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Book reviews: How to Find a Black Cat in a Dark Room, What Everyone Needs to Know About Tax, The Salesperson’s Secret Code

Our roundup of new and noteworthy business book releases, featuring How to Find a Black Cat in a Dark Room; What Everyone Needs to Know About Tax: and The Salesperson’s Secret Code.

Our roundup of new and noteworthy business book releases, featuring How to Find a Black Cat in a Dark Room: The Psychology of Intuition, Influence, Decision Making and Trust by Jacob Burak; What Everyone Needs to Know About Tax: An Introduction to the UK Tax System by James Hannam and The Salesperson’s Secret Code: The Belief Systems that Distinguish Winners by Ian Mills, Mark Ridley, Ben Laker and Tim Chapman.

How to Find a Black Cat in a Dark Room: The Psychology of Intuition, Influence, Decision Making and Trust

Author: Jacob Burak

Rated 4/5

Published by: Watkins

Pages 237

Burak, a successful venture capitalist turned author based in Tel Aviv, bundles a real treasure trove of ideas in this edition that will get you thinking hard about human nature.

It is presented as 50 studies and stories and is an enjoyable, if rambling, read. From insights that will help you in and outside the office, the chapters quote  interesting studies around the subjects, although some are too briefly explained to have much impact.

Topics include “FoMO”, or the fear of missing out, how to recognise a project has gone bad (and when to walk away) and how willpower can be seen as a muscle. His examples on how parents who praise their children for their efforts contribute more to their success in adulthood than parents who praise them for their accomplishments is particularly interesting. His “rules for happiness” are well thought out too and this widely-selling book will suit those who like to absorb fresh ideas on how they live their lives.

What Everyone Needs to Know About Tax: An Introduction to the UK Tax System

Author: James Hannam

Rated 4/5

Published by: Wiley

Pages 144

How elements of tax in the UK works may seem dryer than Britain’s only desert in Dungeness, but to Hannam’s credit this is a thoroughly accessible and interesting book.

Respecting the intelligence of his readers, his examples are easy to follow and relevant. For example, he uses the purchase of an Apple iPad to demonstrate tax competition and transfer pricing. Hannam’s critique of the subject, born from 20 years of tax advising brings the complexities, history and controversies to light. His “golden rules of tax” include how “tax is kept as invisible as possible” and some may dislike this opinion around the facts and others may enjoy his take on things.

From doing business in the UK to saving, all relevant taxes are covered, although some areas perhaps a little too briefly. Although not a taxing read, you will learn quite a bit about this perennial political battleground, with international appeal regarding Brexit and the Panama Papers.

The Salesperson’s Secret Code: The Belief Systems that Distinguish Winners

Authors: Ian Mills, Mark Ridley, Ben Laker & Tim Chapman

Rated 3/5

Published by: LID

Pages 287

A collaboration of specialists from Transform Performance International, this book promises hard data and cold facts to understand the secrets of successful selling.

It is chock full of buzzwords such as “journey motivators” and “destination beliefs” and is an impressive study with a huge amount of well-researched findings. The profiles of successful salespeople, such as Erica Feidner of Steinway are a nice touch too.

However, with so much content and so many corporate catchphrases (“mountain of influence” anyone?) this book can be a little hard to follow, especially as the quality of diagrams are a little disappointing.

There are certainly many merits to splitting the study participants into top performers and low-performers to better understand the characteristics of successful and not so successful sales people. If you have a passion for sales then there is much to take from this study, for a more general reader you may find it a little too dense.


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