Tag Archives: work

Better Than Before – Gretchen Rubin


I do not like the way the title of this book has been translated into Italian: it means “It is easy to change”. You just wait that the title goes on with “if you know how to do it”… but this is the way italian editors work.

Well, at first sight it seems that the author is obsessed with self-improvement, and this can give you the impression that she is rather perfectionist and fuss-pot, thas she is Always looking for a better way to spare time, read more books, write more, meet more people, be lean, be a good mother and wife and so on. I must admit that this first impression did not let her be very funny to me.

She often uses phases and episodes taken from the lives of her fans in internet or from chats with her friends, because she like to share her current passions with everybody to test if her opinions are true. Anyway, this method is rather subjective.

This is why I do not consider this book as a real self-help book. I rather consider it like a good chat with someone who is trying to improve herself. This is not little.

How many people do you know wich purpose is to become better than before? Maybe you know someone who tries to be the best in something, the best manager, the best mother, the best athlete and so on, but this is not the same thing. I would rather consider it like the opposite, in a certain way.

Gretchen Rubin does give you some nice tips on how to get good habits. The first tip is to work on yourself, to know yourself (although I think that her classification method is rather strict). One of her mantra is “be Gretchen“. We must learn to know ourselves and be ourselves.

What I do not agree on, is her diet habit.

I became vegan after having read a lot of books on diet and health, not only by vegan authors. I think I discovered the true secret to understand if a scientific research is good or not, and this secret is the time.

I bet that she has lost weight with a high protein diet. Of course she did, everybody does, it is physiological because our body normally works by carbs burning. And if you look at all high protein diet researches, you will see that they are tested on the short run (max one, one and a half year). On the long run, people either gain again their initial weight or they develop illnesses. At the end, I do not think that Rubin’s diet habit is better than before. Maybe better than the standard american diet, but in this case she is just leaner than before.

I hope that she can read some books of plant-based doctors (Esselstyn, Campbell, Barnard, McDougall, Fuhrmann and many Others). She is a book lover, I do not doubt that sooner or later she will put a question mark on her high protein diet habit.

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Excellence patterns of Italian craftsmen in food branch


The Italian title of this essay is “The alchemist craftsman“. This research tries to understand wich are the ingredients of excellence in the food branch of the North-East Italy, and the question arises because, despite the crisis and the pessimism, these realities have grown.

Well, when I say that an Italian artisan firm has grown, please do not look for a giant in the American way. I mean that such firms are going better than before, that they are developing on a turnover and innovation point of view.

It can seems strange to an American eye that a (often) family-based reality can get good results, but this is exactly what it happens. And still more curious, the dimensional growth is not always one of the purposes of these firms, because it could lead to a lower power of control on the final product.

This survey, made through interviews by the author (a sociologist) and his partners, can cancel a lot of preconceptions in your mind. For instance, you can believe that a family-based firm will have big problem during a generation passage and that the young people are forced to enter into relatives’ work because they have no other alternative. Or you can be convinced that you absolutely have to sell abroad, that artisans do no make any kind of marketing and that the hands are their first and unique production instrument.
Well, you will see that your ideas are not so reliable!

The study of these 20 firms shows that the issues are not due to size. Some problems can arise from the lack of an istitutional training, from a too closed credit system or from a very silly bureaucracy, and we hope that this book will give some starting-points to work on in the future.

In the meanwhile, if you want to give a look to author’s curriculum, you can see his Linkeding profile here.

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The 4-hour Workweek – Timothy Ferriss


No matter if you are an employer or an employee: you probably think that you have to work harder and harder, the more the better, for a life, and then, at the end, when you will be 60, 65 or 70, you will enjoy the rent.
This is not what Ferris wanted. He experienced this way of life but decided that it was not for him.

He now works 4 hours each week and earns around 40.000 $ each month (at the beginning of his career he earned 40.000 $ each year, by working 80 hours a week). Well, it is not 100% clear to me wich job he does now, I only understand that he can work through a computer everywhere he is.

His suggestions are valid both for the ones who do not want to quit their current job and for the ones who cannot stand for it anymore. My opinion is that this model is not applicable to Italian working system, it requires too much flexibility from the company owners: if you show that you can do the job in half the time, the owner won’t give you the other hours from free, but he will double your work;-)

Anyway I believe that every want-to-be leader should read this book, at least to learn the meeting rules that will avoid you to lose time!! Please do, time wasting is not only money wasting… at least for the parts where he underlines the need to fix the duration and to inform the colleagues about the topics.

Another suggestion that is often difficult to let the sales leaders understand, is that you have not to accept each customer all around the world. Please remember the Pareto rule: the 20% of the clients made the 80% of the turnover! Why are you wasting time and peaceful minds to follow up clients who do little and make you angry at the end of the day??

Well, Tim Ferriss also suggests to lower at the lowest level the… customer care. This can be partially done through the Pareto Rule but then…. well, Tim, customer care is my job. After having cut all time spending activities, how can I spare more time to focus on the 20% customers?
Answer: I cannot. I am just an employee.

And last but not least: Ferris you are Young and have no experience in children at all. Believe me, with children is not that simple.

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The 21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires – Brian Tracy


imageIn this book I found some things that I liked and some other ones that I did not like at all.

I liked that many suggestions do not refer to money alone.

Tracy tells you to find a job that you love, so that you do not need to work (actually, this was a Confucio’s suggestion), to write down your goals, to make big dreams that nobody is more intelligent than you, that it is not necessary to be rich to be happy, to read a lot, to stay with positive people, to avoid plaintive friends, to take care of own health

On the other hand, when he explains what to do to become richer, I am in dismay.
What? Shall I save 10% of my wage each month? Why does he need to tell you this? Does it mean that in the USA it is normal to live without saving anything, through debits and credit card and overdrawn accounts?
Frugality is the keyword for Tracy. Spare and invest, spare and invest.
OK, but why should I live sparing and investing? The goal is to become rich in the mature years, it seems. To enjoy the life when you are old and retired.

Above all I did not like the chapter about the maximum commitment. I mean: I commit to my job, I like to go home after having done what I had to, but Tracy is going much further. He tells you to work harder and harder, much more than the 40 hours each week: self-made millionaires work around 59 hours each week, you should do the same!!!

And then: do not waste time. Do not chat with your colleagues and tell them that you cannot talk, if they try to involve you in some kind of time wasting. Work all the time, do not lift your head, stay on the paper and you will drawn attention on you… go to work one hour earlier, work during the break, stay on the workplace one hour later…


Yes, says Tracy, this is how you can build your best reputation on work.
Well, best reputation with the boss, maybe, but what about relationship with colleagues? This guy is worse than me.

I still have the bad sensation that, when he says that you must take care of other people, he always says this because you myst then get something back.

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How to criticize and how to accept criticism – Barbara Berckhan

imageThis book is a must read one! It teaches two things:

How to critizise

Is it necessary to criticise? Yes. Do not suppress an objective remark, unless:

  1.  It refers to other people’s affair (for instance, your think that your friends is too tanned);
  2. The remark would not change anything (for instance, if ther is little parking spaces around the work office)
  3. The issue is really silly.

In all other cases, better to talk than to… explode.

Suppressed criticism can lead to divorces, resignations, gossips, bad mood, depression, rage outbreaks.

The workplace is a very critical field. If you and your colleagues are constantly frustrated, if there is always a bad mood and if people do work with the only purpose to get the finish time, this means that in your company there is no sufficient feedback culture. In such situations, no matter how you ask for team spirit.

Remember this: positive feedbacks are often more effective than a wage increase. What we eagerly wish is appreciation, recognition. You can always find a positive and sincere feedbacks for someone. If this step is forgotten, if people is uttered only as incompetent and lazy, if the negative feedbacks is the only communication form, the cooperation level will fall under the shoes.

How to receive criticism

Touchiness has a lot to do with own personality and past life. Each of us has its interior critic and cannot kill him, but you can learn to handle with criticism in a better way.

  1. First of all, instead of being unready, ask your frienda/partner/boss/colleague for a feedback. This will enable you to chose time and place and prepare yourself.
  2. Make questions. Ask the other person to specify wich of your actions has damaged or hurted him/her. This technique will also give you some more time to calm down (a very important part of the process of receiving criticisms)
  3. Listen. Without interrupting.

And at the end, remember: what you appreciate, grows.

Barbara Berckhan is a communication expert. She has studied pedagogy and psycology and since more than 20 years she held conferences and workshops in companies and organisations. One of her books is (my translation) Little Manual of verbal self-defence.

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