Persuasion (Photo: HarperCollins)Of all the Dragons on the Canadian version of Dragon’s Den, Arlene is my favourite. So when I saw a copy of her book Persuasion: A New Approach to Changing Minds in paperback and on sale, I snapped it up.

I’m quite fond of business books, even though I don’t really have business-y designs (or even management designs right now – after more than six years as a writer and just under five in management roles, I’m quite happy to take a sharp career shift into something that’s a bit moreĀ me. Never say never though. I’m learning not to rule anything out). I think they have important lessons to teach us about leadership, human interaction, smart decisionmaking and the ability to critically evaluate our successes and setbacks.

I find Arlene really inspiring. At 31, as a divorced single mom without a high school diploma, her prospects didn’t look good. But flash-forward a decade and she’s a major marketing CEO. How can you not get inspired by that? Arlene made me feel – at a time where I was scared and doubting my decision to career change and head back to school – like all the risks might just be worth the reward after all.

In particular, I liked her chapters on avoiding the trap of talking ourselves out of success (who hasn’t had that ‘I’m not good enough’ voice pop into their head from time to time? I know I have) and on the qualities of honesty, authenticity and listening.

There’s not a lot of newness in this book – and to be perfectly fair, a lot of Arlene’s concepts involve a relatively common-sense approach to thinking and problem-solving – but it’s delivered in a frank, accessible and inspiring way with plenty of personal anecdotes. I found that this was a case of reading the right book at the right time. I’m so glad I picked it up.


The Tipping Point


The Tipping Point (Photo: Hachette Book Group)Lots of people, including my mom and my brother, absolutely love the work of Malcolm Gladwell, but I have to admit that I haven’t really paid him much attention up until this point. But with final papers and exams looming, I’m looking for distractions. So when I found a copy of The Tipping Point on my parents’ bookshelf, I thought that I might give it a try.

I’m so glad I did. I went in with zero expectations, which helped, but what I found was a well-crafted story about how ideas can spread, why some take hold and others don’t, and where they come from. Gladwell showcases three distinct sets of people (mavens, connectors and salespeople – I’m pretty sure that if I was going to place myself in one of his categories, I’d be a connector) who all have essential roles to play in the spread of ideas, which Gladwell likens to the spread of epidemics.

It’s a neat theory, and for someone like me who likes exploring trends and wondering about the hows and whys behind them, there’s lots to chew on in this book.

The Tipping Point is written in kind of the same vein (although a little gentler) as Freakonomics, so if you like that sort of thing, this is a title you should probably pick up. It’s an easier read than I expected it to be, and a bit samey in places, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.