Posts Tagged ‘Company history’

Book Review: Delivering Happiness –

Monday, November 29th, 2010

image courtesy

Hsieh, Tony. Delivering happiness : a path to profits, passion, and purpose. Business Plus, 2010.

Monday evening, a new pair of Dansko clogs appeared at my door. I had ordered them two days earlier from Any customer will tell you that Zappos has great selection, free shipping and problem-free returns. But the reason that customers keep coming back is their service.

Entrepreneur Tony Hsieh, CEO of, has written a new book, part autobiography, part company history, part business advisory. He tells how he built a dot com business, LinkExchange, which he sold in Microsoft for $265 million, when he was only 24 years old. Then he used the money to fund a start-up, Most of the book is the tale about Zappos, how the company survived on the brink of bankruptcy for years, barely making payroll, then became an overnight success.

Author Hsieh explains that he cultivated his business by combining profits, passion and purpose. He says his company was successful because they invested their time and money into three areas: into customer service to build the brand; into corporate culture and development of core values; and into employee training and development. Hsieh feels that those three areas are’s only competitive advantages in the long run.

The book closes in 2009, the year that Fortune rated Zappos as one of the best companies to work for. That same year, acquired Zappos for $1.2 billion. Hsieh explains how he made that happen in this entertaining and easy read.

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

Book Reviews: Men With Money

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

cover illustration of Harper's Weekly, 12/13/13 by James Montgomery Flagg

Three new books about the men (and yes, they are all men), who made millions manipulating money — from the first investment bank in the early 20th century to the hedge fund boom and bust days at the millennium.

Click the titles below for information on location and availability.

  • When money was in fashion : Henry Goldman, Goldman Sachs, and the founding of Wall Street. by June Breton Fisher. Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
    Henry Goldman’s granddaughter unfolds the story of the Goldman dynasty, their investment banking business, and the fights and feuds with the Sachs family. The book includes many details about family and society, interwoven with historical events of the era, as well as stories about Henry’s famous friends, including Einstein and FDR.
  • High financier : the lives and time of Siegmund Warburg. by Niall Ferguson. Penguin Press, 2010.
    London investment banker Siegmund Warburg is credited with the first hostile takeover bid ever in 1959, and for creating the Eurobond market in 1963, largely to circumvent controls. He was instrumental in reestablishing London as a global financial center. Renowned historian Niall Ferguson recounts the life and times of a private and powerful man in this authoritative biography.
  • More money than God : hedge funds and the making of a new elite. by Sebastian Mallaby. Penguin Press, 2010.
    Using interlocking stories about real life Masters of the Universe, this history of hedge funds profiles the men who gambled on their ability to spot market opportunities that others missed. The author concludes that today’s hedge funds deliver value to the investor; they are not too big to fail; and they are more likely to be contrarian than other types of investors — but as hedge funds grow, so does the risk to the global financial system.

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

Book Review: Supercorp

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

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Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. Supercorp : how vanguard companies create innovation, profits, growth, and social good. Crown Business, 2009.

Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter has a response to the greed-is-good argument. Her new book Supercorp shows that in agile and innovative companies, business performance and social good are intimately connected. In vanguard companies, the corporate culture is both high-performing and humanistic, and provides the foundation for sustainable growth, profit and innovation over the long term.

Vanguard companies are successful and prosperous in their own right and use their core business strengths to address significant societal needs. There are numerous examples of this, including IBM’s response to the tsunami in Asia. Social initiatives are usually selected without profit motive but they provide returns by enhancing the innovation process, by providing positive meaning to employees and by building goodwill in the community.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is the author of several ground-breaking and best-selling books, including Men and Women of the Corporation, The Change Masters, and When Giants Learn to Dance.

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

Book Review: How The Mighty Fall

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

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Collins, James C. How the mighty fall : and why some companies never give in. Collins Business, 2009.

The author of longtime bestseller Good to Great and co-author of Built to Last, Jim Collins discusses why once-strong companies begin to decline and then die. Using research data from 60 corporations, Collins describes five stages of corporate decline and shows that even the most successful companies are not immune. Interestingly, decline begins long before it become obvious to anyone, even company insiders.

The 5 Stages of Corporate Decline

  • Hubris Born of Success. The first stage of decline begins when company leaders lose sight of the underlying factors that created success in the first place. Instead of creatively renewing the core business, they are distracted by other threats and opportunities.
  • Undisciplined Pursuit of More. In the second stage of decline, management loses discipline and makes leaps into other areas that undermine long-term value. The company grows at a rapid rate. Finding talent for key seats in the organization becomes difficult. The company chokes in pursuit of growth and expansion.
  • Denial of Risk and Peril. Internal warning signs begin to mount but management blames the difficulty on external factors or puts a positive spin on the data.
  • Grasping for Salvation. Decline becomes visible to all. Leadership responds by grasping for a visionary leader or a radical transformation.
  • Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death. In the last stage, management abandons hope of building a great future.

The good news is that companies can recover. Collins’ research indicates that organizational decline is largely self-inflicted and recovery is possible by returning to solid management disciplines.

Eleven companies are profiled, including Circuit City, Hewlett-Packard (HP), Merck, Motorola, Rubbermaid and Zenith, in this interesting and very readable book.

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

The Director’s Picks

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

director's picks

The Director’s Picks

Fuqua School Dean Blair Sheppard asked Ford Library Director, Meg Trauner to select 5 recent business books that should “be on his nightstand”.

Click the titles below for information on location and availability.



Book Review: Fool’s Gold

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

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Tett, Gillian. Food’s Gold: How the bold dream of a small tribe at J.P.Morgan was corrupted by Wall Street greed and unleashed a catastrophe. Free Press, 2009.

In 2003, Warren Buffet described derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction.” He was later proved to be a prophet. Yet a decade earlier, when credit derivatives were first conceived, they appeared to be a win-win for the financial world, freeing up capital, diversifying risk and increasing profits.

This is the story of a small group of young employees at J.P.Morgan investment bank, who discovered the latent power of derivatives, products which initially seemed so promising, but later evolving into cyber-world instruments that even the financiers struggled to understand.

Fool’s Gold is a lively narrative that reports behind the scenes about the workings of an elite company and its bankers. The story also describes the complicated financial instruments and shows how they combined with greed and stupidity to create a global financial disaster.

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

Book Review: What Would Google Do?

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

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Jarvis, Jeff. What would Google do?. Collins Business, 2009.

Media leader and founder of Entertainment Weekly, Jeff Jarvis, describes Google as the first post-media company. He analyzes company principles and shows how companies, organizations and people can use Google’s worldview to re-engineer their own strategy and behavior.

In business, the mass market is gone. Today’s economy is a mass of niches. Google goes to where the customers are, instead of requiring the customers to come to Google. As a network and platform, Google organizes and distributes content to an enormous market and payment is made by people and companies who want to reach that market.

For example, in the old economy, the media covered the cost of publications by charging readers and viewers. In the new economy, the publications are free — media charge advertisers for reaching the customers.

Author Jeff Jarvis recommends that every human being needs a search presence on Google. “Today, if you can’t be found in Google, you might as well not exist.” Exaggeration and hyperbole are abundant in this book. Yet the underlying ideas ring true and the conversational style makes this book an interesting read.

This title is also available in audiobook format in Ford Library.

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

Book Review: To serve God and Wal-Mart

Monday, August 10th, 2009

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Moreton, Bethany. To serve God and Wal-Mart : the making of Christian free enterprise. Harvard University Press, 2009.

Historian Bethany Moreton recounts the birth and growth of Wal-Mart from one store in Bentonville, Arkansas to the largest retailer in the world. Interwoven into this story is a complex network of cultural ideals, including devotion to free markets, the family and evangelical Christianity.

In the post WWII years, the US government redistributed wealth from the industrial North to the rural South and the New Christian Right learned to harness electoral power to promote “family values.” Sam Walton took a discount retailer in a rural town in the Sun Belt and built a regional chain around Christian and family values, which later evolved into a global powerhouse. This story shows how business, religion and government are interconnected in modern America and brings clarity into the current political landscape.

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

Sales, Advertising & Marketing History: John W. Hartman Center

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Part of Duke’s special collections library, the Hartman Center’s historical print archives and multimedia resources promote the study of sales, advertising and marketing in society.

They provided the material for a recent Perkins Library exhibit looking at advertising in the 1960s titled, “Not Just Mad Men: Real Advertising Careers in the 1960s”. You can see an audio slide show on the Duke Today site.

Take a look at their advertising image databases which range from Ad Access (newspaper and magazine ads from 1911 to 1955) to Medicine and Madison Avenue (health-related ads from 1911 to 1958).

Just Java. No Jive.

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

image courtesy markus schoepke via

Four Cups of Starbucks

Fuqua’s Start-up Cafe proudly serves Starbucks coffee. MBA’s crowd the counter, getting their fixes of caffeine at $4 a pop. Outside of Fuqua, Starbucks seem to be everywhere. Stores can be found around the globe and in the US, they are located surprisingly close to other stores. Two of the top Starbucks are within fifteen yards of each other. What it is about the product and the company that is irresistible to more than forty million customers?

Starbucked: A Double Tall Tale of Caffeine, Commerce and Culture explores the rise of the Starbucks Corporation and the caffeine-crazy culture that fueled it success. This is a story of how a small Seattle coffeehouse took a standard commodity, shaped it into a luxury product and made it synonymous with a cultural experience. The book includes anecdotes about familiar products and stores, and covers free trade and global issues related to coffee production.

It’s not about the Coffee: Leadership experiences from a life at Starbucks. The founding director of Starbucks International describes the strategies he used to build Starbucks into the success it is today. Behar helped establish the Starbucks culture, which stresses people over profits. He shares his ideas and skills that transported the company from a regional outlet to global brand. The voice of experience and in-house examples from a popular company provide a foundation for a discussion of leadership skills.