Biz Book(s) Du Jour

I’m cheating today — there are two biz books du jour. The first one is really and truly a biz book — as in it’s about business — and it’s lots of fun about the history of one storied banking firm; the second is one of those quasi-unrelated books — it’s about how we don’t know what we really want, and how to fix that — that actually gets you thinking about business & investing in different and useful ways.

  1. The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co.
  2. Stumbling on Happiness


  1. Stumbling onto Happiness is indeed a thought provoking and humbling book. Then again, one might argue that all thought provoking books are humbling! And isn’t that one of the points of this book? That once one thinks/reflects on ones actions/experience, one will see that “it” is not what “it” first appeared to be. To paraphrase Pascal, “the brain has reasons that the self knows not.” One can learn much about business and investing from this book. Further, I would suggest that the knowledge it contains can usefully be applied to any human endeavor. I am overlaying the knowledge summarized in Dr. Gilberts work to the area of integrated health management: one might summarize the work I am doing via the title, “Stumbling onto Health.” regards Dr. G.

  2. Mike Gray says:

    Your links are backwards. The Last Tycoons points to Stumbling on Happiness at Amazon and the Stumbling on Happiness link points to The Last Tycoons on Amazon.

  3. “Northern Tigers: Building Ethical Canadian Corporate Champions” by Dick Haskayne is a great business book that is my biz book Du Jour. To me, insightful and ethical business leader like Dick has become rarer and rarer in the age of Enron, Tyco, and Hollinger. When making tons of money *off* one’s shareholders (as oppose to making money *with* the shareholders) seems like the name of the game.
    [Disclosure: I went to the business school that was named after Dick. And he has been kind enough to share his insight with me (a stranger and no-body) over the years.]

  4. I really liked Stumbling on Happiness as well. I read _Made to Stick_ around the same time, another gladwell-like book that was a similarly easy read and had some good ideas (I think both had Gladwell blurbs on the cover in fact). I rounded out my New Yorker-related reading with _Fooled by Randomness_, which was certainly the best of the bunch but that doesn’t reflect poorly on the other two since _Fooled_ is spectacular. Just got _Black Swan_ from Amazon and pretty excited to dig into that.
    Also – via a Mind Hacks blog post leading to a book review I am now halfway through _Seeing Red_ which also talks extensively about blindsight, this time in the context of what is consciousness. Not as much potential business relevance as _Stumbling_ but really interesting and it is pretty short.