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    By Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval
    ALLEN & UNWIN, 2007, 127p, RRP: $19.95

    The Power of Nice is a simple reminder that a little kindness costs nothing and can pay rather handsome dividends. The authors, Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, have made their way to the top of the US advertising industry by following a simple but powerful philosophy: it pays to be nice.

    Peppered with anecdotes from Donald Trump, Jay Leno and Larry King, as well as a number of personal experiences, the book highlights some of the forgotten attitudes and behaviours that have a lasting effect, both personally and professionally.

    Blissfully free of that know-it-all tone that typically anchors self-help books, Thaler and Koval offer sage advice on the business of being nice. Vitally, they present a plan of action, which covers everything from creating a positive impression, to sweetening the pot, to turning enemies into allies.

    The Power of Nice is a feel-good read carrying the ultimate message that niceness does not equal weakness and that the principles surrounding social Darwinism are not the only way to get ahead in business.


    By Max Barry
    SCRIBE, 2007, 338p, $29.95

    Good satire is supposed to make you squirm, laugh, cringe and ponder – hopefully, in that order. Max Barry has created a fictional novel, about a dysfunctional workplace, achieving that exact outcome.

    But better than that, his plot has enough twists, turns and conspiracies to rival a John Grisham thriller.

    COMPANY is set at Zephyr Holdings, a big company with big company departments, political in-fighting, disgruntled middle-management, poor lighting, asphyxiating air-conditioning… you get the picture. When young and fresh-faced Steven Jones joins the graduate program – too new to understand that you don’t ask certain questions – he sets off a series of events that ultimately triggers (without giving too much of the plot away) an organisational coup and an environment that could be described as a state of corporate democracy, or anarchy, depending on which side of a teak desk you sit.

    Barry makes farce out of topics like outsourcing, mission statements and human resources. He takes dozens of management book clich’s and builds a plot that would force even the most dogmatic manager to question his or her motivations.

    In the tradition of Coupland, Heller and Gibson, COMPANY satirises and sabotages many corporate ‘truths’. It is a fun and eye-opening book from a very talented Australian author.