Sunday, September 22, 2013

Live Your Life With Some Brass

Grow a Pair – Larry Winget (Gotham Books)

When you work in the public eye and you express a strong opinion (the only kind worth expressing as far as I am concerned) you learn pretty quickly that you are more than likely to tick somebody off. In fact you may have people who downright loath you! So you have a simple choice; you can worry about whether or not people like you and waffle your opinion or you can choose what I did and not compromise and not really care if people like you or not.

Working in talk radio, if I wasn’t ticking somebody off, then chances are I wasn’t doing my job. This isn’t to say that I looked for contrived ways to make people mad, I simply had a set of principles and I stuck to them and if that makes you mad, then so be it. I wasn’t losing a minute of sleep worrying about if you liked me or not. It is that set of core values that I think drives what bestselling author, speaker and the pitbull of personal development® Larry Winget is all about.

Winget’s latest book is Grow A Pair: How to Stop Being a Victim and Take Back Your Life, Your Business, and Your Sanity. I found myself nodding my head in agreement and I admit it, even saying YES! out loud any number of times as I read the book. It’s so nice to know that someone else thinks exactly like I do!

Winget’s take on social media is right on! Yes it’s can be a great tool for business, but too many people drive themselves to distraction worrying about so-called “friends” and how many empty “likes” they generate. For me, Facebook was interesting for about ten minutes, but at the end of the day, my real friends are the folks I talk to and see in person on a regular basis, not somebody that I haven’t seen since graduating high school or college. Think about it; if they were really that important to you, wouldn’t you have stayed in contact with them? Yet I know family and friends that lose their minds if they don’t get a response to something that they posted, to the point of getting pissed off at even real friends! Sorry, but that is just plain stupid!

Winget lays out a very simple road map for you to follow when it comes to relationships, business, money and life. I am certainly not some touchy, feely self-help book kind of guy and don’t expect that from Winget. Touchy feely this ain’t; for some it will be an affirmation and for others it will be a much needed kick in the ass!

My plan is to gift a copy of the book to family and friends who will benefit from it. I can hear the response now…it will range from outrage to “this guys sounds just like you!”  

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Made in The USA - The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing – Vaclav Smil (MIT Press)

A few years back I had the opportunity to interview/debate Robert Reich, the stubby little Secretary of Labor during the Clinton administration about a New York Times op/ed piece that he had authored were he made the case that it was not a bad thing the United States was shipping low-skill jobs overseas. Reich’s argument was that American’s should have to do these low skilled jobs because we could spend our time and resources in a better way by developing the next generation of technology and advanced products.

My response was that while that sounds great; what were we going to do with our workforce of low to moderately skilled workers who often did those jobs for family sustaining wages, more often than not in the manufacturing sector? Did he really believe that the American education system was capable of not only training the next generation of technologically advanced workers, but re-training those existing workers to tackle those new, higher level of skill jobs. While often praised for his brilliance as an economist, professor and author, the diminutive Reich seemed dumbfounded and dumbstruck by my question.

Now respected thinker, author and professor, Vaclav Smil, a man proclaimed to be Bill Gates favorite author tackles the question in his latest book, Made in USA– The Rise and Retreat of American Manufacturing. Don’t be confused by the title, Smil’s effort is not a simplistic or jingoistic approach that simply advocates buying products manufactured on these shores.

Smil makes the case that to survive and prosper great nations must have an innovative, manufacturing sector and the jobs that it creates. He chronicles the economic boom that followed the close of World War II has the spark that lit the fuse on the mass consumption economy. While the so-called information economy may sound great, it really boils down to moving existing dollars from one side of the board to the other. It boils down to basic economics that real wealth is created when we take raw materials and create something of increased value from it, Facebook and Twitter be damned!

Smil tackles the future by discussing the lack of a level playing field in the global economy, the need to lower corporate taxes to encourage new investment in U.S. manufacturing and calls for a change in our education system as part of the steps we need to undertake a re-birth of our manufacturing and of our economy. Clearly Smil understands that President and politicians don’t create jobs and that they can play a vital role in creating an environment where investment and jobs can grow.

This is not only a thoughtful and in depth examination of the problem, but also an honest roadmap to a solution. That said, even Smil only gives it a 50-50 chance of succeeding.