Sunday, August 21, 2011

"Smart retirement" is not an oxymoron

Author Dan Solin explains how to get the most for your money for retirement.

The Smartest Retirement Book You'll Ever Read 
The Smartest Retirement Book You'll Ever Read. Daniel R. Solin. Penguin Group. 272 pages.

by Richard Pachter

I currently have no plans to retire. As long as I still have most of my marbles, I'll just keep working, though I may eventually be forced to stop. This is highly unlikely (yeah right), but to be prudent I ought to prepare for the possibility that my earning days could end. I'll need to look closely at what remains of my 401(k) and other savings so that the funds will last at least as long as I do. Reading this book is smart.

Dan Solin's previous entries in this series, The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read and The Smartest 401(k) Book You'll Ever Read, were clever, breezy guides to navigating through the financial morass without getting hurt. Really, the info contained therein would undoubtedly be sufficient for anyone seeking to manage their finances through post-employment life. Still, the publishing business being what it is, Solin was undoubtedly encouraged to continue. And that's fine. This new book gets into the basics of investment, stocks and bonds in context with the present economic scene, so reading the earlier volumes doesn't mean that you won't get anything out of this one.


In fact, in addition to advice on retirement accounts, Solin casts his wise eye and sharp pen on other important subjects like reverse mortgages, age of social security distribution, prenuptial agreements for seniors, options and implications of delaying retirement, and the locally ubiquitous phenomenon of "senior seminars'' involving a ``free'' meal at a ritzy restaurant accompanied by a steaming side dish of potentially costly advice.

The best thing that Solin brings to the party is his shrewd and skeptical approach to the art and science of investing. Have an account with a brokerage? Close it, he instructs. Those guys are just trying to sell you stuff that you may or may not need in order to generate fees for themselves, not returns for you. And be sure to have a will that reflects your current wishes so your heirs, not the state, get whatever is left of your estate. You may not agree with everything Solin writes (especially if you're a professional whose livelihood depends on fees), but there's no question that his focus is on what's best for individuals, not institutions.


Throughout, Solin writes clearly with style and humor but stays on topic and doesn't bloviate or pontificate excessively. He includes a number of charts and other tools to figure out what to do with your money so it grows into the amount you will need to live on for the rest of your days. He also includes a pretty clever bibliography that painlessly presents his sources and offers options for further reading and investigation.

The only thing about this booked that bugged me was the brevity of each chapter -- some about a page and a half. Seemed to me that in most cases, several could have been neatly combined. This may seem like nitpicking, but the narrative would have flowed a bit better and maybe a couple of trees could have been spared in the process.
Originally published 8/24/09 in The Miami Herald

Two books outline preparation for retirement

Two authors examine the preparations that must be made before one retires. Or not.


Retire? For some it's not a viable option. For others, it's a possibility, but their financial well-being is the prime determinant of the timing. Two new books examine retirement from the perspective of the critical issue of investing self-directed retirement funds and the option of pursuing a different path that would offer an alternative to total withdrawal from the workforce.

Smartest 401(k) Book You'll Ever Read: Maximize Your Retirement Savings...the Smart Way! By Daniel R. Solin 
The Smartest 401(K) Book You'll Ever Read. Daniel Solin. Perigee. 240 pages.

For poor slobs like me, 401(k) and 403(b) plans need to work very hard. Though a friend recently joked that she thinks that she can probably afford to retire in the year 2525, there's a chance that circumstances may prove otherwise. Another buddy told me that he has three retirement funds sitting with three ex-employers. Nice. Both of these comedians ought to pick up this useful new book by Daniel Solin, pronto!

I reviewed his previous tome, The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read: The Simple, Stress-Free Way to Reach Your Investment Goals when it came out about a year and a half ago, and this one is a worthy successor. Instead of going on to other subjects or bigger things, Solin focuses on retirement savings plans. It's a fertile topic and his advice seems sensible enough, though it's touted on the jacket as being ''controversial'' and ''challenge(ing) some basic assumptions.'' Well, maybe I'm missing something, but Solin's admonitions to keep fees and expenses low, use index funds and diversify seem pretty solid.

Solin also isn't afraid to be specific, which is very nice, too, so look for some very sharp criticism of several funds (including TIAA-CREF) and investment instruments such as annuities. He provides a few model portfolios, rails against professional investment advisors and politicians, and suggests ways to augment retirement plans with additional investments. This book also provides several work sheets and questionnaires, making matters a bit easier, so one's excuses for inaction becomes a bit weaker.

If you're considering reading this book, I'd suggest doing so quickly, as things change, but much of what Solin writes is very solid and useful. If you haven't taken a recent look at what your own retirement investments are doing and -- perhaps even more important-- how they are put together, reading Solin's smart little book might provide the impetus for action.

Retire Retirement: Career Strategies for the Boomer Generation
Retire Retirement: Career Strategies for the Boomer Generation. Tamara Erickson. Harvard Business Press. 192 pages.

Erickson's premise is similar to my friend's who plans to work forever; those reaching the traditional age of retirement need necessarily not do so. The author proposes ways to adjust one's compensation and expenses to accommodate this. She also offers insights into strategies and options, such as location, transportation and lifestyle choices. Sure, they're all related (if not defined) by economic factors, but Erickson puts them all into a larger context, which is very useful, too.

Though primarily aimed at boomers, I suspect that much of Erickson's advice can be adapted to others, too, as the ongoing changes in the economy and our culture continue to alter the nature of work and the relationship between employers and employees.
Originally published 6/23/08 in The Miami Herald

Three books offer fundamentals of investing

Three books on the fundamentals of investing offer advice and wisdom from those experienced in the art of finance.


Aside from professional traders, speculators and hobbyists, I think most people invest only when they have to. But for many of us with disappearing or nonexistent pensions, or ''self-directed'' retirement accounts, it has been necessary to take a more active role in saving and allocating funds to either supplement our current earnings or help us get through the days when we will be unable (or unwilling) to work.

Here are three books that offer general investment advice.

The Best Investment Advice I Ever Received: Priceless Wisdom from Warren Buffett, Jim Cramer, Suze Orman, Steve Forbes, and Dozens of Other Top Financial Experts
The Best Investment Advice I Ever Received: Priceless Wisdom from Warren Buffett, Jim Cramer, Suze Orman, Steve Forbes and Dozens of Other Top Financial Experts. Liz Claman. Warner Books. 240 pages.

I must admit that I rarely watch CNBC, which the late Neil Rogers called ''The Gambling Channel.'' That wacky, noisy, wildly gesticulating Cramer fellow seems to be on the tube most times I cruise by, but without Jerry, George or Elaine, he's just not that entertaining. Author Liz Claman is a news anchor on that channel, but since I don't recall seeing her there, it's probably easier to judge this book on its content rather than on anything else.

That said, it's pretty good. The contributors are either corporate executives or financial experts and managers. She might have had a bigger seller if she'd solicited input from Dancing with the Stars-type celebrities, but she opted instead to provide something of substance, which is commendable. Oh, she's got a few ringers in here, like oddly coiffed TV host Donald Trump and the aforementioned Crazy Cramer, but she also has AutoNation's Mike Jackson, Warren Buffett, Suze Orman, John C. Bogle, Alexandra Lebenthal and others who know what the heck they're talking about. You may not instantly become a smarter investor after reading this book, but you will certainly benefit from the bits and pieces of experience and knowledge offered in the aggregate.

The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read : The Simple, Stress-Free Way to Reach Your Investment Goals 
The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read: The Simple, Stress-Free Way to Reach Your Investment Goals. Daniel R. Solin. Penguin. 179 pages.

I really like Andrew Tobias' book of a similar title, The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need, which takes a sober and comprehensive approach to the subject. Tobias updates it regularly, too, so it's usually as timely as it is timeless. You can also go to his very useful website: www.andrewtobiascom/ -- which is another way to share his wealth of information.

Solin's book is more of a how-to investing book, covering stocks and bonds and such. His nuts and bolts approach to the subject is quite good, especially for those of us who have to manage our own 401(k) plans, savings and investments but have little enthusiasm and inborn abilities to do so. It's tightly written, always on-point and not weighed down with anecdotes and aphorisms, and could be just the instruction book that you were looking for, but never received with that thick pension package from your company's HR department.

The Little Book of Value Investing (Little Books. Big Profits)
The Little Book of Value Investing. Christopher H. Browne. Wiley, John & Son. 180 pages.

I quite liked Browne's The Little Book that Beats the Market, and this one is a worthy sequel, as he provides more information and support for his notion that investing in good, profitable companies can be more lucrative than going for the short money and the quick scores.

There's a bit more fluff here, but Browne is an engaging and self-effacing writer, so it's not too painful and never boring. If you read his previous little book, this one is a worthy and useful companion.

Originally published 11/27/06 in The Miami Herald

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Guest Review: Bob Lefsetz on Derek Sivers' "Anything You Want"

The great Bob Lefsetz graciously alowed us to repost his review. For more Lefsetz, please visit his blog, here. To subscribe to the Lefsetz Letter by e-mail, click here.

Anything You Want
Anything You Want. Derek Sivers. Domino Project. 88 pages.

This book is so good, so chock full of nuggets, that I had to stop reading it and e-mail you, even though Derek says it will only take an hour to finish.

Derek is you. An outsider. Who’s not trying to be an insider, just looking to find a way to make his life work.

In case you don’t know, Derek started CD Baby. And sold it ten years later for $22 million.

Minus startup costs…


You’re gonna like this book because it’s deals with something you’re familiar with, the music business. It’s not like buying a business book written by a corporate kingpin or an entrepreneur with a personality brighter than a 100-watt bulb who could sell ice to Inuits.  This is a musician, telling his story.

And his story is so different from the one being told by everybody else.

First and foremost, he made money.

And he did it by himself.  His way.

Let’s start with a few lessons…

1. "Start Now. No funding needed

Watch out when anyone (including you) says he wants to do something big, but can’t until he raises money.

It usually means the person is more in love with the idea of being big big big than with actually doing something useful. For an idea to get big big big, it has to be useful. And being useful doesn’t need funding."


If you’ve got a good idea.

Every day I get e-mail from people waiting to start, getting their ducks in order, bitching that they can’t get funded. All you’ve got to do is begin.

2. "Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.

We all have lots of ideas, creations, and projects.  When you present one to the world, and it’s not a hit, don’t keep pushing it as-is. Instead get back to improving and inventing."

If no one reacts to your music, write new tunes.  If you still don’t get traction, change styles.

People hate to hear this. BUT WHAT ABOUT MY INVESTMENT!

You never forget what you’ve learned. Yes, read "What Color Is Your Parachute?", you’re developing transferable skills.  Don’t be married to failure. This doesn’t only apply to the music business. If you can’t make it as a lawyer or a doctor…change course!  Doesn’t matter if someone else is successful, they’re not you.

3. "A business plan should never take more than a few hours of work. Hopefully no more than a few minutes. The best plans start simple. A quick glance and common sense should tell you if the numbers will work. The rest are details."

You can do the business plan in your head.  It should be just that simple. If you’re paying an MBA to write it, you’re just justifying the price of his education. As for impressing investors, Derek didn’t take any money. He built upon his success. If you’ve got no success, stop.

4. "Any time you think you know what your new business will be doing, remember this quote from Steve Blank: No plan survives first contact with customers."


You’ve got no idea what’s gonna happen until you open your store, until the audience hears the first note. Turns out people like a different track than you do. Turns out that little thing you do that embarrasses you audiences love. Maybe your instrumental passage is the highlight of the show. Or vice versa, maybe it’s when you sing a cappella. You won’t know until you try.

Last night Jim e-mailed me to ask if I too wouldn’t take the $1.3 million paid to Nathan Hubbard. If they offered me that gig.

They’re never gonna offer me that gig. I’m not the right person. I don’t play well with others. You’ve got to kiss a lot of ass to succeed in the corporation. You’ve got to hold your tongue when the President acts like an idiot. It’s about being a member of the team, and you’re not the coach, you’re not even the star player.

I don’t work that way.  I’m in an endless pursuit of the truth. I can’t suffer incompetency. Even worse, I can’t handle when people don’t work. I’m paying you, PAY ATTENTION!

But if you run your own business…

I know Derek Sivers. He’s not like the people at Live Nation.  He confided personal information to me right off the bat, unafraid I would use it against him, that I would hurt his career by revealing it to his superiors. When you run your own operation, you can be free!

And Derek is nice. But he’s not Steve Jobs. He’s not so charismatic that you’d follow him anywhere, he’s not a super-salesman. He’s a musician who thinks. Who is willing to get his hands dirty. Who will try something new and make mistakes. We all hate making mistakes, but when we own the company we’re not worried about retribution, we’re not worried about losing our jobs. And we learn from our mistakes.

5. "Five years after I started CD Baby, when it was a big success, the media said I had revolutionized the music business.

But ‘revolution’ is a term that people use only when you’re successful. Before that, you’re just a quirky person who does things differently."

And there’s no room for the quirky person who does it differently at the corporation. They call that person an artist. Maybe that’s why Derek could be so successful, at his heart he’s an artist, willing to take his own path, not susceptible to corporate reviews and not beholden to the HR department.


6. "Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself.

Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself."

That ain’t Wall Street. That ain’t Pandora or LinkedIn.

Do you know how boring it is to work for Goldman Sachs? How unfulfilling? Working with numbers just so you can make enough coin to vacation in a first class way, buy tickets to the shows of people you wish you could be if you could only take a risk?

Life isn’t about money. It’s about personal fulfillment.

But you can’t do it without money. And Derek Sivers acknowledges this.

Just like I could never be Nathan Hubbard, I could never be those people writing business books. Which is why I’ve completely given up on self-help tomes.  They’re not me. Yeah, that guy could become rich, BUT ME?

But reading Sivers’s book I feel like I’m listening to a soul brother. It gives me hope.

Read it. It’ll inspire you too.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Anything You Want

Anything You Want

I recently read "Anything You Want" by Derek Sivers, the founder of CD Baby.


Short but superb entrepreneurial memoir.

Not everything he writes will apply to you, nor will you entirely agree with his approach, but it's an excellent catalyst for thought and  — hopefully — action.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Can your business benefit from blogging?

Web logs provide new ways to attract and interact with customers, according to two books.


Blog is short for Web log. It's an Internet site or sub-site where a person or organization can post usually brief bits of text, along with relevant links to other sites with more text, photos, audio and/or video. There are blogs of all kind: political, cultural, academic, news, sports, hobbies -- you name it. There are also tons of personal blogs for people to inflict their opinions on the world. I may, in fact, be the only opinionated person who doesn't have a blog.

Media companies have tried to capitalize on the phenomenon by either encouraging their own people to participate (The Miami Herald's Cindy Krischer Goodman, Ellie Brecher, Greg Cote, Dave Barry, Steve Rothaus and others have blogs) or by having existing bloggers join them (as Time magazine has done with Andrew Sullivan and former Wonkette Ana Marie Cox).

We'll look at books covering the phenomenon of media blogs in the future, but for now, here are two books that discuss ways that businesses can benefit from blogging.

Blogwild!: A Guide for Small Business Blogging

Blogwild! Andy Wibbels. Portfolio. 175 pages.

Andy Wibbels' book is a basic, ground-level primer on blogging. He patiently explains the jargon and landscape of the subject, and the value of embarking upon this thing as a way to build a business. He contends that blogging allows a company to have an informal yet personal relationship with customers.

That's the interesting paradox of the Internet: that all the technology and equipment permit and facilitate human contact. It's an amazing and seductive thing. Actual conversations and discussions between and among companies, customers, vendors and other stakeholders can unfold as a result of a blog. The consequence is that information can be conveyed, new products introduced, customer feedback received and powerful connections created.

Though the bulk of his book is basic and rudimentary, Wibbels has good insights and useful experiences, and is a pleasant and facile writer. He has his biases and idiosyncrasies, but if you are essentially clueless about blogs and how blogging can provide a great way to market yourself and/or your company for minimal cost and effort, this is a very good place to start.

Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers 

Naked Conversations. Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. Wiley. 251 pages.

After you read Andy Wibbels' little primer, you can move on to Robert Scoble's and Shel Israel's book — or just start with this one instead. They cover the basics, of course, but once they define terms and briefly explain the benefits of blogging, they're off. Their virtual trip around the business blogosphere provides excellent examples and powerful reasons for otherwise faceless and monolithic firms to blog. Even companies with decidedly mixed public personae like Scoble's employer, Microsoft, managed to humanize their image by engaging their customers through blogs, the most popular of which, Channel 9, is run by Scoble, not coincidentally, I'm sure.

Some of the most enlightening and entertaining parts of this book are the examples of how not to blog. Companies that understand how to use the technology in principle but fail to comprehend the expectations of the audience, especially in areas such as honesty and authenticity, inevitably fail. Other bloggers are often quick to uncover and expose deceit and dishonesty -- as the Washington Post recently discovered when it hired a partisan operative and serial plagiarist as a blogger -- so transparency is especially important.

Not every company will benefit from this new medium, but you won't know until you learn more, and reading Scoble and Israel's book is a smart way to find out.

originally published in The Miami Herald in 2006 

Friday, March 18, 2011

Is getting an MBA a wise business decision?

Josh Kaufman explains the reasons he chose not to pursue his MBA, and why he finds the degree totally unnecessary.

By Richard Pachter

The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business 

The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business. Josh Kaufman. Portfolio/Penguin. 416 pages.

No disrespect intended to any person or institution, but is an MBA really necessary? Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak never got theirs and many, many other successful business people (and book reviewers) lack that degree and seem none the worse for it.

In his new book, author and consultant Josh Kaufman not only explains the reasons he chose not to pursue his MBA, but does a rather masterful job of eviscerating the program in general and, more specifically, the reasons people seek it and why they needn’t and shouldn’t; in his not-so-humble opinion: Money.

Spending around $250,000 or more, says Kaufman, to get an MBA from a top business school is a lousy investment and completely unnecessary. In fact, the whole biz school deal is essentially a money-making enterprise for educational institutions who profit mightily from teaching mostly ancient, arcane, academic approaches to business that track very little with the actual world and the ways it really operates. Further, says Kaufman, there’s no assurance that the instructors are qualified beyond possessing the skills required to teach (if that) and are usually bereft of the experience and achievements that would confirm the efficacy of their instruction.

Young Kaufman had an undergrad degree and a great job at Procter & Gamble when he was urged to continue his education, which meant going after the inevitable MBA. Instead, he did a quick cost-benefit analysis and decided to read and study on his own. He blogged about his decision and posted a preliminary reading list, which was subsequently picked up by inveterate anti-MBA advocate and über-blogger Seth Godin. From there, it spread. This book continues Kaufman’s mission.

He’s canny enough to know that just reading this book in a linear fashion — one chapter after another — is not necessarily the best way to go, so he encourages browsing, skimming and skipping around. I’d add, in fact, that reading it sequentially is downright boring, so after about 125 pages, I abandoned the effort and skipped around, as suggested. Kaufman isn’t a horrible writer, so that wasn’t the problem. I’d decided that the abrupt shift after a couple of pages on each subject might have been intended to accommodate our increasingly short attention spans, but it wasn’t working for me. True, each little chapter had an online component, but when I’m reading a book I don’t necessarily want to bounce on and off the Net to enlarge the experience or whatever the intended effect was supposed to be. Sometimes, a little concentrated depth is where it’s at.

Still, I think Kaufman is a very smart guy and maybe his collective nuggets would resonate more with other audiences though it didn’t quite make it with me. A few years back, I read and reviewed a thick tome called MBA In A Box and liked that quite a bit. Its more expansive approach worked for me. Still, in all fairness, I think I’ll hold onto Josh Kaufman’s book and keep it handy as a reference, since he really covers just about every aspect of business in an intelligent and no-nonsense way.

Originally published in The Miami Herald

Friday, March 4, 2011

Craig Ferguson's autobiography

American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot 

Acknowledged that this may seem to be a left-field choice for a biz book review but upon closer examination, maybe not. Two reasons: first, some of the best business advice comes from life itself, not just unambiguously mercantile situations. Second, in many ways, this really is a business book: Craig Fergusons' story is an archetypal tale of the pursuit of the American dream . . . and not just in terms of achieving success by owning a house with a wife and 2.6 kids.

Unlike most memoirs of CEOs and other biz whizzes, Ferguson isn't quite the faultless hero of his own story. In fact, he lopsidedly portrays himself in a pretty poor light, mostly due to his alcoholism, which took hold at an early age. He's also currently on his third marriage, so he made a number of bad choices that may not have been solely attributable to substance abuse. Regardless, his bracing, self-effacing autobiography is replete with examples of product development, innovation, networking, human resources and other business practices.

Ferguson grew up in Scotland and describes, with humor and love, his parents, their community, its poverty and their determination to improve themselves and support their children. His father started as the equivalent of a telegram delivery boy and steadily rose through the ranks to run the Glasgow city post office. Mother became a teacher and rode herd over two daughters and two sons.

When young Craig and his father visited relatives in the U.S., he was smitten with our open society and boundless possibilities, vowing to return. And so he did, but first, he drummed for several punk bands in Scotland, dropped out of school, tried stand-up comedy and became a raging alcoholic. When he married, the young couple moved to America.

In the early eighties, New York's burgeoning punk and alternative art scene captivated Ferguson, and he succumbed to many of its temptations while working construction by day and attempting a stint on the off-off-Broadway stage at night. Unsuccessful and broke, he returned to the U.K., the marriage failed, and he started a new career as a comedian with the unfortunate name, "Bing Hitler.''

Despite his ferocious alcoholism, he enjoyed modest success but fell into debt and depression. In despair, he planned suicide, but was distracted by an offer of a glass of sherry — a very large glass of sherry. After finally committing to rehab and embracing recovery, he moved to Los Angeles on a whim, hooked up with an agent he'd met during the Bing Hitler days and wound up with a recurring role on The Drew Carey Show.

Along the way, Ferguson honed his craft, wrote screenplays (and filmed a couple), became a novelist and replaced Craig Kilborn as host of The Late, Late Show on CBS following David Letterman, whom he may eventually succeed. He became a U.S. citizen last year.

Craig Ferguson was attracted to this country's openness, which can still be a function of race, class and socioeconomic status. But it's far less stratified than where he came from, and it afforded him, as others, the opportunity to begin again, which is probably the real American Dream.

Originally published in The Miami Herald

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A guide on conquering what work throws your way

Workarounds That Work: How to Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work 


Most of us look for shortcuts, "macros" or workarounds as a matter of course. "Adaptive behaviors," as the psychologists call 'em, are natural human processes we develop due to physical, intellectual or emotional limitations. Shortcuts, "tricks," mnemonic devices and the rest are popular because they work.

But the author here really isn't referring to those things. In fact, Bishop's rap is more along the lines of an analysis of systems to facilitate effective collaboration, then proposing ways to implement them. Yes, to some extent you could call them workarounds, but really, his methods involve the judicious use of logic, common sense, psychology and flattery, as needed.

If you're working with another group that seems to ignore your deadlines and issues, for example, instead of confronting them and asking what the !@#$% the problem is, Bishop decrees that you proactively try to turn things around and ask how you and your group are screwing up their lives and not the opposite. Invariably, he writes, you will find plenty of things that you can either eliminate or modify on your end. Having done that, you and your group can then focus on those anomalies and attempt to solve some of the issues affecting their end of things. Other impediments to progress like culture clash, power plays, organizational stratification, rules and more are covered by Bishop. In turn, he provides anecdotes of - and antidotes to - the obstructions.

I especially liked his bits on information overload, an affliction clogging the lines (and the productivity) of many organizations. It can take many forms but the most prevalent seems to be the unrelenting tidal waves of e-mail and carbon-copying so that every possible person will be included in the endless chain. It's not just a matter of openness, although that does occur from time to time. No, it's mostly used to cover your (anatomy) so that the sender can't be accused of not including the receiver in any and all communications - relevant or not - during a project. Bishop offers suggestions for dealing with several types of information overload, including this pandemic CC-itis.

He also adds his voice to the growing chorus opposed to constant multitasking, though the practice of doing many things at once is so ingrained in our culture that it might be a futile cry.

In addition to looking at sundry problems, Bishop also provides a number of interesting cases in which a "workaround" became a new business, such as a distributor of natural foods.

Again, I'm not sure if I'd actually call the solution to almost every problem herein a "workaround," but nomenclature aside, Bishop is an engaging writer whose clean and very readable prose makes for a pleasant reading experience. Because his ideas are interestingly presented and the examples are reasonable and realistic, they go down quite easily.

I'm also uncertain that every difficult situation has a solution; after all, some humans are far less rational than others. And other people just can't get out of their own way.
Originally published in The Miami Herald.