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Invisibles

by David Zweig

What do fact-checkers, anesthesiologists, U.N. interpreters, and structural engineers have in common? When they do their jobs poorly, the consequences can be catastrophic for their organizations. But when they do their jobs perfectly . . . they're invisible. For most of us, the better we perform the more attention we receive. Yet for many "Invisibles"--skilled professionals whose role is critical to whatever enterprise they're a part of--it's the opposite: the better they do their jobs the more they disappear. In fact, often it's only when something goes wrong that they are noticed at all. Millions of these Invisibles are hidden in every industry. You may be one yourself. And despite our culture's increasing celebration of fame in our era of superstar CEOs and assorted varieties of "genius"--they're fine with remaining anonymous. David Zweig takes us into the behind-the-scenes worlds that Invisibles inhabit. He interviews top experts in unusual fields to reveal the quiet workers behind public successes. Combining in-depth profiles with insights from psychology, sociology, and business, Zweig uncovers how these hidden professionals reap deep fulfillment by relishing the challenges their work presents. Zweig bypasses diplomats and joins an elite interpreter in a closed-door meeting at the U.N., where the media and public are never allowed. He ascends China's tallest skyscraper while it's still under construction, without the architect, guided instead by the project's lead structural engineer. He even brings us on stage during a Radiohead concert, escorted not by a member of the band, but by their chief guitar technician. Along the way, Zweig reveals that Invisibles have a lot to teach the rest of society about satisfaction and achievement. What has been lost amid the noise of self-promotion today is that not everyone can, or should, or even wants to be in the spotlight. This inspiring and illuminating book shows that recognition isn't all it's cracked up to be, and invisibility can be viewed as a mark of honor and a source of a truly rich life.

Money for Nothing: How the Failure of Corporate Boards Is Ruining American Business and Costing Us Trillions

by John Gillespie David Zweig

A Bank of America director questioned the CEO's $76 million pay package in a year when the bank was laying off 12,600 workers and found herself dropped from the board without notice a few months later. According to their employment agreements -- approved by boards -- 96 percent of large company CEOs have guarantees that do not allow them to be fired "for cause" for unsatisfactory performance, which means they can walk away with huge payouts, and 49 percent cannot be fired even for breaking the law by failing in their fiduciary duties to shareholders. The General Motors board gave CEO Rick Wagoner a 64 percent pay raise -- to $15.7 million -- in 2007, when the company lost $38.7 billion. The company went bankrupt two years later at a cost of $52 billion to shareholders and another $13.4 billion to all taxpayers. If you own stock -- and 57 million U.S. households do -- every cent of these outrages comes out of your pocket, thanks to boards of directors who are supposed to represent your interests. Every customer, employee, and taxpayer is also being hurt and American business is being imperiled. In the most recent economic collapse, almost all attention has focused on the greed, recklessness, or incompetence of CEOs rather than the negligence of boards, who ought to be held equally, if not more, accountable because the CEOs theoretically work for them. But the world of boards has become an entrenched insiders' club -- virtually free of accountability or personal liability. Too often, corporate boards act as enabling lapdogs rather than trustworthy watchdogs, costing us trillions. Money for Nothing exposes the glaring flaws in this dysfunctional system, including directors who are selected by the CEOs they are meant to hold accountable; compensation consultants who legitimize outrageous pay; accountants and attorneys who see no evil; legal vote buying; rampant conflicts of interest; and much more. Using their extensive original reporting and interviews with high-level insiders, John Gillespie and David Zweig -- both Harvard MBAs with thirty-plus years of Fortune 100 experience at investment banks and media companies -- expose what happened, or failed to happen, in the boardrooms of companies such as Lehman Brothers, General Motors, Bear Stearns, and Countrywide and how it has resulted in so much financial devastation. They reveal how the byzantine yet indestructible web of power and money has brought on collapse after collapse, with fig-leaf reforms that feebly anticipate last year's scandal, but never next year's. Money for Nothing shows how the game is played, and how you can help to demand real change in a badly broken system.

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