BIG PICTURE: "Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy," by Carl Shapiro and Hal R. Varian (Harvard Business School Press, 1998). To understand the new economy, we need a new economics. Right? Not so, argue Shapiro and Varian, both professors of economics at UC Berkeley: "Technology changes. Economic laws do not." Their case studies offer strategies for valuing, pricing, and leveraging the gold of this new era: information.
BEST PRACTICE: "Live Rich: Everything You Need to Know to Be Your Own Boss, Whoever You Work For," by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine (HarperBusiness, 1998). This is the second book by Pollan and Levine to urge readers to face what they already know: Money matters. In the best-selling "Die Broke" (HarperBusiness, 1998), they explored the right way to spend money. Now they explore how to earn it. Living rich means having "freedom to do whatever you want to do." And that takes money. Which leads to the first of their four boldly stated tenets: "Make money," "Don't grow, change," "Take charge" of your work life, and "Become a mercenary."
SLEEPER: "Semper Fi: Business Leadership the Marine Corps Way," by Dan Carrison and Rod Walsh (AMACOM, 1998). Business can seem like war. But war really is war, and the marines understand it better than anybody else. That's because the marines understand people — and they are relentless about recruiting and developing them. Carrison and Walsh, both former marines, show us why.
KEEPER: "The Guru Guide: The Best Management Ideas of the Top Management Thinkers," by Joseph Boyett and Jimmie Boyett (John Wiley & Sons, 1998). "The Guru Guide" is chock-full of familiar names: Warren Bennis, Peter Drucker, Michael Porter, Peter Senge, Margaret Wheatley. But it's more savvy than awestruck, and it's enormously utilitarian. It's a guide to the ideas driving the business conversation.
A version of this article appeared in the November 1998 issue of Fast Company magazine.