I was saddened recently to learn of the August 8th death, at 92, of Max De Pree, who had an illustrious career as CEO and Chairman of the innovative furniture/design company Herman Miller.
In 1989, after he retired as CEO but while remaining as Chairman, he also started a parallel career as a best-selling leadership author; particularly with his first book, Leadership is an Art; the follow-up Leadership Jazz, and in 1997, with Leading Without Power: Finding Hope in Serving Community. These slim volumes are eloquent, full of wisdom of various types, and spiritually reflective of De Pree’s deep Christian faith.
September 14 marked the 150th anniversary of the original, German-language publication of Karl Marx’s Das Kapital, later published in English-language editions (in multiple volumes) as Capital. What I find particularly interesting is that it was largely written in the reading room of the British Library (at the time located at the British Museum). Marx’s long history of using the library for reading, research and writing is detailed in the recent British Library European studies blog post by Izzy Gibbin, “150 Years of Capital.“
Most people take for granted the wonders surrounding us, including the accumulated inventions of many centuries that make our lives safer, easier, more productive and more satisfying. We rarely stop to think of who invented things that are indispensable to daily life. If you want to open your eyes to a richer appreciation of the world of invention and inventors, and the psychology and thought processes that underpin this discipline, turn to Pagan Kennedy and her 2016 book Inventology: How We Dream Up Things That Change the World.
Kennedy has written a number of books and countless freelance articles in a variety of publications.
Soaring executive pay. The future of health care. Disappearing manufacturing jobs. Information overload. These are all hot button topics today. They were also subjects written about by Peter Drucker during the mid-1970s to early 1980s, as shown in his 1982 book The Changing World of the Executive. While Drucker contributed to many publications on a regular basis, and published a number of collections of his writings, as I wrote about last year in my post “Peter Drucker: Freelance Writer,” this anthology came primarily from his columns written for the Wall Street Journal between 1975 and 1981.
Although the original book had gone out of print, The Changing World of the Executive was reissued in 2010 by Harvard Business Review Press, as part of its series “The Drucker Library.” Drucker divides the book into five sections: Executive Agenda, Business Performance, The Non-Profit Sector, People at Work, and the Changing Globe.
Jorge Luis Borges was born 118 years ago today, on August 24, 1899. The Borges Boom shows no signs of decline: his literary influence remains strong, he is quoted and referenced in a variety of contexts, and books by and about him continue to be published. Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the Argentine author’s death. On December 7, 2016, the Library of Congress presented a fascinating conversation, now available on video, with Borges’ widow María Kodama and University of Maryland professor and longtime Borges scholar Saúl Sosnowski. (I wrote about my connection to Saúl, author of Borges y La Cábala: En búsqueda del verbo, in the 2010 post 111 Years of Jorge Luis Borges.)
In the spirit of my 2013 post 7 Self-Management Secrets of Jorge Luis Borges, consider these strategies, which I contend were crucial to Borges’ success (during his life and beyond); even if he may not have considered them to be strategies!
Part of the genius of this book is broadening the content beyond the people we normally associate with Economics as a discipline and field of study (Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter and so on), to those from other disciplines who have had impact on the field, such as Michael Lewis, Eric Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee, Jane Jacobs and John C. Bogle. The centrality of people, as well as institutions and disciplines, shines throughout, especially in the entries on such titles as Gary Becker’s Human Capital and Elinor Ostrom’s Governing the Commons.
BK is unique, for many reasons. Publishers Weekly recently ran a feature story that captures some of the magic, while outlining some of BK’s new releases and initiatives. Steve Piersanti, the founder/President/Publisher, has posted an informative “Letter from the Publisher: On Berrett-Koehler’s 25th Anniversary.” On Steve’s BK site page, the company is described as a “leading independent publisher of progressive books on current affairs, personal growth, and business and management.” For an idea of just how progressive and unique BK is, read the new Berrett-Koehler Constitution.
The success of that interview, conducted over four hours the night before his keynote, and the subsequent article, emboldened me a couple of months later to finally start on an idea I’d had for quite some time, to write a book about Drucker and the individual, as opposed to Drucker and the organization.
It’s time for one of my favorite yearly rituals, curating a list of some of the best summer reading lists from a wide variety of sources. Although this compilation has considerable coverage of business/leadership/management books, there are also many other nonfiction and fiction titles. One of the things I like about some of the lists is that they include older titles along with newer ones. There is also a good mixture of books from both major and independent presses.