Read­ing nook

A lit­tle read­ing goes along way and as any good CEO knows, you can never re­ally stop learn­ing. In Busi­ness First’s Read­ing Nook, we re­view some in­spir­ing writ­ings about all things busi­ness. Re­views by Daniel G Tay­lor.

Business First - - CONTENTS - by Daniel G Tay­lor

The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edi­son to Google. By Ni­cholas Carr. W W Nor­ton & Com­pany, 2013. $22.95.

The way we use com­put­ers has changed for­ever.

Once, ev­ery­thing you needed for your com­puter was con­tained in the plas­tic or metal cas­ing. You bought soft­ware in a box. Now your de­vices are ac­cess points, a way onto the in­ter­net. Soft­ware gets down­loaded or used through your browser.

Ni­cholas Carr sees a par­al­lel be­tween the way com­put­ing has changed and is chang­ing and the way elec­tric­ity moved from Edi­son’s con­trolled, pri­vate net­work to a util­ity.

The old and out­dated busi­ness model was that you com­peted and strove for a mo­nop­oly. You wanted to quash your com­peti­tors. Now, busi­ness ri­vals must en­gage in co-ope­ti­tion: Ap­ple must let Google apps on iDe­vices to sat­isfy con­sumers; the full power of Mi­crosoft Of­fice is only just be­ing re­stored now that it’s avail­able on ev­ery mo­bile plat­form and in the cloud.

Of­ten in in­vest­ing and busi­ness, we’re hun­gry to know what’s go­ing to hap­pen next. We for­get that his­tory is an ex­cel­lent teacher. War­ren Buffett, for ex­am­ple, used his­tory to dodge the dot com bub­ble. As Carr makes his case, he links where com­put­ing is and where it’s go­ing to the evo­lu­tion of the elec­tric­ity in­dus­try.

Loop­tail: How One Com­pany Changed the World by Rein­vent­ing Busi­ness. By Bruce Poon Tip. Ha­chette Aus­tralia, 2013. $24.99.

If you were go­ing to launch a busi­ness in a crowded in­dus­try, how would you do it?

When Bruce Poon Tip started G Ad­ven­tures (for­merly Gap Ad­ven­tures), the travel in­dus­try was di­vided into three groups. Back­pack­ers, re­sorts and pack­aged tours. Re­sorts were be­com­ing in­creas­ingly self-con­tained and as a re­sult, lit­tle or no tourist dol­lars were spent in the lo­cal econ­omy. With tours, you’d get on a bus, drive around look­ing at lo­ca­tions, while your Western guide told you sto­ries of the cul­ture.

The mar­ket was ripe for a com­pany to cre­ate travel ex­pe­ri­ences where trav­ellers ben­e­fited from lo­cal guides and tourist dol­lars went into the lo­cal econ­omy. G Ad­ven­tures was born.

This is not a book of busi­ness the­ory. On one level it’s the grip­ping story of a busi­ness. On an­other level, it’s a hand­book of in­no­va­tion. On an­other, a real-life no BS inthe-trenches view of be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur.

The G Ad­ven­tures cul­ture is trans­par­ent. As I read, I (@daniel­gtay­lor) Tweeted key ideas that in­spired me. Poon Tip (@bru­ce­poon­tip) Tweeted back. Plus, the QR codes link to videos that make you feel like you know the G Ad­ven­tures team.

The Un­der­cover Econ­o­mist Strikes Back: How to Run – or Ruin – an Econ­omy.

By Tim Har­ford. Lit­tle, Brown, 2013. $32.99. In his lat­est Un­der­cover Econ­o­mist book, Tim Har­ford puts you – the reader – in charge of an econ­omy and shows you how to make it work.

Har­ford is a mi­croe­conomist, mean­ing he looks at the im­pact of in­di­vid­u­als and firms on an econ­omy. This time round he tack­les macro­eco­nomics, which looks at the broader is­sues in an econ­omy and their pos­si­ble causes.

He in­tro­duces prob­lems one af­ter the other that af­fect an econ­omy, and just as you think you’ve got his point and the re­quired so­lu­tion; he in­tro­duces a twist that re­veals more com­plex­ity than you first thought.

The book is writ­ten as a con­ver­sa­tion be­tween Har­ford and you. You ask a ques­tion and he an­swers it, which prompts fur­ther ques­tions from you, un­til you’ve mas­tered the topic.

For in­vestors, this book will help you un­der­stand the prob­lems within economies and how those prob­lems af­fect your in­vest­ments. When you know what the prob­lems are, you’ll be able to un­der­stand what re­sponses are needed from gov­ern­ments to run the econ­omy well.

This book will ap­peal to smart in­vestors who want a guide to macro­eco­nomics in ev­ery­day lan­guage.

The Se­crets of My Suc­cess and the story of Boost Juice – Juicy Bits and All.

By Ja­nine Al­lis. Wright­books, 2013. $24.95. Ja­nine Al­lis and her com­pany Boost Juice have a unique place in the Aus­tralian busi­ness land­scape – a suc­cess­ful woman with a brand ev­ery­one loves.

The Se­crets of My Suc­cess is part busi­ness bi­og­ra­phy, part busi­ness suc­cess man­ual.

“My Boost Jour­ney” re­veals the re­source­ful­ness Al­lis showed in her youth that would later be­come a key to her suc­cess with Boost Juice.

“Thirty Recipes for Suc­cess” re­veals the traits that make up the cul­ture of Boost Juice stores.

“Ex­pand­ing Skills and Over­com­ing Ob­sta­cles” shares what Al­lis has learnt from run­ning a busi­ness about team­build­ing, mar­ket­ing, fran­chis­ing, pas­sion, and deal­ing with chal­lenges.

The value for an en­tre­pre­neur in this book is that you’ll see that Ja­nine Al­lis is an ev­ery­day per­son, like all en­trepreneurs. Be­cause she’s like you, and shares how she got to where she’s go­ing through stick­ing with her goals un­til she achieved them, she will in­spire you.

The $24.95 price is al­ready cheap for what you’ll learn, but the voucher for any sized Boost juice or smoothie means you can sub­tract at least an­other $5 off the price.

Her story mat­ters be­cause she’s suc­cess­ful and she started with­out busi­ness skills. Any busi­nessper­son can get tips from her.

Seven El­e­ments that have changed the World.

By John Browne. Weidenfeld & Ni­col­son, 2013. $29.99. John Browne has come up with a sub­jec­tive list for the seven el­e­ments that have changed the world. But given he’s for­mer CEO of BP, it’s worth un­der­stand­ing his choices.

His cho­sen el­e­ments are: iron, mainly be­cause of its in­flu­en­tial role in mil­i­tary his­tory; car­bon, be­cause of its use as a fuel source; gold, as the most cov­eted el­e­ment of all time; sil­ver, be­cause of its use in pho­tog­ra­phy; ura­nium, be­cause of its role in end­ing a war and as a power source; ti­ta­nium, for its war­time ap­pli­ca­tions but more so for its ubiq­ui­tous pres­ence as a whiten­ing agent in a so­ci­ety where white equals pu­rity; and sil­i­con, be­cause of its use as glass and in tech­nol­ogy.

As Browne de­votes a chap­ter to each el­e­ment, he blends sci­ence, pol­i­tics and his­tory in a well-writ­ten story that com­bines his per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence with solid re­search. You don’t need to agree with his choices to ap­pre­ci­ate his rea­son­ing and en­joy the book.

From an in­vest­ment point of view, this book helps you see how mar­kets us­ing nat­u­ral re­sources are cre­ated – and how quickly those mar­kets can van­ish. If you in­vest in nat­u­ral re­sources, or your busi­ness is de­pen­dent on them, this book will give you in­dis­pens­able back­ground knowl­edge.

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