Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. Douglas Rushkoff. 256 pages

From The Publisher
People spent the twentieth century obsessed with the future. We created technologies that would help connect us faster, gather news, map the planet, compile knowledge, and con­nect with anyone, at anytime. We strove for an instanta­neous network where time and space could be compressed.

Well, the future's arrived. We live in a continuous now en­abled by Twitter, email, and a so-called real-time technologi­cal shift. Yet this now is an elusive goal that we can never quite reach. And the dissonance between our digital selves and our analog bodies has thrown us into a new state of anxiety: present shock.

Rushkoff weaves together seemingly disparate events and trends into a rich, nuanced portrait of how life in the eter­nal present has affected our biology, behaviour, politics, and culture. He explains how the rise of zombie apocalypse fic­tion signals our intense desire for an ending; how the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street form two sides of the same post-narrative coin; how corporate investing in the future has been replaced by futile efforts to game the stock market in real time; why social networks make people anxious and email can feel like an assault. He examines how the tragedy of 9/11 disconnected an entire generation from a sense of history, and delves into why conspiracy theories actually comfort us.

As both individuals and communities, we have a choice. We can struggle through the onslaught of information and play an eternal game of catch-up. Or we can choose to live in the present: favor eye contact over texting; quality over speed; and human quirks over digital perfection. Rushkoff offers hope for anyone seeking to transcend the false now.

Absorbing and thought-provoking, PRESENT SHOCK is a wide-ranging, deeply thought meditation on what it means to be human in real time.

Here's a recent presentation by Rushkoff on Present Shock:

Here's a link to the author's website; an interview with; an interview with VICE; and a podcast interview with author and margeting guru Mitch Joel.

Interested in reviewing this book? Please click the link on the top left side of this page.

As always, your contributions are appreciated.



Monday, April 29, 2013

Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer. J. C. Carleson. Porfolio. 208 pages.

Review by Richard Pachter

You need an angle, an opening, a hook — maybe even a gimmick — to get published and be remembered. In Work Like a Spy, author Carlson leverages the most interesting part of her resume and the result is an clever and enjoyable book.

Will you learn how to work like a spy? Yes and no.

Carlson uses her espionage background to provide various examples of scenarios from the world of cloak and dagger, then explains how an operative would proceed, and provides a parallel situation, with recommended actions in the more mundane world of business.

It's an entertaining and colorful formula, resulting in some breezy and pleasant lessons, especially the parts where Ms. Carlson shares her personal experiences (which were reviewed and approved for publication by her former employer prior to publication).

The question, of course, is whether or not the result adds up to something new and original, or at least a fresh view of the familiar from a different angle.

Not really. Most of what Carlson concludes and recommends involves common sense. If you can't figure out, for example, that you must be extremely careful not to hire a competitor's relative for an important position in your company, you're in big trouble.

And gathering competitive intelligence by listening carefully to disgruntled or harried employees, possibly while consuming an adult beverage or two, is a time-honored tradition, well known to most savvy managers.

Still, if you'd like some clues about intelligence gathering in business — and doing it legally, as Carlson repeatedly admonishes — it's here, undercover.


Club Reviews: WORK LIKE A SPY

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer. J. C. Carleson. Porfolio. 208 pages.

The book's title piqued my interest and gave me hope for new and exciting insights to forge ahead in the business world.  Unfortunately there was absolutely nothing new whatsoever--just a 'cloak and dagger' approach telling the reader what they already know.  Anyone who has worked in the corporate world should already be aware of the pitfalls to avoid as described in the book, as well as how to establish trust and be truly ethical and 'make it."  I was truly disappointed, as Ms. Carleson's approach was smoke and mirrors — resulting in "mission not accomplished". Tobi Dienstag; Pembroke Pines

I enjoyed reading the book. It was a quick read, too. Gave a lot of useful information in an easy to decipher format. While some of the text may have been "common knowledge", it was still useful as a refresher course. I would recommend it to others. Terri Bryant, Davie

What a great book! Really enjoyed it from beginning to end. Actually, I'm not sure if I liked it more because of the possible translation of skills form the CIA to the corporate world or simply because her writing about the CIA is so candid yet so beguiling that you wish you'd know more from the inner workings of the organization.
Written like a song, easy on your eyes and fast on your brain, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anybody who wants to learn a little more about improving people's skills, emotional intelligence and how becoming "an intelligence officer" can help you in many walks of life. Miguel Cobas, MD; Miami

Some books you cannot put down. I had no problem putting this book down and out of its misery. No new or classified information here, just tips likely used for capricious means. I prefer teamwork instead. One good point is recognizing when you are being pumped for information. David Shapiro; Ft Lauderdale

Pretty cool premise to get "inside info" approach from mysterious source (CIA). However, fairly predictable as far as the layout and knowledge provided. I liked the third Chapter on Business Counterintelligence because the author describes both legal and illegal ways to obtain sensitive data from a competitor. This helps a business owner understand areas in which to enhance security, as well as engage in "turning the tables" on an aggressive rival. Altogether an entertaining and valuable read, thanks for the opportunity to participate! John Moorehead; Weston

I did not like the book very much.  It was not useful or inspirational.  Most of the information had to do with being a CIA officer and what she did or did not do. Finding a niche is already known in the business world.  I could continue but I would have to mention parts of the book and that is not what I am supposed to do. Patricia Garcia; Miami

This book was interesting!  It has something that those looking for work, those already in the workplace and those who are the senior leaders of business can use and/or pass on to those they mentor.
At first I was bored with the way she was writing but found she had a flow to her style that although hard to follow at times, I soon came to understand that the ideas she puts forth are very useful.  Going from the basics of networking and learning what to listen and look for from an interviewer to how to put together a team and maintain loyalty from those you meet along the way.  You may meet those people on the way down too, and it is ever so nice to have friends when you are down on your luck.
The introduction of terms such as "Strategic Elicitation" which introduce the basics of how to get information without seeming to really want it, bring the whole book together for me.
I liked the book but I did not find the book exciting.  It was not boring to me either.  I think I can put some of the ideas and exercises together for a nice how to job search lesson to some of those getting ready to leave the active duty military for the civilian sector in the next few months.  Forrest Carper; Bossier City, Louisiana

The book is interesting and easy to read, but I don't share the author's belief that the information contained in it can help the reader with such things as getting hired or promoted or closing a sale. Where I think these things have an application is in deciding whom to hire if you're a business owner or the person in charge of hiring at a corporation. Liliana Delara

The author has a creative idea to tie her CIA agent experience and how it relates to having a job in the private sector. Even going as far as explaining how some CIA principles (ie: targeting, solicitation, counterintelligence, screening), translates in the corporate world.  The author does a well translating the principles with brief examples and lighthearted approach.  Although the author doesn't reveal any new "secrets" for success in the workplace, I believe this book could aid people exiting public service or law enforcement jobs and trying to get into the private sector or vice versa.  The book can help them translate their experience into something those potential employers are looking for. Isadora Cipolletta

The principles of working like a spy do translate to the everyday workplace, such as crisis management, ethical challenges and employee investigations. Some of the tips are common sense, but I enjoyed reading her experiences and I got some good ideas for the workplace. Mary Greenwood, St. Augustine

Being involved in the Surveillance industry and helping management get a clearer vision of their OPs, this book had extraordinary appeal to my interest.
I was not disappointed!  I cannot recall nodding in agreement this many times while reading a book.
Nicely structured, J.C. Carleson pulls back the curtain and allows us to see inside the mind of an intelligence agent and then goes on with a "how to" on setting up this culture in within an organization. Well worth reading, again! This was great. Marc Cohen; Pembroke Pines

This book gives the strategies that one has to adopt to maneuver and advance in a razor edge cut throat business environment. May be a good primer for covert talent acquisitions and take-overs. Compels the reader to think at what extent does one have to reach or breach to get ahead?  Lily Orticio; Aventura

Easy to read and understand. J.C.Carleson shows us how simple paranoia, diligence, and adherence to detail can be successful in our "real world" as in her "real world".
Practical applications that are useful for sales techniques, and ways to monitor your organization from internal and external threats and challenges are suggested and can be used by any manager. Definitely recommended as a management tool. Marvin Stein, MD; Coral Springs

J. C. Carleson (yes, she’s a woman, but conveniently neglected to put that on the front flap) has written a book that is easy to read, and yet that does have some good ideas for succeeding in the business world.  She wrote about some practices of the CIA, and how they could be applied to working in your present organization.  I like the way she created a scenario of what might have happened with the CIA, and then converted some of the actions to activities that would work in any field of business.   Chapter 7, Making a Sale the CIA Way, described eight ways to attract a customer, or a new job, such as aiming high, identifying the decision maker, meeting on neutral ground, following through, and keeping it positive.    Wish I’d used more of these techniques long before I retired! Betty G Hubschman; Whitsett, North Carolina

I was prepared to hate this book. Let's just say I was prejudiced against it even before reading the flap. My first thought was, "Great, here's a person who's trading on her 'glamorous' insider job title and she'll try and impress us with all her shoptalk and war stories." I was anticipating a shallow read, long on pithy personal observations and short on substance. I've spent three out of the last five years as an analyst in an intel center. I switched to a writing position with the same organization and work with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, so I thought "Work Like a Spy" would be a flimsy excuse of a book used to shine the light on the author. I expected a book of "look how clever I am" stories disguised as an advice book for worker bees. I decided to be fair and drop my preconceived notions. I opened my mind and after I read the first 25 pages, I began to see value in the book.  Author Carleson has written a thoughtful, well-documented book that would help anyone in any stage of life because it's based on psychology and proven tactics for "motivating" other people to provide you with what you want. The section on elicitation ("Strategic Elicitation" in the second chapter called "Secret Agent Boot Camp") was especially helpful. The use of a very realistic job interview as an example of how to get details about the interviewer so the interviewee could craft an effective response was realistic and informative.
Other chapters were equally helpful and practical. For example, chapter four  ("Creating Your Team") provides five strategies that the CIA uses developing individuals and teams. This section is extremely valuable and easy for the lay person to apply to personal and professional goals. I especially liked the author's example used in the fifth strategy: "Make Room for Lone Wolves." Carleson used the example of the gruff senior officer with bad interpersonal skills, but who was extremely good at his job by, "...getting taciturn, tough, and grizzled officials from target nations to spill their secrets, because he was just like them. I suspect that, on average, his conversations with this recruited assets consisted of a small fraction of the number of words used in parallel conversations between other officers and assets. Yet in his gruff, taciturn way he got the job done when no one else could."  This book is well written and practical. Readers should look past the title, the gimmicky cover art and give this book a chance. Kathy Dolbow Doran; Miami Beach

I immediately sensed upon reading the book, the refreshing and not boring, analytic, no nonsense approach of the author. It makes a lot of sense having a background in business and additionally being a CIA analyst, to genially write a business book that will help you make better business decisions. It is general enough, applicable to many circumstances, but specific in its analytic approach. Well written and understandable, one of the better and most enjoyable business books I have read. Highly recommend it. EJ "Henry" Ventura, Jr.; Coral Gables

If you've always wanted to know how you can sniff out top-secret insights in the corporate world, don't expect to find out how by reading Work Like a Spy. You'll be no closer to an answer. You will, however, be inundated with first hand accounts of J. C. Carleson's work experience at the C.I.A and various examples of how she was a pro at getting what she wanted from other people while she worked for the C.I.A. What I wanted from this book was something more than the basic common sense the author offered. Susan Taslimi Litten; Parkland

I found the premise of using CIA techniques as procedures to assist a less-intriguing business a very engrossing read.  The thought of using clandestine, covert activities to make my own business more effective and efficient has broad appeal.

Throughout the book I realized something. I don't want to work like a spy.

The use of most of the applicable or transferable suggestions is tenuous at best.  The author provides an extensive back story to make a relatively small point in the world of those of us who don't have the business model of a spy agency.  Applying the procedures Carleson outlines, I would spend all day performing counterintelligence instead of doing my job.  It just is not practicable or suitable for small business.  For Fortune 500 or 1000, companies, many of the techniques could be entirely applicable, but for me, with ten employees, it does not provide much to help me day-to-day.

Despite that, I found the section on recruitment to be the most interesting, informative, and directly usable to my business. Focusing on getting the right people for the job,not the right resume, is something to which I have to pay close attention.

In the end, it was a well-written, interesting book. But as for my job, I have to shelve it under fiction. Scott D. Rembold; Coral Gables

The book is interesting as it had a twist ... it was like a little about an organization CIA which has always been intriguing for many of us and then that she was able to incorporate her teachings and also some insights as to what takes to be a CIA make the book more interesting and of course the title was catching.  I think that the book could be made into a movie ... and as world is more on intellectual sphere at this time ... there are more spies in the business world than anywhere else and the stakes are high.

I definitely place it for as recommending reading for those starting a business, already owning a business which they are contemplating taking to a higher level.  And of course the Internet business of the new start … as talents is very important thing when one is starting a venture. Magda S. Saltzman

The examples provided by the author show how even the best in the business can be mislead by intelligence gathered. I found it easy to navigate and an individual's "self awareness" is a valuable tool in business or any relationship.  I recommend this book for the "spy" in all of us. Peter Kihn; Sterling Heights MI

After a slow start when reading J.C. Carleson's book, I was rewarded with worthwhile suggestions to help in various areas of business organization situations in all areas of a company.

Elicitation, screening, recruitment, and counter intelligence strategies are the important valuable strategies given. Positive values and integrity are a necessity.

It amazing how many of the CIA strategies can be used in most areas of your business and your life.

Some you may all ready be using!

The most intriguing parts of the book were the descriptive anecdotes that actually happened

in the CIA. They added that extra zing to the book! Margot Byrnes; Miami

I enjoyed this book! It was entertaining and carries a great message. Indeed, there are a lot of ways to emulate “the spy business” in the world of business. I wanted to read this book to see if I knew a lot of what it contains. I do. But I still found many nuggets worth remembering and reading. There is a lot of valuable information contained in this book, framed in a way that makes it almost irresistible! Who doesn’t want to feel like a spy as they research and prepare for a meeting? I have always looked at someone’s web site before meeting with them. Little did I know that I was engaging in leadership analysis, a CIA technique! It will make things a whole lot more fun from now on to couch them in spy terminology, but this is not a put-on. There really is a lot of relevant information to be gleaned from her words. And after all, as she says, we leave in a world where information has value. So does this book. Anne Bloom; Davie

This is not a boring, standard business book. This book starts off exciting and delivers right to the end. Carleson provides an interesting perspective on getting ahead in the business world through the eyes of a former agent. While the strategies make sense that are introduced and the stories around them are fascinating to absorb, they both tie in together making each chapter very interesting and wanting to learn more.  Trisha Molina; Miami

I loved learning how to  “Work Like A Spy.”  A practical lexicon, yet still engaging, I have been recommending this book to everyone.  And the cover art is awesome! Doramary Russell; Coral Springs

I jumped at the chance to review Work Like a Spy by J. C. Carleson because I like to see authors use analogies to relate one type of work practices to the work practices of types of work.  And when I read any business book, I look for those platinum nuggets of wisdom rather than a comprehensive unifying theory of how to run my operations.
In Work Like a Spy, there are some real stretches to equate the skills taught and used as a CIA clandestine service officer with the skills needed in today’s corporate world.  Most notably, Chapter 7, Making a Sale the CIA Way, starts with “persuading a target to conduct espionage is much like making a sale.”  While there are undeniably some similarities, the analogy was more entertaining than it was insightful.
But chapters 5 and 6 are replete with those true nuggets of wisdom that can be directly applied. Chapter 5, Staying Clean in a Dirty World, makes a wonderful case for hard and fast ethical rules that cannot be violated in either the do-or-die world of spying or in the high-stress-high-stakes world of corporate business.  Some takeaways:
·         Treat and protect your reputation and integrity as you would cold, hard cash.
·         Understand that sharks are cannibals.
·         Own the solution, not the mistake.
·         Act urgently when things are urgent.
And they don’t come off as flat platitudes. Ms. Carleson gives real-world examples from both corporate life and clandestine life that illustrate and bolster her best advice.
Chapter 6, Crisis Management Strategies from an Organization that Truly Knows the Meaning of Crisis, is the best chapter in the book.  She lists some of the “many ways that the CIA responded more effectively to a crisis than what [she] had witnessed in the corporate world,” such as:
·         Focus attention outward
·         Continue to acknowledge and reward performance
·         Make senior management more accessible than ever
·         Articulate crystal-clear directives
·         Hand out extraordinary empowerment to your employees
·         Redirect and refocus
·         Protect the employees on the ground
·         Create loyalty by inspiring it and trust by earning it
Each of these is backed up by pages and pages of explanation and examples.  This one chapter alone is reason enough to read the book in its entirety. Chris Ros

I liked the book although I am not sure about her premise that business should follow CIA standards.  It gives an interesting perspective on values and thinking of the CIA subculture.  The author seems to glorify this subculture that she once was a member portraying them as idealistic, having high standards, and representative of a higher caliber of society.  Reminds me a little of the television series MI-5. Darlene Johnson

I enjoyed the book.  While the beginning was a slow start and a bit much to get through, pressing on provided some interesting ideas on intelligence gathering.  In today's world, business leaders are inundated with a great deal of data.  Sifting through the data for useable information was what I took from this.  The analogies in the book are really the exciting part.  The drawback for the book for me was that it appeared to be more focused on larger businesses rather than small operations.  With that said, there is still ample techniques and ideas that make it worth reading and implementing some of the strategies.  This book also made me think of the book "Only the Paranoid Survive." John Lyon, Barre, Vermont


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