First Friday Book Synopsis

"…like CliffNotes on steroids…"

Shortlist Announced for Financial Times and Goldman Sachs “Business Book of the Year” Award

Thursday September 15th, 2011:  The Financial Times and Goldman Sachs today announced the shortlist for the seventh annual Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award (, which aims to identify the book providing the most compelling and enjoyable insight into modern business issues.

The shortlist is:








Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty
Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo (Perseus Books, Public Affairs, USA)

Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar
Barry Eichengreen (Oxford University Press, UK)

Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier
Edward L. Glaeser (The Penguin Press, USA; Macmillan, UK)








Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril
Margaret Heffernan (Walker & Co, USA; Simon & Schuster, UK)

Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters
Richard Rumelt (Crown Business, USA; Profile, UK)

The Quest: Energy, Security, and the Remaking of the Modern World
Daniel Yergin (The Penguin Press, USA; Allen Lane, UK)

The distinguished panel of judges, chaired by Lionel Barber, Editor, Financial Times, this year comprises: Vindi

Banga, Partner, Clayton, Dubilier & Rice
Lynda Gratton, Professor of Management Practice, London Business School
Arthur Levitt, former Chairman of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission
Mario Monti, President of Bocconi University, Milan, European chairman of the Trilateral Commission, honorary president of Bruegel
Jorma Ollila, Chairman of Nokia and Royal Dutch Shell
Shriti Vadera, Director of Shriti Vadera Ltd, Non-Executive Director of BHP Billiton nd AstraZeneca

Lionel Barber, Editor, Financial Times, said: “I am delighted with the breadth and depth of this year’s shortlist.  The books are intellectually stimulating, offer something provocative and different and open up new vistas on the business world.  Themes range from tackling poverty, to the future of the dollar, and energy security in the modern age. I would like to thank the judges for reading an outstanding long list.”

The overall winner will be announced at the Awards Dinner co-hosted by Lionel Barber, Editor, Financial Times and Lloyd C. Blankfein, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc at The Wallace Collection in London on 3rd November 2011.  Lord Patten will be presenting the keynote speech at the event.

The winner of the Business Book of the Year Award 2011 will be awarded £30,000 (US$47,318 as of today’s currency conversion rate), and each of the remaining shortlisted authors will receive £10,000 each (US$15,773 as of today’s currency conversion rate).

Previous winners of the Award are Raghuram Rajan for Fault Lines (2010); Liaquat Ahamed for The Lords of Finance (2009); Mohamed El-Erian for When Markets Collide (2008); William D. Cohan for The Last Tycoons (2007); James Kynge for China Shakes the World (2006); and Thomas Friedman, as the inaugural Award winner in 2005, for The World is Flat.

For more information, please click here.

Thursday, September 15, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment, the New Digital Property of The Atlantic, Launches Today

I have just received this exciting announcement from Cynthia Rabe and am pleased to share it with you. As we proceed through the so-called “Age of Information,” an age that seems to be more like a blizzard each day, some sources are much more valuable than others. The Atlantic magazine offers an excellent case in point.

I urge you to click your way through the material that follows. Check out the resorces, become familiar with the options, and as you do so, put some white caps on your gray matter.

*     *     *, the new digital media property of The Atlantic, is live online today.

With more than half the world’s population living in cities, the new site is dedicated to covering the global centers where we live, work, and play. Featuring the work of Richard Florida, economist, professor, and Atlantic senior editor, explores and explains the most innovative ideas and pressing issues facing today’s cities and neighborhoods.

In addition to Florida, will feature leading voices in the urban planning and community building arenas. Regular correspondents will include: Allison Arieff, former editor-in-chief of Dwell magazine; Ryan Avent, economics correspondent for The Economist; Sarah Goodyear, former cities editor of Grist; Eric Jaffe, author and former staff writer for The Infrastructurist, and Matthew Ygelsias, blogger and fellow at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. The site will also feature contributions from thought leaders and academics in urbanism, such as Bruce Katz, director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, and Don Carter, director of the Remaking Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

The new site is edited by Sommer Mathis, the former editor of who also worked at and Washingtonian magazine, where she was online editorial director. Full-time staff includes Nate Berg, a four-year veteran of Planetizen, where he wrote, produced, and edited content about transit, the environment and urban planning. Berg has also contributed to The New York Times, Wired, Fast Company, and various design and architecture magazines. He is based in Los Angeles.

In addition to in-depth reporting and analysis on topics like jobs, commuting, housing, infrastructure, design, culture, and politics, launches with a number of recurring features, including: “The Big Fix,” a weekly exploration of how cities attempt to solve problems, one issue at a time; “Democracy in America,” offering tales of the occasionally noble and often absurd nature of American civic life at the local level; and “Why I Love My City,” an interview series about all the reasons why we choose to make a particular place home.

The site also features one-stop landing pages for top U.S. and international cities, including key data and information as well as Florida’s original city and state rankings on everything from the healthiest places to live to the best cities for recent college graduates.

“We believe the challenges and opportunities facing cities merit deeper exploration on the web,” said Bob Cohn, editorial director of Atlantic Digital. “We aim to do that with intelligent, compelling, and entertaining coverage on a range of issues. I can already see that Richard and Sommer, supported by a talented corps of writers, make a killer team.”

“More than three billion people live in cities, with an estimated 60 million more moving to urban centers every year. As population and economic activity concentrates more and more into these rich, dense communities, the challenge of maintaining prosperity, vibrancy, and livability in all cities-not just a few great metropolises-becomes absolutely vital to the overall health of our society,” said Florida. “ represents an important platform by which we can help shed light on these critical issues, both nationally and globally.”

Dow, a long-time partner of The Atlantic, is the exclusive launch sponsor for Jay Lauf, publisher and vice president of The Atlantic said of the sponsorship, “We’re delighted to embark on a new chapter of the relationship we’ve had with Dow over the years and are grateful for their support of the launch phase of this exciting new venture.”

Florida was named a senior editor of The Atlantic in March and has a long relationship with the magazine, website and events division. He is Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and the founder of the Creative Class Group. He has written several national and international best-selling books including The Rise of the Creative Class, Who’s Your City?, and The Great Reset. He was named one of Esquire‘s ‘Best and Brightest’ and one of TIME Magazine’s top 140 Twitter feeds with more than 130,000 followers @Richard_Florida. His ideas are being used globally to change the way regions, nations, and companies compete.

Follow The Atlantic Cities on Twitter at @AtlanticCITIES.

About The Atlantic:

Since its founding in 1857 as a magazine about “the American Idea” that would be of “no party or clique” The Atlantic has been at the forefront of brave thinking in journalism.  One of the first magazines to launch on the web in the early 1990s, The Atlantic has continued to help shape the national debate across print, digital and event platforms. With the addition of its news- and opinion-tracking site,, and now, The Atlantic is a multi-media forum on the most critical issues of our times, from politics, business, urban affairs, and the economy, to technology, arts, and culture. The Atlantic is the flagship property of Washington, D.C.-based publisher Atlantic Media Company.


Natalie Raabe
Director of Communications
The Atlantic
(202) 266-7533

Thursday, September 15, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Startup Man: A Conversation With Joi Ito

Joi Ito

Here is a portion of Gregory Mone’s conversation with Joi Ito, featured online by The Atlantic magazine. To read the complete conversation, please click here.

*     *     *

After a wide-ranging career in business and as a leading public intellectual on the topics of innovation and technology, Joi Ito takes the helm this fall as the new director of the MIT Media Lab. As an investor, Ito has had his hands in more than 40 startups including Flickr and Twitter. In 2008, he was named by BusinessWeek as one of the “25 Most Influential People on the Web.” He recently spoke with Gregory Mone about the Media Lab’s inter-disciplinary layout, its corporate partnerships, and the importance of creative art.

How much do you think the layout of the Lab matters, in terms of where groups are located?

I think it’s tremendously important. That’s part of what managing the Lab is going to be about: trying to make that space perfect. Because the way it’s laid out, the way things are connected, and how people run into each other and stumble on new things, a lot of that is affected by the layout. I don’t think everybody gets how important that is.

Why does the Lab emphasize multi-disciplinary collaborations?

Multi-disciplinary is a really key missing part of society, whether you’re talking about science or the economy or any of these things. We’ve gotten so good at getting deep and being more and more specialized about a smaller and smaller thing that now we’ve got so many people who are really, really smart but don’t know how to talk, let alone build anything together.

How do you get specialized thinkers to work together effectively?

A physicist and a chemist and an architect are only going to work together really well when they’re building something. You can have them sit around a table and argue but they’ll really only be talking across each other. The minute you try and build something together it becomes rigorous.

So it’s better to have people down on the Lab floor than chatting in the café?

Right. Or stuck in their office writing a paper.

The Media Lab is called a media arts and science group. How do the arts fit in?

Pulling together the arts with the science is critical. There is very little art on Wall Street. There’s very little art in most tech companies. It’s those tech companies that are able to synthesize art and technology, like some of the successful companies around us, such as Apple, that are key.

Speaking of companies, the Lab is supported by a number of corporate sponsors, but I’ve heard that you’re thinking of calling these supporters members. Why the proposed switch?

You can set up for failure just through little things like what you call each other. All the companies involved in the Media Lab have a tremendous amount to contribute besides their money. They create pathways to impact for us. They’ve got great ideas, great people. I want them to feel like they’re part of the team and they’re supposed to help us and work with us.

And the term sponsor wouldn’t work, in that sense?

Sponsor is fine when all you are is a sponsor. But in the case of the Media Lab I want these people not just to be giving their money but to feel like they’re part of the team, and for our team to feel like they’re part of the team. It’s not just a cosmetic thing. I’m trying to get the member companies to participate much more actively. They should be coming to get inspired, coming to inspire us.

Will you be looking for them to bring ideas from the media lab back out into the world or into their own organizations?

Absolutely. My perfect member company is a company that’s at the Media Lab to take our DNA. If I can see like an innovation center that looks a lot like the Media Lab in every company we work with, that would be amazing.

On the academic side, will you be bringing in any new research leaders or expanding into new areas?

In the last couple of years we’ve lost a lot of our arts people, so more arts stuff is important. There are a lot of domains that we could augment like games, privacy. There are tons of areas.

*     *     *

Gregory Mone

To learn more about Gregory Mone, please click here.



Thursday, September 15, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Great Workplace: A book review by Bob Morris

The Great Workplace: How to Build It, How to Keep It, and Why It Matters
Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin
Jossey-Bass/A Wiley Imprint (2011)

This is a book I have eagerly awaited.

Year after year, Fortune posts its annual list of the “1oo Best Companies to Work For.”  I have never questioned the selections nor the rankings but I have been very curious to know (a) the criteria by which they were selected and ranked, (b) how information about them was obtained and evaluated, and then  (c) what lessons can be learned from both their similarities and differences. Finally, Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin have co-authored a book in which they explain what I have been so eager to learn. They had direct access to all of the resources of The Great Place to Work® Institute which has conducted an annual survey of more than two million people who are asked to evaluate the cultures of more than 6,000 companies worldwide. The resources also include those available at 40 Institute offices.

“In these evaluations,” Burchell and Robin explain, “we assess two aspects two aspects of workplaces. The first aspect, weighted more heavily, is the employee experience…The second aspect we evaluate for our best companies lists are the programs, policies, and practices leaders put in place for their employees.” The book’s subtitle suggests four separate but related questions that helped to frame the material:

1. What are the defining characteristics of a great workplace?
2. How to build it?
3. How to sustain its greatness?
4. Why does building and then sustaining it matter?

Over time, based on the abundance of research data that it has obtained and analyzed, the Institute has devised the Great Place to Work (GPTW) Model, one that remains a work in progress within a dynamic process but a model, nevertheless, that remains fundamentally stable.  It facilitates determination of organizational greatness in five dimensions, each of which has core values:

Credibility (communication competence, and integrity)
Exemplars: PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Google

Respect (support, collaborating, and caring), Fairness, equity, impartiality, and justice)
Exemplars: General Mills and SC Johnson

Fairness (equity, impartiality, and justice)
Exemplars: Scripps Health and CH2M HILL

Pride (personal job, team, an company),
Exemplars: Wegmans Food Markets and W.L. Gore & Associates

Camaraderie (intimacy, hospitality, and community)
Exemplars: Camden Property Trust and Microsoft

Some companies piously affirm these values, have them identified on a laminated plaque displayed prominently in the reception area, and may even have them reproduced on a card everyone is asked to carry in a purse or wallet. The people at a GPTW – at all levels and in all areas — live those values every day…and thereby bring an acronym to life. For them, three relationships are critically important: with their supervisors, with their work, and between and among associates.

Moreover, throughout their lively and eloquent narrative, Burchell and Robin explain that a very special kind of leadership is needed to create and then sustain a GPTW. They make and then reiterate two key points: first, leadership at all levels and in all areas must be provided in the five dimensions, driven by the values in each; second, a “leader” is defined by character and competence manifested in behavior, not by title. That’s why, for example, companies such as W. L. Gore & Associates have a meritocracy rather than a hierarchy.

As many of those who read this book work their way toward the final chapter, they may be asking themselves, “OK, all this is very important. But where to begin?” My own advice is to re-read the book, highlighting key passages, and then re-read them before following what Michael Burchell and Jennifer Robin characterize as a “simple guide to action planning using your best practices, the Great Place to Work Model, and your newly honed leadership point of view” on Pages 217-221. “Building a great place to work is building the relationships people have with their leaders, the relationships people have with their work, and the relationships people have with their co-workers. We wish for you and your employees more trust, pride, and camaraderie. We wish for you to always be a part of a great place to work.”


Thursday, September 15, 2011 Posted by | Bob's blog entries | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment



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