Think 24 hours isn’t enough time in your busy day? Try being a world leader. Yet even the most powerful people in the world sometimes need to relax and temporarily get away from it all. Reading is a source of pleasure for many of us – world leaders included – whether it be educational, inspirational or merely a fictional escape.
A week before he left office, Barack Obama explained to The New York Times the pivotal role that books played during his presidency and how they enabled him to “maintain my balance during the course of eight years,” “slow down and get perspective” and “get in somebody else’s shoes.”
getAbstract had the opportunity to talk to information technology professional and Data Crush author, Chris Surdak, and ask a few questions about big data, what companies actually do with the data they collect and how your company can succeed in this new information age.
getAbstract: Is everything we do online really being monitored all the time? How much data do people produce daily?
Chris: Absolutely everything that we do online is being monitored all of the time, although not all companies are doing this. It should be obvious which companies do capture our data. They are organizations that provide us with services without charging us for them. Think of Facebook, Google, Amazon, Waze, etc. These companies provide us with tremendous capabilities, apparently for free. However, the real costs to us is our privacy. These same companies are worth hundreds of billions of dollars because we give them our data, and they turn it into value and, eventually, money.
We all go through ups and downs at work. It’s normal to have unproductive days and days when you don’t seem to get anything done. But when does it become a problem? How can you turn things around?
getAbstract had the opportunity to talk to performance expert and Love It, Don’t Leave It author, Beverly Kaye, and ask a few performance questions every employee wants the answer to.
getAbstract: What are the top skills every employee should have to improve job performance?
Beverly: For starters, communication seems like common sense, but the truth is, common sense is not common. Verbal, written and listening (often not included) are key to building relationships and improving performance. Knowing what to say, when to say, and how to say is truly a science. Employees who take the time to learn the art of both public speaking, as well daily communication will find it helps dramatically to change the dynamic of a position. Due to technology, written communication has become the new first impression. Find programs that double check grammar! Employees should never fear to start over to retrain their written skills. The most important, and often forgotten form of communication, however, is listening. The old saying “We have two ears and only one mouth for a reason” has never been truer. Every employee should have the ability to listen…not just to what is said but to the words between the words.
Awareness is another rarely considered, but critical skill for employees. Employees should be aware of time, of areas for self-improvement and the changing climates of their industry.
Finally, patience is integral to employee success. Everyone succeeds on their own time schedule, and in unique ways. Employees need to plan for future success but be flexible to the reality that life does not always go as we planned.
Has “reading more” also made it into your list of New Year’s resolutions? If so, how do you make sure you’re not only reading more, but also the most relevant books?
We might have an idea for you: Start with the “Top 10 Summaries”, the 10 most downloaded getAbstract summaries in 2016, and stay informed and connected to the most current and relevant business information – in just 10 minutes.
Have a look at the most popular summaries from the past year!
When you think of the next 12 months, do you think of projects you want to start or changes you’d like to make?
If your answer is yes, keep reading. getAbstract had the opportunity to chat with professional development gurus Jason and Jodi Womack. They explain how to get unstuck, Get Momentum and take that first step to success.
getAbstract: We all have many goals we want to achieve. How do you prioritize?
Jason and Jodi: The definition of “goal” simply means “the object of a person’s ambition or effort.”
Our book, Get Momentum, helps people make consistent progress on their big, ambitious goals by focusing their effort productively.
In reality, you can only have ONE priority at a time. The most important thing is what you’re choosing to do right now.
When he was charting his career course, it’s unlikely that Mike Rowe thought about collecting owl vomit, making charcoal or turning the bones of dead cattle into useful products.
Rowe probably didn’t envision himself developing a passion for the Dirty Jobs TV show that enjoyed a seven-year run on the Discovery Channel. Life can be funny that way. Doors open unexpectedly and you walk on through. Or maybe you’re among the fortunate ones in a profession you’ve dreamed of since childhood.
In his 2016 video talk, Don’t Follow Your Passion, Rowe warns against the dangers of pursuing unrealistic goals and ignoring the practical demands of life. Wishes and desires, he explains, often are not aligned with talents and capabilities.
“Just because you’re passionate at something doesn’t mean you won’t suck at it,” Rowe says.
He’s an economics instructor at the renowned Cambridge University. He’s served as a consultant to the World Bank and other prestigious financial institutions. He’s a fellow at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington and the author of several popular books.
If Ha-Joon Chang came across as a snooty intellectual you probably wouldn’t be shocked, though that would go against everything he believes. The South Korean argues that economics is not just for those with lofty IQ’s and fancy degrees; it’s accessible to everyone – which may explain why Chang’s 2016 video presentation, Economics is for Everyone, is one of the most popular video talks in getAbstract’s library.
Economics has always been an intimidating subject, Chang says, mainly because we defer to “experts” who complicate matters with thorny mathematical formulas and esoteric jargon and principles. Marxist, Keynesian, GDP, regressive tax, supply side, variable cost, etc., etc. Yuck. No wonder we can’t be bothered.
“Economics has been uniquely successful in making the general public reluctant to engage with its territory,” Chang wrote in his well-received 2014 book, Economics: The User’s Guide.
Chang’s point is that average people know plenty about economics. They’re in the trenches every day, working hard to support a family and hopefully move up the ladder. You’re entitled – strongly encouraged, even – to have an opinion about economics. You don’t need a master’s in political science to express your views on Obamacare or be a psychologist to weigh in on gay marriage, right?
Unlike physics or chemistry, with their immutable laws and theories, economics is a fluid, inexact science subject to society’s evolution and peoples’ behaviors. Neoclassical economics, for instance, the most popular of the nine major schools of economics, posits that people tolerate work to afford pleasure. But as we’ve seen in the age of high-octane consumption, making more money does not ensure happiness. Often it’s quite the opposite.
“Any subject studying human beings, including economics, has to be humble about its predictive power,” says Chang.
Economic insight, Chang explains, requires being receptive to contrary viewpoints instead of stubbornly clinging to a single philosophy. Every school of thought has its valid points and flaws. If you are just able to grasp the basics – don’t worry about the fancy terms – then economics will not seem so daunting.
Take it from an expert.
You’ve reviewed dozens of résumés, sorted out the best applications and invited a handful of qualified candidates for an interview. Now what?
Do you hire the person wearing orange? The one that wants a cup of coffee? Or the one with the strongest handshake?
These seem like inane questions, but no matter how objective hiring managers try to be, there are plenty of subjective factors that affect hiring decisions. Jacquelyn Smith and Shana Lebowitz offer an insightful list in their article 28 Surprising Things that Affect Whether You Get Hired.
Before he became one of America’s most powerful and wealthiest businessmen and before he launched his presidential campaign in 1994, Ross Perot was arguably the greatest salesman in IBM’s history. He was so good, in fact, that one year he achieved his annual sales goals in January!
It’s reasonable to assume that Perot, even in his worst year, never experienced the anxiety of many B2B salespeople leading up to the holiday season. Q4, the fourth quarter, represents the home stretch for those striving to meet their yearly quotas. It’s a challenging time because buyers are often distracted, begin to take time off and may have exhausted their budgets.
Some salespeople offer large and intricate solutions that require months for a customer to finalize an agreement. In those cases, it’s best to focus on next year; you simply don’t have enough time to close. But it’s possible to reel in less complicated deals if your strategy is sound and you’re determined not to let the fish wriggle off the hook.
Time management is arguably the only topic on which you can get a consensus. Whether you’re a CEO, nurse, architect or studio musician, everyone agrees that it’s critical to use your time wisely. “I really enjoy racing to appointments, blowing deadlines, working overtime and missing meals and sleep,” is not something you hear in the break room.
Considering that 24 hours is our maximum daily allotment, time is a precious commodity. Once gone, it can never be recaptured. Some people seem to have the gift of organization while others are tossed about in a perpetual vortex of disorder. How compelling is our pursuit of effective time management? Well, getAbstract’s most downloaded book summary is Kevin Kruse’s 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management. The author interviewed billionaires, Olympians, scholastic achievers and entrepreneurs in an effort to identify common traits that enable them to be high fliers.
Regardless of how frightening or exhilarating the prospect, there’s no avoiding artificial intelligence. As we indicated in our last blog, AI marches inexorably forward, transforming our reality and challenging our imagination. Pandora’s technological box has been flung wide open and the possibilities appear mind-boggling.
AI developments often come in surprise packages. For instance, you might think Facebook is just an innocuous way of disseminating information and socializing with family and friends. In reality, Facebook is a technological juggernaut with vast financial resources that’s on a mission to overtake Google, Apple and Microsoft and emerge as the force in artificial intelligence. Though Facebook is a relative newcomer to the AI field compared with the Big Three, the company has identified its objectives and how to achieve them.
Some 40 years ago, a long-running series of iconic TV commercials featured the E.F. Hutton investment firm. Typically in a crowded setting like a party or on an airplane, someone would mention that his broker was E.F. Hutton. Suddenly there was dead silence; no one moved a muscle. “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen,” the announcer intoned.
When it comes to computer science, we tend to pay particularly close attention to those we regard as experts and visionaries in the field. So it’s significant that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates would endorse a couple of books that address the most fascinating and controversial topic of our time – artificial intelligence.
We’ve all had conversations with individuals who weren’t really “there.” You know the type; they appear to be paying attention but their eyes are darting all over the place. Or how about the people who in mid-conversation feel their cellphones vibrating and whip them out of their holsters – sorry, pockets — like gunslingers at high noon? Heaven forbid they should miss a Facebook notification.
Hundreds of computer apps. Countless TV channels. Twenty-four-hour programming. Twitter. Blogs. YouTube. Instagram. No wonder many of us have the attention span of a flea. OK, we’re exaggerating. Would you believe a goldfish? According to author Phil Simon in Message Not Received, a goldfish’s average attention span was nine seconds in 2013; the average American’s was eight seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000!
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by technology. Innovation occurs so rapidly that you sometimes wonder whether machines – not people – are best suited to adapt. But there’s hope for us humans if we play to our strengths – intellect, empathy, enthusiasm, intuition, tolerance, and on.
That’s one of the unifying themes among the five English finalists for the 16th getAbstract International Book Award. Two nominated titles from the English and German language categories will receive the award in an official ceremony on October 19 at the Frankfurt Book Fair.
When the getAbstract International Book Award launched in 2001, it was the first international prize of its kind to honor outstanding works in the field of business literature. This year, getAbstract assessed more than 10,000 English and German business books in the fields of leadership and management, strategy, sales and marketing, human resources, economics and politics, finance, and career development.
The five English nominees:
Humans Are Underrated, Geoff Colvin, Portfolio, PRH/Nicholas Brealey Publishing
Yes, computers already have taken over many job duties. And it’s impossible to halt the evolution of technology. Yet our ability to interact and relate is what separates us from machines. Colvin believes that human beings will never become obsolete as long as we practice empathy and mutual understanding.
Invisible Influence, Jonah Berger, Simon & Schuster
Though the American culture, in particular, values uniqueness, we are still products of social conditioning. It’s unavoidable – other people influence our choices, behaviors, likes and dislikes. Berger suggests that while we strive for individuality, we also unconsciously seek acceptance.
Simple Sabotage, Robert M. Galford, Bob Frisch, Cary Greene, HarperOne/HarperCollins Publishers
Even employees with noble intentions can create chaos in the workplace. In referencing a 1944 U.S. intelligence service field manual, the authors demonstrate how to disrupt an organization from within. Simple things like excessive e-mailing and long presentations can create confusion and hinder productivity.
Splinternet, Scott Malcomson, OR Books
Many people believe the atomic bomb was the seminal innovation of World War II. In fact, it was the computer. Malcomson explains how the U.S. military industrial complex actually spawned the Internet and also how the roots of venture capitalism can be traced to WWII.
Vaporized, Robert Tercek, Life Tree Media
Amazon has no stores and Uber has no cars, but they dominate their markets. Any company has the potential to go digital in the age of “vaporization.” Tercek believes that understanding this technological phenomenon can help businesspeople make the transition and remain relevant.
It’s always fascinating to see what summaries getAbstract subscribers find most interesting. In examining the list of the top 10 downloads for the first half of 2016, it’s clear that our readers are focused on self-improvement and increasing workplace efficiency, both individually and collectively.
Considering that a large part of the week is spent in the office, it’s not surprising that we want that experience to be enjoyable, fulfilling and promising. You’re sure to find inspiration in these fine reads.