Archive for February, 2012

Spring Break Reading Lists

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

book stack

After the pressure of final exams, the week of Spring break is like a refreshing breeze. Some students head for the beach; others cocoon at home; and still others continue their job search.

The library staff is often asked to recommend books to read over this period – sometimes by students who have not had an opportunity for recreational reading since arriving at Fuqua.  This is a good time to listen to an audiobook or to read the latest career advice.

In February, Fuqua faculty recommended a number of book titles for student readers.  There are a variety of books on this list, including new business and economics titles, as well as biographies and novels.

Download the Fuqua Faculty reading recommendations here.

For readers interested in popular business titles nationally, the books on this list have been on the New York Times best sellers list for business in the past several months.

Download our annotated selections from the NYT Business Bestseller’s List here .

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner – Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business
& New York Times Co.
All rights reserved.

Book Review: The Lords of Strategy

Monday, February 27th, 2012

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Kiechel, Walter. The lords of strategy : the secret intellectual history of the new corporate world. Harvard Business Press, 2010.

Our guest reviewer today is Fuqua faculty member Peter Regan, who teaches Decision Models in the Duke MBA Cross Continent Program.  In addition to teaching at Duke, Dartmouth and Cornell, Prof. Regan has worked in biotech, financial services, and consulting firms, and founded his own consulting and technology firm in 1995.

Kiechel surveys the history of strategy based on his years as editor of Fortune and Harvard Business Publishing. The book has the “knew them at the time” feel that Peter Bernstein has about finance in his book, Capital Ideas Evolving.

The story lays out the rise of strategy at BCG, its offshoot Bain, McKinsey, and Michael Porter’s rise at Harvard Business School. The book then follows various tributaries as the strategy marketplace matures amid the growing competition accompanying globalization.

I particularly appreciate the attention given to the “strategy as position” school exemplified by Porter’s Competitive Advantage versus the “strategy as people” school exemplified by Peters and Waterman’s In Search of Excellence.

Keichel borrows from both schools of thought in writing his book. You learn about the major firms and the advantages they have as brands with the ear of executives and the eye of top students. But you also learn about the importance of individuals in developing strategy’s ideas and in guiding the major strategy consulting firms.

Keichel admits a possible Boston-centric criticism and no doubt many will decry various omissions but as a reader I find the lack of encyclopedic coverage to be an asset that keeps the narrative line clear.

The book puts in context my own experiences at a boutique strategy consulting firm and helps me to understand the industry so many of my MBA students aspire to join.

This title is also available as an audiobook.

© Reviewer: Peter Regan & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

Book Review: A first rate madness

Monday, February 20th, 2012

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Ghaemi, S. Nassir. A first-rate madness : uncovering the links between leadership and mental illness. Penguin Press, 2011.

There is a legend on the internet about Ted Turner’s speech at Duke University commencement.   As the students, parents and relatives eagerly waited, Turner approached the podium and said, “Get out there and work your butts off,” and then returned to his seat. In response to the university president’s plea for him to return to the podium and say more, Turner said, ”Nope, that’s it.”

Like many stories found on the internet, this is not true.  However, in 1999 Ted Turner spoke to the 322 graduating daytime students at Fuqua.  In his speech, he passed along the advice he received from his father: “‘Set your life’s goal so high that you can’t possibly achieve it, because you don’t want to achieve your goal, you want to be constantly striving for it,'” he said. “I took his advice and went ahead saying that life is a journey, and I’m going to go as far as I can as fast as I can.”

This advice comes from Turner’s personal experience. In the book A First-Rate Madness, psychiatrist Nassir Ghaemi, MD reports that Turner’s father achieved his goal of building a successful billboard advertising company in Atlanta.  After he sold his company, he had no other ambitions and committed suicide in 1962, when Ted was 21.  Ted bought back the company, kept the billboard enterprise going and expanded it to radio and television.  Eventually, he launched CNN and Headline News.  Author Nassir Ghaemi proposes that Turner’s difficult childhood, his inherited mood swings, and his nervous energy gave him the creativity and resilience needed to become a powerful entrepreneur, achieving great things in his life.

Author Ghaemi examines the lives of eight key leaders from the past, studying the relationship between mental illness and leadership.  He concludes that in a strong economy or in time of peace, the ideal leader is someone with good mental health who meets the expectations of the community.  Yet when the economy or the world is in crisis, the best leaders are either mentally ill or mentally abnormal. The personal qualities that are present in people with depression or bipolar disorder, such as realism, empathy, resilience and creativity, are the very qualities that make effective leaders in times of crisis.  This controversial idea is well supported by numerous examples in this thought-provoking book.

This title is also available as an audiobook.

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

New Movies for February

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Latest titles are:

The Big Year
Dirty Girl
Ides of March
In Time
Killing Bono
Love Crime


Page One
Paper Soldiers
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Real Steel
Revenge of the Electric Car
The Thing
Downton Abbey, season 2
An Idiot Abroad

Watch your back…

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

Who are we?  We’re the Fabulous Ford team.

What are we doing? Moving up in the standings for the Duke’s Get Moving Challenge.  Out of 200+ teams, we’ve consistently placed in the top 15 for number steps taken and in the top 10 for number of minutes exercised.

So let’s meet the team…

The Indomitable Meg – she’s tiny, she’s mighty, she fights cancer with one hand tied behind her back.  By 10am, she’s walked more steps than most people take all week.

Col. Carlton – a gentleman to his core, he’ll bid you “good day” as he powers past you with his two basenji mixes, Angel and Leah.  After a good walk, he retires to the gymnasium for a round of basketball or a session on the elliptical or weight machines.

Paula PoundTrails – she walks at least three miles a day, goes home to work out, then does Pilates, THEN rides her horse Stephen for an hour.  Don’t let her catch you slacking off.

10 Speed Dave – you know that guy you see every day riding his bike to work?  Or that guy you see riding with the area bike club on weekends?  That’s 10 Speed Dave.

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Linda – having completed a marathon last year, she’s gearing down by training for a mere half marathon.  Good thing she’s not so lonely since she has her dogs Ruby and Milo to run with her.

Amy the Ace – between hunting down lost books and walking around the Ford Library’s expanse multiple times per day, Amy gets her steps in without any problem.

Miss Lady Mer – she looks like such a nice lady, our Meredith, until she passes you on the trail, then she kicks pea gravel in your face and laughs.  Don’t mess with her, you’ll pull back a nub.

Bethany the Beast Tamer – Miss Lady Mer’s cohort, another of our dog walkers, she gets her miles in with her best buddy Willoughby, aka The Paul Newman of Canines.

Run Silent, Run Deep, Run Yvonne – did something just sweep past you?  That was Yvonne.  You never know when she’ll strike.

Gym Rat Jane – her natural habitat?  Wilson Gym.  She knows every inch of the place from the running track on the top floor to the lap pool in the basement.  She says it’s fun.  No one quite believes her.

GoingGlobal and Your Job Search

Monday, February 13th, 2012

At this time of the year, we’re usually elbows deep in working with students’ who are searching for a job.  This means we’re leading job hunters workshops, some aimed at either our international students who would like to remain in the US.  Finding companies with a history of filing H1B visa, which allows them to hire foreign employees, has not always been easy to find.  Oh yes, the data is out there.  The US Department of Labor collects it and makes it available as an Acess database.  But it’s a huge, hard to search, set.

Now, we have access to that data through GoingGlobal.  By clicking the link to H1B Info, Fuqua users can locate companies by city, state, and industry which can be sorted by job title, wage, and number of H1B petitions.  Being able to locate these companies helps our students narrow their search by focusing on companies who are willing to work with them in their pursuit to work in the US.

Need help searching GoingGlobal?  Feel freen to contact me and I’ll walk you through it.

Book Reviews: Fatal Risk and The Monster

Monday, February 13th, 2012

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Boyd, Roddy. Fatal Risk: a cautionary tale of AIG’s corporate suicide. Wiley, 2011.

Hudson, Michael W.  The Monster: How a gang of predatory lenders and Wall Street bankers fleeced America and spawned a global crisis. Times Books/Henry Holt and Co., 2010.

It is fair to say that the average American does not understand what caused the global economic crisis.  The sub-prime mortgage industry played a major role, but did not cause the meltdown by itself.  Financial innovations, such as CDOs, CMOs and CDSs, also contributed.   To explain what spawned the global meltdown to those without an MBA, two engaging new books use the stories of companies and their managers.

In Fatal Risk, Roddy Boyd tells the story about AIG, a company whose management analyzed and modeled risk better than anyone else in the financial business yet ended up needing an $85 billion government bailout.  In The Monster, Michael W. Hudson covers the sub-prime mortgage business through the stories of Ameriquest and Lehman Brothers.

Fatal Risk: From 1962 CEO Hank Greenberg built AIG into the largest and most risk averse financial company on the planet by knitting together a collection of insurance companies from around the world.  Then in 1986, seeking additional growth opportunities, Greenberg raided Drexel Burnham Lambert and launched AIG Financial Products, entering in the market for equity options and derivatives.  Even before CEO Greenberg was forced out in 2005, management changed its focus from risk control to profit maximization.  New management leveraged the business, scrapped the internal controls and ruined the company, nearly bringing down the global financial system in the process.  Roddy Boyd has written a very readable chronicle about a complicated subject.

The Monster: The sub-prime industry was spawned in Orange County CA, home to four of the nation’s six largest sub-prime lenders.  This is a story of Ameriquest Mortgage, the leader in the sub-prime industry, and about its CEO Roland Arnall.  The methods used by Ameriquest and other sub-prime lenders to make loans to unqualified borrowers included falsifying documents, forging signatures, misrepresenting interest rates, inflating appraisals and charging exorbitant fees.  These loans were bundled and sold on Wall Street to unsuspecting investors by firms such as Lehman Brothers, which bankrolled lenders such as Ameriquest.  In this excellent read, author Michael Hudson uses the rise and fall of Ameriquest and Lehman to tell the story of the industry that helped bring about a global crisis.

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

The Director’s Picks – Winter 2012

Friday, February 10th, 2012

stack o books

Welcome to the Winter 2012 installment of Ford Library Director, Meg Trauner’s selections of five recent business books recommended to readers at the Fuqua School of Business.

Click the titles below for information on location and availability. Complete reviews, and audiobook versions are linked where they’re available.


By Michael Lewis
Uses dark humor to illustrate the effects of the ongoing economic crisis on Iceland, Ireland, Germany and Greece, as well as California. Also available as an audiobook.

Now You See It
By Cathy N. Davidson
Explains that people only see a part of what is happening around them, and shows how to overcome this deficit to gain a broader perspective on the world. Also available as an audiobook.

Psychopath Test
By Jon Ronson
Investigates everyday psychopaths and the harm they cause, advising how to recognize them in business and society. Also available as an audiobook. Read the full review.

Joint Ventures
By Trish Regan
Presents a behind-the-scenes view of the secret world of the U.S. marijuana industry, including growth and distribution, both legal and illegal,  outlining the key issues of this flourishing underground economy. Read the full review.

Thinking Fast and Slow
By Daniel Kahneman
Explores two types of decision making, intuitive and deliberate (fast and slow) that underlie our business and personal choices, counseling when to trust intuition and when not to. Also available as an audiobook.

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

Book Review: Ronald Reagan’s Private Collection

Monday, February 6th, 2012

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Reagan, Ronald. “The notes : Ronald Reagan’s private collection of stories and wisdom“. Harper, 2011.

I ordered The Notes by Ronald Reagan for the Ford Library after reading a favorable review by Christopher Buckley in Bloomberg BusinessWeek.  The Notes is a compilation of cites and quotes collected by Ronald Reagan for speechwriting purposes.  Beginning in the 1950’s, he found quotes from famous leaders such as Washington, Churchill and Lenin and  transcribed them by hand on 4 x 6 cards.  He added humorous time-tested one-liners that he inserted into speeches, once and again.

The cards were discovered in 2010, tucked away in a box with paperclips and rubberbands at the Reagan Library and placed on display a year later to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth.  This book is a collection of the quotes.

The introduction to the book claims that there are some shockers here; for example, the book has a quote from Mao.  But this book affirms all that is well known about Reagan.  He hated taxes and communism.  He distrusted big government.   He admired Jefferson and Lincoln. Readers may find the reproduction of Reagan’s tidy handwriting on the endpapers to be interesting.   While little is new or remarkable here, the book is a quick read for Reagan admirers.

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