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Rules of Thumb [Kindle Edition]

Alan M. Webber
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
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Book Description

“Alan Webber’s wise words give guidance and hope in a world gone upside down. Incisive and practical, timely and timeless, he is a mentor of the highest order.”

—Jim Collins, New York Times bestselling author of Good to Great


In Rules of Thumb, Alan Webber—co-founder of Fast Company and one of the most important thought leaders of the last two decades—provides 52 rules of thumb, one for each week of the year, to help leaders stay productive and inspired even in the most turbulent times.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Webber, entrepreneur and columnist, offers advice and inspiration with 52 practical lessons gleaned from more than 40 years of working with extraordinary leaders in a variety of endeavors. He sets out to help today’s professional men and women stay focused, productive, and inspired even in our most turbulent times of change relating to globalization, technology, and the knowledge economy. The author kept records of his experiences and describes them along with the lessons he learned, showing us how these lessons can be applied to our business or personal life. His rules? When the going gets tough, the tough relax; don’t implement solutions, prevent problems; the difference between a crisis and an opportunity is when you learn about it; every start-up needs four things: change, connections, conversation, and community; entrepreneurs choose serendipity over efficiency; knowing it ain’t the same as doing it; and great leaders answer Tom Peters’ great question: “How can I capture the world’s imagination?” This excellent book offers valuable, thought-provoking ideas for library patrons. --Mary Whaley


“This excellent book offers valuable, thought-provoking ideas for library patrons.”

Product Details

  • File Size: 257 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061721840
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (April 10, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0026772S8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #679,502 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What if you don't agree with this review? May 15, 2009
Most self-help books ( currently lists 24,855 of them) are generous with words and thin on genuine ideas. Alan Webber either wanted to be done with the book business in one go or he has an endless supply of ideas. "'52 Rules of Thumb"' contains material for 52 average self-help books; each single rule could have been rolled out to 200-plus pages easily. Thank you Mr Webber for resisting that temptation. For anybody in the communication business (PR, priesthood, politics, parenting) this book is a treasure trove. The idea looter''s wet dream. Whenever preparing a sermon or a sales pitch or a motivational speech just pick one of Mr. Webber''s rules of thumb and you have an easy start. This book deserves five stars. You don''t agree? Well, my favorite rule in the book is '"Learn to take 'No' as a question"'.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bite-size nuggets sure to change you April 21, 2009
Alan Webber has a track record unlike almost anyone else in the history of business. His passion and insight at Fast Company magazine revolutionized our world in the best possible way.

This book is like a blog, but better, because you can highlight it, postit it and bring it on an airplane. If you find yourself enjoying books where you can mull over a nugget or two and suddenly find them changing your strategy, this is a great book for you.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better Than Botox!!! May 5, 2009
I just read this book during a cross-country plane flight on Monday and I must admit that I will not be requiring any Botox injections, for my forehead wrinkles, for some weeks. As I read through the various "truths for winning at business", fellow passengers would observe me slapping my forehead and uttering either, "Yes, of course" or "Why didn't I think of that."

With just the kind of chapter titles you would expect coming from one of the guys who invented Fast Company (the insanely great business mag that has never recovered the founders' absence), my favorites among Webber's various rules include: Change is a math formula; A good question beats a good answer; Learn to take no as a question; Facts are facts but stories are how we learn; If you want to change the game change the economics of how the game is played; Everything communicates; and Content isn't king, context is king.

You will find that each of these 52 entries includes a short story followed by a 'So What?' explanation of how this rule has practical application for the reader. Alan, thanks for a great, thought provoking read . . . and a flat forehead.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff, just not "rules" July 23, 2009
I've used a combination of 3 X 5 cards and a digital recorder as an "idea catcher" for years. It's a great technique. Alan Webber carries those cards, too, and he makes notes on them. He's turned 52 of them into a book called Rules of Thumb.

That's forty years worth of cards, including the ones he wrote up after interviewing people like Bill Bradley and Jim Collins and Helmut Schmidt. They're interesting and Webber is a great writer so this book is worth reading as long as you know what to expect.

But what we've got here aren't rules. They're more like lessons or observations.

That's an important distinction. You'll love this book if you dip into it from time to time and read a bit. You'll love it if you read a lesson a week and try to apply it.

But if you're looking for a real book, one that not only shares stories and insights, but connects the dots, Rules of Thumb will probably disappoint you. It's a collection of lovely tiles, but not a whole mosaic.

The subtitle also overstates things a bit. I'm not all sure what "winning at business without losing yourself" means, even after reading the book through. If I was a risk of losing myself before I read the book, it's still true afterward.

My bottom line: Rules of Thumb is a fine collection of little pieces. They're entertaining and some are thought-provoking. Most of them are business-related. If that's what you're looking for, you'll like the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rules not dumbed down June 21, 2009
Not many people have been observer and participant in waves of business change as has Alan Webber. He has something to say about these key intersections: public/private, academic/industry, media/Internet, entrepreneur/manager, and social/profit enterprise. This course of learning introduces us to key people, experiences and insight without claims for eternal truths. Webber is too respectful of his readers for that. In a time of great change and need for business innovation, Webber reads the signals, charts the currents, and shares his impressive influences. You can trust this book to deliver provocative, brief but grounded rules that the author does not dumb down. As his own experiences teach, Webber encourages us to be architects for change, not its victims.
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable, but at Times Self-aggrandizing, New Rules April 21, 2009
Are you still operating under the principles that `Content is king,' "When the going gets tough, the tough get going,' and `All things are created equal'? Then maybe it's time you took a second look at your business approach and brought it up to date for the new millennium. Given the global recession, the skyrocketing popularity of social media, and other trends of the 21st century, what worked for decades is no longer relevant in today's business world. "Rules of Thumb" provides 52 new spins--one for each week of the year--on the old rules of the game.

I found this book less dry and more readable than most of its kind thanks to Webber's ability to paint an illustrative story with pertinent real-life examples. And when he sticks to outside illustrations, he does a fine job. However, he does have a tendency to slip in too many self-aggrandizing case studies from his time and subsequent break from Harvard Business School. If you're like me, you'll eventually grow bored of his HBS and HBR (Harvard Business Review) references. If you can get past that, however, you'll probably take away at least one useful nugget from "Rules of Thumb."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book
I can't believe they took it out of print but happy I could find the book on Amazon. I agree with most of the concepts behind these rules of thumb and wish I could get the word out... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rebecca Spilger
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
Great book, a lot of great real life scenarios that you can apply.
Published 9 months ago by Eleazar Fuentes
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Really well done. Short articles each with a good specific example of his rules. The guy has had some excellent experiences and is someone I would want to listen to. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Try one a week and see what happens?
I got to see these dudes live supposedly talking about this book (where I got two free copies!!!) but really just getting semi-roasted by the room of other innovators (mostly... Read more
Published 20 months ago by chuckles
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Business Book
I've read many business books, and found Rules of Thumb very good. The manner is which Webber provides the background information for each rule and the describes the "So What? Read more
Published on December 21, 2011 by Frank Kozak
5.0 out of 5 stars Good purchase
The book got here fast compared to the other books I bought at the same time, and it was in great condition when I got it. Good Amazon experience.
Published on September 24, 2011 by Nevil
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a masterpiece!
This book was a fairly recent find, after I started my business in October last year. I picked this book from the library and at first I did not think too much about it. Read more
Published on June 13, 2011 by Soma Bhadra
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining as well as informative results from world-class mulling
This book is as difficult to describe as it is easy to appreciate. What we have here is a series of 52 mini-commentaries, each devoted to an insight or conviction that Alan Webber... Read more
Published on March 25, 2011 by Robert Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for entrepreneurs/innovators, or entrepreneurs/innovators at...
I came across the name of Fast Company frequently but I had not read it before. I picked this book up because of the recommendations by Daniel Pink, Tom Peters and Seth Godin. Read more
Published on January 5, 2011 by ServantofGod
4.0 out of 5 stars The Rules I Will Take With Me, or Already Do
A friend of mine recently recommended Rules of Thumb, here is my take, and my rules.

I like that he approached the key topics of management through these rules. Read more
Published on December 6, 2010 by Daniel W. Rasmus
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More About the Author

According to those who know him best, Alan M. Webber is witty and wise (on Mondays and Wednesdays), thoughtful and provocative (on Tuesdays and Thursdays), and irreverent and creative (on Fridays and Saturdays). On Sundays he rests. He is the cofounding editor of Fast Company magazine and was the editorial director and managing editor of the Harvard Business Review. He's worked in federal, state, and local government, writing speeches and focusing on innovative policy initiatives. Currently he calls himself a 'global detective' which has the benefit of meaning little but sounding cool. Two of the high points of his life came when he spent a summer shagging fly balls with the St. Louis Cardinals during batting practice and when he took his first trip to Japan and was told he looked like Bruce Willis. He's married to Frances Diemoz, an architect and furniture maker; his son and daughter, Adam and Amanda, are his two favorite children in the world.


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