It's Fundamental

Two Heads are Better than One

James Surowiecki

The Wisdom of Crowds

Random House, 2005; $26.95

James Surowiecki has a simple theory: Large groups of people are smarter than the elite few, no matter how intelligent the latter may be. In The Wisdom of Crowds Surowiecki, a business columnist for "The Financial Page" for The New Yorker, explores this idea and in doing so offers an interesting view into the business world. In the first chapter, Surowiecki cites that during the once popular television game show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? the contestant's most reliable "lifeline" option was to ask the audience for the answer. "Those random crowds of people with nothing better to do on a weekday afternoon than sit in a TV studio picked the right answer 91 percent of the time," he writes. Using a historical structure, Surowiecki shows how this theory can be applied in meetings throughout business, and in readers' lives—personally and professionally.

Tips from the Pros

Carmine Gallo

10 Simple Secrets of the World's Greatest Business Communicators

Sourcebooks Inc., 2005; $22.95

Carmine Gallo's book works to simplify the complexities and remove the obstacles business communicators face in their daily lives. In chapters like "Clarity: Lose the Jargon or Lose Your Audience" you won't find the philosophical chatter that business resources tend to offer. Similarly, Gallo says that during a presentation, listeners don't want all the cluttered phrases. "They're fed up with corporate speakers who are as murky as a Louisiana swamp in August," he writes. Gallo's interviews with experienced leaders like Jack Welch, Steve Jobs, and Donald Trump make this book an effective one. Its sectionalized style and concise writing make it easy to bookmark and read on your lunch break or on a short plane ride. An Emmy Award-winning journalist and communications coach, Gallo has worked as an anchor, host, and business correspondent for CBS, Fox, TechTV, CNET, Ziff Davis, and CNN.

New Kid on the Block

Loren B. Belker and Gary S. Topchik

The First-Time Manager

American Management Association, 2005; $17.95

Written to assist today's rookie manager, this book offers advice on how to handle new responsibilities and become more confident and effective as managers learn how to address new challenges. Covering everything from hiring to firing to motivation and managing time, this skill-building book has sold over 200,000 copies and functions as a substitute mentor to professionals who find themselves in management positions for the first time. New features in this edition include topics like being an active listener, managing a diverse group of individuals, and building a team environment. For almost 30 years Belker was an executive for a major insurance company, while Topchick, who works as a managing partner for a consulting firm, also wrote The Accidental Manager and Managing Workplace Negativity.

Break it Down

Rudy R. Wright & E.J. Siwek

The Meeting Spectrum: An Advanced Guide for Meeting Professionals, Second Edition, HRD Press, 2005; $39.95

With three decades of planning knowledge and experience, a founding member and past president of Meeting Professionals International, Wright shares his knowledge of the meeting industry in this reference book. Designed as the go-to resource for meeting planning, the book is split into five comprehensive sections: meetings and meeting managers, planning, administration and logistics, operations, and international meetings. This second edition has been updated to cover the latest in meeting technology, and is filled with good need-to-know topics and advice from budgeting and fiscal management to selecting and working with speakers. Even better are the appendices that offer expansive lists of event organizations, new Web sites, and the latest software programs available to fit the needs of different types of planners across the spectrum.