Here in Wisconsin, we’re in the thick of winter. And boy has it been a nasty one—two polar vortices in one month! When you’re stuck inside all day long, television and card games are only going to get you so far. Eventually it’ll be time to crack a book or fire up that ereader. When you arrive at that point in the day, you’ll be wise to consider these four promising titles for February.
The Up Side of Down by Megan McArdle
February 1st / Viking / ISBN-13 9780670026142
Failing is hot right now. I enjoyed Costica Bradatan’s opinion piece in NYT last month because it gives us a big-picture take on the essence of human failure. Megan McAardle’s new book provides a great foil for that perspective, offering the “practical application” of failure in life and work. In the Up Side of Down, McArdle analyzes various cases of failure and draws some valuable insights for her readers. This is not an antidote to failure, but rather a toolkit for utilizing and benefiting from your own inevitable and (as McArdle will argue) essential failures.
Scaling Up Excellence by Robert Sutton & Huggy Rao
February 1st / Crown Business / ISBN-13 9780385347020
The champion of the civilized workplace and evolved management is joined by Stanford colleague and co-author Huggy Rao to explore the challenge of scale. Scaling Up Excellence boils organizational purpose down to a balance between “Catholicism”—the aim to replicate preordained beliefs and practices—and “Buddhism”, in which members share a unifying “why”, but reach that “why” via different paths. Throughout Scaling Up Excellence, Sutton and Rao show us that scaling up is more complicated than simply “grow, grow, grow”.
The Improbability Principle by David J. Hand
February 1st / Scientific American & Farrar, Straus Giroux / ISBN-13 9780374175344
David J. Hand turns probability on its head through the assertion that rare events are far more common than you think. This ambitious book goes beyond simply demonstrating its point; it goes to the why of coincidences and rare events. A book like this can change the way you arrive at a decision, but it can also color how you view events and experiences throughout your life. A great read for either business or pleasure.
Smart People Should Build Things. by Andrew Yang
February 4th / Harper Business / ISBN-13 9780062292049
It seems rather obvious, doesn’t it? Smart People Should Build Things. Yes they should; but why? Andrew Yang uses his titular admonition as the pivot point for exploring our current age and the problems in our systems of education and employment, among others. We already know what the solution is, and Yang uses a variety of examples to show us how we can arrive there systematically.