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Jay Dreyer

Never Eat Alone


Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time

By Keith Ferrazzi

I wrapped up this book a couple of weeks ago but I haven’t written anything about it yet because I’m really not sure what to say.

I’ll start with a general overview. This purpose of the book is to teach the reader about networking. Social/career networking, to be more specific. As a person who definitely does not take advantage of this necessary skill, I picked up the book hoping to learn more. I did, but I didn’t. This is where things get confusing.

The author of this book, Keith Ferrazzi, is a networking machine. The term ‘networking machine’, however, might not be strong enough of a description. This guy lives, eats, breathes and sleeps networking. While reading the book we learn that he used to work at Deloitte, then jumped to a dot-com startup and now runs Ferrazzi Greenlight (I’m probably missing a job here…), but you wonder how he had time to do any of those things.

One of the major critiques about the book is the constant name-dropping. Ferrazzi seems to know just about everyone, and loves to run through the names of the CEOs, pols and other famous folks he has in his PalmPilot. It does get nauseating, but if you think about it, how could you write this book without it? If Ferrazzi doesn’t mention the famous people, would you believe that his networking tips work? I wrote off the name-dropping complaint and chalked it up as a necessary evil.

So, what did I get out of this? Well, networking is important. More important than I initially believed. Ferrazzi gives a few good tips, but out of nearly 300 pages, there are probably about 25 pages worth reading. One good section, I thought, dealt with conferences. I never get to attend these, but he did have some very good suggestions I’ll use if I ever do. The book was short on actionable advice and long on stories. As I don’t have any other books on this subject to offer, I’ll have to tentatively recommend it if you’re looking to learn more about networking. If you have any alternatives, post a comment.

 

Comment [2] | posted 11/09/2005 04:08 PM


The Wisdom of Crowds


The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations
The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations

By James Surowiecki

I just finished this book the other night and I enjoyed it. The title is a little misleading because the book focuses more on “groups” as opposed to “crowds”. The main point is that, in general, groups of diverse people can come up with better solutions than really smart individuals working by themselves. If you’ve recently taken some OB/HRM classes from your local business school, this should come as no surprise.

One of the major points of the book is the importance of diversity within teams. Not diversity in the skin color sense, per se, but more in regard to education, previous work experience, problem solving approaches, etc. Along with diversity is the importance of dissent and independence of thought. Groups consisting of individuals who are not afraid of going against the grain or challenging the group’s conventional wisdom will, in general, out-perform groups that focus on getting along. Working in these types of groups will not always be comfortable or completely enjoyable, but the results are worth it.

The book is about 270 pages and is a quick read. Surowiecki uses many interesting examples to make his points and keep the book moving (driving in traffic, competing on TV game shows, maximizing stock market performance, voting for political candidates, navigating busy sidewalks, tracking SARS, etc.) Some have complained about overly scholarly language and too much business speak, but I did not find this to be the case. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars. I should make some cool rating system or something. One of these days…

 

Comment | posted 10/25/2005 01:12 PM


Freakonomics


Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

I recently finished reading the book “Freakonomics” and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I’m a big geek when it comes to this type of stuff so it wasn’t a surprise. If you are not familiar with the book, the premise is that the authors use the fundamentals of economics to find the answers to a wide array of questions. Things like finding out if sumo wrestlers cheat, why real-estate agents don’t always work for your best interests, the effects of abortion on the crime rate, the inner workings of south-side Chicago crack dealers, etc. It sounds crazy but it’s a fascinating read and I highly recommend it.

 

Comment | posted 10/06/2005 05:16 PM


Radcliffe 100 Best Novels List

If you’re looking for something good to read, look no further than this list of fiction compiled by the Radcliffe Publishing Course. It was developed in 1998 as an alternative to the Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels list, which Radcliffe considered too old, too white, too male, etc.

Despite the politics behind it, I’ve really enjoyed the list and have been working on it for a while now. I slowed down while I was back in school, but I’ll get around to making progress on it soon.

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  6. Ulysses by James Joyce
  7. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  8. The Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  9. 1984 by George Orwell
  10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  11. Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov
  12. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  13. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  14. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  15. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  16. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  17. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
  20. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  21. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  22. Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne
  23. Their Eyes are Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  24. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  25. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  26. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  27. Native Son by Richard Wright
  28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  29. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  30. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  31. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  32. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  33. The Call of the Wild by Jack London
  34. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  35. Portrait of a Lady by Henry James
  36. Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin
  37. The World According to Garp by John Irving
  38. All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
  39. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
  40. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  41. Schindler’s List by Thomas Keneally
  42. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  43. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  44. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce
  45. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
  46. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  47. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
  49. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  50. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  51. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  52. Howards End by E.M. Forster
  53. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  54. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
  55. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
  56. Jazz by Toni Morrison
  57. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
  58. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  59. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
  60. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
  61. A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor
  62. Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  63. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
  64. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
  65. Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
  66. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  67. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
  68. Light in August by William Faulkner
  69. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
  70. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  71. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  72. A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  73. Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs
  74. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  75. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
  76. Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe
  77. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
  78. The Autobiography of Alice B. Tokias by Gertrude Stein
  79. The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett
  80. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer
  81. Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
  82. White Noise by Don DeLillo
  83. O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
  84. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  85. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  86. Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
  87. The Bostonians by Henry James
  88. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
  89. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
  90. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
  91. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  92. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  93. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles
  94. Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis
  95. Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  96. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  97. Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  98. Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
  99. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
  100. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Random Notes

Nothing too surprising about this list. The only thing is that I must really be missing the boat with Ulysses. I’ve tried reading it but I think I’ve given up three different times. I’ve never met anyone that enjoyed this book, or could even recommend it, yet it always ends up near the top on these types of lists.

I’m a big fan of all things Faulkner. It’s amazing how just about every one of his books has some link to the others. Minor or even incidental characters in one become the main characters in another. How he kept it all straight is fascinating.

If you’re looking to get into Ayn Rand, I’d start with the Fountainhead instead of Atlas Shrugged. If you do read Atlas Shrugged there is an entirely too lengthy speech toward the end of the book that you can just skip (it’s about 70 pages, I think). If the point of the book hasn’t been hammered into your brain by the point you get to the speech, you might as well just close it up and put it back on the shelf. One of these days, they are supposed to make a movie/mini-series based on Atlas Shrugged. It might already have been made and I missed it, but it would be interesting to see. The Fountainhead was made into a film starring Gary Cooper. It was decent, but the book was excellent.

Biggest omission…where is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez??? It’s easily in my top 10.

 

Comment | posted 09/08/2005 05:17 PM