Posts tagged Book of the month

CapturebbWelcome to the social media age! Well, it’s the first chapter in an engrossing read entitled ‘The Business of Being Social‘ by Michelle Carvill and David Taylor, and a friendly introduction to start this blog post. It’s the second edition, published last year, and covers every aspect of social media and ‘explains step-by-step how you can create a strategy for success’.  Why is it important? Social media is simply indispensable to any business, it (almost) goes without saying. The significant dates in technological innovation include telephones (1876), radio (1896), television (1925), and World Wide Web (1990) could be justifiably enhanced by social media being launched on:

5th May 2003 – LinkedIn

4th February 2004 – FaceBook

23rd April 2005 -YouTube

21 March 2006- Twitter

2007 marked The Apple iPhone’s arrival to herald the smartphone age. Other social networks include Google+, Pinterest and Instagram, alongside social messaging sites WhatsApp and Snapchat. These outflank all other media in their huge global reach. The figures are staggering: Facebook has over 1.4 billion active users, Twitter has 280 million, LinkedIn over 340 million, YouTube over 1 billion and Google+ around 300 million. Almost 2 billion people access social networks, and is estimated to rise to 2.44 billion in two years’ time. The book is interesting to read not only for those running a business, or a student studying the social media aspect of business, but for anyone interested, as I am, in this dynamic area.

The Business of Being Social (2nd ed) is available at 658.872 car on the 2nd floor of the Library.

 

 

The undoubted guru of study skills, Stella Cottrell, author of the bestselling Study Skills Handbook, explains what “The Seven Approaches to Learning” are and how these can improve your experience as a student, particularly in meeting the rigorous challenges set by the Higher Education environment.

Change can appear dark at times but if we  look at things differently, we may be able to gain light from another perspective. July’s elected Book of the Month, Ring in the Rubble, a management ebook that borders on a self-help guide for business people, starts with a moving account of the author’s son life-threatening birth, and how a golden ring can be found in the midst of when things fall apart; even when you see your life turning to rubble around you.  Gary Bradt’s Ring in the Rubble (2007)  is about discovering opportunities that lie within every situation and overcoming the fear of failure. An intrepid CEO echoes this Tolkien philosophy to her staff:

Folks, government regulations, shifting technologies, industry consolidation, and geopolitical uncertainties have reduced our best-laid business plans to rubble. However, my experience says that buried within the rubble is a golden ring of opportunity. Finding it will catapult us far ahead of our competition. I believe it’s our job as leaders and as an organization to find that ring. So, how do you recommend we proceed? (Bradt, 2007: 5)

A traditional management response might be to benchmark organizations, develop a list of competencies, design a training programme and invite attendees.  Yet the choice is stark.  According to Bradt (2007) to not search for the ring is certain failure in a ‘go for it’ culture , but to aggressively search for the ring is to win. Capitalism turned hunt-game. Not for the faint-hearted or skeptics.

The underlying premise of The Ring in the Rubble applies to your personal life as well, whether you’re ‘facing a new marriage, divorce, birth, death, or illness, it’s not the change itself that dictates the results we get, it’s how we perceive and handle that change that makes all the difference’ (Bradt, 2007: 7). How we face disruption and cope with a mounting workload effectively styles the type of manager you are, and this book challenges the reader to bravely examine established self-perceptions.

The non-solipsistic mantra of chapter 6 appealed to me: ‘Repeat after me: You are not the center of the universe’.  Forfeit the ego….if only! Another illuminating chapter (chap. 8) is ‘What to do when the rubble is deep, your patience is short,  and the odds are long’  starts with the author’s brother Jeff buying a new home and finding a solitary woman in a house full of paint, caulk and junk in every room: 

“Do you mean to tell me that you’re cleaning the whole house by yourself?” he asked her incredulously. “No,” she replied blithely, “I’m only cleaning the room I’m in.” This woman clearly had developed a strategy for dealing with what I call our Everyday Rubble’. (Bradt, 2007: 104). Concentrate upon one job at a time, taking one step at a time.  It might be my ignorance of management theory and Buddhism, but the book may be simply re-packaging mindfulness into the business world, a zen philosophy contemporarily taught by Thich Nhat Hanh. Bradt (2007: 104) explains that to tackle everyday disruption equates with success:

Everyday Rubble accumulates from all of the small yet typical disruptions in our perfectly planned days. Traffic jams, cancelled flights, unexpected meetings, client crises, bulging workloads beyond the norm, unexpected days with no babysitter—all sorts of things can contribute to our pile of Everyday Rubble.

Rethinking failure as something which should not avoided, not to entertain risk avoidance, over-turning the aspiration to acquire top grades, and recognising that the fear of failure holds us back, is a refreshingly bold concept. Is this an anti-scientific method? Children just try things without fear of failure or embarrassment. It’s just learning. Thomas Edison tried thousands of times before he perfected the light bulb.  Bradt (2007: 116) views risk avoidance as nonsensical:

We don’t share ideas in meetings for fear of sounding stupid; we don’t float that new product idea for fear it will be rejected; we won’t even order new items on the menu at lunch for fear of being disappointed! That critical inner voice in our heads holds us back from trying anything new where failure is a possibility.

Being yourself is something which we could all learn from, and not taking yourself too seriously in the process. If you would like to read further, just search the catalogue for Ring in the Rubble and ‘log into ebook here’ near the bottom of the screen.

 

As June’s Book of Month I have chosen the highly entertaining Food and wine festivals and events around the world: Development, management and markets by Hall and Sharples (2008), another sparkling title downloaded from our ebook collection. As a lover of markets, I was naturally drawn to this subject matter. I’m not a fan of shopping, like most men I guess, but markets are refreshingly different than any air-conditioned shopping mall. As you would expect from an academic text it is packed full of academic references, verifying statistics and a doubtless quest for the authentic. Nevertheless, I found some sections alive and thriving as an outsider to the academic genre, such as the joyous ‘Apples, cider and celebration’ chapter by Liz Sharples (2008: 134) which describes the honorific apple harvest from time immemorial, or at least 4000 years, and its rich social and cultural history:

Wherever, and whenever, there is a harvest, there is a cause for celebration. The autumnal gathering of apples from   orchards and groves around the world is no exception. This is a crop which is consumed, appreciated and savoured by millions of people, young and old, and apple juice and cider, made from the pressing of this precious commodity, is also widely revered.

Cider was surprisingly used as currency between the 17th and 19th centuries as daily wages for farm labourers.  Political debate over preserving orchards, farmhouse ciders, and the rise of specialist, albeit mass-produced ciders, are also covered in this lively book.  Heritage and preservation is the message in the UK, and (perhaps dizzyingly) revolving around cider. In Sweden the attention of apple events circulates around preserving apple varieties.  Apple events have become a feature of  US society, as indeed they are in Canada. If you’re ever in picturesque Vernon, British Columbia, why not pop along to the splendidly quirky ‘Apple Harvest Hoedown and Quilt Show’? A wonderful feature of the UK is Wassailing, Old English for “be healthy”, the pagan ceremony performed for a bountious apple harvest, which is noisy, celebratory and symbolic, with participants hanging toast or bread onto apple trees to attract good spirits. If you’re interested, then the nearby Brandy Wharf Cider Centre in Waddingham celebrates this event around January. This is an extract from a song that is sung at the Butcher ’s Arms in Carhampton in Somerset and is recorded in a book by Evans (2002) cited in Hall and Sharples (2008: 139):

Oh apple tree we wassail thee

And happily will thou bear

For the Lord doth know where we shall be

Till apples another year

Old apple tree! We wassail thee!

And hoping thou will bear

Hatsful, capsful, three bushel bagsful

And a little heap under the stair

The book also covers the ressurgance of farmers’ markets, food and drink festivals, beer festivals, and various case studies such as those comparing Marylebone Market (central London), Bakewell Farmers’ Market (Derbyshire) and Askern Farmers’ Market (Yorkshire), to demonstrate their significant regional influence in terms of the economy, environment and social impact.  I would highly recommend Food and wine festivals and events around the world not only for Tourism students, but for those amongst us who prefer more of an authentic shopping experience, and want to know more about these communal events that have shaped societies by bringing people together in the name of food and drink. It is available by searching on the library catalogue and ‘log into ebook here’, or by selecting on the hyperlinked title.

Everyone’s a critic now, allegedly, but developing an academic critique is a different skill, which is why I have chosen Stella Cottrell’s (2005) Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument  as May’s fabled Book of the Month.  Many of us believe that we possess relevant critical skills, without analysing them. I believe that Stella Cottrell ‘s practical, accessible approach unlocks the natural processes that lead to such intellectual development, which is why her books  prove so popular within universities.  Barely a library workshop  is planned without referring to her work (although I cannot empirically support such a claim, of course!).  By reading this book your critical thinking skills should develop, and the more you read, the more these faculties will grow.

This is not just a work on the processes of critical thinking, but it also encourages you to think critically. And it’s so easy! Such as…usefully including reflections such as emotional self-management over controversial subjects,  personal influences and challenging opinion: ‘For me, the things I find most difficult about challenging the opinions of other people are….’ (Cottrell, 2005: 6).  There are also reflections from lecturers about their approaches to critical thinking, after reading and adopting a step-by-step critical thinking approach: ‘I then then create my own position, and check my own point of view is convincing…could I support it if I was challenged?’ (Cottrell, 2005: 7).

Cottrell (2005) considers critical thinking as a logical process, constructing an argument and line of reasoning, reasoning and associated rational thought, analysing academic argument, sourcing reliable evidence, developing understanding, weighing strengths and weaknesses, deciding upon the objectivity of non-dualism of grey areas; acknowledging that arguments may not be right or wrong. The paradoxical frustration and creativity of realising, like philosophical debate, that there are only questions, only interim conclusions, atop further questions. This is the lifeblood of academic study. Nothing concrete, only shifting paradigms.

Cottrell (2005) prompts the reader to consider various styles of writing to deliver a message and critiques passages through multiple-choice answers to assess your thinking skills; one method employed to identify the skills of comparison, sequence, categorising, following directions, close reading and recognising similarities.  Through reading short (and interesting) passages we are required to identify arguments through reason, understanding messages, implicit and explicit arguments and assumptions. By fathoming causal links, correlations and false correlations, and by identifying flaws in an argument like a text called The Great Chain of Being about the power of The Enlightenment to challenge old ideas, we recognise the courage to raise alternative ideas, challenge personal barriers such as criticising academic research, and think sequentially to construct a logical framework of debate and discussion.

Located at  370.152 cot on the 1st floor of the GCW, there are several copies available of Stella Cottrell’s Critical Thinking Skills (2005) waiting to be borrowed and digested.

April’s eye-catching contribution to Book of the Month is Pino Bethencourt’s ‘Success in six cups of coffee: How smart networking conquers hidden obstacles’ (2011). I nominated this snappy title because it leaped out from other new book arrivals in the library, not only because of its obvious use to business students, but that networking is a fundamental life skill relevant to all of us. As Bethencourt (2011: 4; 5) advises that ‘networking is perhaps the most critical skill for success in any executive’, suggesting that ‘good networking is useful for almost any goal in life: finding a wife or husband, planning the perfect vacation, selling your house or learning Chinese’. The fabled six degrees of separation is a proven technique to build purposeful relationships; six encounters where bonds are formed. Cultivating a diverse network of contacts ultimately boils down to confidence, as always. If you possess confidence then everything else follows. Taking advantage of every new human interaction might sound opportunistic, even cynical, but realising your networking potential by analysing your relationships and recognising your personal qualities, having a relaxed attitude, avoiding hard-sell, developing high-trust healthy relationships, showing understanding and care, knowing the benefits of socializing, making friends, building influence, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, becoming self-aware, demonstrating patience, and acknowledging the need to change, are valued qualities in any person. It’s also about taking personal responsibility, turning your world around so that you are empowered enough to influence your world rather it influencing you.

Bethencourt (2011: 3) postulates that the need for human connection in business is perhaps more natural than exploitative money-making: ‘Bonding is a millenary ritual of intimate exchange that requires attention to detail and respectful care’. Because it is natural it builds self-confidence too. There a lot of insightful psychology here, as Bethencourt (2011: 36)  identifies a fine line between being authentic and generating interest: ‘The law of reciprocity has been playing a key role in every relationship you’ve established up to now, even if it doesn’t show’. Six cups of coffee goes beyond face-to-face interaction. Bethencourt explores how human trust can develop over keypads and screens via an interview with Erik Wachtmeister, founder of the online communities ‘A Small World’ and ‘Best of all worlds’, the latter specialising in bringing together niche communities, with every chapter ending in a personal interview with an executive.  Bethencourt offers advice on telephone and email manner, valuing the ‘power of now’, personal SWOT analysis, and handling rejection through self-assessment rather than concentrating upon victimisation that only results in avoidance rather than honest action. Part of the success companies within BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), for instance, lies within the recognition that they could not compete in mature markets (USA, UK, Netherlands, etc) so new markets evolved with double digit growth. Recognising strength and weaknesses is still a vital strategy in any business venture.

An example of understanding networks was illustrated by Greenpeace’s campaign against Japanese whaling.  Not realising that whale meat had saved the Japanese population from starvation after the second world war, they were inadvertently insulting the Japanese. So, they were advised to change their strategy to the more successful ‘now it is time for the Japanese to save the whales in return’ resulting in a globally publicised animation movie  (Bethencourt (2011: 79).

This book is located at 650.13 bet on the 2nd floor of the Library.

The British on Holiday: Charter Tourism, Identity and Consumption (2011) by Hazel Andrews is considered to be a unique ethnographic study of tourists in the Palmanova and Magaluf resorts on the island of Mallorca (incidentally a Catalan spelling of Majorca, it’s more popular name), a predominantly British package holiday destination.

Characterised by fast food outlets with a bawdy reputation as a ‘party’ island and 18-30 club activities, the British have exerted massive cultural influence upon Mallorca typified by pub names like ‘Nutters’ and ‘Diana Beach Bar’. Keenly looking beyond impact of previous studies, Andrews (2011) reflects upon the holiday as a search for a more satisfying life and the aspect of tourist motivation. She discusses the ‘sacred’ ritualisation of the holiday experience as though it is a pilgrimage seeking paradise, even regarding souvenirs as sacred relics. Understanding the regressive childlike behaviour displayed by some tourists, Andrews (2011) explains that their lack of inhibition lends itself towards a Freudian interpretation; a theory which is allegedly supported by travel literature.  Andrews (2011) also explores the notion that someone’s hedonistic fantasy can be another’s Hell, with some sleep deprived tourists wanting to return home early owing to so much noise on the island.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, particularly in trying to understanding the bizarre, and exclusive, concept of Britishness abroad (the supposedly innate need of some tourists to wave the Union Jack on hotel balconies, etc) and Andrews (2011) mega-theory of consumerism and nationalism, deliberately exploited to produce a sense of belonging in British charter tourists. It is amusing (some tourists were not sure if Mallorca was an island!) and thought-provoking because of her interpretation of a wide range theories underpinning tourism studies.

It is available as ebook on the Library Catalogue or as a hard copy in the Library at 910.941 and on the second floor.

Q. Mallorcans have an exceedingly rich history of cuisine; but what is an Arros Brut?