Book Reviews of some priceless books..!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Fish (Stephen C. Lundin)

By Devyani Rastogi

Fish by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul & John Christensen is an inspiring parable, quite relevant to the modern times. People, too engrossed in their daily routine, just work with the flow, just because they have to. They need to truly connect to there work and should not make it a mundane ritual. People don't realize that the same work, if done with wholeheartedness and positive energy and attitude, will improve their productivity. By applying the simple things as mentioned in the book, the working environment can be made teeming with palpable energy, zeal, and passion, thereby extracting the best from the employees.

In this engrossing page-turner, a manager is appointed as a leader of a new team which is referred to as the "toxic energy dump" by all the other departments of the building, because of the palpable lack of energy on that floor. She takes the charge upon herself to convert her team into an enthusiastic, proactive and effective team. Armed with the simple lessons from a fish-monger in the neighborhood Pike's Fish Place, which is world-famous for its joyful atmosphere and customer service, she manages to bring about an amazing transformation in her team. Written in a lucid language which appeals to everybody, the book manages to convey its message very effectively. The "Fish" wisdom is simple, yet profound, and is instantly applicable to any organization.

The "Fish" philosophy enlists four basic principles as a way to re-energize any organization, and to create a 'World Famous' experience for the customers. These principles are the following:

  • "Choose your attitude" - It's us who decide whether to have a joyful day or a grumpy day at the workplace. It's our attitude which decides whether we make our work-hours a fulfilling and psychologically enriching time, or a banal ritual, which we unwillingly have to do whether we like it or not. Quoting a line from the book, "Life is too precious just to be passing through to retirement". So choose to have a positive enthusiastic and passionate attitude towards work, and see benefits for yourself.
  • "Play" - It might sound amusing and childish to people to suggest the application of this principle to the austere corporate environment. However, for contentment, it is essential to play, to add more energy and zing to our everyday lives, as the play is directly proportional to how much we enjoy ourselves, how much we enjoy our work.
  • "Make their day" - where 'their' refers to our customers. We should engage customers and welcome them cordially. Involving others and working to "make their day" directs attention towards the customer. Focusing our attention on ways to make the other person's day provides a constant flow of energy, and makes the otherwise dull work a joyful experience. Thus, we can give them reasons to smile and experiences which they will love to reminisce and cherish for long time afterward.
  • "Be present" - We should be fully present for our work, giving it complete undivided attention. We should be present for each other and for our customers. Even if we are done with the work assigned directly to us, we should seek out opportunities to get more involved in the work. For example, there is always a customer waiting to get his grievances attended to. We can help if, if not directly, then by directing him to those who can help.

    Finally, quoting the most motivating lines from the book:

    "There is something I know about you that you may not even know about yourself. You have within you more resources of energy than have ever been tapped, more talent than has ever being exploited, more strength than has ever been tested, and more to give than you have ever given."

    So, go ahead, and FISH! Happy Fishing folks....!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Blink (Malcom Gladwell)

When it comes to something like dating, we all readily admit to the importance of what happens in the first instant when two people meet. But we won't admit to the importance of what happens in the first two seconds when we talk about what happens when someone encounters a new idea, or when we interview someone for a job, or when a military general has to make a decision in the heat of battle.

With the "Tipping Point" - Malcom Gladwell had taken research findings and sociological theories & applied them to the problems like these and much more (of business and origin as well).

With 'Blink', Gladwell takes the discourse much further. According to researchers, emotions are closely tied to facial muscles and how we use them. So, if one is really clued in - a superior ability to communicate can become the key to phenomenal success. To refine our social - intuition in personal and public situations, to be able to read people's expressions correctly & to interpret what we thus learn is the burden on Blink

As we go about spending any regular day in our supposedly busy lives, on many instants there is this lightning reflex that pushes us to ignore the facts staring at us in the face; And we end up doing totally contrary to what Common Sense dictates.

Malcolm Gladwell in his book essentially elaborates at length about the benefits of mastering the art of Quick Decision making. He acknowledges the power of the unconscious - which he says plays a crucial rle in the whole process of those Split-second decisions.

His treatment of the mysterious andpowerful human reactoins to the world around - in Speed Dating, Marriage, Codebreaking during World War II, on why we like Harry Potter so much or how do we know we are being fled - induce a new respect in the reader for the incredible Human Psyche. Its the Gladwell's anecdotes and examples (right from personal ones the ones he saw hapening in his close proximity) that make the book a splendid experience to read.

He illustrates the principle of Thin Slicing - to reinforce the belief that great decision makers are not those who possess humongous knowledge or were prodigies; but those who focus on knowing the vey FEW things that actually matter ('Slicing')..!

Likewise 'BLINK' excavates the dual process of revulsion and attraction ('Black or White'); how we react in moments of crisis; how brain somehow works out the best solution in the shortest possible time when Human mind is under tremendous stress and in the precarious state of high arousal.

The most impressive thing about the book is the way it is concerned with the smallest components of our everyday lives--with the content and origin of those instantaneous impressions and conclusions that bubble up whenever we meet a new person, or confront a complex situation, or have to make a decision under conditions of stress.

All in all, it is a book that seeks to explain US to ourselves ;)

I feel that if one can master the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye - one can achieve all round success on a continual basis for sure. Do you have a similar opinion?