Category Archives: Book Reviews

Sex Appeal and the MBA

In a recent episode of Fox’s new sitcom The New Girl, Zooey Deschanel’s normally-frumpy character, Jess, is asked by a male roommate to accompany him as his date to a wedding in order to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. For the occasion, the male roommate tells Jess that she needs to wear a dress that will basically turn heads.

She does, and the episode descends into a zany, mischievous lark, where the ex-girlfriend does not get jealous, but rather happy that the male roommate has moved on and has apparently found somebody else. Jess’ experiences bring up the idea of “erotic capital” – that women (generally, although the concept can apply to men, too) can take advantage of their looks and sex appeal to persuade and coerce.

Catherine Hakim might say that Jess leveraged her erotic capital in an attempt to affect a social situation. Hakim is the author of Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital, a recent book that has been making waves among some book reviewers and social critics.

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Book Review: Don’t Call Us Entrepreneurs

Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever
Crown Business (US) / Vermilion (UK), 2010

Rework is a short, punchy business manifesto written by the founders of the Chicago software company, 37signals. It’s the kind of book you can breeze through in an afternoon, which is perhaps one reason why it climbed the New York Times bestseller list earlier this year.

Another reason, no doubt, is the book’s simplicity. The authors set out to make a few dozen points – lessons learned while building a company over the last decade. Like with many other popular business books, some of the points will border on truism (“Embrace constraints”, “Meetings are toxic”) for the Generation X and Y reader.

Luckily, however, most points laid out in Rework are provocative – not the kind of things you’ll usually find on hardcover dust jackets in the business section; things like “Emulate drug dealers” “Learning from mistakes is overrated;” and “Good enough is fine.”

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Book Review: An Outsider at Harvard

Philip Delves Broughton
Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School
Penguin, 2008

Ahead of the Curve is a first-hand account of how a relative outsider – a British journalist named Philip Delves Broughton – got into and graduated from Harvard Business School. It is a quick and amusing read that will be of interest to people considering business school, particularly those without the “conventional” MBA resumé.

At HBS, Delves Broughton’s resumé probably qualifies as unconventional. In 2004, he quit his job as Paris bureau chief of the Daily Telegraph. His experience at the paper – including leading the coverage of the September 11 attacks in New York – combined with good GMAT scores helped get him into HBS, probably the most famous business school in the world.

For much of the first half of the book, Delves Broughton plays catch up to the jargon and spreadsheet wizardry of his business-seasoned classmates. Eventually he does catch up, showing that with some hard work, there is hope – even someone who spent their university years reading Greek classics rather than macroeconomics.

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