Posts Tagged ‘How Stella Saved the Farm’

NOTE: This selection of books was supposed to post yesterday.  We feel we can not post without acknowledging yesterday’s events in Boston.  Our thoughts are with the runners, their families, the spectators and the first responders.


In honor of today’s deadline for paying Federal taxes here in the USA, we tried to think of some interesting and entertaining books with money as a theme.  This, of course, led us to The Great Gatsby, and using that as our example, we have added a few recent releases that have money and its place in one’s life at their core.

Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (1925) — Recently re-read for fun, and now serving as our standard for good literature with money in the theme.  This famous book, as many may remember from English literature classes of our youth, tells the story of wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan, of lifestyles involving lavish parties on Long Island, and of an era – the 1920s.   This novel has exquisite prose that often disguises the brutal realism of the tale.  For a variety of reasons, The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century American literature. If you haven’t yet picked it up, do so.  If you have read it, try it again for a reminder that assigned reading does not necessarily mean bad.  ~ Lisa Christie and Lisa Cadow


The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh (2013).  When Frances Irvine’s well-to-do father dies suddenly and leaves her penniless, she is forced to make some quick, hard decisions about her future. It’s 1877 and she must leave her life of wealth and privilege in London either for a life as a nanny with her cruel aunt, or a life in South Africa married to marry a man – a poor, young doctor – whom she does not love.   And so, she boards a steamer bound for the southern hemisphere with nothing but her naiveté and a few belongings suitable for a hot climate to join her fiance.  On board she meets brazen, handsome, well-connected William Westbrook and her moral adventure begins.  This excellent piece of historical fiction takes the reader to Cape Town, into the rugged landscape and farms of the Karoo, into diamond mines, and into the heart of a smallpox epidemic.  This is a book about finding what is more important than wealth and status.  It is a story about finding value in doing what is right. ~Lisa Cadow

 Ghana Must Go by Talye Selasi (2013) – An incredibly memorable modern tale of a family – The Sais.   Their story and this novel, begins in Africa, and follows how their subsequent pursuit of the American dream shapes their lives.   Page one starts with the sudden death of the main character  – Kweku Sai, an incredible surgeon, but failed father and husband.  The story then unfolds backwards and forwards through the eyes and voices of his first wife and their four children.  It all hinges on Kweku’s reaction to a failure endured in his pursuit of his American dream.  His response shatters his family, yet also makes them all uniquely themselves.  This is a truly global tale — enjoy the time this book spends in Boston, Accra, Lagos, London, and New York.  It is also truly beautifully written. So much so that I slowed my reading to make it last a bit longer.  I loved this debut and am looking forward to this writer’s next work. ~ Lisa Christie

A BONUS Pick that really is all about money….

 How Stella Saved the Farm: A tale of making innovation happen by Chris Trimble and Vijay Govindarajan (2013) – Initially self-published, the success of this book in starting conversations about transforming companies caused St. Martin’s Press to publish a new edition.  Although it appears to be a tale that your favorite 3rd grader will enjoy (and some 3rd graders do), it is actually a parable designed to start companies thinking about handling change.  Read it and see why companies as diverse as Simon Pearce, AT&T and the Methodist Church are using this unique business book to change the way they do business / make money. (Disclaimer: one of us is married to one of the authors.) ~ Lisa Christie and Lisa Cadow

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Science at its best

Chris Trimble Podcast (Click to Listen) or download http://www.box.net/updates#/updates/1/a/1/662861511.

Podcaster’s note: There was a bit of an editing snafoo and the beginning of this podcast with our signature introduction was mistakenly deleted. Don’t worry, our regular routine will return in our next recording but in the meantime our new theme song kicks off this interview with Chris Trimble.

Lisa Lisa and the Book Jam wrapped up their exciting year in books with an interview of accomplished author and dynamic Tuck School of Business

Don't scratch that itch!

professor Chris Trimble. It was a fun, often funny, and always interesting  conversation that included being read aloud to by Chris from one of his favorite science stories of of the last decade “My Bionic Quest for Bolero” by Michael Chorost from the collection The Best Science and Nature Writing 2006. Sit back and enjoy the first few paragraphs of this fascinating story about hearing, loss, how the ear and brain work, and the physics of music.

Trimble explained to us that his favorite reads always include two components: the elucidation of a complicated concept – such as medecine, technology or business – which is then wrapped up into a great story. In that vein, we discussed the work of Atul Gawande, his gripping book Complications: A Surgeons Notes on an Imperfect Science and in particular the story “The Itch” as well as Pauline Chen’s Final Exam: A Surgeons Reflections on Mortality which chronicles the author’s experience at medical school and her very first organ transplant.

A longtime favorite book and one that left a strong impression of the business world and Wall Street on Trimble is Tom Wolfe’s classic Bonfire of the Vanities. Given that Trimble describes it as “a lot of really intelligent people doing meaningless things,” Lisa and Lisa were curious about Chris’ chosen career of business consulting and teaching. Simple, he says.  Through past business endeavors a large chunk of the earth has risen out of poverty and now enjoys a better quality of life.  All of this progress, he explains, starts with science and the questions science explores. The answers to those questions result in ideas that then become commercial innovations. Turning those ideas into companies and then managing ideas within companies provides ongoing challenges for businesses and many areas of interest for Professor Trimble’s work.

As for the future of innovation, listen to the podcast for Chris’ thoughts on what the next few decades hold in store. And if you’re curious about the french fries mentioned above in the title, you’ll have to wait until the end to hear hear Lisa, Lisa and Chris discussing Fast Food Nation, flavor laboratories in New Jersey and Dorie Greenspan’s new pommes frites recipe from Around My French Table.

Mr. Trimble is on the faculty at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and is the author of three books: 10 Rules for Strategic Innovators, The Other Side of Innovation: Solving the Execution Challenge – both published by Harvard Business Press and co-authored with Vijay Govindarajan- and How Stella Saved the Farm, self-published in 2010.

Other books mentioned in this episode:

Micheal Lewis’ The Blind Side, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, The Big Short, James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds, the works of Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Wolfe’s  A Man in Full and The Right Stuff, Richard Preston’s  The Hot Zone, and Dava Sobel’s Longitude.

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