Tag Archives: The Post American World

You Can Purchase Our Book Synopsis Presentations – Subscription Plan Now Available

Let me take a moment for a “commercial.”  This blog is a place to learn information, a place to be challenged, a place to think about ideas for effective business ideas and strategies.  But occasionally, I would like to share a little about what we do.

Karl Krayer and I have spoken monthly at the First Friday Book Synopsis for over 12 years.  We are book readers, thinkers, consultants.  We also offer training in a number of areas:  writing skills, presentation skills, leadership, time and energy management, among others.  (Read our bios here).

In addition, we provide book synopsis/book briefing presentations to companies and organizations.  You can choose from any of the books we have presented, or we can custom prepare any book for your organization.

To contact us for any of these programs, visit our web site here, or send me an e-mail:  .  Contact us, and Karl Krayer or I will get back to you.

We have recently upgraded our companion website, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.  We have been “behind,” but we are catching up with the synopses of many of the books we have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis.  For example, we have just uploaded our presentations of these books:

Reality Check
The New Experts
The Post American World

Others are on the way soon.  And from this point forward, we should have the two books from the most recent First Friday Book Synopsis within a couple of weeks after each event.

Note:  it is important to read the faq’s before you make your first purchase.  These address many of your questions (read the faq’s here).  Each presentation comes with the handout plus the audio of our presentation.  The handout is intended to be used with the audio.  The vast majority of the recordings are from our presentations at the First Friday Book Synopsis, but not all.

Some people purchase these, and listen on their own (in their car; in their iPod/MP3 while they exercise).  Others listen, following along with the handout.  (This is probably the way to get the most out of each presentations).

And we have some who play the audio for a group, then lead a discussion of the implications and applications.  Great idea!

You can purchase at two price points:  $9.99 per synopsis, or a yearly subscription, with full access to all of the archives plus the 24 new presentations a year.  A bargain!

Browse titles with the catalog, and make individual synopsis purchases, here.

Sign up for the annual subscription, get instant and full access to all the presentations already up on the web site, and access all new presentations for the next 12 months, here.

I hope you will give our services a try.  Either bring us into your company or organization, or purchase our book synopsis presentations through our web site.  These will provide valuable content and useful help as you build your future.


Note:  Karl Krayer and I work together in Creative Communication Network.  In addition, we have blogging team members who work independently..

Our blogging team partner, Bob Morris, is available as a consultant.  He is an invaluable resource for an array of business issues and problems.  He is also a master interviewer (just browse through his interviews!), and can provide custom interviews to fit the needs of your company or organization.  You can contact Bob directly at .

And our other blogging team partners, Cheryl Jensen and Sara Smith of C&S Knowledge Company provide valuable services.  Visit their web site here, where you can also find their contact information.

Is America Losing Its Mojo? – Fareed Zakaria on the threat to our “Innovation Advantage”

Fareed Zakaria

Fareed Zakaria

I’ve written many times on this blog, including earlier this morning, on the need to constantly innovate.  And I’ve written a few posts on the excellent book by Fareed Zakaria, The Post American World.

Well, you might want to check out this new article in Newsweek by Zakaria.  He raises the disturbing question, Is America Losing Its Mojo?:  Innovation is as American as baseball and apple pie. But some traditions can’t be trademarked.

Here’s a key quote:
Could it be that American achievements reflect the past more than predicting the future? It’s important to remember that many of the metrics that place the United States so far ahead are actually lagging indicators. Nobel Prizes tend to be given to scientists in their 70s, toward the end of their productive lives. What’s happening among scientists in their 30s? Who’s making the discoveries today that will receive Nobel Prizes four decades from now?

He ends the article with these words:
We kicked all the real problems we face down the road, hoping that someone else would solve them. This too has become part of American culture, a culture that desperately needs to change if we are to preserve American innovation and rekindle the real American Dream.

Innovation and the American Dream go together.  Let’s hope we can change enough to reclaim our advantage in innovation.

The President’s Summer Reading List – Hot, Flat, and Crowded makes the cut

Slate.com has an article by John Dickerson on the president’s summer reading list.    It includes a great trip back through time, reminding us that John Kennedy liked Ian Fleming, (here’s a witty line from the article.  President Obama is unlikely to choose Fleming, because “in the heat of this year’s health care debate, the president doesn’t dare read anything by anyone who once wrote a book called Dr. No.”), President George W. Bush read The Stranger by Camus, and President  Bill Clinton read everything!  (On one visit to a Martha’s Vineyard book store, President Clinton “walked the aisles pointing to books, saying, “Read that, read that, read that,” according to Susan Mercier, the manager”).

Here’s the reading list for President Obama (from the article):

• The Way Home by George Pelecanos, a crime thriller based in Washington, D.C.;
• Lush Life by Richard Price, a story of race and class set in New York’s Lower East Side;
• Tom Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded, on the benefits to America of an environmental revolution;
• John Adams by David McCullough;
• Plainsong by Kent Haruf, a drama about the life of eight different characters living in a Colorado prairie community.

Notice that the list includes Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded, though, Dickerson writes, “I bet Obama doesn’t finish the Friedman. There’s no book on his list more like his evening briefing books.”

This is the second book that I have presented at the First Friday book Synopsis that has been on a reading list of Mr. Obama.  Last summer, in the midst of the campaign, he was reading Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World.  (Here’s a photo of then candidate Obama with a copy The Post-American World).

Both books are worth reading.  Here’s a key quote from each:

From Hot, Flat, and Crowded:

Green is the new red, white, and blue because it is a strategy that can help to ease global warming, biodiversity loss, energy poverty, petrodictatorship, and energy supply shortages – and make America stronger at the same time.  We solve our own problems by helping the world solve its problems.  We help the world solve its problems by solving our own problems.
If climate change is a hoax, it is the most wonderful hoax ever perpetrated on the United States of America.  Because transforming our economy to clean power and energy efficiency to mitigate global warming and the other challenges of the Energy-Climate Era is the equivalent of training for the Olympic triathlon:  If you make it to the Olympics, you have a better chance of winning because you’ve developed every muscle.  If you don’t make it to the Olympics, you’re still healthier, stronger, fitter, and more likely to live longer and win every other race in life.  And as with the triathlon, you don’t just improve one muscle or skill, but many, which become mutually reinforcing and improve the health of your whole system.  (p. 173).

From The Post-American World:

This is a book not about the decline of America but rather about the rise of everyone else.  It is about the great transformation taking place around the world, a transformation that, although often discussed, remains poorly understood…  Though we talk about a new era, the world seems to be one with which we are familiar.  But in fact, it is very different.  (p. 1).
Look around.  The tallest building in the world in now in Taipei, and it will soon be overtaken by one being built in Dubai.  The world’s richest man is Mexican, and its largest publicly traded corporation is Chinese.  The world’s biggest plane is built in Russia and Ukraine, its leading refinery is under construction in India, and its largest factories are all in China.  London is becoming the leading financial center, and the United Arab Emirates is home to the most richly endowed investment fund.  Once quintessentially American icons have been appropriated by foreigners.  The world’s largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore.  Its number one casino is not in Las Vegas but in Macao, which has also overtaken Vegas in annual gambling revenues.  The biggest movie industry, in terms of both movies made and tickets sold, is Bollywood, not Hollywood.  Even shopping, America’s greatest sporting activity, has gone global.  Of the top ten malls in the world, only one is in the United States:  the world’s biggest is in Beijing.  Such lists are arbitrary, but it is striking that only ten years ago, American was at the top in many, if not most, of these categories. (pp. 2-3).

What’s on your reading list?

On America’s Greatness — for the 4th of July, from Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World

Business books celebrate our freedom, and business leaders are full participants in the American experiment.   But one author in particular brings a unique perspective.  Fareed Zakaria arrived in this country at age 18.  He has written about freedom in his book The Future of Freedom:  Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad.  But it is his closing passage from his best-selling book The Post-American World that is worthy of our attention on this 4th of July weekend.  It speaks of difficulty, yet of hope and promise.  Here it is in its entirety:

In the fall of 1982, I arrived here as an eighteen-year-old student from India, eight thousand miles away.  America was in rough shape.  That December, unemployment hit 10.8 percent, higher than at any point since World War II.  Interest rates hovered around 15 percent.  Vietnam, Watergate, the energy crisis, and the Iranian hostage crisis had all battered American confidence.  Images of helicopters on the roof of the American Embassy in Saigon, of Nixon resigning, of long lines at gas stations, and of the hostages blindfolded were all fresh in people’s minds.  The Soviet Union was on a roll, expanding its influence far beyond its border, from Afghanistan to Angola to Central America.  That June, Israel invaded Lebanon, making a volatile situation in the Middle East even more tense.

Yet America was a strikingly open and expansive country.  Reagan embodied it.  Despite record-low approval ratings at the time, he exuded optimism from the center of the storm.  In the face of Moscow’s rising power, he confidently spoke of a mortal crisis in the Soviet system and predicted that it would end up on “the ash heap of history.”  Across the political aisle stood Thomas (Tip) O’Neill, the hearty Irish-American Speaker of the House, who personified the generosity and tolerance of old-school liberalism.  Everywhere I went, the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.   It was a feeling I had never felt before, a country wide open to the world, to the future, and to anyone who loved it.  To a young visitor, it seemed to offer unlimited generosity and promise.

For America to thrive in this new and challenging era, for it to succeed amid the rise of the rest, it need fulfill only one test.  It should be a place that is as inviting and exciting to the young student who enters the country today as it was for this awkward eighteen-year-old a generation ago.

Happy 4th of July!

{I have read, but have not presented a synopsis of, The Future of Freedom.  To purchase my synopsis of The Post-American World, with handout + audio, go to our 15 Minute Business Book site}.

Fareed Zakaria’s Post American World on the Business Week Summer Reading List

Business Week just published one of those wonderful “Books to Read this Summer” pieces, entitled:  Beach Blanket Ambitions — or Come Back from the Beach a Bit Savvier.  (I take the paper version of Busienss Week, and read the article in the magazine.  You can read the article on-line here).

Here is a paragraph about one of my favorite books from the last 12 months:  “Fareed Zakaria’s best seller from ’08, The Post-American World (Norton, $15.95), remains chillingly relevant. Timed, perhaps, to broaden the conversation prior to the last Presidential election, the book lays out how badly the U.S. has been playing a geopolitical hand he calls “the best of any country in history.” In painting a portrait of the growing prowess and stature of China and India, as well as the rapid progress of many African nations, Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, also makes it clear the U.S. is not yet a lost cause. Its strengths include a maligned but still unparalleled education system and the cross-border bonds built by American multinationals.”

I presented my synopsis of this book at the July, 2008 First Friday Book Synospis, and here it is a year later, still recommended as an important book to read.  I fully agree.  I remember that as I was reading it, then Candidate Obama was caught in a photo with a copy in his hand.  (“So now we know what Barack Obama is reading these days: Fareed Zakaria’s “The Post-American World.” This is, in its way, the most stylish book ad I’ve seen in a while. Looks like Obama is on Page, I dunno, 116..”  — You can see the photo with Obama carrying the book in the New York Times “Paper Cuts:  A Blog about Books” here).

And here are a couple of key quotes from the book:  “This is a book not about the decline of America but rather about the rise of everyone else.  It is about the great transformation taking place around the world, a transformation that, although often discussed, remains poorly understood…  Though we talk about a new era, the world seems to be one with which we are familiar.  But in fact, it is very different.”  (p. 1).  And — “The world is moving from anger to indifference, from anti-Americanism to post-Americanism.”  (p. 36).

I think this is one of the more important books I have read in the last few years.  A few years ago, I presented a review of The Future of Freedom:  Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria for a Saturday at the Melrose program for the World Affairs Council in Dallas.  That too was an important book to read, and it provided critical background to help me understand such issues as the current post-election crisis in Iran.  I think Fareed Zakaria’s writings are worth our time.


The rest of the books on the Business Week recommended list do not quite fit the needs we have for book selections for the First Friday Book Synopsis.  (That’s a subtle way of saying I have not read these other books).  But here is the list, compiled and recommended by Barry Maggs, and I wish I had time to read each of these books.  They sound truly interesting.  Mr. Maggs edits the Jack and Suzy Welch column, The WelchWay, and he also handles book reviews for the Business Views section of the magazine.  I suspect that one of more of these titles might interest readers of this blog.  Here is his list with a few brief comments by Mr. Maggs.  (Read the article here).

Felix Dennis. Surprisingly, How to Get Rich: One of the World’s Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets (Portfolio, $16), by the man who made a mint with lad magazine Maxim,

Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World (Norton, $15.95),

Next on the menu, alphabet soup. In Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing (Simon & Schuster, $16), investigative reporter Tim Shorrock turns his sights on the 16 agencies—from the CIA to the NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency)—that report to the ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence).

The fraught and at times fraudulent world of fine wine is the setting for The Billionaire’s Vinegar: The Mystery of the World’s Most Expensive Bottle of Wine (Three Rivers Press, $14.95). Author Benjamin Wallace delivers a delicious account of how wine con man (and rock band manager) Hardy Rodenstock relieved Malcolm Forbes of $156,000 in exchange for a bottle of Château Lafite.

Richard H. Thaler, the grand old man of behavioral economics, and Cass R. Sunstein, President Barack Obama’s regulations czar, teamed up to write Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness (Penguin, $16). The idea that humans make choices irrationally shouldn’t come as a surprise…

Winner Takes All: Steve Wynn, Kirk Kerkorian, Gary Loveman, and the Race to Own Las Vegas (Hyperion, $15.99) examines the risk-taking and the outrageous egos of three inventive and diverse players in the gambling world – by author Christina Binkley.

In the acclaimed A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World (Grove Press $16.95), William J. Bernstein roams freely through history to nail down long-distance trade’s 7,000-year evolution, as well as its costs and many benefits.

Have you picked out your summer volumes yet?

(To purchase my synopsis of The Post American Worldall by Malcolm Gladwell, with handout + audio, go to our 15 Minute Business Book site).