getAbstract International Book Award Top Story

Experience and expertise: presenting the 2019 shortlist, part 2 of 2

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“We believe in critical thinking, the power of arguments, and progress through knowledge.” 

The books in this article are the essence of many cumulative years of experience.  They capture insights from thought leaders, experts, academics and entrepreneurs. What better way to learn about key topics than from people at the forefront of their field? This expertise is the leitmotif of the second half of our 2019 getAbstract International Book Award shortlist.

These books, written by thought and industry leaders, are the result of first-hand experience.  They have real relevance and applicability to our world today and the issues we face.   Discover the remaining five titles of the English shortlist for the getAbstract International Book Award 2019 below.


Formerly the chief learning officer at LinkedIn, Kelly Palmer is now part of the executive team at Degreed, an education technology company where David Blake is co-founder and executive chairman. “I was surprised at how antiquated learning was in the corporate world,” says Palmer. “It’s clear that to stay competitive, companies need to have a learning and skills strategy that is part of their business strategy.” As work changes, future-proof companies need to develop a collaborative, self-directed learning culture in order to attract – and crucially, to retain – talent.

“In the expertise economy, it’s not important how you gain your expertise, just that you did.”


High employee engagement equals high performance. But the authors say almost 70% of employees suffer from disengagement – and that leaders are blocked by blind spots that prevent them from fixing this.  Leaders must treat those they lead with consideration and respect, and earn their respect in return. People “routinely subscribe to the craziest ideas”, including outdated and obviously unfounded – and yet still commonly accepted – practices. By putting aside your ego, and the misconceptions you might be clinging to, you can build employee engagement, loyalty, satisfaction, and therefore boost performance.  Jim Haudan is a co-founder of Root Inc., an organizational change and development consultancy, where Rich Berens is CEO and “Chief Client Fanatic.”

“If you can’t find a way to your employees’ hearts, their minds won’t follow.”


The reality of marketing has changed.  It’s no longer possible to talk to consumers the way is was ten years ago.  Today’s drivers of engagement didn’t exist back them.  Tom Chavez, Chris O’Hara and Vivek Vaidya bring extensive experience to their discussion on how technology can reinvent marketing for the digital era. The co-authors are behind some of the technology that powers Salesforce, one of the most powerful names in marketing and sales. Their book is a fascinating insight for consumers who’ve wondered about the dazzling rise of Internet giants, companies that mine data like “the new oil”, and for marketeers wanting to understand the new drivers in an increasingly connected world.

“Leveraging technology for digital transformation without clear goals is akin to buying a truckload of lumber…and hiring 20 carpenters without an architectural plan.” 


Capitalism benefits the elite and “cozy oligopolies”, and leaves the rest of us struggling as the wage gap increases.   But why? Co-authors Jonathan Tepper and Denise Hearn say that this growing inequality is actually symptom of a corrupted version of capitalism, rather than a root cause.  How is it possible that an airline’s stock can go up, after security personnel left a passenger bloodied and distressed in an incident that went viral?  With copious examples from news stories and studies, the authors argue that reduced competition leaves consumers at the mercy of dominant industry players.  Previously, such an incident might have spelled disaster for a company; today, it just serves to reinforce a dominant position in the industry.  “What  we  have  today  is  a  grotesque,  deformed  version  of  capitalism,” say the co-authors in their compelling introduction.  Jonathan Tepper founded Variant Perception, a macroeconomic research firm where Denise Hearn heads business development.

“The  left  and  right  cannot  agree  on  what  is  wrong,  but they both know that something is rotten.”


Every group of people – whether a family, a business or a nation – develops “social norms”: a set of rules that govern behavior.  At times we might be aware of them, as constraints to our behavior or as parameters that guide our decisions.  At other times they are simply there, unspoken and intangible. These norms differ across cultures, and on a larger scale can undermine international cooperation and lead to conflict.  Being aware of social norms strengthens a leader’s skills in anticipating potential points of conflict. Having this knowledge can help us to avoid or defuse situations that arise as a result.  Michele Gelfand, PhD, is a Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and a pioneering researcher in cultural norms.

“We rarely notice the extent to which norms pervade our lives, and how much we need them.”


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