What Color is Your Parachute, 2006 edition by Richard Nelson Bolles
This classic, around since the 1970s, had become a bit stale. Its advicesuch as its exhortation to network, network, networkno longer seemed to offer much of an edge.
But the 2006 edition is a real improvement and earns a spot on my list of favorites. It's wonderful, offering insightful guidancenot just one-size-fits-all bromidesabout how to choose a career, land a job, or start a business. And it puts current trends such as offshoring and globalization into perspective. Plus, it's entertaining without being trivial. Like most authors, I think my own books are the best in their category, and in a Reader's Choice poll, my book, Cool Careers for Dummies was rated No. 1, ahead of Parachute. But that poll occurred before Parachute's 2006 edition was published. And my candid feeling is that this edition of Parachute is better than my book. It should be the first book that someone who is choosing a career or trying to land a job should read.
I do believe, perhaps shamelessly, that Cool Careers for Dummies should be second, because it offers insider profiles of 500-plus careers, in addition to lots of cures for procrastination. That kind of pragmatism nicely balances the idealism that undergirds Parachute.
The Rules of Business: Timeless Truths from the Best Minds in Business, by Fast Company's editors and writers
Each of us probably has one or two really good ideas. But very few of us, including people who have written books, have a whole bookful. So I am a fan of books that compile nuggets from many people. I was particularly eager to read this compendium because it includes some of the best ideas published by my favorite business magazine, Fast Company, over its 10 years of publication.
I wasn't disappointed. While most of the advice isn't new, I appreciate having so many gems in one small book. Here's one: "Only pissed-off people change the world. Nearly 100 percent of innovation . . . is inspired not by 'market analysis' but by people who are supremely pissed off at the way things are."
Of course, as the book acknowledges, "in business as in life, there are no hard-and-fast rules for achieving success. What works brilliantly in one industry, in one organization, in one situation, may fail abysmally in the next. And yet, what if there were a set of rules that, short of guaranteeing success, at least pointed you in the right direction?" This is such a book.
Three Billion New Capitalists: The Great Shift of Wealth and Power to the East, by Clyde Prestowitz.
Among the numerous books predicting an economic 9/11with China and India as perpetratorsmy favorite is not the genuflected-to The World is Flat, by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, but this book. Friedman believes the United States could be saved from descent into a Third World nation simply by investing more in science, technology, and education. Prestowitz, a former U.S. presidential adviser, proposes a more realistic, less simplistic prescription:
Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap and What Women Can Do About it by Warren Farrell
Most people believe that women earn 75 or 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. This book asserts that it's a myth. Farrell cites abundant evidence, from sources such as the U.S. Census and the Department of Labor, that shows that for the same work, in most fields, women earn as much as men do or more. He concludes that the main reason women earn less is that they choose to trade money for quality of life. Women tend to choose jobs that are not physically dangerous, are close to home, don't require 50-plus-hour workweeks, offer autonomy and fulfillment, and don't require extensive travelall of which are factors that lead to less pay. For women who want to earn a lot of money, he lists 25 things they can do to close the pay gap. Male readers might get something from this book, too. For one thing, it provides ammunition to counter the assertion that "it's still a man's world."
Barbara Sher's Idea Book, by Barbara Sher
A number of my clientsespecially stay-at-home parentswould like to make $20,000 to $50,000 running their own, pleasant one-person business. This is the best compendium I've read of such businesses. Here is one of the book's hundreds of ideas: "Perform for gatherings and crowds. Go to places like baseball games, car races, swap meets, expos or flea markets and perform for the crowd. You could juggle or clown around for the kids, play romantic guitar for couples, write poems for $2 apiece . . . make signs, decorate faces or T-shirts . . . or wash and/or lube people's cars while they're at a movie" (or ballgame). This book can only be purchased online, from geniuspress.com.