When I was 17 I was having a little get together at my house. I invited over a little mall slut and a few of my good friends. We put on the movie Fight Club, which I had just rented that day, and she yells “I love this movie!” and proceeded to describe the whole movie, in complete detail, down the twist ending. Before the movie was on for 5 minutes I knew the whole story.
Since that night I have never, ever mentioned a plot to any good movie or any good book to a single soul. When people ask me about a movie or book I say I loved it, I highly recommend it. One thing I never, ever do is describe the plot or give any details about the story other than a few vague sentences. I have realized what it’s like to have something ruined, and if I am recommending a book or movie I want everyone to be surprised, just as I was surprised when I read or saw the art in question.
Often, if I’m watching a movie I have already seen with a girl who has never seen it, she will literally beg me to tell her the ending. It’s comical, but I will never tell anyone the ending of any movie. It drives them crazy.
Her: “What happens in the end?!?!”
Me: “Watch it and see.”
Her: “You always say that!”
So rather than do a book review of the books I have read and enjoyed I have decided do a preview of the books I plan to read at some point.
1) Poorly Made in China: An Insider’s Account of the China Production Game by Paul Midler
The premise of this book is this:
An insider reveals what can—and does—go wrong when companies shift production to China
In this entertaining behind-the-scenes account, Paul Midler tells us all that is wrong with our effort to shift manufacturing to China. Now updated and expanded, Poorly Made in China reveals industry secrets, including the dangerous practice of quality fade—the deliberate and secret habit of Chinese manufacturers to widen profit margins through the reduction of quality inputs. U.S. importers don’t stand a chance, Midler explains, against savvy Chinese suppliers who feel they have little to lose by placing consumer safety at risk for the sake of greater profit. This is a lively and impassioned personal account, a collection of true stories, told by an American who has worked in the country for close to two decades. Poorly Made in China touches on a number of issues that affect us all.
Best Book 2009 (The Economist)
Best Book for Business Owners (Inc.)
Great Finance Book of 2009 (Forbes)
Best of 2009 Business Book (Library Journal)
“Midler has upended a lot of the assumptions about this factory for the world.” (Forbes)
“A must-read for people engaged in mainland business.” (South China Morning Post)
“Important, timely and entertaining.” (Taipei Times)
“Most of the people in Mr. Midler’s position would not dream of disclosing what they see.” (The Economist)
“Manages to be both instructive and entertaining.” (National Review)
“A fascinating, funny and important book.” (Asia Times)
“An invaluable book for anyone considering doing business in China.” (Epoch Times)
“A lively dissection of the cultural clash.” (Malaysia’s The Star)
“You won’t look at the label ‘Made in China’ the same way.” (Toronto Now)
“His warning is worth heeding – is China listening?” (Business Times)
“Plenty of laugh-out-loud moments.” (Financial Times)
“Strongly recommended.” (Bangkok Post)
It was a world gone wrong, one in which manufacturers thought little of manipulating product quality levels in order to save the smallest amounts, where savvy foreign business leaders were made to feel in control while they were taken for a ride by their partners, where entire manufacturing facilities sometimes vanished right into thin air… Welcome to Poorly Made in China!
At the height of the boom export manufacturing, Paul Midler returned to East Asia, a recently graduated Wharton MBA. In the right place at the right time, he was sought out by a number of foreign companies who wanted help in navigating the new economy. The adventures came fast, as did the business and cultural lessons.
Poorly Made in China is a dramatic romp through China’s export manufacturing sector, one that reveals what really goes on behind the scenes. The story follows the author from one project to the next, taking the reader through a diverse set of industries and revealing a number of challenges.
An engaging business narrative told with doses of humor and insight, this true story pulls back the curtain on the rising Chinese economy, providing a closer look at the rough-and-tumble environment in which so many of our consumer products are being made. For those trying to make sense of why so many quality failures could come out of China at once, this book is an especially interesting read.
Poorly Made in China is the tale of a modern-day gold rush and its consequences, the chronicling of a rising economic power and its path along a steep growth curve. Entertaining and eye-opening, the book highlights the extent to which culture affects business dealings, and the ultimate suggestion is that we may have more to be concerned about than product failures alone.”
Having lived in China for a year I can tell you with 100% sincerity that Chinese products really are garbage. Their products are much worse in China. Going to shop in China is like going to shop at the dollar store in America. The Chinese care nothing for quality. They care solely for one thing: Renminbi. They will do anything and everything to get it. Having said that, this book looks highly entertaining and it’s on my to-read list.
Side note: Everything I have ever purchased in China has broken, except for my watch. I expect it to break any day now.
2) Tai-Pan by James Clavell
The premise of Tai-Pan is this:
It is the early 19th century, when European traders and adventurers first began to penetrate the forbidding Chinese mainland. And it is in this exciting time and exotic place that a giant of an Englishman, Dirk Straun, sets out to turn the desolate island of Hong Kong into an impregnable fortress of British power, and to make himself supreme ruler…Tai-Pan!
“A fabulous epic of the Far East that will disturb and excite you…a thrilling and enticing tale of adventure and human relationships…dramatic episodes, exotic vignettes and heady descriptive passages.” –Baltimore Sun
“Clavell is, as always, a matchless tale-spinner.”—Cosmopolitan
“Every five or six years there appears on the horizon a book so vast in scope, so peopled with bold, colorful characters, it eclipses other efforts…. Such a book is Tai-Pan.”—Pittsburgh Press
“Grand entertainment…packed with action…gaudy and flamboyant with blood and sin, treachery and conspiracy, sex and murder…fresh and vigorous.” —New York Times
I just finished reading Tai-Pan for the second time. The first time I read it was nine years ago. At that time I was sure it was one of the best epics ever written. Now with nine more years of wisdom I am convinced. Clavell writes a fascinating tale of ruthless men and women in 19th century Asia. The dialogue is at times witty and the ending is the best I have ever read. I am now faced with the grim task of trying to find another book to read that comes close to the grandeur of this novel.
Sounds highly intriguing.
I have previously read Clavell’s 1,000 page masterpiece Shogun, about an English ship ending up in feudal Japan and their struggles to return home. Shogun was a phenomenal story of the struggle for power in feudal Japan and an English foreigner falling for a married Jap woman and all the little games they all (the Samurai) have to play. I was in awe of the ending. Plenty of sex, violence and Machiavellian manipulation in the book. If you have the patience to read a one thousand plus page novel, I highly recommend it.
Because Clavell’s Shogun was so great, I expect Tai-Pan to be a very good novel too.
3) The Education of Millionaires: It’s Not What You Think and It’s Not Too Late by Michael Ellsburg
The premise is this:
The Myth: If you get into a good college, study hard, and graduate with excellent grades, you will be pretty much set for a successful career.
The Reality: The biggest thing you won’t learn in college is how to succeed professionally.
Some of the smartest, most successful people in the country didn’t finish college. None of them learned their most critical skills in an institution of higher education. And like them, most of what you’ll need to learn to be successful you’ll have to learn on your own, outside of school.
Michael Ellsberg set out to fill in the gaps by interviewing a wide range of millionaires and billionaires who don’t have college degrees, including fashion magnate Russell Simmons, Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz and founding president Sean Parker, WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg, and Pink Floyd songwriter and lead guitarist David Gilmour. Among the fascinating things he learned:
- How fashion designer Marc Ecko started earning $1,000 a week in high school with his own clothing business and later grew it into an empire.
- How billionaire Phillip Ruffin went from lowly department store clerk with no college degree to owner of Treasure Island on the Vegas Strip.
- How John Paul DeJoria went from homelessness to billionaire as the founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems hair care products.
This book is your guide to developing practical success skills in the real world. Even if you’ve already gone through college, the most important skills weren’t on the curriculum–how to find great mentors, build a world-class network, learn real-world marketing and sales, make your work meaningful (and your meaning work), build the brand of you, master the art of bootstrapping, and more.
Learning the skills in this book well is a necessary addition to any education, whether you’re a high school dropout or a graduate of Harvard Law School.
Sounds like a highly motivating book. I love books like these that get you fired up. This one is sitting in my e-book reader just waiting to be read. These are the types of books that you can read in a day or two and be fired up for weeks, or even months, to come.
4) Musashi by Charles S. Terry
The premise is this:
The classic samurai novel about the real exploits of the most famous swordsman.
Miyamoto Musashi was the child of an era when Japan was emerging from decades of civil strife. Lured to the great Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 by the hope of becoming a samurai-without really knowing what it meant-he regains consciousness after the battle to find himself lying defeated, dazed and wounded among thousands of the dead and dying. On his way home, he commits a rash act, becomes a fugitive and brings life in his own village to a standstill-until he is captured by a weaponless Zen monk.
The lovely Otsu, seeing in Musashi her ideal of manliness, frees him from his tortuous punishment, but he is recaptured and imprisoned. During three years of solitary confinement, he delves into the classics of Japan and China. When he is set free again, he rejects the position of samurai and for the next several years pursues his goal relentlessly, looking neither to left nor to right.
Ever so slowly it dawns on him that following the Way of the Sword is not simply a matter of finding a target for his brute strength. Continually striving to perfect his technique, which leads him to a unique style of fighting with two swords simultaneously, he travels far and wide, challenging fighters of many disciplines, taking nature to be his ultimate and severest teacher and undergoing the rigorous training of those who follow the Way. He is supremely successful in his encounters, but in the Art of War he perceives the way of peaceful and prosperous governance and disciplines himself to be a real human being.
He becomes a reluctant hero to a host of people whose lives he has touched and been touched by. And, inevitably, he has to pit his skill against the naked blade of his greatest rival.
Musashi is a novel in the best tradition of Japanese story telling. It is a living story, subtle and imaginative, teeming with memorable characters, many of them historical. Interweaving themes of unrequited love, misguided revenge, filial piety and absolute dedication to the Way of the Samurai, it depicts vividly a world Westerners know only vaguely. Full of gusto and humor, it has an epic quality and universal appeal.
The novel was made into a three-part movie by Director Hiroshi Inagai. For more information, visit the Shopping area.
It would appear that I have a thing for Samurai novels (this and Shogun). Well, I don’t. I was about to purchase Tai-Pan and I saw a link to this one and it sounds highly intriguing. The amazon reviewers talked me into checking this one out. With review titles like “Best Book Ever”, “excellence, unequaled“, and “Most Exciting Book Ever Written” who could refuse?
5) The Real Mad Men: The Renegades of Madison Avenue and the Golden Age of Advertising by Andrew Cracknell
The premise is this:
Advertising is a business rooted in art, an art rooted in business, and it reached its peak in a specific place at a specific time: New York City at the end of the 1950s and through the ’60s.
AMC’s award-winning drama Mad Men has garnered awards for its portrayal of advertising executives. This engaging, insightful narrative reveals, for the first time, the lives and work of the real advertising men and women of that era. Just as portrayed in the series, these creative people were the stars of the real Madison Avenue. Their innate eccentricity, vanity, and imagination meant their behavior and lifestyle was as candid and original as their advertising. They had it and they flaunted it. People like Bill Bernbach, George Lois, Ed McCabe, Mary Wells, Marion Harper, Julian Koenig, Steve Frankfurt, and Amil Gargano, and others, who in that small space, in that short time, created some of the most radical and influential advertising ever and sparked a revolution in the methods, practice, and execution of the business. Including over 100 full-color illustrations, the book details iconic campaigns such as VW, Avis, Alka Seltzer, Benson & Hedges, Polaroid, and Braniff Airways.
I was in the bookstore the other day and this book just jumped out at me. I thought the cover picture was beautifully done so I picked up the book, thumbed through and checked out some more of the pics. Yes, I want to check out this book just because I liked the pictures. They had style and pizzazz in that era. Something we are missing today. I don’t even care what the story is about (I didn’t even read the premise above), I’m gonna check it out again just to be inspired by the pictures.
6) Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B.Cialdini
The premise is:
Influence, the classic book on persuasion, explains the psychology of why people say “yes”—and how to apply these understandings. Dr. Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behavior has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.
You’ll learn the six universal principles, how to use them to become a skilled persuader—and how to defend yourself against them. Perfect for people in all walks of life, the principles of Influence will move you toward profound personal change and act as a driving force for your success.
Arguably the best book ever on what is increasingly becoming the science of persuasion. Whether you’re a mere consumer or someone weaving the web of persuasion to urge others to buy or vote for your product, this is an essential book for understanding the psychological foundations of marketing. Recommended.
For marketers, this book is among the most important books written in the last ten years. (Journal of Mariketing Research )
Influence should be required reading for all business majors. (Journal of Retailing )
This book will strike chords deep in the hearts and psyches of all of us. (Best Sellers Magazine )
The material in Cialdini’s Influence is a proverbial gold mine. (Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology )
Damn, I’m pumped already and I haven’t even read the book yet! One thing you will notice about the big dogs is that they have superhuman abilities of persuasion and influence. You must have powers of persuasion if you want someone to write a big, fat check and put your name on it. And even if you do have it it is wise to study and keep up with your craft.