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A self-help book for the rest of us?

$13.46

We talked about this book together with the author on Bookcasting Episode 10, where we had the pleasure of having the author, Robert Kelsey, with us on the phone from London.

This review was also published on Amazon.com and Audible.com. If you found it useful please head over there and let them know!

If you're planning to buy the book, use the link on the left. You can also get the audio version for free today with a 30-day trial on http://audibletrial.com/bookcasting.

A review of Robert Kelsey's What's Stopping You?: Why Smart People Don't Always Reach Their Potential and How You Can.

If you have a high fear of failure, you may be choosing tasks at which you are either certain to fail or certain to succeed. That is, if you're throwing rings at a peg, you will either stand so close that you can just lean over and lay down the rings, or you will stand so far back nobody will laugh at you when you miss the target.

There exists, Kelsey argues, a dichotomy between those who fear failure and those who don't. Most self-help books are aimed at the latter, because this phenomenon is so poorly understood. Which is why most of these books don't help any of those who feel inclined to read them.

Those with High Fear of Failure (High FF's) must recognize their disability, then accept it for what it is, and finally plan for how to achieve great things despite of it — or perhaps with its aid.

In fact, when doing it right, High FF's may have better chances of becoming extraordinary leaders and successful entrepreneurs than others.

Kelsey's book is both personal, instructional and philosophical. Chances are high you will recognize yourself in his anecdotes, and find inspiration in his advise.

Being passionate pays off

$18.15

We talked about this book on Bookcasting Episode 9.

This review was also published on Amazon.com. If you enjoyed this review, please consider helping us out by going there and letting people know you found it helpful. You can read more about this and other ways to help us here.

Disclaimer: We received free review copies of this book from the author.

Review of Serena Star-Leonard's How to Retire in 12 Months

Serena took the plunge one day, and decided that the corporate world wasn't for her. When she had successfully organized a festival event with 8,000 visitors, she just knew she had the skills and the perseverance to start her own business.

She challenged herself to start a low-maintenance income business within 12 months. This book is partly a documentation of that effort. The result is a business that helps other small businesses establish a presence online, through consultancy, courses and webinars.

Serena's book has a personal presence that really adds to the flavor.

When I realized better parts of the book was going to be about how to set up blogging software and online marketing tools, if was a bit worried that I was going to be bored.

I was proved wrong. I learned plenty.

If you're seeking for advice on how to turn a passion into a successful blogging business, or just general inspiration from a very interesting story, then this book is for you!

Is your business a stage?

This review was also published on Amazon.com and on Audible.com. If you enjoyed this review, please consider helping us out by going there and letting people know you found it helpful. You can read more about this and other ways to help us here.

$18.98

A review of The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II & James H. Gilmore

If you're looking for a lesson on the difference between commodities, goods, services and experiences, then this book will provide it. The important lesson, though, is how to move from a service-based business model to one based on experiences, as first exemplarized by Disney's theme parks.

Other than that, we find that The Experience Economy functions mostly as content marketing for the authors' consultancy business. Which is perfectly fine, but we think that the main lessons of the book are outdated.

We found one important and interesting aspect of PIne and Gilmore's book that we want to point out. It's reflected in the book's subtitle: "Work Is Theatre & Every Business Is A Stage".

In order to transform your service into an experience you must consider yourself a director of a play, your employees as actors and supporting staff, and your customers as the audience.

You must also appreciate the different styles of acting — and more importantly, reconsider the traditional script-based customer service. Draw lessons from improv theatre and street actors, to give your customers truly unique experiences.

Religion is man-made

We talked about this book on The Bookcasting Podcast Episode 8. You may also find this review on Amazon.com and on Audible.com. If you found this review helpful, go there and rate it.

A review of Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great: How Religions Poisons Everything

Religion, and its institutions can arguably be blamed for countless atrocities throughout history, such as the molesting of innocent children, the burning of women because they had cats (and possibly other horrendous crimes), the fall of democracies, genocides (yes, plural), plentiful wars, starvation, 9/11,  Israel vs. Palestine, AIDS, … well, you get the idea.

No religion escapes Hitchen’s watchful eye and characteristically stingy British tongue. Of Muslim extremists and their motives he notes dryly that:

their problem is not so much that they desire virgins as that they are virgins (emphasis added).

Hitchens’ book is not only a history of religion, and a criticism of its claim to universal truth, but also an argument that all religion is man-made. Religion was created for man to dominate woman, for the powerful to subdue the masses or for the wealthy to control the poor.

“Religion is opium to the people,” is to be understood not as a criticism of religion, but as a statement about power, and how power necessitates the creation of instruments to ensure that those who have it, keep it.

God is an infinitely hypocritical figure, creating things to be desired, only to forbid its devouring. To create us as sexual beings, and make then sex a sin. To make foreskins, labia and clitorises and instruct our clergy to brutally cut them off.

Such is only a few of Hitchens’ numerous powerful criticisms of all of the world’s religions.

Finally, Hitchens asks the inevitable, what happens to our morale without religion? The short answer is: Since religion is man-made, human morale necessarily precedes religion.

Follow your dreams — if you can afford it?

This review was also published on Amazon.com. If you enjoyed this review, please consider helping us out by going there and letting people know you found it helpful. You can read more about this and other ways to help us here.

Disclaimer: Bookcasting was given a free review copy of this book by the publisher.

A review of John Berglund’s A Beach Less Traveled

John Berglund from Minnesota decided he had had enough of the corporate life and decided to move to the Caribbean and open up a perfume shop with his wife Cindy. The morale of the story is that anyone can do what they really want - if they want it badly enough.

Is that really true? Berglund provides no overall budget for his adventure, but it is clear that his family invests hundreds of thousands of dollars. So, is it more correct to say that you can follow your dreams — if you have enough money?

Regardless, A beach less travelled is a compelling tale of someone with courage, open-mindedness, determination and longing for a simpler life.

After visiting St. Martin with their family in 1996 the Berglunds secretly decides to change their life. It took them another 15 years before their final and permanent move to the smallest island shared by two countries, their paradise on Earth.

I find this book to be a little lengthy at times; some of the stories draw out into boredom - especially some of the tales of island life, with numerous examples pretty much telling the same story.

On the other hand, if you ever plan to open a business in the French West Indies, this book is a perfect recipe. It outlines all challenges regarding immigration, health insurance, business licenses and contractor’s. In the end, it seems like it takes a lot of effort and a lot of money, but if you have both to spare, then you could be living happy island life after a decade or more of struggle.

All in all, it’s an entertaining read interspersed with some boring passages. I enjoyed it.

A different Moore or more of the same?

This review was also published on Amazon.com and on Audible.com. If you enjoyed this review, please consider helping us out by going there and letting people know you found it helpful. You can read more about this and other ways to help us here.

A review of Michael Moore’s Here Comes Trouble

Buy this book on AmazonWhatever you think of Michael Moore’s movies, you can’t say the guy hasn’t lived an interesting life. Listening in on his very personal anecdotes about everything from protesting Reagan at a SS soldier memorial in Bitburg, Germany; to receiving death threats after his memorable reception speech at the Oscar’s in 2003, is truly an illuminating experience.

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, and experiencing the senseless business policies exerted upon the population by General Motors throughout the later half of the last century, Moore’s heart lies with the working people, and he seems always to be on a mission to speak their voice.

Here Comes Trouble is organized into self-contained stories, ranging from starting up the Flint Voice newspaper in response to the established local news outlet being in the hands of GM, to personal conversations with a Roman Catholic bishop to the making of his first film Roger and Me.

Moore’s ability to capture an audience easily transfers to a biographical format, due to his shear willingness to expose his vulnerability. His insecurity, shyness and self-conscious affliction makes for a bumpy ride. As Moore himself admits, he is innately pessimistic about pretty much everything, even when he experiences success.

The pessimistic attitude mirrors Moore’s gloomy character known from his documentary films, and his huge capacity for self-irony adds another dimension to whatever picture you may already have drawn from his political agenda.

Moore’s films are centered on issues he cares about; his book is more about himself than anything else.

Did you ever wonder what it's like to work at Google?

We talked about this book on Bookcasting Episode 7. We have also published this review on Amazon.com and on Audible.com. If you like the review, please take a moment to let the Amazon and Audible communities know by rating it.

A review of Douglas Edwards’ I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59

Clicking on the image takes you to our affiliate product page on AmazonDid you ever wonder what it’s like to work at Google? Now you can find out. Well, that’s only part true. Edwards was Google employee number 59 and worked there from 1999 till 2005. We should perhaps instead have asked: Did you ever wonder what it was like to be Douglas Edwards while he worked at Google?

We listened to the Audible unabridged version of this book (at double speed — it’s addictive), and found it to be an appealing account of a work-place totally dominated by engineers — or should we say nerds?

Edwards sets the scene by recounting an episode from 2002 where he basically asks Page for a confirmation that, although Page and Brin had been right most of the time, Edwards’ expertise had also been important to the company. Page answers dryly: “When have we not been right?” And such is Edwards’ depiction of the nerd couple being Larry Page and Sergei Brin. They sincerely believe that they are right, that what they are doing is right and that anyone who believes otherwise is simply misguided.

Edwards ends up being misguided a lot of the time. And he is honest about it in his book. After all, his background in marketing is of the traditional type. He came from an executive position in marketing at the newspaper of the Valley, turned down an offer with Yahoo!, only to end up working with a future CEO of Yahoo!: Marissa Meyers just got hired at Yahoo!, but used to work alongside Edwards as a UI expert and later in the product management group reporting directly to Larry Page. It’s safe to say that Meyers and Edwards didn’t get along so well.

The book is largely anecdotal. Hear about the firing of middle-managers in a public staff meeting; Vice-President Al Gore spending his abundance of spare time wandering the corridors of the Google HQ and Eric Schmidt entering the scene during the long-lasting process of “we should probably get ourselves a CEO”.

Edwards asked Eric Schmidt, after a particularly exhilarating argument with Page and Brin in which Schmidt backed Edwards, if he didn’t think Page and Brin were a handful sometimes. Schmidt supposedly answered:

“I’m well compensated. Now, excuse me while I walk around the building a few times.”

September 11 affected the people at Google in much the same way that it affected anyone else. One early response was “Is Google alive?” meaning, are the people at the Manhattan office OK? Yet, the account of decisions made in the surge for information following the attack is memorable.

Edwards took compromises in a lot of places in order to spend time at Google. We say he was motivated by his eagerness to be a part of something bigger. When that feeling went away, he left Google in March 2005. He felt lucky, and he probably was.

We have also published this review on Amazon.com. If you like the review, please take a moment to let the Amazon community know by rating it.