Audio Book Reviews – Part 2

The Connectors

By: Maribeth Kuzmeski, Narrated by: Scott Peterson

This was terrific book and I enjoyed it. Although the content sometimes felt cliche and recycled, I have always enjoyed positive and motivational content and enjoyed this book as well. If I were to summarize this book in one sentence it would be “Connectors look to benefit others first and that is how they succeed.”

The tagline for this book is “How Successful Businesspeople Build Relationships and Win Clients for Life”. This book attempts to answer how one can win clients for one’s business and presents a long-term strategy for doing so. If the strategy in this book is implemented, I believe anyone can succeed. What I also like about this book is that it is not how to “Win Clients Quick” but about a long-term focused strategy that will deliver your business in the long run.

One of the points that the author drives home hard is in order to succeed, one has to be truly interested in the well-being, growth and prosperity of others. Not a simple a quick “How’s everything?” but an actual and genuine concern for another human being.

At times, the content in the book felt like it was no great insight but a little more like simple common sense. When I listen to a book, I expect to be wowed by the insight the author provides even if it is about an oft repeated piece of wisdom. I expect the authors spin it in their own words and I did not see much of that. However, I am recommending this book with 3 stars.

BIG Data Revolution

By: Rob ThomasPatrick McSharry, Narrated by: Matthew Josdal

If I were to sum up this in one sentence it would be “Data allows people to make decision based on evidence instead of intuition and guess work. Big data will revolutionize all aspect of life soon from Agriculture to Medicine.”

One of the promises this book made form the start and one that really got me excited about listening was that there would be stories in the book. The authors promised from the start that the major points in the book will be made with the help of stories. However, the stories in this book were rather sparse. Wherever present, the stories were impactful but I wish there were more of them. The sections in the book where the stories were used to demonstrate the impact of big data were really eye opening. There were other parts in the book that felt like they belonged in a Wikipedia article rather than an audio book.

Some of the concepts in the book put me to sleep (yawn) but that is not necessarily the authors fault. There are some technical concepts that are simply not suitable for audio-books and we cannot fault an author for that. The art lies in trying to present very technical and at times dry concepts in a way that holds human attention and this book misses that point at times which is forgivable but be warned, you might find your mind drifting at times while listening to this book.

The reason I believe this book is valuable is that I agree with its fundamental assertion that big data analytics and using evidence based decision making is no longer a buzz word but a fundamental change. Any organization that fails to adopt this approach will likely not be able to complete in the data era. This insight is so valuable that I cannot give this book less than 4 stars even though that point could have been made more succinctly. 4 stars.

The Innovators Dilemma

By: Clayton M. Christensen, Narrated by: L.J. Ganser

What can I say about this book that has not already been said? One thing I can say for sure is that this book is going on my “repeated read” list. I will be reading / listening to this book again.

Before we go any further, let me spell it out for you. The innovators dilemma is that “When faced with disruptive technologies, established firms are late to react to the disruption not due to incompetence or bad management but due to the very reason that made them successful in the first place. Listening to existing customers and innovating vertically is how established companies succeed in existing markets but it also exactly how they fail when faced with disruptive technology”.

This book was surprisingly engaging for what I thought would be a relatively dry topic. It felt like the I was being slowly but surely taken to the conclusion by author and I appreciated taking the journey with him.

I did not mind the fact that some of the examples and case studies are of old companies and industries. All of the case studies are still very applicable to modern corporations.. There are times when the book get a little pedantic with the details of some of the case studies but that short-coming is easily overlooked due to the great content in the book.

The Innovators Dilemma wowed me, made my jaw drop at times and made me deeply contemplative about what I learned about business management in school during my bachelors in business administrator. What a fantastic book and I giving it an enthusiastic 5 stars.

Blue Ocean Strategy

By: W. Chan KimRenee Mauborgne, Narrated by: Grover Gardner

Competing in a saturated market with lots of players vying for the same customer base with little to no differentiation in products or services is akin to competing in an ocean where all the fish are vying for the same food source and in the process cut or hurt one another. This is the concept of the red-ocean with fish bleeding everywhere. Where as the author present the hypothesis that companies should look to create blue oceans where there are no competitors so that their product or service offering is so well differentiated that they make the competition irrelevant.

Many concepts in this book seemed like management 101 which is find your differentiating factor, increase your market share not by competing in the same space by creating a new market, etc. Just calling it blue ocean strategy does not make it original or insightful but there are some valuable insights in this book. Some of the case studies discussed as well as some historical discussion of leaders using leadership strategies to achieve results with limited resources was insightful.

The book redeemed itself at the end by providing some case studies that I had heard before but preseneting them in a new light such as the US Auto and PC industiry.

Perhaps I am biased since I listened to this book after “The Innovators Dilemma” which is now on my top 5 books on business list. However, this book kept my attention and was well put together even though it felt recycled at times. 3 stars.

Finding Flow

By: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Narrated by: Sean Pratt

The dichotomy of the modern working man is that our identity, our happiness and sense of self-worth is derived in large part from the work that we do. However, we feel less happy at work than at any other time. People also complain about not having enough free time while having too much free time makes them listless and depressed.

Finding flow is attempting to answer the question of how to find that perfect balance and how to achieve maximum engagement with your life in your lesiure time as well as when occupied. The book argues that we are happiest and most fulfilled not when we are doing what we say we enjoy the most. On the contrary, the book argues that we are happiest when we are flowing or when our cognitive and physical abilities are fully focused on a task at hand and we find the task challenging enough to be engaged.

Humans beings may have evolved to be in a constant state of stress where as being leisurely actually hinders our growth. Perhaps even a little adversity is good for our growth and reaching outside our comfort zone to a place where we are fully engaged with our mental capacities is the key to happiness.

There are some assertions in this book that at times feel forced or lacking evidence. For example, one of fundamental conclusion that this book is trying to reach is that in order to find happiness, one must find activities where flow is achieved. The assertion that one is happiest when one is in a state of flow needs closer examination. For example the book has experiements that state that poeople describe experiences in which time seems to flow faster and one does not realize where time went. Though I persoanlly agree with this assertion and I do find most joy in activities in which I am fully mentally engaged, the repeated assertion that everyone will find happiness in such activities warrants examination and skepticism. Perhaps TV is not as bad as the book makes it out to be and perhaps people really can find flow watching TV.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was eye opening and made me think deeply about life and how I approach day-to-day mundane tasks such as driving, brushing my teeth or changing my clothes. I really enjoyed this book and am giving it 4 stars.

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