Another good book

Tax Planning for Troubled Corporations 2010

CCH; $345

In times of trouble, those who aren't sure they can go on often turn to a good book full of time-tested wisdom to help them make it through. We're speaking, obviously, of CCH's Tax Planning for Troubled Corporations, an updated edition of which was recently released. It's full of useful advice for companies facing bankruptcy, and their advisors, on subjects like whether restructuring is practical, whether to file Chapter 11, and the use of a wide range of tools like recapitalizations, dispositions of assets, and partial or complete liquidation. Of course, if all the strategies and tips in this book can't help, you can always turn to that other Good Book, but be warned: It's not up to date on the most recent tax changes.


No bodies to count

Measuring Business Interruption Losses and Other Commercial Damages

Wiley; $150

Two things reliably follow any major disaster: body counts, and dollar amounts of the economic damage. We know, unfortunately, how they arrive at the former, but we've always wondered how they tote up the latter with such speed and assurance - losses don't lie around in the rubble, after all, waiting to be added up. Now, thanks to Measuring Business Interruption Losses and Other Commercial Damages, we're in a position to understand the process in great (possibly overwhelming) detail. This reference provides a comprehensive framework for the whole process of figuring out the cost of a business interruption, regardless of its cause. The book also gets into the business of computing damages, with advice on recent court developments, supporting and refuting loss claims, and both choosing and challenging a damages expert. Knowing how it works, we can definitely say that measuring these kind of losses is by far the more preferable way of spending your post-disaster time.



The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking Is the Next Competitive Advantage

Harvard Business Press; $26.95

No one expects financial statements to be as easy to use as iPhones, or cost-segregation reports to be as fashion-forward as iPods - but wouldn't it be cool if they were? The point of The Design of Business is not that financials should have touch screens or brushed-steel cases (though again - how cool!) but that companies should embrace the sort of creative thinking that made them possible. This is not primarily an aesthetic mindset; rather, it's about finding a way to combine the analytical, "proof-based" thinking that dominates most companies with the sort of blue-sky creativity and "possibility-based" thinking that have lifted a few to the pinnacle of success. From a wide variety of real-life examples, ranging from McDonald's to Procter & Gamble to autism research, the book assembles a model for melding the analytical and the innovative that can be applied by most any company. As an accountant, you may shy away from the non-analytical, but with the book's "knowledge funnel" process as a guide, you may soon find far more scope in the field for (legal) creativity than you ever thought possible.


Goldfish or shark?

The Shark and the Goldfish: Positive Ways to Thrive During Waves of Change

Wiley; $16.95

As a rule, business fables leave us cold. The details of, say, good supply chain management rarely lend themselves to the magical simplicity of a good fable. Everyone once in a while, though, an exception comes along, and that's the case with The Shark and the Goldfish (and not just because we're suckers for anthropomorphic animals). Its simple story of a goldfish who accidentally finds himself in the open ocean and is befriended by a nice shark actually manages to use the fable format as it's meant to be used to teach the importance of relying on your own faith, beliefs and actions in dealing with a difficult situation - whether it's an economic downturn or being tossed out of your comfortable bowl. In the end, the lesson boils down to this: Goldfish wait to be fed, while sharks go find food. To which we might add: Don't count on finding a kindly shark to show you the ropes.


A lousy two mites

The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets the Business Plan

Jossey-Bass (Wiley); $29.95

You have to respect the biblical widow who's gift to the temple of two mites represented all her money, but at the same time, we feel obliged to note that the obnoxiously ostentatious donations of the rich men in the same parable probably paid to fix the temple's boiler, and provided an awful lot of hot meals at the temple soup kitchen (where the widow most likely had to eat, since she'd given away all her money). The fact is that philanthropy is much-misunderstood - not least by philanthropists themselves.

The Art of Giving aims to shed light on the subject, and starts in an unusual place: the philanthropists themselves. The book argues that the first thing would-be Carnegies need to do is figure out why they want to give in the first place. Only by knowing their own motives, however crass, can they go on to pick the best way to act on them - an area to which the book then devotes a great deal of useful advice, with an entire section on finding organizational structures and partners to extend the reach of an individual's philanthropy, and another on the actual forms donations can take, and the ramifications of each. The book finishes off with a hefty collection of nonprofit resources, and should prove useful in advising clients.


MBA by degrees

What's Your MBA IQ? A Manager's Career Development Tool

Wiley; $45

There are two ways to get the value of an MBA - you can pay tens of thousands of dollars to a graduate program and devote a year or more of your time to case studies, or you can just read the things that MBA students read. Either way, What's Your MBA IQ? will come in handy. If you're aiming for the degree, the book will give you a solid foundation across the many different areas of business that the coursework covers, from finance and accounting to operations, marketing, project management and more. If you just want the knowledge and the mindset, the book will give you the same foundation and point you to the areas where you need to build your knowledge base - at a price point much cheaper than a year at Harvard.


Out with the old

Time to update your shelves: To help you keep up with the latest in audit and accounting rules, CCH has released new versions of its collection of authoritative resources, including its GAAP Guide 2010; GAAP Handbook 2010; Corporate Controller's Handbooks 2009-2010; Accounting Desk Book 2010; Government GAAP Guide 2010; and its GAAS Guide 2010.


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