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What's New in Business: July 2002
Particularly recommended by the business librarians are:

Previous Issues

HG 172 .S63 K38 2002
Soros: The Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire by Michael T. Kaufman. Knopf, 2002.

George Soros has numerous identities. He is famed as a phenomenally successful investor. He is a visionary philanthropist who has done more to assist and develop troubled nations than any living private citizen. To some he is a failed philosopher, dilettante and political naïf. And one of his enduring legacies is the Open Society Institute (OSI), a foundation devoted to creating more democratic, or "open", societies in countries ravaged by war, dictatorship or repression. Perhaps the most succinct summary of this extraordinary man comes from a diplomat who observed that Soros is "the only man in the U.S. who has his own foreign policy - and can implement it."

As a young Jew who narrowly escaped both the Holocaust and Communist rule in his native Hungary, Soros understood from a young age the cruelty and destructiveness of totalitarianism. After escaping to England he enrolled at the London School of Economics where he met Karl Popper, whose philosophies on "open societies" would change the course of his life. Popper believed that open societies which "encourage continual arguments, refinements and revisions about their own rules…are much more effective than those based on immutable dogmas." As Soros went on to make billions through his uncanny ability to grasp the ebb and flow of world markets, the practical application of these ideas became his great passion.

Using the Marshall Plan as his inspiration, Soros has undertaken a variety of efforts aimed at stabilizing countries while helping them to develop into more open societies. While the results of his philanthropy have occasionally been mixed, the breadth, ambition and frequent success of his work are staggering. For example, OSI grants to scientists during the ruble meltdown of the late 90s may well have saved Russian science. Soros has also established democratic foundations in communist Hungary and China (the former highly successful, the latter a disaster), connected every Russian university to the Internet, and provided running water to over a quarter million residents in war-ravaged Sarajevo.

Michael T. Kaufman, a former editor of a Soros-funded magazine, has written a surprisingly even-handed biography. Soros occasionally suffers from prosaic observations and clunky writing, but ultimately is a thoughtful analysis on the complex intersection of wealth and compassion.

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HD 53 .S883 2002
Weird Ideas That Work: 11½ Practices for Promoting, Managing, and Sustaining Innovation by Robert I. Sutton. The Free Press, 2002.

In today's rapid-fire economic climate, companies simply must innovate to survive. This means that they must often jettison traditional practices and beliefs, and reinvent themselves anew. They must try to exploit old ideas in novel and unusual ways, and look at their markets as nobody has ever done. In this book, Stanford Engineering professor Robert Sutton offers his own prescription for sparking the innovation that can help companies multiply their knowledge base, break from the past, and dive into the future.

Key to the "weird" ideas that are presented is a basic change in management style. Sutton suggests a host of strategies - 11 ½ to be exact - to stir the pot in a stagnant environment, such as: hiring people who make you uncomfortable; encouraging people to ignore and defy superiors and peers; and forget the past, especially your company's successes. Sutton makes the case that, not only will these practices increase creativity and inventiveness, but can also be seen as excellent overall management principles from a strategic point of view - looking toward what will be profitable in the future, rather than what makes money in the present.

Sutton does recognize that many old ideas are good ones. Cheerios survives while scores of new breakfast cereals sink in succession; the goal is to create the new Cheerios. In this light, he introduces the intriguing concept of "vu ja de," a reversal of "déjà vu:" it happens when a normal experience or a well-used object suddenly becomes fresh and exciting, as if you had never seen it before.

Full of tales of ground-breaking pioneers, from Saturn and Nokia to John Lennon and the Nasakapi Indians, Weird Ideas shows how these concepts have been the underpinning for the most successful enterprises. And yet the author knows that many will respond negatively to his radical proposals: after all, "there are some people who like working in a place where most things fail, are never finished, or reach dead ends. But not most people." Most people will not be at the heart of ingenious and inventive companies, but you might if you read this book.

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HD 62.5 .E5684 2002x
Entrepreneur's Guide: Starting and Growing a Business in Pennsylvania by the Pennsylvania Dept. of Community & Economic Development, Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence, 2002.

Starting a business in Pennsylvania? The Entrepreneur's Guide from the Commonwealth is required reading. There are detailed checklists for writing business plans, hiring employees, and choosing a site for your business. Novice entrepreneurs, clueless about balance sheets and cash flow essentials, will find immensely valuable worksheets that detail financial statements. There are lists of local organizations that package loans and clarify the government contract process. Do you need a license or other registration? The guide includes a directory of state agencies that issue licenses and permits and an index of every profession that requires a state license-ranging from accountants and funeral directors to health clubs and taxi services. This handy resource can be used in conjunction with the state's website, www.inventpa.com, where you will find a virtual compendium of information on state and federal financing programs, trade show support, exporting incentives and other business initiatives that help small businesses thrive.

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Also recommended are:

HC 427.95 .S53 2002
China Dawn: the Story of a Technology and Business Revolution by Robert Heller. DK Pub., 2002

HD 57.7 .B332 2002
Leading Quietly: An Unorthodox Guide to Doing the Right Thing by Joseph L. Badaracco, Jr. Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

AC 5 .F56 2002
Floating Off the Page: the Best Stories from The Wall Street Journal's "Middle Column" edited by Ken Wells. Dow Jones, 2002.

TK 5101 .G55 2002x
Telecosm: the World After Bandwidth Abundance by by George Gilder. Touchstone, 2002.

Contact the business librarians, who also answer questions about business, money, and work, at (412) 281-7141 or at www.carnegielibrary.org/locations/downtown/contact.cfm.

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