The B-List

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Like any other field, business has its own language, cultural references, and media. If you want to speak the language and get the inside jokes, you need to spend some time immersing yourself in the ideas. So I humbly present to you the "B-List", which is my recommendations of books, movies, websites, media, and general stuff that may be of interest to you.

This month, I'm focusing on Spring Break. Here is what you might want to be reading, watching, or consuming over the month of March, especially if you have a free week in the middle of the month:

Switch, by Chip and Dan Heath. This book is phenomenal because it works on so many different levels. The subtitle is: "How to Change when Change is Hard." And when is change (for the better) not hard? The over-riding theme of the book is that you have a rational self and an emotional self and that any change that gets made has to deal with both. The authors provide a guide for making change along with dozens of examples that resonate with readers. The great part is that it works for personal change (e.g. how to motivate myself to exercise) to organizational change to change at a public policy level.

Boiler Room (2000). A classic business movie about a 23 year old guy whose illegal apartment casino gets shut down. So he takes a job as a broker in a high pressure, high intensity Boiler Room brokerage, where he has to convince new clients to sign up using the time honored tradition of "smiling and dialing." Good performances by Giovanni Ribisi, Ben Affleck, and Vin Diesel. Put it in your Netflix queue, and when your roommates ask you why you're sitting around watching movies, tell them your studying the financial services industry.

RadioLab (www.radiolab.org) is a podcast and radio show about all things science. The hosts explore many areas of science, history, sociology, psychology in short or long podcasts that are ridiculously engaging. OK, so it's a little nerdy (NPR and science) but the stories are extremely well done. What does it have to do with business? Nothing and everything. Load it on your iPod and listen to an episode or two in your car as you drive around. As entertaining as Bob & Tom and not quite so juvenile.