 1983 and granted 544 in 2010 alone!  Its mission is to provide hope, strength and joy to children who are battling life-threatening medical conditions. Lili, one of the wish children, who has survived stage-three leukemia, was there to share her story, which was most inspiring. The night was a great success, raising nearly $100,000 for the foundation.

Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Herald covered the event in this article.

You’re frustrated. You’re angry. You’re at the breaking point. You’ve had enough of the people for whom you’ve slaved for the last 10 years but who still don’t know your name. You are quitting your job. Although JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater lived the dissatisfied employee’s dream last year when he snapped after being treated in a rude manner by a passenger, grabbing two bottles of beer, deploying the emergency slide and disembarking a grounded plane (who among us didn’t get a guilty pleasure out of that story?), that was probably not the wisest way to bow out of a job. Instead, here are some tips on how to quit in an honorable fashion:

  1. Write a letter of resignation. Keep it professional and positive. You never know when you’ll need your current employer’s help in the future. State your notice period. Don’t put all your grievances on paper, and don’t speak negatively about the firm. What’s the point? You’ve found your escape route. Just grin and bear it until your departure date.
  2. Ask for a written reference. A few years down the road, a former employer will have forgotten all about you and may not be the best source for an oral reference. Get your boss to write about your credentials on paper, while you are still fresh in their minds.
  3. Tie up all the loose ends: your pension plan, your health insurance, and so on. Clean up your computer.
  4. Return all company property. Hand in the key to the door. Send a friendly farewell email to all your colleagues. As you leave the building for the last time and walk down the street, smile, and play George Michael’s “Freedom” loudly on your MP3 player.

Now that you know how to quit, here’s some advice on how to move on:

Escape from Corporate America

Rebound

What Color Is Your Parachute?