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Feature of the Week May 11, 2017

The Golden Passport: Harvard Business School, the Limits of Capitalism, and the Moral Failure of the MBA Elite 

by Duff McDonald

In The Golden Passport, McDonald reveals the inner workings of a singular nexus of power, ambition, and influence: Harvard Business School. Harvard University occupies a unique place in the public’s imagination, but HBS has arguably eclipsed its parent in terms of its influence on modern society. A Harvard degree guarantees respect. An HBS degree is, as the New York Times proclaimed in 1978, “the golden passport to life in the upper class.” Those holding Harvard MBAs are near-guaranteed entrance into Western capitalism’s most powerful realm—the corner office.

Most people have a vague knowledge of the power of the HBS network, but few understand the dynamics that have made HBS an indestructible and powerful force for almost a century. As McDonald explores these dynamics, he also reveals how, despite HBS’s enormous success, it has failed with respect to the stated goal of its founders: “the multiplication of men who will handle their current business problems in socially constructive ways.” While HBS graduates tend to be very good at whatever they do, that is rarely the doing of good.

Feature of the Week April 18, 2017

Dual Transformation: How to Reposition Today’s Business While Creating the Future

by Scott Anthony

In Dual Transformation, Scott Anthony, Clark Gilbert, and Mark Johnson propose a practical and sustainable approach to one of the greatest challenges facing leaders today: transforming your business in the face of imminent disruption. Dual Transformation shows you how your company can come out of a market shift stronger and more profitable, because the threat of disruption is also the greatest opportunity a leadership team will ever face. Disruptive change opens a window of opportunity to create massive new markets. It is the moment when a market also-ran can become a market leader. It is the moment when business legacies are created.

Feature of the Week March 14, 2017

Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind

by Scott Barry Kaufman

Is it possible to make sense of something as elusive as creativity? Based on psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman’s groundbreaking research and Carolyn Gregoire’s popular article in the Huffington Post, Wired to Create offers a glimpse inside the “messy minds” of highly creative people. Revealing the latest findings in neuroscience and psychology, along with engaging examples of artists and innovators throughout history, the book shines a light on the practices and habits of mind that promote creative thinking. Kaufman and Gregoire untangle a series of paradoxes— like mindfulness and daydreaming, seriousness and play, openness and sensitivity, and solitude and collaboration – to show that it is by embracing our own contradictions that we are able to tap into our deepest creativity. Each chapter explores one of the ten attributes and habits of highly creative people:

Imaginative Play * Passion * Daydreaming * Solitude * Intuition * Openness to Experience * Mindfulness * Sensitivity * Turning Adversity into Advantage * Thinking Differently

Feature of the Week March 7, 2017

The Spark and the Grind: Ignite the Power of Disciplined Creativity

by Erik Wahl

We’ve been conditioned to think about creative genius as a dichotomy: dreamers versus doers, creativity versus discipline, the spark versus the grind. But what if we’re wrong? What if it’s the spark and the grind?

We love people whose creative genius arrives in sudden sparks of inspiration. Think of Archimedes in his bathtub or Newton under his apple tree.

But we also admire people who work incredibly hard and long for their creative breakthroughs. Think of Edison in his lab, grinding through hundreds of failed variations on the lightbulb. We remember his words in tough times: “Genius is 1 percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration.”

Now Erik Wahl, a visual artist, speaker, and entre­preneur, helps us unite the yin and yang of creativity— the dynamic new ideas with the dogged effort. He shows why we won’t get far if we rely on the spark without the grind, or the grind without the spark. What the world really needs are the creators who can hold the two in balance.

Feature of the Week February 21, 2017

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

by Ashlee Vance

In Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance provides the first inside look into the extraordinary life and times of Silicon Valley’s most audacious entrepreneur. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family and friends, the book traces the entrepreneur’s journey from a rough upbringing in South Africa to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than 30 hours in conversation with Musk and interviewed close to 300 people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk’s world-changing companies: PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX and SolarCity, and to characterize a man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation while making plenty of enemies along the way.

Feature of the Week February 7, 2017

Simply Brilliant: How Great Organizations Do Ordinary Things in Extraordinary Way

by Bill Taylor

Far away from Silicon Valley, in familiar, traditional, even unglamorous fields, ordinary people are unleashing extraordinary advances that amaze customers, energize employees, and create huge economic value. Their secret? They understand that the work of inventing the future doesn’t just belong to geeks designing mobile apps and virtual-reality headsets, or to social-media entrepreneurs hoping to launch the next Facebook. Some of today’s most compelling organizations are doing brilliant things in simple settings such as retail banks, office cleaning companies, department stores, small hospitals, and auto dealerships.

William C. Taylor, cofounder of Fast Company and best-selling author of Practically Radical, traveled thousands of miles to visit these hotbeds of simple brilliance and unearth the principles and practices behind their success. He offers fascinating case studies and powerful lessons that you can apply to do ordinary things in extraordinary ways, regardless of your industry or profession.

As Taylor writes: “The story of this book, its message for leaders who aim to do something important and build something great, is both simple and subversive: In a time of wrenching disruptions and exhilarating advances, of unrelenting turmoil and unlimited promise, the future is open to everybody. The thrill of breakthrough creativity and breakaway performance . . . can be summoned in all sorts of industries and all walks of life, if leaders can reimagine what’s possible in their fields.” Simply Brilliant shows you how.

Feature of the Week January 31, 2017

The Signals Are Talking: Why Today’s Fringe Is Tomorrow’s Mainstream

Amy Webb is a noted futurist who combines curiosity, skepticism, colorful storytelling, and deeply reported, real-world analysis in this essential book for understanding the future. The Signals Are Talking reveals a systemic way of evaluating new ideas bubbling up on the horizon—distinguishing what is a real trend from the merely trendy. This book helps us hear which signals are talking sense, and which are simply nonsense, so that we might know today what developments—especially those seemingly random ideas at the fringe as they converge and begin to move toward the mainstream—that have long-term consequence for tomorrow.

With the methodology developed in The Signals Are Talking, we learn how to think like a futurist and answer vitally important questions: How will a technology—like artificial intelligence, machine learning, self-driving cars, biohacking, bots, and the Internet of Things—affect us personally? How will it impact our businesses and workplaces? How will it eventually change the way we live, work, play, and think—and how should we prepare for it now?

Most importantly, Webb persuasively shows that the future isn’t something that happens to us passively. Instead, she allows us to see ahead so that we may forecast what’s to come—challenging us to create our own preferred futures.

Feature of the Week January 3, 2017

The Power of Little Ideas: A Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach to Innovation

by Innovation Navigation host David Robertson

Conventional wisdom today says that to survive, companies must move beyond incremental, sustaining innovation and invest in some form of radical innovation. “Disrupt yourself or be disrupted!” is the relentless message company leaders hear. The Power of Little Ideas argues there’s a “third way” that is neither sustaining nor disruptive. This low-risk, high-reward strategy is an approach to innovation that all company leaders should understand so that they recognize it when their competitors practice it, and apply it when it will give them a competitive advantage.

For more on the book, and to get a free chapter, click here.

Feature of the Week December 20, 2016

Look: A Practical Guide for Improving Your Observational Skills
by Jim Gilmore

Inspired by Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats method, Jim Gilmore has created a unique and useful tool to help our ability to perceive. In his latest book, Look: A Practical Guide for Improving Your Observational Skills, Gilmore introduces the metaphor of ”six looking glasses.” Each looking glass represents a particular skill to master in order to enhance the way we look at the world. The six skills include binoculars, bifocals, magnifying glass, microscope, rose-colored glasses, and blindfold looking. Each looking glass provides an observational lens through which to see the world differently.

Feature of the Week November 29, 2016

America the Ingenious: How a Nation of Dreamers, Immigrants, and Tinkerers Changed the World
by Kevin Baker

What are the origins of the electric guitar? How did the whaling ship work? Why was the invention of the electric motor so crucial for the New York City subway? The incredible stories behind these strokes of genius and more, told by author Kevin Baker, fill the pages of America the Ingenious.

Here are 76 of the most intriguing, important, and ingenious inventions realized in America, from the Panama Canal, the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater to the oil rig, the electric sewing machine, and the telephone. Who came up with these ideas? How long did they take to realize? What were the complications? How, exactly, do these things work? And how have they affected who we are today? This book will satisfy the curiosity of history and miscellany buffs alike. Readers will walk away with a new appreciation for these world-changing inventions, as well as a newfound understanding of what makes America the perfect breeding ground for ingenuity.