Why read a business book? Or any non-fiction book? My phrasing might be different, but Seth Godin lauds the scientific method, and he writes:
Ask yourself, “what do I believe that’s wrong? How can I change the way I do things? What works? What doesn’t?”
Some people read business books looking for confirmation. I read them in search of disquiet. Confirmation is cheap, easy and ineffective. Restlessness and the scientific method, on the other hand, create a culture of testing and inquiry that can’t help but push you forward.
“I read them in search of disquiet.”
Going back to a theme I have written on before, persuasion requires “stasis,” a moment of standstill, a moment of dissonance, when one realizes that “I-could-be-wrong.” Only when that is acknowledged can change and progress become possible.
We read to experience disquiet — to be stopped in our tracks, to find what we need to jettison and abandon, what we need to change, what we need to add. We read to grow and to change. “To grow is to change, and to have changed often is to have grown much.” (John Henry Newman).
Tomorrow, the Creative Communication Network is sponsoring an event with two of our blogging partners, Cheryl Jensen and Sara Smith (CandS Knowledge Company). We are calling it: Take Your Brain to Lunch. I will present synopses of two books that are both important and useful for women in business: Women Don’t Ask and Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman: What Men Know about Success that Women Need to Learn. (I presented both of these in earlier years of the First Friday Book Synopsis). Sara and Cheryl, and a team of women, will lead facilitated discussions at the tables after each of the two presentations.
The timing could not be better. The latest figures show that the number of women currently working is nearly exactly even with the number of men. The gap has been shrinking for years, and now, in this “mancession,” it is just about erased entirely.
Earlier this year, we learned that among college graduates, women now outnumber the men in undergraduate and graduate and professional degrees awarded. In other words, in every major educational category, more women than men are earning degrees. (Check out this article for some of the details).
I first read about the “mancession” on the Daily Dish (Andrew Sullivan’s blog), which linked to this enlightening post by Catherine Rampell. Here’s an excerpt:
We’ve pointed out before that the recession has disproportionately hurt men, who are more likely to work in cyclically sensitive industries like manufacturing and construction. Women, on the other hand, are overrepresented in more downturn-resistant sectors like education and health care.
Casey B. Mulligan noted, for example, that for the first time in American history women are coming close to representing the majority of the national work force. It would of course be a bittersweet milestone, given that it comes primarily as a result of men’s layoffs.
The article has additional graphs which illustrate the toll the recession is taking on male workers.
Even without the recession, the number of women receiving college and graduate degrees, and then rising up the ladder in the work force, is increasing every year. So, it is certainly time to pay attention to the insight, the wisdom, the literature focused on women and business issues.
I’m glad to participate in a group giving attention to the ever increasing reality of women in business.
Cheryl offers: A few months ago, we decided to create a new offering for women’s business topics. Since we regularly attend the First Friday Book Synopsis, and we read a lot of books on women’s issues, we thought it might be interesting to blend the two concepts. That’s how we came up with the idea of Take Your Brain to Lunch. What we have learned over the past months while working on SMU’s new women’s leadership program, Women in Motion, is both men and women are interested in understanding each other better. They both see the value of appreciating the other’s perspectives. In diversity, there is great strength. With women now occupying more jobs in the U. S. than men, graduating with more degrees then men and projected to do so for many years to come, it’s imperative we all work together to deepen our individual understanding of how things are changing, or not. In their book, How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work, by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, they tell us “Curiosity is the high-test fuel for the engine of learning.” Once we noticed the shared curiosity surrounding women’s business topics, all we had to do was build an engine. When we started we optimistically aspired to attract 40 people to our first event; we have more than 80 and pushing 100! Personally, I have been amazed and inspired by the interest that is apparent in all generations, across all industries for learning. Way to go Dallas!
Sara adds: It’s good to talk about being curious; but how do you know you are doing “it” (being curious, that is)? Here are some ideas. If you are interested in the other person and their ideas, you are being curious. If you aren’t trying to justify your own idea – you are interested in someone else’s, you are being curious. If you get outside of your own thoughts and ways of doing things and consider new ideas, you are being curious. Frederick Schmitt and Reza Lahroodi have written an article on “The Epistemic Value of Curiosity” and offer 4 important values of curiosity:
- Curiosity is tenacious: curiosity about whether something is true leads to curiosity about related issues, thereby deepening knowledge.
- Curiosity is often biased in favor of topics in which we already have a practical interest.
- Curiosity is largely independent of our interests: it broadens our knowledge.
- Curiosity jumpstarts learning and when you embrace curiosity, you become a lifetime learner
And when we think of successful leaders, they are almost always curious. I guess the lesson here is to proactively look beyond what we know and believe to be true in order to find what is truly possible.
Here’s a story shared by Brian Clark.
An elderly man stormed into his doctor’s office steaming mad.
“Doc, my new 22-year-old wife is expecting a baby. You performed my vasectomy 30 years ago, and I’m very upset right now.”
“Let me tell you a story,” the doctor calmly replied.
“A hunter once accidentally left the house with an umbrella instead of his rifle. Out of nowhere, a bear surprised him in the woods… so the hunter grabbed the umbrella, fired, and killed the bear.”
“Impossible, ” the old man said. “Someone else must have shot that bear.”
“You got it,” the doctor replied.
This is an excellent example of an analogy. It is also an excellent example of how to connect dots. To increase the impact of your prose, you need to master analogies, metaphors, and similes. They help to clarify key ideas with vivid images that illuminate, and often dramatize causal relationships as well as comparisons and contrasts.
Clark is an Internet marketing strategist, content developer, entrepreneur, and recovering attorney. In addition to building three successful offline businesses using online marketing techniques, he has sold scores of products and services online via joint venture and affiliate arrangements. He founded Copyblogger in January of 2006, and continues to develop successful web properties with a variety of partners.You can sign up for free email updates by visiting http://www.copyblogger.com/.
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