The Great Economists: How Their Ideas Can Help Us Today
An informative and interesting combination of history, economic analysis and commentary. The book summarises the life, times, theories, and beliefs of twelve key economists throughout history, and then analyses current economic trends and the challenges of our time through the lens of those historical theories.
The weighty and complex intersection of many, sometimes contradictory, economic theories being applied to current economic issues is a challenge in itself to do in an understandable way. The author executes on this challenge excellently, delivering an accessible introduction to economics history, coupled with exemplar critical analysis.
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Q. Do you have a favourite smart thinking book (and why that book)?
Working Backwards: Insights, Stories and Secrets from Inside Amazon by Colin Bryar and Bill Carr. I chose it because it’s an engaging tale by two long-term senior executives of how Amazon became so innovative beyond selling books online but also how it managed to do that so well! It’s a practical book with examples and templates, which makes it well suited for teaching. I assign the chapters on customer obsession and single-thread leadership in order to innovate, among others.
Working Backwards: Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon
Colin Bryar, Bill Carr
Review From Book Depository:
In 2018 Amazon became the world's second trillion dollar company after Apple: a remarkable success story for a company launched out of a garage in 1994. How did they achieve this? And how can others learn from this extraordinary success and replicate it?
Colin started at Amazon in 1998; Bill joined in 1999. Their time at Amazon covered a period of unmatched innovation that brought products and services including Kindle, Amazon Prime, Amazon Echo and Alexa, and Amazon Web Services to life. Through the story of these innovations they reveal and codify the principles and practices that have driven the success of one of the most extraordinary companies the world has ever known, from the famous 14-leadership principles, the bar raiser hiring process, and Amazon's founding characteristics: customer obsession, long-term thinking, eagerness to invent, and operational excellence.
Through their wealth of experience they offer unprecedented access to the Amazon way as it was refined, articulated, and proven to be repeatable, scalable, and adaptable. Working Backwards shows how success is not achieved by the genius of any single leader, but rather through commitment to and execution of a set of well-defined, rigorously-executed principles and practices that you can apply at your own company, no matter the size.
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Q. What's the most recent smart thinking book you've read (and how would you rate it)?
Tarzan Economics: Eight Principles for Pivoting Through Disruption by Will Page. My other favourite, which I happen to read after the Amazon book so it appears here, is because it is also an entertaining and insightful book by the former chief economist of Spotify. The music industry spent a decade struggling with digital disruption and this book helps us learn those lessons and apply them to our own industries. It’s full of colourful examples which makes it a useful reference book.
Tarzan Economics : Eight Principles for Pivoting through Disruption
Review from Book Depository:
A stunning new insight into how the most crucial lesson you can learn in today's challenging business environment is how to change the fundamentals of what you do, rather than carry on fighting a battle that is already lost.
The near destruction of the music industry at the hands of online piracy and its subsequent recovery on the backs of digital streaming platforms is more than just the biggest story of disruption and reinvention of the digital age. It is also a trove of insights on how to confront the metamorphosis we are all facing in dealing with the Covid-19 era, as accelerating tech and economic changes reshape our work, our play and our very minds.
Will Page, Spotify's first chief economist, extrapolates music's journey into eight guiding principles for pivoting through the ubiquitous disruption in nearly all industries. Expect the unexpected with transferable lessons coming from Starbucks, Tupperware and even Groucho Marx. The notion of 'Tarzan Economics' ties these principles together: a framework for recognising and acting on disruption, by letting go of the old vine and grabbing onto the new. Page joyfully brings these insights to life and provides a guide for knowing not just how to grab the new vine, but when. He assesses the new dynamics of the 'long tail', identifies friends and foes in the battle for scarce attention and provides a practical tool for discovering the right role for each of us to succeed in this new modern world.
As we emerge from the unprecedented disruption of a global pandemic, Tarzan Economics shows all of us - individuals, organisations and institutions - that if the vine we are holding onto is withering, we can have confidence to reach out for a new one in 2021 and beyond.
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Q. Do you have a favourite childhood book?
JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The world-building was a revelation, so I was absorbed early on in the tales crafted by this Oxford don who even invented his own languages. I’ve also read The Hobbit and others, and marvelled at each one.
Review From Book Depository
Sauron, the Dark Lord, has gathered to him all the Rings of Power - the means by which he intends to rule Middle-earth. All he lacks in his plans for dominion is the One Ring - the ring that rules them all - which has fallen into the hands of the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.
In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.
Review From Book Depository: The Hobbit is a tale of high adventure, undertaken by a company of dwarves in search of dragon-guarded gold. A reluctant partner in this perilous quest is Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving unambitious hobbit, who surprises even himself by his resourcefulness and skill as a burglar.
Encounters with trolls, goblins, dwarves, elves and giant spiders, conversations with the dragon, Smaug, and a rather unwilling presence at the Battle of Five Armies are just some of the adventures that befall Bilbo. Bilbo Baggins has taken his place among the ranks of the immortals of children's fiction. Written by Professor Tolkien for his own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when published.
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Q. Do you prefer reading on paper, Kindle or listening to an audiobook?
I am keen on all forms. I love reading books on paper but also e-books and audiobooks. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed recording the audiobook for my book, The Great Economists, as it allowed me to bring some colour to the biographical details which included great rivalries, bankruptcies, affairs and much more!
Q. Do you have a favourite bookshop (and why that shop)?
I don’t have one favourite but can’t pass by a bookshop without going in to browse. There’s a sense of excitement at seeing the fruits of people’s imagination and research. Unsurprisingly, I own a lot of books!
Smart Thinking Books was born to shine a spotlight on books that can fuel your mind! Many smart thinking books have changed the way I look at the world for the better, so I started this site to help spread the word. - Daryl Feehely
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