Bradford Wieners was tasked by Bloomberg BusinessWeek to profile Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen and talk about Christensen’s new book How Will You Measure Your Life? for the May 7, 2012 issue of the magazine.
In describing Christensen’s latest book, Weiners writes:
“More accessible than Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, How Will Your Measure Your Life? is provocative but reassuring: Peter Drucker meets Mitch Albom. Landing as it does at the nexus of two abominable genres, self-help and business how-to, it earns easy credit for being low on psychobabble and casually self-aware.”
So, the new book is not bad, but that is easy given how horrible the entire category is.
If there is any question whether Wieners has bias, we only need to look at a Q&A published last week where he opens with:
“Yvon Chouinard, the 73 year-old founder of Patagonia, has a low opinion of business books. “I quit reading them 20 years ago,” he says, “when I realized that they had one simple idea that they expanded to fill the required space.” All the same, he has now written two.”
How exactly does that make the case for a reader to want any business book, let alone Chouinard’s new book that the rest of the interview speaks of?
I bristle when writers dismiss business books and I always take the bait, having to highlight the travesty and hyperbole of their statements. Abominable was the trigger of this episode. Moral revulsion is not the reaction most people have to business books. The majority are indifferent, but there are few of us who feel enriched by what gets published.
I was in New York City last month and stopped into The Strand just south of Union Square. I went down into the basement, as I always do, to see what I might find on the shelves of the business section. They always have a fascinating selection of new, old and very old. A young gentleman looking at the same shelves turned and said “It is good to see another person concerned about improving themselves.”