In My Hands Today…

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future – Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

If you want to build a better future, you must believe in secrets.

The great secret of our time is that there are still uncharted frontiers to explore and new inventions to create. In Zero to One, legendary entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel shows how we can find singular ways to create those new things.

Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.

Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.

Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.

In My Hands Today…

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You – Julie Zhuo

Congratulations, you’re a manager! After you pop the champagne, accept the shiny new title, and step into this thrilling next chapter of your career, the truth descends like a fog: you don’t really know what you’re doing.

That’s exactly how Julie Zhuo felt when she became a rookie manager at the age of 25. She stared at a long list of logistics–from hiring to firing, from meeting to messaging, from planning to pitching–and faced a thousand questions and uncertainties. How was she supposed to spin teamwork into value? How could she be a good steward of her reports’ careers? What was the secret to leading with confidence in new and unexpected situations?

Now, having managed dozens of teams spanning tens to hundreds of people, Julie knows the most important lesson of all: great managers are made, not born. If you care enough to be reading this, then you care enough to be a great manager.

The Making of a Manager is a modern field guide packed everyday examples and transformative insights, including:

  • How to tell a great manager from an average manager (illustrations included)
  • When you should look past an awkward interview and hire someone anyway
  • How to build trust with your reports through not being a boss
  • Where to look when you lose faith and lack the answers

Whether you’re new to the job, a veteran leader, or looking to be promoted, this is the handbook you need to be the kind of manager you wish you had.

In My Hands Today…

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen – Dan Heath

Most of us spend our days handling a deluge of pressing issues. We’re so accustomed to managing emergencies as they strike that we often don’t stop to think about how we could prevent crises before they happen. Why stop at treating the symptoms when you could develop a cure? How many daily headaches do we tolerate because we’ve forgotten to fix them?

Whether it’s time management, supply chain logistics, or healthcare decisions, all over the world, persistent problems cost time, money, and lives. Upstream explains how to target the source of the problem rather than just reacting to it as it happens and introduces you to the thinkers who are chipping away at everyday frustrations and deep-rooted issues. One travel company saved 25 million customer phone calls every year by adding a simple step to its booking system. An insurance business, determined to help YMCAs across the country lower their number of accidental drownings to zero, has saved an untold number of lives. The LAPD track down more accurate addresses for suspects by buying access to the delivery data from local pizza shops. The CDC realized they could anticipate flu outbreaks by tracking thermometer sales in local pharmacies.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews, as well as his own innovative behavior research, New York Times bestselling author Dan Heath delivers practical solutions for preventing problems rather than simply reacting to them—revolutionizing how we approach professional and personal goals in our daily lives.

In My Hands Today…

Management Mantras – Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Organisations the world over today are paying more and more attention to how to prevent their workforce from burning themselves out due to an unrelenting pace of work. Views are radically changing on practices to ensure the employees perform consistently well over many years.

In this book, Sri Sri offers valuable tips for managers and leaders to become more effective in their roles and also on how to develop a conducive work environment so that both the employees and the organisation add value to each other.

“Management begins in the mind. When the mind manages itself better, it can manage anything.” H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

In My Hands Today…

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t – James C. Collins

To find the keys to greatness, Collins’s 21-person research team read and coded 6,000 articles, generated more than 2,000 pages of interview transcripts and created 384 megabytes of computer data in a five-year project. The findings will surprise many readers and, quite frankly, upset others.

The Challenge
Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.

But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

The Study
For years, this question preyed on the mind of Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?

The Standards
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world’s greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.

The Comparisons
The research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great. What was different? Why did one set of companies become truly great performers while the other set remained only good?

The Findings
The findings of the Good to Great study will surprise many readers and shed light on virtually every area of management strategy and practice. The findings include:
Level 5 Leaders: The research team was shocked to discover the type of leadership required to achieve greatness.

The Hedgehog Concept (Simplicity within the Three Circles): To go from good to great requires transcending the curse of competence.

A Culture of Discipline: When you combine a culture of discipline with an ethic of entrepreneurship, you get the magical alchemy of great results. Technology Accelerators: Good-to-great companies think differently about the role of technology.

The Flywheel and the Doom Loop: Those who launch radical change programs and wrenching restructurings will almost certainly fail to make the leap.