Noteworthy Business Titles

  1. Redirect: changing the stories we live by, by Timothy D Wilson
  2. The Ideas Industry: How Pessimists, Partisans, and Plutocrats Are Transforming the Marketplace of Ideas, by Daniel W. Drezner
  3. Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley, by Emily Chang
  4. Quirky: The Remarkable Story of the Traits, Foibles, and Genius of Breakthrough Innovators Who Changed the World, by Melissa A. Schilling
  5. Fifty Million Rising: The New Generation of Working Women Transforming the Muslim World by Saadia Zahidi

This month, we have titles for improving yourself, as well as understanding groups of people. Drezner’s book on the ideas industry is an interesting take on what drives a large part of business – the ideas industry. This book was a recommendation from a fellow colleague.

Another book published by our NYU family: Melissa Schiling is the Herzog Family Professor of Management, and Professor of Management & Organizations at NYU Stern School of Business. It was a pleasant surprise to learn the January’s 5 noteworthy business titles were appreciated. Share this with someone you’re thinking of! –– Edward Lim, Reference & Research Services Librarian for Business

What if there were a magic pill that could make you happier, turn you into a better parent, solve a number of your teenager’s behavior problems, reduce racial prejudice, and close the achievement gap in education?

Well, there is no such magic pill – but there is a new scientifically based approach called story editing that can accomplish all of this. It works by redirecting the stories we tell about ourselves and the world around us, with subtle prompts, in ways that lead to lasting change.

In Redirect, psychologist Timothy Wilson shows how story-editing works and how you can use it in your everyday life.

In short, Wilson shows us what works, what doesn’t, and why. Redirect demonstrates the remarkable power small changes can have on the ways we see ourselves and the world around us, and how we can use this in our everyday lives. – adapted from Goodreads

The public intellectual, as a person and ideal, has a long and storied history. Yet in recent years a new kind of thinker has supplanted that archetype: the thought leader. Equipped with one big idea, thought leaders focus their energies on TED talks rather than highbrow periodicals.

How did this shift happen? In The Ideas Industry, Drezner points to the roles of political polarization, heightened inequality, and eroding trust in authority as ushering in the change. In contrast to public intellectuals, thought leaders gain fame as single-idea merchants. Their ideas are often laudable and highly ambitious: ending global poverty by 2025, for example. But instead of a class composed of university professors and freelance intellectuals debating in highbrow magazines, thought leaders often work through institutions that are closed to the public. They are more immune to criticism –and in this century, the criticism of public intellectuals also counts for less.

Three equally important factors that have reshaped the world of ideas have been waning trust in expertise, increasing political polarization and plutocracy. The erosion of trust has lowered the barriers to entry in the marketplace of ideas. Thought leaders don’t need doctorates or fellowships to advance their arguments.

Increasing inequality as a key driver of this shift: more than ever before, contemporary plutocrats fund intellectuals and idea factories that generate arguments that align with their own. But, while there are certainly some downsides to the contemporary ideas industry, Drezner argues that it is very good at broadcasting ideas widely and reaching large audiences of people hungry for new thinking.

Both fair-minded and trenchant, The Ideas Industry will reshape our understanding of contemporary public intellectual life in America and the West. – adapted from Goodreads

Why has computer programming — once seen as a woman’s job — become so male? According to the FT’s San Francisco correspondent Hannah Kuchler, Brotopia goes some way to exploring this. In her review in the FT, she writes that the book goes beyond the salacious, to offer an important examination of why the technology industry is so dominated by men — and how women are pushing back.

From a personality test developed at System Development Corporation in the 1960s to tracing the roots of the “bro” culture in Silicon Valley to a hard-charging, hard-partying start-up called Trilogy in the 1990s, Brotopia should be read for its astute analysis of how discrimination against women became part of Silicon Valley’s DNA. – adapted from FT business books of the month: February edition

Continuing on the theme of traits, Schilling, an organisations and management professor at NYU Stern, examines in her book Quirky what differentiates the Elon Musks of this world from the merely creative.

Drawing on the lives of Musk, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and many others, Shilling explores what drove them to create multiple breakthroughs and finds that while their intellect is key, this alone did not lead to their serial innovations.

Shilling believes that in addition to intellect, nearly all “mega” innovators, were socially detached, had extreme faith in their ability to overcome obstacles, possessed an idealism that pushed them to work intently, and had a strong desire for achievement while taking pleasure from working hard. – adapted from FT business books of the month: February edition

Across the Muslim world, ever greater numbers of women are going to work. In the span of just over a decade, millions have joined the workforce, giving them more earning and purchasing power and greater autonomy.

In Fifty Million Rising, award-winning economist Saadia Zahidi illuminates this discreet but momentous revolution through the stories of the remarkable women who are at the forefront of this shift – a McDonald’s worker in Pakistan who has climbed the ranks to manager; the founder of an online modest fashion startup in Indonesia; a widow in Cairo who runs a catering business with her daughter, against her son’s wishes; and an executive in a Saudi corporation who is altering the culture of her workplace; among many others.

These women are challenging familial and social conventions, as well as compelling businesses to cater to women as both workers and consumers. More importantly, they are gaining the economic power that will upend entrenched cultural norms, re-shape how women are viewed in the Muslim world and elsewhere, and change the mindset of the next generation. – adapted from Goodreads