Newest Business and Finance Reviews

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Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

5star.jpg Business and Finance

Smarter Faster Better is ideal book for someone who loves both stories and career-related self-improvement. Readers looking for quick answers, bullet points or sound bites may be disappointed as Duhigg's approach is to focus on case studies, told with the flair of a short story, and then extrapolate from these rather than listing tips and exercises. However, if you have the time and patience to get to the point of each chapter slowly (and surely this is a subject matter worth devoting time to), you will doubtless find that Duhigg is an excellent storyteller and cleverly articulates the key message from each story so that they stick. Full review...

The Great Brexit Swindle: Why the Mega-Rich and Free Market Fanatics Conspired to Force Britain from the European Union by T J Coles

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Have you been mis-sold Brexit by posh men in sharp suits promising you free healthcare? If so, you might be entitled to compensation...

There wasn't much could make me laugh on the morning after the EU referendum but this spoof advert on Twitter managed it. Only, it seems that it wasn't completely a joke - well apart from the bit about compensation. In The Great Brexit Scandal T J Coles looks at the substantial core of free marketeers in the Conservative party who were determined to rid the UK of the Brussels red tape which was putting a brake on their activities. You might also know these views as neoliberalism, an ideology which looks to deregulate markets and maximise profits. On the surface that doesn't sound bad, until you realise that the benefit will go to the people who are already in the group which Coles refers to as the mega-rich and the losers will be working people. Full review...

The Great Convergence by Richard Baldwin

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The globalisation of the world economy is a central factor in life and politics today. 'The Great Convergence' attempts to explain the current driving forces behind the phenomena and the likely consequences. It is well argued, and supported by a wealth of data and research, but it is not one for a general reader. A background in economic principles and an understanding of some key concepts would be a key requisite in getting the most out of this book. Without this background, the reader will be constantly switching from the text and cross-referencing the meaning of some of the vocabulary used. With that note of caution, and the required understanding, Richard Baldwin's analysis is compelling. Full review...

Thinking Allowed by Julian Wiles

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Thinking Allowed? Hmm, I thought, what has that got to do with building a thriving optical lens business? But within a few pages of starting to read, I was convinced that it was perfect. You see, this isn't a book which you read, rather like a Delia Smith book, to give you a precise recipe for how you must proceed to achieve a perfect result. No two businesses are alike, any more than any two owners are alike and Julian Wiles allows you to approach your business from all angles: there are even ways you can get his personal advice. This is no ordinary 'how to' book. Full review...

Forestry Flavours of the Month: The Changing Face of World Forestry by Alastair Fraser

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Alastair Fraser's experience of forestry spans more than five decades and having the benefit of the long view he's ideally placed to consider the changes which have occurred over the course of his career. He also has the ability, not as common as it ought to be amongst professionals, of being able to look at what he does both from the point of view of the business and the people who work in it and are affected by it. There's a lack of tunnel vision too: he sees what's happening in forestry both in the narrow focus and where it sits globally so far as economics and politics are concerned. Full review...

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

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Negotiation is nothing more than communication with results, according to Chris Voss. Never Split the Difference is all about maximising the chances of these results being in your favour. Drawing upon years of experience as a crisis and kidnapping negotiator, Voss has developed a set of highly honed tools, field-tested in numerous high-stakes negotiation situations involving the FBI. In contrast to the widely accepted paradigm for negotiation taught in schools and universities, this toolkit throws aside complex game theory and dense mathematical considerations in favour of an approach that places emotional intelligence, empathy and subtle communication techniques at its core. The focus is on developing an understanding of the thought process of individuals during any given discussion. Effective communication not only helps derive these insights, but allows them to be used to move a negotiation in the direction you want it to go, while simultaneously resolving a discussion with minimal conflict. Full review...

Dragons: Ten Entrepreneurs Who Built Britain by Liam Byrne

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Liam Byrne MP, a minister in the last Labour government, has come up with a novel way of telling British history through the ages in this book. His approach is not one of Kings and Queens, wars or scientific discoveries, but through the business world and several of the key – and often unsung – entrepreneurs and commercial venturers from medieval times to the twentieth century. As he says in his preface, the people through whose lives he has chosen to narrate the saga reveal the best and worst of human endeavours, as he serves us up several explorers, inventors and moral leaders alongside a motley crew of fraudsters, warmongers and unembarrassed imperialists. All of them took risks, some made fortunes and some lost them, but for better or worse they all contributed towards the tale of British enterprise and the making of the modern world. Full review...

How Music Got Free: The Inventor, the Music Man, and the Thief by Stephen Witt

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In the digital age, new technology made recorded music a free-for-all. It was good news for the consumer, but dealt a major blow to the beleaguered music industry. Where people once amassed physical collections, they now had the choice of file-sharing instead. This book describes how everything changed from the mid-1990s onwards. It is however written more with the computer enthusiast or business student than the music lover in mind. Full review...

One Second Ahead: Enhance Your Performance at Work with Mindfulness by Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter and Gillian Coutts

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Have you ever worked at a task and found your mind wandering to something else? Do you find yourself breaking off what you're doing to answer an email? Do you try to multitask, thinking that you're being more efficient? Do you have far too much to attend to, to complete and nowhere near enough time to do it all?

You do? Me too. You need this book. Full review...

Campaigns that Shook the World: The Evolution of Public Relations by Danny Rogers

5star.jpg Business and Finance

I dithered about how to begin this review. On one hand I thought I should probably start by saying that I have a work related interest in marketing and communications. On the other hand, Danny Rogers has written a book which appealed to me on several levels. Campaigns are about psychology and storytelling – which of course leads us into branding but also feature critical issues around concept delivery. In short, I was looking forward to reading this for many reasons – and it didn’t disappoint. Full review...

Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much by Tony Crabbe

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Serendipity often brings you to the important books. Recently I heard myself say to a friend: I'm far too busy to do some of the important stuff. It pulled me up short: there was definitely something wrong here - and then I had the opportunity to listen to an audio download of Busy and I knew that it was something I had to do and take notice of if I was to stop going backwards. Because that was what I was doing. Full review...

On Purpose: Delivering a Branded Customer Experience People Love by Shaun Smith and Andy Milligan

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This is a book about business things – branding, specifically. How to communicate your purpose to customers through an identifiable marketing strategy. How to ensure your company portrays the image you want and how to get your staff, and customers, to buy into it. Full review...

The Art of Possible by Kate Tojeiro

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As I recently wrote on this website, I started reading management manuals and self-improvement books at a time when my life was not going so great. Since then, it seems that they have continued to drop into my life just as I need them. I'm sure there's something to the science of "serendipity", which basically means we notice stuff more when it's what we need. Full review...

The Commando Entrepreneur by Damian McKinney

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It always helps to know the bias of anyone reviewing a book for you, so cards on the table: I am something of a "self-help" / "self-improvement" junkie. I use both expressions because it's often difficult to know where the boundary between management text books and teach-yourself-a-better-way-to-live books lies. Full review...

Food Bank Britain by Ray Barron Woolford

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One morning Ray Barron Woolford watched as a smartly-dressed young man foraged in waste bins for food, less than a mile from the riches of the City of London. Intrigued as to what was going on he went to ask. The man explained to him that he'd just got a job after two years of being unemployed, but it would be five weeks before he was paid. He couldn't claim benefits as he was in work and had no savings, so the bins had to be his source of food and by the following week he would have to walk to work as he couldn't afford the fares. That was the inspiration for the We Care Food Bank. Full review...

The Independent Director: The Non-Executive Director's Guide to Effective Board Presence by Gerry Brown

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In the United Kingdom independent directors are usually known as non-executive directors to distinguish them from the executive – those people charged with actually running the company on a day-to-day basis - but Gerry Brown usually refers to them as independent directors, a phrase which is common in other parts of the world. Initially, I found the phrase somewhat unusual but as I read The Independent Director I came to prefer that usage as it stresses what the director must be above all else – independent and able to stand back from the management of a business and view what is happening and what is planned with a dispassionate and critical eye. There's little in the way of training and it can be argued that no one is actually qualified to do the job, but Brown's book is as good as you're going to get in terms of spelling out the responsibilities and pitfalls. Full review...

Criminal Capital: How the Finance Industry Facilitates Crime by Stephen Platt

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It used to be estate agents we reviled the most, but they've now achieved relative respectability. MPs briefly took the top spot, but for many years now the list has been topped by bankers following the 2008 financial crisis, when huge taxpayer-funded financial bailouts were required to keep the world's financial system afloat. Most people will think that we've heard the worst of what has been going on, but Stephen Platt believes that excessive risk taking and mis-selling might well be just a minor part of what is still happening in the industry and that government attempts to counter the problems are misguided and unlikely to be effective. Full review...

Brand Psychology: Consumer Perceptions, Corporate Reputations by Jonathan Gabay

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Confession - I'm a bit of a brand geek. I do have some marketing work experience but that isn't the reason why I'm a bit of a brand geek. I think the attraction for me is that brands have, or in some cases, are, stories. I have always been fascinated by how and why people can relate to those stories, in the same way that I am fascinated by how anyone relates to any story! If you have any interest in the business of brands, this is a fascinating read and it delivers on far more fronts than just the business one. Full review...

How to Get Inside Someone's Mind and Stay There: The business owner's guide to content marketing and confident copywriting by Jacky Fitt

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As a small business owner I know it's difficult - sometimes it feels impossible - to get your message out to your potential customers in a manner which is going to reward the effort which you put into it. Besides, how do you know who your potential customers are? How do you know how they would like to be approached? In fact, how are you going to get inside their head - and stay there? Jacky Fitt has written a comprehensive guide which takes you through what's needed and allows you to develop your own action plan for your business. Full review...

Cowboys and Indies: The Epic History of the Record Industry by Gareth Murphy

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It’s not difficult to find a history of popular or recorded music, written around the musical names who made it happen. Cowboys and Indies takes a different approach. While there is plenty in these pages about several of the most important stars, there is just as much again if not sometimes more about the movers and shakers, the inventors, managers, impresarios, and record label founders without whom there would not have been a record industry. Full review...

Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content by Ann Handley

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Ann Handley has compiled a one stop resource for writers of any kind of marketing and promotional material. Assuming you have command of basic vocabulary and know how to write a simple sentence, Handley takes you through everything you could ever need to know for a huge variety of platforms, purposes and problems, in order to better represent your business on the internet. Full review...

Why You? 101 Interview Questions You'll Never Fear Again by James Reed

5star.jpg Business and Finance

No-one likes doing job interviews. This includes most recruiting managers, but for candidates it is one of life's most stressful situations. No matter whether it's the next step in our carefully planned career or just a job, no matter whether it's our first job or our fifteenth, that 45 minutes to an hour of conversation has the potential to fundamentally affect our happiness for the foreseeable future. Full review...

Encyclopedia Paranoiaca by Henry Beard and Christopher Cerf

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We're screwed. Wherever we look, whatever we think of doing, there is a reason why we shouldn't be doing it, and people to back that reason up with scientific data. Take any aspect of your daily life – what you eat, how you work, how you rest even, what you touch – all have problems that could provoke a serious illness or worse. And outside that daily sphere there are economic disasters, nuclear meltdowns, errant AI scientists and passing comets that could turn our world upside down at the blink of an eye. Perhaps then you better read this book first – for it may well turn out to be your last… Full review...

The Price of Fish A New Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions by Michael Mainelli and Ian Harris

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Don't be put off by the title. The Price of Fish isn't just a treatise on how the local fishmonger chooses to mark up his prize catch. Full review...

The small BIG: small changes that spark big influence by Steve J Martin, Noah J Goldstein and Robert B Cialdini

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It's a commonly-held belief that if you want to advance your business - bring in the extra money, get more customers and generally move up a step - then you're going to have to spend big money and bring in the experts. Martin, Goldstein and Cialdini tackle the problem from the other end: sometimes it's the smallest, least expensive and quick changes which can bring about the improvement that you need. In The small BIG they offer over fifty tips, hints, ideas which can make the difference. Sometimes they cost nothing, but bring in millions. Occasionally they require a small investment of your time, but it can be as little as five minutes. Full review...

How to Predict the Unpredictable: The Art of Outsmarting Almost Everyone by William Poundstone

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William Poundstone believes that we are all in the business of predicting, whether it be something as minor as playing rock, paper, scissors to pay a bar bill though to anticipating how the housing or stock markets are going to move. Now, I'm not particularly competitive - if whatever it is means that much to someone else then I'd rather let them have it - so this book didn't appeal to me on the basis of doing better than someone else, but I was interested in how it might be possible to predict what is going to happen. So, care to predict how it stacked up? Full review...

Pocket World in Figures 2015 by The Economist

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There are people who don't understand the joy of raw data: no accompanying analysis (or spin) - just a collection of figures relevant to a particular circumstance. If you're one of those people then this book will mean little to you, but if you want a pocket (well, certainly handbag or briefcase) work of reference then this book will be a treasure. I once gave a copy to a diplomat and he kept his wife awake until the early hours as he came across another gem which she had to know without delay. The 2015 edition is the twenty fourth in the series - and diplomatic (and similar) spouses everywhere should prepare themselves for the onslaught. Full review...