What we've been reading: Hip-hop accountant, Quincy Jones and human error

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This week, the combination of Hip-hop, human error and Quincy Jones does not just describe a typical Friday in AccountingWEB towers but it is also what we have on the What we've been reading literary menu. 

For those new to WWBR (as nobody is calling it) every week the AccountingWEB editorial team shares their favourite articles, books or anything that has interested them over the last seven days. It's a bit like a book club but without having to leave your office. Of course, some picks will have an accountancy angle. But as you will see below, the selection can be quite eclectic. 

And finally, what kind of book club would we be if we only talked about what we've been reading. We want to know what you've been reading. No matter if it's something accountancy related or just something you've read that's made you laugh or inspired you during your working day, we'd like to know. 

Later our business editor Francois Badenhorst discusses a sensational interview with the legendary music producer Quincy Jones and I look at the fascinating life of Bert Padell, the accountant to the stars.

But leading the recommendations this week is the community editor of our sister site UK Business Forums, Kat Haylock, who is talking about something I know an awful lot about: human error. 

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Kat: Human error in volatile situations

In the last few years, it’s been hard to go a week without encountering a run-in with the apocalypse. Whether it’s the conspicuous testing of nuclear missiles, Earth’s shrinking ozone layer or the development of artificial intelligence with independent thought, we’re pretty familiar with the catalogue of ‘end of the world’ possibilities at this point.

But what if our next major crisis was caused by something much simpler – like human error?

Heads up: 'Human Error in Volatile Situations' isn’t a relaxing listen. But it is a fascinating one, and a well-researched look at how failing to factor in human error can lead to chaotic consequences. There’s the training exercise that nearly started a nuclear war with the Soviet Union in 1979, and a dropped wrench that almost led to the destruction of the American Midwest. It’s an episode about small, everyday slip-ups – so normal that they can’t help but hit close to home.

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Richard: The story of the accountant that got rappers paid

There is a lot written in the accounting world about knowing your niche and being a trusted adviser. Anyone looking to brush up on these skills should take note of the outpouring of love from the hip-hop world towards the late accountant Bert Padell, who died in last month.

With Puff Daddy and Run DMC among his clients, Padell opened his conference rooms to the budding hip-hop entrepreneurs to use like a WeWork office, and fronted the money for studio equipment.

But for other clients like Rakim, the God MC, it was Padell’s mentoring and business advice that he would be remembered for: “Bert told me you have to make the juices flow. Sometimes people ain’t gonna wait for that light bulb.”

This fascinating Vulture obituary also explains how black entertainers’ finances were often mismanaged by white business men, but Padell stopped that. Talking about Padell’s legacy, Dan Charnas, author of The Big Payback, said: “He was the first person to help hip-hop artists get their money right.”

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Fran: In conversation - Quincy Jones

“What’s something you wish you didn’t know?” David Marchese asks the legendary music producer Quincy Jones. The answer: “Who killed Kennedy.”

That line is just one of the many segues, jaw droppers and hilariously candid statements that comprise this interview. Jones has done it all. He’s 84. He’s wealthy beyond measure. He’s dog tired and clearly doesn’t give a hoot.

Michael Jackson? He’s a plagiarist. Paul McCartney? Worst bass guitarist of all time. Hell, all of The Beatles were terrible musicians, according to Quincy. Don’t even get him started on modern pop.

But somehow it’s impossible to write Jones off as just a crotchety relic. He’s scolding, sure – but he pulls it off with an irrepressible, avuncular charm. And the moments where he appraises his own life with similar candour – his tragic mother, the poverty he grew up and the looming end – the interview becomes genuinely affecting.

About Richard Hattersley

Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.


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