The Best Books for Business Students

24 05 2013

The Economist recently posted about former Groupon boss CEO Andrew Mason’s favorite business books and his issue on new workers without any business books under their belts. There are certainly plenty of reasons to avoid much of the garbage out there on the business book shelves. The Career News section of the Economist used this as an opportunity analyze the choices and list some other interesting books. This reminded me of a long-delayed post listing my favorite books for business school students, new graduates and anybody entering  the workforce.

ANDREW MASON, Groupon’s ex boss, complained in a recent blog post that too few of the young people who joined his firm had read a single business book. This, he said, meant they “would arrive at orientation with minimal understanding of basic business wisdom”.

Are books a good way to learn about business? In some ways, recruiting people with a working knowledge of management literature is about correlation not causation. In other words, a firm might want to hire them because they are inquisitive enough to read about business strategy, not because the books themselves will have imparted much wisdom.

http://www.economist.com/whichmba/early-learning-business-books?fsrc=scn/li/cp/mba/earlylearningbook

My top business books (or book series) for the last decade are as follows:

1. Any book in the Incerto Trilogy by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (or Pentalogy if you consider the two technical addenda)

Fooled by Randomness

The Black Swan

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

2. Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright

3. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t by Nate Silver

Bonus for law students is Typography for Lawyers by Matthew Butterick. Should be mandatory reading  in all law schools.  No excuses for ugly fonts and poorly formatted documents.

These books look at conventional management or financial wisdom. Sometimes even skewering the fortune tellers that populate those industries. While extremely arrogant, everything by Nassim Nicholas Taleb is fascinating and thought-provoking. He has proved quite prescient over the years writing about business fragility right before the financial crisis.  Tribal Leadership is simply the best book I have ever read on motivating and leading teams or groups of people. The book was so influential to Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com that he bought the rights to distribute the e-book for free. The Signal and the Noise is Nate Silvers work on predictions and where they seem to succeed and fail. I should write a little more about each one but it is a busy holiday weekend approaching.

Happy Memorial Day weekend readers.

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Create Your Own Word Clouds

5 03 2013

I decided to create word clouds based on my Linked-In profile, CV page and recent blog posts. The results are below.  Anybody can make word clouds like these, just go to Wordle, enter the text or site and start creating.

My Linked-In Profile

www.linkedin.com/in/erictcook/

Capture

My Curriculum Vitae

https://ecocinar.wordpress.com/about/

Woofle for CV

Recent blog posts

https://ecocinar.wordpress.com/

Capturehh

Hat tip to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis for the idea.





Workplace Bulletin Board Best Practices

18 06 2012

Some employers have a bulletin board that employees can post items of interest like vacation post cards, art and such. Often these are not policed and employers would only take down material if it was inflammatory or in violation of a policy. That being said, most employment attorneys would say that employers should prevent employees from posting personal items up there because once you start its hard to defend making editorial decisions of what is up there. For example if you let employee X post about their side business or school bake sale, its difficult (and maybe an unfair labor practice) to prevent an employee from posting about their own union organizing event.

The central point is that when you let employees post personal items on a bulletin board you need to be prepared to accept material you may not like. In other words be consistent and enforce the rules you establish equally.





Quality of Hire Metrics

24 04 2012

In recruitment and business statistic circles, the term quality of hire is popular as of late. Many firms are discovering new methods to track and quantify this data.

One of the most important ways for a business to gather these statistics is by tracking the source of applicants. This white paper by Indeed should be required reading for recruiters and anybody who does recruitment advertising.  The article stresses the importance of quantifying your applicants based on source.  A quick comparison of average applications from Craigslist, Monster and Career Building paints a pretty clear picture of why the later two are in decline (provided by Craigslist though). Craigslist provides far more average page views for a fraction of the cost. Specialized job boards however are doing quite well in the recruitment advertizing market. To track your hiring metrics you need a feature in your applicant tracking system. If you still get resumes via email then you can tack them via a simple spreadsheet as well. Once a company has a good grasp of its recruitment statistics, the next step is too compare them with quality of hire metrics.

Quality of hire is a broad term but it can be any number that compares the hiring source, job expectations or qualifications with eventual results. For example Company Z hired 200 employees in 2011. Of those 100 employees only 50 stayed on through a full year. In that particular snap shot, the quality of hire would be 50% for the entire recruitment process. However that is only one simple method of evaluating quality of hire. Another method might compare quality of hire of external versus internally referred applicants.  A company could even compare the quality of hire between recruitment from different colleges, staffing vendors or job posting sites.  These statistics could be used to create mathematical models predicting success of applicants based on some specific qualifier. Smaller businesses should note that a small sample size is not enough to make assumptions and that correlation does not imply causation. At the very least though, quality of hire metrics can help evaluate better spending on recruitment advertising.

Additional reading:

http://www.shrm.org/Research/Articles/Articles/Documents/Whitepaper_Quality_of_Hire.pdf






What Economists Look At

7 01 2010

Freakonomics has a great piece on what presenters to the the American Association of Economists talked about mostly.  Looks like “evidence” was the most common tag to come up.  This list is important because it shows what economist are not talking about about as well.  The economic crisis clearly changed what  the  economic community is concerned with these days, for better or worse.  Strangely “Debt” is not prominent on the list.

On a somewhat unrelated but fascinating topic Google is entering the green energy business.

Creditor -Debtor Tip #2:

Do you need to retain or investigate a lawyer?  Check out their local State Bar website.  Typically a state bar will have contact information and  disciplinary history.  Also why not try a google search.








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