“Great by Choice” seems to be the most recent book (2011) from management “guru” Jim Collins. Similar to “Built to last” he focuses on companies that have achieved great success. However in “Great by Choice” he includes a certain twist: He looks at 8 pairs of competing companies which more or less had the same starting point, but where one of them became super successful and the other not.
He then tries to work out why the successful ones were successful. The pairs are as follows:
Flight Centre, the Australian based travel company is a company which is on 2 to do lists of mine: The Australian list as well the travel series list. By chance I discovered that there is a book about Flight Centre. I decided to kick-off the analysis with this book review as part 1 of a Flight Centre analysis.
The book covers the complete story of Flight Centre and its founders from the start in 1973 until 2013 and was written by an “insider”, a former employee who worked as head of the UK operations.
As I currently own a 5% poisiton in (special situation) Biotech company Actelion, I thought it makes sense trying to learn at least a little bit about Biotech.
By chance I came across the book “Genentech – The Beginnings of Biotech” which recounts the history of Genetech from the very early beginnings in the 1970s until the company went public in October 1980.
´So far, my blog has been 99,9% “Trump Free”. As a German, I haven’t really followed what Trump did and said over the last decades so I think I am not able to form a qualified opinion about him or what he will do as POTUS.
I think it is also waste time to watch TV shows where German politicians debate what Trump will do or not because most of them don’t have a lot of background knowledge either. As with stock analysis, I am a big fan of “Primary resources” and so I decided that I should at least read one book co-authored by “his Trumpness” himself. There are many Donald Trump books out there but the first one from 1987 is “the Art of the deal”. I thought that maybe the first one is also the most authentic one.
The book starts with the description of a typical week of Donald Trump in early 1987. Clearly this is meant as a name dropping exercise to impress the readers about the then not so famous Mr. Trump. Indeed the list is quite long and interesting.
Michael Lewis is clearly “THE” author for financial books at the moment. His books are usually great to read, very well researched and a few of them have already turned into movies like “The Big Short”.
“The Undoing Project” is the story of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, two Israeli professors who developed the so-called “Prospect Theory” which deals with the behavioural “biases” that the human mind shows when deciding under uncertainty. And for which Kahneman got the Nobel Prize in 2002 (Tversky unfortunately died some years before that).
Up until Prospect Theory, the human mind was assumed to be perfectly rational for most theories dealing with human behaviour and decision-making. As stock investors we all know that human behaviour in the stock market is anything but rational, however only following the groundbreaking work of those two guys, we now have a more structured way to understand how the mind really works.
The book covers the story of this “unlikely” pair of academics who started this revolution plus some side stories about people who were greatly influenced by them, for instance in Basketball and Medicine.
The book describes in very great detail how the relationship between Tversky and Kahneman developed, how it was interrupted by the different Israeli wars, how they moved from Israel to the US and how it ended. To be honest, I found this a little too much detail. It is an interesting story , no doubt, but I guess a few pages less would have made the book better.
Towards the end I really had to force myself to finish the book when Lewis describes in great detail how they tried more or less successfully to counter their critics. I think this was my first Michael Lewis book where I seriously thought about not finishing it.
All in all I would say it is an OK book for people who like those kind of biographic books, however for people interested in the theory and topic itself, Kahneman’s book “Thinking Fast and Slow” in my opinion is the much better choice.
Normally I don’t read that many books “fresh of the press”, but this one really interested me. First, because it was from Dan Ariely and second, because it deals with a very important topic in my opinion: What motivates people (to work).
Those two books might be somehow unusual for a blog dedicated to Value investing, but I do believe that especially for value investors it is very important to understand what is happening elsewhere and those two books provide plenty to learn and apply even (or especially) for value investors.
“Venture Deals – Be smarter than you lawyer and Venture Capitalist”
“Venture Deals” is a rather technical but nevertheless very interesting book and in my opinion a “Must” for anyone directly involved in start-up funding, either as an investor or founder.