For the Journal

Effort continues to replace humans with cameras on fishing boats

Several years into the controversial effort to bolster Alaska’s fisheries observer program, a top federal fisheries official defended the work at a Seattle gathering of fishermen. Eileen Sobeck, the NOAA Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, took the stage this past Nov. 18 to talk to fishermen gathered for the annual Fish Expo event to recap the program. Observers are the eyes and ears on boats, collecting a range of data, she explained. “We have been monitoring fisheries for decades, and we do it in a lot of different ways,” Sobeck said. But the details of the program have been under fire over the past few years. Federal efforts to put a human on smaller boats was met with concerns about safety and efficiency, and fishermen’s requests to use cameras have had logistical difficulties. Over the past few years, the effort to use cameras has increased nationwide, and the National Marine Fisheries Service has been tasked with sorting out how to make that work, both logistically and cost-wise. Over 10 years, the National Marine Fisheries Service has helped fund more than 30 electronic monitoring, or EM, pilot programs. Expenses include the cost of cameras, the cost to install them, and the cost of going through the immense amount of data they can collect. “We have, collectively, an interest in being as cost-effective as we can possibly be,” Sobeck said. That effort has translated into regional electronic monitoring plans that were finished more than a year ago, and are now being implemented with plans for regular reviews, said George LaPointe, one of the point people on the project. Although monitoring in some fisheries has developed successfully, like in the groundfish fisheries, LaPointe said, the agency is still working toward certain implementation, such as in Alaska’s small boat fixed gear and pot fisheries, where the target date is 2018. That fleet includes about 630 vessels right now, with a much smaller number that have opted in for 2017. The EM development effort has taken several years, from the 2013 decision to restructure the observer program, to 2016, when 51 vessels participated in a pre-implementation program. This year, the agency is hoping that 120 of the smaller fixed gear and pot boats will be on board with the program, preparing for 2018 implementation. For 2018, the vessels that are required to have some monitoring, but not be covered full-time, will have the option of electronic or human observation. As the agency has worked on implementation, several challenges have arisen, LaPointe said. “We can put cameras on boats. And we can get the data out of those. But it’s expensive,” he said. Now, work is underway to find a more efficient way to review the camera-collected data. Ideally, the agency wants accurate fish identification from computers, rather than requiring humans to review the data. While the agency is helping fund EM for now, LaPointe said they eventually want to transition to funding the program on its own. The agency is looking both at regular cameras, and stereo cameras, mostly testing those on longline boats. Those are machine vision systems, which ideally can process the imagery as fish come on board, limiting the time it takes to process images, as well as the cost. But it’s still in testing phase. The agency has heard years of critiques on the program, from costs to the logistical difficulties boats face in carrying an observer or camera. But in the November discussion, the first question was about fishermen who want to help test EM. “There are some remote places that would like to try this stuff,” Doug Rhodes, a longliner out of Prince of Wales, told the agency. He said in past years, he hadn’t been to a port where he could get a camera to try, but thought that many rural fishermen would give it a shot if there was a way to let them install it or get it installed at a closer port. Although that’s not yet possible, Suzanne Romain from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission said the ultimate goal is to make the technology open source. Eventually, they want a system that fishermen can install themselves, she said. That’s one way to keep the cost down, and ultimately, minimizing the cost of the program is a primary goal. Fishermen in the North Pacific, unlike their Atlantic counterparts, have borne much of the cost of observation, although the agency has helped with costs of testing pilot electronic monitoring programs, and have said that it’s too much added expensive, particularly for small boat, lower-margin fisheries. Addressing that is a goal, Sobeck said. “We are trying to be innovative,” Sobeck said. “We are trying to find cost savings.”

The Bookworm Sez: Be the best at being your own boss

Another desk at the office is empty this week. Another co-worker packed up, leaving the place short-handed. Another downsize, and another reason for worry. What will you do if you’re next? You can’t just start over but you can’t retire yet, either. So read the new book “Be Your Best Boss” by William R. Seagraves, and see if you have what it takes for a new beginning. William Seagraves likes to drive. When he’s with friends or colleagues, he’s always the first to offer his car, which is a good metaphor for his worklife: he likes to be in the driver’s seat in business. Yes, he enjoyed some autonomy in his last position, but he says, “I could not stand (the) lack of control.” Seagraves left his corporate job and tried his hand at being an entrepreneur (“That scary twelve-letter word”) in a few different ways before he discovered something he liked. Today, he runs a successful company that helps entrepreneurs get started; in this book, he offers guidance on deciding if owning a business is for you. First: what’s your pain? Are you being forced out by younger workers? Downsized? Or are you disillusioned with corporate life? What are your passions? Knowing answers to those questions will help winnow your options and overcome the “Yeah, Buts.” Look at your skills and experiences and understand that you’ve already won half the battle. You know how to play nice with others. You’ve grown a thick skin, “practiced making money,” and learned the rules of a lot of games. Many of the traits you’ll need to be an entrepreneur are inherent in you now. Next, take the quiz Seagraves includes and understand that “size matters.” Are you more of a “Company of One” kind of person? Would you be better as “Boss of a Few”? Is a “Business of Many” more your style? And what about a franchise? Know the pros and cons of these entrepreneurial methods, take things “one step at a time,” keep in mind that change is the “only constant,” and remember that “… a smart business owner always plans for the exit, and there are more options than you might think.” Self-employment: the most frustrating, irritating, horrible, wonderful, awesome, terrific thing you’ll ever do for yourself. Are you ready? “Be Your Best Boss” will help you decide. As you might expect, author William R. Seagraves is mostly encouraging in his book. There’s a lot of surface positivity here, but entrepreneurial readers with a mindset of doing it will absolutely find the help they need to do it right. I was happy to note plenty of quizzes to guide future business owners into the kind of endeavor that best fits their personality and work-style, and the Pros and Cons pages here are invaluable. While younger entrepreneurs might appreciate this book, it really seems to be more for older readers who’ve been in the workforce awhile. Corporate life may have soured for Boomers and early Gen-Xers, but “Be Your Best Boss” won’t leave them empty handed. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Simple steps to success for newbies

Your to-do list doubled overnight. That seems to happen once or twice a week, and it never gets any better. Tasks are finished and something else replaces them, which is what you’re told happens when you’re an entrepreneur — but if you read “The 100” by Tom Salonek, it might help you keep the list to a manageable status. If only your business grew as quickly as your to-do list, right? When you’re running a new company, there’s always something to remember, which is where Tom Salonek can help: since starting his Minneapolis business in 1991, he’s been keeping track of things that work to make a business operate successfully. At the top of the list is happiness. While you’re undoubtedly putting in a lot of hours now, it’s important to have a work-life balance that makes you happy. Step away occasionally to reassess yourself, and be sure to offer the same happiness opportunities to those who work for you. Learn the power of doing less, which is really just a method of time management. This book can help you have more effective meetings, and it can help you with employee retention. Two keys to the latter are knowing the difference between engagement and silly perqs, and giving employees a bit of scheduling autonomy. Use this book to know exactly how to get new hires up to speed faster. Then, show them the way to strong job satisfaction through encouragement, guidance, and praise for a job well done. Hire smart, hire slow, but fire fast when you need to. That goes for employees, as well as for vendors. Once you’ve got your best team, ask them for input on the important aspects of your business. Hold internal town-hall sessions, and determine your business’ core values, so you can help your employees to fully embrace them. Finally, relax. Use each point of this book individually, piecemeal, slowly. You’re in this for the long haul. Take your time to get there. “The 100,” I have to say, is a little rough around the edges. Author and Intertech owner Tom Salonek jumps into his list with no fanfare, save but a quick introduction that doesn’t really help set the tone of what’s to come and causing not just a little confusion. There’s a lot of repetition here, a lot of too-enthusiastic U-Rah-Rah-ing, plenty of commonsensical advice, and many things that will make established businesspeople roll their eyes. But that’s okay. This book doesn’t seem to be for them anyhow. The real appeal here, I think, is for business newbies who need bullet-points to guide them through the storminess of start-up. “The 100” is very methodical, it covers lots of steps in small bites, the final chapter consists of a list of helpful websites, and it’s relatively quick to read. That all adds up to a book that seasoned businesspeople will probably find redundant in their work lives, but that entrepreneurs may need to live by for awhile. And if you lean toward that second category, then put “The 100” on your growing to-do list. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: The courage to say ‘yes’

For far too long, you’ve been holding back. Opportunities have presented themselves, and you’ve passed on them. Chances have leaped in front of you and you skipped them, but you’re not sure why. Some days, you feel like you’re in a 10-foot-deep rut; in the book “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes, you’ll see how to get out. With two babies and a “tween” at home, several mega-hit productions, and hundreds of employees on her payroll, writer-creator-producer Shonda Rhimes had ample reason for turning down requests. She was busy — and she was also terrified. Rhimes is a private person, an introvert’s introvert. She hated publicity, interviews, and foofaraw, all of which scared her to the point of panic. “NO” was a much safer word until, on Thanksgiving Day a few years ago, her sister said six words that set Rhimes back on her heels: “’You never say yes to anything.’” A few days later, after those words sunk in, Rhimes realized how wrong it was that her sister was right. Rhimes was “miserable” and knew that she shouldn’t be, so before she was tempted to let the idea go forever, she texted a friend and vowed to say “YES” to everything scary for one years’ time. Almost immediately, the “Universe” sent her the first challenge: an invitation to speak at her alma mater’s graduation. Next came an invitation to interview with Jimmy Kimmel and, said Rhimes when it was done, “I didn’t die.” She said yes to letting go of outdated ideas about motherhood. She became “a big social butterfly” before learning to say yes to play. As an F.O.D. (a “First. Only. Different.”), she’d already said yes to “literally changing the face of television,” but she had to learn to watch the yeses she stuffed in her face… and she said yes to weight loss. She said yes to those who inspired her. She said yes to compliments. She said yes to learning how to appropriately say “no.” She said yes to singlehood because everybody’s “happy ending” is different. And she said yes because “Saying yes… is courage.” With all she has on her plate — one high-profile company, three kids, four hit TV shows — you should wonder where author Shonda Rhimes found time to write a book. And you should be glad she did. With wisdom, wit sharper than a Ginsu knife, and the warmth of a BFF, Rhimes takes readers on her year-plus-long journey, from “It’s NEVER going to get better” to a life of joy, on a road filled with potholes of self-doubt, hairpin curves, and the realization that inviting fears into her life wasn’t going to kill her. Yes, I loved it. Inspirational? YES, and because her TV creations are dramas, you’ll be surprised and delighted to find that Rhimes is a funny writer, too. She’s also thoughtful, and her experiences will make you think: maybe you do need play. Maybe you do need to learn when “no” is appropriate. Maybe you do need “Year of Yes,” no holding back. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Do tomorrow’s list today

You tried to make a big sale last week. A sale would’ve made you money and it would’ve made your numbers go up, which would definitely have made you happy. Alas, you just couldn’t make it happen, but if you read “Organize Tomorrow Today” by Dr. Jason Selk & Tom Bartow with Matthew Rudy, you’ll see how you might’ve made it so. Just like everybody else in the world, you have a finite amount of time: 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Part of that time is spent at work but, for many reasons, making the utmost of each precious minute can sometimes seem impossible. Selk, Bartow, and Rudy say that learning to use “the power of the mind” is the way to boost productivity: the best tool, as it turns out, is behind your eyes. The second-best is the method for which they named this book. No doubt, you create a to-do list each day, but the authors say you should do tomorrow’s list this afternoon, long before quittin’ time. Then prioritize by choosing the three most important (not urgent) tasks and setting tomorrow’s time-frame for finishing them. Write everything in long-hand, by the way; it will imprint better in your brain. Choose those tasks — and everything in your day — wisely. Many people “try to focus on too much and lose focus” on the big things, but heeding the most important items on your list (one at a time) can set the stage for success. Maximize your time by finding minutes throughout your day to finish up minor things that need doing. You’d be surprised at how many three- or five-minute blocks of time you have, and what you can get done. Understand how to conquer “fight-thrus.” Know how to evaluate and track your own performance and success. Learn what to say — and not to say — to yourself and to others. Embrace “abnormal” and, above all, learn to stop worrying about what you can’t control. There are simple things you can control. Use them. Did I read this book before?  I asked myself that once or twice but no, I didn’t. “Organize Tomorrow Today” just felt like it. Indeed, there’s a lot of familiar territory in this book but then I took a second hard look: authors Selk, Bartow, and Rudy dig a little deeper in each chapter than other, similar books and I ultimately liked that — but I must admit that I’m awfully tired of business books that draw analogies to sports. That doesn’t make this book bad – just, sometimes, it’s not very interesting. Maybe, inside the good and the bad here, the best advice is the simplest: don’t tackle too much, too early. The authors advocate taking one chapter of their book, adapting it and adopting it before moving to another chapter-point, which makes it all much easier to accept and, perhaps, enjoy. Ignore that caveat, and this book will seem like every other one of its ilk. Accept it, and “Organize Tomorrow Today” might ultimately make you a success. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Thinking like Einstein made simple

Right in front of your nose. That’s where you usually find the solution to sticky problems: always right there, where you weren’t necessarily looking. This time, though, there’s no easy answer, no matter how much you ponder and pick but if you read the new book “How to Think Like Einstein” by Scott Thorpe, you could become a genius at things like this. Ever since revealing his Theory of Relativity in 1905, Albert Einstein’s held a special place in science, history, and culture. E = mc2 and Einstein = genius. That was true in the early years of Einstein’s career: fresh out of university, he was alight with “truly revolutionary thinking” but, alas, the fire waned as he got older. “He was still brilliant,” says Thorpe, but Einstein didn’t do the kind of work he did when he was a lad. Thorpe blames Einstein’s growing knowledge and his decreasing willingness to “break the rules.” And that, Thorpe says, is what made Einstein so darn smart: he was happy to ignore conventional wisdom and get out of “rule ruts.” Though we are trained to heed rules in life and in work, breaking them, he claims, is the “universal principle” for thinking like a genius. Wrestling with the unsolvable starts with writing the problem as a statement that “focuses your mind.” Identify why you want the problem solved and what you’ve already tried to do. What are the “rules” that might govern this issue? Once you’ve identified the problem, “create a better one” by “resizing” the conundrum, making it simpler, and changing your attitude towards it. Try to look at it differently, then write it down again. Journal your ideas, and remember that there are no “bad ideas” when problem-solving.  Learn methods to escape those irksome rule ruts. Know how to bust rules and “ignore inconvenient facts.” And finally, keep in mind that “Mistakes are essential to growing ideas.” Don’t make them on purpose but don’t discount them, either. Sometimes, it’s too easy to get too close to a problem, which makes it impossible to get past the issue. “How to Think Like Einstein” might help. And then again, it might not. I thought it odd that author Scott Thorpe puts the gist of his entire book on the bottom of the very first page: “…you’ve got to break the rules.” You know everything you need to know right there; what follows is just enhancement for those six words. It also struck me that problem-solving often doesn’t have the luxury of time, of which Thorpe’s process demands a fair amount. Readers do receive a nicely-varied, well-researched wealth of interesting illustrative anecdotes, but they were more entertaining than helpful in the immediate raison d’être of this book. I think there’s goodness here — in particular, an entire chapter of group exercises for breaking out of the “rule ruts” — but past that, help is going to take some serious digging. Indeed, the solutions you’ll find in “How to Think Like Einstein” are not as plain as the nose on your face. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Santa’s lessons on leading

The holidays couldn’t get any busier. Between mandatory-attendance parties, decorating your home, buying gifts, wrapping them, and getting your cards out in time, your plate is full and you still have a business to run. Don’t pout — instead see how The Big Guy does it by reading “The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus” by Eric Harvey. Imagine the logistics: tens of millions of households. Billions of toys and gifts. The biggest team of toymakers ever assembled, and eight tiny reindeer, plus back-ups. Surely, it’s enough to give any Old Elf a headache but, for hundreds of years, without fail, Santa has delivered Christmas with a personal touch. So how does he do it? The first thing, says Santa, is to make sure everybody — from senior reindeer all the way down to newly-hired elves — knows your business mission and its meaning. Then, keep your employees first in mind because “you can’t possibly focus on your mission without also focusing on the folks that make your mission happen.” Hire wisely, Santa says, which is a lesson he learned the hard way: you can well imagine what a mess it is to have a Reindeer Team that’s off-kilter. If you promote from within, be sure the person is ready and able to handle the job; you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle if you do. Once you’ve got a great team, teach them to be successful, then be sure to recognize them for the great job they do for you. Much like the Big Guy, you’ll want to make your list (plan) and check it twice (to be sure you’re staying the course). Touch base with employees often, to ensure that they’re on-track, too. On that note, pay attention to the people who work for you: both in how they perceive you and in the suggestions they might have for the job. Help your employees to accept change, utilize “Santa’s CALM Model,” and finally, be a leader. The elves expect that from Santa and “your people expect the same of YOU!” You’ve already dropped a few hints. Everybody knows what to get you for Christmas, and it might have something to do with your business. Even Santa knows what you need and he wraps it up here. And while that may seem somewhat juvenile to the Scroogiest of readers, I had to admit that “The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus” offers good guidance. With humor that sometimes borders on too-cute, (co?) author Eric Harvey easily relates the business issues of the North Pole to that of, really, any workplace. His advice can be repetitive, but it’s sound and simple enough to implement quickly; in fact, each chapter ends with quick takeaways and the book itself wraps up with checklists and final reminders. That’s a nice surprise at this busiest of times. This particular edition of this book is a new version of an old classic, and it’s worth reading all over again. If you want a happy ho-ho-holiday at work, “The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus” will make you shout. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Attracting, and keeping, customers

A lasso just won’t do it. Neither will a harness, a come-along, or a whole pack of sheepdogs. No, there are better ways to get customers to your door, but what are they? What’s the secret to snaring new clients?  Author Joe Calloway knows, and in his new book “Magnetic: The Art of Attracting Business,” he draws it out. A long line down the sidewalk. For a business owner, there’s nothing better than to see customers waiting to give you their money. It’s irresistible and, says Joe Calloway, it’s “what magnetic looks like.” Magnetic is a way of business that attracts customers old and new. It’s a method for pulling in new clients by tapping into “the greatest marketing program of all time,” also known as word of mouth. “The single most important factor in the future success of your business,” he says,” is this: what your customers tell people about their experience with you.” Making sure that it’s positive is “the single most important thing… to grow your business.” That’s done by determining the three things you want your customers to say about you, and the three things that you “must get right every time.” Those, says Calloway, are the “guiding elements of” a successful business. They can’t be general; they must be specific and “intentional” because you can’t, of course, control people but you can control your corporation and its culture. Don’t rest on being “different,” however; Calloway says that being better is the key to magnetism. It’s also important to know that the greatest threat is irrelevancy: remember that your customers are connected, most will research you online, they know about the next new thing (even if you don’t), they have other choices in purchasing, and they won’t settle for anything less than immediacy. Don’t, therefore, sit on an email or tweet from a customer; to do so is to lose out. Finally, remember that while you should work to “re-earn” customer loyalty every day, there will be times when “no” is the proper response to a client request. Cultivate a “filter” and don’t feel guilty when you listen to it. Common-sense stuff?  Yes, it is, and somewhat repetitive but be patient. Once you get to the nitty-gritty of what’s inside “Magnetic,” there’s plenty to learn. Using his own business as an example, boosted by a plethora of stories from colleagues, author Joe Calloway gives readers sure-fire ways of changing the inside of a business in order to affect its outside success. There are no accidents or incidentals in the teaching in this book; Calloway is deliberate and, as it seems, politely short with problem clients. He doesn’t apparently suffer fools gladly; readers might actually find a few surprises on that note, which may lead to real empowerment. The repetition here can be a distraction, but I have to say that I learned quite a bit from this book. If, in fact, you’re looking to gain clients with the right amount of efficiency, I think you’ll find “Magnetic” to be quite attractive. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: How to spell M-O-N-E-Y

There’s a little jingle in your pocket, and you can’t wait to spend it. So what will you buy? Will you purchase candy or a toy? Is there enough for a present for Mom or Grandma? Or, after you read “M is for Money” An Economics Alphabet” by Debbie & Michael Shoulders, illustrated by Marty Kelley and learn a little more, will you put the jingle in your bank? Why do we even have money? The answer starts with farmers… About 10,000 years ago, when humans decided to stay in one place and grow crops, someone eventually had an (A for) Abundance. In their little (C for) Civilization, then, they were able to trade crops for food and other items. Because it’s kind of hard to carry a bushel of grain in your pocket, money was created as a stand-in. This all has to do with (E for) Economics, which is “the study of how we get things we want and need,” how barter works, and how businesses operate. It’s “the way people obtain items that may be scarce or in-demand.” Let’s say you have (G for) Goods and Services, like lemonade and brownies to sell. The kid next door is selling milk and cookies. You can lower your price to attract customers but you’ll want (I for) Income from your lemonade and brownies, so you won’t want to sell too cheaply. On the other hand, you can raise prices if it’s a hot day and people are hungry. The kid next door can do the same, if she wants — which is a basic definition of a (F for) Free Market. So what do you do if you want more (M for) Money? You can ask your family, friends and neighbors to pay you for special chores, which makes you a (P for) Producer. You can cut your (S for) Spending, and put your money away for interest, which you get when your bank makes a (L for) Loan to someone. You could try making something at home out of the (R for) Resources you already have, and you’ll have (Z for) Zero Profit Condition. Or you could just ask for a bigger allowance. How easy is that? As a parent, that’s a question you have: how easy should it be to explain economics to a child who knows what money is? The answer is inside “M is for Money.” Starting at the earliest possible point, authors Debbie and Michael Shoulders give kids thorough lessons on supply and demand, housing markets, quotas, taxes, and other facets of economics in a way they’ll understand — particularly if you’re around to help fill in the blanks they may still have. It might fill in the blanks that you have, too. Though this book may seem like it’s meant for small children (and the illustrations by Marty Kelley support that), the concepts here could be quite advanced for them. No, “M is for Money” is best for 8-to-11-year-olds. Those are the kids who’ll want to spend time with it. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Getting rich through grift

Your numbers weren’t picked last night. Ah, another worthless lottery ticket. No shopping spree or mortgage payoff for you. You’ll have to go to work and get your incredible wealth just like everybody else. Or, as you’ll read in “Prince of Darkness” by Shane White, you could become rich the old-fashioned way: through grift. Though he showed up in New York City in the wake of scandal, nobody knew for sure where Jeremiah G. Hamilton had come from. Some sources said he was born in the Caribbean — which he admitted to, but he also claimed Richmond, Va., as his first home. Nobody knew, though, because Hamilton, an African American man, spent most of his adult life hiding facts and creating fiction. Wherever he got his start, Hamilton launched himself early: in 1828, and “barely into his twenties,” he was involved in a counterfeit scam in Haiti that would’ve meant death, had he been caught. With the help of locals, however, he escaped and arrived in “Gotham,” but not without notice: newspapers of the day splashed the story, but Hamilton managed to keep mum on who’d helped him.  Almost immediately, he started borrowing money in a “frenetic, almost desperate” way, money he had no intention of paying back, which ultimately landed Hamilton in court: there were at least 10 lawsuits against him between 1830 and 1835, and there may’ve been more. Then came The Great Fire of 1835 in which “dozens of acres” of Manhattan were burned to the ground, along with the records of several businessmen who’d been convinced to invest with him. Hamilton denied the transactions, kept their $25,000, and gained the moniker of “Prince of Darkness.”   For the rest of his life — even after being forced to declare bankruptcy — Hamilton always landed on his feet, “shunned” other African Americans, and even invested in companies that overtly practiced racism. He died in 1875 in a “comfortable and elegant” residence he shared with his white wife and family. So why are history books silent on Hamilton’s story?  That’s a question author Shane White had, after he discovered Hamilton’s name and began digging. Could it have been due to the color of Hamilton’s skin? It’s possible, White says, but in “Prince of Darkness,” he also indicates that the lack of documentation may’ve been because Hamilton rankled white financiers and investors, and didn’t appear to care that he’d done so. That insouciance, in light of the racism that Hamilton surely endured, would be an interesting story itself but White embellishes the tale with an abundance of history and extensive biographies of other influential people of Hamilton’s time. That’s good — to a point — but it occasionally can also makes this book deadly dull. I found my mind wandering much more than I might’ve liked. So is this book worth reading?  I think so, but you may want to give it a rest now and then to regenerate yourself. Start it, take a break, repeat as necessary and you might find “Prince of Darkness” to be just the ticket. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Leading from the heart

If anybody asks, you’ll tell ‘em straight: you love your job. It’s perfect for you, and it takes advantages of your strengths. That’s plenty to love, although there are times when you wonder if it could be even better. According to author Tommy Spaulding, you might be surprised — and in his new book “The Heart Led Leader,” he explains. Changing your life and your organization, says Spaulding, is an 18-inch journey. That’s approximately how far it is from your brain to your heart. But by heart, he doesn’t mean the thing that pumps your blood, and he says he’s not being “touchy-feely.” Spaulding believes that love is at the very basis of every successful organization, and cultivating an unselfish desire to do good for others is integral to leadership. How many businesspeople do you know, for instance, who make it a point to know a little bit about each of their employees? Spaulding introduces readers to CEOs who do, and he explains how that genuine interest and compassion drives results in attainment, shareholder success, sustainability, and bottom lines. He tells stories about how love changed the cultures — and profitability — of formerly-failing companies. And he writes about one entrepreneur who forgave big, and the lives it changed. It’s all about relationships, he says, and one statement sums up everything: “do right.” It also helps to know who you are, who you serve, and who you love. That knowledge, says Spaulding, will make you a “Who Leader” and will further your path to become a Heart Led Leader. Other things to take with you: openness, which Spaulding claims works in places other than business; humility, which helps you think of others more; and emotional vulnerability, which allows others to be vulnerable, too. Have a keen passion for what you do and display it to your employees and customers. Practice selflessness by never losing sight of the overall team. Be someone who’s genuine. Have (and demonstrate) faith in yourself and those who work for you. Show empathy to employees by remembering that they have hard times, too.  Learn to forgive.  Offer encouragement. Be honest. Oh, I tried so hard to like this book. I really did. Instead, “The Heart Led Leader” kind of made me squirm: despite author Tommy Spaulding’s assurances that his method isn’t new-agey-touchy, I sure did feel like it was. Yes, I’ll admit that some of what Spaulding espouses is sound. Employees do appreciate caring bosses, and they’ll tend to emulate CEOs with passion. I can’t imagine having a workplace without dignity or authenticity, and every business owner in the world understands the importance of good relationships. But there are limits, I think, and this book tiptoed pretty close to there. The advice is good, in other words, but I question the open emotions-forward methods. I think what’s inside this book may certainly work in some places. In others, definitely not, and readers should be watchful of that. “The Heart Led Leader” may turn your business around — or you may not love it one bit. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]

The Bookworm Sez: Best advice is try, try again

If at first you don’t succeed … Was there ever a more irritating thing to say to a kid who cried, “I can’t”? Try, try again. Give it another whirl. Quitters never win and anything worth doing is worth doing well: all advice you hated hearing as a child but that you took with you to adulthood. And, as you’ll see in the new book “Gold Standard,” so did Kym Gold. As the third in a set of triplets born to parents who were expecting just one baby, Kym Gold fought for everything she got from the moment she entered the world. When her parents split, moved on and started new families, she felt lost. She hated creating a scene, but she longed to be seen as an individual, rather than a triplet or one of what seemed like too many kids. Though she was close to her sisters as teenagers, Gold said the girls were often at odds as they tried to find their own niches. Each of them had strengths that the others didn’t have; Gold, the organizer of the trio, realized that she had a flair for design and fashion, and she hated hearing “no.”  Those personality assets served her well when, as a teen, she discovered that certain clothing designers near her Malibu home would sell to her their damaged-and-defective t-shirts for a pittance. Gold mended and personalized the shirts, then sold them for a tidy profit at a small booth on the beach. She named her new business and set about learning how to run it, then entered design school, and tasted other careers.  During this time, Gold also got married, but she’d lost sight of a rule she’d learned from male family members in her childhood: never rely on a man. Gold’s husband cheated on her so she divorced him and she married someone else not long afterward. From there, Gold’s road to fame and True Religion jeans was a rocky one: she started and lost several clothing labels over the years, but she learned from each experience. She raised a family, and capital for more endeavors. And in the aftermath of losing her second husband and her business in the same day, Gold found her resolve… So what? Those were two words that came to my mind over and over. So author Kym Gold started a series of businesses. So she flitted from idea to idea. So she made and lost scads of money. Stand in line. So what? And then it hit me: try, try again. “Gold Standard” is the epitomical story of that old saying and Gold has the tenacity of a terrier. Her life, as depicted in this book, is like one of those bop-bags from childhood: she just kept bouncing back up. So what? So motivational. Keep in mind that this book is rough. It’s choppy, rambling, filled with childhood pity-partying and name-dropping, and it begs for a bit more formality — but overlook it, and you’ll find inspiration. For that alone, “Gold Standard” is worth a try. Terri Schlichenmeyer is the author of The Bookworm Sez, which is published in more than 200 newspapers and 50 magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. Schlichenmeyer may be reached at [email protected]
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