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Many writers and observers wax lyrical on the über success of men like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, and though there are many factors at work that have contributed to their success, many identify their ongoing dedication to learning as a key attribute. A case in point, which Gates recounted for the Wall Street Journal, takes place more than 20 years ago, when Gates, upon meeting Buffett for the first time at what one can only assume was a powerhouse gathering, didn’t indulge in an exchange on boardroom topics but instead, rather tellingly, inquired as to Buffett’s favorite business book, perhaps knowing that this one simple query would not only reveal upon its reading – many of Buffett’s own philosophies, but that it would also expose him to new concepts of his own.

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Although a 40-hour work week may seem like a lot of time to get work done, sometimes you may catch yourself wishing you just had a little bit more time. If that’s the case, the best solution is to improve your processes at work and prioritize your workload.

Nothing halts your progress more than stress so allowing your mind and body to rest and reset can be the easiest way to get back into the zone.

Explore more strategies for time management in the below infographic:

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In this era where TV, movies, video games and cell phones are all the craze, reading books has become a lost art. Children and adults alike are now beginning to loathe the idea of reading a book because their attention span has been eradicated since everything we, as humans, desire is made instantly available to us. In fact, 42% of college graduates and 33% of high school graduates will never read a book again in their life after graduating.

As shocking as this is, there is still hope. Reading is the best mental exercise for improving the mind and is essential for the growth of a child.

The infographic below will breakdown and discuss all the benefits of reading:

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In today’s world, convenience, in any form, is paramount. That is especially true when it comes to reading. Nothing is more convenient than purchasing and reading a book, whether paper or on a screen. Currently, half of the US is in possession of a handheld device capable of being used as an e-reader (iPad, Kindle, Nook, even apps via phones, etc.). Electronic reading continues to grow in popularity because readers enjoy the simplicity of purchasing books, lighted reading at nighttime, and the ease of traveling with a large number of digital books, without the muscle strain. As the technology improves, expect to see more and more readers turn to the world of electronic reading.

Learn more about the rise of e-readers with our infograph…

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In the age of TED and the Internet, we have access to so many of the world’s greatest minds. This, paired with our ever increasingly demanding schedules and the abundance of said minds publishing book after book, it can be difficult to decide which tomes to invest the time in, and which can be skipped. Consequentially, here at getAbstract, we are always looking to our peers, mentors and favorite publications to weed out our must-reads. So we were delighted when one of our favorite magazine’s, Inc., suggested their top five books that are a MUST. In case you missed it, here they are, along with our signature getAbstract take on them.

Status Anxiety by Alain de Botton
Who is He? A Swiss writer, philosopher, and television presenter
Summary: This is not, as you might think, a book about your Facebook updates and what they say about you. Rather, it is de Botton’s musings on the universal concern with what others think about us.
Why Read: “De Botton challenges the reader to honestly assess whether they’re chasing money or happiness–because often the two are mutually exclusive—[but he] claims that the savvy business person knows how to pursue both.” – Inc.
More from this author: The News: A Users Manual, How Proust Can Change Your Life: Not a Novel and A Kinder Philosophy of Success (TED Talk)

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Inc. magazine wants to make sure that you didn’t miss what they consider 5 of the top business books of 2014. Here they are, along with our four favorite quotes from each of them. We delve a little deeper into why we believe these were some of the top business books that were published last year…

Title: The Butterfly Defect: How Globalization Creates Systemic Risk and What to Do About It
Authors: Ian Goldin and Mike Mariathasan
Who are they? Ian Goldin is a professor and director of the 21st Century School at the University of Oxford, which was formed to power new, cross-disciplinary thinking about global problems. Mike Mariathasan is a Senior Analyst in the Economic Policy Section at the Global Governance Institute.
Here’s why it was chosen: With insights from a variety of disciplines, Goldin and Mariathasan address the risks that come from globalization, and suggest how to manage them in our contemporary world.
“Increasing connectivity means growing complexity.”
“Societies ignore systemic risk at our peril.”
“Environmental instabilities can trigger broader systemic risks in food systems, health systems and, as we see in the case of climate change, cities and nations.”
“Resilience is a national and global objective.”
Want more?
Divided Nations
Exceptional People

Title: F.I.R.E.: How Fast, Inexpensive, Restrained, and Elegant Methods Ignite Innovation
Author: Dan Ward
Who is he? An expert in military technology, who has been publically recognized by the White House, the US Senate, and British Parliament.
Here’s why it was chosen: Ward’s publishing debut, which is based on more than a decade of research, shows and tells the secrets behind swift innovation, with memorable stories and anecdotes.
“Faster, better, cheaper pick two.”
“The future will be surprising; prepare accordingly.”
“You can’t design anything without revealing your values.”
“To finish early, start early.”

Title: Hello My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick
Author: Alexandra Watkins
Who is she? Watkins is an internationally acclaimed brand name expert and outspoken authority on brand names with buzz. She has turned her passion for naming things into a thriving company, Eat My Words.
Here’s why it was chosen: In her signature entertaining and engaging tone, Watkins provides valuable lessons for creating memorable and effective brand names.
“Your brand name makes a critical first impression.”
“Don’t get locked into a name that you may outgrow.”
“Invest… in a well-planned identity system from the start.”
“If it’s not spelled the way it sounds, scratch it off the list.”

Title: Leadership Blindspots: How Successful Leaders Identify and Overcome the Weaknesses That Matter
Author: Robert Bruce Shaw
Who is he? The Managing Principal at PMCG (Policy and Management Consulting Group), where he consults his clients on the development and implementation of new strategies aimed at increasing long-term profitability and growth.
Here’s why it was chosen: Shaw provides sound advice and practical solutions for how to become a great leader. Supplemented with questionnaires and worksheets, this book offers great counsel for readers who wish to successfully manage their leadership.
“Visionary leadership… comes with some degree of delusion that pushes an individual forward, but… contains the potential for his or her destruction.”
“Mistakes often point to areas in which we lack self-awareness of a weakness or threat.”
“A whole lot of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything.”
“A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.” Sign in Caterpillar’s executive offices

Title: Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis
Author: Jeffrey A. Krames
Who is he? Krames is a business book author who writes extensively on leadership, often looking to key figures to illustrate his points. He is also the editorial director of Portfolio, Penguin books’ business book imprint.
Here’s why it was chosen: Pope Francis has caused quite a stir with his modern (by Catholicism’s standards) thinking and ideologies since he was ordained, which has had many branding him a true 21st-century leader for world Catholics even Fortune gave him the title of World’s Greatest Leader. With this in mind, Krames identifies 12 principles that we can learn from Pope Francis’ governance as pontiff.
“If you lead people, then they are your top priority.”
“Francis lives on the frontier while still exercising power and living by a self-imposed code of radical humility.”
“The frontier is not a place; it is more of a positive and broad-minded attitude coupled with courage and audacity.”
“Francis does not see the world as a static place but as an ever-changing landscape.”
Want more?
The Rumsfeld Way
The Welch Way
Jack Welch and the 4 E’s of Leadership

Christopher Surdak_Rolf Dobelli_739x230

In October, Christopher Surdak was awarded with getAbstract’s International Book Award for his outstanding Data Crush. The Information Technology veteran has over 20 years of strategy and information management experience and currently works with Hewlett-Packard, for whom he is their global subject matter expert for analytics, E-discovery and information governance.

Big Data is a current “buzz” phrase in business, referencing the unlimited data we now have access to, thanks in large part, to the Internet and social media, which has made it effortless to capture and analyze information.

We recently caught up with Chris to learn a little more about him and, of course, his views on big data.

gA: Hi Chris. Can you tell us a little about your background and what got you interested in data.

CS: I’ve seen the technology evolve over 20 something years. Not just the technology part but how it impacts society and our behavior. Seeing how this was developing about eight or nine years ago, the engineer in me saw something is changing. Something’s different this time, the Smartphones and social media. So I got very interested in where that was going to go I started to see the legal implications and regulatory implications too.

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Public Relations noun plural but usually singular in construction, often attributive.

  • The activity or job of providing information about a particular person or organization to the public, so that people will regard that person or organization in a favorable way
  • The relationship between an organization and the public
  • The business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution
  • The degree of understanding and goodwill achieved

First known use of Public Relations: 1807

As the profession’s or practice’s own name suggests, PR is about relating to the public. In and of itself, PR is therefore social it is relating a story from one person to another and relies on what is now known as virality (thanks, Jonah Berger!). These 2014 buzzwords may have the ring of modernity to so many of us, but to PR professionals the concepts have always been at their very core, even if they didn’t have the vocabulary to name them.

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While the notion of curiosity has been around since man first discovered fire (or perhaps, since Eve bit the apple), I have been seeing more and more articles focused around this concept and how important it is to have a curious workforce, led by even more curious leaders. While the talents and skills organizations look for change frequently over time, curiosity reigns supreme since it is a staple quality.

Why is a culture of curiosity important for an organization?

  • It guarantees sufficient information to do all the other things, such as acting decisively, promoting innovation, and knowing how to renew and reinvent stale products and services
  • It implies constantly asking questions… Why? What’s behind that? What’s new? What are competitors doing? What else is out there? What other possibilities exist?
  • It is the impulse guiding great strategic thinkers. They want to know what’s around the next corner. They imagine and test scenarios. They are ready to incorporate new information and make changes. It also produces the exploration that allows for constant improvements and breakthrough innovations.

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TED, founded in 1984 as a one-off event, in Monterey, California, has grown into a global set of conferences sharing “Ideas Worth Spreading” in the technology, entertainment and design industries (hence, TED). The no-longer-than 18-minute talks are live-streamed over the Internet, for optimal “spread,” and are meant to be both innovative and engaging. Few disappoint. And, especially in recent years, TED Talks have gone on to achieve notoriety for their medium and their messaging; not to mention, the messengers, who have included notorious voices of the 21st-century zeitgeist, such as Bill Clinton, Malcolm Gladwell, Al Gore, Gordon Brown, Bill Gates, Bono, Larry Page and Sergey Brin… Just to name a few.

Recently, PR Newswire released their list of the six best TED Talks for communicators and PR professionals, which we felt was well-worth sharing with you.

1. Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, Amy Cuddy

Who: Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy, is a researcher and professor at Harvard Business School. She’s known for her work on stereotyping and discrimination, emotions, power, nonverbal behavior, and the effects of social stimuli on hormone levels.

What: Cuddy explains how our body language influences other people’s perceptions of us, how our mind affects our hormones, and how “power posing” can help you “fake it ‘til you make it.”

Why: Her TED Talk, originally delivered at TED Global 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland, and posted in October 2012, has been viewed more than 19 million times and ranks among the top 2 most-viewed TED Talks.

2. The Clues to a Great Story, Andrew Stanton

Who: The Pixar alum is a film director, screenwriter, producer and voice actor who has worked on favorite family movies, including A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo, WALL-E, Toy Story (1, 2 and 3), and Monsters, Inc. (In other word’s, his name being listed, had us at “hello.”)

What: Starting at the end, and working back to the beginning, Stanton—one of our generation’s greatest storytellers—shares his top tips for spinning a great yarn, with terrific takeaways, like the “unifying theory of 2+2,” invoking wonder is a story’s “secret sauce,” and “use what you know then draw from it.”

Why: See “Who” (above). Need we say more?

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