Reading Strategies: Business Journals

In the world of business, there are the movers and shakers and then there are the bystanders who study what happens and publishes it as Business Journals. In this symbiotic relationship, the bystanders happen to be researchers and professors at Business Schools who teach the future movers and shakers – and provide insight to the current movers and shakers to help them get out of their pinch. Reading business journals not only helps the corporate guys to stay abreast with the latest concerns in their industry, it also helps a thriving small business owner widen his/her perspective on current offerings that could help their business.

There are many types of journals specific to each industry such as Finance, HR, Automotive, but for this blog post I will concentrate on the reading strategy for business journals that is compiled and widely published as books – the Harvard Business Review.

The reason I chose to provide a reading strategy for such business journals is because Harvard Business Review is the most cited journal publication in the world. Its impact shows that the in-depth study that is done before the journal is accepted for publishing is indeed useful. Apart from that, a journal selected as part of a published Harvard Business Review does speak for itself. A lot of hard work had been put to churn out that seven to 12 page of journal. Make no mistake that the studies are NOT based on small samples; there are studies that have gone on for decades and passed on to younger researchers before the journal is sent for publication.

My personal take on Harvard Business Review is that I have yet to read any business books so heavy with information that is as relevant, yet easy to digest as Harvard Business Reviews. That said, having the reading strategies for business journals would give you an upper hand in making sure you are making the best investment for your time spent on the book and your money.

STEP 1: READING SAMPLES

There is a myriad of topics that is covered by Harvard Business Review such as Managing People, Managing Yourself and Organizational Culture. Besides that, there are publications for Entrepreneurship and also Leadership Lessons from Sports. It is an extensive list so the first step you need to do when choosing a Harvard Business Review to read is to choose one topic that you are interested in.

If you are currently looking at restructuring your company and many division will need to leverage, the most insightful Harvard Business Review for you would be HBR’s 10 Must Read: Collaboration. Never mind the need to manage a huge change as there exists an HBR’s 10 Must Read: Change Management 🙂

If you can’t seem to decide which you should read, whether on Collaboration or Change Management; Step 2 will give you a better insight to invest your time and money on the best Harvard Business Review for you.

STEP 2: FINDING OUT YOUR OVERVIEW

Personally, I find the most beautiful trait about Harvard Business Review is their Index page. If there is something we are truly overwhelmed by on the Internet, it is information overload and HBR nails exactly that. Their Index page is so well and specific that you only get the information you really need. Let’s say I read a journal about blockchain on Harvard Business Review and want to find out more, I simply use the terms indexed under blockchain on its Index page so that I only get the relevant information I need. Doesn’t that save a lot of time?

So in order for you to find out which Harvard Business Review you would learn best for the situation you are in, head to the Index page at the back. Scan through the terms and decide which publication holds more relevant terms that speak out to you in its Index page. That’s how you decide whether your topic is Collaboration or Change Management.

I know, you may thank me later 🙂

STEP 3: BREAKING DOWN THE BOOK (JOURNAL)

The main idea of reading a Harvard Business Review is to figure out something. It is not about evaluating the author’s writing skill, nor is it to question the validity of the information. Holding on to your main purpose of reading business journal, which is to figure out something – quickly skim through the Editor’s Notes to weigh the gist of each journal. Once you have identified your top priority journal, move to the Contents section to find out the page number of that journal.

Once you have landed on the right page, find the section Idea in Brief to get an overview of what the journal will cover. One great tip I can give is to move straight to the Case Studies included in the journal, this way you immediately identify if the problems you are facing is relatable to this journal. This would also subsequently arouse your desire to find out more and read the business journal thoroughly.

At this point, you could quickly skim through the main topics in the journal (usually in bold) and only read content that is relevant to you, without wasting to much time on the learning if you have already figured it out. Some people do read business journals just for inspiration on how to solve their current problem at work.

If you intend to read for learning, you might want to actively engage yourself with the content of the journal to get the best out of your investment of time and money on reading a Harvard Business Review. This can be done by following Step Four and Step Five below.

STEP 4: PLANTING QUESTIONS

The easiest way to start planting questions when reading a Harvard Business Review is to focus on any chart, figure or table that is included in the journal. Skim the figure and be critical with what you see as to question how the this figure would benefit to serve your problem. With the knowledge on the case studies and a summed of figure in your hand (and mind), you are ready to plant questions as you read through the journal.

Another tip to boost your question seeking activity is to read more on the author of the journal from the About the Contributor section on the final pages of the Harvard Business Review. Having background information about the author would give you an insight to the author’s bias and perspective to help you plant questions and actively engage yourself while reading.

STEP 5: MEETING YOUR CONCLUSIONS

Once you finished reading the journal, you need to have a check-and-balance to see if your comprehension is aligned to the points provided in the business journal. One way to do this is to re-read the Idea in Brief section and see if you had missed any important part in the journal. On the other hand, you could re-visit the chart, figure or table to see if you have a better grasp at understanding the point the author is trying to make.

When your new knowledge jives with the idea that is formed in your mind, you should start sketching a draft proposal to solve your problem. When you are able to formulate a solution from your reading, it is suffice to say that you met your conclusions and you have made a good investment of your time and money by reading a business journal!

So there you have it! My five steps for Reading Strategies: Business Journals to help you with a structure when reading such publication. Enjoy!

-Baini Mustafa

Reading Strategies: Legal Thriller

When browsing the fiction shelves at a bookstore, it is hard to miss the Legal Thriller section. Let alone walking into a bookstore without seeing any book with the name John Grisham across its cover. Legal Thriller certainly has its cult status following and that begs the question, have you tried reading a Legal Thriller?

A Legal Thriller is of the mystery genre but usually has a lawyer as its main character. Although a lawyer’s main task is to prove his/her client’s innocence in court, this is not without paying the dues of investigation, priming the witnesses and jurors, building up the case and last but not least presenting the argument in court. The dramatisation of the entire tasks, with the many characters of varying roles, intelligence, importance, and intentions, makes a Legal Thriller an interesting read and is high on my suggestion list whenever someone asks for a fiction recommendation as a break between reading non-fictions.

The beauty of reading a Legal Thriller is that your mind is aroused with the description of activities you are reading in the book and at the same time, your brain is high on alert to also do its part in solving the mystery. Although most people read fiction to relax, I discover that a Legal Thriller relaxes you by shifting your focus on a different problem and sharpens your problem solving skills. Ultimately, the fiction not only gives you the satisfaction of finishing a book, it refreshes your mind and believe it or not, you feel ready and excited to solve your own problem.

So ARE YOU READY TO PICK UP A LEGAL THRILLER NOW? Let’s armour our time investment, pick up the right book by applying the Reading Strategies: Legal Thriller.

STEP 1: READING SAMPLES

As I have repeatedly mentioned around my blog, it is important to pick up a book that serves your interest. Before purchasing a book, make sure you invest a little time by researching reviews to see if you could relate to the book. If you had lost a relative to lung cancer, then maybe The Runaway Jury by John Grisham will keep you interested throughout the book. If you love sports, especially baseball, maybe A Pitch for Justice by Harold Kasselman will keep hands glued to the book. It is all about finding the right match between you and the book that makes reading enjoyable.

STEP 2: FINDING OUT ‘YOUR’ OVERVIEW

Even though you think you have found a Legal Thriller that should excite you, hold on to your horses. Just an extra five more minutes of research should be able to make or break your decision. Find out a little about the people who likes the kind of Legal Thriller you are planning to buy. Do you feel you could relate to the people who gave a positive review about the book? Does the people who gave a positive review about the book, your kind of people? Do they impress you? If they are not YOUR kind of people or even simply you don’t feel inspired by the people – don’t waste any more time and just move on to finding the next Legal Thriller for you.

Do not underestimate the power of demography when selecting the best kind of reading to suit yourself. It might seem counter-productive to find a suitable book and then discover that it is not, but trust me that this five minute research might save you from a draggy five months of trying to finish one book. If there was a way to search via demography first, and then by book – you would need to follow avid readers that match your demography. For example, if you are here to follow my readings tips then most likely your demography matches mine and I can save you a lot of time and money simply by letting you know which books to read.

STEP 3: BREAKING DOWN THE BOOK

At this point, you need to get the feel of the entire book so that it keeps you coming back after you put it down. My personal tip when reading a Legal Thriller is to breakdown the book into 100 pages. For example if the book weights 423 pages, I will break it down into four parts and read a full page within each 100-page part.

This way, I get an idea of how fast the story line would progress and specific scenes, characters and my first hand exposure to the author’s writing style. Ask your self, do you like what you read in that broken down portions? If not then put it down and go back to the first step in the Step 1. Fret not, there are still millions of books out there just waiting to meet its right audience.

If a book doesn’t have the lure factor that appeals to you, it is not worth your investment of time and money.

STEP 4: PLANTING QUESTIONS

Now that you have found the perfect Legal Thriller suited for you, it is time to actively read the gem you picked. In order to actively read a Legal Thriller, it is not only important to be aware of the little details of the plot’s twists and turns – it is also important to notice the small quirks of each character in the story.

Plant questions that would inquire the behaviours of each character in the story. This keeps yourself interested in the psychology of the characters that you may build up in your mind. Does this lawyer have a blond paralegal who obediently brings his double espresso every morning? Is the prosecuted criminal a cat person or a dog person? Sometimes the questions you ask yourself has nothing to do with the story line, but planting questions regarding the psychology of each character in a Legal Thriller would build suspense and almost always satisfy your theories about people. And maybe who knows, you might crack the case before the lawyer does 🙂

STEP 5: MEETING YOUR CONCLUSIONS

When reading a Legal Thriller, the story line is maneuvered with yourself as the main character. On the same note, you need to be aware and understand the roles and the limits of other characters in the story. Did you know the real roles of the jurors? Did you know the basics of a judge’s jurisdiction within a county? It is as simple as a quick Google search to find the answers and it will give you an insight that will help with your active reading. After all, if your conclusion is accurate wouldn’t that boost your confidence to read more Legal Thrillers?

As a tip, I will let you in on my own conclusion that is always find accurate whenever I read a Legal Thriller – Lawyers have the ability to argue black as white AND lawyers would always prime their witnesses to believe what the witness testifies to be the truth.

There you have it! My Reading Strategies: Legal Thriller that will help you navigate through a fiction as an experience that is worthy of your time an money. Let me know if the strategies work!

-Baini Mustafa

Three Ways Dale Carnegie Books Influence Technology

If you are familiar with the works of Dale Carnegie such as How to Win Friends and Influence People, you would know that his techniques touch on the quality of interpersonal relationships. In his books and teachings, he emphasises that humans are not creatures of logic but creatures of emotion – but how is it that millions of dollars are spent online, where only (logical) human to machine interaction is needed? Does this mean that Automation and Artificial Intelligence could well replace human niceties and personal interaction?

Take for example a food delivery service that you have been loyal with for more than three months because of its superior service. One day you had a chance to meet the founding members of the service and you were appalled as they brushed you away in their seemingly more important conversation. As a loyal paying customer, you would have taken it personally and vow to move on to a different service provider and wanting to kick yourself for having been a ‘fan’ for so long! How have you allowed their polite automated prompts and artificial intelligence bots to have swooned you into purchasing their service?

You didn’t think they ‘naturally’ knew you that well, did you?

We see here that Dale Carnegie lessons still stand the test of time and it is Automation/AI that are actively adapting to his lessons. So how do we use the lessons from Dale Carnegie in Automation and Artificial Intelligence? Read more below to find out the three ways lessons from Dale Carnegie are used in technology.

NUMBER 1: REMEMBER THAT A PERSON’S NAME IS TO THAT PERSON THE SWEETEST AND MOST IMPORTANT SOUND IN THAT LANGUAGE

Don’t you feel immediately flattered when somebody remembers your name? Do you notice how more drawn you are to a text you are reading when you see your name imprinted within it? A lot of online merchants capitalise on this rule by using data to include the user’s first name to build a personal rapport with the user. Although it is best if you had taken the effort to remember a person’s name and their habits on social media, it doesn’t hurt to use a little technology to accomplish this task wisely.

NUMBER 2: YOU CAN MAKE MORE FRIENDS IN A MONTH BY BECOMING INTERESTED IN OTHER PEOPLE

Ever wonder why Facebook suggests the best Pages that are totally in line with your current situation? That is because Facebook studies your usage on Facebook, by tracking the post you Like and take the time to read or share, also by tracking your the behaviours of those in your Friend List. All these data when used with Artificial Intelligence gives the best user experience for the consumer. Ever noticed that we rarely see posts from the official Facebook Page flying around in our timeline/wall? Certainly Dale Carnegie’s principle is in use here.

NUMBER 3: MAKE THE OTHER PERSON FEEL IMPORTANT

Don’t good vibes blossom in our hearts when we receive an email from an Online Shopping website saying that there is a special discount for you on your birthday? For all the wishes we receive on our holidays that make us feel that they have taken a time in their day to wish us well? Don’t we just feel good about ourselves and feel thankful for the TLC shown by these businesses? Making us feel important is their business to ensure customer loyalty and sense of belonging. Just by using automation, businesses may accomplish this important principle by Dale Carnegie.

In a nutshell, I would conclude that the advancement of technology could not replace human to human personal touch but it definitely plays a huge advantage when the correct principles, such as ones by Dale Carnegie is applied. Reading books by Dale Carnegie would open you up to a plethora of ways to improve your communication skills, interpersonal relationships and your satisfaction in life.

-Baini Mustafa

How Books Impact Your Subconscious

Science has proven that all beings and things around us is made of energy in its smallest form. Whether it is the fibres of your sofa, the electricity running through your heater or the ink used to print a book. Some go further by saying that even thoughts and ideas are made of energy. So you can imagine how much energy a book carries!

I would not buy into the idea that having books lying around the house would make people smarter, but having ONE person reading the books is enough to elevate the kind of energy that vibrates around the house. Just as the brain is likened to an antenna, it broadcasts and receives signals around it and picks up the positive energy broadcasted by a person who is reading nearby. The sight of a person reading becomes an image in the person’s brain and is stored away, along with other positive memories.

Although the sight of a person reading did not make the other person immediately read a book, the image and the feelings associated to it is registered in the person’s mind – and that is the crucial part. When that person repeatedly sees the same image and registers the same feelings to his/her brain, after awhile he/she will want to experience a book first hand too. And that is just the first way how books impact those around them.

Secondly, the presence of books in a setting of an office exudes the quality of the person you are dealing with. Special editions bounded and perfectly lined in sequence along the person’s shelf shows the person values truth and puts a high price on integrity. Whereas a person whose office is strewn with dog-eared paperbacks that looked forgotten under a stack of piled papers shows a disorganised person with an even more disorganised mind. Who would you choose to work with? How did the books impact those around it?

For all you know, the dog-eared book was read three times over the previous year and had not been put away to a proper shelf. But didn’t you already have a negative feeling about the person for treating books that way? Didn’t you have a better feeling about the person whose books are placed nicely on a proper shelf, although it may be a fact that those books were never read? Do you see how books impact those in its surrounding?

Thirdly, each title on a book carries a lot of weight with it. Have you ever tried reading a controversial book in a train and have people side-eye you for the book you are reading? Have you ever seen a person reading Crazy Rich Asians on a train and you feel the urge of laughing together with the person or gush about its up-coming movie? Imagine feeling intimidated when your intern reads The 48 Laws of Power during lunch break when you had used the entire hour just bitching about another co-worker?

Books, whether its title or ideas or just its presence, impact people more than just an inanimate object. The books enter our subconscious with its energy, good or bad – whether you have read it or not. I like to think books as water, it replenishes, it soothes and if you put energy to it and let it boil, it can burn you. But it can also assimilate with other elements and produce a better outcome.

So do you have any books on your shelf that you feel is begging to be read?

-Baini Mustafa