Selected Books on Business & Investing 商務與投資




 1. 向海派學習

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作者:馮兩努
出版社:香港明窗出版社
版次:一九九七年第二版
ISBN:962-357-396-0

本書借三位成功的上海大亨胡雪巖、杜月笙和包玉剛的經歷和做法來解讀為甚麼上海 人是中國商家的佼佼者。我是百份百的廣東人,小時候聽長輩們對上海生意人的評 論總是負面的多,在這群廣東人的印象中,上海人都是狡猾和不老實、祗講究表面 功夫的;細讀本書後,我發覺其實並不是如此簡單,書中這三位當時出色的商人都 有著個別真材實料的長處,值得我們去學習,例如胡雪巖處世之圓滑,講話時知道 如何避重就輕地不讓別人的感覺不好、當時首創向外國人貸款建造船廠、杜月笙對 顧客講究服務水準、包玉剛首創以與石油公司長期的合約為賣點,向匯豐銀行銀行 貸款來經營船運業務等。

閱讀個案分析的書籍雖然不會學到一個整體的理論,但卻從這些歷史中學到個別成 功人士的經歷,另有一番樂趣。



 2. 禮儀形象錦囊–社交禮儀及工作形象

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作者︰姜趙玉蓮
出版:香港明窗出版社有限公司
版次:二零零二年第四版
ISBN:962-357-789-3

作者在本書的前半部中講解求職與儀表和衣、食、住、行的禮節,到下半部由第六章 開始,便講述在職場中要建立的專業形象、說話的技巧和內涵的培養。由於作者是 銀行界的資深行政人員,以她個人豐富的歷練,把下半部寫得詳細又精彩。

我亦很同意作者提倡在家中和熟悉的親人也要講禮貌,我們不要因為是家人便省卻 講「謝謝」、「對不起」等,也不要用一些醜化性的別名來互相稱呼。



 3. 敢作敢為的成功秘訣–一個推銷員自我改進的真實故事


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作者︰馮兩努
出版:香港明窗出版社有限公司
版次:二零零零年修訂版第一版
ISBN:962-973-396-X

書中的主角是香港保險業的佼佼者黃經國先生,作者詳述他的奮鬥過程,從而讓讀者 學到很多實用的寶貴知識。其中的幾點包括(一)建立自信其實主要是除去自己的 弱點;(二)很多人好賭錢是源自喜歡冒險的個性,這樣不要去賭博,應該把這冒 險的精力用於做正當的生意上;(三)做生意除了肯冒險之外,在實行時有個完整 和正確的計劃亦是十分重要的;(四)成功之道建於勤奮、有耐性、願意不依賴別 人、願意聽取別人的意見、願意改變及突破和能把握機會﹔(五)以顧客的利益為 首要考慮,不要祗是為了賺快錢而向之推銷不合適的東西,能言出必行,這樣才能 慢慢把顧客對自己的信任和尊敬建立起來﹔(六)一個好上司是要以身作則的。

身為基督徒,我當然不同意書中主角所相信的風水和八字,但上述的種種是直得我們 去揣摩和學習的。



 4. Winning


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Authors: Welch, J. and Welch, S.
Publisher: NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Year: 2005
ISBN: 0-06-075394-3

In this book, the renowned former CEO of GE, Mr. Jack Welch, talks about running a business to win. This book is a summary of his decades of business experience, organized into the following major sections: (1) a review on relevant foundational business theories, (2) managing the company and its people, (3) handling the competition, (4) managing one's career, and (5) miscellaneous current issues. The authors state that the book is an organized summary of the answers for various questions asked worldwide.

It is any reader's great opportunity to learn from this world-class executive through reading his book. Mr. Welch is a great mentor who is generous in sharing his own knowledge. He is not afraid of sharing his successes, failures, and the lessons he has learned from them. His stories and experiences further validate the fact that, in general, the theories learned in the business school are very applicable in the real world. In addition to that, I am really impressed with the particular solutions or explanations given to some detailed and tough business questions. I always remember one thing that Mr. Welch said even before the publishing of this book: it is not hard to manage for the short term or to manage for the long term; it is the balancing between the two that is difficult in management. Similarly, the authors have done a great job in balancing communicating formal business knowledge and sharing many useful nuggets of knowledge from experience in various aspects of executive management.

The writing in this book is down-to-earth and the logic behind is clear and sensible. In each chapter, important concepts are organized as several important points that are further explained and supported with examples.

Through reading this book, one can also tell that Mr. Welch did run the company with all his heart when he was working at GE. In this book, he remembers many names of his former colleagues and the particular things that they had done or said.

This review is also on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.



 5. It's Your Ship


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Author: Captain Abrashoff, D. M.
Publisher: NY: Warner Books, Inc.
Year: 2002
ISBN: 0-446-52911-7

In this book, the captain of USS Benfold discusses the art of human resource management. He is very knowledgeable in managing subordinates so as to bring out their full potential. Helping subordinates succeed contributed to the overall outstanding performance of the ship.

Captain Abrashoff displays his understanding of the fact that managing a ship in the 21st century can no longer rely on the old military command-and-control method. Instead of going along with the status quo and thinking that he himself was the almighty, he knew that it was the crew who actually dealt with a problem first-hand and knew the issues involved. Furthermore, he also adopted the more humble way of constantly asking, "How can we perform a certain task better?" Moreover, He took the crew's welfare very seriously and implemented many detailed policies to enhance it. As a result, the crew's morale increased tremendously .

Many points in this book coincide with my own understanding of how to be a good leader. This book is full of wisdom gained from real practice. It is relatively harder to find equivalent nuggets of knowledge on human resource management in college textbooks.

This review is also on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.



 6. 一個名牌的誕生


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作者:蘇慧心、陳藹欣
出版:香港明窗出版社有限公司
版次:二零零四年四月第二版
ISBN:962-973-957-7

作者在本書中報導香港數個名牌商品或字號的「戰鬥史」,藉此研究數十年來令香港 成功的「香港精神」,鼓勵我們在現今的社會、經濟狀況中再接再勵。這些名牌包 括震雄集團、李錦記、奇華餅家、美心集團等,都是我們香港人熟悉的名字。綜合 這些成功地面對困難而歷久不衰的個案,我體會到除了基本的道德條件,例如有誠 信之外,近代中國人營商的主要成功要素離不開(一)能創造新的產品,做行家不 做的事情;(二)除了有迎合市場需要的新產品外,產品包裝亦要與時並進;(三) 能由家庭式經營成功地轉型到企業式的管理﹔(四)實行企業化管理時要保留一點 中國傳統的人情味文化﹔(五)留意世界趨勢,遇到外在困難時要有應變的能力, 能「先發制難」(be proactive)當然更好;(六)到暫時未有足夠法治的地方開 創業務時,明白不能依靠法律的保障,便要照當地的文化,依靠關係的保障。我讀 了這些個案,更了解現今很多香港的機構打入大陸市場的實情,也明白到它們怎樣 解決當中的問題。

我以前常有一個疑問,同樣是由大陸隻身來港,住在調景嶺、鯉魚門木屋的難民,相 信當時大家同樣是不大懂英文的人,為甚麼有人能成功地發展震雄、有人卻永遠祗 是留在小經營的框框?其中當然是有個人氣質、家庭背景、看事情之眼光等因素影 響,而這本書令我更深地體會到從商所需要的真材實料,我不禁聯想到小時候身邊 一些下了班祗知搓麻雀的大人,比起這些不斷奮鬥的成功例子,真是望塵莫及。



 7. Trading Up


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Authors: Silverstein, M. J., Fiske, N., and Butman, J.
Publisher: NY: Portfolio
Year: 2003
ISBN: 1-59184-013-9

In this book, the authors discuss the recent major trend of consumers paying premium prices for high-end goods in various categories. They range from cars to restaurant meals and toys for girls. This book is a thorough analysis on the reasons behind this trend and reviews each prominent example in its category in detail. Lastly, it gives advice to businesses that want to look for new opportunities to capture this social trend.

The major reasons behind this trend of trading up in certain categories of consumption include (1) a rising level of discretionary income in society, (2) the increased amount of international traveling Americans do, leading to increased sophistication in taste, (3) a longer dating period and higher rates of divorce leading to the increased demand of goods and services that are above the fulfillment utility-based functions, etc. Goods and services that can demand premium prices are those that let the individual consumer (1) "take care of me," (2) connect with others more easily, (3) satisfy his/her need of questing: learning and experiencing more, and (4) express his/her individual style.

In order to satisfy this burgeoning group of customers, traditional luxury brands are extending their lines of products/services to offer versions that are more affordable to the general public - without sacrificing their images. People are willing to pay more for these relatively more expensive items. As a result, they have re-drawn the supply-and-demand curve in each such category.

The predecessor of this book, Bobos in Paradise, discusses the contemporary group of consumers who demand higher-quality goods/services because they are "serious in what they do." For example, serious weekend chefs demand Williams-Sonoma cookware. Trading Up is a more comprehensive book that explains this social phenomenon in a marketing-oriented fashion.

This review refers to the original version of the book.



 8. The First 90 Days


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Authors: Watkins, M.
Publisher: Boston: Harvard Business School Press
Year: 2003
ISBN: 1-59139-110-5

This book teaches readers what a new manager is to do in the first ninety days of his/her tenure so as to succeed in an organization. This book presents a few propositions about new leaders taking on new jobs. They include the following. (1) The root causes of transition failure lie in the deadly interaction between the situation and the new leader. (2) There are systematic methods and techniques that a new leader can learn and use to enhance a successful transition. (3) It is important to build credibility from the very beginning. (4) Companies should develop a standard transition framework for their new managers so that the company is a level playing field for promising new hires. As a result, success is not merely due to the accidental placing of a person in a situation that happens to be a good match to his/her skills. Having successful new managers will eventually return great benefits to an organization.

The author goes on to teach the detailed techniques involved in such a transition. Handling such a situation is very similar to doing a SWOT analysis tailored for a new leader coming on board. Overall, the new manager is called to handle one of the four major types of strategic situations: (1) start-up, (2) sustaining success, (3) realignment, and (4) turnaround. Each calls for a different set of emphases and techniques. Further, he discusses how a new leader should get along with his/her new boss, subordinates, and team members. Moreover, personally, the new leader should mentally acknowledge the fact that he/she has been promoted to this new position and also take care of the home front to ensure a smooth transition for the whole family.

The information presented in this book is clear and logical. Most chapters start with the same format: a short case and a list of common mistakes made by new leaders. The text is supplemented with tables and diagrams for enhancing understanding. The writing style is quite academic.

Overall, the author has given some important guidance to readers on this important topic of handling a transition successfully.

This review is also on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.



 9. Intellectual Capital


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Author: Stewart, T. A.
Publisher: NY: Doubleday
Year: 1999
ISBN: 0-385-48381-3

In this book, the author gives a very comprehensive and thorough treatment of different types of intellectual capital in a company. They are: human capital, structural capital, and customer capital.

Human capital is important because it is through the knowledgeable employees that a company can create new solutions and invoke innovations in order to compete successfully in the Knowledge Age. Human capital within a company is to be identified, used, and nurtured.

Structural capital includes the organizational structure, policies, and systems that can support and encourage the growth and proper usage of the human capital.

Customer capital is how much a company knows about its customers. As more information is available to customers, they have more power as well. It is harder to fool the customers. Customers can comparison shop more easily. With the Internet, the higher possibility of buying from the manufacturers or service providers leads to the reduced reliance on the middleperson.

Lastly, the author also devotes a chapter to one’s career in the Knowledge Age. Instead of seeking job security, workers should develop resilience. Progress is reflected in increased richness of one’s work content and size of impact on an organization. Power flows from expertise, reputation and honesty, not position and budget.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.



 10. Then We Set His Hair on Fire


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Author: Dusenberry, P.
Publisher: NY: Portfolio
Year: 2005
ISBN: 1-59184-082-1

In this book, the author talks about the importance of having business insights over having business ideas. Having a correct insight can generate a lot of ideas that can be turned into action. An insight expresses an "incontrovertible truth" that is relevant to consumers. An example is the insight that GE brings good things to life. Good and effective advertising has to be based on insights about a product/service/brand and what it can offer to its customers. Insights, in turn, are largely derived from the correct interpretation of objective research data. Moreover, negative data about the shortcomings of a product/service can contribute to the discovery of insights better than positive data.

The author goes on to discuss the steps a company should take in order survive and grow. First, it has to shout to the world that it is here. Then it has to keep moving the correct needles - making small success in increasing sales, gaining market shares, etc. Sometimes, it is forced to take offense against competitors in a tactful manner. After a company has become the leader in its industry, the job remaining is staying number one through increasing its market share or growing the overall market. Lastly, the author discusses how to manage a group of people that are creative. He gives a few principles for nurturing and keeping high-quality creativity in an ad agency.

One theme that is repeated in the book is the fact that, the success of a brand hinges on its ability to build an emotional bond with its customers. This emotional bond will translate to trust and loyalty.

The writing style of this book is that of a memoir. The author conveys wisdom and authority without appearing to be conceited. He sounds like a good mentor to younger people.

I have learned a lot about marketing and advertising through reading this book.

Written: September 29, 2005

This review is also on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.



 11. Blue Ocean Strategy


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Authors: Kim, W. C. and Mauborgne, R.
Publisher: Boston: Harvard Business School Press
Year: 2005
ISBN: 1-59139-619-0

In this book, the authors give a formal and thorough presentation on creating a new market (a blue ocean), instead of engaging in the fierce competition of an overcrowded one (a red ocean). To me, they present a formal treatment of looking for gaps in an overall market which may be across more than one industry. Such a new product that can open a new blue ocean and make the competition irrelevant usually has the capability of providing consumers a unique combination of values at an affordable price. In addition, the authors also discuss the importance of keeping one's cost down for making a profit.

Besides providing a set of tools for strategic analysis, this book also discusses implementation success. Lastly, the long term sustainability and renewal of a blue ocean are the topics that conclude the book.

The authors also review the history of blue ocean creation in three different industries in time, the different views of strategy, and an analysis of value innovation in the terms of Macroeconomics in the appendix section of the book.

This book is both academic and practical. It is very enlightening.

Written: October 21, 2005

This review is also on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.



 12. The Gifted Boss


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Author: Dauten, D.
Publisher: NY: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
Year: 1999
ISBN: 0-688-16877-9

In this book, the author uses a short story to tell readers how a gifted boss and a great employee together can create synergy. The story starts with the author asking for help from a wise mentor, Max. He and Max spend a weekend together in Arizona, visiting different companies and talking with each other.

According to the Max, a gifted boss creates a magnetic work environment to attract great employees. He/She emphasizes goals and standards over procedural how-to rules. What is hired is help, not just time and efforts, from employees. He/she also cares about the personal development of employees by placing them outside their comfort zones. As for firing employees, a gifted boss helps them find new jobs.

In the book, Max also sheds light on a great employee. A great employee does not have to be expensive to hire. He/she is looking for a change and a chance. This great person is naturally productive and wants to be trusted that work will be done without constant supervision. He/she usually has one or more skills that are superior to those of the boss. As a result, great help is given to the boss through checking on the boss's work. A great employee also understands customers. He/she is entrepreneurial and is confident enough to seek measurement of his/her work and wants to be paid accordingly. Such great employees have to be courted by gifted bosses for they seldom change jobs. Courting here means a gifted boss has to be a friend and look for a chance to open up for offering a job to this great employee. This may happen after many years after they have become friends.

The author really understands how to be a gifted boss and the nature of a great employee. The story-telling writing style of this book makes it interesting and different from that of other books in Business.

Written: October 30, 2005

This review is also on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.



 13. Let Them Eat Cake


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Author: Danziger, P. N.
Publisher: Chicago: Dearborn Trade Publishing
Year: 2005
ISBN: 0-7931-9307-9

In this book, the author gives a thorough analysis on the contemporary U.S. luxury market and presents principles to the marketers who would like to capture this market successfully.

In the first two chapters of the book, the author defines today’s luxury market and the term “new luxury.” In short, new luxury is more about experience than about money or expensive things, although such an experience cannot be obtained without money. As Americans, especially the baby boomers, have more disposable income to spend, what they crave is the experience of self-actualization and expression of individuality. This is different from the old snobbish and arrogant concept of luxury, which emphasizes exclusivity. For example, having some quietness for taking a cup of good coffee while enjoying the view of the city is counted as a luxurious event by some people.

In chapter three, the author defines the consumers in this luxury market with basic demographic information. In subsequent chapters, discussion continues along the four traditional Ps in Marketing: Product (what different luxury consumer groups buy and why), Price, Promotion, and Place (where they shop). One interesting finding is the fact that, these shoppers are bargain hunters. They buy everything on sale unless sales are not common in a category, such as fragrances and beauty products. They do not need to shop this way but do so because they are wise and value-conscious.

Then the author’s writing turns to the marketers with important advice derived from the nature of this market, distinguishing the myths from the facts. The last chapter is a summary of the book.

The contents of this book are based on empirical research performed by the author and her colleagues. In addition, it includes the personal opinions of many people doing business in the luxury market. These interview excerpts add valuable practical information to the book and enhance the validity of the contents. The writing style of the author is clear and easy to understand.

I see this book as another step beyond Trading Up. It gives an even more focused treatment to this social trend of consumer spending. The title of the book, Let Them Eat Cake, is derived from the author’s statement “Let your consumers go to Wal-Mart to get their plain white bread, but when they come to you, ‘let them eat cake here!’”

Written: November 12, 2005

This review is also on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.



 14. Hub Culture


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Author: Stalnaker, S.
Publisher: Singapore: John Wiley & Sons (Asia) Pte Ltd.
Year: 2002
ISBN: 0-470-82072-1

Hub Culture is a book in Marketing that describes the 21st century young urban professionals. They are much more globalized than their previous generation in the eighties. They travel the world either for work or for fun. As a result, large cities, such as New York, London, Bangkok, and Hong Kong, etc. have become the hubs of the world. This book describes the characteristics of this consumer group. Detailed topics include various aspects of their lives: travel, relationships, work, leisure, and their mobile nature with all kinds of electronic gadgets. Then the book talks about the most effective technique for marketing to them, which is mainly word-of-mouth.

This book gives a good description of this consumer group and it is well-written.

Written: February 9, 2006

This review is also on Amazon.com under my other name, Soda.



 15. The Long Tail


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Author: Anderson, C.
Publisher: NY: Hyperion
Year: 2006
ISBN: 1401302378

In this book, the author discusses a new social and market phenomenon which he calls “the long tail.” This phenomenon is mainly brought about by the World Wide Web. Before the popularity of electronic commerce, due to expensive shelf space in physical retail stores, the dominant culture for stores was carrying hit items only. The World Wide Web has led to diminishing inventory cost. This is especially true with electronic delivery of content in the entertainment industry. Besides, other effects include the democratization of communication, knowledge distribution, and the media. Examples include the increase in self-publishing and the popularity of the free online encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

Besides describing this new phenomenon, the author also provides some guidelines on how to run a business in this new era. He discusses the function of hits as anchors to attract consumers to visit a store and to gradually get exposed to various niche products that reside in the long tail. It is also very important that merchants help consumers find the niche (non-hit) products easily.

The content of this book is convincing and the writing style of the author is easy to understand. Overall, this is a comprehensive and in-depth treatment of the business aspect of electronic commerce.

Written: September 4, 2006



 16. Most Likely to Succeed at Work


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Authors: Davidson, W. and Dougherty, J.
Publisher: NY: MJF Books, Fine Communications
Year: 2003
ISBN-13: 978-1-56731-823-4
ISBN-10: 1-56731-823-1

I picked up this book from the deeply discounted bin at a bookstore while taking a break in Portland, OR. It is a very good book on how to take advantage of one's strengths and avoid one's weaknesses in the workplace. The whole book is arranged by the different types of people that we may encounter in high school, including the A student, the class clown, the teacher's pet, the straight arrow (these are in the "top of the class" category), the snob, the complainer, and the cheater, etc. (these are in the "bottom of the class" category). They all reappear in the workplace. For each type, the authors talk about the communication style, the strengths, the weaknesses, and what to do if one's boss is such a type, etc. The information is accurate and the advice is practical. Finally, the authors discuss the skills required for success. Examples include respect for authority and being likable besides being competent, etc.

I think a person can display a blend of more than one type of behavior described in the book. It will be our advantage if we cultivate the correct blend of the "top of the class" material.

This book is easy to read because each chapter is not very long but the substance is to the point.

Written: August 9, 2008



 17. Organizational Behavior


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This picture shows the book cover of the newest edition.

Full Title: Organizational Behavior: : Key Concepts, Skills & Best Practices
Authors: Kinicki, A. and Kreitner, R.
Publisher: NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin
Year: 2008, 3rd Edition
ISBN-13: 978-0-07-128577-3

This is a very good survey textbook on the subject of Organizational Behavior. The organization of the book is very structured: Managing People in a Global Economy, Managing Individuals, Managing Social Processes and Making Decisions, Managing Organizational Processes, and Managing Evolving Organizations. Each chapter is clearly written with an opening case, clear tables, relevant Skills & Best Practices short articles, and useful self-testing questionnaires. Having a reader answer a questionnaire to see how oneself is doing provides a hands-on exercise to apply the concept immediately to enhance understanding. It explains various models in OB well. The writing style is very clear and easy to understand. It emphasizes globalization and cultural differences among professionals in different countries.

This is not the newest edition available. The fourth edition is out already at the time of this review. Buying a textbook one edition older for reading on my own is always cheaper than buying the newest edition. The chapter on Change Management gives me some good pointers for my own work.

Written: August 21, 2010



 18. 反轉腦袋投資學


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作者:王澤基
出版:香港天窗出版
版次:二零一一年七月初版
ISBN:978-988-15085-9-1

王教授以退休投資銀行專業人士的身份講解各種投資工具及投行運作的模式。其文筆 清晰,令一些看似很深奧的投資名詞容易明白。他亦從經濟學的角度去分析,為何 投資成功的重要因素是自律和耐心,從而能等待良機去「人棄我取」地「低買高賣」。

本書的基本對象是一般想學會投資的入門人士。其實更精確一點地說,主要目標對象 是正在求學的大學生。王教授直言現在很多香港的大學生常夢想到投行工作,好像 很容易便能「賺快錢」。本書的一個主要論點是﹕天下沒有長久性不勞而獲的事。 難做的事沒有人要做,其價值才會高。因此王教授語重心長地奉勸各位,最有價值 的投資是投資在自己的能力上。好好工作賺錢,才是穩健之道。基本上我十分同意 王教授的想法。

我認為對王教授所提出的一點,有討論餘地。他用讀書來比喻為甚麼不是人人都能有 足夠自律和耐心去等待「人棄我取」的投資良機,反而很容易受身邊的人影響,盲 目炒賣,最後賠錢離場。其中說,人人都知道用功讀書有價值,為甚麼很多人不去 用功讀書?兩者到需要「克己忍耐」這心理成本。這成本不是人人都有,所以對有 這成本的少數人更有價值。這令我聯想到,其中一個含意是﹕讀書成功,祗靠用功。 本人亦在學校讀書二十多年,如王教授說,我「為人之患」亦有十年之久。我深深 體會到,要學有所成,「用功」當然不能缺少。但祗有「用功」恐怕是不夠的。其 他因素包括學習者自己對新學問的理解能力、老師有沒有用心教導、有沒有長輩在 旁發掘才華,加以栽培等等。以我個人的經驗和觀察,這些都可以是一個人「能不 能讀成書」的因素。

寫於二零一一年十一月二十四日




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