Home » Books review

Category Archives: Books review

Follow the blog:

What I read:

Focus by Daniel Goleman

71nvYbMAE6L._SL1500_This book is composed of some of the concepts already presented in the bestseller Emotional Intelligence by the same author. The suggestive subtitle (the hidden driver of excellence) gives a relatively clear idea of the starting point: distraction and its importance in the quality of our performance, whether in the professional environment, sports, family … And this is not a minor issue in our society, where distractions and interferences (whatever they are) are numerous.
Accordingly, the first part of the book deals with the attention from the scientific view and from the behavior of the brain. And from that point, concepts like open awareness are introduced, which allows us to enjoy the moment in front of the emotional reactivity that makes us get stuck in irritating details. How often do we lose the track of what we are doing because we cannot get out of our head that discussion, or that comment, or that angry face…!
The book is based on the concept of self-awareness (knowledge of oneself), a kind of internal compass that allows us to be aligned with our values and to focus (hence the title) on achieving goals. Only from this knowledge can we, according to the author, practice self-control which, among other things, is to delay gratification, manage the impulses, regulate ourselves emotionally or plan. With the domain of self-awareness and its control we can manage our will which, ultimately, is what allows us to keep our attention and focus, above impulses, habits or desires.
What is the proposal to achieve excellence? Of course, for a high level of performance it is required lots of practice (it is mentioned the rule of 10,000 hours), but accompanied by the concentration and the support of a teacher or coach. No matter how much time we spend, for example, to improve our record in swimming, if we do not focus on our style and do not receive any feedback on our performance.
To improve and work the attention the author proposes the practice of meditation, specifically, something that is now a quite fashionable topic, mindfulness as an “organic tool to teach skills on concentration”. Broadly speaking, this is a mental training that allows us to develop the ability to focus and break the chain of thoughts and internal dialogues that can irritate us and deviate.
Other issues are discussed in the book, such as the characteristics of focused leader (especially in the field of organizations) who should enjoy a wide or systemic vision to guide the team and the required empathy to manage it. Ecology is also addressed, but from my point of view it is a bit out of place in the book.
In the end, this is a work of scientific type (the aforementioned studies, references and bibliography are numerous) introducing the matter of attention nowadays in an entertaining way. This is not a self-help book or a practical guide to meditation. It can be considered as a strong tool into the topic.

Too big to fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin

61Sy1mRL4lLI approached this book trying to understand the key factors that led us to the devastating financial crash that began in 2008 and which led to the deep in which we are still immersed (more in some places than in others, as it is well known).
The author presents his work, not as an academic exercise or a detailed analysis, but as an essay of the events and protagonists who took part in the outcome of collapse. On the pages of this voluminous book (618 in my pocket edition) a lot of characters appear, and we see which decisions they made on the most frantic days of the crisis (September 2008). Perhaps this is precisely the strong point of the book: as we go on reading, we will form our own opinion, and intuitively we discover which the causes of the crisis were.

Thus, to me it is clear that at the base of the crisis the most important factors were the excessively in debt financial institutions (like the rest of the world) resulting from an expansionary policy of easy and cheap money; some managers, very likely to make risky investments and on very complex products, which generated to them astronomical salaries; lax regulation, and very sensitive regulators to the wishes of the big banks in an endogamous environment; very interrelated banks that expanded the bad (and the good, when there was) as a deadly epidemic; and why not say it, an economic boom, which we had not enjoyed in decades, that made lubricant, and we all wanted to take part of (and they made us to believe that it was possible).

Bankers are shown as actors in a desperate race against the clock so that their institution are not the next ones to fail, losing their jobs and their hefty fees. Egoists obsessed with saving their ass (no patriotism or defense of the free market), who do not hesitate to beg the help of the American Administration. An Administration which is unable to cope with the tsunami that is coming up, and doubts whether leave the market to act on its own, but in the end it takes part with all the tools at its disposal, including the creation of a bad bank.

And after all, what have we learned? I think very little. The so mentioned modification of the regulation of financial institutions to make it stiffer, has run halfway, the surviving banks have a huge size so its systemic risk is greater than ever, there have been no assumptions of guilt, and at most, the issue has been closed based on fines, but without determining responsibilities. If corrective measures are not implemented, we run the risk that, when time has passed and we have forgotten, some return to take big risks and make the same mistakes.

Finally, I think that this book is a key to understanding a moment of the History. Maybe it’s a little long, but its reading is enjoyable as it could be a thriller, only that this is not fiction.

IFRS as global standards, a pocket guide by Paul Pacter

1807This book honours its title: it is a short handbook for introducing to global accounting standards, and for making quick queries. I expected a more detailed book (and even physically bigger), but it just gives general information on IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards).

The book is divided into three sections:
General overview of accounting standards: what IFRS are, how IFRS Foundation works and IASB (International Accounting Standards Board) sets the standards, a list of the standards as of 1 July 2014…

This part can be especially helpful for those who approach international standards at first time.

Information on the use of IFRS: this section (the main part of the book) shows how IFRS are being adopted in several jurisdictions (130 in total). There is an explaining short report for each of those jurisdictions.

I believe that this part won’t very attractive for most readers; however, it can be a first step for those who need to know which the applicable accounting principles and rules are in a particular country.

Overview of IFRS: this is the most interesting section, where the main principles in IFRS are briefly analysed. It is used a non-technical language and intends to give a portrait of the framework and content of the standards.

Definitely, this is a manual to get started with the basic ideas of IFRS, how they are applied in the different jurisdictions, and which the standards in force are.

Choose the language: