I’m always searching for good books. Send me your recommendations (contact). Bonus points for older books and non-bestsellers.
The first part of the book focuses on five natural law to better manage your time and the second half focuses on laws to help you gain increased control of your life. The first half contains a lot of practical advice you can put to use immediately, whereas the second half talks about the psychological and mindset shifts, specifically understanding your belief window to bring about behavioral change. This book is a timeless classic and those serious about time management and productivity will be sure to get value out of this book.
One of the most impactful book’s I’ve read. Stoicism is the guiding philosophy of life, I never knew I was in search of. This ancient philosophy which originated out of Greece, and evangelized by the Roman’s has stood the test of time with many principles and relevant pieces of life advice.
Irvine summarizes the core Stoic lessons and techniques for attaining tranquility and living the good life in modern times. Some big lessons I learn were how to minimize anxiety and worries, how to detach myself from past failures, and focus on the things within the realm of my control, as well as how to reduce negative emotions like anger, anxiety, fear, grief, and envy.
I found the book to be a good introduction to Stoicism before diving into some of the source material from Seneca, Marcus Aurelius and other Stoic Philosophers. I’ve read this book multiple times and it still has a strong impact on me and I come about with something new on each read.
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.
Taleb’s states that people and institutions are either fragile, robust, or antifragile. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better and better. Having a better understanding of this can help us better design and approach ideas, life decisions, technology, medicine, politics, war, urban planning, finance, legal, economic and other systems to protect against fragility, prediction errors and adverse events.
I should note; the book has a very philosophical and academic tone that can make it difficult to read. The book is divided into seven parts also called books, seen as stand-alone essays that support the central idea or go deeper into other areas.
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.
Forgetting about the past and the pain that comes with it is easy, but remembering and understanding is very hard. Coates talks about ‘The Dreamers’, who have forgotten the origins of this country’s wealth and seek to preserve themselves in this countries privileges, backed by systems that have robbed and imprisoned a generation of peoples.
Throughout the rest of the book, I felt his pain and anger. I saw a man who had given up faith in beliefs of a higher faith, in a broken educational, judicial and cultural system and who saw the American Dream as a destructive illusion.
I wondered to myself, what would my father write to me? I had no father to ask this advice. Raised by a single mother, who was breaking under the pressure of the world, I could not ask these questions as she always pointed me towards asking God; there was no response. If I had read this when I was Coates, son’s age, would I have accepted his message and done the choices I have made?
We need to have more personal responsibility, and this book aims to teach you how to go about finding inward (personal happiness and health) and outward (fulfilling work and wealth) success. He details his Daily Habits, which include four areas he promotes we should consistently invest towards: Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual. The book provides a good foundation for going forth and lighting the spark internally to create something of your own.
“If you pretend to have no fears of public speaking, you deny yourself the natural energy your body is giving you. Anxiety creates a kind of energy you can use, just as excitement does.”
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.
The author provides some suggestions to prevent the worst from happening, and I enjoyed the depth of research and how he made the content accessible to readers who lack a strong economics background.
Decisive can help you improve your rational thinking and decision making by using four principles that can help you overcome the brains’ natural biases to make better, more informed decisions. These four principles are: Widen your options, Reality-Test your assumptions, Attain Distance before deciding, and Prepare to be wrong. If you’ve read the Heath brother’s Made to stick, which focused on ideas, Decisive’s focus is to help you make better decisions.
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.
You can still gain some value from the book into the case studies it has provided on how some of the fastest growing startups today came to be from some clever growth hacking techniques.
Influence describes the six categories of techniques that have the potential to influence us without our conscious awareness. These are called the ‘Weapons of influence’, which are: Reciprocation, Commitment and Consistency, Social Proof, Authority, Liking, and Scarcity. The book’s chapters are organized around these areas and provides many examples and anecdotes with some research sprinkled in.
I’m not sure if my undergraduate marketing classes taught me everything I needed to know about influence, but I felt like I didn’t gain much new knowledge from this and more so new perspectives and some extra validation. I found parts of the book repetitive, dry and felt the examples were not strong enough. Even so, having these principles carried the book and are useful if you want to improve your understanding around marketing and sales.
Made to stick was a very enjoyable read about creating ideas that are meaningful and memorable. I see myself reading this book multiple times. Made to Stick contains many excellent examples of winning ideas and through the author’s research a pattern had emerged of 6 principles that make a sticky idea: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional and Story.
Set goals for every three months and year, three years out
Identify the people, places, and things required to meet those goals
Reach out to the people who can help you achieve your goals.
If you’ve read Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People, you’ll be sure to enjoy this as well.
Robert Maurer attempts to teach the mindset of success through the art of the kaizen way. A large portion of the population is resistant to big changes and after a while when it seems like big changes are needed to improve the conditions of their lives, big actions can lead towards big failures. Maurer, says the better approach is to take very small steps towards our goals. With this approach we lessen out resistance towards change and can bring on long-longer lasting and significant results over time.
The methods the book provides to act small and still get significant results in your life are: Ask small Questions, Think Small Thoughts, Take Small Actions, Solve Small Problems.
A simple way to think of the differences between extroverts and introverts is by the kinds of activities that require more mental & emotional energy and the activities that recharge them. Extroverts can gain energy from being around other people, whereas, after a while, that can be a very draining activity for an introvert. An introvert can be by themselves and recharge, whereas being alone can be a draining activity for an extrovert. Introverts are more motivated by internal factors, such as fear and often think first and prefer listening as oppose to speaking. Extroverts are more motivated by external factors, such as rewards and often act first and prefer to do the talking.
Quiet does talk a lot about the work and career implications of being or working with an introvert, so you can learn to mesh better with a team or correct misperceptions about people you work with who tend to like their quiet time.
Quiet is backed by a lot of research and written in an approachable manner with excellent narration. It’s awesome for both extroverts and introverts.
Newport tears down the Passion trend, of Passion Hypothesis that the key to occupational happiness is first to figure out what you’re passionate about and then find a job that matches that passion.” Wrong, Newport says, instead he suggests in order to construct work you love, you must first build career capital by mastering rare and valuable skills, and then catch I this capital for the type of traits that define compelling traits. The passion mindset focuses on what the world can offer you, but instead we should take the craftsman mindset approach and build skills that allow us to focus on what we can contribute and offer the world.
The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking and learning states that extraordinary people are just ordinary people that think differently and this book hopes to change the way you think. There are four central themes represented by actual elements, which make up the elements of effective thinking:
1) Earth: Strive for Rock-Solid Understanding
2) Fire: Fail and learn from missteps
3) Air: Constantly create and ask meaningful questions
4) Water: Consciously consider the flow of ideas
The 5th element brings them all together, and that is The Quintessential Element – Engage Change, Transform Yourself. It is the path of a lifelong learner.
I felt like this translation didn’t do a good job of communicating the great essence of the original classic Art of War I’ve heard about. By trying to make this more modern, the author seemed to make the message more dated. I didn’t know who the intended audience was, but it seemed like it was trying to target business individuals in some way, maybe managers. It was difficult to find the principles in the book on a single read, multiple reads and external references were required. Be careful to find the right translation for you.
Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and earn a small commision on books purchased through my site. Your support enables me to post new books more consistently.