Friday's Top 10: Andrew Patterson takes us through ten of the best business reads of 2013; Dilbert & more

Friday's Top 10: Andrew Patterson takes us through ten of the best business reads of 2013; Dilbert & more

Today's Top 10 is a guest post from Andrew Patterson, who writes the Success Story series on this website, and is the SundayBusiness presenter on RadioLive.

As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below or via email to

And if you're interested in contributing the occasional Top 10 yourself, contact

See all previous Top 10s here.

1. Thinking in New Boxes – Five essential steps to spark the next big idea
By Luc De Brabandere and Alan Iny

Need a hand getting in the creative zone?

This latest offering from Boston Consulting Group Senior Partners Luc De Brabandere and Alan Iny is a worthwhile read.

Rather than thinking “out of the box” the authors say it’s all about thinking “in new boxes” and their use of a five step model to achieve that outcome will be welcomed by those in need of a creative workout.

2. Fast Future – How the Millennial Generation is shaping our world
By David Burstein

They’ve been called trophy kids, entitled, narcissistic, the worst employees in history and even the dumbest generation ever yet author David Burstein – himself a millennial - argues their unique generation of civic idealism and savvy pragmatism combined with their ability to navigate 21st century technology should give us all cause for hope.

While somewhat self-indulgent at times, the book offers a fascinating insight into the mind of Gen Y and what makes them tick.

3. The New Digital Age – Reshaping the future of people, nations and business
By Eric Schmidt & Jared Cohen

In this high level collaboration between Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google and Jared Cohen, Head of Google Ideas the two authors outline a vision of the future: a world where everyone is connected and challenges and benefits are there to be harnessed.

A fascinating account of how the digital age will affect our world and perhaps more importantly, who will be more powerful in the future, the citizen or the state?

4. Get off the Grass – Kickstarting New Zealand’s Innovation Economy
By Shaun Hendy & Paul Callaghan

This book picks up where the late Sir Paul Callaghan’s previous book “Wool to Weta” left off. The authors set out to answer the paradoxical question why New Zealanders work harder and earn less than most other people in the developed world and what will be required to change that in the future. A lively read, if sometimes a bit dogmatic about the role science should play in improving our fortunes, the key to increasing our prosperity is innovation in high-tech niches.

5. The One World School House – Education Reimagined
By Salman Khan

An inspiring story about how former hedge fund manager Sal Khan has single handily changed the face of education globally through the creation of his online school Kahn Academy

Khan reminds us that the current school system is based on an 18th century Prussian model that has remained largely unchanged to this day.

However, in just two years he has created an online learning environment where around 20 million students irrespective of their location can now teach themselves maths, physics, chemistry, biology, history, economics and even entrepreneurship all for free as a result of his vision and the generous support of The Gates Foundation.

Khan says he’s effectively “flipped the classroom” where kids do the learning at home and the problem solving homework at school. Makes sense doesn’t it...

You can listen to an interview with Khan here.

6. The $100 Start Up
By Chris Guillebeau

Anyone who thinks it takes tens of thousands of dollars to start a business ought to read this book. Still in his early thirties, author Chris Guillebeau, a self-proclaimed non-conformist, recently completed every traveller’s ultimate dream – to visit every country on earth.

Yet he’s never held a real job or earned a regular paycheck.

Rather he has a special genius for turning ideas into income and he uses what he earns both to support his life of adventure and to give back.

The book also features 50 of more than 1,500 people he has met on his travels who have built businesses earning upwards of $50,000 using start-up capital of just a few hundred dollars. It’s a fascinating reminder that these days, you can actually have your cake and eat it too!

7. Prosperity without Growth
By Tim Jackson

According to UK academic Prof. Tim Jackson the future of the global economy is no longer predicated on rampant growth in GDP as has been in the case in the past.

While no one would deny that development is essential for poorer nations, in the advancing economies there is mounting evidence that ever-increasing consumption adds little to human happiness and may even impede it.

Jackson provides a credible vision of how human society can flourish within the ecological limits of a finite planet.

The book has become a post GFC best seller and has been translated into multiple languages. Highly recommended.

8. Ready, Fire, Aim – The Mainfreight Story
By Keith Davies

This is a quintessential kiwi business success story as you’ll ever get.

As author Keith Davies writes in his forward, Mainfreight is a business that has been built on two unshakeable beliefs: the only way to keep ahead of the competitors is by the superior performance of its people, and the only measure of that superior performance is how the customer’s perceive it.

It’s a mantra many other businesses could follow. This is a story that reminds you that hard work and the right attitude really does pay off though as Mainfreight has discovered to its cost following its  purchase of European freight operator Wim Bosman, not everyone plays by the same set of rules.

9. If You Build It, Will they Come – Three Steps to Test and Validate any Market Opportunity?
By Rob Adams

Having decided to return to academic study this year and finally make a start on my Master’s, my focus has been on understanding more about the business commercialisation and entrepreneurship process.

This excellent, well laid out book is one that should be compulsory reading for anyone looking to establish a business from scratch.

In fact, for a $35 investment, it’s the sort of book that can save you a small fortune down the track.

As one reviewer wrote: This book will force any entrepreneur or intrapreneur to take a brutally honest look at their planned product development and launch – before it’s too late!  

10. Fifty Machines that Changed the Course of History
By Eric Chaline

A boys own book and a reminder of how much has changed in the world of machinery.

Starting with the creation of the Jacquard Loom in 1801 and ending with the first truly portable mobile phone, the Motorola Startac in the 1996, the book traces the history of a myriad of inventions many of whom have long since been cast aside – think the Underwood typewriter, the Parson’s steam turbine even the Sony walkman - but each served their purpose in what we used to describe as progress.

A wonderful page turner packed with interesting facts and anecdotes.


*Not all these books were published in 2013 and it’s quite possible there might be a few alterations to the list before the year concludes!

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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#8 - Anything in the book about how Mainfreight gets the pols to allow all sorts of practices that are very dangerous to the driving public but excellent for their bottom line?

#8 good question - like spreading the cost of all the damage that trucks do to the roads across all road users, not just the truckers. Kiwi Rail might be a bit more competitive if the Pols leveled the playing field there. Be good for the environment too.

If my lifetime I have successfully started two businesses from nothing.  One in NZ and one in OZ.  This is, of course, a very narrow experience set, but when I reflect on the 80% of business startups that fail within their first few years I have the following thoughts for those with ambition.
1.  Nothing worth knowing in business can be taught (in a formal sense).  Education is only a very small part of business success so if you don't have much don't worry.
2.  Character is more important that clever.  Character flaws undermine everything clever can ever bring.  Without character pressure and circumstance easily overwhelm lifes compass.
3.  Without courage you won't get anywhere.  Behind every success, large or small, are very real and courageous decisions, even though you will be told (if you succeed) it was mostly luck.
4.  A partnership is like a marriage and includes your partners partner.  Be very careful, even wifes falling out can destroy a business.
5.  Never guarantee anybody elses debt.  If you have it and you want to do it give it without strings and forget it.
6.  It doesn't matter if you start with just the clothes on your back some will still call you a fat cat.  The politics of envy are very alive in the human heart around you so harden up.
7.  Persistence is a key.  Failure is the pavement stone on the road.

Very good. I like these pointers. Re 1, some learnings can be taught formally though I agree there is also a lot of learning done in the execution process 

You missed a couple which are paramount. One is being born with the correct personality type combined with being born with sufficient, but not excessive, intelligence. Lets face it you don't have to be bright to do the boring crap that a business requires on a day to day basis.

This Khan thing is great!
How awesome is the internet.

Sal Khan is one of my personal heros! Having the opportunity to spend an hour with him earlier this year when I was in Silicon Valley was an unforgettable experience...

Very cool.

#4 - Always wondered whether Callaghan was aware of the real problem and its magnitude. Did he decide that telling it was a waste of time, that engendering nimbleness of mind and efficiency of operation was the best thing to urge? I'm off to listen to Hendy on Monday night - will report back as to whether I applauded or hollered out 'bollocks'.
#5 - an example of the internet displacing the ability of many to earn. How many displaced teachers? I make no social comment (their failed mortgages, marriages etc) but the planet can't underwrite all those combined expectations any more. So we get 'free' - or close to it - for the masses, and a very few (google and ?) who make the money instead. It's the way it will go if the infrastructure - massive warehouses of server/memory powered by coal, exhuding low-grade heat - is maintained.
#6 - if #7 is correct, they have to be displacing something.
#7 - "While no one would deny that development is essential for poorer nations". That's not true; it may be desirable, but it's both impossible, and far from 'essential'. What was the threshold for 'essential'? I suggest; nothing more than ingrained instinct.
Jackson sounds like Tim Flannery, sounds like (Nobel Laureate, recent Rutherford lecturer) Sir john Sulston, sounds like (recent keynote Valuing Nature speaker) Sir Bob Watson, sounds like...... 
You seem to need to pay for the long version - which requires my economics to grow.  :)
#8 - Mainfreight is unsustainable (see #7).
#9 - just read 'The Lorax'.
#10 - good stuff. Great example of cherry-picking; best first, then refinement (a laptop or tablet is just a refined typewriter, weaving and spinning still require weft-over-warp and rotation-induced twist.
Good list.

Andrew : New Zealand's Innovation Economy has kickstarted the day with a 5 % rise to $ 26.55 per share .... which capitalises it at $ 3.4 billion ...
... should we sell off the family silver and Grannie's false teeth and stick it all on XERO ?
Snodgrass Throgmorton is correct , we can live without food or water for awhiles , without our clothes ( in summer ) .... but we simply must possesses our precious online accounting software ....

It's Friday....Yay
Truly sorry for your loss GBH, but at least now you may assume the mantle beyond the NomD.
We were hoping to build a small profitable company; and of course, what we've done is build a large, unprofitable company. XERO
Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure. 
A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history - with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

In honour of our bonnie host today , aye  Andrew laddie , this one's for you :
A Scotsman walking through the fields , sees a man drinking from a pool of water , with one hand ...
... the Scot hollers at him " Awa ye feel hoor thatas full Oa coos Sharn ! " ..
[ Don't drink the water , it's full of cow sh*t ]
The man shouts back " I'm English , speak  English , and don't understand you ! "
The Scotsman replies , " Use both hands , you'll get more in " ...

.... time to launch an online psychotherapy service for stressed dairy cows .... you and me are zany enough to get away with it , Zz !!!

No point.
It would only go teats-up.

GBH , there's driving Miss Daisy then there's this idea.
I should say one of ZanyZ's CGT rants would be enough to put the afflicted cow in a coma, besides there are already recognised cow whisperers for what ails them..... MR.plastic shot n trocar. 
What's that Dilligent been up to then..? been shadowing Xero have they ..?

,,, they havn't been diligent enough , my friend , they went all crazy like .... and ( shock horror ! ) actually returned a net profit .... The bounders !
Which may help to explain why Diligent's market capitalisation is just a smidge more than one tenth's of Xero's !
... you're a hero , if you report zero !!!

Ah what the hell it's Friday.....Religious Cowboy

 The devout cowboy lost his favorite Bible while he was mending fences out on the range. Three weeks later, a cow walked up to him carrying the Bible in its mouth.

The cowboy couldn't believe his eyes. He took the precious book out of the cow's mouth, raised his eyes heavenward and exclaimed, "It's a miracle!" "Not really," said the cow. "Your name is written inside the cover."


 Two Cows in a field


 Two cows were out in a field eating grass. One cow turns to the other cow and says, "Moooooo!" "Hey", the other cow replies.... "I was just about to say the same thing!" 


A lady from the city and her traveling companion were riding the train through Vermont when she noticed some cows.

"What a cute bunch of cows!" she remarked.

"Not a bunch, herd", her friend replied.

"Heard of what?" "Herd of cows."

"Of course I've heard of cows."

"No, a cow herd."

"What do I care what a cow heard. I have no secrets to keep from a cow!" 


Emergency Room 

A man staggers into the emergency room with a concussion, multiple bruises, and a five iron wrapped around his neck. 

Naturally the doctor asks him what happened. "Well, it was like this" said the man.

 "I was having a quiet round of golf with my wife, when at a difficult hole, we both sliced our balls into a pasture of cows. 

We went to look for them, and while I was rooting around I noticed that one of the cows had something white in it's rear end.

 I walked over and lifted up the tail, and sure enough, there was a golf ball with my wife's monogram on it stuck right in the middle of the cow's butt. 

Thats when I made my mistake.

" "What did you do?", asked the doctor. "Well, I lifted the tail, pointed, and yelled to my wife, "Hey! This looks like yours!" 



The cow of a small village in Ireland had stopped giving milk .... but the villagers heard of a cheap cow in Scotland ... so they snuck over in the dead of the night , purchased her , and brought her back to Ireland .....  and she was wonderful , MacMoo gave more milk than they'd had in many a long year ...
... so they decided to mate her with the bull , incase anything untoward happened to her ...
After months of watching the cow constantly bebuffing the bull's advances , the villagers went to see Mr Herriot , the vet .... they explained to him that everytime the bull approached the cow , she moved away ... if he tried to mount her from behind , she stepped forward , if he sidled up to her , she sidled away , if he come towards her head on , she backed up ....
... " ah " said the vet , " you got that cow from Scotland didn't you ! "
The villagers were awestruck ..... " how on God's good green earth could you have known that ? "
... " simple " , said the vet , with a tear and a distant look in his eye .... " my wife's from Scotland ! "

I thought the best come back was by Amanda Morrall a couple of years ago of a multi-media interactive video animation of Gummy Bear "twerking" or doing the "twerk"

 This is sexier than Agnetha , sassier than ABBA dabba dooo .... Swedish musik as it ought to be ! ... enjoy ... Gummibjorn Hero

No its lack of energy, never seen any indiction he understood that..

I do hope we see Mr Patterson back here as a Top 10 contributer ... he brings to us stories of  financial pragmatic optimism , and innovation , entrepreneuralism , education  ....
.. and in return , we've cobbled together our best cows & Scotsmen jokes ...
Win/Win , my friends ... och aye !
... an American , an Italian , and a Scotsman were walking in the countryside , when they happened upon a lone cow , grazing happily in the meadow ...
" She's obviously an American cow , look how she gulps down her food " , opined the Yank .
" Rubbish " said the Italian , " she is Italian cow , listen to her bellow ,  just-a-like-a-me-Momma " ...
... " yea silly sassanachs , she's Scottish of course " said the Scot , pointing to the cow's udder , " see .... she's even carrying her bag-pipes with her ! "

LOL, from an arch libertarian who has a habit of getting things wrong, like gold for instance.
Of course Yellen is wrong if you are an Austrian. Look at the mess the last one, Greenspan made, thankfully it hasnt been repeated.

You havent refered to Schiff on posts on here when it suited? I can remeber at least once.

She [Yellen] is wrong for no other reason than she supports this discredited social engineering nonsense:
Of note: in the just completed week, the Fed's balance sheet increased by over $50 billion (again, in one week), by $100 billion in the past month, and by just shy of $1 trillion in the past year. Incidentally, this is "money" that continues to not make its way into the economy, and every single "reserve" dollar created by the Fed in exchange for monetization, is used by banks to ramp asset prices to now daily record levels. Read more

It's like watching constant re-runs of Road-Runner and Wile.E.Coyote. He's stuffed.
There is a direct correlation between the debt ceiling and Federal Reserve QE

In 2008 the Debt ceiling was $11 trillion, then in 2011 is was $14 trillion, now, in 2013 it is $17 trillion. That increase is directly funded by the Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet
With the appointment of Yellen to continue the same policy, a fiscal cliff was never going happen while the FED continues QE, tapering or not.

The main "original" objective was to get the value of housing back up so the down-trodden plebs would feel confident enough to start buying again. But as you point out, it's going to the merchanteers and Wall Street instead. Those foreclosed home-owners will never buy again. Not in this life-time anyway.

Put these two items together. Then have think. Then wonder why the entire world is in a wee bit of a predicament.
Your cheque is in the mail. Selling SOEs at a loss, where have I heard that before.
The blind leading the blind, part one
Scroll down on next link to. this item

Alan Greenspan: What Went Wrong
Part two, The blind old codger, who knew not what he did, but still partying hard.
I've always considered myself more of a mathematician than a psychologist,” says Mr. Greenspan.
Pity we have to follow their fine mathematical example.

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