What We're Reading

Recommended Books

In preparing our MBAs for the often bewildering world of work, we encourage them to read books that help them translate facility learned in the classroom or in extracurricular activities to the workplace. This year, several titles stood out for our graduates as particularly helpful—and unusual in their insights.

  •  Peak: Secrets from the New Science Expertise
    Unfortunately, many readers unknowingly had their first encounter with the fruits of Ericsson's research via the so-called "10,000 hour rule" featured in journalist Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers. In reality, Gladwell merely skimmed over the surface of a study of learned expertise at a music conservatory, studying violinists' acquisition of mastery. This far-reaching and highly readable book, Peak: Secrets from the Science of Expertise, delves deeply into the difference between deliberate and procedural practice and how both forms enable people to achieve expertise. In deliberate practice, individuals develop routines and methods to acquire mastery over everything from memorizing numbers to writing books. In contrast, the far rarer procedural practice produces far higher levels of expertise but largely works only when the route to mastery is well-defined: in music, sports, and chess but less so in the acquisition of languages, developing leadership skills, or in most of the challenges we face. Nevertheless, Peak is a thoroughly useful, as well as thought-provoking read, demonstrating that innate talent gives individuals only slight advantages but that procedural or deliberate practice can make them excel. Among the book's insights: tone-deaf people can learn perfect pitch in 30 days and so-called "savant syndrome" involves dedicated and near-obsessive focus on a single topic, be it math, drawing, memorization, or computing calendar dates.
  •  Make It Stick
    Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel's work has transformed the way we teach our primary undergraduate writing course, GEB 3213, Writing in Business. Instead of giving our students a mid-term and final exam, we, instead, end each lecture with a brief 8-10 question quiz that covers the most relevant topics addressed during each lecture. Studying, highlighting, even re-reading have negligible effects on learning and rapidly evaporate. In contrast, spaced learning and rehearsed practice—which our short quizzes trigger—help you retain and use information first encountered in a textbook or classroom. While immersion courses in a language can make some learners feel they're progressing rapidly, their counterparts frustrated over the small dollops of spaced practice—as little as ten minutes daily—rapidly overtake the immersion learners and retain their facility with language longer.
  •  The Hero and the Outlaw
    Branding expert Margaret Mark teamed up with Carol S. Pearson, who has developed Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey into cultural archetypes that function across a variety of settings. In The Hero and the Outlaw, Mark and Pearson make compelling arguments for how brands succeed through harnessing these archetypes—and frequently fail when companies misidentify or ignore the implications of the archetypes infusing a brand.

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Warrington College of Business
BRY 100
PO Box 117150
Gainesville, FL 32611-7150
Phone: 352.392.2397
Fax: 352.392.2086

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