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Based on a true story Biographical Book Review Business Development Change Management Decision making Disruption Market Entry People management Product Development Risk Strategy

Book review: “Rigged”

“Rigged” is a wild ride of strategy, oil, energy, ambition, girls and money based on the true story of John D’Agostino, written by Ben Mezrich.

The story relates a very brief period in Johns life when, at 26 he became the youngest ever vice president of the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), which at the time was the US leading energy (mostly oil) trading exchange. The Mercantile is also the focus of other wall-street pop-fiction such as the Eddie Murphy / Dan Akroyd movie “Trading places”.

John was sponsored by the then chairmen of the NYMEX to work directly with the chairman and CEO of the NYMEX. John establishes the trust of the trading floor by demonstrating he is ‘one of the boys’ and also the trust of the chairman and CEO by delivering high quality work under pressure. This lands him the VP of Strategy position in an environment where the traders and the management are pitted against each other in a race against the clock to modernize the trading floor. The traders like what they have and do not want to change, the management face globalisation and increasing competition and know they need to modernize to survive.

With one foot on the trading floor and one foot in management, a very serendipitous meeting with some very wealthy and influential people in Dubai takes place. In that meeting, John is matched with an equally ambitious, young and well supported protege who proposes a partnership scheme between the NYMEX and a future Dubai Mercantile Exchange. John and his Dubai ally face down the opposition to the merger and manage to swing the board into supporting the deal by showing them all that Dubai has to offer.

A great story that demonstrates how ambition, a desire to make a change and wealthy strategic supporters can up-end established institutions. Recommended reading for anyone that desires to make a change.

Incidentally, in 2006 the board of the NYMEX agreed to sell-off the NYMEX, with an IPO on the NY stock exchange and independent sales to private equity and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, garnering significant wealth for themselves. The pit traders, who were mostly independent operators, were left with little to show for their time with NYMEX, which is now a shadow of its former self . No doubt that management won that round too. The Dubai mercantile exchange is going from strength to strength.

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Book Review Decision making Dignity Fiction Forgiveness People management Psychology

Review: “The curious incident of the dog in the night-time”

“The curious incident of the dog in the night time” is written by Mark Haddon and helped changed my opinion on fiction books.

For a while now I have been reading more and more non-fiction books. Autobiography, biography, essay dissertations, DIY and other books that defy categorisation such as “Mind-Field” by Lone Frank and “Purple Cows” by Sascha Dichter. I found these books more stimulating, they challenged me to think about concepts and ideas that novels did not.

I was wrong to apply that assumption to all fiction novels. In this book Haddon re-awakened me to the world of fiction and how important story-telling is in defining history, education and society. The story is told through the diary of Christopher John Francis Boone, a mildly autistic 15 year old who is attempting to sit his A-Lvel maths exam. His regulated and orderly world is threatened by the messy, emotional and seemingly illogical events of life in his small village. Especially his parents struggle to support him as best they can whilst dealing with their own problems.

Haddons story telling had me empathizing with Chistopher and really understanding what life in his situation might be like. I think of it as learned empathy. Plus it served as a reminder to just how silly humans can be some times.

Thanks to the Timor crew for putting me onto this book.