Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Business Books in Brief

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Business Books in Brief

Article excerpt

FIDELITY'S WORLD: THE SECRET LIFE AND PUBLIC POWER OF THE MUTUAL FUND GIANT, by Diana B. Henriques (Scribner, 416 pp., $26). You can't really say you "know" mutual funds, until you've read Diana B. Henriques's trailblazing and hard-hitting account of Fidelity Investments. Fidelity is to mutual funds what Microsoft is to computer software, or Toyota and General Motors are to automobiles. It is king of the hill. And the mutual-fund industry is currently the dominant player in the world of US high finance.

By the end of 1994, $1 of every $5 dollars invested by Americans in mutual funds was in a Fidelity Fund; on a typical day, Fidelity funds traded $1 billion worth of stock; and Fidelity funds owned 5 percent or more of some 700 public companies. Now that's power!

Ownership of Fidelity itself is unknown to most investors. The company is controlled by Edward C. "Ned" Johnson III, who hails from a Boston Brahmin retailing family. His daughter, Abby Johnson, is heir-apparent.

Fidelity, this book shows, has not escaped controversy. Henriques focuses on backroom machinations and financial wheeling and dealing. Still, Fidelity's achievement stands tall: It is huge precisely because it has delivered services, innovative products, and profits to its clients.

- Guy Halverson

HOW TO DRIVE YOUR COMPETITION CRAZY: CREATING DISRUPTION FOR FUN AND PROFIT, by Guy Kawasaki (Hyperion, 234 pp., $22.95). Former director of software product management for Apple Computer Inc. and a popular computer columnist, Guy Kawasaki cuts through the fluff and delivers what he promises in this easy-to-read page-turner that can help an organization get and keep the upper hand.

He preaches three old rules of thumb in fresh, insightful ways: know thy product, know thy customer, and, most importantly, know thy competition.

For example, try to find little features of your product (molehills) and make them into mountains - advertising Chubs Stackable baby-wipes containers as a colorful, Lego-like toy for infants. …

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