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Beautiful illustrations unnecessarily constrained by oversimplified vocabulary. I enjoyed What If? much more than Thing Explainer because What If didn’t lower the bar but brought you up to it. Thing Explainer explains various inventions, biological and astronomical occurrences in simple words, limited to a vocabulary of 1,000 words. I did gain some deeper insights into everyday machinery around me, however, I felt the knowledge was too personal.
The language used to explain these concepts were too analogy focused and didn’t use the exact terms for these things which are commonly agreed upon so you won’t find much use using the analogies from this book in actual conversation. If you have a limited vocabulary and feel anxious when exposed to big words, you might enjoy the simplified approach in this book. This would be a good book for very young children, English language learners or individuals who would find more value from the illustrations than the words.
It should come of no surprise that one of the founders of Pixar would be able to craft an amazing story with the book Creativity Inc. in collaboration with Amy Wallace. Halfway through, I knew this book would are my all-time favorites list. What stands out in this book compared to other business books is the selflessness of Ed Catmul, who spoke about his colleagues more than himself and the books balanced blend of business, biography, philosophy and psychology; coming together to illustrate how to enable people to work together.
Pixar movies have shaped my childhood and continue to shape my adult hold, telling stories with deep lessons in simple ways that trigger a wide spectrum of emotions. The consistency of quality is high valued at Pixar and it has created a division called Braintrust to make sure the story feels right. In addition, Pixar has a unique culture of fostering creativity, trust, learning and communication to encourage the creation of stories worth telling.
There is turbulence along the road to success and Pixar has been on the brink of collapse numerous times. The company has found a way to cultivate skill and manufacturing luck. Change is also always around the corner and the stories about George Lucas of Lucasfilms, Steve Jobs co-founder of Apple who became a majority owner at Pixar, Bob Igner, CEO of Disney who purchased Pixar in 2006, and all the other waves of economic change posed great challenges to try to maintain the Pixar culture while allowed for positive change.
The Pixar founders Ed Catmul, John Lassetter and Jim Morris believed in Pixar; they wanted it to outlast them like the way stories last generations.
Grab a seat, this captivating thriller, a debut novel Allen Eskens, will sure take you on a ride. I was glued to this story! I should note that I’m giving this bonus points from a 4 up to a 5 because of the excellent narration by Zach Villa on audible which added soo much personality and color to the story, as well as this being one of the few thrillers I’ve read so the patterns and metaphors used were new to me.
The story follows, Joe Talbert a young college student who was working his way through school, taking care of himself and soon had a lot more on his plate as the story develops. He was given a term paper assignment to write about an elderly person, and choose to write about Carl Iverson, a dying Vietnam veteran and a convicted murderer.
A vibrant collection of ideas and images in a condensed format representing some of Marshall McLuhan’s core ideas from Understanding Media. Writing in the context of the changing media landscape due to new technologies, this was an interesting view of what a contrarian would think would shake up the media industry.
I found it this statement interesting as it is playing out even today:
“Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication.”
At times the images were distracting and made me feel lost in the book; in a bad way. It lacked depth and I will probably read Understanding Media so I can have a fuller picture of Marshall McLuhan’s ideas.
A great example of customer-focused business building. Derek’s selflessness was very Zen-Like and his ability to focus and execute is admirable.
His passion for music, led him to work to build the craft across multiple verticals from singing, songwriting, and even production. When he needed a way to get his music to customers, he built a system out of necessity and that necessity transformed into a community and that community into a business.
When the opportunity arose with iTunes, despite the unfavorable work that would be needed to get music out, he did what he had to do to help his customers share their music with the world.
As with any growing business, there are growing pains. Derek shared the wisdom from these learning pains simply and concisely in less than 100 pages. A wonderful book on business and life.
The War of Art is a war against resistance. Resistance comes from within, it’s you sabotaging yourself from getting the work done. It’s you holding your creativity hostage from the world. There are a number of activities that bring about resistance, but most fall under rejecting immediate gratification.
Steven Pressfield is writing his declaration of war against the things that prevent him from creating art; it’s a personal book.
He goes on to make a number of other declarations, some spark inspiration, some bring about looks of confusion and aversion to the book. Pressfield writes about destiny, saying you were born to do one thing, find it. Your gifts are inspired by some higher force.
There were parts of the book I enjoyed like Identifying resistance and the difference between an Amateur and a Professional, a professional shows up consistently and gets the job done. They create an environment around their craft and self-validate their own work.
Towards the middle and the end of the book begins to unravel for me as he gets into divinity and contradicts himself on craftsmanship vs passion.
The core message of the Virgin Way is Getting the Job Done and Having Fun Getting There. A vital part of that is trusting and investing in people; giving them the freedom to contribute and learn from mistakes. Richard was open enough to admit to some mistakes he made in business, such as the mistakes to move to digital for Virgin Records, in the era of iTunes; repeating the mistakes of Kodak during the digital photo era. Richard’s wild and free spirit injects a spark of energy into the story and he promoted the importance of taking risks. You’re guaranteed to miss every shot you don’t take. If you’re instinct is positive, then just go for it. Trust the process, trust your instincts and trust your team.
I enjoyed the section where Richard talked about public speaking and communication skills.
I had no idea Richard did not enjoy public speaking, his perception to me was that of an outspoken CEO and great speaker. He prefers Q&A style talks.
He also admits the Virgin Way isn’t for everyone. It takes a huge cultural shift and a leader who would allow all their people to lead.
If Ego is the Enemy, then we’re in for an endless war. At any point in our life, we are between the three cycles of Aspire, Success, & Failure. This book was born out of the need for a guide in facing the many obstacles that await through the pendulum of life’s journey between these states. The thesis is that your ego is not an overachieving power that you’re forced to satisfy at ever impulse. It can be managed and directed.
I felt the title of the book personifies and causes an anchoring effect, towards making one think they can “defeat” Ego. Ryan does try to emphasize the management of ego, and being cautious of extremes by re-adjusting one’s attitude and finding a golden mean. I see Ego as something one can overdose on; it is a natural byproduct of growth and ambition, so it’s not inherently bad. Similar to Medicine, in that it can heal us, but also kill us. Too much Ego can shorten success.
The tone of the book seems to lack compassion and leans too much on declarations that make it seem preachy, in an aggressive way. The latter seems to be a common pattern in Ryan’s writing. Someone who is frustrated and whose anger tends to leak into his writing voice. I was surprised that there were fewer references to Stoicism in this book compared to his others.
Still, you can get some gems from the book. Ego is The Enemy provides us with the tools to keep our Ego in check and think less of ourselves. The stabilizers that balance out the ego and pride that comes with achievement and recognition are Sobriety, Open-mindedness, Organization, and Purpose. We should be Humble in our aspirations, Gracious in our success, and Resilient in our failures. Then we can suppress ego early, replace the temptations of ego with humility and discipline, and have more control over our fate.
Although the book had a very academic tone, it was very well organized and easy to follow, aided with many pictures of facial expressions of various emotions. Ekman guides you into learning how to identify the subtle emotional cues that show up on our face, where we want them to or not.
The goal of the book is to help you build awareness in detecting when emotions arise. You learn to recognize and understand the emotions felt and may display, as well as recognizing the emotions in other, helping you to understand better and communicate with other people.
With great power comes great responsibility and ability to fool yourself; be careful not to jump to conclusions at the cause of emotions you think you may have observed.
Compared to other Sacks books, this one is more focused as it follows 7 people and their stories as opposed to dozens of case studies. This approach humanizes them more and focuses on how they live and view the world, instead of how their disability takes them from the world. How would the world be without these people and their gifts? What can we learn from them today?
Oliver Sacks was like an Anthropologist on Mars as these people’s world seemed so different than ours, but to these people, our worlds seemed so different to theirs.
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