Books and podcasts: data, giving and diversity

Posted: 15/03/2019

BL61_Books_JarvisSmall is beautiful

Company of One: Why Staying Small is the Next Big Thing for Business by Paul Jarvis (Portfolio Penguin, £10.49*, paperback) starts off with a contrarian hypothesis: what if the key to a rich and fulfilling career is not to start a business and rapidly scale up, but instead to find what you can do most profitably and remain a sole trader? The idea is to make your business better rather than bigger, remaining in control of your time, avoiding the inevitable headaches that come from getting bigger and establishing a working lifestyle that’s sustainable. That’s somewhat counter to the usual orthodoxy that to chase growth, you need to leverage greater scale and bring in competencies that you don’t have personally. But drawing on a range of case studies, Jarvis shows that staying small can have its own rewards.
*Amazon, RRP £14.99

BL61_Books_MorrisseyGirl power

Now out in paperback, A Good Time to be a Girl (HarperCollins, £9.99) is a kind of manifesto for career women, written by one who should know. Dame Helena Morrissey is one of the best-known women in the City, Head of Personal Investing at Legal & General and Chair of the Investment Association. Morrissey has managed billions of pounds in assets, founded the 30% Club to get a higher number of women on boards and, most remarkably, she’s done it all while having nine children along the way. This book tells us how she did it, while arguing for a more humane version of capitalism. Though most would struggle to follow her example. 


BL61_Books_ReichNot so generous

Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better by Rob Reich (Princeton, £22, hardcover) has billionaires who set up charitable foundations squarely in its sights. These wealthy individuals who give away their money are generally applauded for doing so. But Reich’s contention is that they aren’t quite so generous as it seems. Big philanthropy, he says, is often an “exercise of power”, using private assets to buy public influence – and influence that’s largely unaccountable and comes with lavish tax benefits. In the US, philanthropic foundations pay no tax on their investments or property, yet there’s little test of how effective they are, argues Reich. As he concludes: “The practice of state-supported philanthropy, especially in the United States, is indefensible.”

BL61_Books_ZuboffThe big data grab

If you’re troubled by issues of data privacy, then Shoshana Zuboff’s new book, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power (Profile Books, RRP £25, hardback), is a must for your bedside table. Zuboff is a professor emerita at Harvard Business School, and she invented the concept of ‘surveillance capitalism’ to reflect the huge emerging economy that consists of taking personal data and leveraging it for commercial advantage. The real customers of Google and Facebook are not the consumers who sign up, but the advertisers who use their data, she argues. This has led to a new kind of power – instrumentarianism – whereby surveillance capitalists can not only monetise consumer data, but can also use it to predict and modify behaviour. And it’s not just US tech titans who are to blame; the Chinese government has its own programme to monitor citizens and manage their behaviour.

All prices are publishers’ official prices, except where stated


3.5 degrees
Just launched by Facebook is an original podcast series on entrepreneurship, 3.5 Degrees: the Power of Connection. It presents lessons learnt, challenges faced and other insights from successful business leaders, with a focus on the US. The name reflects the idea that people are no longer six degrees apart but three and a half degrees, thanks to IT. Hosted by David Fischer, Facebook’s VP of Business and Marketing Partnerships, the podcast often matches guests from a start-up with someone from an established player in that sector. Available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and TuneIn.

Third sector
Third Sector
is a new monthly podcast from the magazine of the same name, covering events in the UK’s charitable and voluntary sector. Episode one is on diversity, looking especially at the challenges and opportunities for charities to make their workforces more diverse. Eleanor Southwood, Chair of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, and Kemar Walford, Chair of the Institute of Fundraising’s Black Fundraisers UK group, join Third Sector’s Rebecca Cooney to discuss the issues.

BL61_ Books_retirementRetirement Café
Want to know about retirement options? Run by Christchurch-based MFP Wealth Management, the Retirement Café Podcast offers weekly interviews and guidance on issues such as retirement and wills. Host Justin King, a chartered financial planner and SOLLA (Society of Later Life Advisers)-accredited adviser, says retirement frees people up. “With this new-found freedom can come a lot of fear: fear of the unknown, of what lies ahead, of the person you’ll become and the challenges ageing brings. The podcast aims to help people feel more informed and confident about their retirement.”

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