CGG Book Club: Smarter Faster Better
Hey guys! It’s time for another instalment of my book club. First up, another title I’ve recently polished off:
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
When I first read Rainbow Rowell a few years ago, I immediately fell in love with her writing and basically snapped up everything else she’d written. One of her first books was actually this little hidden gem, called Attachments. Set in 1999 at the cusp of Y2K, the story follows Lincoln, a perpetual student that can’t seem to move on with his adult life, who takes a deadening job as the tech support guy at a newspaper. Part of his job is to monitor the emails of the employees, should they be writing anything ‘offensive’. It’s through this that he becomes familiar with two women – Beth and Jennifer – who are each dealing with their own set of twenty-something issues – Beth has been in a hot and cold relationship for the past eight years and on the eve of her younger sister’s wedding, it suddenly doesn’t seem so funny that she hasn’t gotten hitched. Jennifer meanwhile, has a loving husband, but she isn’t sure she’s ready to start a family.
Lincoln taps into the voyeur in all of us when he starts to read the twosome’s heartfelt back and forth emails, and we, like Lincoln, begin to fall in love with them (in particular, in his case, Beth). But the obstacles between Lincoln learning about Beth and Lincoln actually meeting her, never mind talking to her, are many. What follows is a sweet romantic story about transitioning into your adult life, taking risks, missed opportunities, and learning to love what’s ahead of you – even if it is the pending Millennium crisis (ha ha).
What’s The Buzz?: Charles Duhigg burst onto the mainstream psychology nonfiction scene several years ago with his debut book, The Power of Habit. If you didn’t catch it, the book covered why people do the things they do – and how habits are everywhere in our lives. Psychology books are more and more beloved these days by marketers, business leaders, and people simply looking to understand more about themselves. Needless to say, hype was high for his latest release, Smarter Faster Better
What’s the Plot?: In Duhigg’s latest book, he turns his lens from the individual to the group, by exploring how to be successful in teams, including how to be more productive, primarily in a business setting. The book takes you through real-life examples of some of the top world-renowned teams, although not in the sporty sense of the word. For example, he explores how the animators at Disney took Frozen from a thawed out idea to an ice cold blockbuster, or how the writers at SNL team up on a weekly basis to create pop culture moments. Stories of successful teams equal insider looks at top businesses like Chase Manhattan Bank – which more or less quantify Duhigg’s theories; after all, it’s not like there is one employee at the likes of Google.
What You Need to Know: Smarter Faster Better’s thesis basically breaks down to this: throw out a lot of what you assume about teams. Oftentimes when a manager (or coach, or production studio, you name it) is selecting a team, they might add people to it based on what they perceive as key indicators for success on that team. For example, an advertising agency might hire the ten top designers it can acquire. A sports team might recruit the six best hitters. A think tank might source the opinions of seven top consultants. But what Duhigg seeks to prove (and prove he does) is that simply throw a bunch of talent into a room won’t necessarily net you the best results.
Instead, he suggests that teamwork is based on the people in the room and how they click and connect. Colleagues that can’t see eye-to-eye in one respect or another lead to a toxic work environment that, despite your individual team members’ best efforts, likely won’t produce the best results. In other words? It’s that mantra of “There’s no ‘I’ in team” writ large.
Who Should Read This Book: So who should read Smarter Faster Better? Basically anyone involved in teamwork – which I’d hazard covers large portions of the population. It’s particularly useful for entrepreneurs, executives and hiring professionals that are specifically tasked with creating the right mix of people to accomplish their goals. This will help shake you out of your teamwork bias, and hopefully create a true dream team, for whatever situation you need. Consider gifting it to a spouse or child that’s received a promotion, or even a beloved coworker.
Excitingly I’ve got a copy of this riveting new nonfiction read for one lucky winner. If you’re keen on winning Smarter Faster Better, here’s how to enter:
1) First & foremost: you must be a subscriber to the Canadian Gift Guide to enter this giveaway. It’s as simple as finding ‘The Gift of Gab’ box in the righthand column and dropping in your email or clicking follow. Then, tell me in the comments below by April 8, 2016 – why are you interested in reading Smarter Faster Better?
2) Entries are limited to one per person / per email address / per household (or more if you score bonus entries). A random draw will be conducted on or around April 9, 2016 to select the winner, who will have 48 hours to respond before another winner is chosen in their place.
3) Entries are limited to Canadians that have reached the age of majority in their province. Quebec is not eligible for this promotion.
4) Bonus Entry: Follow Random House of Canada on Twitter, tag them and me (@cdngiftguide) in a Tweet about why you want to read this book! Post a link to your Tweet below in a separate comment to earn yourself an extra entry into the draw.
5) Bonus Entry #2: Add this book to your to-read list on GoodReads, and leave a link back to the page it’s on below in a separate comment to earn yourself another bonus entry.