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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, entertaining, and motivating.
It is very difficult to find anything wrong with this gem...besides it being too short.

As noted in my headline it is:

Fascinating: Although I am somewhat conversant in broad economic theory, I learned a tremendous amount in a short time. Even if you don't agree with everything that Umair says, I would be shocked if anyone without an advanced...
Published on December 26, 2011 by Jeffrey

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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The bumpy road to Betterness
At the start of the workweek when you walk in the door how do you feel about your job - jazzed, satisfied, thinking that there's some sort of purpose to what you do.

You do? You're in the woeful minority.

More likely, says Umair Haque, you're like two-thirds of your co-workers who are feeling uninspired, frustrated, and maybe even a little...
Published on December 22, 2011 by Rett01


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The bumpy road to Betterness, December 22, 2011
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This review is from: Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
At the start of the workweek when you walk in the door how do you feel about your job - jazzed, satisfied, thinking that there's some sort of purpose to what you do.

You do? You're in the woeful minority.

More likely, says Umair Haque, you're like two-thirds of your co-workers who are feeling uninspired, frustrated, and maybe even a little suffocated. You're the flip side of engaged. Haque would like that to change.

He wants to initiate a paradigm shift from negative to positive - in the way you feel about work but more importantly in the way business works. That's a big, heady challenge but Haque thinks there's much to gain if we say goodbye to the industrial age and focus instead on a new day that emphasizes the value of human capital.

It's a new paradigm that challenges companies to focus on achieving their own potential instead of engaging in competition to defeat rivals. The engine of business needs to recalibrate and begin striving for and measuring growth in human potential rather than financial profit, Haque argues.

"What if the future of commerce and enterprise is as different as its present is from its past? . . . I believe it can do so - and more vitally, that we must make it do so."

The new paradigm involves a shift to what Haque labels "Betterness." That's a place where instead of pursuing return for shareholders, business looks more at investing in human potential and concentrates on providing the essentials that enrich life - relationships, fulfillment, accomplishment and enduring achievement. These are emotional rather than financial rewards. And they're intrinsically more important, Haque asserts.

He has a list of companies he's watching that may be in the vanguard of change. He likes Wal-Mart's Strategy for Sustainability for its simplicity and concern for the common good. Wal-Mart has a stated goal "To reach a day where there are no dumpsters behind our stores and clubs, and no landfill containing our throwaways. We want to create zero waste."

The Whole Foods value statement is also simple and altruistic: "We feature foods that are free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats."

Whole Foods and Wal-Mart are taking steps to focus on long-term outcomes that enrich all of us rather than provide a short-term return for investors. They're part of what the new paradigm should look like.

Haque is at his most persuasive when he asserts that the way we do business and measure corporate success today is obsolete. Companies are spending billions on "engagement," "change management," "training." They're wasting money, according to the author. By almost any financial measure, the last several decades have been stagnant at best.

When he presents his argument for the new paradigm of Betterness, he's less persuasive. He left me wanting more specifics on how that might be done and how his concepts might be added to the corporate agenda. I work at a Fortune 500 and like most other companies, we're fiercely resistant to change and certainly don't like being labeled obsolete. If he expects corporations to travel down the road to Betterness, Hague needs to give the business world a better roadmap.
[3.5 stars]
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, entertaining, and motivating., December 26, 2011
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This review is from: Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
It is very difficult to find anything wrong with this gem...besides it being too short.

As noted in my headline it is:

Fascinating: Although I am somewhat conversant in broad economic theory, I learned a tremendous amount in a short time. Even if you don't agree with everything that Umair says, I would be shocked if anyone without an advanced economics degree or background in Classical Greek would not learn something useful. (As well as some new vocabulary.)

Entertaining: The book is written with style, as well as a great bit of wit and humor for such a serious and grand subject. However, the language with which the book is constructed is beautiful. I felt as if I was reading fine literature much of the time as much as a business treatise.

Motivating: I suppose this would depend much on your view of what Umair is expressing here. If you agree, you will likely find yourself motivated to do something about it. If you don't agree...well, see point number 1. It's not a "meh" scenario.

Prior to my reading this book I was not a fan of Umair, mainly I suppose as I had very little awareness of him. That has certainly changed on both counts.

Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A call to change the way we do business, December 23, 2011
By 
Stephen Collins (Canberra, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
For such a short read, Umair Haque's second book offers up more of this profound thinker's forward-looking ideas on reimagining the way we do business. Not an anti-business screed, Haque is perfectly happy for us all to make money. But what else is there? Where is the real, tangible, actual good for humanity in the way we do things

Haque's vision of changed business will make me sit down and articulate how my business behaves in a world where we conduct "betterness" instead. So too, to evaluate who I do business with.

How are you doing "betterness"?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fixing broken business, December 29, 2011
By 
John Gibbs (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
What if we stopped thinking of economics as a negative paradigm - the art of removing problems such as barriers to commerce - and started thinking of it as a positive paradigm, involving maximizing potential? That is a question which Umair Haque asks at the start of this book. What if commerce can make us better off in bigger and more human ways than simply "having"?

The fundamental assumptions of business as we know it include shareholder value creation, mass production, hierarchical management, and disposable goods made for consumers. The jobs that most organizations offer most people seem unfulfilling. The "visions" that companies have are typically unexciting. We measure a country's prosperity in terms of industrial output, GDP, but we ignore more important things like the emotional, social, intellectual, physical and ethical growth of humans.

The book goes on to suggest a better path to future prosperity, consisting of:

* Eudaimonia: a good life, which is meaningfully rich - with relationships, ideas, emotion, health, fulfilment, great accomplishment and enduring achievement.
* Poeisis: generating new wealth, and multiplying the Common Wealth, as opposed to net-destructive forms of competition such as rent seeking.
* Arête: virtue - habits and patterns of behaviour that seed and nurture eudaimonia, replacing "vision-mission-strategy-objectives" with "ambition-intention-constraints-imperatives".
* Kairos: critical junctures, when opportunities emerge and unexpected, unimagined, transformative new paths can be chosen.

The author's enthusiasm for his vision of the new future probably exceeds that of his average reader, but his diagnosis of the malaise of the present certainly resonates. Something is definitely wrong when people need to be encouraged to consume more useless stuff quickly to help governments balance their books. The author's entertaining writing style makes this a pleasant starting point for the reader in imagining his or her own vision of a better future.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Betterness: Economics for Humans, March 24, 2012
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This review is from: Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
Betterness is a book written by an academic for academics. I can't imagine anyone from the business world getting excited about it. Very little logic is used, and real world realities aren't revealed in any of the pages. It's obvious that the author never worked in a 'corporate' or private business environment because he missed so many of the motives that drive people to innovate and compete in business.

He lauds Steve Jobs and others, along with a few examples of other 'green' companies but misses what Jobs or the others really have done. Steve Jobs, and other, tried and failed more than once before he got it right. Then he went for his competition's jugular by marketing newer and innovative products, cutting his competition off at the ankles. If one of his employees couldn't meet the standards he set, he was gone. This method of operation is true of all successful organizations, big or small. Mr. Haque misses the important human trait that drives innovation: fear. Fear of failure, lost job, lost income, lost prestige, losing. His premise that 'human and environmental capital' etc, is possible falls short because the world isn't a nice place to work in. He doesn't account for 'jobs reality'. Only if jobs were as he describes: magical. But that aint reality because our planet is peopled by people.

Mr. Haque spends one third of his book on corporate mission statements, lauding some and critiquing others. If he had ever worked for a successful company, he would have seen that mission statements are in its customer sales data. And that's how the corporate hierarchy describes it: customer sales data. Nothing more.

Betterness reminded me of Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged'. The government takes over all of the business environment through regulations, strangling the economy, and business goes off to its own world and shrugs. Mr. Haque's premise requires a full socialization of business, government regulation and labor. He doesn't understand, as with most academics, that innovation comes from the free and liberated mind of the inventor who can only see a bountiful future. He doesn't care about his neighbor because he's only interested in getting his product to market.

He lauds Apple but doesn't contend with the reality of life. Apple products are designed and distributed from the US but manufactured overseas with cheap labor. How does Mr. Haque's formula take uneven labor or politics into his equation. He doesn't.

Like most academics who don't have a grip on reality, he just dreams. He uses 'studies' and university findings to support his contention but when it comes to reality, Betterness is really Lousyness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Money isn't everything, April 1, 2013
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This review is from: Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
We all know that money isn't everything . . . or do we? Mr. Haque suggests that because our economies are based solely on money, we (oftentimes unwittingly) sacrifice happiness for money. Companies advertise products that damage our health and the environment to maximize profits, convincing us and our children that we can't be happy without them. In turn, we "need" to make more money to buy these products, and to make more money, we reject more personally meaningful employment and work longer hours. We're sacrificing everything else for money. Or as Mr. Haque puts it, we're exchanging all other forms of capital (natural, social, etc.) for financial capital. It's time for a broader economic basis that more naturally fosters happiness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Betterness is Fantastic, February 3, 2013
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This review is from: Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
Absolutely fantastic book. It clearly spells out the need to move toward improvement, not just fix what is wrong, or the pathology perspective. I believe this books is a must read for everyone!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars READ THIS ESSAY! Guaranteed to get you thinking outside the box..., January 11, 2013
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This review is from: Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
I follow @umairhaque on Twitter & he is a tonic! We are living through a sobering Economic creak and groan period... usually signalling a desperate need for a new Paradigm as the old one is flagging toward failure.
This essay is so well written... it's got an upbeat tempo but presents considerable evidence that superglue and duck tape on the Economy as we know it... will never achieve a place we desire to live ... in the future.
Reading this essay...about 60pp... will get you thinking outside the box and asking WHY NOT? and seeing more clearly.
Don't mistake Haque for a visionary with no feet on the ground. As he asks: Can we do it? He answers: It's been done before.
Critical Paradigm Shift ... for a better future... a betterness future.
This book is a small masterpiece and all the better for its brevity.
You need to be asking questions and thinking about the many areas Haque presents. He cites brilliant thinkers. His grasp of the Economics & History of Economics is impressive. At the end...most importantly, you know that a light at the end of the tunnel is a distinct possibility.
I read this book when it first came out. It gets even better upon RE-reading. Perhaps I've grown some in the past year.
Take it all in... because it's a game changer. And yes, I kept repeating BETTER...for good reason! Betterness rocks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Betterness, December 19, 2012
This review is from: Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
This book supports my books -- "Betterness In Business" and "Betterness In Life" which also promote the need for higher achievement in personal and business enterprise. Dr. Levitt of Harvard defined betterness as the achievement of peak performance and the need for betterness in every element of business. Human nature accepts mediocre improvements and therefore become mired in mediocrity without ever reaching their real potential. Betterness can be applied to every endeavor. In the book, Betterness In Business, entrepreneurs discover how betterness can add 30% to 60% to income and profit! Bob Deneen,Betterness In Business: Entrepreneurial Success Guide [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine food for thought - too rare in our "business" world, July 2, 2012
This review is from: Betterness: Economics for Humans (Kindle Single) (Kindle Edition)
One LGA to ORD flight later I am still percolating on what this truly means. There is so much 'humanness' built into 6 short chapters I find myself more than a bit in awe. To discuss in such a tight set of concepts what may be 'not right' about our current pursuit of often purely financial metrics for business when in fact a notion of Common Wealth is a far more rational thing to consider is quite a feat.

The current state of 'business' is clearly lacking in some key human elements and this little book offers so much to consider. One thing it does NOT do is speak about anything as evil, nor does it take to task the obvious income inequality of today as anything other than something to stop and ask - could we, as humans, do better.

My answer without any hesitation is an unequivocal yes. Now do realize there is no road map here, no magic bullet, and yet in a mere six chapters - there is enough that challenges the foundations of how we behave as businesses today that this book makes me, as a CEO, a 'job creator' if you will, want to take a step back and say "what if" in new ways.

So, my "review" is truly meant as a "thank you" to Umair Haque for the proverbial 'slap upside the head' that is too often required to break free of the reality of ones assumptions and recall that human choice is the ultimate opportunity we all share, if we are willing to make some that might break a few molds along the way.
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