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Books Read in 2012

I read some great books in 2012, including the hilarious Sh*t My Dad Says, Vertical (the sequel to Sideways), two books by Sarah Vowell, the inspiring Start Something That Matters, Factotum by Charles Bukowski, The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker, the elegantly crafted Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, and the brilliantly articulated Drift by Rachel Maddow.

Happy New Year and here's to more great books in 2013.

Full List of Books Read in 2012

Feed by Mira Grant
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
The Brand Gap: Expanded Edition by Marty Neumeier
Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern
One Day by David Nicholls
In the Plex by Steven Levy
The House of Tomorrow by Peter Bognanni
The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz
The Blind Side by Michael Lewis
How Full Is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath
Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel
The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings
The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton
Unpossible and Other Stories by Daryl Gregory
Uprising by Scott Goodson
Malled by Caitlin Ke…

TEDxBuffaloWomen: Impressions

On Saturday, December 1, 2012, ten women gathered in the auditorium in the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library to tell stories to over a hundred invited guests, mostly prominent women from Buffalo and Western New York. The event was TEDxBuffaloWomen, the first TEDxWomen event to be held in Buffalo and the third TEDx Buffalo event overall.

I've had the amazing, good fortune to attend all three TEDx Buffalo events, and I can confidently say that the inaugural TEDxBuffaloWomen event was as good as any TEDxBuffalo event.

The event was memorable because of the quality and diversity of the speakers. The women who spoke at TEDxBuffaloWomen had quite different stories, perspectives, and delivery styles, yet all were interesting and wove in the event theme of "the space between".

My purpose with this post is to provide brief summaries of all the talks and links to additional information, when available. I know many people in Buffalo were very excited about this event, and I …

Giving Thanks

I always appreciate Thanksgiving and the opportunity to give thanks for what I have in my life. This year, my list emerged differently, as I reflected on the people in my life who on the surface have negatively impacted me but ultimately made me a stronger and better person.

I am thankful ...
For everyone who doubted me and motivated me to double my efforts and prove them wrongFor those friends who faded away and helped me realize that you always need to make new friendsFor those who broke my heart and showed me it's important to feel and love rather than play it safe and never take a chanceFor those who took without giving in return, for teaching me that true generosity means giving of yourself without expecting anything backFor those who put me down, and who made me realize that -- in this world -- self-awareness and self-worth is what really mattersFor those organizations and groups that didn't accept me, for teaching me the importance of perseveranceFor those sports teams I…

BIF-8 as Literature

I tend to think and remember through metaphor. Whenever I meet someone or hear a talk, I form comparisons, usually to books, movies, or music. I don’t do this in every case, but enough so that I’m comfortable processing information in this way.

At BIF-8, it was books. For most of the storytellers, I associated their talks with novels and memoirs I’ve read. When I returned home from BIF and went through my notes, I thought the comparisons might make an interesting or at least atypical BIF-8 recap. If not, I hope they at least provide introductions to some good books and authors that are new to you. Caveat: I favor speculative fiction and the genre is well represented in the list.

Carne Ross = The Mirage by Matt Ruff

Carne Ross led off by BIF-8 by describing himself as a diplomat turned anarchist and expressing that he lost faith in governments to manage affairs because "the world is not a chess board - it is a Jackson Pollock painting." His story brought to mind Matt Ruff'…

Open Letter to Kevin Everett

Dear Kevin,

You don't know me or my family, but our lives are intertwined. You see, five years ago -- on September 9, 2007 -- while you sustained a horrific neck injury in the Buffalo Bills opener against the Denver Broncos, I was sitting in a hospital room awaiting the arrival of my first child. My wife went into labor early that Sunday morning and we settled into a hospital delivery room just before the Bills game started.

Though I was more excited than anything to welcome my baby into the world, I was still a devoted Bills fan and kept peeking at the game on the TV monitor in-between my wife's contractions. We muted the volume, but I was able to follow the action and noticed immediately when you went down to the turf. The swarm of medical personnel and the stretcher indicated the seriousness of your injury. You lying there motionless was in surreal contrast to the activity going on in front of me, with my wife's heavy breathing, contractions, and the baby's constant…

Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs by Peter Cappelli (Book Review)

It’s 2012, and in the United States we’re fast approaching another presidential election cycle. Different issues drive elections, but with a jobless recovery and a flat unemployment rate (8% officially but probably over 11% once you adjust for the millions who have dropped out of the job market or are underemployed), it’s very likely that jobs and unemployment will figure prominently in the upcoming November election.

There are many good articles and posts that provide explanations and opinions about the jobs picture. Many point out that companies today are banking their profits or making investments instead of creating new jobs, while other point to a skills gap and shortage of available talent.

Among the best analysis I've recently read is Wharton professor Peter Cappelli’s text Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs. Here the author offers fresh perspective and insight about the topic and challenges whether we really have a skills gap and the effectiveness of automated software in mat…

The Business Model Innovation Factory by Saul Kaplan (Book Review)

As a culture, we strive for personal transformation. Whether it's eating better and getting fit, redefining our professional value proposition through training and education, or simply trying to be kinder and gentler, we're constantly reinventing who we are and what we can do. We may not be successful all the time, or achieve breakthroughs like those featured on The Biggest Loser or facilitated by Tony Robbins, but millions of people successfully transform and reinvent themselves every year.

Unfortunately, the very organizations where we work generally do not do the same. As Saul Kaplan elaborates in The Business Model Innovation Factory, most organizations struggle to transform from their core, initial business models and tend to become stagnant and vulnerable to disruptive competitors.

The example Kaplan leads with is Blockbuster, which for a time owned the brick and mortar video and DVD rental space, until they were "netflixed" by a disruptive competitor (Netflix…

Miracle for Mitchell

In a December post, I mentioned how a local sports team brightened the burden of a boy with a degenerative liver condition. Unfortunately, while the gift made a big difference, the boy's medical problems have worsened and he now awaits a new liver.

At this time, I would like to introduce you to the boy. His name is Mitchell Simon, and he is an 11 year old who resides just outside of Buffalo, NY. Mitchell was born with Biliary Atresia -- a congenital liver disease -- and the disease has progressed rapidly over the past year such that a transplant is necessary.

Because medical and related expenses for a liver transplant recipient typically exceed $100,000, the family is accepting donations and a fundraiser benefit will be held on June 2, 2012 to help defer costs for the transplant.

DONATIONS

You may send donations to the address below or donate online at http://cota.donorpages.com/PatientOnlineDonation/COTAforMitchellS/.

Miracle for Mitchell
10595 Miland Rd.
Clarence Center, NY 14032

Uprising by Scott Goodson (Book Review)

We live in an era of sweeping change and uncertainty. There's economic nervousness and under-employment, climate change and wild weather, concern over peak oil and the future of energy, globalism and a flat world, and a dizzying array of social networking tools for connecting like never before.

Such a mix creates both strain in the system and new opportunities to connect, and this has led to a dramatic rise in cultural movements, including the recent Arab Spring and Occupy movement.

In Uprising: How to Build a Brand--and Change the World--By Sparking Cultural Movements, author Scott Goodson looks at movements from a marketing perspective and offers a fascinating survey of recent movements as well as an elaboration of how marketing and business are beginning to add value and collaborate with movements, without co-opting them. Goodson terms this new marketing "movement marketing" and cites several examples, including the Pepsi Refresh project, the InnoCentive movement, Tom…

The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton (Book Review)

Gallup chairman Jim Clifton offers a timely and compelling exploration of the urgency of job creation and the current "all out global war for good jobs". Jobs are critical, Clifton contends, because they underpin societies and allow people to prosper, thereby creating well-being and fostering new achievements in all areas of human development.

Unfortunately, we face a global job shortage approaching 2 billion with no apparent driver for jobs imminent. The country that does the most to enable job growth will become the next economic superpower. The text explores the multifaceted dimensions of this topic, with plenty of corroboration from Gallup data.

As an American, Clifton admits to a U.S. bias and speculates on what America must do to maintain its predominant economic position and prevail in the coming jobs war. His ideas include encouraging job creation in cities, emphasizing entrepreneurship over innovation, drastically cutting healthcare costs, improving employee engagem…

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives (Book Review)

In little more than a decade, Google has grown from a smart, disruptive search company to an Internet behemoth, with over $39 billion in revenue and a product portfolio now spanning advertising, mobile, cloud computing, and video.

Since Google's inception, millions have used its search engine and services and come to rely on the company for fast, reliable information. Indeed, the company name itself is now a verb meaning "to search".

Steven Levy's In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives chronicles the story of Google, from its origins and founding, through its incorporation and rapid growth, and to its ascendancy as one of the biggest and most influential companies on the planet.

I found the text well-crafted and fascinating. Though a work of journalism, the narrative flowed very much like a story, with Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt cast as the main characters. The book elaborated all the major developments in the company's history…

Remember Win?

Super Bowl week can be tough on Bills fans. On the one hand, the coverage and retrospectives force reflection on probably the greatest run in the franchise, but one that did not end with a championship. Lately, Super Bowls are a reminder of how irrelevant the Bills have become and how far they are from even competing for a playoff spot, let along reaching a Super Bowl.

It’s now been twelve years since the Bills last played a playoff game. This was the “Music City Miracle” against the Tennessee Titans that was played on January 8, 2000. Think that was long ago? The last time the Bills appeared in a Super Bowl was eighteen years ago, in Super Bowl XXVII, when the Bills lost to the Cowboys, 30-13. The date of that game was January 30, 1994. Since then, seventeen Super Bowls have been played, with another one coming this Sunday.

To crystallize the long run of Bills futility and remind everyone how long it's really been, I’ve listed 46 facts about 1994. One for each Super Bo…