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Review: The Art of War for Women by Chin-Ning Chu

“It’s About the Art, Not the War.”

After reading this book I had to admit that I had not understood Sun Tzu’s The Art of War at all. Could it be that the original text had been written for a male audience and I had failed to interpret it from a female point of view? Whatever the reason I’m happy to have read Chin-Ning Chu’s version.

Whether you want to move up the ladder, get that senior position you’ve been eyeing, break the glass ceiling, deal with a difficult colleague or boss, be a better parent or homemaker, or become a successful entrepreneur, this book will help address some of the things that are holding you back and help you with the way forward.

Before you think that this is some raging feminist book, stop. It’s certainly not anti-men and I think that men can also benefit from reading it. Chin-Ning Chu takes all the principles from ancient text and breathes contemporary life into it, and addresses it to women. Something we need more of.

This book is about effective strategies and how we women can see ourselves as leaders, which a lot of times we shy away from because throughout history we have been misrepresented in a lot ways – too emotional and not built for leadership. A good example of how Chin-Ning Chu applies Sun Tzu’s principles is how with regards to this misrepresentation of women she suggests the art of deception and how we can use this illusion of weakness to our advantage.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, all of it. There are many gems she shares about repackaging womankind and selling the world a new image of womanhood. This encourages you to change the way you see yourself, how you see the roles you play in your personal life and in business. After reading The Art of War for Women you will change the way you think, the way you act and the way you manage yourself, people and situations.

I’d recommend this book to women who have been losing on the battlefield of career and home because they’re women and because they have been fed the lie that they can’t win. The book will teach you about taking a holistic approach to winning. I would also recommend it to people who, like me, have read the original The Art of War by Sun Tzu but couldn’t grasp it or apply it anywhere.


Title: The Art of War for Women

Author: Chin-Ning Chu

Publisher: Broadway Books, New York. 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-51843-7

Genre: Business & Economics

Finding The Way To Power With Niccolò Machiavelli in ‘The Prince’

REVIEW

MACHIAVELLIAN: “Cunning, scheming, and unscrupulous, especially in politics.” – (Lexico.com/Oxford Dictionary)

The Prince is a pragmatic manual for those who wish to attain power, maintain or expand it. It is set against the backdrop of the Italian Renaissance and was written by Niccolò Machiavelli, who with the aim to make an impression dedicated it to Lorenzo de’ Medici.

Machiavelli begins by describing the different types of states and how they are acquired. He also states the challenges they each represent and how to overcome them. There’s a reason it has been associated with the words in the above definition and why it’s considered by some to be unethical and immoral. It is also debatable whether it can be used for good or bad intentions; to attain power in order to unify and create peace or to feed tyrannical appetites.

The book mostly separates politics from ethics and Machiavelli’s opinion of mankind is not the most positive, as he describes them as ‘fickle’, that people are generally self-interested (which is true to some extent), and how their goodwill can be manipulated. Deception is quite the star in this book. According to Machiavelli, power can be gained by deception instead of force. When it comes to being loved by the people, his advice is that being feared is much more sustainable. The middle part of the book is on preparation for warfare and the last part is about the qualities of a prince or qualities he should pretend to have. He also mentions certain figures to make examples, such as Cesare Borgia who was clearly a big inspiration to him.

This book has been influential in politics and can be seen in the way affairs are run in many states. Politicians are known to overpromise and under deliver, to carry out the deception of making false promises and later make excuses. It is also a book that speaks to the self-interested and power-hungry. However, if used with a careful interpretation, it could be used to gain power to lead with good intentions for the wellbeing of the state and its people.  

It’s a short and clear, simply constructed and without superfluous wording, as he himself says, “…not adorned with long phrases or high sounding words.” For many years, it has had and still has a notable place in the political sphere. Despite its association with cunningness, scheming and ruthlessness its advice can be used to create good strategies in business, leadership and politics. I believe how you use it or what you seek from it can influence how you enjoy it, or not.

“The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”
― Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War has persistently been hailed as one of the books that changed history. Its longevity as an influential read is quite impressive and for a long period, it has widely been used in business, sports, law, and politics.  

It’s an ancient Chinese, military manual divided into thirteen chapters that deal with warfare techniques and strategies, which today are translated into modern meanings for business and so on.

In the first chapter, Sun Tzu talks about laying plans, followed in the next by ‘waging war‘. These discuss obtaining conditions of the field, modifying plans as needed and deceiving the enemy. Waging war focuses on matters such as war material and the length of the war. In the chapter on ‘attack by stratagem‘, it highlights the importance of knowing when to fight and when to avoid it, when to conquer battles through fighting and when to break the enemy’s resistance by fighting. It also goes into seizing opportunities and how the willingness of the mind helps in battle.

Some of the chapters deal with securing oneself against defeat, the army’s combined energy, and weak and strong points in battle. The Art of War gives guidance on the use of tactics and resources that will enable you to know your enemy, yourself, your environment of battle and dealing with conflicts of all sorts.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

– Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The book’s philosophies can be applied in business to know your competitor, know when to avoid conflict and when to attack, to manage resources in the battle against your competitor and the economic significance of taking on your competitor. It is also very useful in politics as opponents can be the enemy and the advice in the book can be applied to campaigns.

I, personally, didn’t enjoy it that much. I could understand what it was about and the ways it could be useful, which I’d probably use in the future if necessary. If you enjoy reading about warfare and similar topics, or if you need insight on dealing with conflict, business competition or in need of strategies for business, sports or leadership, then you’ll probably enjoy it and find it useful.

I read the very simple Collins Classics version, which is a clear translation of the book. I am not sure how it differs from other editions but this one is easy and comprehensive.

I’ve been meaning to try The Art of War for Women by Chin-Ning Chu, maybe I might enjoy that one.

Seth Godin encourages us to ‘stop advertising and start innovating’ in Purple Cow.

“The old ways of marketing are dead – and being safe is now too risky.” – Seth Godin

Seth is an acclaimed marketing and leadership guru and his books have been hailed as revolutionary and inspiring. This is my third read by him and I will confess that I’m officially a Godin disciple.

He first gives an example of driving past grazing cows and spotting a purple one, and how that would be unexpected and extraordinary. This Purple Cow is that extraordinary and special thing that companies need. It is a new P in the established Ps of marketing.

In the book, he indicates how we have moved from word of mouth pre-advertising to mass media when advertising came along and back to the similar pre-advertising where we are moving information through a population. This dissemination of information is done by early adopters, who he calls ‘sneezers’ and advises that a company focus on because they’re the people who spread your idea or message about your product. Godin uses very good study cases of companies like Logitech, Dr Bronner’s, Curad and many others who have used successful techniques for their products and services.

In terms of readability, this is a very easy and to-the-point book. You don’t have to be a marketer to understand it because there’s no barrage of hard-to-digest marketing jargon to swim through while trying to get the gist of the book. His style of presenting information is simple and clear.

I found it quite useful because of this age of social media that we live in and the way it has made it possible to distribute ideas and information. This is the age of influencers and it works, and so the book is relatable and relevant. It doesn’t matter if you’re starting off or have been in the game for a while, Purple Cow is worth a read and will provide you with applicable strategies that you can apply to your business.

If you want to know more about Seth Godin’s work, visit www.sethgodin.com

Enjoy!