The 21st Century Economy: A Beginner’s Guide

The 21st Century Economy--A Beginner's Guide (Vintage)The 21st Century Economy–A Beginner’s Guide by Randy Charles Epping

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A decent introduction to terms and concepts you’ll see regularly referred to in the financial section of today’s papers and blogs. It reviews all the major ideas, gives decent definitions, and elaborates with good examples and interesting historical anecdotes.

There are a few glaring errors, however, which is why I only gave it 3 stars. For example, the book referred to internet slander campaigns as malware.

Written at about the level of a senior in high school, this book is suitable for any reader hoping to learn and understand more about the current state of global finance.

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Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure

Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with FailureAdapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure by Tim Harford

I just finished listening to the audio version of this book. It was a fascinating exploration of why people fail and how to learn from failure, both personally and corporately.

There are great sections on failures, including the failure, and subsequent success of the US forces in Iraq, and the explosions on the drilling rigs Piper Alpha in the North Sea and Deep Water Horizons in the Gulf of Mexico, and the global financial crisis in 2008. There is also extensive discussions on corporations like Google and Lockheed Martin that allow employees to experiment, creating lots of failures, but also enough successes to make it all worthwhile.

Overall, it was a great introduction to failures, a topic that we don’t like to discuss!

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The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization

The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the OrganizationThe 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization by John C. Maxwell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s ironic that, according to some pundits, most leadership books are read by middle management. Finally we have a book that targets those in the middle, leading a little, being led, and sharing leadership with others.

In his usual polished style, Maxwell tells stories gleaned from business and leadership. He has gathered quotes from around the world and weaves them together to teach about leadership and success.

Maxwell begins by dismissing many myths about leadership. He argues that we need to lead wherever we are. We need to begin thinking about being leaders long before we are recognized as being part of leadership because there are tangible benefits both now and in the future.

Maxwell carries on by explaining where our influence lies, specifically in these 5 areas:

1. Position – Influence because of your role.
2. Permission – Influence because of your character.
3. Production – Influence because of your production.
4. People Development – Influence because of who you’ve mentored.
5. Personhood – Influence because of your personality.

John Maxwell also focuses on direction of leadership – up, across, and down.

When leading up well, we must help our leaders by anticipating what our leaders need and then shouldering some of their load. It is also important to anticipate and use the time we have well, getting to know them and how to work with them.

When leading across well, we need to complete rather than compete, being a friend rather than a competitor.

When leading down, place people where they will thrive, modeling the behaviours you with to see. In the end, you are most effective as a leader when your vision is clear and you reward the behaviours you want to see.

This book, John C. Maxwell’s, The 360 Degree Leader, helps in stick-handling through the leadership possibilities at all levels of an organization. He makes it clear that, whether in business, family, or in not-for-profit work, if you are interacting with people, the opportunities for leadership are endless.

This book is a great entry level read for those who are wondering when they will receive the mantle of leadership in their organization. Remember, wherever you are, you are already a leader.

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Trick or Treatment – A Review

Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative MedicineTrick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine by Simon Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very solid book examining the scientific evidence on a number of different alternative therapies. The conclusion? Chiropractic and herbal medicines can be helpful, but are not demonstrably more helpful that evidence-based, modern medicine, and are sometimes more dangerous. Everything else (reflexology, homeopathy, iridology) is pretty much bunk.

Perhaps the best parts of the book are the explanations of why alternative medicines are appealing (they give hope and their practitioners are better at marketing) and why the appear to work (time, placebo effect, and using alternatives after modern medicine).

Very helpful as I explore and struggle with why alternative medicines are so appealing to faith communities.

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Book Sneeze

I’ve signed up for Booksneeze. Free books in exchange for online book reviews. I’ve ordered my first book, The 360 Degree Leader, by John Maxwell. We’ll see how long it takes to get the book up here from Nashville.

I’ll let you know how things go.

Forex Frontiers: The Essentials of Currency Trading

Forex Frontiers Forex Frontiers ” THe Essentials of Currency Trading” by Ivan Cavric

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am no expert on investing in foreign exchange markets. However, I do have some experience in teaching and training, and a little experience with investment psychology. It is from that perspective that I recommend Ivan Cavric’s book Forex Frontiers: The Essentials of Currency Trading, the first in a trilogy, as a gem in the making. It has the potential to be a successful how-to book, jumpstarting the abilities of anyone desiring to explore the world of forex, while helping the budding forex trader avoid the pitfalls that most forex traders fall into.

As a how-to book, it fulfills the following standards for success:

First, it is information-rich, giving a good sense of the parameters of what is involved with getting into foreign exchange trading. Second, it gets to the point quickly, filling in the details on what it takes to be a successful forex investor. Third and last, it provides a plan of action to become a successful forex investor, as well as the promise of further reading to help master the subject.

Forex Frontiers: The Essentials of Currency Trading covers the basics of forex investing, starting right from square one. The first half of the book includes an introduction to the markets, a discussion of the possibilities of failure, and the potential for success. An entire chapter is devoted to the necessity to develop a proper investment psychology. There are discussions of introductory issues such as selecting a strategy, an introduction to technical indicators, selecting a broker, and other challenges.

The second half of the book begins with a discussion of risk and money management, including managing losses and profits. Chapters introducing fundamental analysis and discussing technical analysis in more detail form the core of the second half of the book. The book ends with an important discussion about designing a forex strategy, and a case study of a sample forex strategy.

What I especially appreciate about Cavric’s book is its measured, cautious, and deliberate approach to forex investing. Rather than promising great riches and gain in short periods of time, it stresses the need to be disciplined, to develop a strong investment psychology, and to cultivate and follow a trading strategy, rather than playing around and changing strategies often, or worse, to have no strategy at all.

As such, Forex Frontiers: The Essentials of Currency Trading is a an excellent introduction to the discipline of forex investing. It does not promise too much, but pointing out to its readers the opportunities that exist if the right approach is taken. I am looking forward to the next installment in the series.

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Embrace The Struggle

Embrace the Struggle: Living Life on Life's TermsEmbrace the Struggle: Living Life on Life’s Terms by Zig Ziglar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A little simplistic perhaps, but an encouraging read for those who are dealing with the difficulties that life can bring us, especially as we grow older. Speaking from a Christian perspective, Zig Ziglar uses lots of examples, including his own recent struggles with a brain injury as the result of a fall, to point out that God uses the difficulties in life to bring us closer to each other and closer to Him.

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Enjoy!

Peter Scholtens

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