Books: The No Asshole Rule, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

Some of the more recent books that I’ve read are: The No Asshole Rule, Confessions of an Economic Hitman.The unread pile is well, still pretty high.

The No Asshole Rule, by Robert Sutton
I picked this up, thanks to numerous RSS feeds that I read stating this was a good read. And it was – its probably the most dog-eared book I own (next to Getting Things Done). Of the things I found useful were: common everyday actions that assholes use (its important to identify them, before they get to you), constructive confrontation, a Total Cost of Assholes (TCA) measurement, the incorrect ideas that “The more often you are right and the more often you win, the bigger jerk you can be“, recruiters that are assholes tend to hire those that are similar (assholes breed like rabbits), trivial power advantages can change the way people think and act (as Lord Acton used to say, power corrupts power, absolute power corrupts absolutely), pay (i.e. salary, remuneration) is the vivid sign of power difference, how to enforce the No Asshole Rule, tips for surviving an asshole ridden environment, relentlessly responding to irate people with calmness and respect, and most importantly, negative interactions have five times the effect on mood than positive interactions.

Of interest to those that work remotely: it seems that if you work mostly through email or conference calls (rather than face-to-face), you tend to fight more and trust each other less. This is due to the fact that facial expressions, verbal intonations, posture, and “group mood” can’t be communicated. Bob suggests “the technology may be fueling the problem rather than simply protecting you from it“.

I actually recommend the No Asshole Rule as a book to be read by all open source project contributors. If you work at home, or remotely, there are also tips and tricks to help you be a better person. In fact, reading through the book, I had already identified people I’d love to give a copy of the book to! I for one can tell you how bad it is when there’s an asshole on the project – I’ve faced a few in the last five or so years.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins
I don’t know how believable this story is, but if its anything to the truth, its one of those books that a lot of people might get angered by. I learned that the American Founding Fathers had envisioned the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. He puts the thought out that slavery still exists, its just in those factories in far-away lands making your Nike shoes, and Apple iPods – economically speaking, these people, while being exploited, are economically better off by earning even a tiny minimum wage (by international standards) that allow them to live a fairly average life in their countries, no? Its better than not working. He successfully predicts that the US dollar can crash badly when the OPEC nations look for a stronger currency, say like the Euro. This was back in 2002, and today in 2007, we’re seeing exactly this happen (thus currencies like the AUD are doing so much better against the USD, while countries like Malaysia who are “basket pegged” perform worse).

At least I’ve come to learn that the US State Department has a section on their website entitled Identifying Misinformation! They ask if John dreamed up a fantasy? Possible, but unlikely – I’m of the belief that EHMs exist to this very day. Maybe never to the degree that John Perkins states…

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