Business Books on our 2017 Reading List

Business books that you need to put on your reading list too!

Never split the difference.pngNever Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz

A former international hostage negotiator for the FBI offers a new, field-tested approach to high-stakes negotiations—whether in the boardroom or at home.



deep-workDeep Work by Cal Newport

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.


launchLaunch by Jeff Walker

“Launch” will build your business—fast. Whether you’ve already got a business or you’re itching to start one, this is a recipe for getting more traction.



lean-startupThe Lean Startup, Eric Reis

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable.  The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.


4-hr-work-weekFour hour Workweek by Tim Ferris

Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times.


reworkRework by Jason Fried

Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition.


flyingFlying without a Net by Thomas J. DeLong

Confronted by omnipresent threats of job loss and change, even the brightest among us are anxious. In response, we’re hunkering down, blocking ourselves from new challenges.


executionExecution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

The book that shows how to get the job done and deliver results . . . whether you’re running an entire company or in your first management job.



captureAndrew Carnegie by David Nasaw

Celebrated historian David Nasaw, whom The New York Times Book Review has called “a meticulous researcher and a cool analyst,” brings new life to the story of one of America’s most famous and successful businessmen and philanthropists—in what will prove to be the biography of the season. Forget the old concept of retirement and the rest of the deferred-life plan–there is no need to wait and every reason not to, especially in unpredictable economic times.

capture1The 50th Law by 50 Cent

In The 50th Law, hip hop and pop culture icon 50 Cent (aka Curtis Jackson) joins forces with Robert Greene, bestselling author of The 48 Laws of Power, to write a “bible” for success in life and work based on a single principle: fear nothing.


capture3Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

An instant bestseller that is poised to become a classic, Moonwalking with Einstein recounts Joshua Foer’s yearlong quest to improve his memory under the tutelage of top “mental athletes.”


capture4The Innovators Dilemma by Clayton Christenten

The bestselling classic on disruptive innovation, by renowned author Clayton M. Christensen.



capture5The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun

The riveting story of how a young man turned $25 into more than 200 schools around the world and the guiding steps anyone can take to lead a successful and significant life.



Have you read any of these yet? Share a book review with us by sending an email to






The 23 best business books to read this summer

reading beachA man reads a book at the Anantara Rasananda in Koh Phangan, Thailand.Paula Bronstein/Getty Images


Summer’s officially begun, and that probably means you’re going to need something to read on your next trip to the beach or for the long flight to your vacation destination.

You’ll be kicking back, but might as well bring something educational to accompany that magazine you picked up at the airport.

To help you out, we’ve selected our favorite business memoirs, career guides, and the most exciting research on the future of work.

You’re sure to find something to like that will also leave you with some ideas to take back to the office.

View As: One Page Slides


‘Sprint’ by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz

'Sprint' by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz


Ever wonder how you could bring some of Google’s magic into your office without installing a quirky slide between floors or investing in an on-site chef? “Sprint” can help you out.

It’s a guide from Google’s venture capital arm GV. Its design partners Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, and Braden Kowitz explain how to implement their signature five-day “sprint” session.

They’ll show you how they’ve used this method to launch game-changing products with companies like Blue Bottle Coffee, Slack, and Nest.

Find it here »

‘Shoe Dog’ by Phil Knight

Nike is not only the world’s biggest athletic company, with a market cap of about $88 billion. It’s also, remarkably, been able to be a worldwide leader of “cool” since the 1970s.

It all started with a new college grad named Phil Knight who sold running shoes out of his parents’ garage.

Knight is retiring as the chairman of Nike this month, and he’s using his book “Shoe Dog” as the definitive story of how he built an empire. It’s a well-written and emotionally engaging story about an entrepreneur growing as a human being alongside the company in which he completely invested himself.

Find it here »

‘Originals’ by Adam Grant

'Originals' by Adam Grant

Penguin Random House

Adam Grant is a star in his field. He’s the highest-rated professor at Wharton and the youngest to ever reach “full professor.” His success is built on some of the most exciting and practical work in behavioral science.

In his latest book, Grant takes a look at some of the most innovative and daring thinkers of the past 100 years, from Martin Luther King, Jr. to the founders of Google, breaking down what goes on inside the mind of an “original.”

Find it here »

‘O Great One!’ by David Novak and Christina Bourg

'O Great One!' by David Novak and Christina Bourg


When David Novak retired as the chairman of Yum Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) in May, he left behind a legacy of 41,000 restaurants across 125 countries and a market capitalization of about $34 billion.

His book “O Great One!” is a parable based on his own career that communicates the No. 1 leadership lesson he learned: The greatest thing a leader can do is show appreciation for great work.

Find it here »

‘How to Have a Good Day’ by Caroline Webb

'How to Have a Good Day' by Caroline Webb


Caroline Webb is the CEO of consulting firmSevenshift and a senior adviser to McKinsey, where she was formerly a partner. Her book is a collection of career best practices she’s learned in her 16 years as a consultant.

“How to Have a Good Day” may sound like a book full of self-affirmations, but it’s densely packed with field-tested career advice, from how to have productive meetings to how to deal with an annoying coworker.

Find it here »

‘Grit’ by Angela Duckworth

'Grit' by Angela Duckworth


What’s the one thing that West Point cadets, spelling-bee champs, Jeff Bezos, and Julia Child have in common?

Ask Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and a winner of the MacArthur “genius” award, and she’ll tell you: grit. That is, a combination of passion and perseverance that plays a huge role in determining your success in life — more so even than intelligence or innate talent.

To be sure, “Grit” and the psychology behind it have its critics, some of whom say that the research doesn’t add anything especially new. Regardless of where you stand, the book is a compelling read that will encourage you to start questioning your own potential for achievement.

Find it here »

‘An Everyone Culture’ by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey

'An Everyone Culture' by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey


In nearly every workplace, employees are working two jobs: the one they signed up for and the one spent navigating office politics, argue Harvard professors Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey in “An Everyone Culture.”

There are, however, companies that avoid this, and the authors call these Deliberately Developmental Organizations (DDOs).

Kegan and Laskow thoroughly analyze what they perceive to be the benefits of radical transparency through case studies on hedge fund giant Bridgewater, ecommerce company company Next Jump, and real estate company Decurion.

Find it here »

‘Quench Your Own Thirst’ by Jim Koch

'Quench Your Own Thirst' by Jim Koch


Today, Americans can walk into nearly any neighborhood supermarket or corner store and find at least one quality craft beer. But when Jim Koch left a consulting job with a $250,000 salary in 1984 to start a beer company and compete with the likes of Budweiser and Heineken, he seemed like a lunatic.

Today Koch’s Boston Beer Company, maker of Sam Adams, is a $2 billion company and one of the reasons why it’s no longer seen as crazy to open a brewery in the US.

“Quench Your Own Thirst” is the story of how he got there, told in Koch’s blunt, wry delivery — for example, in one chapter he breaks down the “F— You” rule he implemented at Boston Beer.

Find it here »

‘Deep Work’ by Cal Newport

'Deep Work' by Cal Newport


In 2016, nearly anyone living in the developed world has a short attention span from years spent jumping among smartphone apps and web browser tabs. It’s not a benign cultural change, argue Georgetown professor and bestselling author Cal Newport, because the greatest output is the result of what he calls “deep work.”

Newport’s book of the same name explains how one can build sessions of deep work into their work days to get more top-quality work done in the span of an hour than they otherwise would in the entire day.

Find it here »

‘Ego is the Enemy’ by Ryan Holiday

'Ego is the Enemy' by Ryan Holiday


For someone at the start of their careers, acting on ego can prevent them from constructive learning opportunities; for someone who has already experienced success, acting on ego can prevent them from adapting to change.

Bestselling author Ryan Holiday draws from history and philosophy to show how one can master one’s own ego, using examples that range from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Find it here »

‘The Inevitable’ by Kevin Kelly

'The Inevitable' by Kevin Kelly


Kevin Kelly, one of the founders of Wired magazine, has established himself as a guru of Silicon Valley. “The 4-Hour Workweek” author Tim Ferriss un-ironically calls Kelly “the most interesting man in the world” and legendary tech investor Marc Andreessen dubbed “The Inevitable” an “automatic must-read.”

In it, Kelly gives you a sneak peek at the future, and how it will be shaped by maturing forces like artificial intelligence and the on-demand economy.

Find it here »

‘The Sleep Revolution’ by Arianna Huffington

'The Sleep Revolution' by Arianna Huffington


In 2007, after she’d been founder and editor of The Huffington Post for two years, Huffington fainted and woke up in a pool of blood. The likely reason, she determined later, was sleep deprivation.

Today, Huffington is a champion for snooze time. (She says she personally gets a full 8.5 hours of sleep every night.)

In “The Sleep Revolution,” she shares research and expert opinion on why it’s important to prioritize sleep, as well as tips on how to get a better night’s rest. Hint: Don’t bring your smartphone into bed with you.

Find it here »

‘Warren Buffett’s Ground Rules’ by Jeremy C. Miller

'Warren Buffett's Ground Rules' by Jeremy C. Miller


Investment analyst Jeremy Miller’s “Warren Buffett’s Ground Rules” is a thorough but easy-to-understand analysis of the investing principles of Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, one of the greatest investors in history.

In fact, Miller’s analysis is so spot-on that the Oracle of Omaha himself gives it his full endorsement. “Mr. Miller has done a superb job of researching and dissecting the operation of Buffett Partnership Ltd. and of explaining how Berkshire’s culture has evolved from its BPL origin,” Buffett wrote.

Find it here »

‘Never Split the Difference’ by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz


Vote Your Conscience, No Matter What That Means

I will be perfectly honest, for me voting my conscience meant not voting for a POTUS this election. I know, some of you just audibly gasped (or cursed). And that’s okay. I am completely at peace with my decision, as I hope you are.

I’m not all of the sudden pro-abortion or Planned Parenthood because I didn’t vote Trump. Nor am I pro-rape culture or career politicians because I didn’t vote Clinton. Likewise, I am no less independent in my political ideology because I didn’t vote third-party (or independent). I am someone who wasn’t willing to compromise my ethical values to such a degree that would allow me to vote for any of the front-runners in this race.

Typically, I would agree with those of you who say, “If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain.” But don’t mistake my not voting for a presidential candidate for apathy, laziness or being politically uninformed. This election I am exercising my right not to vote for the candidates running for the office of the President of the United States.

Yes, I could write someone in. But, even that wouldn’t be holding true to my personal convictions of voting for a candidate that I can at least halfway support.

I know, how dare I. I am, after all seeking a political science degree.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I didn’t (or you shouldn’t) participate in the other general elections. Voting for your Congressional candidates is vastly important, as is voting on ballot measures that affect your state and community. Abstaining from voting for a “lesser of two (fill in the blank),” doesn’t have to mean not participating in the democratic process.

Don’t let anyone bully you into voting for someone you can’t in good conscience justify voting for. And yes, not voting for a third-party candidate because “any vote not for Hillary is a vote for Trump” and vice versa is a just as ridiculous as it sounds.

So there will be no, “I voted” sticker stuck to my T-shirt or badge posted on any social media page this year. Did I copout? I don’t think so. I simply voted my conscience.

FullSizeRenderGuest Author:  Kristi Reed is a freelance writer and photographer living in SE Asia with her family. She is actively engaged in combatting global injustice, ending modern-day slavery and documenting current world events. Kristi is currently seeking a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University.


[Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Lead Journal.] 

The “Emerging World” through the eyes of a naive tourist

1843 – a magazine of ideas, lifestyle and culture by The Economist recently published Adrian Wooldridge’s article about his experiences in India. I believe that Mr. Wooldridge tried to be humorous but ended up insulting the “service economy”.

The article begins by trying to explain what the “service economy” in the “emerging world” looks like. It talks about how “waiters compete to pour your tea and masseurs vie to pummel your body” and how in Delhi someone approached Mr. Wooldridge with a Q-tip in hand and offered to wax his ears for him!

The article proceeds to describe a series of really bad choices that Mr. Wooldridge makes in the “emerging world” and he concludes that “.. the service economy contains bear-traps for naive foreigners.”

Reading the article gives rise to two sets of emotions – first I feel sorry for the rough time he had in India and then I feel insulted because the only incidents that he narrates, describes the “service economy” in the “emerging world” as one filled with deception.

Read Wooldridge’s article here.

Mr. Wooldridge describes Jamshedpur to be “in the depths of the Bengali jungle. Getting there condemns you to passing through Kolkata airport, which is run by the communist-dominated local government for the express purpose of humiliating itinerant capitalists.”

I believe that the unrefined description of Bengal stems from his experience at the hotel:

“A charming man knocked on my door, introduced himself as my personal valet, and promised to get my suit dry-cleaned, my clothes washed and my shoes polished so that I could see my face in them, and deliver my belongings to my room by sunrise. Exuberant at the thought of being treated like a maharajah, I handed him everything I wasn’t wearing.”

While it is unfortunate that he was robbed of his belongings in a foreign city, it makes me wonder if someone as naive as Mr. Wooldridge should be recommended to travel anywhere by himself. I know from experience that we accept the weirdest of incidents as being typical to an unknown place. A new place has the power of making us either terribly skeptical about everything or embarrassingly vulnerable to everything.

Of course the next day, he realizes his mistake. “It turned out that their hotel did not provide overnight cleaning let alone personal valets. My charming visitor of the previous night was, it emerged, a scam artist. With several days of meetings ahead of me, I was left with the clothes I was standing in: well-worn chinos, a heavily creased shirt and brightly coloured sneakers.”

Mr. Wooldridge ends up spending the day visiting Tata Steel and villages that he describes as follows, “I spent the first part of the day visiting the steelworks – the hottest and sweatiest place I have ever been – and the second half visiting model villages in the jungle, which were dirty as well as sweaty. “

He then flies to Mumbai, where he stays at the Taj and doesn’t find time to buy clean clothes. Instead he tries to buy deodorant to help his smelly clothes. It makes me wonder why he wouldn’t make time to buy a shirt. He does mention that he arrives late and has to rush to meetings but it almost seems silly that he makes time to wander around looking for deodorant instead of clean clothes.

His description of street hawkers is quite accurate. They are a persistent bunch and the only way to get rid of them is to ignore them and keep moving. But most tourists feel compelled to respond to their never-ending rhetoric.

Mr. Wooldridge finally ends up buying what he believes at first to be deodorant from “a hole in the wall that seemed to sell everything.” 

During his meeting, his skin begins to burn and he is convinced that it’s caused by whatever was in the deodorant can. The article ends with Mr. Wooldridge ending his interview abruptly and rushing to take a freezing shower.

The heading and content of the article have the power to mislead people into believing that the “service economy in the emerging world” is simply waiting to pounce on and rob naive tourists. I certainly hope that that’s not the image readers begin to believe in.



Celebrating festivals in India

Will you be in India during a major festival? Keep some of these  tips in mind to make the most of your time there.

Find out the list of festivals in your city. Different cities in India celebrate different festivals and the celebrations differ in size and impact. Some of them bring cities to a standstill for weeks, while others are celebrated on a single day with much pomp and show! Some of the most celebrated Hindu festivals that bring cities to a standstill are Diwali, Durga Puja, Ganesh Chaturthi and Holi.

During some festivals, like Durga Pujapandals, which are temporary temples, are set up at adjacent street corners. Diwali includes a lot of fireworks and Holi involves playing with holi colors. Ganesh Chaturthi involves colorful processions on the streets.

During certain festivals, extravagant lighting on the streets and loud-speakers blasting popular Bollywood and Tollywood songs in neighborhoods can last for weeks. You might as well develop a liking for noise and bright neon lights.

There are people who go on vacations to calmer places to escape the festivities. We recommend enjoying the festival experience when you can. Take photos when appropriate and enjoy the seasonal food spreads. You could also make use of the many shopping deals during the season! If you do plan to escape the festivities, plan in advance! Too many people travel into and out of the city and last minute travel reservations may not be successful.

If you have lived in India, you know how busy and chaotic traffic can be. During major festivals, you can safely assume that there will be an unbelievable increase in the number of cars on every street that is not already blocked. Oh yes, some roads and lanes will be blocked because of the celebrations. Planning your travel routes around the city can save a lot of frustration. Cities stay busy all day and night.

Immersion processions are fun to watch…from the safety of a house. You can see people dancing to loud music and engaging in different rituals as they make their way to the river or to the temple where the idol belongs.

One of the traditions that might involve you, even if you don’t participate in the festival, are donation collections, called chanda in some parts of India. Local communities often collect chanda, to fund their festivals and organize charity meals. You can feel free to decline politely and pray that they are not persistent with the request. However, if you do wish to participate, you can be as generous as you like.

Another important thing to note, is that most businesses come to a standstill during festivals so expect slower services.

In India, you haven’t quite seen it all until you experience a major festival. So stay calm and enjoy the experience!


Author: The Lead Journal Editor



Have you lived overseas? Share your experiences with The Lead Journal –  email

Ethics in Media Coverage of Officer Involved Shootings: The Ferguson Effect

The shooting of Ferguson resident Michael Brown, 18, by veteran officer Darren Wilson, 28, was the spark that lit the fire for unprecedented media coverage of officer-involved shootings.

Since that fateful day in August of 2014, the media and public have participated in a never before seen number of public opinion “trials” that are full of speculation, half-truths, Monday morning quarterbacking and a vast number of misconceptions. Even a USA Today timeline of events, published in August 2015, failed to mention important details of Brown’s actions—omitting Brown’s assault on Wilson during their first encounter. It seems that the court of public opinion is not only in session, but show no signs of going to recess anytime soon.

One of the biggest disservices the current 24-hour news cycle has done for consumers is the reporting of “facts” before they are fully vetted. It’s bad enough when the media get names of suspects wrong, or when they misreport on the death of a senator—but convicting a city employee of murdering an “innocent” man without proper investigation of the facts has to be one of the most prominent examples of violating the public’s trust.

In his Washington Post article, Jonathan Capehart admitted, “in those early hours and early days, there was more unknown than known.” Yet, that didn’t stop him from sharing his thoughts with MSNBC’s Michael Skolnik on “the death of another unarmed black man at the hands of a white police officer.”

The media’s insatiable appetite for too quickly reporting misinformation is not only a disservice to the news consumers, but to the people whose lives they ruin in the process.

Capehart now admits that the “’Hands up, don’t shoot’ movement was built on a lie.” The two investigations into Brown’s death, released by the Justice Department “have forced me to deal with two uncomfortable truths: Brown never surrendered with his hands up, and Wilson was justified in shooting Brown,” Capehart wrote.

If hindsight is 20/20, where does that leave us as a nation? If when truths come to light lives are still ruined, communities still destroyed and misconceptions are still perpetuated years later, how can we not question journalistic practices of reporting half-truths in the name of breaking news?

[As this post is about journalistic integrity and ethical practices, I should note that Capehart also noted that the DOJ report revealed an alarming number of civil rights violations over the years from the Ferguson Police Department, which also needs to be addressed. But, that does not negate the need for media to be more responsible in their reporting. Stories that are as volatile as police shootings of minorities need to be handled with the utmost integrity and deal strictly with facts—not speculation that has the potential to leave another community destroyed in the wake of violent protests that were built on a lie.] 

FullSizeRenderGuest author: Kristi Reed is a freelance writer and photographer living in SE Asia with her family. She is actively engaged in combating global injustice, ending modern-day slavery and documenting current world events. Kristi is currently seeking a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University.

Why I’m annoyed with Kaepernick, and why it’s not the reason you think

It seems the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick has become somewhat of an cult leader … you’re either for him or against him—or at least that’s what the media wants you to think.

Kaepernick, Image credit: ESPN

Just over two weeks ago Kaepernick, backup quarterback for the 49ers, caused a stir when he decided to sit during the singing of the National Anthem. In a statement given exclusively to NFL media after the game, Kaepernick said,

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color … To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Forbes contributor Brian Mazique wrote,

“[Alex] Boone and many others have painted the protest as a slight to the armed forces and veterans who have served in its branches. That’s preposterous, to say the least.”

I agree. Kaepernick’s statement was not a slight to our armed forces personnel—but it was a statement against the law enforcement professionals who put their lives on the line to serve and protect domestically.

And that’s where I have a problem. Kaepernick’s blanket statement is riddled with problems, not the lease of which is his lack of supporting evidence to back up his claim. Rather, it is a parroting of the mainstream media’s early accusations of police brutality before proper facts and evidence have come out. Blanket statements aren’t getting us anywhere as a nation. It’s time to dial down on specifics so we can make true advancements in our nation’s racial disharmony.

Like the nation, many in the NFL are divided on support for Kaepernick. Last week, at the opening regular season game, which fell on the 15-year anniversary of 9/11, the Seattle Seahawks made their own statement. In a show of unity, the entire roster, several coaches and other staff linked arms and stood for the playing of the anthem.

Doug Baldwin, wide receiver for the Seahawks told reporters “The message we’re sending is that, yes, there are things in our country that need to be changed. But that’s why this country is so great, because we’re never afraid of facing those challenges head on.”

Kaepernick’s statements are perpetuating the division, not trying to solve the issues we’re facing. That’s exactly the opposite of what our country needs right now. Both Kaepernick’s statements and the ensuing media coverage have only served to further the gap in our already divided nation.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, have made it their mission to build a bridge. Starting quarterback, Russell Wilson said, “It comes down to appreciating one another.” The African American community has gone through so much, Wilson said, but not every police officer is bad nor is every African American.

FullSizeRenderGuest author: Kristi Reed is a freelance writer and photographer living in SE Asia with her family. She is actively engaged in combating global injustice, ending modern-day slavery and documenting current world events. Kristi is currently seeking a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University.


Read more from Kristi Reed:  What makes a story go viral? | The Decline of Professionalism and Customer Service | The Microagression Generation | Four Things you are Doing Right now That Contribute to Slavery

What makes a story go viral?

I have been thinking a lot about the topic of why some stories go viral (or at least get shared widely) and why others don’t get so much as 10 likes. What makes a story, Facebook post, Blog post or Tweet go viral? It’s been a bit of an obsession of mine. Every time a story pops up in my news feed that has 999,993 shares and 10-ganglion likes I wonder what made it so much more special than other, similar, stories?

clips-from-ellaThe most recent of these perplexing viral stories was of 8-year-old Ella Scott giving her meal to a homeless man. Her father, Eddie, caught the interaction on his cell phone. Newsrooms and popular bloggers picked up the story, which only gave it more traction. It is a sweet story of a child teaching the world a lesson about selflessness. But I wondered, out of all the selfless acts that have gone unnoticed, unshared and un-praised by the public, what made this video different?

I started thinking about ways to do scientific-grade studies or how I could put together a test group of friends to put out content and see what factors contributed to the making of a viral video. So, when I saw The New Yorker article  “The six things that make stories go viral …” I was excited.

Maria Konnikova’s article did offer a few words that gave a peek into why certain content goes viral, but ultimately didn’t really answer my deeper questions. I wanted some substance, something that would answer my questions and confirm or change my conceptions. I guess I’ll just have to keep looking.

What her article did offer was an outline of the type of content that tends to get shared more often. Though, I don’t think I’ll ever truly understand why LOLcat is so popular—its humor is completely lost on me. Konnikova’s connection to Aristotle’s ethos, pathos and logos principles made a lot of sense. Stories should have ethical, emotional and logical content. Those are core principles that speak to our need to be connected, feel good and make sense of the world around us. It also makes sense that positive or shocking messages would get our attention. Again, that fulfills our human nature of curiosity and “the feels” (oh my gosh, shoot me if I ever use that phrase again). But I think Konnikova’s most valid point was social capital.

I believe that a person’s social capital has a lot to do with how much a story is shared. If you have friends whom you believe to be higher on the social hierarchy than others, you will be more willing to share the content they put out, as opposed to sharing what might be more valid content from those who are lower your “popularity scale.” That too is human nature. We want to be associated with what is pretty, popular and gets the most attention.

I had a friend in high school that once said, “I honestly don’t know why [the popular] group is popular. I mean, who decided [the people in the popular group] were popular and someone else wasn’t?” This was insightful considering she was speaking of herself and close friends. Personal conclusion number one: Apparently, none of us ever really left high school.

clips-from-ella2Getting back to the viral video of 8-year-old Ella, when I first saw the video I thought, “how sweet.” My immediate second thought was, “why did Ella’s video go viral when I know so many other kids (my own included) who have done this same thing and didn’t so much as a thumbs-up?”

Now, before you call me the Wicked Witch of the West for calling out sweet little Ella, my point isn’t really about Ella at all. Ella’s story just reminded me of the nagging little question that keeps floating around in my head—why do some people’s actions get massive amounts of attention and praise and other’s don’t?

My theory: popularity begets popularity. Hopefully one day soon someone will study the phenomena of perceived popularity (e.g. social capital) and its effects on content sharing. Because if John Oliver can make the subject of net neutrality popular, my theory has promise.

FullSizeRenderGuest author: Kristi Reed is a freelance writer and photographer living in SE Asia with her family. She is actively engaged in combating global injustice, ending modern-day slavery and documenting current world events. Kristi is currently seeking a BA in Journalism and Mass Communications from Arizona State University.

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