Archive for the ‘General Business’ Category

Holiday reading

The holiday season is at hand — time to hit the slopes. But if there’s no snow to be found after the drought, you might settle in with a good book. Currently on the Library’s Popular Books rack is Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis (HG4628.5.L49 2014) which spins out the story of a small group of Wall Street guys who figure out the U.S. stock market is rigged for the benefit of insiders — and what they do about it.  Says Malcolm Gladwell, “I read Michael Lewis for the same reason I watch Tiger Woods. I’ll never play like that. But it’s good to be reminded every now and again what genius looks like.”  Pessimistic these days?  George Packer’s The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (E839.P28 2013) chronicles the story of the U.S. over the last three decades, portraying a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, with its institutions no longer functional and its ordinary citizens left scrambling for survival. Historian David Kennedy writes “Not since John Dos Passos’ celebrated U.S.A. trilogy, which The Unwinding recollects and rivals, has a writer so cunningly plumbed the seething undercurrents of American life.”  Feeling philanthropic?  A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (HV48.K75 2014) is a broad account of people who are making the world a better place and a guide on how to do so for the rest of us, offering success stories from the front lines of social progress. Former President Jimmy Carter notes, “This book is a helpful and inspiring guide for anyone who wonders what difference a single person can make in building a more hopeful world.” And finally, feeling competitive? Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local — and Helped Save an American Town (HD9773.U74 V38 2014) by Beth Macy documents the story of the Bassett Furniture Company of Bassett, Virginia, and how one man fought back against Chinese competition to save his family’s company, people’s jobs and the town itself. Lee Smith (Guests on Earth) says, “Beth Macy brings globalization to a human scale, giving a real voice and a recognizable face to everyone involved, from factory worker to government official to Chinese importer.”

Perks Pack a Punch

Today’s Wall Street Journal has an update on a Silicon Valley touchstone: lavish employee perks.  Now that the tech job market is so tight, perks have moved from from niceties to musts. They now account for “easily” 15% of salaries, and many companies have staff devoted to providing them.  Are they worth it?  This article questions the ROI and traces the practice back to SV’s earliest roots: Hewlett-Packard, which in the 1950s provided then-radical perks like flex hours and stock options.  Makes you wonder whether mediation, meals, and massages will be de rigueur a few decades from now.  

Looking for a quick hit of news?  The landing page for Factiva (select it from our list of databases here) includes top stories at a glance for WSJ, NYT, Washington Post, The Times, Barron’s, Forbes, and more.

Faculty Book Talk – Mon 11/17 – Oyer’s Roadside MBA

Please join us for another Faculty Book Talk on the Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives & Small Business Owners. Authored by GSB Professor Paul Oyer, Michael Mazzeo and Scott Schaefer,

Join us for a midday book talk at the Library. Hear Paul Oyer speak about Roadside MBA and enjoy light refreshments on the Library’s 4th floor.

Paul Oyer Book Talk
November 17, 2014
Board Room
4th floor Bass Center

Great Books. Great Room.
This popular event series is designed to showcase faculty publications and encourage GSB community interaction and engagement. The Library’s beautiful  fourth floor sets the scene for an inviting yet informal book talk, Q&A, and reception. All GSB students, staff, faculty & alumni are welcome. 

Books, Books, and more books

Top 10 business books reviewed by  Booklist  between July 2013 and May 15, 2014 by author Brad Hooper.

Many of these are found at Stanford by searching our online catalog Searchworks.



“Business” touches us all, whether you are actively engaged in sales, marketing, investing, or starting a business. Just buying groceries involves you in business. The diversity of the business world is reflected in our choices for the best business books reviewed in Booklist between July 2013 and May 15, 2014.

 Before HappinessBefore Happiness. By Shawn Achor. 2013. Crown Business, $26 (9780770436735).

The concept here is fairly simple: that change is possible only when we link our lives to others. That positivity, in turn, results from applying five factors (which are enumerated here) to change your reality. The book is an extraordinarily compelling argument to actively work on changing mind-sets.

The Chaos Imperative: How Chance and Disruption Increase Innovation, Effectiveness, and Success. By Ori Brafman and Judah Pollack. 2013. Crown Business, $24 (9780307886675).

In this small but thought-provoking book, two organizational and leadership experts explain their thesis on the need for “contained chaos” in our personal and work lives so that new and creative ideas can emerge “out of nowhere.”

 Console WarsConsole Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle That Defined a Generation. By Blake J. Harris. 2014. HarperCollins/It, $28.99 (9780062276698).

This is a remarkably detailed and fast-paced book, pitting speedy Sonic against more-of-the-same Mario in a blow-by-blow account of the battle for supremacy in the burgeoning video-game industry.

Crazy Rich: Power, Scandal, and Tragedy inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty. By Jerry Oppenheimer. 2013. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (9780312662110).

The author rivetingly chronicles five generations of the Johnson dynasty, from the three brothers who founded the world’s largest health-care business in 1888 through the high domestic drama of the subsequent generations.

 David and GoliathDavid and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. By Malcolm Gladwell. 2013. Little, Brown, $29 (9780316204361).

Gladwell examines and challenges our concepts of “advantage” and “disadvantage” in a way that may seem intuitive to some and surprising to others. As usual, he presents his research in a fresh and easy-to-understand context.

The Hard Thing about Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers. By Ben Horowitz. 2014. HarperBusiness, $29.99 (9780062273208).

In this collection of blogs, loosely strung together and united in their varied perspective on start-ups, CEO-dom, and business in general, Horowitz imparts valuable insights on hard lessons he’s learned that apply to any manager, whether in the executive suite or not.

 Intel TrinityThe Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World’s Most Important Company. By Michael S. Malone. 2014. HarperBusiness, $34.99 (9780062226761).

The modern semiconductor industry grew out of a faction of dissenting employees of Fairchild Semiconductor often called the Traitorous Eight, who left to form Intel Inc., a risky start-up that was transformed into the most successful technology company of the computer age; this revolves around the three men who founded and led Intel throughout its first four decades.

The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems. By Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen. 2014. Harvard Business, $28 (9781422191903).

The authors describe the time when a business and its executives know something’s wrong but can’t quite define it. They advocate “sensemaking,” and their strong, seductive arguments will sway the logic and process makers among us.

 Smart TribesSmart Tribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together. By Christine Comaford. 2013. Penguin/Portfolio, $26.95 (9781591846482).

Impressively, Comaford creates a concrete plan for corporate change (and growth and performance) without mentioning the actual word change; her presentation is very contemporary in tone and information.

What Works for Women at Work: Four Patterns Working Women Need to Know. By Joan C. Williams and Rachel Dempsey. 2014. NYU, $24.95 (9781479835454).

This book is filled with street-smart advice and plain old savvy about the way life works in corporate America as the authors provide an insightful guide for women who want to break through the glass ceiling.


Scrums, sprints = success!

The Scrum methodology worked for Zappos and it can work for you. An article in Fast Company discusses the process of “one-week sprints” from an Agile methodology of project management called Scrum to launch an innovative new service in just 12 weeks. Although the “Scrum” philosophy was originally developed for use by software developers, Zappos has shown that it can be applied to any short- or long-term project to optimize productivity and results.

It’s Internship season!

With many first year MBA students now off to summer internships, two articles that surfaced this week make worthy reading: this one quoting Jack Welch on using the opportunity to show what you can do, and this one on the perks Silicon Valley interns enjoy.

Congratulations to all of our graduates this weekend, and first years (make that second years, as of now), have a great summer!

Faculty books highlighted

GSB faculty authors  now have their recent books showcased on our Popular Books racks, just inside the Library entrance. Currently on display, for example, is The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong With Banking and What to Do About It, by GSB Prof Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig. This book asks the question ‘What is wrong with today’s banking system?’  The authors argue that we can have a safer and healthier system without sacrificing any of the benefits, and at no additional cost to society. Banks are not as fragile as they are because they must be, but because they want to be, the authors declare. The book calls for ambitious reform and outlines specific steps that can be taken immediately.  Says Eugene Fama of the University of Chicago, “A must-read for concerned citizens … should be studied and memorized by lawmakers and regulators so they won’t be duped by false claims in the future.”

Bob Sutton (Good Boss, Bad Boss) and Huggy Rao (Market Rebels) have teamed up to examine what it takes to build and identify pockets of exemplary performance and spread them to others in the organization in Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less.  Drawing on extensive research and inside accounts from a number of industries, the authors identify the key scaling challenges that confront every company. “Scaling Up Excellence is one of the finest business books you’ll ever read,” enthuses Daniel H. Pink (To Sell is Human).

Market Liquidity: Asset Pricing, Risk and Crises by GSB Prof Haim Mendelson, Yakov Amihud and Lasse Heje Pedersen presents the theory and evidence on the effect of market liquidity and liquidity risk on asset prices and on overall securities market performance, demonstrating the important role of liquidity in asset pricing. Stanford’s Darrell Duffie comments “This collection places the best available work on the topic between two covers. It must be read by anyone following this subject area,” while Nobel Laureate Robert Engle opines, “The liquidity of financial markets has never been a more important topic of research and policy and this book gives a very accessible way to understand both the traditional and current research.”

And finally, Absolute Value: What Really Influences Customers in the Age of (Nearly) Perfect Information, by Itamar Simonson and Emanuel Rosen. Going against conventional wisdom, this book reveals what really influences customers today, and offers a new framework — the Influence Mix — to help managers develop effective marketing strategies.  Chip Heath (Made to Stick) opines, “Every marketer is going to have to read this book (if only not to feel left out when everyone else is talking about it)”, and Ravi Dhar of the Yale School of Management says “Pay attention to this book. It offers important insights into changing consumer behavior and presents new rules for success in the marketplace of the future.”


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