About

Head shot JayI’ve read and reviewed more than 500 business books.

I started reviewing business books for the Hamilton Spectator in 1999. I went into the newsroom pitching a column about public relations. The editor wisely nixed that idea and pointed instead to the piles of business books surrounding his desk. Do you enjoy reading business books, asked the editor. I do now, I said.

Reviews run every second Saturday. 

Reviewing business books has saved me from having to come up with any original ideas throughout my career. I’ve worked in public relations since 1993, with stops at a provincial association, a hospital, steelmaker, college and university. I’ve been responsible for internal communications, leadership communications, speechwriting, media relations, community relations, issues management and crisis communications.

I graduated from the Harvard of the North with a master’s in journalism and a BA in political science. Instead of going to class, I drew a daily cartoon strip for the student newspaper. A presidential hopeful for the student union promised to ban my cartoon strip if he was elected. He didn’t get elected.

Here are the answers to the four questions I’m asked most frequently:

  1. Yes, I read every business book cover to cover, word for word. I watch very little TV and spend no time on social media outside of work. I have a very understanding wife and kids.
  2. I choose the books I’m going to review. I will never choose a business book featuring talking animals, made-up stories or is nothing more than a ghostwritten ego trip or infomercial. But I will always pick up a book written by a journalist or a CEO / entrepreneur who’s willing to tell the honest, unvarnished truth.
  3. I’ve yet to read a self-published book that’s as good as a book put out by a publishing house. If you can’t find a publisher, it’s a good sign that you won’t find an audience beyond your immediate family and friends.
  4. My favourite business books? Jay Baer’s Talk Triggers and Hug Your Haters, Marcus Sheridan’s They Ask, You Answer and John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup.
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