Financial Times Business Books: What to Read This Month

Paying Some Dust: Lessons for Thinking Big, Giving, and Doing It Yourself, by Bernie Marcus and Catherine Lewis

When Bernie Marcus, the scandalous son of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine and Russia, was fired at the age of 49, it could have marked the end of his retail career. Instead, his dismissal was, in the words of one of his associates, “kicking him in the ass with a golden horseshoe”.

Marcus went on to make his fortune by co-founding Home Depot, an American chain of stores as ubiquitous the size of warehouses.

This, however, is only half an unusual story. Now in his 90s, Marcus remembers that when he and his wife Billy learned they were billionaires, he asked, “We can buy anything we want—or we can change the world. What do you want to do?” “Let’s do good things,” Billy replied. They created the Marcus Foundation, a large-scale philanthropic endeavor that has since given away their fortune.

kick some dust It is a traditional retelling of Marcus’ version of the American dream, from dorm to boardroom, turned into lessons for readers wishing to make it happen in business or philanthropy. “You have to put your heart and soul into what you care about and do it yourself,” Marcus wrote. His leadership has not only helped build a home improvement empire, but has also contributed to and continues to fund medical research, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, and a variety of Jewish causes and support services for U.S. Army veterans. The book itself is an example of his most important lesson: “You have to tell a compelling story about why your work, project, or cause is important,” otherwise no one will take you seriously.

When Women Lead: What They Achieve, Why They Succeed, and How We Can Learn From Them, by Julia Borstein

As a business reporter for the past two decades, first at Fortune magazine and then at CNBC, Julia Burstein has interviewed hundreds of men in power. But it is the women who hold high positions in the male-dominated business world that inspired this book.

Women leaders appeared in When a woman drives Boorstin stood out for her ability to thrive against odds, by overcoming various pressures, obstacles and double standards. It made her want to understand more about what made these women special, why they succeeded and what could be learned from them.

Through a combination of research and interviews with nearly 120 women, Burstein examines how they have been able to “transform real grievances into an entrepreneurial force . . . being fickle, resilient, thick-skinned, and innovative” enough to make it. The focus here is on female leaders in the startup world; The writer says that the challenges facing women entrepreneurs in the field of technology are particularly high stakes, given the enormous impact technology companies have on the way we live and work.

As Burstein points out, this is particularly important because of the vast gender gap in investment: Between 2011 and 2020, only female-founded startups received, on average, only 3 percent of all venture capital funding globally.

The women featured range from the likes of Goop founder and movie star Gwyneth Paltrow to Sally Krauchek, CEO of female investment firm Ellevest, and Julie Wainwright, former CEO of internet marketplace TheRealReal. While all of their leadership approaches were diverse, Burstein identified some common traits, such as a tendency to seek structural rather than quick fixes, and a willingness to show weakness.

The book is divided into three sections: first, how and why women tend to build strong companies, then how to tackle complex problems, and finally looking at the new patterns that female leaders create to break free from old male-dominated systems.

Borstein’s view is ultimately hopeful: that having more female leaders will help make the business world a fairer place, and that the broader lessons shared here will help others succeed.

“Why Managers Matter: The Possible Risks,” by Nikolai Voss and Peter Klein

The current trend of talking about “irresponsible” companies – such as founders who claim their work is so much fun that it’s not actually a job – is plain nonsense. But “flat earth,” the kind of free corporate structure that the tech startup community advocates, is actually something to worry about, according to the authors of this book.

They give examples of companies that claim to operate without hierarchy — notably the US computer game developer Valve — and highlight the failures in the way they operate. They noted that nature abhors a vacuum, which means that what usually happens is that strong personalities take on the roles of leaders in these organizations. Everything looks like a novel Lord of the Flies.

The message – set out over 314 pages – is that hierarchy is not the problem. Instead, the focus should be on improving the way managers lead. Much of the book has been spent explaining how this could happen.

The authors have extensive experience evaluating business models. Peter Klein is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Chair of the Department of Entrepreneurship and Institutional Innovation at Baylor University. He was also a senior economist on the US Council of Economic Advisers in the Clinton administration. Nikolai Voss is Professor of Strategy at Copenhagen Business School.

They partly blame the media for misrepresenting the failures of big companies like Kodak, Xerox, Blockbuster and Toys “R” Us, as a problem with the traditional corporate hierarchy rather than the failure to notice deep-rooted changes in technology — although it is supposed to be the last. It can also be a symptom of excessive hierarchical management.

They also note that for all the excitement about technology startups, the top 10 companies worldwide by revenue – Walmart, Sinopec, Shell, China National Petroleum, State Grid, Saudi Aramco, BP, ExxonMobil, Volkswagen and Toyota They all function as traditional administrative hierarchies.

Racial Law: Tales of Resistance and Survival by Nicolas Rollock

Nicola Rollock, Professor of Social Policy and Race at King’s College London, has published the first detailed paper on the professional experiences of black professors in the UK. In this groundbreaking book, she expands on her examination of workplace structures in a new and challenging way. ethnic law It aims to de-select the hidden codes of workplaces that serve those in power and prevent profound change to enable true diversity and progress for people of color.

The book uses fictional case studies to present the subtle, hard-to-catch attacks that black professionals face even in the highest roles. “By invoking the concept of code,” Rollock writes, “I suggest the existence of a structure or scaffold within which we can identify and define the processes, behaviors, and attitudes that keep racism in place.”

This is a difficult book, and necessarily uncomfortable, because Rollock’s case studies—involving top black professionals at board meetings, private member clubs and leading cultural institutions, among other scenarios—are designed to give white readers insight into what it feels like to be one. black fellow. She shows us, for example, Nigel, who has been brought in to lead a traditional cultural organization, but is sidelined and silenced—his boss always says she’ll “take a look” at his concerns about the proposed slavery fair, but she avoids confrontation and makes decisions without listening to his opinions (he’s the one the only big black). This is the kind of nuance that often gets lost in public books about racial equality at work.

As Rollock says, “Those who are part of any dominant group design the rules and benefit from others who implement or adhere to them.” This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to examine their own assumptions and dig deeper into what it means to be, in Rollock’s words, “a white supremacist.” Whiteness is not a hypothetical or neutral stance, it comes with the assumptions we’ve learned, which are challenged here in the data-driven, research-backed way we’d expect from a professor of race. The addition of Rollock’s own experiences, and the short story format of her composite case studies, is what makes this book different and valuable to anyone wishing to challenge themselves and promote diversity and inclusion for all.

“Quit: The Power of Knowing when to Walk Away” by Annie Duke

Although we are often told that the secret to success is perseverance and sticking to our plans, sometimes quitting smoking can lead to more progress toward your goals. The trick is knowing when to persevere and when to walk away.

in LeavesAnnie Duke helps us see smoking cessation in a more positive light, so we can improve the course of our actions. It offers a better understanding of those forces working against what and when to resign and the circumstances in which we are reluctant to withdraw.

One important aspect Duke stresses is that we do not deal with certainty but with probabilities, and we do not have a crystal ball telling us which of all the possible futures will be the ones that will actually happen. So it’s important that we learn to quit – having the option to quit is what will prevent us from getting trapped in every decision we make.

The best quit criteria combine two things: country and history. Status is exactly what it sounds like, an objective and measurable state that can be hit or miss. History is when.

The four sections in the book cover examples of athletes, founders of leading companies, CEOs, and the author. It explores topics from cognitive biases, opportunity cost analyses, and tools for identifying false progress. Each chapter ends with a summary to help readers with best practices.

The main idea is to learn why quitting is celebrated and how it can become a competency we can develop and use to enrich our lives, encouraging us to value volition, better implement the things we hold dear, and continue to pursue new possibilities with more. Flexibility.

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