0

Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry

Title: Opening Belle

Author: Maureen Sherry

Goodreads Summary: 

Getting rich on Wall Street would be a lot more fun if the men would keep their hands off her assets. A whip-smart and funny novel told by a former Wall Street insider who reveals what it’s like for a working woman to balance love, ambition, and family in a world of glamorous excess, outrageous risk-taking, and jaw-dropping sexism.

In 2008, Isabelle—a self-made, thirty-something Wall Street star—appears to have it all: an Upper West Side apartment, three healthy children, a handsome husband, and a high-powered job. But her reality is something else. Her trading desk work environment resembles a 1980s frat party, her husband feels employment is beneath him, and the bulk of childcare and homecare still falls in Belle’s already full lap.

Enter Henry, the former college fiancé she never quite got over; now a hedge fund mogul. He becomes her largest client, and Belle gets to see the life she might have had with him. While Henry campaigns to win Belle back, the sexually harassed women in her office take action to improve their working conditions, and recruit a wary Belle into a secret “glass ceiling club” whose goal is to mellow the cowboy banking culture and get equal pay for their work. All along, Belle can sense the financial markets heading toward their soon-to-be historic crash and that something has to give—and when it does, everything is going to change: her marriage, her career, her world, and her need to keep her colleagues’ hands to themselves.

From Maureen Sherry, a prize winning writer, a former Managing Director on Wall Street (who never signed a nondisclosure agreement when she left), Opening Belle takes readers into the adrenaline-fueled chaos of a Wall Street trading desk, the lavish parties, the lunch-time rendezvous, and ultimately into the heart of a woman who finds it easier to cook up millions at work than dinner at home.

FIP Review/Rant 

I found this book by accident, literally.  FIP needed to turn on her Kindle to let it update software or all her books would be lost. While I was trying to get my not been touched in a year Kindle booted and updated I accidently clicked the One Click buy button on Opening Belle.  Sometimes, it’s more work trying to get back my $11.99 then to just read the darn book.

The cover did nothing for me. The story line wasn’t super interesting either. I work on Wall Street and all these book come off as predetermined to fit into a certain mold. Hardly ever do I find that I can relate to these heroines or that I can learn anything from them. So I went into this book already not liking it. But OMG was FIP in for a surprise!

Isabelle is relatable! Her hurdles are real! And she overcomes them. I don’t know that we’ll all end up how she did, but most of us have imagined a similar ending to our stories (a peaceful one).  In between the woe is woman struggles, Maureen Sherry takes the time to education her readers on the going downs of Wall Street. I LOVED THIS!! She didn’t skirt around the dirty and talk about pretty things – she gave us a crash course on CMO’s!!! Loved loved loved this!!

The author’s writing is crisp and clean. The characters are real for the most part, sometimes Isabelle herself seems a little put on a pedestal – the one white knight in a world of unfaithfulness but I can forgive her that.  I secretly feel like allot of Isabelle was based off of the author’s own real person. Maureen Sherry was the youngest Managing Director at Bear Sterns before the most recent crash.

The book was also recommended by Reese Witherspoon, who is said to be staring as Isabella in a movie based on Opening Belle.

Overall, the book felt like a smarter version of one of Sophie Kinsella’s stories.  A quick witty read! Definitely gets a two thumbs up from FIP.

Happy reading. Coming up shortly, the paired recipe for Opening Belle, a decadent Creme Brulee.

 

25814539

 

 

2

Improvements

Happy Monday Y’all.

Today’s blog we’re going to talk allot about improvement and in true FIP style books.

What I’m reading right now:

– How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life by Caroline Webb.

I stumbled upon this title, and good thing I did; this is the perfect follow up to Thinking Fast and Slow. Thinking Fast and Slow read like a text book and was extremely informative. It talked about how we have two thinking systems; one that’s fast and on autopilot and another that is slow and deliberate. How to Have a Good Day is the application of what we learned in Fast and Slow.

To my pleasant surprise, many of the habits Webb outlines in her book, I’ve been doing all along. Some new things that I learned? Put away the gadgets. For instance my email is constantly on; I’m alway jumping from one task to reply to an email but then I have to refocus my attention on the original task. Webb suggests allocating specific time slots to check in on the inbox. I tried this Friday. I realized I got a lot more done and didn’t miss any critical emails.

Webb also talks about the importance of exercise to your mental well being. Studies show as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise a day made people smarter. I’m going to try this. 10 minutes is nothing! The idea of exercise for mental betterment is new to me; my motivation is usually for vanity reasons. Probably why I never stick to it long term.

Speaking of mental health, I’ve taken up meditation. I always thought of prayer as my meditation, you clear your head focus on your conversation with God — works perfectly. however, it’s been a daily part of our lives for so long that shifted from the slow thinking part of my brain to the fast thinking part.

I’m currently using the free version of a meditation app called Headspace. In a 10 day program, the app teaches you to properly set you body up for meditate, how to clear you mind and focus on your inside. Like Webb’s exercise sessions these two are 10 minute practices. One particular trick that worked for me was visualizing my thoughts as traffic and pulling my conscious away from the traffic and watching it go by. Works effectively especially since I’ve always got thought racing here and there. ha!

So yes, the focus is on self improvement. The aim is 30 days of 10 minutes dedicated to meditation and 10 to exercise.

2

The 5 Business Books You Need To Read

The 5 Business Books You Need To Read

Ready to add some new titles to your list for our 2016 reading challenge? These career classics and new arrivals are reads that every one of us should have on our book shelf! Many of these favorite titles do double duty giving us advice for a great career and a great life.

Need some additional business reading recommendations? TheFinancial Times has one of the best round-ups, listing the best business books of the year for the past 10 years.

1. How to Have a Good Day

If the old adage is true that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives, then Caroline Webb does us a major favor by letting us know how a few small tweaks to our daily behavior can have a major impact on our life. As an economist, Webb takes an almost technical approach to having a good day and uses both neuroscience and psychology to explain and test her suggestions. Along the way, you’ll find it marvelously comforting that such an abstract idea can be broken down to a practically applicable science.

2. Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office

Think that avoiding office politics and asking permission to take on projects is the way to get ahead? Hold it right there, nice girl!  Dr. Frankel tells us otherwise, and explains a distinct set of 130 behaviors that we learn as girls—and that ultimately sabotage our career efforts as adults. You’ll find yourself bookmarking page after page in this easy read, which basically ends up functioning as your roadmap to effective self-assessment. Bottom line: Don’t let the little things we do get in our way of where we want to go.

3. The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea

Told as a modern parable, Mann and Burg give us a powerful new take on a classic idea: Give and you will receive. The main character, Joe, is focused on closing a sale, but instead a fortuitous connection with a mentor connects him to a series of other successful people. They teach Joe how the laws of value, compensation, influence, authenticity, and receptivity will contribute to his own success. This reminder to put others’ interests ahead of our own is one that resonates for our lives, both inside and outside the office!

4. Thinking Fast and Slow

This book nearly begs to be read old school style, with a big highlighter and a notebook nearby to jot down little nuggets you’ll want to refer to again and again. As a world-renowned psychologist and Nobel Prize-winning economist, Kahneman expertly addresses the way we think about and make choices. He explores the two systems of our mind: The first that is fast, intuitive, and emotional and the second that is deliberate, logical, and slow. Once read, you’ll better understand your own biases and quickly catch yourself thinking about how you think!

5. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

We’ve got this little gem on pre-order and are looking forward to May when we’ll get to read it! Grit explores how it’s actually passion and persistence that lead you to success, not necessarily intelligence alone. Until then, soak in Duckworth’s brilliance through her Ted Talk and get prepped by taking your own “grit” self-assessment, which she developed at her character lab while working at the University of Pennsylvania. Be ready for this read to draw big buzz this spring!

FIP Notes: I’ve read Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow and am currently reading Ms. Webb. I have to admit both books change the way you think. 

 

 

2

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (Goodreads Author)

Folks – FIP needs your recommendation.

Many of you may know Elizabeth Gilbert from her Eat, Pray, Love book.  She also wrote the Signature of all Things. If you’ve read either of them, you know she’s painstakingly boring. She may end with a intelligently poignant statement or two but by the time you get there, you’re asleep.

She’s very detail oriented, very “there was a white curtain, with a spot on it. It may have been a white spot but maybe it was beige. It brought out the color of her cheeks, that white curtain with a  beige spot.”

FIP’s dilemma is she’s written yet another book; Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. Good lord I’m tempted to pick this up! If Gretchen Rubin had written this, I would have finished it yesterday. But its Ms. Gilbert *insert whine here* ….

Has anyone read it? Am I a fool to be fooled a 3rd time?