Talk Like Ted: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds


According to Carmine Gallo, the author of Talk Like TED, ideas and information are the currency of the twenty-first century business world. If you want to succeed you need to be able to persuasively present yourself and your ideas. This, in all probability, is the single greatest skill that will help you accomplish your career goals.

Gallo’s Premise: As Daniel Pink says in To Sell Is Human, “Like it or not, we are all in sales now,” and according to Gallo TED has perfected the art of selling yourself and your ideas in the public presentation.

For the uninitiated TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. It began as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design were covered, hence TED. However, today the topics covered cross a wide array of disciplines.

One of the tenets of TED is that people remember best when presented material in threes. When one goes beyond this they tend to have a hard time synthesizing content. Gallo seems to have taken his own advice as he breaks the TED formula down into three parts, Emotional, Novel and Memorable. Each part is then broken down into three sections.

I wrote a detailed review of this here.

The Explorers: A Story of Fearless Outcasts, Blundering Geniuses, and Impossible Success


Dugard, who you may recognize from his collaborations with Bill O’Reilly on Killing Lincoln et al, uses this new book to tell the account of one of history’s greatest adventures, the search for the source of the Nile, and a study of the seven character traits all great explorers share.

Dugard’s Premise: He claims that all explorers share seven traits: Curiosity, Hope, Passion, Courage, Independence, Self-Discipline, and Perseverance. Additionally he posits that in our own way we are all explorers and that these seven traits can help us fight through challenges, overcome setbacks and succeed in our lives and careers.

He attempts to prove this theory using the story of John Speke and Richard Burton’s search for the source of the Nile River as a jumping off point. In the process of telling his tale he further illustrates his point with examples from many other adventurers as well.

I did a detailed review of this here.

Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes


Overall, this book did not completely live up to my expectations. While it was a fairly interesting premise, the author veered off track too often for me.

Author’s Premise: Are we related to Neanderthal Man? If so, how?

Book’s Structure: First 3rd is autobiographical. Second 3rd is heavily technical discussion of mitochondrial & ribosomal DNA- its extraction, viability and study. Final 3rd: interesting discussion of how we share certain genes with Neanderthals and how this possibly could have come to pass.

The good: If you are interested in the inner politics and workings of scientific discovery this books goes into great detail about this. The author proves pretty conclusively that we share DNA with ancient humans and has some plausible reasons why. The last third was the most interesting to me.

The bad: Author got side tracked by his own personal biography too often. The premise of the book did not drive the whole narrative.

The Year Without Pants: and the Future of Work

Interesting book about the future of work.

Berkun’s premise is that we need to flatten the organizational structure of many companies in order to allow creative mores a of free reign to innovate. This is often done through remote working. He backs this up with a detailed account of his year at where he lead a project team completely made up of location independent workers.

Throughout the course of the book he comes up with some solid truisms:

1. Results trump tradition. This is born out by the fact that WordPress goes against just about every organizational tradition there is and build a successful company anyway. The reason is two-fold- people who work their trust each other and they have the same goals. This overcomes any lack of structure.

2.If you hire great people, one of the most important things a leader can do is stay out of the way. The author leads a team for a year and only checks in weekly with many of them, yet the accomplish a great deal.

3. Working remotely has drawbacks. He regularly writes about the lack of social cues when all of your communication is via text and Skype. While he thinks it can work for some companies (like WordPress) he admits that it has limitations. Some things need presence to work best.

Overall an interesting book that has some implications beyond the business world. If more and more firms start using this model, the academic world will need to change to better support it.

The Romanovs: The Final Chapter

In July 1991, nine skeletons were exhumed from a shallow mass grave near Ekaterinburg, Siberia, a few miles from the infamous cellar room where the last tsar and his family had been murdered seventy-three years before. But were these the bones of the Romanovs? And if these were their remains, where were the bones of the two younger Romanovs supposedly murdered with the rest of the family? Was Anna Anderson, celebrated for more than sixty years in newspapers, books, and film, really Grand Duchess Anastasia? The Romanovs provides the answers, describing in suspenseful detail the dramatic efforts to discover the truth.

Pulitzer Prize winner Robert K. Massie presents a colorful panorama of contemporary characters, illuminating the major scientific dispute between Russian experts and a team of Americans, whose findings, along with those of DNA scientists from Russia, America, and Great Britain, all contributed to solving one of the great mysteries of the twentieth century. ~ From Good Reads