Category Archives: Book Reviews

The 7 things leaders have in common

Getting There: A Book of Mentors, by Gillian Zoe Segal contains interviews with 30 business leaders (Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg, Anderson Cooper, Sara Blakely, Jeff Koons, Kathy Ireland, Les Moonves, to name a few). She says that there are seven things they all have in common:

  1.  They understand their “circle of confidence.”
  2. They harness their passions.
  3. Their career paths are fluid.
  4. They create their own opportunities.
  5. They question everything.
  6. They don’t let fear of failure deter them.
  7. They are resilient.

To see more details about these seven “commonalities” check out her interview in this article in Fortune magazine.

Seems like the magic number is seven. If you’re interested in more research-based traits and characteristics of leaders, check out The Demands of Executive Leadership, by Barry Conchie. It’s a 2004 article (updated 2008). Here’s his list of “Demands” of leadership:

Maximizing Values
Challenging Experience
Building a Constituency
Making Sense of Experience
Knowing Self

I often use both of the above in my leadership training sessions.


Book Review: Poke the Box by Seth Godin

Poke the Box by Seth Godin can be read in less than one hour.  It is like reading a collection of blogs.  Fast-paced and motivational, it will give you give you a spark that makes you want to go start something now.

Three stars out of five.

Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time (91-100)

During the next 10 days I will be posting the Top 100 Mystery Novels of All Time as chosen by the active members of the Mystery Writers of America – of which I am one.  Here’s 91-100.

91. The Chill, Ross Macdonald
92. Devil in a Blue Dress, Walter Mosley
93. The Choirboys, Joseph Wambaugh
94. God Save the Mark, Donald E. Westlake
95. Home Sweet Homicide, Craig Rice
96. The Three Coffins, John Dickson Carr
97. Prizzi’s Honor, Richard Condon
98. The Steam Pig, James McClure
99. Time and Again, Jack Finney
100. A Morbid Taste for  Taste for Bones, Ellis Peters, and Rosemary’s
Baby, Ira Levin (tie)

Source:  The Third Degree, December 1010 edition, Mystery Writers of America

BOOK REVIEW – The Big Sort: Why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart

Do you live near people who think like you?  Does your precinct vote for the same candidates at election time?  Or how about the bigger metaphorical question:  Do birds of a feather flock together?   Does all of this matter?  If you answered “Yes” to these questions then I recommend you read what I believe is one of the more important books of the year –  The Big Sort: Why the clustering of like-minded America is tearing us apart ( Houghton Mifflin) by Bill Bishop.

In this book, Bishop provides plenty of evidence that people have become very adept at discovering neighborhoods and communities that think like they think.  While most demographers study things like age, race and socioeconomic factors to explain population migration, Bishop looks at voting data to show that people find others who are more alike from an ideological standpoint and how this is changing politics in America.  He devised three tests to check the influence of the big sort:  First, he measured voting patterns of communities over several Presidential elections to determine if majorities in communities were growing; second, he looked at religion and geography; and finally, he looked at demographic movements of Republicans and Democrats over the past 36 years.  The results and his conclusions go a long way explaining our society and why its people do what they do.


A Better Way to Zone: Ten Principles to Create More Liveable Cities

The above-titled book by Donald Elliott will be of interest to planners and zoning officials.  According to the author’s Web site, “A Better Way to Zone provides a vision of future zoning that is not tied to a particular picture of how cities should look, but is instead grounded in how cities should work.”

The principles are:

1 – More Flexible Uses
2 – The Mixed Use Middle
3 – Attainable Housing
4 – Mature Area Standards
5 – Living With Non-Conformities
6 – Dynamic Development Standards
7 – Negotiated Large Developments
8 – Depoliticized Final Approvals
9 – Better Webbing
10 -Scheduled Maintenance