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Creating Confidence: A handbook for professionals working with young people' Centre for confidence and well-being

Carol Craig has written an excellent book in ‘Creating Confidence: A handbook for professionals working with young people’ Centre for confidence and well-being, 2007.

However, don’t click away now if you think this is only for those working in schools and the social services – this book has relevance for anyone with a young person in the familly and indeed is helpful for general people management too. Similarly, although some of the focus is on Scotland, it has a much broader remit and will be useful in many countries.

Carol highlights how our society’s increase in choice, mass media and individualism requires confidence to enable us to choose and do well. Yet there seem to be many misunderstandings about how to develop confidence, and even what we mean by it. She uses solid evidence and raises some excellent issues about the over focus on the concept of ‘self-esteem’. Over worrying about the self esteem of our young people is leading to a ‘fragile self’ everything is protected and nothing is ever their fault, therefore the whole thing can back-fire and actually reduce confidence and increase the risk of depression.

I won’t go into all the details here, but she quite rightly critiques certain government initiatives (including focusing on self esteem) which seems to completely ignore the evidence base. I see the same thing in management all the time, and wish I knew how to get over this.

She writes in a clear and engaging style, and the book can be dipped in to at any stage and still make sense.

For more details go on to Centre for Confidence and well-being Centre for Confidence and well-being

The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, (2006) Random House

The Long Tail, by Chris Anderson, (2006) Random House

This book discusses how new technology and the increasing connectivity of the web brings unlimited access to both culture and content. The focus is on the economics of business in our wired world.

The move to distribution on demand allows multiple niches, and instead of that old Pareto rule of 80:20 – the shift is to 98% of everything sells something. The argument is that when space does not cost anything, and locality is no longer important (you do not have to physically go in to a shop to buy a CD that they must have in stock anymore), multiple on-offs can replace the old ‘volume few’ rules.

Anderson argues that the dramatic reduction in the cost of connecting, distribution, etc., and new efficiencies in manufacture, marketing and communications can turn previously unprofitable markets into profitable ones. We are moving to the economics of abundance, and a global audience.

He also highlights the death of the blockbuster – films, music and radio rarely get the huge audiences they used to, there is a shift from mass market to niche cultures and certainly cites like eBay and Amazon allow us to find that record that we used to love that everyone else hates – and buy it!

He also highlights how the global ‘word of mouth’ can have such a big impact on sales of products, services and even ideas. Once word gets around that something is good, or conversely, awful, then whatever the marketing department do becomes almost superfluous.

The long tail means we all need to think more carefully about niches, and that for many areas, some of the old rules need throwing out.

There is a website – www.longtail.com which is well worth a look.