All Articles Tagged "book review"

Leadership & Customers Service: Howard Behar’s Book Proves Starbucks Isn’t Only About Coffee

June 25th, 2014 - By Michelle Alerte
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nui7711 / Shutterstock.com

nui7711 / Shutterstock.com

Seeing Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO, on a recent episode of Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday got me to thinking about Starbucks and the leadership principles that have catapulted their brand into a world-renowned icon. Whether or not you are a fan of this gourmet coffee company, there’s no denying that Starbucks has tapped into something that works. In Howard Behar’s classic book, It’s Not About The Coffee: Leadership Principles From A Life At Starbucks we gain valuable insight from the former president of Starbucks International about what it took to grow Starbucks from 28 stores to 400 in just a few years. The simple ideas outlined in It’s Not About The Coffee assures current and future leaders that there is still value in what our modern world may consider the “basic approach.”

Early on in Behar’s book he explains how understanding that “we’re all human” was an important foundation from which he built his leadership philosophy. For Behar, Starbucks was in the “human service business, not the customer service business.” Holding this in mind, Behar feels he was always able to remember that without people the company was nothing. By thinking of his customers as people he was able to foster a connection that had them coming back over and over to enjoy not only the product but the experience. Amazingly all 10 of Behar’s leadership principles stem from this straight-forward concept of being human and following our truth.

Wrapped in the “Know Why You’re Here” principle, for example, is the belief that success comes from doing things for the right reasons (i.e. bringing your passion and purpose to the work you do) rather than as just filler for your resume. According to Behar, when we know why we are working somewhere we experience success in our day-to-day roles, success in our creative ideas, in handling problems, and in times of challenge. This principle reminds readers that people want to work for big ideas that matter to them and make a difference. You and your employees are not interested in doing work for the sake of work but rather to reach a bigger goal or dream. In the chapter on building trust, “Care, Like You Really Mean It,” Behar sets the tone with the familiar saying: “People don’t care how much you know. They want to know how much you care.” In this chapter readers learn that it is impossible to successfully lead in business unless you genuinely care about people. It is not enough to say you care but to follow it with action: inviting feedback when you know your performance wasn’t what it should be, saying “thank you” to others and acknowledging contributions wherever they come from, taking responsibility for giving and receiving honest appreciation and coaching.

As with most books I end up enjoying, It’s Not About The Coffee, closes every principle with five or more bullet points, these in the form of questions to help spark your own thoughts on where you stand in regards to the particular lesson. One bullet: “Is your work and life filled with recipes or rules? Which rules do you need? Which can you throw away?” is meant to help you evaluate your level of independent thinking.

Whether you are looking to demonstrate your leadership capabilities to a boss to snag an upcoming position, are an entrepreneur working to build a business based on more than just a product, or are a manager working in Corporate America, It’s Not About The Coffee is brimming with excellent tips for fostering connection with the people working with or under you.

Howard Behar joined Starbucks as a senior executive in 1989. His positions have included executive vice president of sales and operations, president of Starbucks International, and president of Starbucks North America. He has also served on the company’s board of directors since 1996.

25 Influential Women Talk About The Professional Mistakes They’ve Made In New Book

May 29th, 2014 - By Michelle Alerte
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mistakes i madePicture Oprah’s Master Class, but taught by women from a vast array of career backgrounds. This will give you an idea of what to expect in Jessica Bacal’s, Mistakes I Made at Work. Being a woman in business is hard enough, hence books like Lean In, and Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being. When you add the biases and other hurdles that come with being a woman, the professional world can be especially difficult to navigate. With bosses, managers, and even subordinates watching to see whether or not the woman they work with “deserves to be there” or can “handle the pressure,” the simple and honest mistakes we make can become amplified.

Through Mistakes I Made at Work, readers learn from 25 high-achieving and influential women, interviewed by Bacal, across a variety of fields. Not only do they share their worst on-the-job moments, but also how they used those missteps as a learning experience toward building even greater success.

Broken into five parts, Mistakes I Made at Work is broken down into specific areas of wisdom. From “Learning to Take Charge of Your Own Narrative” to “Learning to Say No” you’ll be find insight from the likes of Laurel Touby, founder of Mediabistro.com; Ileana Jiménez, a feminism and activism Teacher; and Dr. Shirley Malcom, director of the Education and Human Resources Programs of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Within each part chapters are broken into individual women sharing the lessons they’ve learned on their path to success. Powerful quotes are set apart as soundbites for people to take with them into their day and each chapter ends with tips from the influential woman of the moment.

For example, Danielle Ofri, an essayist and physician in New York City speaks to the idea that if you make a mistake it’s important to distinguish the action from the person. How understanding that you aren’t the mistake allows you to own up to it and simply learn how to do things better. Learning to be compassionate to yourself about mistakes you make will allow you to be compassionate with others and help them acknowledge it without shaming them.

And Kim Gordon, lead singer of the iconic punk band Sonic Youth reminds us that careers are long and evolve. You don’t have to think “I will do this one thing always.” Instead understand that almost no one ends up following a straight line, but rather a curved path.

For women battling the dreaded malady of “perfectionism” or those starting a new career or transitioning into one, Mistakes I Made at Work is a collection of the words of wisdom that the best mentors would impart. Written with a down-to-earth, relatable and intimate tone, this book is a spectacular way to learn from the masters.

Jessica Bacal is the director of the Wurtele Center for work and Life at Smith College. She holds an MS.Ed. from Bank Street College of Education and an MFA in creative writing from Hunter College.

Dr. Brené Brown Advises That We Let Go Of Who We Think We’re Supposed To Be In Her Book “The Gifts Of Imperfection”

April 30th, 2014 - By Michelle Alerte
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gifts of imperfectionAre you living a wholehearted life? Are you embracing your imperfections at work? I know what you’re thinking: “Imperfections? Wholehearted living? And Corporate America… Uh, check please.”

Dr. Brené Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection, offer lessons on just how important embracing our imperfections is to not only cultivating a happier life, but also for creating a strong and successful business. The popularity of her C-Suite (an audience comprised mainly of CEOs, CFOs, COOs, etc.) and TED talks indicate that Brown isn’t the only one aware of this. Early on in The Gifts of Imperfection we learn that Brown is often guided to speak to businessmen and women about things as basic as how to use accountability rather than shame to change behavior. One particular example highlights how a manager, frustrated from explaining the criteria for a project to a particularly troublesome employee, ended up berating the employee in front of others. The manager unconsciously used this tactic, hoping publicly shaming the employee would whip her or him into shape. Sound familiar? We’ve all encountered managers and bosses like this.

Readers are taught how to “let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are.” While some may fear that terms like wholehearted living, shame and compassion can never be clearly or easily discussed, Brown uses structured, well-worded definitions that keep readers on the same page when dealing with each concept. In a greater effort to keep the book from flying off into the clouds, Brown ends each chapter with three actions steps readers can use today to begin “Digging Deep.”

The book starts by explaining how wholehearted living (the decision to cultivate courage, compassion, and connection in an effort to live from a place of worthiness) is not a one-time choice, but rather an ongoing process. In each chapter, entrepreneurs or employees can pull a strong list of building blocks that can help in growing their business or career. For example, in “Cultivating Authenticity” entrepreneurs learn how breaking away from what people think they should do and beginning to trust in what they themselves feel, is an important step toward thinking creatively and embracing that whacky, never-been-done-before business idea that just might become a huge success. Or in “Cultivating a Resilient Spirit” employees can identify key action steps to keep them from falling prey to feelings of powerlessness in their career.

But whether your focus is cultivating the courage to step off the beaten path and take a chance on a business, reaching for a career-defining promotion, or something else entirely, readers will come away from The Gifts of Imperfection with enough juice to energize them to live as fully as possible. The book, broken into 10 guideposts, builds off the previous chapters in an effort to reinforce everything you learn along the way. Maybe the workaholics will think only guidepost seven is for them: “Cultivating Play and Rest,” or the entrepreneurs may feel they only need guidepost six: “Cultivating Creativity.” However, there is no less value in guidepost eight’s lessons on “Cultivating Calm and Stillness,” or learning to let go of “being cool” and always having to be in control. What would it mean for your life if you could learn to live authentically (choosing to show up and be honest, choosing to let our true selves be seen) and with connection from morning to night? Brown’s point is that not only is it possible, it is necessary for true success in every facet of our lives.

Dr. Brené Brown is a researcher, writer, and professor. She is a member of the research faculty at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work, where she spent the last 10 years studying wholeheartedness, shame, and more. Brown’s work has been featured on a number of outlets including PBS and OWN; her articles have appeared in magazines like Self and Elle, and many national newspapers. Brown is also the author of I Thought It Was Just Me and Daring Greatly.

Liz Weston’s ‘The 10 Commandments Of Money’ Teaches The Rules Of The New Economy

March 26th, 2014 - By Michelle Alerte
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10-commandxLooking for a way to get your head above financial waters? In The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive & Thrive In The New Economy by Liz Wetson, readers get 10 comprehensive chapters detailing 10 clear and simple strategies for surviving and thriving in the current economic climate. Each commandment starts with three rules: The Old-School Rules, The Bubble Economy Rules and The New Rules. Each rule demonstrates how the financial world continues to evolve.

The first commandment — “Create a Budget That Works in the Real World” — sets the stage for the type of advice you can expect throughout. Weston breaks up the financial advice with the definitions of Insider Terms like 401(k), Enrolled agent, and Personal Savings Rate. And she ends each chapter with action steps to guide readers. Sections are blocked off to answer frequently asked questions or give valuable tidbits of information.

Although for most of us, myself included, wrapping our heads around financial terms and action steps can seem daunting, Weston makes The 10 Commandments of Money comprehensible, filling it with practical advice that anyone can use to get started with making important changes today. “Aim for a spending plan where your ‘must-have’ expenses don’t exceed 50 percent of your after tax-income. Wants are corralled to 30 percent and you’re saving or repaying debt with the remaining 20 percent,” she writes.

With commandments like, “Pay Off Debt the Smart Way,” “Treat Your Marriage like a Business,” and “Defend Yourself in the War on Consumers” everyone will find answers to the questions they’ve always had. Many readers may find the Insider Terms to be most valuable since understanding difficult financial terms makes approaching finances a whole lot less intimidating.

Besides the practical issues, Weston turns her attention to special cases in order to help people who aren’t living within life’s usual circumstances. “How to Budget if Your Income Isn’t Regular” will be particularly helpful for the millions of self-employed people working in today’s business landscape. And Weston offers advice on creating multiple income streams, which includes work from administrative assistant to pet service provider. Each job outlines creative tips on where and how to get in the door. Even on the topic of remodeling your home, Weston takes the time to explain how to discover which remodels make sense and how to pay for them.

The 10 Commandments of Money may not answer all financial questions or solve all financial mishaps, but readers will definitely get a major head-start in a multitude of directions. Weston’s advice in the book touches on as much as any single book can and offers a “Resources” section of additional books to further provide readers with invaluable sources.

According to Nielsen NetRatings, Weston is the number-one most-read personal finance columnist on the internet. She writes for MSN Money, AARP The Magazine, and has a syndicated newspaper column called “Money Talk.” Weston is also a regular contributor for Marketplace Money, Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered on public radio. She has also written a bestselling book titled, Your Credit Score.

MN Biz Must-Read: “Networking is Dead”! Long Live Networking!

December 6th, 2012 - By Andrea Williams
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By now you know the adage is true: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” And regardless of your industry or title, having the right network of people around you can mean the difference between a failed entrepreneurial venture and startup success, or a languishing career trajectory and an office in the C-suite.

But the burning question remains, how do you navigate chamber of commerce meet-and-greets and LinkedIn groups to successfully build an overflowing Rolodex? And how do you ensure that those contacts are actually the right ones – people that can and will propel you forward in business and life?

These questions and more are answered in Networking is Dead: Making Connections That Matter (November 2012, BenBella Books), by Melissa G. Wilson and Larry Mohl.

Networking is Dead is written in fable form and tells the story of two colleagues (Meredith and Lance) who enlist the services of a “networking sensei” (Dan) to help whip their circles of contacts into proper shape.

As Meredith and Lance meet weekly with Dan, learning how to effectively build a bigger, better, stronger network, the reader is like a fly on the wall, privy to all of Dan’s insider tips for thoughtful and masterful connecting. Every question asked by Meredith or Lance is one that readers have probably wondered themselves, and each of Dan’s answers can be immediately plugged into the reader’s own playbook for future use.

Meanwhile, readers will likely identify more closely with one of the characters: Meredith is an outgoing social media pro who has tons of connections but feels that few are actually meaningful, while Lance is a shy accounting executive who just wants more connections, period.

The close of each chapter features a copy of Meredith and Lance’s weekly homework assignment, provided so the reader can follow the same path as the students. Tasks from week/chapter five, “Give First,” include: give wisely – not to receive, but to offer value – and get started by asking one of your partners what one thing he or she would like your help with.

In fact, much of the book focuses on the notion of a higher purpose for all of the constant “liking” and “following,” the idea being that in the process of climbing your own proverbial career ladder, you can – and should – pull up a couple folks with you. Read: Selfish pursuits must be checked at the door.

So does that mean you have to relegate yourself to a life of charitable lack, forgoing your own visions of success and prosperity? Hardly, say Wilson and Mohl. By focusing on authentically serving others, you will attract more opportunity than you could ever imagine.

Likewise, the authors suggest that readers examine their own connections, categorizing contacts into one of three groups: Exchanger, Giver, and Taker. The titles are self-explanatory, and though readers may feel inclined to fill their networks with as many givers as possible for their own personal gain, Wilson and Mohl urge professionals to seek out Exchangers, or those people who will be a constant resource for giving and receiving information and opportunities.

The authors also recommend that readers not rush the process: “Only by focusing on a few, high-quality connections – 10 or fewer at first – can you truly accelerate your goal achievement. It’s paradoxical, but starting small to grow a big network is the way to go.”

That said, if your sole purpose is to amass as many Facebook friends as possible, or your last Google search was “How to Get 5,000 Twitter Followers in 30 Days,” Networking Is Dead is probably not the book for you.

If, however, you want to grow your network organically and strategically, focusing on “connections that matter,” this is most certainly a must-read.

Andrea Williams is a journalist and writer based in Nashville, TN. For more, follow her @AndreaWillWrite.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ What’s All The Hype About?

May 23rd, 2012 - By madamenoire
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Source: YourTango.com

From YourTango.com 

This becomes a vicious cycle, completely emotionally exhausting. Over time, it looks like love addiction. Unable to bond in a healthy way, this couple bonds in an addictive way; I can’t live with you and I can’t live without you.

The draw to this kind of guy is powerful for women who are trying to heal their own childhood wounds. Deep down, she wants to bring him out of the darkness of his wounded soul, draw him into the light and heal him. By so doing, she proves something to herself — that she is special and worthy of the attention, love and desires of this compelling man. There’s just one tiny problem: it doesn’t work.

Contrary to fantasy fiction, you cannot heal the wounded guy with love. He needs several swift emotional kicks in the butt. He needs loads of “tough love,” not the “sweet, I-adore-you” kind of love you want to give him. His healing cannot come from you being his Mommy, the one he didn’t have before.

He needs to hit rock bottom and experience a dramatic loss before he can begin to heal. The pain of doing what he’s always done has to be greater than the pain of change. Because his wounds have compelled him to do so much damage, he needs to experience remorse. There are other steps, but they are best taken in a therapeutic setting, not in the course of a relationship. Big clue: most of them never do heal because they don’t allow themselves to be vulnerable enough to be hurt enough to have to change.

Read the rest of the article at YourTango.com. 

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Blair Underwood Is Fine, But Can He Write?

July 15th, 2010 - By Demetria Irwin
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Blair Underwood is a lot of things: actor, producer, director, giver of all types of fineness, but he also has a title you might not be so familiar with.  From Cape Town With Love is Underwood’s third go-round as co-author in a mystery series that chronicles the life of Tennyson Hardwick, a gorgeous actor turned private detective whose life is full of sex, guns and danger. Husband and wife team Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes, both award-winning authors, have co-penned all of the Tennyson Hardwick books.

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Writer Tells African-American Hair Tales In “Curly Like Me”

June 21st, 2010 - By madamenoire
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"Curly Like Me"

By Demetria Irwin

Stretch, pull, burn, slather in grease. These are just a few of the ways some of us naturally curly Madames have tortured our hair and scalp over the years. Teri LaFlesh, author of Curly Like Me: How to Grow Your Hair Healthy, Long and Strong, understands that struggle and she’s here to help.

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