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Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self Hardcover – April 21, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (April 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061721832
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061721830
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

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

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.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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4 star
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See all 43 customer reviews
The book is easy and quick to read.
Clifford F. Lykke
Alan Webber's new book is an important and valuable work of "edu-tainment."
Richard H. Meeker
You'll love this book if you dip into it from time to time and read a bit.
Walter H. Bock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Alexander W. Doepel on May 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Most self-help books (amazon.com 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 By Seth Godin on April 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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 By Patrick J. McKenna on May 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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 By Walter H. Bock on July 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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 By John Thorbeck on June 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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 By Kathy K VINE VOICE on April 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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