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Inspiration: 15 Tools Every Entrepreneur Should Have [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Required Reading: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Required Reading: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel KahnemanIn the international bestseller, Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman, the renowned psychologist and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The impact of overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning our next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Winner of the National Academy of Sciences Best Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and selected by The New York Times Book Review as one of the ten best books of 2011, Thinking, Fast and Slow is destined to be a classic.

Inspiration: What Kind of Entrepreneur are you? [INFOGRAPHIC]

What Kind of Entrepreneur are you? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Required Reading: Crazy Bosses by Stanley Bing

Required Reading: Crazy Bosses by Stanley BingSince the latter part of the century just past, Stanley Bing has been exploring the relationship between authority and madness. In one bestselling book after another, reporting from his hot-seat as an insider in a world-renowned multinational corporation, he has tried to understand the inner workings of those who lead us and to inquire why they seem to be powered, much of the time, by demons that make them obnoxious and dangerous, even to themselves.

In What Would Machiavelli Do?, Bing looked at the issue of why mean people do better than nice people, and found that in their particular form of insanity lay incredible power. In Throwing the Elephant: Zen and the Art of Managing Up, he offered a spiritual path toward managing the unruly executive beast. And in Sun Tzu Was a Sissy, he taught us how to become one of them, and wage war on the playing field that ends in a dream home in Cabo. Now he returns to his roots to offer the last word on the entity that shapes our lives and stomps through—and on—our dreams: The Crazy Boss.

Students of Bing—and there are many, secreted inside tortured organizations, yearning for blunt instruments with which to fight—will note that he has walked this ground before, looking for answers. In 1992, he published the first edition of Crazy Bosses, which was fine, as far as it went. Now, some 15 years and several dozen insane bosses later, he has updated and rethought much of the work. Back in the last century, Bing was a small, trembling creature, looking up at those who made his life miserable and analyzing the mental illness that gave them their power. Today, while still trembling much of the time, he is in fact one of those people his prior work has warned us against. His own hard-won wisdom and now institutionalized dementia make this new edition completely fresh and indispensable to anyone who works for somebody else or lives with somebody else, or would like to.

In short, Bing is back on his home turf in this funny, true, and essential book, peering with his keen and frosty eye at the crazy boss in all his guises: the Bully, the Paranoid, the Narcissist, the Wimp, and the self-destructive Disaster Hunter. If you loved the original, classic Crazy Bosses, you’ll be thrilled to plunge back into the new, refurbished pool. If you are new to the book, strap yourself in: it’s going to be a crazy ride.

Drawing on hundreds of no-holds-barred interviews, the renowned “Executive Summary” columnist for Esquire dissects the mentality of the workplace–and comes up with solid strategies for those who work under the constant battle siege of the difficult boss.

Required Reading: The Peter Principle by Laurence Peter

Required Reading: The Peter Principle by Laurence PeterThis book caused a storm when first published in 1969, battering up the bestseller list to #1, charming readers from Topeka to Timbuktu, and finally, brilliantly, blessedly giving the world an answer to a question that nags us all: Why is incompetence so maddeningly rampant and so vexingly triumphant? The book and the phrase it defined are now considered comedic-yet-classic cornerstones of organizational thought, and in honor of the book’s fortieth anniversary, Robert I. Sutton has written a foreword introducing the book to a new generation of readers.

The Peter Principle, the eponymous law Laurence Peter coined, explains that “in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.” Everyone—from the office intern to the CEO, from the low-level civil servant to a nation’s president—will inevitably rise to his or her level of incompetence, if it hasn’t happened already. Dr. Peter’s glorious revelation explains why incompetence is at the root of everything we endeavor to do—why schools bestow ignorance, why governments condone anarchy, why courts dispense injustice, why prosperity causes unhappiness, and why utopian plans never generate utopias.

With the wit of James Thurber or Mark Twain, the psychological and anthropological acuity of Sigmund Freud or Margaret Mead, and the theoretical impact of Isaac Newton or Copernicus, Dr. Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull’s brilliant book explains how incompetence and its accompanying symptoms, syndromes, and remedies define the world and the work we do in it.

Inspiration: Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming

Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards DemingOut of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming

“Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation. The timid and the fainthearted, and the people that expect quick results, are doomed to disappointment.”

According to W. Edwards Deming, American companies require nothing less than a transformation of management style and of governmental relations with industry. In Out of the Crisis, originally published in 1982, Deming offers a theory of management based on his famous 14 Points for Management. Management’s failure to plan for the future, he claims, brings about loss of market, which brings about loss of jobs. Management must be judged not only by the quarterly dividend, but by innovative plans to stay in business, protect investment, ensure future dividends, and provide more jobs through improved product and service. In simple, direct language, he explains the principles of management transformation and how to apply them.

The Customer is Wrong

Our society functions under the mantra: the customer is always right. This is a notion that has been fed to us since we entered the work force. No matter what, make sure the customer leaves happy.

Small businesses and startups rely heavily on word of mouth to find loyal customers and advocates for their businesses. Your customer can be your greatest ally. If you can give them a great customer service experience, you have a fan for life. At this point, you know how to treat customers. Be kind and courteous. Address their issues in a timely fashion. Make sure you listen to their concerns and discuss things with them to make sure you both understand each other.

So, what happens if you can’t make a customer happy?The Customer is Wrong

There are people out there who want to test how far that can go without holding up their end of the deal of being a customer. While you should never assume someone’s trying to scam you, some customers might be testing the waters.

In this case, you want to work closely with your employees and customer service staff. Don’t automatically assume they did something wrong. Customers can abuse products and policies, demand unreasonable resolutions, or verbally abuse your staff. When you step in, make sure the customer knows the buck stops with you.

Don’t belittle your team or employees. Trust that they did all that they could to give the customer what they asked for.

When things start to get hairy, you should start collecting the records of your interactions. If you have a paper trail of evidence that shows this customer has made a habit of being a bad customer, everyone on staff can be appraised of the situation. In the future, don’t work with this customer.

While you might lose one business opportunity, you will show your support for your team.

If you want to learn more about dealing with no-pay customers, check out Business Beware.

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