Archives for category: Leadership

Why would we be offended if someone offered to pay us after we invited them to Thanksgiving dinner? What is the cost of zero, and why is it far more expensive than $0.01? Do we really need to tell our waiter our order in secret if we really want to feel that it is okay for us to have our first choice from the menu?

Subtitled; “The Hidden Forces that shape our Decisions,” Dr. Ariely’s superb book has the potential to change dramatically how we think about business and our personal lives.

With the use of subtle yet easily understood experimental data, Dr. Ariely exposes humans as often acting against our own interests due to societal or market norms and that we just do not understand our own personalities and the role that emotion plays in shaping decision making – spoiler its usually for the worse.

So why would we feel offended if someone offered to pay for Thanksgiving dinner? Dr. Ariely not only explains but also shows with examples and experiment data that we humans have social exchanges and market exchanges of behavior. Social exchanges we use with friends and family. They are the norms that govern daily life and allow us to bond with other humans. Market exchanges are, as they sound, the exchange of money for goods and services and also the money we receive in exchange for our labor in the form of our working lives. When one offers to pay for Thanksgiving dinner were mixing social norms with market norms. We are indicating that we are rejecting the social acceptance of those who may be friends or family in favor of an exchange that we could expect to have with a stranger. A commercial transaction. What becomes interesting in breaking these social norms is that we find it is difficult to go back. Trying to pay for Thanksgiving dinner may never get us invited back because a social exchange has been turned into a market exchange. Employers who do not have social exchanges with their employees may find that employees therefore treat the relationship as a purely market exchange and leave for an employer who offers a better market exchange – usually more money or better benefits.  This also explains why employers who do embrace a social exchange in their workplace culture become frustrated and angry when an employee uses only market norms in their decision-making process to leave.

Likewise, when companies use a social exchange to bond with clients they may find when they resort to a market exchange when it suits them – policy over the relationship with the client – they have unleashed a Pandora’s box of problems with someone they once may have considered a friend of the business. Business can’t have it both ways, and if we try to, we are storing up trouble for ourselves.

Debunking of personality testing, without mentioning personality testing, is in this book with a discussion of priming and setting expectations. There are also volumes of data showing that making something free rather than reducing a price – even if the reductions are the same, can make a dramatic difference in the uptake of an offer. Buy one get one free really does work!

There is also a highly disturbing chapter on the affect of sexual arousal and decision making and morality. While I will spare you the details here it is difficult as a guy to read this chapter without recognizing oneself and feeling ashamed of the implications. This chapter does not give guys and excuse; however, it should make us pause and understand that we have the capability to be highly irrational in the right circumstances.

And that is really the crux of the book.

By recognizing that we can be irrational beings and what triggers that irrationality, we can know ourselves better and make better decisions. It also allows us to spot irrationality in others and how that has come about.

I can’t recommend this book enough.

After I reviewed both the TV show and book, Five Days at Memorial, I swore I was not going to make a habit of this.

And yet here we are.

Super Pumped, the book, is an in depth look at the rise and fall of Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. Impeccably researched, and detailed, it goes into the twists and turns of the Uber story. A story of hubris, a complete lack of ethics, a toxic working environment, and a deep dive into the cult of personality that often surrounds tech founders and CEOs. The book also has a few gonzo moments as the author finds themselves part of the story they are covering for both for good and bad.

Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber, the TV Show, is the first season in an ongoing anthology series. The second series will be based on a forthcoming book, also by Mike Isaac, on Facebook. The TV show does an excellent job of capturing all the major beats and intrigues of the book, while also adding a distinctly more human face to its subjects. Kalanick is much more fleshed out in his relationships with girlfriends and family. There is also much more focus on how much the key figures start out liking each other rather than just being marriages of convenience. However, how much of this is “added drama” is unclear. But given the attention to detail of most of the rest of the story, I am inclined to believe the implication if not the actual events themselves.

Where the TV show really shines is in its portrayal of the side characters and their experiences with Kalanick and his “Bro” culture. Episode five is an extraordinary study in sexual harassment and a dysfunctional Human Resources department as experienced by regular employees. Another scene that stands out is when (spoiler) Kalanick’s girlfriend is breaking up with him, an event that clearly affects him, but yet he stops the argument so that he can answer an email on his phone. The book certainly focuses on the sexual harassment aspects of Uber’s culture, however, the visceral nature of the TV dramatization makes for uncomfortable viewing without straying into exploitative / voyeuristic territory. A thoughtful selection of scenes from this episode would make an excellent starting ground for understanding sexist work cultures and how to avoid them and the sexual harassment that ultimately results for managers – both new and old.

The story of Uber and Travis Kalanick is an extraordinary one and is worth your time as a cautionary tale and as a reflection on our cultural blind spot when it comes to convenience. What kind of world do we live in where convenience trumps ethics and the celebration of behavior this is, not to put too fine a point on it, despicable? Does success excuse bad behavior or does success breed a lack of respect for the rules? Does startup culture, which embraces out of the box solutions, also include the idea that as long as you are successful all will be forgiven?

While Travis Kalanick is undoubtedly an extraordinary individual, the TV show rarely makes the viewer feel anything other than deep unease if not downright dislike. The book, while less personal and emotional, is able to illicit sympathy for Kalanick during a meeting with the author and, when out of spite, one of the Uber board members leaks details of Kalanick’s departure from Uber – humiliating him, when the agreement was for a face-saving departure.

By the nature of a TV show, even a series, it can’t go into the detail that a book can. It is interesting that Super Pumped the TV Show starts when Uber is already a reality and uses conversations between protagonists to comment on its past founding and early days. Whereas the book starts from Kalanick’s previous start up and Uber’s humble beginnings as an idea of Garrett Camp when he could not get a cab. Likewise, the TV show ends with Kalanick’s ouster as CEO whereas the book continues into the intrigues of finding a successor and the settling of various lawsuits.

While Super Pumped the book is very much worth your time; Super Pumped: The Battle of Uber, the TV show, is the more extraordinary piece of media. Incredibly watchable, and a useful tool for managers when it comes to toxic internal cultures, the TV show is worth staying up till 2:00AM, as I did, to watch the entire thing in one hit.

Both will also make you download the Lyft app.

“You don’t have to go to every argument you are invited to.”

It is refreshing to read a book about communication that is so direct, and tool driven. Mr. Manney has created such a book and it is excellent.

Filled with examples of how to change conversations and thinking, as well as helpful nuggets such as the one above and “you only ever control 50% of the conversation,” this is a book that is meant to be slowly digested and read a chapter at a time. In fact, what makes this book so interesting and usable is its insistence that arguing is not an insurmountable problem, but that there are limits to what an individual can do and how to move forward with that information.

The book also interjects that arguments are really opportunities to try and find new solutions to existing problems. It is obvious from reading that Mr. Manney is a therapist due to the dispassionate voice that is so often missing from more business orientated communication books. That is not to say that “Why We Argue and How to Stop” is not a book that focuses on business communication – it is and even tackles social media issues – it is more to suggest that this is a perspective we don’t often hear in the business world. And that’s a shame.

Where this book really succeeds is on focusing on the person and their motivations for arguing. This is a book about healthy relationships and what it takes to not only start them but to maintain them. I am particularly enamored with the authors habit of showing what prior bad habits in communication look like and then what making efforts to more health communication look like about the same subject.

This is a book to refer back to – particularly when trying to self-diagnose issues with arguing and communication in general. The author’s advice to read one chapter and then digest it before moving on is sound. But I feel its real value is in using the book as a resource as circumstances arise. Knowledge of one’s own emotions are not often easily came by, but Mr. Manney provides some excellent tools for doing just that – including mnemonics.

The latter chapters of the book stray into more specific areas such as dealing with children and teens, as well as abusive relationships. Which this is, of course, great information to have, it does seem to be rather shoehorned in. This is a very minor quibble, however, for such a useful book, and I am sure that others will be glad that the latter chapters are there.

This is not a long book, but it is surprising dense. Do not let that put you off. Read in small chunks. Breathe in what is being said to you. This is a great book and worthy of a space on your shelf as long as you go back to it when needed, as we can all use its wisdom.

I loved Dominick Quartuccio’s other book, Design your Future which I reviewed here. When I was sent the second edition of On Purpose Leadership I had high hopes, and in general those hopes were met – sort of.

The problem, and I’m prepared to be wrong here, is that while Design Your Future felt like a new and fresh bundle of ideas, On Purpose Leadership feels like a second bite of the same apple. That it was written before Design Your Future is an irony not lost on me.  The idea of bringing focus into your leadership world is not by any means unwelcome. As is being those lessons to your team. The issue is that it is not a different enough book for the reader to feel that they actually have read a different book.

The tools in On Purpose Leadership are great in themselves. The “drifting” and dissatisfaction of leaders, even those who have achieved significant success, is a well understood phenomenon. Most of us call this burnout. Anything that helps those in management circles is very welcome. Identifying the problems with burnout or drift is helpful as are identifying the solutions. The idea of putting oneself first, that others want to be led, and creating an environment for success are all excellent principles for addressing the problem.

This is a short and small book, with some interesting case studies, but for me the greater insights are to be gleaned from Mr. Quartuccio’s other book or reading both books in tandem.

The TV show on Apple TV + “Five Days at Memorial” based on the book of the same name (which in turn is based on a Pulitzer Prize winning article) is about three quarters through as I finished the book and I write this. Therefore, my criticism and praise of the show should be seen in this context. I’ll try to keep this review free of major spoilers for the TV show, but it is difficult to discuss the issues of this true story without covering some of the events involved.

“Five Days at Memorial” tells the story of what happened to the doctors and patients at Memorial Hospital during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans when they lost power, were flooded, were abandoned by authorities, and evacuation was difficult to impossible. It is a challenging story that involves issues of disaster preparedness, corporate ownership of hospitals, death, euthanasia, quality of life, triage, race relations, rationing of care, and the potential criminal culpability of doctors for decisions made during emergency situations.

The TV show seems to be told from a particular point of view which in a story like this means taking a particular side. It paints a bleak picture of hospital ownership, which according to the book, are certainly due for criticism; however, the lack of care and forethought shown is disingenuous. It does set a similar tone, but like many “docudramas” it combines characters, invents new ones, and seems to invent situations to fit story arcs and running times. The acrimonious relationship between the staff at Memorial and the staff of the Life Care Hospice hospital, that inhabited the same building, seems to be a fiction made for TV.  It also wholesale moves one situation from a different hospital, Memorial was not the only hospital with major issues during Katrina, to Memorial for dramatic effect.

While I’m painting a picture of the show as being an unreliable narrator that is not to say that it is not entertaining and emotionally engaging. It also shows the importance of disaster preparedness and the dedication of medical professionals. Being in the veterinary profession, the plight of pets and the role they play in the movement of people during emergencies, is of particular interest. While the book does an excellent job of recognizing the issues that looking after pets in an emergency raise, the TV show pays only lip service to this, except for one brutally accurate scene in episode six.

As of episode six, the show is of limited use as a teaching tool about disaster response and medical ethics although it is a show worth watching. It does do an excellent job of showing how rumors start and get out of control but provides no solution for controlling them – unlike the book which forays into comparing how other hospitals, during Katrina, dealt with the same issues as Memorial differently or made the same mistakes.

As a teaching tool for disaster response issues, the book is remarkable. It acts as the crucible for ideas that was never able to be had in public and really needed to be. These are issues that affect us to this day. The book, written in 2013, makes this clear with hindsight as it discusses the withdrawal of ventilators from patients during a potential Influenza pandemic. While Katrina changed many things about disaster response and emergency preparedness, this book shows how much still has to change nine years after its publication and 17 years after Hurricane Katrina.

The book swings wildly between differing points of view on the more contentious issues which buffets the reader much as the characters in the book must have felt. The research is impeccable and paints an impressively detailed picture of both Memorial during Katrina and  that of public opinion, law enforcement, politicians, and the medical community in the aftermath.

It also explores in depth not only moral quandaries faced by doctors and emergency personnel, but also the ethical and legal issues that also arise. It does an extraordinary job of showing how people in decision making positions get trapped by a lack of situational awareness and become prisoners of decisions made with different information at different times.

What Five Days at Memorial shows, both in written form and to a lesser extent its TV cousin, is that heroes can be flawed and that villains can do good. What really needs to be our focus is values. Do emergencies change our values or do our values inform how we respond to emergencies? We need to discuss that, particularly considering COVID 19, and if the TV show helps that happen then it will have done a great service to our society.

However, it will be the book that informs that discussion and that we should use as a foundation. This is what great books do. They focus our minds and give us evidence to think. There are no easy answers in Five days at Memorial and a lot of questions. But what Ms. Fink (more accurately addressed as Dr. Fink since she herself is an M.D.) has done is set us a table for us to dine over and have those discussions. These issues will not go away, and as the book makes clear in the epilogue, we are doomed to make the same mistakes, with the same justifications, or go down potentially dangerous roads, if we do not have frank discussions about how we as a society actually feel about ethical and moral quandaries that often arise in the most trying and difficult of times.

I have a pitch for the reissue or follow up to “The Revenge of Analog” for Mr. Sax. He should call it “The Revenge of the Revenge of Analog.” If two years of a global pandemic have taught us nothing us, and I believe it has taught us a great deal, it is that the primary thesis of Mr. Sax’s excellent 2016 book is even more right than I think even he believed possible.

Real things matter.

Digital has transformed our world and for most people this is a good thing. Digital makes life easier and more productive. It allows easy access to information like never before and it allows for an ease of communication that is straight out of science fiction. The author’s point is not that digital is necessarily a bad thing, but that to live in a solely digital only world is a cold and sterile existence that can be lacking in creativity and positive unintended, consequences.

Using examples such as books, vinyl records, music production, movies, education, paper notebooks, the design process, and games, “The Revenge of Analog” makes the case that with digital it is all to easy to fit ideas to fit processes and so by extension limit those ideas.  There is also a drive, often by those who are older and want to be seen as innovative and “with it,” to focus on the technology and then try to apply it to problems rather than start with the problem and see what solutions might work- technological or otherwise. Indeed, one of the more intriguing facts in the book is that it is often those who have grown up with digital that are the ones that see the most value in analog records, books, and notebooks for example. There is value in inconveniences if the experience is more authentic.

 The wider point is that technology and digital media are just tools. Badly implemented tools, or tools that are adopted without first understanding the problem, are destined to fail. However, what is less well understood is that when tools are easy to use and do solve multiple issues, they can also reduce the value of an experience in the mind of the participant. To embrace analog items in our digital world is not a repudiation of that world – it is an acknowledgment of its shortcomings and a possible solution to them. Digital processes in the creative world can lead to homogeneity – there is nothing more creatively open than a blank piece of paper.

One of the realizations from the pandemic that almost everyone can agree on, was that meetings over zoom, for example, are not a good replacement for meetings in person. That while some people liked working from home, others found it isolating and lacking in comradery. The pandemic almost universally proved that remote education is fraught with difficulties for both students and teachers. A class being together with a teacher has value that far exceeds the delivery of knowledge.

If there was any doubt after reading Mr. Sax’s excellent book, the pandemic removed it all.

So Mr. Sax, The Revenge of the Revenge of Analog?

Just after finishing the first draft of this review, I saw that David Sax has a new book coming out – “The Future is Analog.” So much for “The Revenge of the Revenge of Analog.”

Ever have books that hang around in your book pile for way longer than would seem rational?

The book’s premise was obviously interesting enough to find its way into the pile in the first place, but repeatably fails to be interesting enough to make it the next step and actually be read. I don’t know how long Measure What Matters has been in my possession, but it has been a while.

Of course, as is often the case when finally getting around to reading a long overdue book, one thinks the book is great. I suspect my reticence is to do with the books subject matter: goal setting. I have a complicated relationship with goal setting, or more precisely with goal setting as it is usually described to people in the business world. I’ve often found that systems of formulaic goal setting overly burdensome and lacking in coherent structure. However, how can one not be intrigued by a book that describes Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as soulless numbers!

Measure What Matters touts a system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) which are used in multiple different formats by companies such as Google, The Gates Foundation, and Bono’s One Charity. What soon becomes clear, however, is that what Mr. Doer is proposing is a culture shift in how companies measure performance and direction. It also has the acceptance that with OKRs there will be failure. In fact, if there is not failure, team members are probably not setting ambitious enough goals. What also resonates is the duality of goals for leaders of teams, but with the teams themselves setting their own goals on how the team can get there. A mix of top down and bottom-up objectives.

The culture shift in Measure What Matters is pervasive, extending into employee reviews and relationships between teams, supervisors, and leaders. The book is also honest about implementation and change management – steps often overlooked in this kind of book. Filled with examples for what works and does not, Measure What Matters is almost a spiritual partner to that most revered of business books (well by me anyway) Traction by Gino Wickman. (I have never reviewed Traction for my site due to being just too intimidated by it.)

A great example of “honest” OKRs rather than the “soulless” KPIs is the example given of an objective of reducing office cleaning costs by 25%. At its most basic, the simple measure of whether the costs went down by 25% could mean that the goal was achieved. However, Mr. Doerr not only suggests ways of measuring the quality of cleaning, but also suggests that to be a true OKR the person responsible for this OKR should have their office in the area being cleaned – thereby being directly affected by the key results of the objective.

This is not a book of cold and soulless analytics. This is a book that reminds us that there is more to business objectives than math. That the way to achieve greatness is to have greatness as the objective. To be motivated by failure as much as by possibility.

For once, I am excited about a book about goal setting and goal setting in general. Having a road map helps, but understanding that emotion and intuition also have their place helps more. Measure what matters is a bible text for the modern manager.

cover "Happy at any cost"

“The Revolutionary Vision and Fatal Quest of Zappos CEO Tony Hsiesh,” is the subtitle.

This book, however, is a tragedy.

Happy at Any Cost is the story of on undoubted visionary leader; their quest for not just their own happiness, but also for the happiness of others. This in turn leads to a lot of good, a lot of success, but ultimately exploitation, substance abuse, and the death of a beloved figure in the world of business and Las Vegas.

Unlike Aimee Groth’s 2017 book “The Kingdom of Happiness” which I reviewed here, and is an inside look at the Las Vegas “Downtown Project” and by extension Zappos, this is the telling of the story of Tony’s last two years as he struggled with mental illness and substance abuse issues put in the wider context of the rest of his life. This is also a cautionary tale for entrepreneurs and for those who can be swept up in vision without dealing with, or caring to deal with, the nuts-and-bolts details that make visions work.

Employing an interesting dual timeline structure, Ms. Grind and Ms. Sayre present an exhaustively researched, and deeply unnerving, tale of Tony Hsieh’s rise and fall. His rise as a tech entrepreneur at Link Exchange, then becoming CEO of what turned into Zappos, his evangelism for company culture with his book Delivering Happiness, and becoming a leading Las Vegas civic figure with the Downtown Project. His fall with the problems with the Downtown Project, issues with Zappos’s adoption of a new company structure called Holocracy, his move to Park City, Utah, his “retirement” from Zappos, and his struggles with alcohol, drugs, and mental illness. It also tells the story of Tony’s last days up to and including his death after a house fire in Connecticut.

Happy at Any Cost very much frames Tony’s life story as a coping mechanism for mental health issues and has the worthy goal of pointing out that if there was not the social stigma long associated with mental health issues perhaps it would have been easier for those around him to help. It is interesting to note, that a reading of Tony’s book Delivering Happiness, particularly in retrospect, leaves the reader with the feeling that the focus on fun and party atmosphere that permeates the book could easily be a coping mechanism for other issues. Where it perhaps most accurately hits the mark is in its exploration that having happiness as a goal in itself as ultimately self-defeating and that happiness should be a by-product of whatever drives you.

I find Tony a fascinating figure to discuss. Someone with gargantuan visions which he often left others to implement. Sometimes that worked and other times it failed. By definition, someone’s legacy is based on what marks they leave behind. Tony was someone who talked about culture and put culture at the front of their business model when nobody, literally nobody, was talking about company culture. For all its flaws, Tony helped rejuvenate Downtown Las Vegas and make it a vibrant hub of new business. However, Tony unbelievably left no will making the unraveling of his estate a legal nightmare for his family and associates. Given his investments in Las Vegas real estate, and businesses, this is likely to be a story with many subsequent chapters and potential consequences.

“A failure of leadership due to a lack of management” was my conclusion to the story told in “The Kingdom of Happiness.” It is hard not to look at “Happy at Any Cost” and come to the same conclusion.

Tony was someone who was in serious trouble near the end of his life. Many of those around him tried to help, some undoubtedly exacerbated the situation, and some just bought into that this was the vision. This book, in some ways, is a celebration of what Tony was able to achieve, which makes the ultimate tragedy even more real and poignant.

It is a haunting tale of what happens someone creates their own world where they no longer hear the world “no.”  

I rarely write book reviews about books I don’t like.

I don’t believe I’ve ever written about a book I despise.

I have never read a more immoral and unethical book than Robert Greene’s “The 48 Laws of Power.” It does not have a luxury of the possible satirical nature of Machiavelli’s “The Prince;” a book that Mr. Greene quotes extensively. It also has no excuse of being from a different age given its original publication date of 1998.

The 48 Laws of Power is a book that argues that we all should lie, cheat, and steal to get what we want and hold on to what we have. It argues that customers and colleagues are marks to be taken advantage of. Friends are to be feared and loyalty is valueless; other than as something to exploit. The book seems to be saying that everyone is out for themselves, and so to do anything other than to be looking out for one’s self makes you a fool.

This outlook, of course, flies in the face of pretty much all current management theory and treats all interactions as a zero-sum game: there must be a winner and a loser in everything. It ignores the work of mathematician John Nash Jr. and the prisoner’s dilemma. In fact, it is interesting that the book does not mention the prisoner’s dilemma and the bias that groups have towards cooperation.

The book is filled with historical examples and examples from myth. However, these examples are cherry picked and contain little historical context and no moral framework. An advisor keeps quiet about their fears of following Napoleon into war, because they ultimately feel they will fail and therefore cause their own downfall – never mind all the people who died at the battle of Waterloo, so long as the advisor keeps their “power.” The book fundamentally misinterprets the failures of the Treaty of Versailles, and by way of repudiation, the success of the Marshall Plan.  It claims Claudius pretended to be a fool to seize power, rather than someone who by happenstance became emperor and, by being highly educated, a highly effective administrator.

This book endorses the worst fears about politicians and managers that are held by those who elect them or follow them. A reading of this book, taking as fact that this is how all those in power do, or should, behave essentially makes the case for revolution and collectivism. If everyone is only out for themselves, and you can’t trust anything anyone says, then what use are leaders? People infected (and I use those words with great care) by the thought processes in this book have no place in the modern workplace.

This book also provides instructions on conning people, in creating a cult (not kidding), and scapegoating the innocent to protect one’s own position. The book endorses narcissistic behavior and manipulation to seduce people and is generally sociopathic.

And it’s a shame.

For this book does contain a lot of good information. Its problems lie in its total lack of a moral framework. The book also has merit for anyone who feels they may be being manipulated, to understand the mindset and tools of the manipulator. But these arguments are a stretch for a book of this length and depth. I think a good barometer for organizations, is upon seeing this book on a bookshelf, to ask those around you what they thought of it. Those that embrace it, rather than act with revulsion at its amorality, should be treated as this book itself would recommend treating them – with distrust and suspicion.

This is not a good book. It puts forward a dangerous point of view because there are people who will, and I’m sure do, use this as a manual to scheme and manipulate those around them – and think that it is okay to do so. This book is almost everything that is wrong with the world today, and everything that is wrong with business – ever.

There way are better explanations of how to view the world and the behaviors of others, and even on how to get ahead in the workplace. It is hard to find one that has such an ugly view of people, society, and history.

Who does not hate networking?

“A Friend of a Friend…” by David Burkus makes the case that we are doing networking all wrong, or not at all, and that there is a better way of thinking about personal networks. With a few caveats, I think there is a lot to learn from Mr. Burkus.

To most people, the purpose of networking is to be able to leverage your network for professional ends. That means reaching out to those people with whom you have “close ties” and seeing what they can do for you or who they can introduce you to. The author suggests, however, that “loose ties,” those that you have fallen out of touch with or never had a terribly close connection with in the first place, are a better way of leveraging your network connections. It is these loose ties that are more likely to bring a diversity of thought to your circle. With some intriguing data, the book put forward the idea that people who have similar thinking, and world view, tend to cluster together. As an example of this clustering of similar thinking patterns, Mr. Burkus uses the example of voting patterns, because voting districts tend to increase in their preference for a particular party over time – even when allowing for jerrymandering!

Trying to increase the diversity of thought to improve your exposure to ideas is not without risks. While most people would agree that they and others are subtly influenced by those around them, what is less well realized is that even the behavior and habits of friends of friends can influence our rates of obesity, smoking and stopping smoking to give just a few examples. Influence is contagious.

While for some it might seem that social media could be an ideal solution to these networking issues, the author urges us to use caution and to treat social media as a potential tool rather than as a panacea. Social Media can exacerbate the very issues highlighted above – a lack of diversity of thought, through the contagious nature of influence.

What has been known in some entrepreneurial circles and at some high-end retreats is that one of the best ways to get to know someone, without all the baggage of status and perceived worth, is to actually complete a task with a stranger – helping to prepare a meal is the most focused on example, but taking a class on almost any subject when collaboration is required works just as well.

In a refreshing change from most personal development and business books is to find the resources that accompany the book freely available from the authors website, with a commitment to keep them there. https://davidburkus.com/resources/

Where the book is lacking is in the assertion that personal friends and connections can also turn into good and productive business connections or partners and vise versa. While this is undoubtedly true, and the book serves up many examples of it working in the real world, it does not explore or even caution of the HR issues and general pitfalls of not having clear boundaries in the workplace for both those involved and those around them. While it is a relatively minor quibble, it does seem to be strange oversight given the book’s otherwise excellent attention to detail and research.

“A Friend of a Friend” is an excellent resource for those who find networking unnatural. It also explains why it looks so easy for some and borderline impossible for others. The success of its promise, and premise, still has a lot to do with personal motivation, but these tools are that are relatable and accessible for all. This book is for the introverted, extroverted, and the closet introverted alike.

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