Tag Archives: The World is Flat

Business Book of the Year

Here is one list of top books:  the finalists for the “Business Book of the Year.” The Financial Times and Goldman Sachs oversee this particular award.  Read about it here.  This is from the Financial Times article:

Books that investigate and explain the financial crisis dominate the shortlist for the 2010 Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award.

The finalists are:

The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar
The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick
The Big Short by Michael Lewis
More Money than God by Sebastian Mallaby
Fault Lines by Raghuram Rajan
Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin

All but the first two tackle, directly or indirectly, some aspect of the crisis that hit the financial world in 2007-08 and whose impact is still being absorbed by global businesses and economies.

The Business Book of the Year will be announced on October 27 in New York.

Here are prior winners:

2009 –  Liaquat Ahamed for The Lords of Finance
2008 Mohamed El-Erian for When Markets Collide
2007 –  William D. Cohan for The Last Tycoons
2006 –  James Kynge for China Shakes the World
2005 –  Thomas Friedman for The World is Flat

Read more about each of this year’s finalists here.


Note:  I have presented synopsis of two of the book listed:  The World is Flat and The Big Short.  It looks like I have more reading to do!

Thanks to First Friday Book Synopsis participant Leslie Garner for alerting me to this.

A Girl Named Milk

Cheryl offers:  I’m currently working in Hong Kong. It’s my first trip here and I’m really enjoying the experience. One of the things I’ve noticed in my short stay so far is the naming conventions of the local population. Almost everyone I’ve met has a Western or truly American name. I’ve met young men named Rick, Alan, and Tommy. I’ve met young women named Louise, Maud, and Shirley. I must admit you don’t meet too many young people in the US with those first names any more. The last names are all traditional Chinese like Chen, Wu, or Ming. What I’ve also learned is that almost any English noun or adjective can be a first name. I met a young woman named Milk and another named Purple! These are considered normal names here. So far, I haven’t seen one Courtney, Taylor, or Alyssa. This reminds me of Thomas Freidman’s book; The World Is Flat where he discusses the forces moving us towards a more integrated world.  Maybe Gwyneth Paltrow naming her daughter Apple or Nicole Richey naming her son Sparrow weren’t so weird after all. If these children were to visit other parts of the world, like Hong Kong, they would fit right in. Because these celebrities have had the chance to frequently visit outside the US, they likely have a very different view of the world. Maybe… it’s a view we could all learn from.

The World May Not Be As Flat as We Thought — Is This the Rise of Deglobalization?

Is this the pendulum going the other way?  If so, it’s probably too early to tell what this means – but it may mean a lot.  One thing it may mean – China is producing more of its goods for the people of…China.

While trade has rebounded from its lows, the volume is nowhere near its peak. In September, the combined total of U.S. imports and exports was 24 percent below the level of July 2008. Countries stung by the sudden drop-off in demand from foreign buyers have realized that they can no longer simply export their way to prosperity. China’s exports fell 23 percent between August 2008 and August 2009. Smart investors are channeling resources to companies that produce domestic goods for domestic markets.

This is taken from a provocative article from Daniel Gross at Slate.com:  Deglobalization — The surprisingly steep decline in world trade.

And this “deglobalization” reminds us that though America may not be in decline, the rest of the world is rsing.

He ends his article this way:
In November, Ted Strickland, the governor of Ohio, one of the states hit hardest by globalization, showed up at a corporate campus in Milford, a suburb of Cincinnati, to celebrate the fact that Tata Consultancy Services, the Indian outsourcing giant, now employed 300 workers at its North America Domestic Delivery Center. The outsourcer has become an in-sourcer. Perhaps we’re not seeing deglobalization, but rather, reglobalization.


The New “Zippies” — and the Growing Skill Deficit

The World is Flat• The new “zippies” — “a young city or suburban resident, with a zip in his stride.  Generation Z.  Oozes attitude, ambition, and aspiration.  Cool, confident, and creative.  Seeks challenges, loves risks, and shuns fear.”
(Describing younger adults in India — Thomas Friedman, The World is Flat)


Last night, I spent a really wonderful evening with a group of very sharp women.  We discussed the book Womenomics by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.  There were many parts of the book that were met with approval and agreement.  But they weren’t so sure about this:  in the book, the authors state that “The millennials are influencing expectations for the entire workforce…the next generation has no interest at all in the sixty-hour work week.”

The Reckoning:  A tale of two cultures as seen through two car companies

The Reckoning: A tale of two cultures as seen through two car companies

I remember reading David Halberstam’s great book The Reckoning.  In the book, he described some bad years for Ford and the ascendancy of Nissan.  The book is in storage, so I can’t give you an exact quote, but I clearly remember this:  younger Americans had become complacent, not driven, not hungry – and a little lazy and apathetic.  At the same time, the younger adults in Japan were working really, really hard because they were so hungry.  He clearly implied that hunger trumps apathy.

I thought of that when I read Thomas Friedman’s column this morning:  The New Untouchables.  Here are some excerpts:

A year ago, it all exploded. Now that we are picking up the pieces, we need to understand that it is not only our financial system that needs a reboot and an upgrade, but also our public school system. Otherwise, the jobless recovery won’t be just a passing phase, but our future.

A Washington lawyer friend recently told me about layoffs at his firm. I asked him who was getting axed. He said it was interesting: lawyers who were used to just showing up and having work handed to them were the first to go because with the bursting of the credit bubble, that flow of work just isn’t there. But those who have the ability to imagine new services, new opportunities and new ways to recruit work were being retained. They are the new untouchables.

Bottom line: We’re not going back to the good old days without fixing our schools as well as our banks.

I agree that we need to retool our education, or we will be in genuine trouble.  We are definitely growing an alarming education deficit.

But I would suggest that Friedman is hinting at another bottom line.  I would word it this way:  we’re not going back to the good old days unless we get a little more hungry, and develop a new generation of zippies right here in our country.

I don’t think that Kay and Shipman are calling for a lesser work ethic.  They are, in fact, arguing for hard work – when you are at work.  But, this desire of a younger generation to “work less” may translate into a lesser work ethic at the very time that we are in competition with people all over the world who may be ready to work harder than we do.  And if there is anything I have learned in business books lately, work ethic really matters. From the 10,000 hour rule popularized by Gladwell’s Outliers, to the call for deliberate practice in Colvin’s Talent is Overrated, it takes hard work over a long period to get really good at anything.  And that hard work has to start with working hard to learn what is available to learn in school — and then adding skill after skill after skill after school.

In Freidman’s article, he describes that a person can be a very competent lawyer with just the skills learned in school.  But then, the lawyers that survive and thrive in tough times have to develop other skills – skills not taught in school, like client cultivation, networking, the skill to imagine new ways to work…the list grows and grows.  As for the people who learned what they learned in school, and expect that that will be “enough” – well, it isn’t enough.  Not anymore.

So – here is your simple question for the day.  Do you “ooze attitude, ambition, and aspiration?”  When a person watches you walk down the sidewalk, would they describe you as a “zippie?”  If not, you’d better look over your shoulder, because someone is about to pass you.


You can purchase my synopsis of The World is Flat, with audio + handout, at our companion site, 15minutebusinessbooks.com.  The Womenomics synopsis is coming soon.

Business Books as Teaching Tools – On the Bandwagon!

I find increasing interest among professors in schools of business to use popular and professional business books as required and optional texts in their courses.   I have required Jim Collins’ Good-to-Great in my Human Behavior in Organizations course, and over the years, have required other books, and have had many students provide oral reports and written synopses of popular titles.  Some business professors have required students to purchase our recorded synopses from 15MinuteBusinessBooks.com

What role do these books play in a course?  First, they augment textbooks that are filled with principles, variables, and concepts with real-world applications and experiences that the authors share.  Second, they provide subjective viewpoints on issues that textbooks must treat in an objective manner.  Third, they provide depth with corporate and industry-specific treatments of topics that textbooks must only cover in a general sense. 

Consider some of the recent books at our First Friday Book Synopsis that are candidates for a business course.  Why not Ask For It in a Negotiation course?  How about Me to We for a Projects and Teams course?   Would you consider The World is Flat for a Global Business course?  If the course is entreprenurship, then Young Guns would be an excellent complement. 

No, these are not academic titles.   But that is exactly why they are so valuable in an academic course.  They are different.  They are written by and for professionals.   Remember that many students in business courses are already in business!  While they are students, they are also professionals.  This genre of literature is highly appropriate.

How refreshing it is when students do not “have” to read a book, but instead, “want” to read one.  There is a significant difference in drive, motivation, and intensity for the latter.  I don’t know too many people who look forward to reading a textbook.  But, put a best-seller in their hands, or a synopsis of the book in their headphones, and there is new light and a very different perspective. 

In the near future, I will host a forum on this site with several business professors to discuss this issue.  Look for the participants, along with the date and time in an upcoming e-mail.

Hot, Flat, and Crowded — The Enduring Insight of Thomas Friedman

One of my favorite “to ponder” exercises is this one: “what if we fell asleep today and woke up 20 years from now?” We live in a time of such rapidly accelerating change that we can hardly imagine the change that is coming.

Try this – what will the year be in which we no longer get around with vehicles that have drivers? Too far fetched? Let’s make it simpler – what year will bring the arrival of transportation for most people that uses something other than oil? For such a change is coming! The real issue is not if, but when – and, how will we get there?

Thomas Friedman has already led us on similar journeys – in retrospect, and in process. My first exposure to Thomas Friedman was in 1999, when I read The Lexus and the Olive Tree. It was an announcement that globalization was upon us. His next volume (I read it in 2005) told us how flat the world was. And now, the world is just as flat, but it is also becoming increasingly hot and crowded. Since I haven’t read his new book yet, I don’t know what his prescription for change is. But I know this – change is coming. Real change.

I heard Mr. Friedman interviewed on 60 Minutes about this new book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America. One sentence jumped out at me. He described how ludicrous it would have been to lead a pep rally for the IBM Selectic typewriter at the dawn of the personal computer age. You remember that typewriter, don’t you? Interchangeable fonts on those easily removable balls, ease of use – it was a marvel!

(By the way, there is now a Selectric Typewriter Museum).

Who today would switch back to it?

Not me, thank you. A new age is upon us. And now I have added to my keyboard that nifty tiny keyboard on an iPhone. Who would have predicted?

Mr. Friedman calls us to a new revolution – a green revolution. One that will help our planet. One that will help our people. One that will help our nation.

Even his critics admire his work ethic. He continues to travel, to observe, to ponder, to think, to write.

And most of all, he makes us think.

I hope we will listen…