Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Confidence : How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End
Publisher: Crown Business
Authors: ROSABETH MOSS KANTER
REVIEW SUMMARY: The author of CONFIDENCE informs the reader "I wrote this book not only to show teams, companies, communities, and countries how to cultivate better leadership. I also had a grander goal: to help people in many walks of life to find the confidence to win whatever game they are playing..." (page 350) Unfortunately, the product of these laudable goals falls woefully short both as a source of wisdom and as an interesting read. Those seeking insight into to how to best lead change, how to increase their own confidence, or strategies for effective leadership in general, should select other sources. Several excellent books are recommended at the end of this review.
REVIEW: CONFIDENCE fails the reader for 3 reasons: 1) the few insights provided are so basic as to be best described as trite; 2) the surplus verbiage and detail embedded in the text and examples causes the reader's mind to wander; and 3) the author's excessive reference to herself is in conflict with the leadership advice she is offering and seems to border on narcissism.
In the book's final chapter Ms. Kanter boils down the breadth of her wisdom to the following hackneyed bit of advice: "By now the secret of winning should be clear: Try not to lose twice in a row." (page 350) The author believes this sentence to be so valuable, indeed, so profound, that she makes it a separate paragraph.
The author indulges herself with superfluous detail that can drive the reader to distraction. For example, in describing the Philadelphia Eagles' need to prioritize their resources and efforts, Ms. Kanter included the following sentence: "Andy Reid's request for software for his Avid computer system had to take a backseat to the technology needs of the stadium." (page 157). This excess verbiage, and countless other examples, is testament to the author's lack of consideration for the fact that the reader's time is valuable, and we struggle with information overload.
Ms. Kanter's frequent references to herself reminds one of a tabloid gossip columnist seeking to convey his/her own self importance. We learn the names of her son and husband, the breed of dog she has, that she lives in Cambridge and walks to work at Harvard Business School along the Charles River in Boston and that she vacations in Martha's Vineyard and Miami. That she was one of the few to be invited to the Economic Summits of both Presidents Bush (senior) and Clinton. And that she plays tennis. It seems to this reviewer that the author includes this insipid text to hide the fact that she does not have much to say of value to the reader.
The excessive use of first person pronouns is perhaps unequaled in managerial professional literature. In the 3.5 paragraphs found on the first page of the Preface, a reader will find the words "my" or "I" 20 times - that's not a typo, twenty uses of first person pronouns in 3.5 paragraphs. I compared the first Preface page of several of the highly regarded management guru Peter Drucker's books and found a complete lack of first person pronouns. Ms. Kanter's extreme reference to herself is consistent throughout the book. It's as if she had no help researching and writing the book. Her assistants and collaborators should be forever thankful of the oversight.
If this book was written by "John Doe" of "No-Name Business School," it would have never been accepted for publication because it is poorly written and contains very little of value.
Wonderful books on leadership available from Amazon:
1) "John P. Kotter on What Leaders Really Do" by John P. Kotter. The entire book is great, though a little dry, chapters 1 and 4 are brilliant and are worth rereading every year.
2) "Leading At The Edge" by Dennis N. T. Perkins. Perkins' book draws on the incredible story of Shackleton's 1914 - 1916 Antarctic Expedition to reveal the power of effective organizational leadership under conditions of uncertainty, ambiguity, and rapid change. The book uncovers 10 lessons complete with inspiring examples from the Shackleton expedition, as well as contemporary business case studies of the strategies in action on what it takes to be a great leader. A wonderfully written book with very valuable ideas.
Books on "confidence" from Amazon:
1) "Learned Optimism" by Martin E. P. Seligman. Optimism and confidence are inextricably linked. The book is a very interesting to read and provides a self-test to help the reader determine if they look at the world with pessimistic lenses or optimistic lenses. He then goes on to offer techniques for enhancing one's optimism and, therefore, one's confidence. A well researched and written book.
Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Building Robots With Lego Mindstorms : The Ultimate Tool for Mindstorms Maniacs
Authors: Mario Ferrari, Giulio Ferrari, Ralph Hempel
This is the most comprehensive book on building robots with Mindstorms yet published. It is mammoth (600+ pages) and has three sections. The first part deals with the basics, including chapters on such topics as walking, grabbing, and even a chapter on mathematics. The second section deals with specific projects. The final section discusses contests. The book is well written and even the math section is easy to understand.
Here are the pros and cons as I see them. Really, the cons exist by choice, as the authors chose to cover every imaginable design topic in detail and not use up space with programs or step-by-step diagrams.
- Outstanding coverage of design principals, allowing the builder to learn concepts for building ANY robot.- Lots of cool demonstration projects and plenty of building projects to work on, including a 2 legged walker!- Open ended instruction lets you learn a design principal, then build and observe it.
- No step-by-step building instructions and pictures. (Enough detail is provided by the photos that the models can be readily recreated.)- Very little programming. (The authors' intent was to focus on the mechanical aspects of robot design. If you really want to learn programming, Dave Baum's book is a great resource for NQC).
Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Visual Basic 6 How to Program
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Harvey M. Deitel, Paul J. Deitel, Tem Nieto, T.R. Nieto
I was looking for a book that had lots of examples on the use of classes in VB. I teach beginning VB6 and thought that I needed a fresh approach. This book is exactly what I wanted. It seems to closely match the MS certification subject matter with lots of examples in concise format. Finally after 16 books and several classes this book really looks good.
Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Art of Intrusion : The Real Stories Behind the Exploits of Hackers, Intruders & Deceivers
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Kevin D. Mitnick, William L. Simon
For anyone who has ever enjoyed a crime story or stories of hackers, this book should be at the top of your reading list. And if you have ever wondered about who these people are who make the newspapers for breaking in to big company computer systems, this book has the real-life stories. It tells how they did it, but it also tells about the hackers themselves, how they got started, what kind of lives they lead, and why they do it. Hackers who use made-up names to hide from the authorities apparently were willing to tell their stories to famous hacker Mitnick. The book uses lots of quotes of the hackers telling about their lives and break-ins in their own words. I LOVED the stories about the two murderers hacking onto the internet from inside a prison, and the programmers who stole $1 million from casinos by figuring out how to cheat the video poker machines. This is THE best book of its kind.