Amazon.com recently recommended the book Naked Statistics: Stripping Dread from the Data. Since I already knew the author Charles Wheelan from his awesome book Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science (Fully Revised and Updated) I went ahead and bought this one for my Kindle. Great decision – it is one of those books that is fun to read while also adding (hopefully) long-lasting value. To make it short: Business Analytics professionals should read Naked Statistics. We work with data on a daily basis and there is an increasing emphasis on Predictive Analytics. Professionals therefore have a growing need for a decent working knowledge of statistics.
Many people have a hard time with statistics. College and university courses usually throw around a wild mix of scary looking formulas containing lot’s of Greek symbols. It certainly took me a while to make sense of my professor’s scribble. As a result, lot’s of people develop a fear of of this subject. Naked Statistics, however, demonstrates that it is possible to teach a seemingly complex topic in a simple manner. Charles Wheelan provides a journey through some of the most important statistical concepts and he makes it fun and easy to understand.
Naked Statistics covers a broad range of the most fundamental statistical concepts such as median, standard deviation, probability, correlation, regression analysis, central limit theorem and hypothesis testing. Each concept is explained in simple terms. The author also uses a mix of fictitious stories (some of them are funny) and real-life examples to show how things work and why they are relevant. Math is kept to a bare minimum – you will only find a few formulas in the main text. Reading is easy and fun. I was surprised to find that I devoured many chapters late at night in bed (I don’t usually read business books that late).
The normal distribution – no need to be afraid
Naked Statistics is a great read. It provides you with a sound working knowledge of statistics and it actually motivates you to dig deeper (I pulled out one of old text books). For those people who know statistics, this book can help you brush up on some concepts. Analytics professionals might also want to recommend this read to colleagues who start working with predictive analytics and other advanced tools. Students should buy a copy before they attend statistics classes – they will certainly be able to grasp the more advanced subjects more easily. I wish I had had this book back at university. It would have saved me some sleepless nights. Two thumbs up – Charles Wheelan does strip the dread from the data.
Some of you might have noticed that the posting frequency on this blog has decreased a bit. I have been traveling more than ever before. This past Saturday, I returned from a 15 day business trip to San Francisco. As tough as traveling sometimes is, it does provide you with some quiet time for reading. And that’s exactly what I did on those 13 hour flights. Right before I left, Amazon.com had posted a number of fantastic new business books in their monthly 3.99 Kindle promotion section. There are a bunch of really good books this month. One stood out.
“How will you measure your life” is a relatively new book by famous innovation expert Clayton Christensen. It is based on a speech he gave to the 2010 graduating class of Harvard Business School. This is not another business book. Instead, Christensen provides powerful and provocative ideas for finding meaning and happiness in our life. Sounds like a self-help book? Not at all. Christensen blends personal stories with deep business research. The combination of business ideas and personal life is what makes this book such an enjoyable and valuable read. Christensen looks at some of the more well-known theories such as Herzberg or the discovery-driven planning approach. He then applies those theories to our own personal life and derives some very interesting ideas and thoughts. As a business professional, I really enjoyed this combination and it left me thinking about my own career and personal life. The book is structured in three sections:
- Finding happiness in your career
- Finding happiness in your relationships
- Staying out of Jail
The book roped me in and I ended up reading it in an entire session. Anyone interested in business will most likely enjoy this read. Two thumbs up! The book is currently available for just USD 3.99 (Kindle version). Make sure to grab your copy before the offer expires.
Look out for some hopefully exciting posts in the next two weeks. I will be heading back to San Francisco next week to attend OSIsoft’s vCampus Live event. This technical conference focuses on developing powerful analytics applications with the OSIsoft PI server. I am especially excited about the opening day keynote: Stephen Few will be speaking. You will see some notes and photos on this blog soon.
Copyright – Christoph Papenfuss
Kindle Touch Review
Reading business books is one of my favorite activities. You can probably imagine how delighted I was when I received a brand new Kindle Touch as a present. This is the third Kindle I have owned since the first generation. And let me tell you – the Kindle Touch is awesome! Amazon managed to make a great product even better. It is so nice that I ended up leaving my beloved iPad at home during our last vacation. I have read over five books on the Kindle Touch in the past three weeks. Continue reading
ZARRELLA’S HIERARCHY OF CONTAGIOUSNESS
A few days ago I bought and downloaded the ubiquitous eBook Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas. There is a lot of stuff about social media out there but I find that many materials are fuzzy and hype-oriented. Dan Zarrella’s book is definitely different and I think that Business Analytics professionals like you will enjoy the book.
Social media have changed the way we market to our customers. But reaching the right people is not all that easy as you have probably experienced. The basic idea of Zarrella’s book is to look at why certain ideas are contagious and what you can do to make sure that your message is heard in the various social media channels. Zarrella introduces a useful model (Zarrella’s Hierarchy) that helps explain how messages get spread through social media. It is a hierarchy of three criteria:
- Exposure: People need to be exposed to a piece of content.
- Attention: Once people are exposed, will they actually notice the message?
- Motivation: Once an idea has been noticed, will people share it with others? Continue reading
Do you love to read? I do. Business books are high up on my personal favorite list. Luckily, the Kindle and the iPad make it so super easy these days to find and enjoy new books. While I was returning home from a recent trip to London, the person sitting next to me on the plane asked me about some book recommendations. Why not share some ideas here on the blog? The following seven books belong to my current list of favorite books. All of these books have one thing in common: I keep coming back to them. The insights are either so profound and interesting or the book is that fun to read.
- Simply Strategy (“Financial Times” S.) – The shortest route to the best strategy
Strategy is always a fascinating topic and but way too many books are too complicated and boring. This book is different. The authors break-down the strategy development process into simple steps and they provide two case studies to highlight how the principles work. It is really fun to read. You literally want to sit down after each chapter and try the different things out yourself. The authors have done a fine job. The design of book is a true eye-catcher as well.
- The 33 Strategies of War (Joost Elffers Books)
One of the first classic books about strategy was Sun Tzu’s ‘Art of War’. Managers around the globe have a copy sitting in their offices. This book goes much further: The author researched famous military strategies and develops several ideas that apply to modern businesses. What makes this book unique is the amazing storytelling. Author Peter Greene has collected a huge library of fascinating stories to highlight his points. This is a book you will pick up over and over again. The stories are that interesting. The title is a bit aggressive, but the content is amazing.
- How to Have Kick-Ass Ideas: Shake Up Your Business, Shake Up Your Life
Creativity is one of those areas that we tend to overlook when it comes to personal and organizational success. Many people think of themselves as not being creative. Yet, we admire creative people. This book takes a nice and sometime funny approach to teaching us how to be more creative. There are great exercises that will make you think.
- TRUE PROFESSIONALISM : The Courage to Care About Your People, Your Clients, and Your Career
What does it take to be a true professional? What does it take to gain the respect of our clients and colleagues? Is it all about knowledge? The answer is “No”. This book provides amazing insights into what constitutes a ‘true professional’. David Maister, provides profound ideas and challenges to improve your overall market value and success. This is one of those books that can really change your career. My copy has traveled across the globe many times and I keep coming back to it.
- Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery
Death by Powerpoint? We have all sat through too many boring presentations. One bullet point at a time. And most of those presentations fail to grab our attention. Garr Reynolds proposes a different model. The old bullet-point presentations are outdated and need be replaced with a new presentation style. This book is really fun to read and it will change your perspective on presenting. Watch out: Once you have read this book you will be a different person.
- The Management Mythbuster
TQM, Six Sigma, BSC, Budgeting. Oh boy, there is no shortage in new management ideas. But do they all work? David Axson has written a fun book about various management practices. He uses hilarious storytelling to highlight some of the absurd situations we encounter in modern business life. You will really enjoy reading this book while also developing a critical eye that can help you pick the right practices for your business. But watch out: you will not be able to put this book down.
- Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
We all spend a lot of time trying to sell ideas and messages. But it is really hard. Most ideas fail to inspire. Whether it is a new product, an idea for our next vacation, etc.. This classic book outlines what makes ideas sticky. The authors introduce a few principles that you need to be aware of and each one of them is highlighted through some seriously fascinating stories. The lessons apply to various aspects of our life. Be aware: The book will change the way you communicate.
Have fun with this. If you want more ideas, feel free to check out my Amazon.com reading list as well. Happy Reading!
P.S.: Many people ask me why I have a Kindle and an iPad. Here is why.