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Business Book Club Podcast
Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, by Robert Hare
Science commentator Anjana Ahuja joins contributing editor Michael Skapinker to discuss her choice of book to bring solace and advice: Robert Hare’s Without Conscience. Ahuja says Hare’s first popular exposition of psychopathy is a good primer for what we need to know in uncertain times. “People with psychopathic traits do tend to thrive in [uncertain] environments, where people are insecure and nervous for their own jobs. And they do surprisingly well in the workplace,” she says. To hear this and previous episodes go to ft.com/business-book-club
The Chickenshit Club: Why the Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Executives, by Jesse Eisinger
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jesse Eisinger chronicles the decline in the US justice department’s willingness and ability to prosecute corporate crime since the financial crisis. The book pins the problem on a surfeit of deference towards corporate power, compounded by timidity following a series of overturned convictions in the wake of the corporate scandals of the early 2000s. Eisinger “offers no happy ending”, David J Lynch pointed out in his FT review, given that prosecuting corporate crime is not among Donald Trump’s presidential priorities.
The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World, by Nilofer Merchant
Books about innovation tend to focus on how ideas flourish within organisations — the subject of Nilofer Merchant’s earlier works — but The Power of Onlyness goes beyond the borders of organisations. Merchant looks at how movements, such as Black Lives Matter and Change.org, are born when people come together to turn ideas that seem marginal into meaningful forces. Starting with her personal story about breaking out of her own cultural norms, Merchant describes how other activists successfully amplified their life-changing messages, however weird those messages seemed when first conceived.
Simply Electrifying: The Technology that Transformed the World, from Benjamin Franklin to Elon Musk, by Craig Roach
Before electricity was discovered, it would have taken more than 100 candles to produce the same amount of light as a single 100-watt incandescent electric lightbulb — this simple fact cited by Craig Roach goes some way to highlighting the significance of electricity, one of history’s greatest technological findings. Yet, he writes, “the full story of this revolutionary force has remained untold”. Roach documents electricity’s discovery, history and importance to modern life. He examines the problems electricity has created, such as power stations burning fossil fuels. The author also considers the challenges of developing renewable alternatives.
Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts, by Ryan Holiday
Inspired by the idea that “classics stay classic, and become more so over time”, Ryan Holiday tries to distil the formula for product longevity. The marketing strategist talks to music producers, publishers and entrepreneurs to find out how to create lasting success in a world of flash-in-the-pan hits — and how to extend the proverbial 15 minutes of fame to a decade or even a century. Underpinning durable success, he writes, is a platform for producing multiple works, often in different markets.
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