Book Review: Atomic Habits

January 21st, 2019

Clear, James. Atomic habits : tiny changes, remarkable results : an easy & proven way to build good habits & break bad ones. Penguin Random House, 2018.

book cover image

Atomic Habits by James Clear starts predictably with the author sharing his qualifications – how he overcame adversity to become a success, how he built his business, how he’s spoken to Fortune 500 companies and major league teams about habit formation. Further, he follows what appears to be the new formula for personal productivity titles, extending his personal brand with liberal references to his website, creating that ubiquitous infomercial vibe.

However, within this off-putting framework, Clear writes an engaging book with content worth the time and effort. His four laws of good habit building, along with their inverses to break bad habits, do provide the “operating manual” that the author promises. While some of his techniques are what might be expected, such as tracking progress, others, such as focusing on the environment around a habit, answering the questions of where, when, and how in addition to what, and paring a habit down to a two-minute task are thought-provoking and valuable.

Further, Clear goes beyond behavior to address the relationship between habits and identity and the need for readers to think about what kind of person they want to be and how habits can shape that aspirational identity. He also explains the long-term/short-term payoff of habits, both good and bad, and how many people carry on with bad habits because the short-term payoff is pleasant, while ignoring the accumulating long-term bad consequences of those actions.

The book provides the added bonus of solid writing, making it an easy and enjoyable read, which may do a disservice to the sheer amount of helpful information and the number of useful techniques. To get the most out of the book, readers need to review and strategize which techniques will work best for the particular habits they want to build. While Clear provides links to worksheets, tables, and specialized chapters for businesses and parents, they are reserved for readers who can show proof of purchase.

Atomic Habits is overflowing with actionable ideas on both habit building and habit breaking, thoughtfully organized, and engagingly written – a good read to start a new year off right. Highly recommend.

Also available on OverDrive as an ebook and audiobook.

© Julianna Harris & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Book Review: Faculty Recommendations, pt 3

December 10th, 2018

Fall term 2 is closing and the last post of the year is wisdom from Strategy professor Victor Bennett. His “reading” recommendations are multimedia: podcasts, television series and, yes, a traditional book title.
professor photo
Here’s what Prof. Bennett recommends:

  • It used to be said that reading The Washington Post every day cover-to-cover would prepare you for the foreign service exam. If you’re interested in the economic environment instead of international politics, the best way to get a handle on it is to listen to Planet Money and its daily spin-off, The Indicator. They’re bite-sized (20 min and 10 min), well-researched, and engaging.
  • This is a throwback, but if you are interested in one of the best studies of organizational dysfunction, I recommend The Wire. If you’ve already seen it, thinking about it from an organizational perspective will give you a whole new show. Disclaimer: heavy subject matter, violence, and language.
  • If you are interested in consulting, The Firm: The Story of McKinsey and Its Secret Influence on American Business by Duff McDonald (OverDrive audiobook | Amazon) is an interesting read. I don’t want to oversell it because I actually didn’t love the writing, but it gives you some insight into the origin of the consulting profession and it has some interesting facts, such as McKinsey was basically started by an accountant who didn’t like accounting.

Thank you, Professor Bennett. And good luck wishes to all Fuqua students with final exams. Have a happy holiday wherever your travels take you and we will see you again in 2019.

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Ford Library Open Tuesday

December 8th, 2018

(UPDATED: 12/10/18) Duke University’s Severe Weather Policy will end at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11. As a result, Ford Library will be opening at 10a.m. when the Severe Weather Policy lifts.

For updates on our Library hours, please follow this blog post and our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

For updates on the Severe Weather Policy from Duke University and Fuqua regarding class scheduling and access to campus, please monitor https://emergency.duke.edu/ and your Duke email account.

Stay safe everyone!

Book Review: Faculty Recommendations, pt 2

November 26th, 2018

book cover imageQi Chen (Business Administration)
Recommends: Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker
Library catalog | Amazon

Qi Chen comments that he read a book recommended by 2nd year student Matias Barbero and it is fantastic. Enlightenment Now, written by Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker, presents the argument that there has never been a better time to be a human being. Analyzing historic trends, Pinker uses charts and data to make his argument that the world is healthier, freer, richer, safer and more peaceful than ever.
Prof Chen also recommends two other books: Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity (fascinating) and Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright (timely).

book cover imageInes Black (Strategy)
Recommends: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Library catalog | Amazon

Israeli history professor Yuval Noah Harari covers 100,000 years of human history, “from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural, and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology, and economics, Harari explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities.” Quote from Library catalog.
Professor Black is also reading The Triumph of the City by Edward Glaeser and Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber.

book cover imageDavid Robinson (Finance)
Recommends: My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Library catalog | Amazon

This six-volume autobiographical novel is a literary sensation, often called a masterpiece, and its Scandinavian author is compared to Proust. Beginning with his childhood in Book 1 (2013), Knausgaard writes candidly about the intimate details of his own life, including the tedious and squalid bits. Readers describe his uninhibited text as simultaneously riveting and frustrating, audacious and boring, a new way of writing for the “selfie” generation. Winner of numerous literary awards and a New York Times bestseller.

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

New Movies for November

November 15th, 2018

Here are the latest titles added to our DVD collection:

Ant-Man and the Wasp
Barry, season 1
Eighth Grade
Hotel Artemis
Killing Eve, season 1
Leave No Trace
Life of the Party
Mandy
Over the Garden Wall
Skyscraper
Sorry to Bother You
The Spy Who Dumped Me
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

You may browse the entire DVD collection via the library catalog.

Book Review: Faculty Recommendations, pt 1

November 12th, 2018

book cover imageBarak Richman (Strategy)
Recommends: Evicted by Matthew Desmond
Library catalog | Amazon

Barak Richman writes, “Last year I read Matthew Desmond’s Evicted and decided to incorporate it into my Property course. In fact, the book could inform each of my classes – contracts, antitrust, health law and policy – because it vividly describes the daily challenges that confront a vulnerable population. If we want to design government policies, or construct markets, that enable the nation’s poor to benefit from the nation’s wealth, we need this kind of deep dive into understanding structural challenges of poverty.”

book cover imagePaula Ecklund (Decision Sciences)
Recommends: The Lies that Bind by Kwame Anthony Appiah
Library catalog | Amazon

NYU philosophy professor and the Sunday Times “Ethicist” columnist explores the nature of the identities that define and divide us – Gender. Religion. Race. Nationality. Class. Culture. These identities shape our sense of who we are and they bring meaning to our lives by connecting us to larger causes. But collectively, these same identities also form our understanding of our world. And our generalized notions about race, culture, religion, et al. are full of contradictions and falsehoods.

book cover imageJeremy Petranka (Assistant Dean of MMS and MQM Programs)
Recommends: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
Library catalog | Amazon

Singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer finds it difficult to ask for things as a musician and as a partner. Many people are reluctant to ask for help and it depletes their lives and relationships. In The Art of Asking, Palmer examines the barriers to asking and reveals the emotional and practical aspects of asking for help. Fuqua’s Jeremy Petranka comments, “a mentee I greatly respect told me it changed her view of the world. I’m kind of seeing her point, which is a good sign.”

 

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Book Review: Sophia of Silicon Valley

October 29th, 2018

Yen, Anna. Sophia of Silicon Valley : a novel. HarperCollins Publishers, 2018.

book cover imageSophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen is a fictionalized account of the author’s experience working in investor relations for Steve Jobs during his Pixar years. This narrative is bookended by her character’s paralegal work for a law firm specializing in tech IPOs, and by a second stint in investor relations for Elon Musk at Tesla.

Sophia Young, the main character, is an unlikable, coddled 20-something either whining about her over-protective Taiwanese parents, lack of a husband, and less than Ivy League education; or bragging about designer clothes and luxury hotel suites as golden career opportunities fall effortlessly into her lap. While her diabetes could be a vehicle for a reader to develop an early sympathy for her, Yen glosses over the illness, and it is not until the final third of the book when Sophia experiences a crisis and encounters an adversary that she comes into her own as a character worth caring about.

Yen’s fictional depictions of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk are as superheroes. Even when Sophia sees and experiences their self-absorption, she finds excuses for them, assuming that they have loftier and nobler goals that these actions serve. These portrayals prove frustrating because they provide little insight into the characters who are Sophia’s raison d’etre.

In an interview with Business Insider, Yen mentions that she also wrote the book to impart lessons to her readers. This goal is generally at odds with good storytelling, and Sophia of Silicon Valley is no exception. It struggles with both character development and plot.

If a reader is interested in the history of Pixar or Steve Jobs, other books such as Creativity, Inc by Ed Catmull or Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs might be better choices. Thankfully, Yen had the good sense not to cast Sophia’s experience as somehow prescriptive for women wanting to succeed in high-power careers.

With a strong final third and an interesting perspective on working for quirky, powerful men in Silicon Valley, the book ultimately redeems itself from its lackluster storytelling.

Also available on OverDrive as an audiobook and an eBook.

 

© Julianna Harris & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

New Movies for October

October 19th, 2018

Here are the latest titles added to our DVD collection:

Adrift
Beast
Billionaire Boys Club
Hereditary
Ocean’s 8
Paddington 2
RBG
The Seagull
Uncle Drew
Breath
Gotti
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
Solo: A Star Wars Story

You may browse the entire DVD collection via the library catalog.

Book Review: Meet the Frugalwoods

October 8th, 2018

Thames, Elizabeth Willard. Meet the Frugalwoods : achieving financial independence through simple living. HarperBusiness, 2018.

book cover imageThere are any number of personal finance blogs, and several devoted to living a life of frugality. One of the best known is Frugalwoods.com written by Elizabeth Willard Thames, mother of two who is living her dream life on 66 acres of woodlands in Vermont. This year, she recycled her blog postings into a popular new book, Meet the Frugalwoods. In her blog and in her book, Thames explains how she restructured the way she lived — how she spent her money and her time to craft a meaningful and contented life.

The book begins in 2006 as Thames graduates from college and takes a fundraising job for a nonprofit in New York City that pays an AmeriCorps stipend of $10,000. She considers every dollar before spending it and ends the year with $2000 in the bank. In the ensuing years, she moves to Boston; to Washington DC; then back to Boston, continuing her career as a fundraiser. Finding her work increasingly meaningless, she spends money on small luxuries to compensate. When she and her husband begin hiking in the woods every weekend, exposure to nature changes her life. They embark on a program of extreme frugality to save enough money to make them financially independent by age 32 in order to move to rural Vermont and live a life that they are passionate about.

Thames is at her best when she is evaluating the work/spend cycles of American consumer culture. People work hard at frustrating jobs and then mitigate their discontent by buying expensive homes, furniture, cars, clothes, electronics. Thames explains that people accept roles that society, family and they themselves expect, instead of living life on their own terms. To craft the independent life that she wants, Thames examines her spending to determine when it made an improvement in her life and when it was superfluous. She eliminates makeup and haircuts, buys cheaper food, does her own home repairs. She estimates her family’s savings rate of 71%.

Offering abundant tips on how to live frugally, Thames is mum about one large expense for a family – healthcare. She also fails to disclose the source of the $400,000 needed to buy the spread in Vermont – after they kept their $460,000 house in Cambridge. Their secret: her husband still has his job as a software engineer. It is easier to be independent, frugal or not, if you have a high income. Nonetheless, Meet the Frugalwoods is recommended for its thoughtful message, detailed advice and approachable style.

Also available on OverDrive as an audiobook and eBook.

 

© Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Hurricane Florence Relief Fine Waive Event

October 4th, 2018

Ford Library, in conjunction with Duke Libraries and Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, is now collecting non-perishable food and household items for those affected by Hurricane Florence.

Fine waives will be offered for donations of food items, hygiene items, and select paper products. 1 item donated =$1 in fines waived.

Donations will accepted from Wednesday 10/10 – Friday 10/26.

Guidelines:

  • Replacement fees on lost items that haven’t been returned are not eligible for fine waives.
  • Maximum fine waive amount per patron is $25.
  • Please, no expired food items.
  • Most needed items: canned fruits and vegetables, canned meats, canned beans & soup ..
  • Details on other needed items are in this linked document.

Thanks for your support!