Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

October 17, 2011 - by: Dan Oswald 1 COMMENTS

What really motivates people at work? Is it money? Is it recognition? Not according to Daniel Pink.

Pink, in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, maintains there are three things that truly motivate us:

  1. Autonomy – the freedom to choose task, time, technique, and team
  2. Mastery – the desire to get better and better at something that matters
  3. Purpose – the desire to pursue a cause larger than ourselves

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Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way

September 07, 2011 - by: Mike Maslanka 1 COMMENTS

Employment law attorney Mike Maslanka explains how a specific passage in Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way influences the way he writes.

If you’re going to be writing something, take a look at Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book about the Way and the Power of the WayTaoism Books) a copy of which you can pick up at any bookstore. No. 81 from the Tao has been translated as “True words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not true. Experts do not argue; the argumentative are not experts. The knowledgeable are not generalists; generalists are not knowledgeable.” In other words, don’t try to sound smart, just write like you talk.

It reminds me of a passage from a great book by Peggy Noonan, Simply Speaking: How to Communicate Your Ideas with Style, Substance, and ClarityBusiness & Investing Books). She writes that we need to write and speak “straight and plain and direct.” She writes that when a soldier gets shot in battle, he doesn’t say, “I believe I’ve just been struck by a bullet,” he says, “I’m hit.” Unadorned expression is always the most powerful expression.

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Categories: Review / Skills / Writing

As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick

August 31, 2011 - by: Mike Maslanka 0 COMMENTS

Employment law attorney Mike Maslanka reviews As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick by Peter Meyers and Shann Nix.

If you’re thinking about a presentation you need to give, take a look at As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick, a new book by Peter Meyers and Shann Nix. Unfortunately, when you’re about to give a presentation, your reptile brain tells you to focus on your fears because that is how you will survive. After all, it worked 30,000 years ago. But Meyers and Nix advise against becoming a hostage to your fears. When we do that, we ask ourselves the wrong questions ― e.g., What is missing from my talk? Will I forget what to say? Will the audience find out I’m not as smart as they think I am?

Instead, the authors toss out this idea: Ask yourself questions that are embedded with positive presumptions ― e.g., What is the best part of this presentation? What am I most passionate about in this material? How can I make a difference? Meyers and Nix note that “positive presumption” questions aren’t positive thinking, which they describe as “trying to hypnotize yourself into a different mindset.” By contrast, positive presumption questions force you to think of new possibilities and shift your thinking from “Will I succeed?” to “How will I succeed?” The final advice is to wire your brain with the right questions well before the event.

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Unthinking: The Surprising Forces Behind What We Buy

August 24, 2011 - by: Mike Maslanka 1 COMMENTS

Employment law attorney Mike Maslanka reviews Harry Beckwith’s book Unthinking: The Surprising Forces Behind What We Buy.

Take a look at Harry Beckwith’s insightful new book Unthinking: The Surprising Forces Behind What We BuyMarketing Consumer Behavior Books). The book reminds me of a quote from Dr. Samuel Johnson: “It is always better to remind than to lecture.”


Beckwith sketches out an experiment in which researchers filmed people going to a movie, counting how many had their seatbelts buckled. Before the movie started, the audience was shown a graphic film of auto accidents. The movie’s message: See what happens when you don’t buckle up. The researchers then counted how many of the moviegoers buckled up on their way home. Morepeople left without buckling up than had arrived without their seatbelts fastened.

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Categories: Communication / Review

Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It

June 29, 2011 - by: Mike Maslanka 0 COMMENTS

Employment law attorney Micheal Maslanka reviews Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It, finding it provides real insight into the ethics of judging employees on their outcomes and not their methods.

In Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It, authors Max H. Bazerman and Ann E. Tenbrunsel recount an experiment they conducted. Group A read that a researcher submitted a drug application and included data points that were earlier tossed out on a technicality. The drug was approved, but the patients who took it died. In Group B, the researcher faked the data points, the drug was approved, and it was a success. After the study participants read one or the other’s story, they were asked how unethical they believed the researcher to be. Those who read Story A were much more critical of the researcher than those who read Story B and felt that he should be punished more harshly.

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Awake at Work: 35 Practical Buddhist Principles for Discovering Clarity and Balance in the Midst of Work’s Chaos

June 22, 2011 - by: Mike Maslanka 0 COMMENTS

Employment law attorney Micheal Maslanka reviews Michael Carroll’s book Awake at Work: 35 Practical Buddhist Principles for Discovering Clarity and Balance in the Midst of Work’s Chaos. Maslanka offers a solution from a Harvard Business Review blog post for the problem of idiot compassion that Carroll identifies in the book.

In  Awake at Work: 35 Practical Buddhist Principles for Discovering Clarity and Balance in the Midst of Work’s Chaos, author Michael Carroll observes that helping your coworkers isn’t simple or easy. Often, well-intentioned individuals aren’t equipped to give effective help. When they try, it’s like the road to hell ― paved with good intentions. A greater mess is created by well-intentioned but uninformed people than by those who simply leave matters alone.

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Buy-in: Saving Your Good Ideas from Getting Shot Down

May 11, 2011 - by: Mike Maslanka 0 COMMENTS


Employment law attorney Michael P. Maslanka reviews Buy-in: Saving Your Good Ideas from Getting Shot Down by John P. Kotter, finding that it gives good advice on handling common objections to new ideas.

I highly recommend John P. Kotter’s new book Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea from Getting Shot Down, which teaches you how to save an idea under attack by coworkers. First , he says don’t fire back if your idea is attacked. Instead, make efforts to understand the person’s point of view and respond respectfully.

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Fire Somebody Today: And Other Surprising Tactics for Making Your Business a Success

April 06, 2011 - by: Mike Maslanka 1 COMMENTS


Employment law attorney Mike Maslanka reviews Bob Pritchett’s Fire Somebody Today: And Other Surprising Tactics for Making Your Business a Success.

In his book Fire Someone Today: And Other Surprising Tactics for Making Your Business a Success Bob Pritchett nails why managers are always afraid to fire someone: They fear admitting they made a mistake in the hiring process.

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Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People

March 23, 2011 - by: Mike Maslanka 0 COMMENTS


Employment law attorney Michael Maslanka reviews Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People by Edward M. Hallowell and finds it offers good advice on finding a dream that matches your talents.

In Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from Your People, Edward M. Hallowell offers some counterintuitive advice: “Taken by itself, ‘follow your dream’ could be the most dangerous advice ever given.” Why? Because Hallowell argues that we often get no mentorship on which dreams to pick, just “sentimental advice to pursue a dream and the Calvinist command to work hard.” The result is predictable: bitter and unhappy workers because of a mismatch between talent and job.

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Categories: Managing Talent / Review

Fresh Medicine: How to Fix Reform and Build a Sustainable Health Care System

December 15, 2010 - by: Wendi Watts 1 COMMENTS

HR Hero Line editor Wendi Watts reviews the book “Fresh Medicine: How to Fix Reform and Build a Sustainable Health Care System” by Phil Bredesen.

I first became interested in Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen’s book Fresh Medicine: How to Fix Reform and Build a Sustainable Health Care System after reading an op-ed piece he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. In it, he goes through the math of how much Tennessee would save under the new federal health care reform plan if the state dropped its existing health care plan for core employees and  increased their pay to make up for the loss of insurance — the grand total is $146 million annually. Yes, annually.

And that’s only for about 40,000 core state employees. There are 128,000 employees in local Tennessee school systems and another 110,000 local government employees. When you add those workers in, the hypothetical savings are simply mind-boggling.

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Categories: Health Care / Review

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