Book Review: Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator

Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media ManipulatorTrust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday exposes the ease with which online news organizations and blogs can be easily manipulated, based on his experience using the system to promote his projects, clients, and American Apparel. He provides great insight into the blurring of the lines between blogging and journalism and how the twin factors of add revenue based on screen views and the desire to break a story first create the perfect storm of rumors as news and sensationalist stories appealing to fear, anger, or scandal. When you finish the book you truly will see news and blogging in a different light and how a “follow the money” approach explains so much of what we see. His information on iterative journalism explains how organizations publish rumor but do an ineffective job of “getting the story right” but make profit on the incorrect story and the updates to correct it. Not content to just discuss methods and practices, he dissects real news events and promotional efforts to demonstrate how the monster feeds and operates. His insight into the major web hubs for news and individuals, from Huffington to Breitbart, will provide some much needed perspective on how we get our news and whether we really are informed.

He presents the material as exposing media manipulation techniques but one could follow the process and have a good chance at promotional success but at a cost. I was put off on some of his initial YouTube interviews as he seemed like a person confessing sins that he is proud of committing. His later books reveal one who has learned and matured from this dark place to a more settled view of the world and a better ethical approach to life. Finish this book and you’ll never view blogs and online news the same again.

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Book Review: The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us

The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive UsThe Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us
by Christopher Chabris

I do not not trust my eyes or my memory as confidently as I did in the past. It is not because of age but wisdom. I’ve read several books on analytic thinking, scientific discoveries on how our memories are formed and reconstructed, and common observation failures as outlined in this book. The more I read, the more I realize that I must, as The New York Times review observed, be humble about my observation abilities.

This book reflects the foolishness of exalting the importance of eyewitness testimony above other empirical data in investigations and court cases. The eyes do not always have it and we can sometimes see but not see. I would not believe it but having failed to see the gorilla as I dutifully counted the basketball passes on the video described in this book, I am convinced. The book also explains why failing to register everything we see is not a failure or weakness but a neurological necessity to keep us from sensory overload.

The description of various observational experiments and examples from business and law enforcement reinforced the validity of the book’s arguments. However, the authors did not leave readers to bemoan their condition or completely distrust their senses but provide techniques to help readers observe and understand common blind spots and how to compensate for them in their thinking and with interactions with others.

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Book Review: The Effective Executive

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things DoneThe Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done
by Peter F. Drucker

Originally written in 1967 by the father of business management, this book will help any business person journey towards greater responsibility and success. Having defined what an “Effective Executive” is, Drucker emphasizes that effectiveness is a learned skill. By examining what one can contribute to the success of the enterprise, and thus one’s personal success,

Drucker stresses the importance of managing one’s time, priorities, and playing to your strengths. A key part of business success is effective decision-making and Drucker breaks down the decision-making process and how to make effective decisions.

Much of Drucker’s wisdom is identifying personal and business processes that are dysfunctional and fixing, changing, or abandoning them. The book is filled with key questions that a business person must ask themselves to shed light on the path to choose and what to avoid. It is the most concise book of organizational management and professional development I have read and the principles are timeless. It is the one book I consistently recommend to young people entering the business world.

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Book Review: The Hand Behind The Mouse

The Hand Behind the MouseThe Hand Behind the Mouse
by Leslie Iwerks

It was Iwerks who, as Walt’s lead animator, created Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Disney’s empire was growing due to the great success of Iwerk’s animated classics like the Silly Symphonies and the popular Mickey Mouse cartoons.

As with many business and creative ventures, success strained the close friendship and Iwerks left Walt Disney to open his own studio. Although Iwerks was a great talent, the promotion abilities of Walt Disney were equally responsible for the success of their animated creations. Iwerks was not able to create characters or films to compete effectively with Disney. Eventually he closed his studio and, after doing some freelancing work for a few years, returned to Disney. To enhance your reading experience, watch the cartoons mentioned in the book on YouTube as the book gives some insights into the cartoons that you might not notice otherwise.

After returning to Disney, Iwerks incredible imagination and inventive brilliance shone. He developed the xerographic technologies used to create Disney animated classics and the live action techniques used in classic films such as Mary Poppins. Disney also brought Iwerks into his greatest venture, creating attractions for Disneyland park.

This was one of those books that I almost gave up eating and hygiene habits in order to finish. The brilliance of this behind the scenes legend is one of the little known stories of the successful Disney empire. His quirky sense of humor comes out in his animated features, especially those produced in his own studio. The drama of the working relationship and friendship between Disney and Iwerks reveals the humanity of these icons of animation. It provides insight into directing genius and creativity towards a successful career.

Disney fans will love the book but I think creatives of all types: computer programmers, artists, inventors, and writers will benefit from the lesson of uniting hard work, teamwork, alliances, and financial support with creativity and talent to unleash your imagination to the world.

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Book Review: No More Mr. Nice Guy!

No More Mr. Nice Guy!No More Mr. Nice Guy!
by Robert A. Glover

As I write in my review of “No More Christian Nice Guy” by Paul Coughlin, I am skeptical of the every developing syndromes of the modern Western world. Perhaps we have syndrome syndrome. but having read Coughlin’s book I wanted to read Robert Glover’s work.

Whether there is a “Nice Guy Syndrome” or not I’ll leave for others to judge. Like Coughlin, Glover addresses the passive-aggressive way some men deal with fear and anxiety. Glover describes the condition this way: “Nice guys have been conditioned to believe that if they are good, giving, and caring, they will be loved, get what they want, and have a smooth life.” But they are frustrated when they don’t get what they want from these covert contracts.

Glover describes the Nice Guy this way:

  • He is the relative who lets his wife run the show.
  • He is the friend who will do anything for anybody, but whose own life seems to be in shambles.
  • He is the guy who frustrates his wife because he is so afraid of conflict that nothing ever gets resolved.
  • He is the boss who tells one person what they want to hear, then reverses himself to please someone else.
  • He is the man who lets people walk all over him because he doesn’t want to rock the boat.
  • He is the dependable guy at work who will never say “no,” but would never tell anyone if they were imposing on him.
  • He is the man whose life seems so under control, until BOOM, one day he does something to destroy it all.

The book has good advice for men who work from this anxiety-based condition. Much of the solution revolves around being open about what you want, learning to draw boundaries, being comfortable saying “no”, and living with integrity with others. Men who feel they are being trodden underfoot or have problems being assertive will find the information useful.

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Book Review: No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice Instead of Good Hurts Men, Women, and Children

No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice--Instead of Good--Hurts Men, Women and ChildrenNo More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice–Instead of Good–Hurts Men, Women and Children
by Paul Coughlin

I am skeptical of the every developing syndromes of the modern Western world. Perhaps we have syndrome syndrome (book idea!). So I was a bit suspicious when I saw the title but I was intrigued by a cursory glance through the book and decided to read it.

Whether there is a “Nice Guy Syndrome” or not I’ll leave for others to judge (Robert Glover wrote “No More Mr. Nice Guy” which speaks from a secular perspective). However, it does address a problem among some men which is the passive-aggressive way of dealing with fear and anxiety. In the book, Coughlin encourages men to not assume that others are aware of the deals that we have made with them (especially the spouse) of which they are ignorant. The frustration comes when he doesn’t get what he wants even though he did what he was a good boy.

The book has good advice for men who work from this anxiety-based condition. The contribution that this book makes that is different from Robert Glover’s book is the impact of passive-aggressive behaviors in Christian men and the detrimental affect in the church.

It is a decent book but the real meat is in the last several chapters on how to deal with the behaviors. Early chapters establish the problem of modern culture minimizing the manliness of Jesus (Jesus the Bearded Woman concept popular in many religious circles) and he makes the case to consider the whole masculinity of Jesus in the scriptures and consider Him as the example to follow.

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Book Review: Decision Points

Decision PointsDecision Points
by George W. Bush

I imagine fans of President Bush will love this book and those who demonized him will ignore it or blindly attack it. When we consider that any leader, whether in business or government, has great characteristics, significant weaknesses, blind spots, and well-focused vision we can become more understanding of their role in organizations and history. President Bush was not a perfect man and the decisions of his presidency, like all of his successors, has led to good and bad consequences for the present. Personality politics will judge your person a saint and the opposition person a demon. Ultimately, future historians will better judge the impact of the leaders of our day.

Politics aside, and whether you agree with his decisions or not, the book provides good insights behind President Bush’s decisions and his decision-making process. Such analysis is helpful for leaders in complex organizations. He provides deeper analysis of the issues around major decisions of his presidency than the dismissive reports of the often hostile media. I appreciated his admission of weaknesses and faults in some decisions. On a higher level, provides some good general principles about complex decision-making and taking responsibility for the consequences.

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