Book Review – Better and Faster

My overall reaction after finishing “Better and Faster” by Jeremy Gutsche is wow. Simply wow.

While I have read business books in the past, I have not read entrepreneurial books. I don’t really have anything to compare this book with, but really, I can’t believe other books of the genre could be any better than this one.

Gutsche’s purpose was to map a “way to overcome the psychological and cultural traps that causes smart people to overlook opportunity.” He does that by providing six patterns to shortcut the way to opportunity. The results are a well written, easily read, and wonderfully structured book that informs and inspires.

Rapid change creates new problems, but it also creates new opportunities. “Better and Faster” is about finding patterns within the rapid change. Gutsche does a stellar job of illustrating six patterns of opportunities, providing evidence through accounts of entrepreneurs success. Gutsche does more as well. He also provides evidence of how companies operated in the past, how they operate now, and how they will have to operate in a culture of change.

I love the way the book was organized. Part one uses the analogy of a farmer and hunter to distinguish between ways companies address change and opportunity. Gutsche points out that the farmer methodology is it isn’t effective in a culture of rapid change. Instead, companies and entrepreneurs need to become hunters, hunting for opportunity by noticing the six patterns.

Part two outlines the six patterns of opportunity, along with their sub-patterns. Gutsche does a good job of using appropriate anecdotes to illustrate each pattern. I’ve grown accustomed to such anecdotes in business books and, from time to time, may even pass over them. Gutsche’s feel a bit different since he seemed to take time to interview the individuals to garner their insights.

Part Three give a framework for using the patterns to find opportunities. The appendix gives two case studies that further illustrate how such a framework works.

After each section Gutsche gives summaries, takeaways and takeways. the last few pages give a full summary using bullet points and diagrams virtually compressing all the key points and concepts.

Gutsce is more than qualified to writing such a book. His work with TrendHunger, I’m sure, helped him to notice these patterns. He writes that his main message is “the only real certainty in life is change.” He has given a road map on how to find opportunity as we travel the changing landscape.

I received this book free from BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review.

Review – Quiet by Susan Cain

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Susan Cain’s book on introversion is, in my estimation, an indispensable resource on challenges introverts face in an extroverted world. The book is well researched and written. The five years it Cain took to write is evident. I was surprised by the amount of research Quiet contained, and the extensive research serves as a testimony to a self-avowed introvert.

Cain organized the book around four main sections. Part One, the Extrovert Ideal, covers the cultural propensity toward extroversion. Part Two, Your Biology, Your Self! covers biological factors of introversion. Part Three, Do All Cultures have an Extrovert Ideal, explores other cultures and whether there are cultures that are more introverted. Part Four, How to Love, How To Work, gives guidance on how to live as an introvert in an extrovert’s world.

One of the main points Cain made was that introversion is not something to be cured or fixed. It is a temperament. She points out not only the contribution introverts have made, but how their temperament is essential to society. Introvert’s quiet contributions have literally changed the world. Through many encouraging chapters she helps introverts to embrace their temperament, find their voice, and contribute. The book addresses how extroverted cultures create challenges that Introverts must understand and adapt to if they are going to reach their potential.

The book was comprehensive, covering everything from biological factors to how to succeed in an extroverted world. She also addresses raising a child who may be an introvert. A wonderful take away was her suggestions on public speaking.

The book is well researched, however, I wish the references to the endnotes were in the text. While not having references in the text, does make the book easier to read, it makes further research more difficult. Also, not having references in the text makes it difficult to know which statements had research and which ones didn’t. That is my only critique however.

This is an excellent book and resource for both introverts and extroverts. I recommend this book to those who know they are introverted because it gives suggestions and guidance on how to embrace one’s introversion while living in an extroverted world. I recommend this book to those who work, or live, with introverts, and anyone who has to lead or manage people. Extroverted leaders and managers have much to gain through this book. By understanding more about the introverts, and their potential contributions, both introverts and extroverts will find their world enriched.

Review – The Deeper Path by Kary Oberbrunner

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I received a pre-release electronic copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I just finished Kary Oberbrunner’s book and I’m conflicted. I’m giving the book three stars. Overall the book was a good positive book. There were many helpful points, and thoughts. Following the exercises to create one’s OPUS and Six Pack would be powerful and could serve to clarifies one’s life purpose. However, I did have some reservations as well. I will outline those after I comment on what I found helpful.

Kary’s story is powerful and insightful. Through his story, he points to the reality of pain, the reality of God, and the reality of living past the pain. I found the second section, The How, especially helpful, challenging, and redeeming. As Kary demonstrates, it is possible to embrace one’s pain and find hope, joy, and life. I loved his stress on silence versus noise and how we tend to drown out our pain. Instead of ignoring our pain, Oberbrunner encourages us to embrace it and move through it to healing..
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Review – Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado

I received an electronic version of this book free in exchange for a honest review.

There’s not too much I can say about this book, other than Max Lucado continues to do an excellent job. Those familiar with Lucado’s writing will find another inspirational and moving work. In the course of twelve chapters and a conclusion, Lucado takes a look at our hearts and how we can become more like Jesus. As a seasoned writer and pastor, Lucado encourages the reader to take a look at their own hearts in light of the heart of Jesus. He reflects on how the reader can cultivate their hearts to be more like Jesus. Lucado shows his heart as a pastor as he attempts to pull his readers into a greater devotion to become more like Jesus.

At times the book encourages while at other times it challenges. Whether encouraging or challenging, Lucado does so with humor and always with love. In the end, he calls the reader to fix their eyes on Jesus and finish the race well.

The book was well written with plenty of illustrations. It is not a difficult book, but it is a pleasure to read. The study guide at the end of the book is helpful for individual or group study. I recommend this book to those individuals or groups who want to strengthen their devotion to Jesus, so that their heart might become more like his.

Review – The Heart of Religion

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I received the electronic version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The authors have taken on quite a task. Through qualitative and quantitative statistical methods they seek to understand the impact of experiencing divine or godly love has on benevolence. The quantitative survey served to determine what categories had impact on benevolence. The real treasure, however, is their use of qualitative interviews to put “meat” onto the skeletal bones of the survey data.

The book does not focus on organized religion such as denominations or organizations, but rather “lived” religion which the authors believe, at the source, lies an inner experience of love that provides the impetus for religion. The book is appropriate for wide range of individuals from social scientists to laypersons. While each group will find items of interest, because of its wide audience, there could be disappointments as well. The authors mention that when they shared drafts with people, the scholars wanted it to be more academic and the non-scholars wanted it less academic. Yet, whether scholar or not, people wanted to read the rest of the book, a desire with which I concur.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in how divine love “plays out” in someone’s life. This is a scientific work. The survey data was enlightening, but the interviews and the exemplar’s stories were able to give insight into how one, empowered by divine love, views his or her life and lives in response to that love.

There’s a lot I could say about this book. While there have been religious surveys in the past, this is perhaps the first one to truly look behind the data. There were surprises and confirmations. What I appreciated the most was the authors commitment to digging under the surface of assumptions to understand what happens in a person’s life when they experience divine love. One of the great takeaways for me was their heuristic of “The Process of Participating in Godly Love” which, I believe, could be used to undergird a mentoring or discipleship process. At the very least, the heuristic gives insight into how one’s life is affected by godly love.

I did have some struggles while reading the book. The authors sought to discover “how Americans wake up to the reality of divine love in  a Christian context and then attempt to express that love to others through benevolent acts.” Yet, many times I felt the accounts of the exemplars were more from outliers than normal everyday Americans. The exemplar’s whose stories were told ran complex and extensive ministries, put their lives or livelihoods on the line, or were instrumental to social change. I wanted more data from everyday people who were trying to live life and how divine love impacted their benevolence.

I started wondering if that wasn’t part of the point. When someone’s life has been overtaken by an experience of divine love they do become an outlier. Their lives are turned completely upside down. They become somewhat consumed by love which is lived out in ministry to the world. Or, perhaps they authors believed that looking at exemplars gave greater insight into the effects of godly love than the live’s of non-exemplars would have. In all fairness, the authors did mention several times that the book represented a small part of their research. With the size limits of the book, it would not be possible to include data from all of the individuals interviewed.

Because of the extensiveness of the findings the authors had to choose to focus on a small part of the results, choosing to focus on those more pentecostal (as a worldview rather than denomination). I would have liked to see a broader address of other non-pentecostals and perhaps even faiths other than Christian. Given the choice to focus on pentecostalism, I found it interesting that at least one of the authors had already written several books about pentecostalism. It doesn’t seem that was the reason for the pentecostalism focus, but rather that those more pentecostal, or open to experience of God’s spirit, also tend to experience godly love more often.

As it stands, the book is over 300 pages (with endnotes), so including more data, more interviews, more stories, would have made the book too large. I, for one, look forward to seeing more results from this research.

One surprise was how this book has caused me to reassess some of my prejudices and piqued my interest in alternative expressions of Christianity. The book contains enough statistical data that to plumbs its depths would take more than a single reading. I thank the authors for their work and pray for their continued success and insight.