Book Review: The Culture Code (Coyle)

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


One of my favorite books is also called The Culture Code, so I figured I’d try my luck again. It panned out!

Unfortunately, the culture Coyle is talking about is not the interesting kind, with folklore and recipes, but the corporate kind. That would be enough to turn me off in most instances. I/O psychologists are barely better than advertisers, and advertisers don’t deserve to sleep indoors. But the studies that Coyle pulls and the conclusions he draws all generalize out of the office and into the parts of life that matter. And it was pretty well written, too.

“Safety” is the take home. The more rigid the hierarchy, the worse the performance. The more comfortable and familial the environment, the more people will collaborate, the better the output and happier the participants. It’s not rocket science, but it is actual science, and backed up with a bunch of blind experiments.

Four stars, because that’s the highest rating I can give a business book and maintain my integrity.



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Book Review: 48 Laws of Power

The 48 Laws of PowerThe 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Here’s the thing.

This guy plays supervillain the whole way through his scientifically void think-piece, stringing together arbitrary military mythology alongside his shiny-eyed, wet-mouthed fawning over historical charlatans. He uses these stories, and some cherrypicked fables, to illustrate each of his 48 Laws of Being a Total Dick, and doesn’t seem to notice when they contradict each other, often on the same page.

The book is a phenomenon among business sharks and high-profile “criminal” celebrities, essentially anybody trying to play Walter White. There are two ways to look at this.

One, Robert Greene is the kid who says Fight Club is his favorite movie without realizing it’s satire. He’s out here idol-worshiping Machiavelli without a flicker of irony, and the following of edgelord sith are of a like mind, even acknowledging that one day, they will have to eat each other.

Two, Robert Greene has created the literary double cross. He wrote this open love letter to the Junior Sociopath’s Guild as a bait, and the flagrantly erroneous and contradictory information he puts forth acts as the trap. Following the 48 Laws makes you a less effective conniving dickhead because, taken together, they don’t suggest anything. There’s enough wiggle room that you can use one to rationalize any decision you want to make, and use another to rationalize the exact opposite. It’s a non-starter. The people attracted to the concept of a Littlefinger Manual are the same people too stupid to manage it without outside intervention, and by living and dying by this book, they’re slurping passionately at Greene’s poison well.

If it’s the second option, I give this book five stars. A masterstroke, especially considering how rich he’s gotten suckering all these unapologetic fledgling narcissist pricks. And under the guise of teaching them how to sucker others! The gall! The absolute BALLS on the man!

More likely, though, it’s the first option, making him the progenitor of the “to be fair, you need a high IQ to enjoy Rick and Morty” copypasta.

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