Book Recommendations – May 2018

I talk about books I’ve read and I’m asked for recommendations occasionally. I have an email that I update and send people and was updating/sending it this morning, I decided posting a copy would be beneficial as well. Each book has it’s own insight making it worth reading.

Most of the books I “Read”, I actually listen to. Most I listen to while in transit driving, flying or other modes of transportation. I’ve also taken to walking while listening using the time to get in a little exercise and fresh air. The other benefit of this when I hear a comment or idea I wish to remember, I take a mental note to visually place it in whatever location I happen to be walking.  This has helped with recall when needed. The same works for podcasts as well.

I’m going to start with the last few months. I’m going to save the all time for another post as this already ran long.

Measure What Matters by John Doerr: An excellent book on setting and executing goals and objectives. Mr. Doerr combines real world examples with the Intel Way of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). An analogy I use of attempting to walk a tightrope or fence is to keep moving and keep focused your next two steps forward. This book provides an excellent methodology for setting an individuals or teams direction and defining the results or milestones showing positive movement forward. The audible version of the book contains several clips from the people outlined in the book such as Bono and Google founders.

Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite by Jake Bernstein: I knew a little of the Panama papers and have seen how some corporations were setup to benefit from tax laws. This book dived into the who what where how and why going back to how the business of setting up businesses in these “Tax Havens” was started and enhanced. The author does a good job of presenting facts which could be dry with conversational fiction to enhance the understanding of the topic. Tax Avoidance is NOT illegal, Tax Evasion IS. As these papers show, many individuals knowingly crossed that line.

American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane by Walter Isaacson:  One of my favorite biographers. This book is a collection of essays. He presents insight in several key figures of history which he has researched or interviewed over the years. He is able to remain fairly objective and provides the reader with enough detail to gain an understanding of the figures and what made them noteworthy. There is more than an overview on each and well worth the investment of time, even if you have read about these figures in his or books by others.

American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road by Nick Bilton: I’ve had many conversations about Silk Road explaining the website and how the dark web works. I never knew the story behind how The Silk Road began or the individuals behind it. The author tells the story with the flow of a fiction novel and the details of a biography. This is the book I recommend to people curious about The Silk Road and that part of the internet.

Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue by Ryan Holiday. Another one of my favorite authors. This is a slight deviation from his usual books. Two of his books are on my all time recommend list. I knew only a headline of this case before reading the book. The book is entertaining at the same time provides some business insights into the minds of several business and public figures of the past few decades.

Agent in Place by Mark Greaney: I will read anything by Mark Greaney. My dad used to read anything by Louis L’Amour. I never understood this until I discovered Fritz Leiber and would read any of his work. But I came to understand this better with Greaney’s work. His detail and prose carries the reader through the events and activities of the Gray Man to allow one to understand and be there with him. His work with Patterson and others is always the same high level. If you have not read The Gray Man series, I highly recommend the purchase and reservation of some weekend/vacation time to enjoy.

The Terminal List: A Thriller by Jack Carr: A fiction novel about a Navy Seal taking revenge on the people who killed his family and friends. An action novel in line with Mark Greaney’s writing for detail and action. Well written and one that keeps your attention, I identified with several locations in this novel which added to my enjoyment.

Built from Scratch: How a Couple of Regular Guys Grew The Home Depot from Nothing to $30 Billion by Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, and Bob Andelman: This is the story by the founders of Home Depot. I am not a  retail industry person and this book does not require you to be. It details the ins and outs of how these gentleman came together and built this business has many insights for anyone starting a business today. Plus the story of the Million Dollar couch’s. (Employee bough furniture cashing in stock that would be worth millions several years later)

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?: And Other Questions You Should Have Answers to When You Work in the White House by Alyssa Mastromonaco and Lauren Oyler: I can’t say what attracted me to this book. I think I was looking for an unabashed and non-political description of a white house staffer. This book did not disappoint in that. While I would have several topics for debate with the authors political views, there is a clear passion to serve and a sense of duty while giving a straight forward view of what it’s like to serve in the white house. I listened to this book read by the author which added to my enjoyment.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman: Another author I enjoy. This was not as easy listening as some of his novels. The Graveyard Book and Neverwhere which are my favorites and I highly recommend. It is insightful and I wrote several notes from it. If you have an interest in the subject, I would recommend it. Though unlike some of his other books, I don’t consider this a vacation book.

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio: One of the business leaders I follow for thought leadership. His explanation of Economic Cycles and his  Principles for Success videos provided some easy explanations on the subjects which I have forwarded many times. This book outlines not just his principles for success but the ways and methods he came to them. The how is sometimes as important a lesson and the what. This can be an easy read if you skim through it or can be a thought provoking book, worthy of notes and ponder. I did both reading thru once and then listening to the audiobook while taking notes which provided some genuine insight for me.

Currency by L Todd Wood: I came across this book by searching for books about Bahamas. A place I work and have grown fond of. When it combined  my American founding father interests with a fact based work of fiction, I decided to buy it. The enjoyment of it has me looking forward to his other books which should they be of the same quality, will make a future list here.


Would You Rather (A GDPR comment)

My daughter loved to play a game called “Would you rather”. Like would you rather live in the forest or on a beach? A truly hard question. But it would have to be beach. Or would you rather be a wizard or a superhero? Dr. Strange all the way on this one.

Which leads me to a more modern question. Would you rather be bombarded by hundreds of emails notifying you that some privacy term has changed or just have it changed and not be notified? I can’t help but think of the question if a tree fell in the forest. I think I’d rather not know it fell.

These emails would be acceptable if they provided a one click option allowing me to either approve my information being stored or one that allowed me to be forgotten and my information on that site deleted. Of course the marketing people cringe at the latter and the IT people have been agonizing over implementation of both.

And now the USA is starting to review GDPR. Will it create one similar or one different enough as so cause the tsunami of emails to run amok all over again. I will wait with patience hoping that by that time I have cleared my email of all the current changes in privacy terms.

Dont Mess with My Wi-Fi!

I’ve been busy lately writing about Wi-Fi. An article for Hospitality Upgrade to be published in a month or so and also a Wi-Fi security brief to educate front line workers on how to advise guests on accessing Wi-Fi and security issues. (Not to mention an IT assessment for a Indian Casino which included Wi-Fi)

The article started with an incident at a Marriott hotel where the employees blocked personal Mi-Fi internet hotspots from operating. Since the airspace Wi-Fi operates in is a public airspace, this is a big deal. You can’t interfere with the publics use of public airspace. Well, Continue reading Dont Mess with My Wi-Fi!

One of those days – Email gone Awry

Today was definitely one of them. When playing with a Bulk Mail merge tool for a subset of my contacts, the tool went awry and started emailing my entire address book! They all received the great email message of Test, Test Test. The program took over my computer and after about 4000 emails, I was able to kill outlook from memory.

So while I doubt I will ever live this one down, there is a bright side. Continue reading One of those days – Email gone Awry

Recognize the music – Guest Service

“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music”
– Friedrich Nietzsche.

This quote by Nietzshe has always stuck in my head. No so much for the statement itself, but for what it can be expanded to. We all dance to our own music. Some call it the beat of our own drum. To some, our dance looks chaotic. To others, it looks rhythmic and intoxicating. What more interests me, are those people that can recognize other peoples music and sync with them in their own rhythm and beat. These are the truly talented hospitality folks I occasionally work with. Continue reading Recognize the music – Guest Service

Secret Menus – Would they work in all hospitality?

Growing up in Southern California I became addicted to In-N-Out burger. Though I never worked there, several of my friends in high school and college did. It was through their conversations I first learned of the “Secret Menu” items and become addicted to animal style Double Double burgers. To this day, They are still my favorite, still not published on the menu board but no longer really a secret. Continue reading Secret Menus – Would they work in all hospitality?

Getting staff to use applications – Manufacturing Desire

In a recent discussion with a hotel executive, we talked about how to get front line staff to use the applications better and to their fullest extent. At the time, I didn’t have a rock solid suggestion especially given the international staff that they managed.

I then had a totally different conversation talking about gaining and keeping users coming back to play a mobile game application. Turns out, the answer to both is similar.

Their application discussion was around a subject of “how to manufacture desire” which is a term used to describe “How do we get users to learn and want to use our application to where it becomes a habit”. A good article on it is on TechCrunch here.

Continue reading Getting staff to use applications – Manufacturing Desire

Google NEST and the case for Multi-Modal communications

Recently the NEST group in Google, (Google bought NEST in January for over $3 billion) advised customers to disable the devices ability “for user’s to wave their hand to turn off a faulty smoke alarm.” My first reaction is that it’s a great convenience but with all the failsafes in other applications stating “Do you really want to do this, press yes to continue” a simple wave of the hand may be too much non-failsafe power to grant an un-authenticated user. A 5-year-old has no business waving at the smoke alarm and turning it off. Continue reading Google NEST and the case for Multi-Modal communications

Starbucks Application and Web Referals

Seamless Native App to Web Site integration needed!

Have you downloaded the latest IOS Starbucks Application? In many ways it feels cleaner with the tile format and more items and information added. The ability to subsidize the pay of the employees (i.e. Tipping) is an interesting add as well.

When reading through the screens of information like the benefits of my Gold Card, the attainment of drinking way too many coffee drinks and having way to many on the run lunches here, I notice several references to the Starbucks web site for more information. First impression is Im in a Starbucks App connected to the internet. Can’t you just show me that page rather than list it’s URL for me to go to? Continue reading Starbucks Application and Web Referals