Friday's Top 10: Andrew Patterson’s Top 10 business reads for 2014

Today's Top 10 is a guest post from Andrew Patterson, the SundayBusiness presenter on RadioLive.

As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below or via email to david.chaston@interest.co.nz.

And if you're interested in contributing the occasional Top 10 yourself, contact gareth.vaughan@interest.co.nz.

See all previous Top 10s here.

1) The Innovators – How A Group of Hackers Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, by Walter Issacson.

A remarkable history of the digital age that begins surprisingly in 1840 with one Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, who conceived the idea of a computer more than 150 years before the computer age finally came to into mass production. It's both a collection of history and an examination of how the most innovative minds work.Highly recommended for those who love technology and innovation.

Author interview: http://www.radiolive.co.nz/Walter-Isaacson-Author-The-Innovators/tabid/506/articleID/58622/Default.aspx

2) Thrive – The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Happier Life, by Ariana Huffington.

Ariana Huffington has become one of America’s most successful media entrepreneurs. Her website The Huffington Post has become one of the most widely read websites in the U.S. while Time magazine recently named her as one of the magazine’s 100 most influential people. Yet as her book starkly reveals, Huffington had become a victim of her own success. After collapsing from exhaustion breaking her cheekbone and injuring her eye in the process she underwent a radical change in her lifestyle by adopting a third way of quantifying success. A compelling read.

3) Creative Confidence – Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All, by Tom & David Kelley.

One of my personal favourites from 2014, Creative Confidence is a book that you can literally put to use immediately. Jam packed with practical tips and ideas, the book sets out to prove that those illusive creative genes are often dormant within all of us. Filled with examples of people who have adopted the book’s mantra, the Kelly brothers, who founded the iconic Silicon Valley product design company IDEO, will have even the most reluctant creative convinced of its value.

Author interview: http://www.radiolive.co.nz/Tom-Kelly-IDEO/tabid/506/articleID/40943/Default.aspx

4) Give & Take – Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, by Adam Grant.

“Nice guys finish last,” according to the old saying. Or do they? In his latest best seller Prof. Adam Grant from Wharton Business School proposes an approach to work, team building and productivity that is nothing short of revolutionary. Everybody knows that hard work, luck and talent each play a role in our working lives. But in this landmark book, Grant proposes the importance of a fourth, critical factor – that the best way to get to the top is to focus on bringing others with you.

5) No. 8 Re-wired – 202 New Zealand Inventions That Changed the World, by John Bridges & David Downs.

Who knew that instant coffee, the referee’s whistle and even daylight saving itself are all inventions both conceived and created right here in NZ? Our past is populated with amazing people with incredible, often world changing ideas, yet we don’t always celebrate or acknowledge our successes as much as we should. No. 8 Re-wired is an insightful celebration of kiwi can do. There should be a copy in every school in NZ to inspire the next generation of kiwi inventors.

6) Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Picketty.

Not exactly bed time reading, this weighty best seller was the surprise hit of 2014 and has been described as one of the most important books on economics in the last decade. In the book Picketty analyses a unique collection of data from twenty countries, ranging as far back as the eighteenth century to uncover key economic and social patterns. He argues that the growing concentration of wealth and the rising level of inequality are inextricably linked.

7) Scaling Up Excellence – Getting to More Without Settling for Less, by Robert Sutton.

The book focuses on a simple idea: as they grow, how can businesses retain the excellence which made them successful in the first place. Sutton argues that scaling up excellence is the key to creating a great organisation. It’s how a small enterprise expands without losing focus. It’s how a brilliant new idea or plan developed by the few goes on to be adopted by the many. Get it wrong and a business will be unable to achieve long-term success. Highly recommended.


8) Business Adventures – Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street, by John Brooks.

Described on its front cover as “the best business book I’ve ever read” according to Microsoft founder Bill Gates, there’s no doubting why this book has spent weeks on the New York Times best seller list. The book is an entertaining and insightful look at corporate and financial life in America. Each story is an example of how an iconic company can become defined by a particular moment of fame or notoriety. And as thought provoking book shows, the business lessons of each remain as fresh and as relevant as ever.

9) How Google Works, by Eric Schmidt & Jonathan Rosenberg.

If you’ve ever wondered about the inner workings of Google, then look no further! Executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt, former senior VP of products Jonathan Rosenberg, and director of executive communications Alan Eagle team up to explain how Google's work culture has evolved. They cover management strategies, communication, innovation, and dealing with disruption.

10) The Second Machine Age – Work, Progress and Prosperity In a Time of Brilliant Technologies, by Andrew Brynjolfsson& Andrew McAfee.

A fascinating book that examines why we might only be at the very start of a revolution that has the potential to transform the world in a way few of us can truly appreciate.

 

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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21 Comments

many years of EU low inflation,
"the market is pricing in many years of a depressed euro area economy with very low inflation (the implied expected inflation rate from index bonds is around 0.7 percent over the next five years.)"
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/27/euro-bond-yields/?module=Blo...
hmmm
So With Japan just as bad if not worse, china? ikky, US? yeah going gang busters, yeah right...
Rising rates in NZ?
Shouldnt the talking heads/bank economists who still consistantly claim NZ's inflation is going to take off any time now be finally given the boot?  or do we wait another 5 years until like a stuck clock they are finally vindicated?
Think I'll stay floating thanks.
regards
 

6) "He argues that the growing concentration of wealth and the rising level of inequality are inextricably linked." That's a bit of a tautology. I haven't read Picketty's book but my impression of it's key message is that wealth will always concentrate in the absence of severe disruptions and progessive wealth taxes. 

Wealth is a thing like time. It does not physically exist but has been developed as a concept in order that comparisons and measures be made.
Money differs from wealth as a medium developed to allow trading of all other things in a common valuation framework.
The claim of ownership of anything must first exist which allows this trade to occur.
In the first instance none of these things existed. They were put in place by those who perceived that they had more right to any resource about them than others and who controlled the power to enforce this perceived right.
Hereditary greed cemented all this, to the point now that wealth, ownership and money are all synonomous.
I find it all very sad really that, for we humans at least, what started as a world of life shared and humble plenty for all as they would roam, is now nothing but an exercise in purposely gathering greater wealth than others. Worse, that the most lauded do this at the others expense and off the back of their labour. Taking the wealth produced, hoarding and guarding it jealously lest balance breakout in the form of equality. For too long it really has not worked, just those who complained were not wealthy enough to alter it.

Wealth physically exists in that it gives options.  With wealth I can drive a porsche in the sunshine.  Without wealth I get to walk to work.

Money is trade.  Don't confuse it with currency, which is token.

If you don't think some people have more right than others, I'll thank you to start building your own house and raising your own food - all by your own hand - on the public commons.  Producing regular and quality food, housing and tools (and later IP) involves ownership, without ownership rights for the creators, then there is only force majuere (slavery through force) and there can be no trade only seizure (like the government likes to do) and no reinvestment (for it is always easier just to get your gang to take other peoples' investments).

Greed isn't about ownership.  Greed is the violation of ownership.  If you bond together with others and through the fruits of your own efforts and your own personal resources make wonderful things for yourselves...then how is that greed?  Hereditary or not.  If I put my life into my families investment, and my father before me (and mothers), then how is that greed?  That we wish to take the fruits of our own personal labour and sacrifice and give them to our family, that is our choice - not greed.

Greed is when someone sees something they want and isn't prepared to put in their own effort to create it.  When they aren't willing to make the generations of sacrifice it has taken others to re-invest in the resources.  Greed is the feeling that through writing laws or force or cunning that somehow removal of that creators resources is some how justified.

If you really think there is "plenty for all" then time for you to start working in the ground, herding the animals, mining the minerals.  then consider the jealousy again - when the real resources and building blocks for your "world" are being provided for a fraction of the payment as the paper pushing, advertising, entertainment industries and worse the first and second estates.   This is where the problem lies.  Because they who are given responsibility to control the system, write themselves large amounts of money and make decisions which spend the resources of others without personal responsibility.  This devalues the entire money system; but it is inevitable because the power corrupts, and those given the power only see their own cog as important, and it is in their animalistic interest not to gain knowledge which reaches beyond the justification of their own importance.

Mere platitudes Cowboy.

Please tell me where this commons you speak of exists. Here in New Zealand land ownership is divided between private freehold title, Maori leasehold, or Crown ownership. I don't know anywhere in New Zealand without these prior ownership claims.

Government doesn't take from others for its own sake but rather is merely an agent of connected interest.

In the 18th and early 19th Centuries it was the gentry, in the late 19th, and the early 20th it was the industrial magnates magnates, rail tycoons, and resource barons.Now its the defense industry, software whiz kids, and financial investors. Always there are competing interests for the government's favour. Eventually the governments and their interests become interchangeable. What's good for GM is good for America.

Now its a case of whats good for Fonterra is good for New Zealand

Parks and some crown lands are what are preserved "Commons".   These are defined and protected under law.  If they have been seized, then it can't be by private citizens by the very definition of the legal process surrounding the Commons.

Government does indeed take for it's own sake...unless you think all those folks in beehive, WINZ, Police etc are doing it as free charity.   Just try telling them "no thanks" and you'll find out how much of a lie "connected interest" is - or just check the literate and media things like "leaders" and "authorities".   "Connect interests" don't involve self-appointed leaders with required authority to push "connected interest parties" around.

You need to do some actual research and not just belief the brochures.  The Gentry were effectively what our local councils and government departments were, rolled into one.  That's why it was forbidden for them to undertake labour, so that they managed everything fairly and focused on improving their area, and their survival depended on them being able to do that.  The big houses and storerooms they had were also for emergency stores in case of famine or banditry.  The material they held initially was literally public goods - however as corruption and favouritism and empire-building became more common, and certain members of the gentry were using their public stores to support political armies (and admittedly some gentry were more skilled and had nicer areas to manage.  Or in a few cases owned several wealthy rides - which was a big debate over where it was proper to own multiple rides/hides and whether one could be both clergy and gentry and receive stripend for both offices.)

Magnates, land, rail, ocean, or banking all work of existing funding.
Defense has been an issue partly in tribal tribes where the strongest needed the warriors on side to keep his seat (and head).  And later with standing professional troops confidence and supply have been a constant burden.

Problem is, as is happening now, what is good for Fonterra is not necessarily good for NZ.
For tht to hold true, Fonterra would not be investing NZ farmers funds in Chinese farm-factories to compete with NZ farms.  Fonterra would be maximising margin and markets (eg Russia) not playing political games.  Fonterra would not be DIRA'ing and would not be cheating farmers by taking their sold product revenue to subsidise free city product giveaways. All of which act to weaken Fonterra, weaken farmer competiveness and development, and _that_ weakens NZ.   What is good for the farms, is good for rural NZ, which is good for provincial NZ...and that is good for NZ.       Fonterra-good is significantly redirected to short term projects, mistakes (buttermilk lakes), overspending (buying extra Chinese Infant formula companies that won't return a dividend or consulting fee), and overly generous remuneration packages for higher level staff.

What would be good for NZ, is a focus on reduction of basic costs, including food, rates, insurance, interest and taxes.  There is little gain giving a wealth person $200/wk extra, but huge return in reducing the cost to a poor person by $100/wk (without subsidisation)

I think you are missing the point, Cowboy. The story starts a few steps back: "In the first instance none of these things existed." said Spinach.
.... and ...
I find it all very sad really that, for we humans at least, what started as a world of life shared and humble plenty for all as they would roam, is now nothing but an exercise in purposely gathering greater wealth than others.
Porche!?

One would  need to believe the history books for Spinach's comment to hold validity!! Much of NZ history has been bastardised to suit agendas.

History of NZ? Take a few more steps back, notaneconomist. To the beginning of mankind...

NZ history, like where the English cut in front of my French ancestors to claim NZ as an English instead of a French colony?
 Or those generous Maori fellows, who were so nice to each other, and like to trade favours and lies to trick each other and the newcomers into wars with each other, or the great chief was was "uniting" the tribes - perhaps you need to go to Rotorua and read about the "bay of dead fish"
Or how the US and GB got on so famously.
Or that lovely Napoleon guy - or even Adam Weishaupt who just wanted people to get along.
Or the French Aristocracy who proved that hereditary titles are not so good in large familes...
..or perhaps Rome, where the fall can be attributed to Augustus spliting the inheritance to the 3 Caesars - who then had to fight against each other rather than against the divided tribes at their borders.
Yellow Emporer uniting the warring factions of Chin...between Mongolian invasions.
The tribes of Israel running about the desert occasionally genociding anyone who didn't speak correctly.
Or Persia (modern Turkey) and Greece city states.
Or Upper and Lower Egypt. and Babylon.
Or Etruscan fiefdoms and Mespotamia because yeah they got on so well.  No river bandits there...

The only place such Eden of social grace exists is in the minds and dogma of the socialists and serves to justify why those who do the work can have their property seized for the good of the State/rulers.    Sure we can create it, but that means stripping out the lies, identifying the failure within the system which has existed since pre-history.

The real code is more, me against my brother - except when fighting my cousin etc.

And anything which isn't fair trade, is the problem.

Your French ancestors must have been on the same ship as mine Cowboy...........de Malmanche family.

As I was explaining on Quora earlier today.

We might start life with empty hands (and empty bellies).

But we all get time, and a brain.   Careful use of those two resources, reinvested, is what creates wealth.   That wealth which is created is never created by government or by wars.  Government and wars and laws can only steal it away.   It can only be created by an action (weather or natural event, plant, animal or human) and thus _only_ placed into the human world by use of human time, human brain, and human hands.   It is that virtue of creation which pins the fundamental principle that we know as "ownership".

The better your reinvestment, eg through sacrifice and generations, then the bigger the wealth and it all belongs and is created by those whose brains and hands and time do the work.
      Govenment, not actually being a manifest oject, has no time, nor hands, nor brains and cannot and does not own anything.  Likewise "community" and "society" cannot own things as they cannot create them but must do so through the individuals who do the work - and as soon as someone starts to decide that anothers' ownership belongs to someone else, it is theft.

This is why trade is so important.  through specialisation and the nature of distanceand energy efficiency, it will be easier and faster for some people to produce more.  Likewise better brains can make improvements to production or reducing loss.  Again these things have clear natural ownership to those that produce them.  Trade allows us to expand our range and ability, and money is the best way to do this by give a clear rate of value - something might be worth so many big macs, or joules or hours or goats/geese, without that emergent property then excess is always valueless (as it costs more to produce than it is of worth to its owner, c.f. supply and demand).  Of course doing trade with such value is cumbersome - reward for trading your labour to clear a paddock, or to harvest your smelt is hard to shove in your pockets if you're paid in geese.     Also those who have good supply of food start looking for art (Maslow's needs) and ways to defend their holdings against other thieves...or using their holdings to fund very profitable seizure of other peoples' property that the others created or traded for.
 Government and many people in our current society fall in that last category.

Wealth is a thing like time. It does not physically exist but has been developed as a concept in order that comparisons and measures be made.
If you can get your head around this fact maybe you can imagine a world where "wealth" was not needed.
Personally I feel that with our persuit of Wealth we're stuffing up the planet, making it harder for other species to co-exist. Other species, who aren't obsessed with Wealth - just their daily needs... living in the moment :)

time, like wealth and energy do exist.  

It's people who think that Wealth does not exist, that in their ignorance enable others to use that ignorance and their power to steal wealth from all of the rest of us.  

  To pretend that a world can exist without wealth (or investment) is a fantasy and a foolishness.

How would you feed yourself and your family?
In what cave would you live - the dry one or the damp one; one choice is more valuable than the other.  To have things of higher value is "wealth".   The one living in a nice cave can choose to swap with a worse cave, but do you think a person in a poor cave will just be able to swap with someone who is in a nice cave?

The only way to have no wealth is if there is nothing of value, no power or influence, no way to construct or improve anything.  A single person on their own and no contact with anyone else with only their needs and no trade is the only one who might not have wealth.  

Other species...and you're talking to someone that has studied other species for this very reason, do indeed have wealth.  Who has the best tree or hill, who controls the water hole, who gets to eat first or chose the best mates.  Who knows where the best nesting spot is, the furtherest from the weather or predators. Who is higher in the pecking order. Who has the biggest horns, who is the tallest, loudest.  Who has the most influence with the others who control resources.  those who can demand the best gifts from their mate.  These are all wealth

The main thing wealth gives a person is CHOICE.

Once a upon a time man could walk from horizon to horizon without treading on someone elses land. Then one day a rule was made that was obeyed by all giving 'title' to some one and not some one else.
 
Something similiar happens with all sorts of resources -airwaves used to be free until they weren't. Fishing was a free for all until quotas were devised. And so on.
 
The trick is not to be fooled into thinking one group (the gentry for example) should be allowed to create the rules for all to benefit just themselves.
 
The whole point of replacing the gentry run system with a democratic one was that economic opportunities (who benefits from the system) is spread through all groups in society.

Depends on who the democracy is operated by and for whom
 
There is little difference between then - "The Titled" - and now "the entitled" - the powerful and the powerless still exist - here in NZ the Title is just not a birthright

You are right two guys. Democracy frequently doesn't live up to its promise. Certainly not at the moment.....

"Then one day a rule was made that was obeyed by all giving 'title' to some one and not some one else."

you missed the important spot!!  The one that so many miss.
Yes title was given.... by _whom_, something cannot be given unless it was owned....
And that's the step people miss, the State steals what doesn't belong to it, then those involved in the State profit by selling off privileges to those stolen belongings.   Without that ability to steal, the State and it's cronies would be limited to fair trade.

What comes first? Rules or ownership?
 
How does society determine ownership before there are rules? Might is right?

As Obama patiently explained to some folks, right makes might.  So presumably if you have might it must be because you are right.