Tuesday, May 27, 2014

40 years of wisdom in one book. Do you know how much stress I could have saved myself if this was in my library 20 years ago!

Amazon Link
Don't let the amount of pages in Managing for Success: Practical Advice for Managers by Steven Smith give you the idea that it is "light" on practical ideas.  On the contrary, the author seems to understand an important concept that is facing all managers - especially new ones.  That concept is this:  "You will have more work to do than time, so let's just cut the fluff and get to the good stuff!"  Smith doesn't keep the reader waiting to get to concepts and advice that can save a first time manager's career and sanity.  How much money is that worth?  I guarantee you, it is worth at least as much as this "mentor on a shelf" is priced at - probably much more.

Managing for Success distills the topics of hiring, staff motivation, enriching jobs, setting goals, delegation, coaching, decision making, conducting performance reviews, holding staff meetings, building trust, and others in a way that makes it feel like you have a friend with their arm around your shoulder trying to give you the advice that they had to learn the hard way.  You can try and learn these principles yourself, and if you are lucky enough to survive in your new position long enough, you might pick up half of them.

There is even a section on "Managing Your Boss", which over the years I have found to be a skill that is mandatory for survival and sanity.

Having taught Business courses in high school for 7 years, this is the kind of book that I wish I had to point students to.  I could have chucked half of the textbooks I used and just followed the topics and expanded upon them enough to insure that they grasped the concepts and practice them in different scenarios.

Managing for Success is a book that should be read by every business student in college.  There are just some "real world" practices that your $200 textbook just won't cover.  For example:

  • "You must remove those who are a poor match for the positions they hold. This can be difficult, but without great people you cannot have a great department. If someone does not fit in and does not respond to coaching and training, the person needs to be replaced."

  • "It is not wrong to lay off people who threaten the productivity and motivation of your department. If anything, it is unfair to leave these people in the dark about their weaknesses and allow them to stay in jobs where they are failing. Do not delay the firing, but be humane. Give them time off to look for another job, but set deadlines. Consider that you may be doing them a favor. People who do a poor job are probably a bad fit and will be much happier after they find a job better suited to their needs and capabilities."
This advice may sound harsh, but I have lived this.  Spending most of your time trying to get someone "up to speed" who probably shouldn't be there in the first place could well be the worst way for a new manager to spend their time.  You don't want to be too quick to let someone go (after all - they are a real person with feelings and families), but dragging out a poor performers "career" in a job that they are ill suited for isn't exactly looking out for their best interests either.

So why does this book come with my highest recommendation?  It is better to have a game plan and hope you don't run into the situation rather than run into the situation and have no game plan.

Invest in yourself, invest a little in this book - or you may not have to worry about being a manager long enough to worry about all of the things you wish you would have known going into the position!

Amazon Link                             Author Webpage                        Goodreads Link    

(The author purchased an advertising package with Movies & Manuscripts.  This package gave the author "Head of the Line" privileges, but in no way influenced the review that was given.  This is my honest, independent review of this work.)

Author interview with "Zero Alternative" author Luca Pesaro!

Luca Pesaro's book Zero Alternative is an action packed thriller worthy of a movie!  I wanted to learn more about the author and he graciously agreed to answer some questions for me.
Where did the idea come from for your book?

I’ve worked in Finance for over fifteen years, and it’s always struck me as the perfect setting for a thriller. There are so many weird characters, shady deals and twisted incentives revolving around money and power that it just screams to be used as a setting. Then with the rise of computers and the financial crisis of the last few years it become clear that I had something to say about the state of the world, and about how momentous decisions can often be taken behind closed doors by people you hardly ever hear about. A lot of what happens in "Zero Alternative" is possible/likely, and not in a far-off future. But I also wanted to tell a story of love and priorities in life, and of how people can change and develop even through impossible trials.

How did you decide on your cover?

The designer for my book cover , the excellent Jennie Rawlings, asked me what sort of covers I liked in the thriller genre. I came up with a selection and it became obvious I liked an uncluttered style, with a few, powerful markers. I also mentioned how much I loved the graphic look of “The Matrix” branding and she did wonders in synthesizing it into the final design.

What is something personal about you people may be surprised to know?

I’m one of the physically laziest people you’ll ever meet. I regularly drive to my local bar/pub even though it’s less than two hundred yards from my house, and once I spent five days on the sofa, almost without moving – my family was away, and it seemed like the perfect place to stay. I only need some food and reading material, and I’ll be fine lounging about for days on end.

If you had to change anything about the process of writing this book, what would you have done differently?

I’d probably work a little harder on the outlining process. Every writer is different, but I do tend to get stuck more easily if I don’t have a clear idea of where the next 30-50 pages should head. It’s also easier to avoid falling into plot-holes, which then often require a lot of work to get out of.

Where can people follow you to get information about you and your books?

I’m on twitter with the handle @biagiotrader, and I also have a blog at http://lucapesaro.com where I talk about life, markets, sports and writing. I also have a Facebook author page at: https://www.facebook.com/lucapesarobooks

What is one thing about your main character that isn’t in the book, but might interest your readers?

Walker is a terrific snooker player – snooker is the British version of pool, played on a much bigger table with smaller pockets. It’s a game of skill and strategy, and terribly difficult. It’s how he helped pay his way through college.

Your thoughts on receiving book reviews - the good and the bad - 
Publishing a book is a little like seeing one of your grown-up children leave home – there’s a mixture of pride and fear, and obviously good reviews help in boosting your confidence that you’ve actually produced something that people enjoy. And it’s a big spur to come up with something else, trying to make it even better. Bad ones I don’t mind too much, especially if well reasoned. They’re unavoidable, because not everyone will like/be interested in what you have to say, but they can help in growing as a writer. Also, I guess after so many years in financial markets I’ve grown a fairly thick skin. I just don’t like people with pre-conceived opinions, or preaching from a pulpit – we’re all trying our best!
If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you?
Stephen Hawking, because I love to think about the mysteries of the universe, Bill Clinton because I’m interested in politics and would be enormously curious about what he’s seen and done, and David Attenborough because I love documentaries and animals.
Do you have a book trailer?
Yes – a director friend was kind enough to do it for me. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Two Immortals in two human bodies chasing three swords while deciding between two boyfriends. The math doesn't look good.

Amazon Link
Karla was just your average shy girl who everyone could walk past and never "see" her.  Her sidekick friend was the pretty one who always got all of the attention.  So why did Paul, who every girl was fighting over, start to make conversation and happen to "appear" where ever she was.  And why was a stranger willing to fight Paul over her.  Suddenly, her life became anything but average.  

But when you are sharing your body and your mind with an immortal being and you are the last in her line that she can inhabit - "boring" can be erased from your dictionary.

Karla learns that she is a "Shielder", and while she is teaching veteran shielders a thing or two that they have never seen before, she lacks control over it.  While struggling to learn how to use her shield - she is thrust into a war that has been raging, unbeknownst to the average person, for quite a long time.  You see, Starkoffs and Shielders mix together as well as bleach with brand new red clothes.  When ever they meet - lots of red will lost (hey, I thought that was pretty clever!  LOL).
The pressure of realizing you have a "power" that you never knew you had, while trying to figure solve the age old problem of teenage girls everywhere (which boy they have a crush on), then discovering that your body can perform ninja like moves because it is controlled by an immortal being - it's enough to make anyone hear little voices in their head!  Heck, killing Starkoffs might be the easiest thing that the ex-nerd Karla has to deal with!!!

Possession of My Soul (The Three Immortal Blades)  is the debut novel by the young author Kia Carrington-Russell.  Good news to those who will enjoy this first novel by Carrington-Russell - there are two more coming!  Her talent will only increase the more she writes, but don't wait until everyone is talking about her - be one of the first to follow what looks to be a long career of writing from Kia!

 If you like Young Adult Fantasy, with a touch of angst ridden semi-romance that never quite gets fulfilled - then this series is worth your attention.


-  Nice development of the plot and characters.  Enough twists to keep your interest.

-  No spelling or grammar issues were found.

-  Good pacing between action scenes and plot development.


-  At points, I found Karla (from whose point of view the story is told) repeating her problems and difficulties a few too many times.  But having a teenage daughter myself, this is definitely in character!

-  Some things just seem to "happen" without much of a buildup.  For example, Karla learns some new tricks (such as "hearing" from the earth by draining some energy from it) just out of nowhere.  To be fair, the story is told from Karla's point of view and she is being rushed to use her new found powers in battle well before she has and opportunity explore all of the new facets of it.

                     Amazon Link                             Goodreads Link

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lot's of management tips and topics in one handy book - Review coming soon!

Amazon Link
Despite little experience managing people or departments, many managers and supervisors are promoted into these positions because of their excellent technical or professional skills. Without proper training on what to do, how to do it, and why, many fail. This is a giant problem across all businesses, and this book was written to help solve it.

Managing for Success is for managers and supervisors who want to understand what their job really is, what their most important duties are, and what they should focus on to become a good manager with a successful department. It includes the best ideas the author found and applied throughout his 40-year career with 15 different companies.

The practical advice given is concise, but covers most of the manager/supervisor's primary responsibilities including hiring, staff motivation, enriching jobs, setting goal, delegation, coaching, decision making, conducting performance reviews, holding staff meetings, building trust, and much more. Chapters also cover handling workplace issues, managing a department,managing individuals, and managing your boss.

By understanding the concepts, and applying the managerial skills and supervisory skills discussed in this guide, you too can become a successful and appreciated manager.

Amazon Link           Barnes & Noble Link         Kobo Link

From the Back Cover

Most managers are promoted into their positions based on their technical or professional skills. But being a manager requires a very different set of skills. No wonder many managers fail- they were never properly trained to do their jobs.

Managing for Success; Practical Advice for Managers includes some of the best ideas the author has discovered and applied throughout his career. His advice on what to do, how to do it, and why covers many of a manager's most important duties.

This guide will help you understand what your job as manager really is, how to manage the work environment, your department, individual employees, and your boss. It will teach you how to hire, motivate, enrich jobs, set goals, develop responsibility tables, improve work processes, delegate, coach, make decisions, monitor results, solve problems, conduct performance reviews, hold staff meetings, build trust, and much more. If you understand and apply the practical advice in this guide, you too can become a successful and appreciated manager.

About the author

Steven R. Smith, R.PH, M.S., was raised in Nelson, a small Wisconsin town near the Mississippi River. He attended high school in Alma Wisconsin, graduated in a class of 37, and went on to earn a BS in Pharmacy and an MS in Pharmacy Administration, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His advisor and major professor in graduate school was the late Dr. Robert W. Hammel, R.PH., Ph.D who was a great teacher, a great mentor, and a great friend.

Steve started his career in 1968 as a Marketing Research Analyst at the Upjohn Company in Kalamazoo Michigan and then held Market Analyst, Product Manager and New Products Manager positions at Ross Laboratories and Abbott Laboratories.

Steve's first managerial position was in 1978 when he was hired to establish a Marketing Research Department at American Critical Care, a small cardiovascular drug company. Subsequently Steve held licensing positions at American Critical Care, G. D. Searle and Fujisawa Healthcare, and taught both marketing and management evening classes to adult students pursuing BS degrees.

In 1987 Steve joined Miles Laboratories as VP Business Development, responsible for licensing, business development and marketing research. In 2000 he joined Dow Pharmaceutical Sciences in Petaluma, California as VP Marketing and Business Development, responsible for sales, marketing, licensing and business development. Steve is now retired and lives in Petaluma California with Judy, his wife of 45 years.

With an industry career spanning 42-years, Steve gained broad real world experience at prescription drug, OTC drug, and pharmaceutical formulation development companies. Working for a dozen companies also allowed him to experience multiple cultures, bosses and managers, all of which were helpful in writing this guide.

Customer Reviews
Excerpt from Review by Susan Violante for Reader Views (4/14) "Managing for Success: Practical Advice for Managers" by Steven Smith is exactly what the title describes. I definitely rate this book as a must read for all professionals who aspire to be or are currently in a managerial position. I found much advice that I will be using in my own management style and know everyone that reads this will do the same!
Excerpt from Review by Diane Donovan for Midwest Review (4/14) It's all here: all that's required is that supervisors and managers be able to acknowledge that more effective management skillsets can be gleaned from the right combination of experience and logical lessons. Managing for Success provides the latter: with it, new managers can step up to the plate and get on track quickly before any other moves are made in the workplace.

(Not a Review - Paid Ad)

Friday, May 16, 2014

I made $70 million in the stock market today, went to celebrate with a friend, got a lapdance while waiting - and then things went all wrong

Scott Walker is one of the top traders for his company, but burnout is right around the corner.  It is time to call it a career.  With a computer program that scans current events and can give probabilities of future ones, Scott Walker almost has an unfair advantage against the competition. Just one more big hit, and Walker can sit on the beach with his biggest worry being what drink to order next.

When the DeepOmega program predicts a market collapse, Walker makes millions in a matter of minutes by short selling the market. 

As they say, knowledge is power.  And when you have big knowledge and make big money with it - well you are going to attract some big enemies who are willing to kill to know what Scott Walker knows.

After an explanation of how short selling works, the action picks up at a feverish pace and doesn't stop until the end.  With all of the countries that Walker and his sidekick, Layla, travel to - it almost feels like you are getting an Economic & Geography lesson wrapped around evading the bad guys, murders, and close calls.

I don't want to give too much away and be a spoiler, but this has been one of the better action books that I have reviewed.


-  Very strong characters, writing, and plot.   It is obvious that the author did his research and knows his stuff.

- Characters that you slowly grow to like, just like making a fine wine, the end is worth the wait.

- I found myself thinking about the next move I would make as I read - only to find out that it would have been the wrong one most of the time!  Nothing obvious, which kept it enjoyable.


- The beginning is just a little slow with the explanation of short selling.  However, I can see where this was necessary since not every reader would be familiar with the concept.  Don't let that scare you, knowledge of finance is not needed to enjoy this book!

Amazon Link                            Goodreads Link                   

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I actually WANTED to join the Red Army - and not a drop of vodka was in my system at the time.

Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone
What do you get when you take a child who dreams of being a soldier in the Russian Army, train him in the Red Army and then get hunted by the KGB for helping his sisters escape the country?  Oh, and throw in a crush on a female soldier from boot camp.  A loose cannon Ruskie 007.  But you can drop the 007 part, because Jez Kornfeld doesn't need no stinking license to kill - that is an unnecessary step.

Put in a position to turn on his family and people of faith or to follow commands, the family wins out.  But actions have consequences - and the path that Jez has chosen has made him more than a few enemiesWith a dangerous person with a personal hatred of Jez, and the KGB tracking him - there isn't room to make a wrong move.  Heck, Jez probably has people on his high school chess club that are looking to settle a score!

This book is an action packed thriller that puts a nice twist on the genre with an original plot.  

This book is best enjoyed with a few shots of Kauffman Vodka taken before - call it liquid mood lighting!

Book Description:

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

Given the order to disperse and arrest a crowd of Jewish demonstrators in Red Square, Jez breaks up the rally but discovers his sisters in their ranks. Rushed for a solution, he sneaks the girls from under the noses of secret police and hides them in downtown Moscow. But he knows they will no longer be safe in Russia. He has to find them a safe route out.

The journey begins, but he is unaware that his every move is being observed and that he has set in motion a chain of events that will plunge his life into a headlong battle to stay alive.

Author Bio:

Do children born into poverty become impoverished adults? It happens; pitfalls and roadblocks to advancement are everywhere. Rik Stone grew up poor amidst the slum-lands of fifties North East England, and left school at 15 without any academic qualifications.
He worked in the shipyards on a local river and later went into the merchant navy. Further down the line, he worked quarries in Essex in South East England.
But life was without horizons until, contrary to what his teachers had told him, he found he was capable of studying and completed a BSc degree in mathematics and computing.
Life got lucky for him when he took company pension at 50 and began writing. And now, here he is offering up his debut novel Birth of an Assassin, the first in a series.
 Amazon Link                                 Goodreads Link

Friday, May 2, 2014

Lemon, Salt, Shot of Tequila - Start Shooting!!

Jack Fleming was assumed to have been killed in Afghanistan five and half years ago.  It seems that on most days, he might have wished that were true.  But like the saying goes - if were easy, everyone would do it.

Tequila Assassin: Malinalli Way by Greg Prosmushkin is a book that starts out of the gate with action, and doesn't let up until the end.  Buckle up, because if you read this book, you will be in for a ride.  Don't wait for the movie - it won't be as good as the book.  I promise.

Jack thought it was just a simple hit job on a creep who probably had it coming anyways.  But after too many double crosses to count, losing body parts, and serving up a seven foot buffet up to a swine - the story goes from not just enjoyable, but to full-on "can't put this down."

What makes this book even more remarkable is that according to the acknowledgements, the author, Greg Prosmushkin, is the co-founder of Malinalli Tequila.  He fully admits to shamelessly cross marketing his product in the book right up front.  When I read this, my first thought was - great, this guy is expecting me to read a 172 page commercial.  You know what?  If Prosmushkin's Tequila is as good as this book - I am going to quit writing this post and head on down to a bar and have a few shots!


-  I don't know if Prosmushkin has written anything else, or plans to - but if Jack Fleming does have more missions in him, I am shamelessly going to request an advance copy to review!

-  The story is told from Jack Fleming's point of view, who describes the story through his very Alpha Male point of view.  Prosmushkin never tries to turn Jack Fleming into something that he is not to appease the reader - and for this I am thankful.

-  Absolutely no issues with grammar or spelling.


- There are none.  And that's not the tequila talking.  Hey bartender!  Why is this glass empty!!!

(I purchased this book after seeing it on a few different sites - something I don't do often for reviews, but for some reason, it just felt right.)

(There is strong violence, drug use, and language - This book is for mature audiences only)