Executive Hoodlum: Negotiating on the Corner of Main and Mean by John Costello is a story about the Vice President of Business Development and Government Relations for Microsemi Corporation. He has a number of titles that he has earned throughout his life, from being friends with movie stars and other high profile individuals to being a Golden Glove boxer. You would think with his long list of accomplishments that he came from a fancy upbringing with rich parents and unlimited resources. Actually, the opposite is true. He was raised in a blue collar neighborhood in Chicago. His father was a somewhat violent man with mob connections and his mother struggled with addiction. John overcame quite a bit of turmoil in order to become the man he is today.
This was a very interesting story from the very first page. Knowing that this was a true story made it even more of a page turner for me. I am often intrigued by true stories of people overcoming their personal struggles and hardships to become the people they are. While we all have our own issues we deal with, I find it great to be able to step into another’s shoes and try their life on for a while.
So many people that have a tough childhood and upbringing use it as an excuse to not reach their real potential. Not John Costello. He adapted to the hand he was dealt and overcame it all. It would be tough to find someone that has had it worse in this country. His story is inspiring and makes you put your own issues into perspective and makes you look at how you can overcome them as well! He used the lessons he learned in a very negative world and has twisted them in a way that is useful in the corporate industry he has climbed into.
I found myself chuckling in some places and holding back tears in others. The storytelling was on point and very relatable. In some ways I could see this being an inspiring box office movie. The situations where was struggling to get out of, yet finding himself falling back into those situations. You find yourself pulling for him to break away from those situations, and the delivery of those small moments are so incredible. I started this book a little while before bed and ended up staying up later than I had intended. The story was just that good. I literally struggled to find a point in which I could put the book down. The next morning I was up and trying to squeeze in the time to finish the book between my other priorities.
Executive Hoodlum by John Costello is a great story for anyone that loves to read about people that overcome adversity in order to become a bigger and better person. I think anyone that has a tendency to think they can’t do something because of where they are from should pick up this book and realize that nothing can hold them back if they put their mind to it.
Pages: 261 | ASIN: B075H1HXK3
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Triple Bagger is the intricately woven story of one man’s experience in a company that takes him everywhere but leads him nowhere. Why did you want to write a novel that took a close look at the corporate world?
After twenty years of corporate career, I felt exactly how you describe: nowhere despite having had everything and been everywhere. It felt devastating, like I had lived inside a me that wasn’t me, and as such wasn’t worth very much to me at all. And I felt a powerful compulsion to write up about that life that had past, above all to try to make some sense of it, of why I had ended up going through with it, hoping perhaps that it would help me see a way forward.
With this novel you are able to once again capture everyday life and put an interesting twist on it. What is your writing process like?
This was in essence the first novel I wrote, fresh from abandoning the corporate world, although it was not the first I published, and I can confess that the writing process was chaos. There were certain difficult large themes I knew I had to treat in the book because they were at the core of what had deeply upset me for years and ultimately broken me. Firstly, I carried out ample research around these themes to convince myself these were rightful themes and that I wasn’t just being mad and imagining that they were. I needed to convince myself that my account was not to be a one sided rant, but that other people had and would care about the backbone behaviours I would discuss. This was the first phase. Yet after setting the grand map, I constantly battled with whether I should punish, absolve or laugh at the twenty years of past life I had drawn in front of me. So there was the tone to think of… Next, there was the problem of feeling in the detail without making it too dry, too boring or too close to the truth… I definitely didn’t want to take myself too seriously!
I felt that the story had a lot to say about the loss of oneself within the complexities of ladder-climbing and the desire to succeed. What were the morals you were trying to capture while writing your story?
There were a few. Firstly, to beware that in corporate elites we are often chosen not for the strength underlying our ambition but for its vulnerability, in that it inculcates a fear in us of not succeeding which can make us more pliable. Secondly, to resist corporate life when it looks to uniform us, shape us around a common fiction spelling our superiority and fuelling a fantasy around our limitless ability. To fight becoming dependent, to fight growing a fear of anything outside what they have taught us. Thirdly, to question the relentless drive and the virtuosity of endurance preached in corporate life. And finally, to never let work turn us into a robots. Whatever we do, never to let our emotions be turned off.
What is the next story that you are writing and when will it be available?
Caro M, is a short novel exploring the hurricane-like devastation unwavering love is capable of. In it: a woman, alone but for her dog, shares memories with her old tesoro; a wife trusts her sweetheart psychiatrist blindly through her divorce; and a young girl lands a fairy tale wedding soon to turn into a nightmare her cousin yearns to fix. I guarantee you it’s immersive, witty, tender… It will be available October 2017.
A book about identity and… management consultancy! ‘Epic, a wonderfully interesting reading experience, ‘ DeAndra Lupu @unbounders. Meet Vittal. He is a self-and-dad-made man carrying his family’s expectations on his shoulders. He has landed a vocation to work for the most renowned, most secretive, highest-priced, most entrusted, most detested organisation of all times. Vittal should be happy, or maybe frightened, after he is told that he will work with people with an unusual quality of character and, with time, he will become those people. When he meets Peter who reeks of success like a true world shaper, Vittal clings to the saving idea that he wants to become him. But as he climbs through stages at Enterprise over the next decade, life loses its meaning and he grows into a swinging smudge of mortality that advances and retreats with his employer’s tides. He is lonely, surrounded by emotionless, manipulative schemers, under a haunting fear that someone somewhere may be happy and it will never be him. And by the time Lucy arrives to discombobulate this sorry state of affairs, Vittal has become like the others, numbed, out to reach something he does not understand anymore. Lucy won’t be able to save him nor him her from Peter, from Enterprise. He won’t be able to save Peter or Enterprise either. And five years later, Vittal thinks that writing his story for Nuria can rescue him. It might, but not in the way he had thought! Triple Bagger is a story about being enslaved in a world of emotional unavailability and whether vanity, fear and control could be a shortcut to happiness; a tale of shredded life in three acts: Desire, Discipleship and Demise. It treats themes around collective faith and individual identity, stability and disintegration, the sane, the insane and who decides. Parallel to the main narrative there are reflective letters between Vittal and his editor Nuria discussing why we write, to leave a trace, out of revenge, or for redemption. There are as well as visual short passages of hotel encounters between two unknown lovers. The novel is ultimately about whether one person can make the difference when they live up to being that person.
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The Secrets of all Secrets follows Zane who receives a USB from a stranger that contains a message that promises the Secret of All Secrets. What was the inspiration for the setup to this fun novel?
I wanted the premise of the story to be wacky and like a fairy tale with epistemological overtones. Many of us grew up with fairy tales of one sort or another, so the concept is recognizable. The USB is Jack’s bean stalk. Once it’s there, he has to climb it. The USB idea occurred to me because I use them in my work as a college professor. I wondered what would happen if all knowledge, the meaning of life, etc. were on one? The next question: What parties would want to pursue The Secrets and to what lengths will they go to get them?
In this story you combine irony with wry humor and manage to keep it all topical. What themes did you want to explore when you started this book?
The overarching theme is illustrated by Shakespeare’s line from The Tempest: “The stuff that dreams are made on,” which is what The Secrets represent. What would be the government’s dream for getting The Secrets? Probably something to do with gaining ultimate power. Corporate America’s dream? Wasn’t there someone who said there’s no such thing as making too much money? The two crazy extremists’ dream is to create an Anti-Amerika, “Amerika with a k.” That the representatives of these entities are comical bunglers illustrates the way in which human beings can wreck any mission. As for the two main characters, Zane and Dali—Everyman and Everywoman—the dream is more about self discovery. It’s a classic conflict: individuals versus institutions and malevolent factions. Jack versus the Giant.
Zane and Dali are both enthralling characters. How did you set about creating their dynamic relationship?
What’s kind of funny is that when I started the novel, there was no Dali. Once I got to the point in the story where Zane begins his quest, I knew he needed a partner, someone equally smart, resilient, and resourceful but with a different sensibility. Zane is an intellectual. Dali is more pragmatic. There is tension between them, but there’s also balance. “Two peas in a pod,” as is stated ironically early in the book. It doesn’t hurt that they are attracted to each from the start without admitting it to themselves.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m working on a satire of political correctness. I’m hoping to finish it and have it published in a year or two. Some of this is dictated by my teaching schedule, but if you know any publishers willing to give me a triple figure advance, I think I could work a little faster.
Zane, a seminary and grad school dropout, obtains a USB drive left by a cloaked figure on a bridge in the middle of the night. The drive’s content offers Zane “The Secrets of All Secrets”—a tantalizing proposal for someone who has nothing left to lose.
Following the drive’s directions, Zane heads to Florida where he encounters Dali, a poor waitress who received an identical USB. Initially clashing, they band together, taking a chance that The Secrets are genuine as they receive more instructions from their USBs.
Four conflicted government operatives; an extremely tall corporate executive with an extremely short, scholarly hit man in tow; and two crackbrained, fringe-element, anti-government separatists are after The Secrets—and are all willing to kill to get them.
Zane, Dali, and their pursuers encounter an armadillo festival, visit a nudist resort, and hang out with a presumed dead ’60s rocker. Pandemonium occurs at each venue with Zane and Dali one step ahead of everyone… that is, until all parties convene for a climactic confrontation over The Secrets.
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Evolve Like A Butterfly – A Metamorphic Approach to Leadership by Mayur Ramgir covers a broad spectrum of areas relevant to the task of a leader. Supported by illustrations and quotes, advice is given on risk taking, adapting to change, accepting feedback and good communication. It also looks at the conditions in which innovation, incubation and prototyping can occur. Ramgir reveals the secrets to motivating others whilst continuing on a path of self-development, and shares tips on creating a legacy through leadership succession.
The book can be read cover to cover or dipped into as a reference guide for specific advice.
The author engages the reader with a warm and welcoming tone from the start. He then describes his mother’s own leadership journey and invites us to consider the definition of a leader before we move on to more complex considerations. It is a useful resource for anyone starting out in leadership or those wishing to transition to a more ethical approach.
The butterfly metaphor is used initially to good effect, although it is not evenly referenced throughout, it is revived at later points and thus not lost entirely.
Hidden in the book are useful nuggets of advice which may not be found in your average book on leadership in business from a mainstream perspective. Ramgir emphasizes the importance of remaining connected empathetically to the work force so that there is less chance that this bond is severed in times of change or difficulty. He also looks at what areas of self development might be needed for a good leader; and points out how important it is to learn from one’s own failures whilst forging an individual path.
The author suggests that ‘character’ is vital in order to lead an organisation or team through crises and adversity. However, he does not really flesh out what he means by the term which readers may understand in slightly different ways, in particular across cultural divides. Perhaps ‘tenacity’ or ‘staying power’ would be suitable descriptors of the qualities he intends to present.
Ramgir does not shy away from offering solutions to challenging issues such as the potential pitfalls of moving from being a member of a peer group to leading those peers; or managing the ups and downs of different points in the business cycle and consideration of the timing of risk taking.
While some sections seem to repeat themes such as communication and motivation, the additional detail reiterates the importance of these key skills in different contexts.
This is a useful reader for students and established leaders in business as well as those concerned with social good; it is relevant across the private, third and public sectors.
This book is an inspiring read and goes far in providing sound advice to current and emerging leaders. It is a recommended read for anyone passionate about safeguarding the future of the organisation and people with whom they work.
Pages: 250 | ISBN: 154428585X
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Mari Reiza’s Triple Bagger is the intricately woven story of one man’s experience in a company that takes him everywhere but leads him nowhere. Triple Bagger goes far beyond the story within a story format to reveal Vittal Choudhary’s correspondence with an editor eagerly awaiting the completion of his work. Reiza’s Vittal, the main character, reveals the intricacies of the corporation for which he worked in a first-person account alongside excerpts from the story he struggles to complete. Vittal, a man determined to work his way upward through Enterprise despite his growing displeasure, gives up more than most to succeed.
Mari Reiza has bravely addressed the corporate world with her novel Triple Bagger. She includes distinct images of cities around the world–Rome, London, New York. She has completed quite the narrative on the loss of oneself within the complexities of ladder-climbing and the desire to succeed. Vittal Choudhary, the central focus of the book, is a relatable character. His confusion, his desire for more, and his dissatisfaction with the things his life has afforded him make him a character I found frustrating–a feeling that does tend to create interest for me as a reader. Anyone who has ever felt even the most temporary disdain for his or her profession will relate to Vittal as he grapples with accurately telling his experiences within his own written account.
Reiza takes both meanings of “triple bagger” and manages to fit them neatly into the multiple storylines of her very involved novel. As Vittal writes, he addresses the definition as it pertains to one’s looks. The remainder of the book, the part in which Vittal details his life with Enterprise, builds on the interpretation of “triple bagger” as a corporate success story.
Though eloquently written, I found the style of Triple Bagger to be challenging. Reiza has chosen to include Vittal’s personal narrative along with letters to and from his editor, Nuria Friedman, in addition to text from the story Vittal is constructing. The jump from one perspective to the other and back again was challenging to follow. It is almost a story within a story within a third story. The constant shift between perspectives creates obstacles that detract from an otherwise memorable main character.
In addition to a complicated format, I found the rather large number of acronyms and long list of characters to be a bit overwhelming for the book’s length. Though each acronym was appropriate to the storyline and emphasized the absurdity Vittal felt with each of his positions as he made his way through the ranks of Enterprise, I felt they were too numerous from beginning to end. Reiza expertly defines a series of supporting characters. However, I found myself floundering a bit to recall each one’s particulars as the story progressed.
The plot itself has the potential to be much more gripping. Vittal’s disdain throughout the majority of the book is obvious, and the fact that he remains bewildered as to his corporation’s overall purpose is not lost on the reader.
Pages: 414 | ASIN: B06XWT55YW
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Mountain Green, Corporate Blue, by L.J. Saunders, takes readers on a journey through time with a series of flashbacks, slowly revealing both joy and heartache.This third person account opens with Matthew Reynolds as a young, wide-eyed child from an affluent but troubled New York family. Paralleling the account of his life is the retelling of Grace Collier’s experiences as a young girl in the Appalachian Mountains. Their lives become intertwined when the Dickenson Corporation, the source of the Reynolds family’s fortune, faces major legal setbacks. A chance meeting sets in place a string of events leading to more than one unconventional pairing during a time in history when social norms were beginning to see their first challenges.
L.J. Saunders has shaped strong characters within the pages of Mountain Green Corporate Blue. The unlikely relationship of Matthew Reynolds and Grace Collier, seemingly the book’s focal point, is nontraditional in a time and place when couples from varying economic backgrounds would have been discouraged from marrying. They do so, in fact, after an almost nonexistent courtship and begin a life together. Grace is an extremely powerful character, and for a while, I felt the book would be centered around her. She exudes a sense of reason, a calmness, and has an amazing sense of her own self-worth. She radiates an energy that is infectious throughout the plot and manages, without ever realizing it, to impact the lives of several of Matthew’s relatives.
Grace’s role in the book is, without a doubt, significant. The flashes back and forth between her early years in the mountains of Springdale County, Georgia to her later years as a grandmother make that clear. Her strength is evident when she is challenged by Matthew’s uppity family upon first meeting. Firm and focused, she replies to his father’s disparaging remarks, “I am not good at debate, but I excel at discussion.” She clearly affects Matthew’s parents and brother. However, I found the addition of some storylines somewhat puzzling. I read with the idea in mind that Grace was central to each subplot. While the introduction of the relationship between Trinity and Marcus made perfect sense and added an element of suspense, the storyline surrounding Trinity at the book’s conclusion did not seem to fit the rest of the book’s theme.
With regards to subplots, I found two characters to be standouts. Old man Duncan, an integral part of the main characters’ wedding, provides a type of comic relief and endears himself to readers as he cashes in many a sketchy favor. In addition, Matthew’s father, John Reynolds is a character worthy of evoking every conceivable emotion. He is vividly described and draws both love and hate from the reader. As much as I wanted to despise him, the author gave me multiple reasons to easily single out John as my favorite character.
Periodic plot twists and commentary on social injustice succeed in keeping the reader guessing and work well in preventing the book from appearing as purely a romance. Saunders has given readers a tale of love, inspiration, and courage while exposing relatable struggles and vulnerabilities via a multitude of well-developed characters.
Pages: 247 | ASIN: B071NCX77D
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