Three reads for your Christmas layover
Keep busy during your holiday downtime with these great books
The holidays offer some of us a welcome bit of downtime from work but also a reminder of how much we miss that work, thanks to the sudden reconvening of family and the various dramas that ensue. Here are three books to keep your mind on what drives you rather than on the holiday hoi polloi hijinks.
How One Company Changed the World by Reinventing Business
By Bruce Poon Tip
In his first book, Calgary-raised Bruce Poon Tip tells of founding and building G Adventures, a package-tour business with $170 million in revenues that now operates in more than 100 countries. G Adventures distinguishes itself by avoiding all-inclusive traps in favour of providing customers local services. Poon Tip’s business philosophies have been inspired, he writes, by his travels to Tibet and time spent with the Dalai Lama (who penned the book’s foreword). It all forced him to find meaning in his daily work. “It’s about ‘paying it forward,’ ” Poon Tip writes. “By finding your purpose, and infusing your work and your life with it, you create the conditions for your own success.” Whether that changed the world, well, that’s up for debate. Did we mention the foreword is by the Dalai Lama?
The Power of Habit
Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
By Charles Duhigg
Changing your thinking actually alters your brain. And changing institutional habits similarly changes a company’s bottom line – for the better. Charles Duhigg underlines this by telling the story of aluminum giant Alcoa. In 1987, Paul O’Neill, Alcoa’s new CEO, focused the company on becoming one of the safest in America. Shareholders bailed – safety wasn’t seen as central to profits, after all – but Alcoa’s focus on altering its unsafe habits transformed thinking company-wide. Profits hit record highs, and net income grew by 500 per cent. “When companies focus on changing habits,” Duhigg writes, “whole organizations can transform.”
Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire
By Neil Irwin
If you think central bankers don’t affect your life, think again. Never mind the mundane business of setting monetary policy and fighting inflation; if Washington Post columnist Neil Irwin’s recent book is any indication, the world’s three leading central bankers – the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Ben Bernanke, the Bank of England’s Mervyn King and the European Central Bank’s Jean-Claude Trichet – may have saved the world back in 2008. It’s an engrossing and educational read, and manages the remarkable feat of describing monetary policy and the personalities of the people who create it without doubling as a treatment for narcolepsy.