Episode 186 – Talking Business Books with Andrew Hill

‘It sometimes feels like I get to see every business book published.’

Andrew HillAs managing editor and business book reviewer for the Financial Times, not to mention the coordinator of the annual FT/McKinsey Business Book of the Year award, Andrew Hill reads probably more business books than anyone else on the planet. It’s worth a listen to this just for his personal recommendations. 

But he’s also a writer, and so his reflections on the value of books in the 21st century are doubly valuable, since he’s reflecting on them both professionally and personally, and as both a creator and a consumer. 

Fascinating and thoughtful insights into the world of top business books from one of its most influential figures.  


FT/McKinsey Business Book of the Year award: https://www.ft.com/bookaward

FT Bracken Bower prize: https://www.ft.com/brackenbower

Andrew on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andrewtghill

Ruskinland on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ruskinland

Alison on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bookstothesky

The Extraordinary Business Book Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1447064765612358/

This Book Means Business – the mentorship programme: https://alisonjones.lpages.co/this-book-means-business-mentorship/

Alison Jones:                        I’m here today with Andrew Hill who is a multi-award winning journalist, and Associate Editor and Management Editor of the FT, the Financial Times. He’s a former city editor, financial editor and comment and analysis editor, and he joined FT in 1988. He’s also worked as New York Bureau Chief Foreign News Editor, and correspondent in Brussels and Milan. He’s chair of the Blueprint Trust, the charity behind Blueprint for Better Business, which supports and challenges businesses to be a force for good in the world. And he’s the author of Leadership in the Headlines and Ruskinland: How John Ruskin Shapes Our World, which was published earlier this year. Welcome to the show, Andrew.

Andrew Hill:                          Pleased to be here.

Alison Jones:                        It’s wonderful to have you here. And I accosted you at the Financial Times McKinsey Book of the Year shortlisting event the other day. Because I was so keen to have you talk about that award and particularly the shortlist this year and just where you see business books going. So should we start perhaps a little bit of background to that award?

Andrew Hill:                          Sure. I mean I’ve been involved in it since it launched in 2005, at which point Goldman Sachs were the sponsors. And the aim very broadly is to pick the best business book of the year, the most compelling and enjoyable book with insights into broad business issues. And that can be anything from management to leadership, but it also spans economics and history and biography. So its breadth is one of the challenges and one of the joys of it, I think. And as I say, we’ve been running since 2005 and I think we have over the years picked some remarkable books both of the long lists, the shortlist, which has just come out for this year and as winners.

Alison Jones:                        You certainly have. And what I’ll try and do actually is find a link to previous winners because if you’re looking to curate your business book library, then that is not a bad place to start at all. Let’s talk, talk to me a little bit about this shortlist. My two favourites, I was cheering for Range by David Epstein, and Invisible Women, and they’re both on there, which is terrific. Those are the only two I’ve read, I’ll be honest with you. I’m looking at the others and they’re not short books, are they? They’re weighty tomes.

Andrew Hill:                          No, it is quite a weighty list. I mean, I should say I’m involved in the process before the choice of the long list when we’re filtering books. And we usually have between 400 and 500 entries plus others that we have to try and call in because publishers don’t always enter the books that the judges might want to see. And this was a pretty weighty long list of 16 and the shortlist of six includes some of the fattest ones, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. That’s Shoshana Zuboff’s book, criticising the way in which the privacy culture and data is being exploited by Google, Facebook, and others.

                                                      Another big one is Kochland by Christopher Leonard, which is about Koch Industries, the big, heavily politically connected conglomerate, U.S. conglomerate. So yes, there’s some weighty books on there, and we have not mentioned, I think The Man who Solved the Market, Greg Zuckerman’s book about quants and hedge funds, Jim Simons, the hedge fund billionaire. And Raghuram Rajan, The Third Pillar, which is more of an economics book about the links between orthodox economics and communities based partly on his role as a former central banker in India.

Alison Jones:                        And they are incredibly important, timely trends, all of them. It’s interesting as well. It’s such a diverse shortlist. Was that a conscious decision? It’s difficult, isn’t it always, you’re balancing the merit of books and you want also that a reasonable bit of representation. You want to not get into any unconscious bias. How does that work in your selection process?

Andrew Hill:                          Well, I think the decision on the long list involves taking account of the breadth. You don’t want 15 or 16 books on the long list that are all about economics or all about the high finance. So there is a range question there. When it comes down to the shortlist that is down to the judges, because we have eight esteemed judges chaired by the editor of the Financial Times, Lionel Barber who go over the long list, do a lot of heavy reading over the summer. And then every September they gather and they decide on the six.

                                                      This year, I mean without going into the intricacies of the discussion, well, it was very evenly balanced. I mean, so it’s very hard to call, not that I would do this before it happens, what the winner might be. Because the same judges come back together this year in early December and decide on the day of the award, which is the winner, and that, it can be a pretty heated debate.

Alison Jones:                        I can imagine. And they decide on the day of the award. Wow.

Andrew Hill:                          They do, yes.

Alison Jones:                        And everybody just has to sit there if they’re having a row in the back room?

Andrew Hill:                          Yes, well it has to be chaired rather deftly to try and get people back to either a consensus, or if they’re lucky they’ll have a unanimous decision. But it’s an interesting thing to observe from the sidelines over the last 15 years or so, just how these high-profile, often business leaders deal with a discussion, a negotiation if you like. There’s horse trading, there are not exactly deals made, but there are people prepared to trade their first choice for a second choice that they’ve been convinced about. And people change their minds, of course, it’s part of the discussion. So it’s a really fascinating process to witness.

Alison Jones:                        I bet. I think we’d all love to be a fly on the wall there. That’s wonderful. And earlier on you said that sometimes publishers don’t submit the titles that actually you would like to put in front of the judges. Just tell me a little bit more, what kind of books are you looking for? What’s the criteria for success in these awards?

Andrew Hill:                          Well, over the years it’s evolved a bit. I mean, I think when we started in 2005 we really didn’t know what to expect. I mean, and one of the things we didn’t expect was that it would, if you become a bit of a genre busting award. So traditionally business books fit in a particular part of the bookstore and you would perhaps have an immediate thought about what a business book might look like. A management book, a book by business people about how to run a business, has to be said that over the years those how-to books have not fared so well. I mean they have been on the long list, but they haven’t been as successful as the big thought books I suppose, the books that are going to weigh heavily in thinking about business.

                                                      I mean one of the things that McKinsey did when they came in as our backers a few years ago was to add a small coda to the main objective and that was that these books should stand the test of time. So that has allowed us a little bit of a refinement of what we were originally after. But we’re obviously not looking for something that’s just going to be a one-year flash in the pan, difficult as though that is to detect.

                                                      So the type of book that gets through to the long list tends to be in that end of the spectrum. But that’s not to say that there isn’t every year a debate on the day among the judges about what books they’d like to have seen, which of course for somebody like me who is managing the process can sometimes be a bit painful.

Alison Jones:                        Tell me more about that. That’s fascinating. What’s missing? What’s the space that actually people would love to have populated?

Andrew Hill:                          I think there’s a difficult space of books that are doing that how-to job. I mean the aim here, the audience here if you like, is the typical client of McKinsey or reader of the Financial Times, and who’s probably in a relatively senior executive or managerial position. Or they might be somebody in a professional services firm who’s looking for those 15 or those six or that one book in that year, which is going to change the way in which they approach their role. And, as managers they may feel that they need to read a big book on economics, but it may not be the same as the book that is going to tell them how to directly run the company.

                                                      So I think there is a middle road there of books that haven’t made the long list on a regular basis that we now, at the Financial Times in fact, we now cover those books in a feature we call Business Book of the Month. Which often overlaps with the long list, but also tackles, at least highlights those books that have not over the last 15 years traditionally made it to the main award.

Alison Jones:                        So you’ve got your big genre-busting thought pieces at one end, and then the Financial Times McKinsey Business Book of the Year, but you’ve also got space for the more, I don’t know, perhaps more practitioner focused? Would that be a fair way of describing it?

Andrew Hill:                          Probably. I mean I think if you look at this year’s long list, we’ve talked about the six shortlisted books. There are books on the wider long list that I think go more into that practitioner focus. I mean Carrie Gracie’s book Equal, which has just come out about her fight at the BBC to deal with gender pay gap, gender pay inequality, is actually really a book also for managers about how you can, should and can, deal with that gap and inequality in general. Loonshots by Safi Bahcall, is a book really about innovation, a very practical book, but also a very interesting and good read about ways in which you can make your innovation process yield some of these extraordinary billion-dollar businesses like Alphabet and Google managed to do.

                                                      So, they’re not excluded from that list by any means. If you go back to previous years, there are more. But those are the types of books that when I’m leading the process of filtering, that I’m looking for something that might provide that additional practitioner or as you say, practitioner focus to try and keep that in the mix.

Alison Jones:                        I do wonder if that’s perhaps one of the characteristics of business books. I think you’re right, they’re becoming harder and harder to pigeonhole. But I think one of the things that is really consistently there is a sense that you’ve got this big idea, you’ve got the research, the history or the story behind it, and the evidence. But you’ve also got the ‘so what’, what does this mean in the real world? And I think that is a really important part of good business books.

Andrew Hill:                          Yes, that’s right. And of course, I mean you and I know from experience that there are a lot of very poor business books out there as well. And so, I think we need to be careful that we’re not giving too much weight to books that actually are simply churning the wheels of ‘let’s have another book about innovation’. It needs to be something that moves things forward.

                                                      The other type of book that I think is quite hard to find here is books written by executives, chief executives, business people, entrepreneurs, that stand up to the criteria that we impose, that are sufficiently compelling and enjoyable. And there are books every year of course, that people churn out at the end of their careers almost as vanity publishing, which I think are hard to select for this. And very occasionally there’s a book that comes along that you think, actually that’s one where it’s defied the general sense that probably most executives and entrepreneurs aren’t cut out to be authors.

Alison Jones:                        And it is true, there’s new obvious overlap of skillsets there. And some of the very best business books in the world are written by journalists, and some of them are written by, you can just see that there’s a wonderful book in there and it’s written by the practitioner, by the executive or the leader or whatever. But they’re not a writer. And why should they be, frankly? So that’s I suppose why God invented ghostwriters, isn’t it…

Andrew Hill:                          Yes, that’s true. And we’ve given long-listed books that have been written by ghostwriters or with other writers, sometimes acknowledged, sometimes not so acknowledged. And that’s I think, the way of the world in business books. I’d rather have a book that has actually drawn out the best of an entrepreneur or a CEO or an executive because it’s been written with professional help than a book that has just the raw copy of somebody who’s not an author. So that’s I think is important.

                                                      But you’re right, the journalists, and this is an interesting trend that I’ve seen emerge from the choices that the judges make over the years. Journalists as writers do tend to do well in our award because they know how to write something that is compelling and enjoyable and often they have the time to dig into really big business stories, which our judges have over the last decade and a half generally favoured.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. Yes, it’s interesting isn’t it? Maybe this is part of the story of journalism as well as books, as well as business books.

                                                      We talk a little bit about the writing angle and what makes a good book. And also obviously your role in judging. Let’s just think for a minute about what happens to these books for the people who are reading them. How do you think people in business are using books in the 21st century? It’s obviously it’s a different information environment. It used to be the only show in town, and not so much now. So do you think books have shifted at all in how people use them in their business life?

Andrew Hill:                          Well I think for many years, I mean certainly since we started the book award, there have been business book digests and companies ready to provide a digested version of business books for busy people. And that’s been a trend I think, which has risen alongside the growing speed of the global economy and the general sense that people don’t have time to sit down. I’m always interested in when we occasionally do a ring around of busy chief executives and senior bankers and leading economists about their favourite business book. How many of them sound like they actually have read the book? I think there is inevitably a place on their book shelf for some big books that aren’t regularly dipped into. And I mean I’m hoping that we’re picking books that are so readable that you would not want to put them down, almost literally.

                                                      I mean there are two, last two years of winners, both of which were books written by journalists as it happens. Janesville, which is about General Motors closing down a plant in Wisconsin and the consequences for Janesville, the city where the plant was located by Amy Goldstein. And the last year’s winner, Bad Blood, about the scandal of the Theranos blood testing startup by John Carreyrou. I mean both of those are enormously compelling books, difficult to put down.

                                                      You’d hope that our choices would be the book that you need to read in that year. Four years ago we had the Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford, which really captured the dystopian view of automation. Something that all businesses have to know something about. So they come from a slightly different angle from the practitioner books, the ones that we’ve been selecting.

Alison Jones:                        It’s almost a form of cultural literacy for business leaders, isn’t it?

Andrew Hill:                          I think so. I mean the one thing I have noted, I don’t want to sound like they’re not reading the books that they’re recommending, but actually because a lot of business leaders are travelling a lot, they do have time sometimes to break off and read something that is longer and more difficult and perhaps takes time to get into. So I mean I have written previously and recommended that more business leaders should be reading more novels as well as the nonfiction. But they tend to favour, a lot of business leaders I speak to talk about histories and biographies. Not very many talk about novels that they’re interested in.

                                                      But the perspective taking that that allows them to indulge in seems to me to be valuable for a business leader who’s otherwise working nonstop and not being able to stop and think and reflect.

Alison Jones:                        Which is interesting, because I remember reading not that long ago actually about the mental health benefits of reading fiction, that it was very good not just for taking you out of your world and giving you perspective, but building empathy, community, all those big things that we … Fiction is almost a different form of truth isn’t it? Yes, it shows you more about the world sometimes. But then things like Janesville is almost like reading the great American novel isn’t it? It’s like a fusion of, a snapshot all these people’s lives. You forget sometimes reading it that it isn’t fiction almost.

Andrew Hill:                          It is. What’s interesting about that is it does have that feel to it. You could almost imagine it filmed and rather as a mini-series. But Amy Goldstein, who I interviewed as I generally do after the prize had been awarded, is super scrupulous in both the book and in person about not taking sides. So she’s deliberately not making anyone into an obvious villain or hero. People emerge and you’ve start to sympathise with them. And that comes out naturally from the way she tackles it as a reporter, which I thought was fascinating really. She really didn’t want to be drawn when I asked her about it, about what the lessons of Janesville and her work there were. She really wanted to be seen as a piece of reportage. But as you say, it reads very much like a piece of gripping fiction.

Alison Jones:                        Yes, it really does. And I can see that, well, there’s lots of benefits to that. One is that you finish it because you can’t not, because you want to find out what happens to these people. And the other thing is that stories just allow the themes to get past our sensor, don’t they? We don’t feel like we’ve been preached at. We just absorb what’s happening because we’re so engaged in the story. And I think if you can pull that trick off, it’s very smart one to do.

Andrew Hill:                          Yes, absolutely right.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. It’s interesting that whole, I think the more senior you are, you’re right, the more likely you are to engage with one of those blockbusting, thought-piece business titles. And it’s probably the same reason that there’s more humanities graduates as CEOs than almost any other level in business, isn’t it? There’s something about the more abstract… I think of Barack Obama and his reading list as well. It’s astonishing how the busiest people in the world seem to make time to read. Why is that do you think?

Andrew Hill:                          Well, I think going back to the idea of the novel, but also in any book, and I hope that our award has offered some of these books, or at least made them more prominent to business leaders, is that if you’re taking a book that gives you a different perspective, that gets very deep into a different topic, be it the rise of China or how randomised trials of various economic solutions to poverty, which was covered in Poor Economics. One of the titles we, it was a winner a few years ago. I mean these are things that perhaps business leaders want to focus on in their day-to-day, because people go very deep now, they get very specialised very quickly.

                                                      And I think wider reading offers you a way of keeping your more generalist instincts sharp. The perspective that you can take by choosing a book, either a history or a big nonfiction topic that perhaps isn’t the focus of your business, does then raise other questions and perhaps generate some solutions that you might not otherwise have thought about.

Alison Jones:                        Which of course is the whole thesis behind Range, isn’t it? So we’re back to one of the books on the shortlist…

Andrew Hill:                          Yes, good point, yes.

Alison Jones:                        Absolutely, brilliant. And from the perspective, because you’re obviously a voracious reader of business books – well I guess you have to be – you’re also a writer. Not of business books particularly, well I suppose, yes, your first is a set of columns, isn’t it, from the FT? You’ve got that wonderful more kind of Renaissance man, How John Ruskin Shapes Our World. If we’ve talked about what reading does for you as a human being, what does writing do, for you particularly, but for us generally?

Andrew Hill:                          Well, I mean obviously I’m writing all the time as a columnist and journalist. I think the writing of Ruskinland was something that I started very consciously with the idea that I was a) interested in the topic, but that I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just the elements of which there were a few of John Ruskin’s influence that related to my day job. So he was a great polymath, great thinker across a whole range of topics from art and geology and history through to economics, environmentalism, which he would have called something different. And also very prescient about lots of the things and problems that we still have, and everything from finance to climate change. So I wanted to capture that range again and use it as a way of stimulating a wider range of areas that I had not necessarily studied or didn’t necessarily follow day to day.

                                                      And then now I’m finding not only the writing that helped me to dig deeper in some of those varied areas, I’m an English graduate, not somebody with a big science background, but digging into some of the areas of environmentalism and even geology that he studied was fascinating and illuminating. But also now that I’m talking about the book at various places, I’m finding that enormously stimulating as well, to be able to just pull some of the questions that other people have about somebody they may know only a little about and respond but also develop my own ideas is very stimulating.

Alison Jones:                        It’s fascinating to hear you say that because I talk about this a lot when I’m working with people who are thinking about whether they want to write a book, and they perhaps got quite a pragmatic idea of what a book will do for their business. And I very often say actually that the biggest benefit is one you haven’t even thought of yet, which is what it does for you as a person, and how it deepens and enriches your thinking and helps you discover things. And the curiosity and the satisfaction of that is phenomenal isn’t it?

Andrew Hill:                          I think that’s right. I mean I set out very clearly knowing that I was going to have to write the book essentially in my free time, to write about something that I was going to enjoy writing about. And I guess that was the starting point. But at the same time, and I find this in day-to-day journalism as well, I think if you are trying to understand the topic, writing it down helps you clarify what you know and what you don’t know about something. And occasionally you may want to write it down and acknowledge that you don’t know the additional elements that you could have gotten into if the book was 6,000 pages long. But just being able to make that selection and to choose what you want to write about does help clarify your thinking I think.

Alison Jones:                        Yes, I couldn’t agree more. And I think it also positions you as a creator as well as a consumer. And I think both are important. I mean, obviously, the better quality stuff you consume, the better quality stuff you’re likely to create, but there’s a definitely swing of energy between the two that I think is really healthy.

Andrew Hill:                          Yes. I mean, one of the things that I found in writing Ruskinland was that I had started with a journalistic view that I had to know everything about this before I could start to write it down. But clearly in publishing it works the other way around. You start with a proposal, so it’s sort of an outline, which is then, you begin to explore. And sometimes of course the outline changes because you’ve learned more, you’ve contradicted something that you thought was true, we found a contradictory piece of evidence. So it was a fascinating process just because it was very different from my weekly or monthly process of writing features or columns.

Alison Jones:                        And very different timescales as well, which is quite pleasant, I imagine if you’re a journalist. It doesn’t have to be done tomorrow.

Andrew Hill:                          Yeah. Although I did benefit from the fact that it’s John Ruskin’s bicentennial this year and that seemed like a pretty substantial deadline so ….

Alison Jones:                        Oh yes, that’s a bit immovable.

Andrew Hill:                          That did help me reach the moment of completion. I think I talked to some agents actually connected with the Business Book Award who say journalists are generally pretty terrible about getting things done because they always want to research a bit more. And also because of what I’ve just alluded to, which is that they think that they need to do all the research before they could even put pen to paper. Where of course an agent or a publisher is hoping that you’re going to show something for your work. Right? But before you get to the actual moment of deadline.

Alison Jones:                        Yes it is. As a publisher, it’s quite nerve-racking sometimes when your author tells you that it’s all coming together, but you have nothing, they’ve not actually submitted anything. So yes.

Andrew Hill:                          What’s the trick? What’s the trick to get writers, intransigent writers or even secretive writers to reveal their hand?

Alison Jones:                        Well, OUR trick is that we ask for the draft manuscript, which then gets reviewed by our development editor ahead of the final delivery. And that does help, because it brings the deadline forward. And if they say, “Oh I haven’t got it,” you say, “Well just send us what you have.” And that does help. But also we stay quite closely in touch with our authors. And most of our authors are business people that, they aren’t writers, they’re certainly not journalists. And so we are supporting them probably more than most traditional publishers would support their writers used to writing for a living. So we tend to be much closer, more in contact. The alarm bells tend to ring in conversations sooner than it would if you were just letting them get on with it.

                                                      But yes. And there’s all the fear. There’s all this soft stuff around writing, the “Oh, people will think it’s not good enough.” “Who do I think I am writing a book.” All that stuff that can really derail people. And it shows up as procrastination and perfectionism and all the rest of it as well. So it’s a bit of tough love, to remind people that somebody might have written about sales before but not the way you’re going to write about sales. And also just draw the best out of them, but also just make them deliver at the end of the day. Done is better than perfect.

Andrew Hill:                          Yes it did. I mean, it was a deterrent to me in previous attempts to write something that was perhaps closer to what I write about day-to-day, the fact of sitting more or less at the nexus because I also review books for the FT and I’m writing about books in my weekly column, so I get to see, it feels like sometimes I get to see every business book published, which would be madness. But certainly that growing pile of unread books was a deterrent to get started on a book project. And for me it was useful to be able to take a subject that wasn’t anything to do with any of the books on my desk and pursue that without feeling hampered by the gigantic unread book pile.

Alison Jones:                        Yes. No, I can imagine that the meta-thinking that was going on as you were thinking about writing a business book. Yes, all the judgments. How funny.

                                                      Now, I always ask my guests for their best tip. For somebody who is in the throes of perhaps writing their first business book, I’m really interested, what would you offer?

Andrew Hill:                          Well, I would say what was very useful to me, even though I chased against it when I was preparing the Ruskinland, which as I say, is not a business book, but being pushed to produce quite a detailed proposal was extremely useful. Because when I did then come down to sit with a deadline thinking, I’ve really got to move this along, I found that I was actually following it as a map. And occasionally you say, well this map’s not taking me to the right place so I need to adjust this and clearly then there is a lot of work in moving things around and saying that sits better in this chapter or this chapter has become a bit bloated and I need to move something from there.

                                                      But having that proposal was useful, and apropos of that, it happens to be the day we’re recording this, I would push people to take a look at the FT McKinsey Bracken Bower Prize, which is the sister prize of the book award for younger writers under 35 to produce a book proposal and there’s a large prize, £15,000 for the best business book proposal. But lots of people who are new, younger authors coming new to this, have found it very useful to have that framework.

                                                      And there’s lots of advice that I and others offer as part of that prize process to try and get people to kickstart the business idea, or the book idea that they may have had in their top drawer. So the framework is there if people want to use it. They don’t have to enter the prize, although we’d love them to. And probably this year it’s too late, but we’ll be running it again in 2020 so worth having a look at that.

Alison Jones:                        Brilliant. I’ll put the link for that up on the show notes at extraordinarybusinessbooks.com. Yes, I’m absolutely with you on the proposal. I couldn’t agree more. I’m nodding vigorously here. And this is going to be fascinating too, which business book would you recommend? I’m guessing it’s not going to come from the current shortlist.

Andrew Hill:                          I can’t. I don’t want to tip my hand on the current shortlist, although I don’t have any specific role in selecting the winner. I can’t think which one it would be to be quite honest.

Alison Jones:                        It’s going to be a tough decision, isn’t it?

Andrew Hill:                          Yeah, it will be tough. From previous years in 2014, we had, I think it got to the shortlist, it was certainly on the long list. We had Ed Catmull’s book, Creativity, Inc…

Alison Jones:                        It’s wonderful isn’t it?

Andrew Hill:                          Ed Catmull was the president of Pixar. And what I liked about that book, I think it probably was written with a journalist, but at any rate it was far ahead of any other book that I’d read by an active business person, because it was much franker about failure than some books are. And not apart from being a very relatable story because everyone’s seen at least one Pixar movie and plenty of people have seen all of them. So there was lots of material in the one he’s talking about, the problems they had with Toy Story 2, you can envisage that. But it’s also very good about managing creative people, which a lot of us do. Some of us are in those types of businesses, and I think very open and candid about the mistakes that you make as a leader of a team and how you correct them, and what you do better next time.

                                                      And of course it’s got an interesting follow-up story because Pixar was bought by Disney that created inevitable culture clashes. And there’s been some recent follow-up of looking at how Pixar fared as a result of that takeover, and how that related back to what Ed Catmull and others were talking about in the book when Pixar was in its first flush of creativity.

Alison Jones:                        Fascinating. It’s a great recommendation. Yes. I have to say his was the concept of ugly babies as well, wasn’t it? Those early-stage ideas, that’s always stuck with me.

Andrew Hill:                          Yes, that’s right. And there is an element of, back to your discussion about getting a draft, and having a good rather than perfect as an objective. But a lot of what came out of that, the ugly baby part being an interesting element of it, was about, you have to start being very rough and ready. It’s the classic thing, whether it’s a novel or a nonfiction book about not worrying about that first draft. It’s going to be awful. It’s going to make you feel bad, but you have to start somewhere and then you start chipping away and refining and working on things. And a lot of that comes out from the far more complex processes of producing animated movies that’s discussed in Creativity, Inc.

Alison Jones:                        Absolutely. And the sooner you do it and the sooner you can start aerating it, the faster you can move on to improving it. So yes, don’t be too precious about your first draught. And don’t hang on to it, just get it out there. Yes. Wonderful.

                                                      Now Andrew, if people want to find out more about the award, more about you, more about Ruskinland, where should they go?

Andrew Hill:                          Well, I have a separate identity on social media for Ruskinland on Twitter and Instagram @Ruskinland. All one word. For the award ft.com/bookaward is where the Book of the Year Award is updated. And ft.com/BrackenBower is where the Bracken Bower Prize is discussed. And there’s also a complete list of everything that we’ve ever shortlisted for the Business Book of the Year Award since 2005 which is easy to find frankly, by just searching online for “Financial Times best business books,” and you’ll find the full interactive list which also allows you to search the 200 or more titles that we’ve put on the long list since 2005 by genre as well. You could even track down the couple of novels that we’ve selected in the past by that means.

Alison Jones:                        Fantastic. I’ll put all those up. Brilliant. And yes, if you’re looking to build a business book library as I say, that would be a great place to start. What’s the timing on the announcement of the 2019 winner Andrew?

Andrew Hill:                          The winner is going to be announced on December the 3rd in New York. We have a gala dinner there with a guest speaker from Verizon, the big telecoms company. And that’s where we announce both the winner of the book award and the winner of the Bracken Bower Prize.

Alison Jones:                        Fantastic. So I will be reporting on the outcome of that in this podcast at some point. I know what my money’s on, but I’m not going to say it here. I should see if I’m right.

                                                      Andrew, it was such a pleasure talking to you today. Thank you so much. I think we’ve covered a huge amount of ground there and I really appreciate your time.

Andrew Hill:                          It’s my pleasure.


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