The 100 Best Business Books of All Time

The leaders of 800-CEO-READ, Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten, have just released their book called The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You. This book is a no-brainer for your bookshelf — it’s like having a literate Cliff’s Notes guide to all those books you know you should have read by now. No one alive — truly no one — spends as much time thinking about the virtues (or otherwise) of business books than Jack and Todd.

And clearly they have exquisite and refined judgment, because Made to Stick made the list.

Bill Gates at TED

In his talk at TED, Bill Gates released a jar full of mosquitoes, sending them out to feast on some of the world’s best & brightest blood. “Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,” he said. “I brought some. Here, I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.” He then waited a few minutes before reassuring the crowd that the mosquitoes were malaria-free.

A bit mean, maybe, but at least he broke through to people’s emotions.

He also used a nice comparison: “There is more money put into baldness drugs than into malaria,” Gates quipped, triggering laughter. “Now, baldness is a terrible thing and rich men are afflicted. That is why that priority has been set.”

I’ll link to the video once it’s posted.

“We let polluted air speak for itself”

How do you convince people that air pollution is a problem? You let them see it for themselves. Check out this very smart outdoor campaign in Hong Kong. (Thanks to Choleena at Tantramar for the tip.)

On bathroom signage

One of my favorite coffee shops here in Raleigh is part of a strip mall, and the businesses all share a common bathroom. Recently, someone started locking the communal bathroom, and a sign was scotch-taped to the door. In that inimitable management-font-style, the sign read: “THE BATHROOMS HAVE BEEN LOCKED FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE.” 

Well, no. In most civilizations, it is considered more convenient to simply push open the door than to request a key from the overworked barrista. But no matter.

One day I asked one of the barristas what gives with the locked bathroom, and she said, “We had to lock it because a crazy homeless man was smearing his feces on the wall, and the janitor threatened to quit.”

OK, that gave me a dramatically more favorable attitude toward the lockup. And it made me wonder — isn’t there something to be said for the cold, hard, gross truth: “THE BATHROOMS HAVE BEEN LOCKED TO KEEP THE CRAZY, FECES-SMEARING HOMELESS GUY OUT. SO WE KNOW IT’S A HASSLE FOR YOU TO GET THE KEY, BUT JEEZ, THINK ABOUT THE JANITOR.”

Jokes aside, I do think there’s a communication moral buried in here. By keeping me at arm’s length from the real issue, the management allowed me to jump to false conclusions. (I assumed that the landlord was trying to keep non-paying customers from using the facilities, and I fumed about how petty that was.)

Wouldn’t our audience understand us better, and feel more empathy for us, if our instinct was to give them a glimpse of our reality rather than try to obscure it?

thank you. MORE MORE MORE!!!

Is it me, or is it crazy for charities to respond to someone who’s donated money by sending them a thank-you letter along with an appeal for more money (complete with SASE)?

Imagine if you gave someone a wedding gift and they responded with a thank-you card, along with an appeal to buy one more champagne flute. (Oh, and because of an URGENT need, please send a Santoku knife as well…)