Sunday, December 7, 2008

Three Must Reads

Amid the budget and other challenges we're dealing with, I've managed to get through three must-read books.

First, a short book, Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell (who wrote the Tipping Point), is a fascinating look at what makes for success (what makes someone an "outlier" from the rest). It's not your rehashed list of the same leadership traits many books talk about, but instead, an analysis of what systemic, societal and cultural factors lead to success (in education, in business, in society). The book then uses these lessons to explore how certain systemic reforms (like a longer school day and shorter summer breaks, or giving young people an opportunity to begin practicing a skill at a young age) assure better opportunities for success across the board. A quick but compelling read.

Second, two other books go hand in hand. Thomas Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded, and Van Jones's The Green Collar Economy, both portray the enormous challenge, and enormous opportunity, we face in our current energy and environmental crisis. If we're smart, we can turn the largest modern-day challenge we face into the greatest job-creating engine of the coming decades--all while improving the global environment and global security. As Friedman says, the amount of work can seem overwhelming, but "we have just enough time if we START RIGHT NOW." And as Jones points out, doing this thoughtfully could also create a unique wave of opportunity in our long struggling urban areas--particularly with today's young people.

On reading the latter two books, I'm thrilled that our County Climate Initative and other efforts are underway. They are critical initiatives at a critical time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I did some research on environmental jobs - looking for the new trend and what courses to take to try to be ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, with all the colleges around here - I couldn't find any real descriptors of these "new" jobs, their academic requirements, or where to get the schooling. It seems, the environmentalists really haven't even defined these jobs yet.

Another interesting tidbit is that we have known for over a decade that LED lighting is far more cost and energy efficient - a huge study was done somewhere in NY. The reason is with regular lightbulbs you produce heat as well as light energy. Not LED's. The cost associated with it that has prevented the mass conversion is the production of adapters to re-configure the normal light socket - this might be our "niche" to create the adapter production?????

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