Reviewed: My Journey by Donna Karan

My Journey begins on 9/11, the day of a Fashion Week show and just after the death of Donna’s husband (Stephan Weiss). That terrible day sets the scene for Donna’s life story, with its theme of life and loss. For instance, Donna began her career as Anne Klein’s assistant. When Anne passed away (a complete surprise to Donna), Donna had an infant daughter and an unwanted promotion to Head Designer.

Donna Karan clearly has a strong work ethic and a willingness to trust her gut. She has had many successes and many failures, but survived to become a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist. This book is also a great view into the fashion business and the stress of creating new collections. It is an interesting read, especially for anyone interested in fashion.

Reviewed – The Pomodoro Technique: A 10 Step Action Plan for Increasing Your Productivity

I’ve known about the Pomodoro Technique for a few years. (If you’re not familiar with it, you can click here for more information. It’s a way to focus your mind so that you spend 25 minutes working on a task, followed by a 5-minute break. After the fourth work/break cycle, you take a 30-minute break.) Despite rave reviews from colleagues, I’ve been reluctant to try the Pomodoro technique because I felt it was too rigid.

With the holidays approaching and my motivation to work declining, I decided to try the Pomodoro technique. I was astounded at how well it works. Not only was I getting my work done more quickly, I was also a whole lot less tired. Forcing myself to take a five minute break surprisingly rejuvenating and a chance to drink some water or do some quick stretching. It also found that working in “poms” gave my day more structure, as I limited my coffee and snack breaks to the formal break times.

The Pomodoro Technique: A 10 Step Action Plan for Increasing Your Productivity describes how to use the Pomodoro technique, including ways to adapt it to your work style and what to do during breaks. Like me, the author is a writer who works from home, so I found his suggestions especially applicable. This is a great introduction to the Pomodoro technique, as well as other time management techniques and software that may help in your Pomodoro journey.


Reviewed: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I almost didn’t read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins because the reviews said it was a psychological thriller. I’m not a fan of mysteries or violence, but the need for a good book for a lengthy car trip made me reconsider. I’m glad I did.

The story is narrated by three women: Rachel, Megan and Anna. Rachel has lost her job, drinks too much, and is divorced from her ex-husband Tom. Rachel also rides the train every day, which unfortunately stops in front of her old home, where Tom is happily living with his new wife Anna and their newborn daughter. A few doors down lives Megan, who Anna notices and starts to fantasize about. Eventually Megan goes missing and the three women’s lives intersect in a variety of ways.

I have to admit that I found the beginning of the story rather confusing, probably because I was listening to the audio version. However I soon sorted it out and found it to be a really enjoyable listen. The plot has lots of twists and turns that I didn’t expect, none of which included any violence. I think this book would appeal to both men and women, and would be a great choice for anyone looking for a good novel.

Reviewed: Uncomplicate Business by Howard Farran

When I purchased this book, it was because I liked the premise of making business less complicated. On this level, author Howard Farran certainly delivered. The book is written in a very friendly tone and describes what he’s learned in managing time, money and people. The book is filled with personal examples, including how he’s applied managing time, money and people in building his dental practice. I particular enjoyed the narratives from his staff members about how these principles were applied in their jobs.

Howard Farran is clearly someone who is willing to learn from best practices and apply them to his business. One of my favorite sub-chapters was about respecting your client’s time by using the eight principles of waiting (developed by Harvard Business school professor David Maister). These principles include “anxiety makes waits seem longer” and “unexplained waits are longer than explained waits.” Since I’ve spent way to much of my life in medical waiting rooms, it was interesting how Farran is cognizant of this waiting process and actively moves patients to a place where their wait time seems shorter.

The author owns a dental practice in a suburb in a suburb of Phoenix, AZ. It so happens that this suburb (Ahwatukee) is the area where my family resided for 15 years. Although he was not my dentist, knowing that he was a neighbor made the book even more interesting. Uncomplicate Business is clearly written and would be very inspiring to anyone who wanted to get back to the basics of their business.