How to Get Rich: One of the World's Greatest Entrepreneurs Shares His Secrets

  • Read: Wed Apr 28 10:26:23 -0700 2021
  • Rating: 5 / 5

For such a douchy title, it is one of the best books on business I’ve read. Sort of covers everything from hiring smart people, picking execution over an idea, compensation, negotiation, ownership structure and how pointless being rich actually is to actual personal goals. It is highly entertaining and a great read and I learned a lot.

Turning the Flywheel: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great

  • Read: Wed Apr 21 12:16:31 -0700 2021
  • Rating: 5 / 5

New Money: How Payment Became Social Media

  • Read: Sun Apr 18 20:58:17 -0700 2021
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Money as Imagined Communities is what the author is seeming to get at. Basically money and the type of money used whether cash, debit, credit, rewards points says something about you as an individual but that also creates the community that you belong to. It is interesting to think of money as a marketing mass media mechanism and its transition to a social media type mechanism where different types of money exist in different spaces.

Day Trading for Dummies, 3rd Edition

  • Read: Sun Feb 21 00:00:00 -0800 2021
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Solid coverage of someone interested in day trading including basic strategies, taxes, and regulation. A good starting point for sure.

Flash Boys

  • Read: Tue Feb 09 21:36:44 -0800 2021
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Great book of how the intricacies of the market work and how the market is essentially structured against everyday investors. I haven’t done much research to understand how the structure has changed and how much IEX the subject of the book has evolved.

Dark Pools: The Rise of the Machine Traders and the Rigging of the U.S. Stock Market

  • Read: Sat Jan 09 10:46:18 -0800 2021
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Though written about 7 years ago from this review it covers the evolution of the markets to digitalization and all the pitfalls that has caused the economy. The immense waste to shave off few microseconds of time and the complete change of the financial markets. This was before crypto showed up so it is interesting to see how the market has further changed.

Permanent Record

  • Read: Sun Jan 03 00:00:00 -0800 2021
  • Rating: 5 / 5

7 Powers: The Foundations of Business Strategy

  • Read: Mon Dec 28 00:29:00 -0800 2020
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Accounting Made Simple: Accounting Explained in 100 Pages or Less

  • Read: Tue Dec 01 09:29:00 -0800 2020
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Not a great introduction but a great refresher.

Ender's Shadow (The Shadow Series, #1)

  • Read: Mon Oct 26 13:38:12 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Professional Automated Trading: Theory and Practice

  • Read: Sat Oct 10 19:02:21 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 4 / 5

I read this book to understand how computation functions the the finance world especially as it pertains to HFT. In a lot of ways the book covers the same practices to designing systems that are used to create modern web apps and instead of users you have tick data from that market that you have to make sense of. What the author calls swarms and agents translates to micro services and monitoring in the DevOps world. I may reread to dive deeper into the actual strategies that are used but for the most part his design is spot on. Instead of using the Lisp language that he recommends I would say a language like Go which can call out to APIs for different strategies in other languages gives you the same level of parallelism with some of the added benefit of type safety. I do think lisp is a valid choice but if you are going to do it use something like Clojure. Overall a pretty solid book on building a basic trading engine though building the actual working strategies may be the hard part.

Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs: What You Really Need to Know About the Numbers

  • Read: Tue Sep 22 19:24:18 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Man I wish I read this book a long time ago. Indispensable if you are ever dealing with numbers or growing a business. Covers the three major financial statements and also the ratios that should be tracked.

The DevOps Handbook: How to Create World-Class Agility, Reliability, and Security in Technology Organizations

  • Read: Tue Sep 15 09:53:41 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 5 / 5

For running a DevOps company this is the first book on DevOps I've actually read. Overall, if you have seeped into modern DevOps a lot of this stuff won't be new, but I think if you are a company founder or trying to understand DevOps as a culture for business improvement this should be read. A lot of the ideas of DevOps are a mix of Lean Startup, Lean Manufacturing, Agile Programing and Theory of Constraint applied to the deployment of software.

The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks

  • Read: Tue Sep 15 09:35:57 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Ramo's thesis is that we moving further and further into the realm of networks and our existing systems are not built for the open world for these networks that can be easily exploited. So we are in need of a massive transformation of the world to this new network based world where we move from complete openness to a gatekeeper network mentality both at an individual and societal level.

Overall, the thesis is super powerful, however, the writing something felt like a stream of consciousness.

The Lost World (Jurassic Park #2)

  • Read: Mon Aug 31 09:35:06 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 5 / 5

It was a long time ago I read this book and reading it again I realized how much of life Michael Crichton got right along with writing a thrilling book.

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts

  • Read: Sat Aug 01 00:00:00 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 4 / 5

This was a good book. Though I feel it can be considered more of a Behavioral Economics book applied to Poker.

The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It

  • Read: Mon Jun 08 00:00:00 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Great overview of the Quants that took over Wall Street. One of the major things I learned is that you can't treat a Complex Adaptive System with the rules of Physics. Physics is in the end simple and has simple rules, but life and economics which are based on life do not follow that model. They are more biological in nature.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine

  • Read: Tue May 19 09:36:27 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 5 / 5

This was a really good book explaining all the CDS and CDO and the madness that really put a few iconoclasts against an entire industry. The moral seems to be that most investment banking is against the player and it is really easy for them to shoot themselves in the foot like everyone else.

The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building

  • Read: Tue May 12 22:48:27 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Probably the densest and clearest thing I’ve read on all that is required of running a company. Wish I read the google doc. But I really recommend it. Even just refresher on email management was good. I’m hoping to add this to my reread list.

The Man Who Solved the Market: How Jim Simons Launched the Quant Revolution

  • Read: Sun May 10 19:06:13 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 4 / 5

I never understood how much Berkeley played in the quantitative movement. But it seems that money gained by a bunch of mathematicians figuring out how to get a 50.25 chance in their favor vs against to win the market seems like a lot of wasted energy moving money around instead of actually building things. In a way it is interesting in the sense that markets are unpredictable and it may seem fun to play but to what end.

However, it is interesting to see how the author describes the psychological change in people after they start making money. Overall a good read. Don’t really use it to understand anything about the algorithms or methods Renaissance uses.

The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career

  • Read: Sat Apr 18 13:15:38 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 3 / 5

To be honest I don’t know why I read this book. But some useful tidbits probably would have been more useful in my 20s.

The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality, and Our Destiny BeyondEarth

  • Read: Sat Apr 18 12:16:27 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Great book that covers what humanity has to do to survive in space and what it can become from a physicists point of view. It is inspiring and a way to understand contemporary physics from the point of view of space travel.

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

  • Read: Sat Sep 08 00:00:00 -0700 2012
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Use the scientific method for management and innovation. This allows you to not waste energy building stuff no one wants and you can start with a clear goal in mind. It is a much better way of running a startup or running an idea instead of groping in the dark to figure out how to accomplish things.

Ultimate Sales Machine

  • Read: Sun Mar 29 15:18:27 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 3 / 5

This books dragged on a bit. Good 12 steps but some of them seemed a little used car salesmany. I’d say skim it and get the gist. The specifics are really not that pertinent.

Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power

  • Read: Sun Mar 29 01:06:00 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Let me understand the policy or lack of policy decisions that lead us to the current stage of war in America. How we basically as a society ceded our responsibilities for war to the executive branch who has then ceded to private contractors, etc.

Dragged at some places but overall a good read.

Utopia for Realists: How We Can Build the Ideal World

  • Read: Sat Mar 28 00:00:00 -0700 2020
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Great book covering the ideas of universal basic income, shorter work weeks and open borders. As the current pandemic shows we need something like the UBI for people to survive or there will not be an economy so to speak. And maybe it is the crisis that will finally move it to the other side.

Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich

  • Read: Sun Feb 09 00:00:00 -0800 2020
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Never thought a lot of WW2 German efficiency could be attributed to Germans taking a ton of drugs including Hitler. Quite an eye opener and in a way to look at Nazi Germany through the light of Brave New World.

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America's Most Powerful and Private Dynasty

  • Read: Sat Feb 08 15:40:40 -0800 2020
  • Rating: 4 / 5

It’s interesting how four people have influenced our political system in such a profound way. Good read to understand the undercurrents that affect our politics in America.

The Infinite Game

  • Read: Sun Jan 12 10:29:33 -0800 2020
  • Rating: 4 / 5

I really like Simon Sinek and his last book Leaders Eat Last, I thought was one of the best business books ever explaining why society is as it is. The Infinite Game is more a practical book on how to transform your and your organization’s goals to be infinite minded versus finite minded. Overall a good follow up but it is becoming tired that all business books use the SEALs and FAANG companies for many examples.

Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy

  • Read: Mon Dec 23 00:00:00 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Covers the Second and Third Order effects of Data Science and how it effects all of us. A little long winded at times but lots of good anecdotes and examples that make you think a bit more on how you may be effected.

Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others Built One of the World's Most Successful Companies

  • Read: Tue Nov 12 22:23:40 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The book was surprisingly good. Not that anything in it is surprising but from the point of view of how to effectively run an organization there is not much to fault from this exposition of how to grow a company. One of the major aspects that I found useful was the notion of hiring: Roles, Responsibilities, Expectations. The idea is that you have a clear role, the responsibilities are clearly laid out. The responsibilities include ownership of decisions. Expectations are open ended but measurable ways to address the value each employee is bringing on. All of these give the company insight into what is expected of the employee and also in return what the employee expects of the company so that they can grow in their role.

Competitive Strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors

  • Read: Sun Nov 10 00:00:00 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 5 / 5

This book is dense and takes a while to read because it is so full of information on the strategy of a business. Essentially there are four strategies of a business to optimize for profits and if you are outside of these four strategies you end up being stuck in the middle a place where you don’t have any strategic advantage. However, to practice these four strategies: broad market cost advantage, focused market cost advantage, broad market differentiation and focused market differentiation means attaining different skills. Each strategy has a completely different realm of focus in terms of organizational skills and developing the wrong skills can lead to being stuck in the middle where you end up not being able to maneuver as the industry and competition changes. I’d highly recommend this book as the first 5 books to read when starting a new business to get an idea of what to do in terms of business strategy.

Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead

  • Read: Mon Oct 28 17:06:26 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Jim Mattis is a deep thinker because of all the books he references, someone who understands war and who understands the sacrifice of war on the political as well as the service side. A great read on America's wars in the last 30 years and a person who has led through all of them.

Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America

  • Read: Fri Oct 25 13:12:37 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 5 / 5

To be honest I didn't know anything about the Koch brothers until I read this. Leonard does an amazing job putting the pieces that made Koch Industries what it is and the strategies that were used to get there including both the political vision and business vision.

I don't agree with the political vision at all but it is actually amazing what the set of leadership principles that Koch uses can actually create. Since it is such a secret organization it seems like there may have been a lot that could not be researched but still, the major pieces do paint a picture of a long-term thinking company.

Leaders Eat Last

  • Read: None
  • Rating: 5 / 5

I have to say I started this book not being impressed, but by the time the author starts connecting history, our brain and our evolutionary needs and how leadership works I was sold.

Sinek’s argument is we in current society live in dopamine and cortisol filled me first society of leadership nowhere no one feels safe and no one trusts one another. The way to alleviate this is for leaders to create a place of safety. They are teachers and guides who create a place where people can feel safe and trust their leadership does the right thing. It is with trust and vulnerability in a culture of taking care of others that they impart and make a leader.

Overall the better book in this category and one I believe Sinek does well to write because he really asks why of everything. So when he gives a story or goes into history or talks about science he really gives the why. I guess we should expect that since he did write the Power of Why.

Overall a great read on how we need to change society.

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell

  • Read: Sun Oct 13 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 3 / 5

I didn’t get that much from this book on how to be a coach. Seems largely to respect the other person as a human being but still have high goals. As a biography it also sort of leaves out a lot and doesn’t dive deep into the psyche of Bill Campbell. Quick read but not particularly a deep read.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

  • Read: Mon Oct 07 16:33:24 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

I like that this book is told in a story form like The Goal which makes digesting the material a lot easier. Essentially, the books talks about the following 5 disfunctions:

- absence of trust
- fear of conflict
- lack of commitment
- avoidance of accountability
- inattention to result

The first two are related to creating an environment where there needs to be high trust among individuals on the team otherwise there will be politics and posturing that is not beneficial to the advancement of the team. A lack of trust and being removed from others on the team actually leads to slowing down as opposed to opening up and creating a space where people understand where the other is coming from.

Because there is an absense of trust that creates ambiguity this leads to fear of conflict and lack of commitment on the part of the team. If there is no trust there is more posturing and hence everyone wants to save face so they avoid conflict. In fact there needs to be healthy amount of conflict that can be used to get to the core so that the team is aiming for the same goal. Without a healthy conflict that isn't on any individual the team can lose their way which means they don't commit to the advancement of the team and function as silos which means energies are diffused as opposed to concentrated.

This leads to avoidance of accountability since everyone is moving in different directions as opposed to a shared goal and what the outcome is widely differing since everyone is working on a different goal as opposed to a shared one. Finally, since everyone is working towards a different goal the end result is that there is inattention to details that prevent the team from functioning well because it is based on the individual egos as opposed to the shared result of the team. When teams are lead by egos then they don't function well since everyone is working to benefit themselves individually as opposed to the team.

Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity

  • Read: Mon Sep 30 06:56:10 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 5 / 5

How to specifically deal with feedback, meetings and culture. One of the better books on this subject.

The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups

  • Read: Sat Sep 14 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Great book on how to create cultures of success. Create a safe space where people feel safe to communicate their ideas, as a leader open up about your own infallibility, create a concrete vision. The second one of leaders being vulnerable is super important and not one that I had thought of.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

  • Read: Thu Sep 05 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

This book took a while to finish but here are what I got from his life and the growth of Standard Oil

- His father was essentially a quack doctor who started a second family. John did not want to be like him and seems to define himself as an opposition of his father.
- Self-control in almost all aspects of life. It didn’t seem like he had fun at all and was leading a stoic life that was very very high on morality.
- Knowing the accounts is very important to successfully grow a company. The books tell you where money is being spent and you can optimize each of the places money is spent.
- You don’t need to be a chemist, you can hire the chemist.
- If you are making money quickly you can’t give it away fast enough.
- Almost everything in America has Rockerfellers money behind it. National Parks, MoMa, University of Chicago, the entire medical community.
- It is important to define your PR or others will define it for you in a way that isn’t good for you. Control the message.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

  • Read: Wed Sep 04 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Really liked this book in terms of the exact systems to use to build good habits but one of the most insightful things I read in the book and something I’ve struggle with is how to keep habits. He doesn’t pull any punches and says after you do a habit for a while and it becomes routine it becomes boring and you want to change it. You have to love the boredom and put in the work. Though the rest of the book was packed with a lot of information on how to change habits I found this notion of boredom and putting in the work so refreshing because it means just because you have a habit doesn’t mean you won’t get bored with it. It is essentially pushing through that is important.

Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team

  • Read: Mon Aug 26 10:17:13 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Read Start with Why and found that book very influential but this one is a bit more pragmatic and less of that. Still a good skim if you want to figure out what your why and how.

It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work

  • Read: Sun Aug 25 23:05:27 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World

  • Read: Mon Jul 22 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

A good introduction to sea level rising and the likely outcomes of it. I learned a lot about the political ramifications, economic hurdles or cities dying if people stop going to them, and huge engineering hurdles associated with changing cities on the coast to be resilient to the change in sea levels.

Molly's Game

  • Read: Sun Jul 07 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Great book looking at the underworld poker games of the rich and famous. I suppose when you have a lot of money this is how you can become more decadent. Great look at the pitfalls of greed and want of power and a warning of what working in the Grey means.

Business Model Generation

  • Read: None
  • Rating: 5 / 5

One of the influences for the modern Lean movement. It basically moves a business into a canvas that helps you simplify and iterate on assumptions. From there the goal is to validate your business and test the assumptions on each of the different canvas items.


  • Read: Thu Jun 27 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Kanban is super useful for interrupt driven tasks such as recurring business processes so I wanted to learn more and found this book helpful in understanding the theory of constraints and limited work in progress to achieve the needed outcome. However, the book is a bit wordy and I felt like I was flossing Ofer a lot of it. But I’d say still a good scan for info on how to implement Kanban in an existing organization.

A Brief History of Time

  • Read: Sun May 05 09:15:02 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Was good but I felt the content just got way dense by the last couple chapters. I recommend Astrophysics for People in a Hurry over clarity.

Essential Scrum: A Practical Guide to the Most Popular Agile Process

  • Read: Sat May 04 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Did I read a whole book on running Scrum? Yes, yes I did. This book has a lot of in-depth coverage of Scrum and how to apply it. I honestly feel like it is a book every person at every company I worked at read as Scrum and Agile planning have largely transformed into this big thing with lots of rules like waterfall with Manager fiefdoms. In essence Scrum is simple with few rules and can be adapted to each team.

The Crowdfunding Handbook: Raise Money for Your Small Business or Start-Up with Equity Funding Portals

  • Read: Wed Apr 10 00:23:34 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

In-depth book on crowdfunding

I found the crowdfunding from a lawyer’s point of view super enlightening that there are just as many pitfalls to crowdfunding as a public company. Crowdfunding is essentially a microIPO. Though I do feel he comes of as more conservative in terms of crowdfunding I found a lot of his specific advice on launching a campaign quite useful. Highly recommended read if you are doing a crowdfunding campaign.

Crowdfund Investing For Dummies

  • Read: Tue Apr 02 23:53:08 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Great overview of crowdfunding

Great overview of crowdfunding from the guys who seem to have brought us the JOBS Act. Covers a lot of aspects of crowdfunding specifically but it seems to largely be relevant to anyone seeking funding and also for people investing in crowdfunding campaigns.

The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development: A cheat sheet to The Four Steps to the Epiphany

  • Read: Sun Mar 31 11:25:09 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Good outline of customer development

If you want to learn customer development in a hurry then this is a pretty good book to get started. Though I’d say read Lean Startup, and Startup Owners Manual for more in-depth.

The Art of Startup Fundraising: Pitching Investors, Negotiating the Deal, and Everything Else Entrepreneurs Need to Know

  • Read: Sun Mar 31 17:56:54 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Learn how to plan for fundraising

The books covers everything needed to prepare for fundraising and how to set yourself up for success including what the investors will look at and ask, what to do to prepare for pitching to investors, the different sources of potential fundraising especially with the inclusion of the JOBS Act which allows for crowdsourced equity.

Basically use the book as a giant checklist for things you need to accomplish for fundraising. For that reason I’d recommend the physical book as opposed to an ebook.

Think and Grow Rich

  • Read: Sun Mar 24 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Man what a roller coaster of a book. It is basically a self help book focused on the success of accumulating wealth but a weird assortment of pseudo science and transcendentalism thrown in. Just when you think you are reading something insightful, you are thrown into the pseudo science. I suppose some of the stuff he was describing are psychology, group dynamics, and sociology before the experiments to back them which are insightful but it just starts so abruptly from practical to new agey.

Sections I found useful are: control or sexuality, knowledge vs doing, decision making.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

  • Read: Sat Mar 16 01:31:20 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Great book if you are new to introversion but a lot of it can apply to both groups I feel. A lot of this writes as if people are just introverted and just extroverted but I think most people fall in between somewhere.

Some points on how introversion makes you better at focused thinking and such but that could just be because it is easier to be quiet when an introvert and think without social anxiety.

I’d say it’s a good skim.

Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic

  • Read: Fri Mar 15 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Several things about the book stand out and I kept nodding my head when reading this book

- when you are initially at the honeymoon stage of a relationship you are learning a lot about each other and that learning about the unknown creates desire. As you get more familiar over time you start knowing most things and the desire slowly diminishes. To create desire you need to have space and do your own activities so you can bring back that desire and unknown.
- schedule time for sex but at the same time you need to bring a sense of eroticism to the relationship. Going to the first point as you are longer and longer in a relationship the more you respect and love the other but this also diminishes desire. Eroticism and discussion of this creates a separate space from the everyday which can again refute the desire.

Essentially a lot of this book is the things we give up in the name of Love or we think in the name of Love but which you give up some of the initial desire.

Overall a good read for people in long running relationships.

Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone

  • Read: Tue Mar 12 00:00:00 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 3 / 5

This books sort of gives the Why of Satya’s quest to shape one himself and two how that affected his view on what a Microsoft should be and his current changes to enable it to grow again. It reads like a rally to the troops really instead of Balmer’s developers, developers, developers it is more a thought through piece by Satya on what Microsoft is now, what it wants to be and where it sees the industry going.

I’m not an employee but Lo and behold I made VSCode my main editor moving away from Emacs, I started using Office and OneNote, considered Azure. I think they still have a while to go and it is a multi year project but I think they will succeed as this book sort of gives the employees a clear Why.

But as a non employee. Some of the stuff just wasn’t that relevant to me.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

  • Read: Sun Mar 10 13:01:52 -0700 2019
  • Rating: 3 / 5

This could have gotten its point in the first 50 pages and it does but I like the point it makes which is that at the core we need a why. Most of life we do the how and what. Having read this right after Being Mortal I guess I was influenced by the previous books need for a meaning in life at the end to keep going. This one makes the point for companies that need to create a meaning to survive. But my problem was he talks about the same three companies Apple, Microsoft, and Southwest.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

  • Read: Sat Mar 09 00:00:00 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 5 / 5

The ancients feared an inglorious death, the moderns fear death.

This book is important for people to understand the limits of medicine not only I believe in when they are going to die but for everyday life. What is a life worth living? How can you make that your pursuit even to the end. At what point when you can’t pursuit what you want can you go in your own terms. What are the discussions that need to happen with your loved ones?

The book doesn’t claim to answer everything but it does give us the questions to answer ourselves. Different people want different things at the end but what seems to work is to consider the second order consequences of treatment the compromises and the issues you have to deal with when facing old age and death.

Highly recommended reading since most people do not have a plan for what they want at the end of their time.

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

  • Read: Thu Mar 07 00:00:00 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The 80/20 rule, OODA loop and the Toyota Production Method all make Scrum. Having worked in the valley Scrum and Agile have largely been bastardized by Jira and the likes so actually reading about it I realized the system is super simple and yet we have now made it super complicated.

Essentially the idea is as following:

1. Have a goal that you want to reach. I’d say apply quarterly OKRs here.
2. Build a team and break down tasks into chunks and pick the 20% of tasks that give 80% of the value of the goal.
3. Break those stories into individual sprint. Define a definition of done, have a score for the story as it pertains to the goal, and the stories are only closed if the customer is interacting with the end result. Work on the sprint
4. Have a retrospective to figure out the one small thing that could be improved in the next sprint, track velocity by having team pick ext set of stories.
5. Goto 3

Managing Oneself

  • Read: Tue Mar 05 00:00:00 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Main points:

- know your strengths
- figure out if you are a listener, writer or a reader for how you learn
- how do you contribute in the next 12-18 months and how do they hold to your values
- figure out what your second career is going to be

Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Shaped the Modern World

  • Read: Sun Feb 24 00:00:00 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

An overview of the history of bookkeeping from when it entered Venice to its use now and how it evolved as we went through different economic revolutions.

At the end though the author does go into a critical view of double entry and accounting for not really dealing with the issues of 21st century. It doesn’t cover the costs of environment, poverty, healthcare, etc. furthermore, accounting isn’t standardized in a true sense so we still have things like the 2008 crisis.

I guess what I got out of it is that double entry has worked when we were working from in a sense endless resources perspective but now it doesn’t fully capture the true economic cost of something.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

  • Read: Tue Feb 19 00:00:00 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Little long winded way of explaining how motion helps boost muscles and that strengthens neurons.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

  • Read: Mon Feb 18 00:00:00 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Nothing other books haven’t covered but does give you some practical tips on how to reduce your things to the most essential.

As I’m already going through a period of reducing things this was useful to me but it does require some change in mindset.

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right

  • Read: Thu Feb 14 09:32:39 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

This book both pissed me off and made me more sympathetic to the plight of the South. But the gist of it is that there is a loss of honor and white people in the south feel like they have to wait in line for the American Dream and that line is getting longer with the federal government there to help everyone but them. They believe the Obamas cut in line, that business should be fully trusted, and paradoxically they want to cut more from federal government while still benefiting from it.

Scale: Seven Proven Principles to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back

  • Read: Mon Feb 11 00:00:00 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Amazing book. The tag line don’t give yourself a job but build a business hit home. Everything is actionable and great for anyone who is running a company which is stuck in the you running it phase as opposed to the scale it up so it doesn’t need to phase. Definitely some good pointers.

High Output Management

  • Read: Sat Feb 02 14:29:30 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 5 / 5

I'd give this book 6 stars if possible. It is that good.

Most business books have one or two chapters that are most important. Every chapter has relevant information that pushes you to think about management in a different way. However the chapters I found most useful are the following:

- Management as a Machine
- Leverage: Management's role is to create leverage to increase the output.
- Meetings: 1:1s, Task based meetings
- Decisions
- Hybrid Organizations: Functional vs Mission driven and how to effectively structure an organization.
- Sports Analogy: How to structure your organization like an effective sports team and figuring out people intrinsic motivation based on Maslov's Heirarchy of needs.
- Task Relevant Management: How to give tasks based on the knowledge of a subordinate.
- Feedback: How to effectively give performance feedback to improve a subordinate.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

  • Read: Wed Jan 23 01:05:34 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 3 / 5

For such a short book it was a slog. Something about the writing just wasn’t getting to me. But the conclusion was likely worth it as a cliff notes version

Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential

  • Read: Wed Jan 16 09:40:16 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 3 / 5

The key point boxes were more revealing than the book. A book about how to learn and keep learning, but most of it is not that different from what you learn elsewhere.

Principles: Life and Work

  • Read: Mon Jan 14 23:22:42 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Essentially the book could be translated into:

1. Have Goals
2. Create a Machine (i.e People and Culture) to get to your goals.
3. Achieve your goals by optimizing that machine.

Everything else seems to be build off of that and fills the issues that you will have to get there. Honestly, found the Life Principles much more worth it than the Work Principles.

Originals: How Nonconformists Move the World

  • Read: Sat Jan 05 23:43:19 -0800 2019
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success

  • Read: Sat Dec 29 00:00:00 -0800 2018
  • Rating: 4 / 5

A great book that teaches that there are two mindsets in life. The fixed mindset which limits us to our innate ability, or the growth mindset which states that you can grow and improve the weak parts over time with effort. It is the growth mindset that creates world class people.

The author does state that we all have both within us but the growth mindset is what let’s us grow and gives us better outcomes as we push ourselves to grow and get better over time and then push ourselves more as we stretch our goals.

Some sections were a bit winding like the section on sports. I think covering teachers/parents, then relationships, the sports and business would have been a better way to organize the book.

Shoe Dog

  • Read: Thu Dec 27 07:28:46 -0800 2018
  • Rating: 4 / 5

I really like the year by year break up of this book and the notion of a company as a search for something more meaningful. I mean it took a lot of guts to build a company on such a low margin business and make it so big. Unfortunately, I don’t know how many actionable things you can get out of this book. Hire great people and don’t tell them how to do something seems to be the main one. Also, spend more time with family as a subtext.

Mastering Fear: A Navy SEAL's Guide

  • Read: Thu Dec 27 00:33:14 -0800 2018
  • Rating: 4 / 5


Knowing and deciding that you want to overcome something


Changing the mental message in your head when something you fear hits
Expanding your understanding and comfort of the unknown.

Letting Go

You don’t jump into the unknown without increasing your circle of what is known.
So after you practice you have to let go of the voice in your head or use it to change the question

Jumping Off

Letting go and don’t it.

Knowing What Matters

At the end of the day what matters to you? Why are you doing this?

The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything...Fast

  • Read: None
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Great book that covers how to learn different kinds of things and get to a level of proficiency quickly.

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs

  • Read: Tue Nov 06 00:10:39 -0800 2018
  • Rating: 4 / 5

It is a solid book on organizing the output of people to align with companies but I think it could have largely been condensed into a much smaller book and or examples of OKRs from different companies and how they aligned different teams.

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win

  • Read: Sun Oct 28 00:00:00 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Great book with very concrete guidelines for leadership.

At the end of the day if you are the leader and something goes wrong it is your fault and it is your job to make sure everyone understands why they are doing what they are doing.
Work with others to achieve what you want for the total entity. No fiefdoms.
If someone doesn’t play with the team then they need to be shown the door.
Simple: keep things simple. Complexity makes it hard for people to understand. Having something simple and easy to understand makes it much more useful. 80/20 rule here. There may be 100 things but focus on the 20% that gives 80% of output
Prioritize and execute: “relax, look around, make a call”. Can’t do everything at once so prioritize what is most important and execute that. You need to be able to focus full time on something get the stakeholders involved and as circumstances change adapt and let the stakeholders know of the change.
Decentralize command. Teams should be a total of 6 people or less. There should be a clear leader for each unit that is bigger and who reports to what.
Plan effectively
Standard operating procedures. Discipline starts with the first alarm. Team must also buy into operations

10% Happier

  • Read: Thu Oct 25 21:49:36 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Got insight into how cable news is run and also how to apply mindfulness when you are ambitious. One of the problems I faced when I was using Buddhism meditation was I'd somewhat lost my drive as I thought the idea was to be zen and nice. Feel like Harris went through the same cycle and found out that you can use Buddhist mindfulness and still be ambitious my favorite example being the Buddha building the sanga. He was proud of it. Overall a light read.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

  • Read: Tue Oct 16 00:23:22 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Everyone needs to read this book especially since most of us are knowledge workers but have no idea how to carve out time for doing deep meaningful tasks and always putting time into the short useless ones.


Stop working after a certain time but make that a ritual.
Have a plan for your leisure so you aren’t thinking about work
Time not thinking about work is good for when you need to work deeply and critically on something
Schedule shallow work into your schedule it needs to be done
Schedule ritual for deep work. Where you go, what you do, etc.

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable

  • Read: Mon Oct 15 10:49:22 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Not as good as Antifragile as the writing seems to be a bit all over but the concept of the Black Swan event and how to think about life through the power law versus the Gaussian was insightful.

Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up

  • Read: Sun Oct 14 00:00:00 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Following up on her previous book this one covers how to go about with the tidying process and how to approach it for all the aspects of your home. Not as insightful as the first one but more practical once you decide to follow her on the path she sets up in the first book.

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

  • Read: Wed Oct 10 22:42:21 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

  • Read: Mon Oct 08 00:00:00 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Insight into memory and how to train memory while the author is doing the memory olympics. I like the first half of the book where there is more practical usage whereas the latter half is historical and more general history of memory.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (Magic Cleaning #1)

  • Read: Wed Sep 26 00:00:00 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 5 / 5

No one really ever teaches you to clean. About what things to keep and get rid of. However, having fewer and more intimate things does make life better whether clothes or books or etc. The author takes a spiritual lens to cleaning and being tidy about really only keeping things you love and find joy in. Some of the specifics were quite useful like how to organize clothes and what books to actually keep. How to remove more so your mental energy is freer. I guess she hit in the paradox of choice as it pertains to what we keep around us at home. Overall a quick and useful read especially for people with some hoarder like tendencies.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

  • Read: Mon Sep 24 04:42:46 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Book that covers Stocism and Buddhism and the things to value and not value. It was a light read as the author kept it conversational and how the different aspects he talks about were gained from experiences in his own life. In a way it makes it more meaningful. Lots of things he talks about I have done for a long time as well such as constantly thinking about death so I can value my life and time, saying no to things and being more blunt, putting value into fewer things and putting value into growing oneself with relationships with others and my wife.

Overall a great book that I’d recommend to actually most of my friends who seem to be growing disillusioned with life, the endless rat race and not knowing that it is okay to jump into the unknown.

Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

  • Read: Tue Aug 21 00:00:00 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 4 / 5

This books seems a bit everywhere but it comes down to be a doer not a thinker. That you can intellectualize everything but the main point seems to be at the end. Survive first and philosophize later. By doing you understand the probabilistic risks and adjust accordingly whereas if you are a thinking you aren’t really putting anything into practice and it all seems like a good idea but you aren’t sure if it is.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

  • Read: Mon Jun 25 11:59:59 -0700 2018
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Even just using 10% of what was in this book has been super helpful. Definitely, one of those books you may have to read and reread and apply each chapter by itself.

- Ask what and how questions.
- Listen more than you speak
- "Why" questions make people defensive so don't do it.
- Slow down when speaking
- When asking for money give a specific nonround number.

Fanatical Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide to Opening Sales Conversations and Filling the Pipeline by Leveraging Social Selling, Telephone, Email, Text, and Cold Calling

  • Read: Sun Mar 04 00:00:00 -0800 2018
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Probably one of the better book on the painful part of sales finding and bringing in people to actually all to. This book is pretty good for a b2b business where the sales are more one on one as opposed to b2c.

- good strategies on reaching out via email and social
- preparation for the pipeline.
- 90 day rule.

Lots of tidbits of information. One of the more practical books on prospecting and written in a way that it is enjoyable to read.

SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today's Frazzled Customers

  • Read: Tue Feb 20 00:00:00 -0800 2018
  • Rating: 4 / 5

One of the better books on sales. Ideas that I learned:

Keep things simple. Complex things and proposals have too much weight and so don’t sell. Simple things sell.
Sell to a persona. Without that you have an uphill battle.
Be invaluable. Start sales like you are already solving their problem. Just jump in with what they are struggling with.

Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing - Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth

  • Read: None
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Blue Ocean Shift is a continuation of the Blue Ocean Strategy. While the first book covered the what and why of the strategy namely creating a blue ocean where competition doesn’t exist and creating a product or service that serves the blue ocean instead of competing to the bottom with a red ocean. Blue Can Shift applied the how of creating, analyzing and making a blue ocean. What need to be done and how you go about making it.

Thought I like the ideas presented the book reads a bit dry and could definitely have sed a bit more cutting to make it simplified.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

  • Read: Thu Jan 11 00:00:00 -0800 2018
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Tyson really covers most things in Astrophysics from our place in it to the principles of dark energy, dark matter and what happened in the first billion years of the formation of the universe. Highly recommend it for an overview of astrophysics though Tyson does lose me in a few places. Overall one of the better science books for a layman.

The Art of War

  • Read: Tue Jan 09 13:13:54 -0800 2018
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Been meaning to reread this for a while. Sun Tzu’s theories can be just as well used for business (minus all the killing). Something that I definitely need to reread frequently.

Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation

  • Read: Mon Jan 08 10:09:26 -0800 2018
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Kaizen and reducing waste. Mostly in the context of a manufacturing plant but I feel most of these ideas have been taken in by The Lean Startup movement.

The 80/20 Manager: The Secret to Working Less and Achieving More

  • Read: Wed Dec 20 14:21:56 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Book about applying he 80/20 rule to management. He goes over 10 principles but I found 2 of them most valuable to think about:

Simplifying. How to remove all the excess and really simplify the message in the products we are selling. Figure out how to do that effectively by cutting as much of the the services that pull you away for the most value.
Strategic laziness. Avoid being in the weeds and step back and have long periods of time to work on higher level things. The things that pull you into the weeds need to be delegated so the higher level and hence more value tasks could have time to be thought out.

The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement

  • Read: Sat Dec 16 09:38:52 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 5 / 5

One of the best business books I’ve read which is in the form of a fictional factory that is losing money and how the character goes through implementing the lean methods. Though some of the dialogue gets into the weeds of different concepts the main ones seem to be 1) throughput, how efficiently are things going through the chain 2) the notion that the limiting factor in the assembly line is the weakest link. So the overall efficiency in the system is limited by the weakest link. 3) that efficient doesn’t mean using every resource all the time. Sometimes it makes sense for resources and people to idle since them doing work can lead to inventory which can create cost.

80/20 Sales and Marketing: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More

  • Read: Sat Dec 16 00:00:00 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Sort of a continuation of the 80/20 principle from Koch and how to use it in modern marketing and sales. Segmentation, have someone else do the 80 percent where you are not delivering value, learn to give up 80/20 at times or you will be seen as a grinch. All good advice

Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness

  • Read: None
  • Rating: 3 / 5

The beginning started like Glengarry Glen Ross and initially turned me off since I thought it was a book teaching old school sales techniques but thankfully it does get better. Here are the principles and what I thought about them.

## Kick your own ass
Yeah, well I wouldn’t be reading this book if I didn’t want to improve.

## Prepare to win, or lose to someone who is.
I feel like this is a no-brainer. You have to know what you are selling and what your competition is selling to get better.

## Personal branding IS sales: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.
Seems to be a good lesson in this and something that I have sort of built up over the last couple years. Definitely branding is important to sales.

## It’s all about value, it’s all about relationship, it’s not all about price.
People buy you as a person so focus on building a relationship. The relationship should lead to the sale not vice versa.

## It’s NOT work, it’s NETwork.
Seems pretty obvious that you need to talk and work with people include networking.

## If you can’t get in front of the real decision maker, you suck.
Be like Steve Jobs, not Woz. Have a great idea make it simple, and even simpler.

## Engage me and you can make me convince myself.
I think this is where the ~Challenger Sales~ comes in since that book is talking about challenging the customer to think about what it is that they are trying to do and show them a better way.

## If you can make them laugh, you can make them buy.
Well if you can make anyone laugh then you already have them thinking of you in a good light.

## Use CREATIVITY to differentiate and dominate.
You have to be creative within a framework though. This one is talking about different ways to approach sales which is not you talking, etc.

## Reduce their risk and you’ll convert selling to buying.
Make sales simple. Complex things are harder to sell. There was a lesson in Silicon Valley in this:

Richard Hendricks: Don't you think because they are such amazing sales people that it would be OK for them to sell the harder stuff?
Jack Barker: No, it does not work that way. The way you keep the best sales people is you need to give them something easy to sell. Otherwise they just go somewhere else.

## When you say it about yourself it’s bragging. When someone else says it about you it’s proof.
Testimonials seem to be the norm now.

## Antennas up!
Seems to be to follow the OODA loop and be a salesman at whatever stage and time.

## Resign your position as general manager of the universe.
Know you know nothing.

The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less

  • Read: Tue Dec 05 19:29:04 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 5 / 5

One of those books that I should have read in my early 20s. However, I seem to have naturally taken on to its message by focusing on the 20% I have been good at which provides 80% of the value. The book itself seems to be structured in an 80/20 Rule way. I definitely got a lot of value from the business aspect of the 80/20 rule, and have organized my tasks to optimize for those, but some of the things in relation to personal aspect of 80/20 Rule can be left to interpretation depending on the type of person you are. If you like social interaction having a lot of connection may give you joy, versus if you are shy then having fewer connections is what you may be seeking.

However, everyone should read this book just to optimize life into the 80/20 bucket of things we are good at and should focus on and things we should have other people do because it is a waste of your energy and it will take longer for you to figure out then hiring someone else.

The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation

  • Read: Fri Nov 24 00:00:00 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The whole worth of this book is literally one chapter and the rest of it seems to be filler. But that chapter makes this one of the better sales books I read.

The thesis of this books is that Challengers are the ones who move the sales forward because they in a way get inside the OODA cycle of the customer’s and can help them make a decision based on customized needs. Essentially, this book is you have to do a lot of upfront work to learn about and customize the needs of your services to your potential client. Not push your services to your clients first before understanding their needs. The way they do this is through the learning and challenging cycle that they recommend.

Im sure great sales people have incorporated this into their cycle but this is not something I see with many sales people who tend to just push their stuff without thinking about the client. Overall, I’d just say the first couple chapters are good and the rest are okay.

Predictable Prospecting: How to Radically Increase Your B2B Sales Pipeline

  • Read: Thu Nov 16 16:38:22 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Book about prospecting for sales. While useful I feel like the content has been written elsewhere and some of the content could have been a bit deeper.

The process could be simplified as having a Sales Prospecting System in place that allows you to qualify and disqualify leads quickly.

Step 1: SWOT Analysis (What are your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) and the 4Ps (product, price, promotion and place)

Step 2: Develop an Ideal Account Profile. Basically figure out the kind of companies that you want to target.

Step 3: Develop and Ideal Prospect Persona. Figure out the kind of buyer you are attempting to reach. This may be different depending on the account.

Step 4: Create some compelling messages for the personas.

Step 5: Design a Multitouch, Multichannel Cadence. Figure out how to reach the candidates through multiple mechanisms email, calls, social.

Step 6: Attempt to (Dis-) Qualify Prospects. If they respond figure out if you would work together first.

Step 7: Make Prospecting a Routine. It is boring work but needed. So block it out to do it and attempt to delegate some of it.

Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of

  • Read: Mon Nov 13 11:28:42 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

This books seems to be a classic in sales in Silicon Valley. It can actually be divided into three different sections. The section on prospecting via sending drip campaigns, two on how to divide the prospecting from the account manager role, and three how to lead a sales organization. The first two sections were most useful to me. The prospecting aspect of things were interesting though not new. After this books was written I suppose all of sales has sort of taken on and run with these ideas.

One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way

  • Read: Fri Nov 10 00:00:00 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

A book about personal kaizen. On specifically how to gradually improve yourself with very, very small questions and asks as opposed to doing very large changes that you may crash trying to implement. Good book if you don’t know kaizen but also good read on how to affect change and apply it to your personal life.

High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results

  • Read: Fri Nov 10 00:00:00 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

I like the author’s no bullshit take on how to do sales prospecting, where to spend time and where to avoid time sinks. Essentially, lot more based on traditional sales of cold calling but I don’t know if that works for the specific industry that I am in. Some great ways of understanding and approaching sales from multiple mediums and combining email, social media and calling. Wish he went a little bit deeper into certain aspects of finding leads but his advice was quite good and I guess his advice is if you can provide a company value then they are a lead. Good for an engineer turned sales guy like me.

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

  • Read: Sun Nov 05 00:38:26 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 2 / 5

I usually always finish books but this book could have used a little editing and could have gotten the point across in half the length. There are just too many examples that make the underlying message lost.

Essentially, the point is Grit can be learned and you can do it through effort, deliberate practice, focus and putting in the time. Basically what Malcom Gladwell covered in his book Outliers but in a longer book with way more stories where you end up not remember any of the stories and don’t forget what the chapter was about.

The Dilbert Principle: A Cubicle's-Eye View of Bosses, Meetings, Management Fads & Other Workplace Afflictions

  • Read: Mon Oct 30 12:58:30 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Though a book that was written in the early 90s, most of the things that this book refer to has not changed at all in my career in the 2010s. After reading so many business books that have a theoretical bend to how to deal with human interaction, Scott Adams covers the nuts and bolts of actual human interaction and grounds you into how an actual office job is like. Granted many of the things that this book talks about have happened in my career.

Pitch Perfect

  • Read: Mon Oct 30 12:54:29 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Took me a while to read this one. Lots of good advice but does get a little specific at times to different circumstance which can get a tad boring if you never expect to be in those positions. But lots of good principles like: tell a story, slow down, practice, ask for advice rather than a favor, etc.

The Professor in the Cage: Why Men Fight and Why We Like to Watch

  • Read: Wed Sep 20 00:00:00 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

I would say this part memoir, part a social understanding of male violence, and part him making fun of his colleagues because he was an English Adjunct Professor. It was interesting read because it covered some interesting aspects of how violence is transmitted socially but I thought Demonic Males was a better read for that.

Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business

  • Read: Thu Sep 14 12:47:08 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 0 / 5

It is a great book if you are new to Boyd but the ideas seems a little wishy washy otherwise with Zen, random Japanese terms, random German terms and references to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance thrown in. Maybe it isn't a book for me as I have read Science, Strategy and War which covers more of the nuances and theory behind Boyd's ideas. However, if you want to get a start with Boyd's OODA loop this is a practical book to start.

Certain to Win: The Strategy of John Boyd, Applied to Business

  • Read: Thu Sep 14 01:29:25 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Co-Create: How Your Business Will Profit from Innovative and Strategic Collaboration

  • Read: Wed Sep 13 10:27:11 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 3 / 5

The book is a bit all over the place but covers most things that the Lean Startup and the lean movement have brought. The one insight that I thought was valuable was the idea of the Hollywood Model of running a company being the norm in the future instead of the traditional top down hierarchy.

It no longer makes sense for companies to build large teams with many people not really having anything to do most of the time. Instead, the model should be to have a small core team for the company and hire freelances and outsiders to come in and build a project and dissolve after completion. This is a property of people no longer working at a company for life and the increase of people working for themselves as freelancers.

Making It All Work: Winning at the Game of Work and Business of Life

  • Read: Sun Sep 10 19:09:49 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Marking It All Work is a continuation of the GTD work that Allen has done continuing on the theme of how to make life and work more productive. I am not a strict adherent to GTD but maybe do 60% of the tasks that Allen recommends and even just doing that has been great to focus me into what I am trying to achieve and create.

The main things I took out of the book:

- Have a place where you write everything. This one has helped me the most as it empties out my head of all the ideas good and bad.
- Have next actions for tasks that you need to do. This way your tasks have logical next actions that either you or someone else can do.
- Create a weekly review where you review all the projects that you have on hand and attempt to go through and close, redefine or finish them.

There is other stuff but all of that is better explained in other books. But just doing the three things above has helped me be more focused.

Jobs to Be Done: A Roadmap for Customer-Centered Innovation

  • Read: Wed Aug 16 15:13:25 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Using a methodology of approaching innovation in terms of not Problem-Solution but as a Job that Needs to Be Done. Most of the time this methodology doesn’t even have a to be tangible as an emotional job is just as important. Overall a short and quick book to read but still seems to be a rephrasing of existing books like Blue Ocean Strategy. Still a good refresher.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

  • Read: Mon Aug 14 00:00:00 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

  • Read: Wed Aug 09 00:00:00 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Every human should read this book. Sure there are some generalizations from history but in terms of the grand idea that he put forth about where humans came from and where we are going it is just a magnificent book.

Somethings I came away with:

- Homo sapiens were not the only humans other Genus Homo were also considered human and lived at the same time as sapiens.
- the debate over if those other genus homo merged with sapiens in the different regions of the earth creating the different races is still open.
- hunter gather society was pretty great and we've been sort of downhill since. We traded boundless food, mobility and health for crappier food, immobility and terrible health.
- we have become gods and hence intelligent designers. Instead of intelligent design giving rise to evolution it was evolution that gave rise to intelligent design.
- we are likely sa the last stages of sapiens and we may move to different realms.
- happiness hasn't really improved with each new breakthrough. In fact we may be way unhappier with our lot now.
- progress has given us less certainty of where we as humans are going.
- polytheism probably got it right and monotheistic religions just seem to be taking many of the aspects of polytheism and incorporating them. Saints who give privilege, etc.

The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream

  • Read: Mon Aug 07 17:11:03 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Cowen does a good job explaining the feeling that I have been witnessing and feeling about American society for a long time which is that it is stagnant. The American dynamism that every president keeps talking about has mostly died except for a few pockets. People are addicted to pain medicine, comfort, tv, drugs, and mostly the notion of safety. He calls this group the Complacent Class. The group that doesn't want to risk, doesn't want to adapt, and is evermore immobile.

Some notes and thoughts:
- His view is somewhat akin to the long peace between the Chimeran War and World War I in Europe when the world seemed mostly stable but all of a sudden blew up into a 100 pieces.
- We have become too Complacent and technology has made people more polarized and separated. People for the left and right interact less because like the rest of society we all have a plethora of choice to find, befriend/date and interact with people only like us.
- Even with all the talk of startups the amount of new companies being formed are going way down from 30 years ago.
- Even though social segregation has gone done we are now economically segregated. Many people can't afford to live in the cities who are poorer and people no longer know how to deal with the other size.
- Even with all the discourse against the welfare state we have become as a total a welfare state where half our annual budget goes to welfare.
- America no longer take on large complicated projects as a society. There is no real call to action.
- Trump was a response of the Complacent Class.
- Society, especially globally is becoming more brittle. As Western societies call for more peace, the bad apples are testing the limits of the others. Putin pushing into Ukraine with no recourse, North Korea and its nukes, the death of Turkish democracy, etc.

Overall a good read, but some parts seemed like they were just thrown in.

Faster Cheaper Better: The 9 Levers for Transforming How Work Gets Done

  • Read: Wed Aug 02 01:08:36 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 3 / 5

This book could have been much shorter and still kept to its core message which is processes help businesses do move faster, better, cheaper. However, it is a book written for larger companies with bigger bureaucracies so there are a lot of examples that touch on that.

However, for the small business it is essentially have a Standard Operating Procedure and consistently evolve it.

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works

  • Read: Wed Aug 02 19:39:58 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The first part of this book is great as it talks about how to approach strategy. In a lot of ways it is similar to Blue Ocean Strategy but as the subtitle states it is more gears towards the practical. Essentially, the gist of the book can be read first in the conclusion. The questions to ask are the following:

What is a company's winning aspiration?
Where should the company play?
How should the company play to win?
What are company's core capabilities?
What are company's management systems that has to be leveraged?

However, when pursuing strategy you must also avoid certain things that will get you bogged down. Overall a good read but could be condensed some.


  • Read: Wed Aug 02 01:30:07 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 3 / 5

The Book on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are

  • Read: Mon Jul 31 00:00:00 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

I guess Watts is describing the Hindu philosophy of the Atman and Brahman in this book to a western audience that is more familiar with the Abrahamic religions with their father based creator God though he doesn't use the Hindu terms really. Essential, Atman is the soul and Brahman is God. In Hinduism and Buddhism the soul is part of the grander universe that we observe and are actors in. We are both observing the universe which we also describe through the lens of the mind that is part of the universe. So in reality, true reality, we are not separated at all when we think our actions have no recourse because it affects the world and we deem ourselves as separate from the universe. In fact by being a part of the universe and its change we are affecting it. Interesting book but a little long winded if you already know about Hindu/Buddhist/Taoist philosophy.

I also unwittingly realized why Trump might have appealed to people as he is a father figure that is stern and "tells it like it is." This is especially true if you come from a conservative church going area where the only true father figure you have is God as the men in the areas are out of work and no longer give the father like power. This was covered in the last part of the book...

The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business

  • Read: Thu Jul 20 01:40:01 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Everyone running a company should read this gem. It essentially covers everything from personal psychology to systems thinking. Definitely, worth it as a reference as each section is split into small sections. Only thing was I wish there was more in-depth coverage of the systems thinking.

Rules for Radicals: A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals

  • Read: Sat Jul 01 00:00:00 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 5 / 5

# Rules for Radicals

A classic in the realm of progressive causes, “Rules for Radicals” lists tactics and techniques for promoting the cause.

Essentially, Alinsky divides society into:

- Haves: Want to Keep what they have.
- Have Notes: Want to get to where the Haves are but are stuck in a cycle of poverty.
- Have a Little, Want More: The middle class. Want more but don’t want to risk too much. But thisis also where the greatest revolutions come from because they live in-between worlds.

## Some notes

- Dogma must be watched
- To change the system you must change the system from within using the rules and processes of the system.
- Make a declaration from the point of view of the ideal.
- “Do what you can with what you have and cover it with moral garments.”
- To get as many people as possible the goal must be general: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”
- It must be on the attainment of power. Because the poor dynamics is to make the powerful powerless and the less powerful powerfule.
- Compromise: Getting 30% more than 0 is still good.
- Self-interest can be generalized in moral principles.
- Organizer: Curiosity, Irreverance, Imagination, Sense of Humor
- Communication: Diplomatic
- ~People who don’t have anything listen to the ones who have because they believe that people who have are better than them because they find their lack of things to be a difficincy on their part.~
- Must react to the events. Must OODA Loop faster than what the enemy is thinking.
- The Haves posses and in turn are possessed by power.
- “Since the Haves publicly pose as the custodians of responsibility, morality, law and justice, they can be constantly pushed to live up to their own books of morality and regulations.”

## Tactics

- You must “Go outside the experience of people you are fighting.” Chaos. Must be outside their OODA loop
- “Power is not only what you have but what the enemy things you have.”
- “Never go outside the experience of your people.”
- “Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.”
- “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” Making fun of someone prevents them from action but pisses them off.
- “A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.”
- “Keep the pressure on” with different tactics.
- “The threat is usually more terrifying the the thing itself.”
- “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.”
- “If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counter side.”
- “The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternate.”
- “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

## Fighting in Proxy
- Buy shares of a bunch of companies or if you own Mutual Funds then you are a shareholder who can push your proxy to fight for your cause. Even if only one note having a thousands of protestors go to fight at a stockholder meeting can be valuable in terms of attaching to the agency.

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results

  • Read: Wed May 31 00:00:00 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Another self help book but this one seems to have a lot more concrete ideas of what to do instead of being wishy washy.

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

  • Read: Mon May 15 00:00:00 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

With the amount of choices we have in the modern world I always felt that there was a balance point in between my Indian upbringing of fewer choices and my American upbringing of individualism. Certain choices I make give me happiness and other ones did not. Having the newest tech toy growing up was fun but as I got older I just wanted things that worked.

In a lot of ways I discovered the author's prescription for how to deal with the paradox of unlimited choices by my own trial and error. I know what I like to give opinion on and I know what I don't want to put a lot of time on. Especially, now running a company the paradox on choice with limited time can really affect what I need to spend working on and what I need to just let other people do. I still just let my parents buy my shirts, they like doing it and I care very little.

I believe it is a valuable read for anyone who is burdened by the amount of choices in the world and their want to limit it.

Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else

  • Read: Mon May 15 00:00:00 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Deliberate Practice is what it takes to be great, people aren't born with some innate talent is the thesis of this book. Lot of good anecdotes and thoughts but think a short essay would have been good enough for me.

Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence

  • Read: None
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Demonic Males goes through the genealogy of male violence in apes. The authors study our closest relatives the chimpanzees, gorillas, and bonobos. Violence is built into the males of all three and all three handle violence in different ways. Chimps and Gorillas have violence built into their societal structures, whereas bonobos treat everything with more sexuality.

This lineage translates to humans and though there may be dreams of peaceful matriarchal societies most human societies are patriarchal and there is a lot of induced violence. A lot of this violence even appears in societies that seem to be relatively peaceful. The authors point that this has to do with in-group, out-group relationships. When you are in a group you will defend that group and when you are out of that group the violence against them is distant. Example include lynching mobs in the south which included many normal and nice people. When they were part of the in-group they fit with the group’s dominance structure.

The problem is that group violence can turn extreme and genocidal. Are we humans equipped to deal with our demonic nature when we have such weapons as we do now.

Peace Through Entrepreneurship: Investing in a Startup Culture for Security and Development

  • Read: Mon Apr 17 11:09:47 -0700 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The world is sort of stuck in a post-WW2 mentality where working for big companies and firms seem to be the way of the road expect for a few pockets of entrepreneurship such as Silicon Valley. This sentiment is conveyed as well by Koltai who shows that if the US government spent more on entrepreneurship we can create jobs and peace all over the world. According to his data the State Department spends less than 1% of its money on entrepreneurship, less then the cost of a F16. Procurement for the government goes to giant nonspecialist contractors who know how to play the game of procurement instead of actually knowing how to do the job. Basically the US government is just not setup to deal with startups and how to help new companies thrive.

I liked the proposed policy changes that Koltai said may be beneficial for promoting entrepreneurship, but the one of the chapters seems to be a summary of Startup Communities by Brad Feld.

The Power of Myth

  • Read: Fri Jan 27 00:00:00 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Everyone needs to read this book especially in a world where spirituality and mythology have lost their place. The mythology that Joseph Campbell elucidates permeates throughout every culture and gives us a purpose. The thesis that I have come out of the book is that life by itself has no purpose, but myth has given us purpose. Every region and religion and though has a different metaphor but the same way of thinking about life, that it is a journey. The journey Is more important than the destination.

The Book of Five Rings

  • Read: Tue Jan 03 00:00:00 -0800 2017
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The Book of Five Rings

  • Read: Sat Dec 24 00:00:00 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

A book on making martial arts your life and perfecting every part of it along with your life.

Strategy Rules: Five Timeless Lessons from Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs

  • Read: Sat Dec 24 00:00:00 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Surprisingly good book on explaining the strategies of Bill Gates, Andy Grove, and Steve Jobs and also their company's pitfalls after the three departed their businesses.

It seems the things to focus on are the following:

- Figure out where you want to be and reason backwards to find the steps to get there.
- Take big bets but also have an alternate plan or existing plan to fall back to if it doesn't work out. Always cannibalise yourself, so it's not your competitors that are eating your lunch.
- Build Platforms that people build on top of. You want to control the medium on which people release products. Having a platform allows you to control your destiny and allows you to essentially vendor lockin.
- Act like the underdog but don't be afraid to use power dynamics.
- Figure out what you are good at and find people who complement you to fill the stuff that you are not so good at.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

  • Read: Mon Dec 19 00:00:00 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The principles of Made to Stick are the following:

Simplicity: How can you make what you are selling or talking about as simple as possible to understand. Have to distil ideas to their core without becoming meaningless. An example they use is for Southwest with their unofficial motto, "The Low-Cost Airline."

Unexpectedness: This seems to come more from Sun Tzu. Essentially, a surprise which captures the people you are trying to reach by surprise. By doing something unexpected that they are not expecting you are attracting their attention.

Concreteness: Have something concrete that people remember. Something visual, something that can focus people's attention on something. Having something concrete helps people work with a mental model, and it allows them to build upon it.

Credibility: Have to use statistics with things that people understand. A good example referenced in the book is a workplace as a soccer team. Is everyone aiming at the same goal?

Emotional: Use association, self-interest and appeal to their identity. Something that affects all of those allows a person to care more as it hits their emotional nerve.

Stories: A story sells a lot more than spouting out a bunch of statistics. We are born for stories and pass around stories. Even when we talk at the watercooler, we tell stories to each other. And this is the same if you want an idea to stick to tell a story. Example, how Jared from Subway was a thing. It was a story people could relate to.

Overall a good book, it did drag at some points and could have been condensed a bit but otherwise a good read.

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant

  • Read: Wed Dec 07 00:00:00 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

It was a good book a little dry at times on essentially out thinking the competition by not competing with them in the first place and creating something completely different and unique. Having to think through what a blue ocean strategy is seems a bit daunting but also why business can be fun. Creating new value adds that people wouldn't consider.

The Consulting Bible: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Expand a Seven-Figure Consulting Practice

  • Read: Sat Nov 05 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

While the first 9 chapters were good on getting started and how to think about consulting the last part sort of dragged a bit in terms of implementing Consulting Strategies. That portion seems specific to the places you'd work at so I don't know if it is a good value add in any sense for this book.

However, the first part really defined what to do to get started in consulting and create a brand around yourself and gaining clients.

Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City

  • Read: Sun Oct 30 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

A book about how to build a startup community focusing on examples of the authors starting such a community in Boulder. The end result is that there is a lot of active involvement with a lot of different groups but the focus should be on making entrepreneurs succeed. And one of the main points: don't equate entrepreneurship to access to VC money.

Now to try to put these into practice in Sonoma County.

The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself

  • Read: Wed Oct 26 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Though the book is a little dated it has really made me think about content as a valuable marketing source. Many of the companies I like seem to always put out good content that I can reference or go to. Definitely a part of marketing that I should have taken into account earlier.

Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster

  • Read: Tue Oct 25 15:23:34 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 5 / 5

I don't think I will be ever done reading this book. It is one of those books that you will be constantly looking back at and rereading it as you are building a company. In a sense I've gotten through reading the book but as I am building my company I am constantly going back and forth within it to figure out what metrics I need to take into account at the appropriate stage.

The main gist of the book is this: at every stage of building a startup there is a metrics that matters and is the one that is the most important over the others. It is, therefore, that metric that needs to be focused on and improved.

The book then shows the different metrics that matter for the different types of startups there are from ecommerce, to SaaS, to Enterprise. Quite a good read and I wish I took more of what they said into account as I was building my company.

The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley

  • Read: Mon Oct 17 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

This book is like reading a travel journal that goes to places where genius flourished and attempting to find a baseline for why genius thrived there. I really enjoyed the writing style and the anecdotal way in which the author tries to come up with a theory for genius. Unfortunately, the variables of what constitutes a place a place of genius are many and the author seems to have shown that. However, there are a few common trends it seems. Mentor mentee relationships, people not wanting to step on each other, money, government support, people willing to take craziness and most importantly the society not falling for hubris.

Quite a good book and would highly recommend reading it.

You, Inc.: The Art of Selling Yourself

  • Read: Fri Oct 14 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 3 / 5

An interesting book. Lots of anecdotes and aphorisms about how to be a good sales person. I guess it came down to be nice and help others. Drawn out from that. I may not be the target audience for this book.

Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time

  • Read: Thu Oct 13 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Good book on how to think of life in terms of relationships and giving instead of taking. Though a book for sales people I learned quite a few things from the book in terms of how to think of relationships both personal and professional not as extracting things from others but as a two way street where the more connected you become with the other the better the relationship blossoms. Those more meaningful connections leads to achieving things.

The Inner Game of Selling: Mastering the Hidden Forces that Determine Your Success

  • Read: Sun Aug 14 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 3 / 5

This book can be summed up as, "To sell something you have to believe in what you are trying to sell and it has to match up with your values otherwise people will be able to see through it and you'll fail."

Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling High-Tech Products to Mainstream Customers

  • Read: Tue Jul 19 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 5 / 5

I wish I read this book like 5 years ago when I started in the tech industry. Moore covers how to successfully transition from an early stage market to the general populace and how to make this transition. This "crossing of the chasm" is very much pick a market segment, win that segment and move to the next segment.

However, he also discusses how this affects early employees who may not handle the chasm crossing well. When the chasm is crossed the market you are targeting expects different things from the early market. It doesn't care about the novelty of the technology. The crossing of the chasm changes a company from being engineering lead to being product lead. It is no longer about the core product but the full product. That is the one lesson I wish learned much earlier as it would have given me much less grief working in the industry.

All in all a great book and I am going to read it again because there is so much information in it.

To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others

  • Read: Tue Jul 19 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 3 / 5

A good way or reorienting what selling is in the 21st century where there is no real information asymmetry between buyer and seller. Feel a lot of the content is similar to Seth Godin's books. Did have a few insights but those could have been done in a shorter form.

Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd

  • Read: Wed Jun 08 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 5 / 5

This book took me while to get through as Osinga essentially deconstructs all of John Boyd's presentations and papers and attempts to figure out how his ideas were shaped. It is a challenging book to read especially since it covers so many different things from postmodern deconstructionism, complexity theory, Godel's Incompleteness theory, evolutionary theory and more to help understand John Boyd's OODA loop and the complexity around that idea.

Boyd's ideas are to move war away from a Clausewitzian method of war where two conventional armies fight to the warfare and strategy of rapidly capturing the enemy by surprise whether in terms of psychological or direct. Moving through the OODA loop is to move through the Observe, Orient, Decide and Act cycle. The observe point is to take observation of things as they happen and gaining that knowledge rapidly. Orient is to decide what to do with that information. What are the mental models that can be acted on. What is it similar to? What kind of destructive or creative action will compose the most damage. During the orient phase is when multiple models are created to respond to the observation and it is the most important part of the OODA loop. The decide point is figuring out which hypothesis that you came up with in the orient phase will have the most damage and Act is acting on that hypothesis. Essentially the OODA loop is strategy as the scientific method.

The book gets into much more complexity and some of it is a bit dry but Osinga definitely synthesizes Boyd's ideas. Further, I am simplifying a little bit by only covering the OODA loop but Osinga also discusses Boyd's ideas for organizational structure, mental models, and comparison to different war strategists throughout history.

Overall a great, if dense, book and many of the ideas are applicable to business as much as they are to war.

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business

  • Read: Sun May 01 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

I like Duhigg's writing style of putting stories to explain concepts. It makes for an interesting if a little longer of a read. In this book he covers how to be productive in the modern world with all the things that are happening around us. I will attempt to summarize each chapter.

1. Motivation. Instead of thinking of tasks as chores make a choice on them. By making it your own the treshhold of motivation increases.
2. Teams. For teams to be effective there needs to be a pschological safety zone where everyone has an equal chance to speak and no one person is out talking the other.
3. Focus. Create mental models of how things should be otherwise when incidents happen you focus on the wrong things instead of the overall state. When you create mental models you have an idea of what the system should be like and during incidents you can move your focus to return things back to a normal state instead of pidgenholing into the thing that is in front of you when an incident happens.
4. Goal Setting. Have a SMART goal of actionable things but also have a Stretch goal of why you are doing this. The Stretch goal leads to the creation of actionable Smart goals. Or in other terms have a reason for doing a project and you can add smaller tasks to them.
5. Managing Others. Instead of managing from the top by giving orders a better method is to have an overall vision and push down decision making giving people the ability to decide on solutions by working together.
6. Decision Making. When making decisions make various alternate projections so you have a clear idea based on all the alternatives that might happen. This allows you create several different outcomes and the pros and cons of each.
7. Innovation. You need a little bit of chaos to create innovation. Not all the time and not too little but enough to jolt some creativity. Further, combining two different ideas from two different field is just as effective for coming up with new ideas.
8. Absorbing Data. There is too much data in the world. The best way to make it useful instead of sensory overload is to make it actionable to you. Have to manipulate the data yourself to figure out what is going on.


  • Read: Sat Apr 02 09:48:36 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 5 / 5

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

  • Read: Tue Mar 29 02:38:04 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 5 / 5

I wanted to read about what makes Amazon tick and Stone mentioned the following:

- Arguments are favored. The loudest ones win. No lets make and be friends, more brutal. My favorite Jeffism, stuff that Jeff Bezos says to his employees who don't give him his exact needs, is "Why are you wasting my life?"
- There is no work/life balance. You are basically there to achieve your best or you don't belong.
- Things are extremely frugal to maximize savings for the customers and also create their particular identity.
- The Art of War is made into a science when dealing with competitors that they want to sell to them cheaply or suppliers they want to get better deals from. "Lure them with bait, strike them with chaos" takes on a new meaning with Amazon.
- The underlying values of Amazon has not changed at Amazon since its founding. It is still focused on customers and making things cheap.
- There are always alternate ways to think about and approach a problem. Even if it means outspending your competitors or making them bleed while they compete with you.
- The customer comes first, company second, everyone else can bite the dust.
- Have small teams which have actionable goals which go and approach a problem. The entire company is nimble. But also lead by a sense of fear.
- Instead of presentations which do not foster critical thinking have a 6 page essay which describes what a product is supposed to do and why it should be implemented so that you can do some critical thinking on it. If it is a new product them also include a faux press release page so you know how the customer will perceive the product. Essentially, start from the customer and work backwards.

Overall a good read on the last 20 years of one of the modern tech behemoths. Also a good way to understand what makes it tick and run.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

  • Read: Mon Mar 21 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Elon Musk is the guy who seems to be taking the mantle of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs nowadays and his companies have done immense things. Though I was interested in Musk I was more interested in the methods he uses at his companies to achieve what he does and it seems to be a combination of things.

- Musk is very hands on in all of the things he works on and understands everything everyone is doing. He is extremely well read and makes people do the impossible.
- He makes people work really hard to the point of burnout and seems he is unceremonious about firing people when their use is no longer needed. I almost think that Musk thinks the people who work for him are a feature and once a feature no longer performs the way you need it to or starts affecting other features negatively you get rid of it. But replace feature here with employee. It seems harsh but taking such a stoic approach is probably why he has done so much with so little.
- He takes the Silicon Valley startup mentality and hires for youth. Pay em less and work em more.
- SpaceX and Tesla try to do as much as possible internally and try to be vertically aligned. This means that the company seems to A/B test their hardware. For example, SpaceX sends an existing radio that they bought for $20,000 and also send a custom radio that they are working on which would cost $3,000. They send both until the internal one is better and that's the one they use. Boeing and Lockheed seem to be interested in being the opposite which is having as many contractors as possible. However, SpaceX is obviously better because components work together and cut down costs but obviously not as many jobs.
- Using commodity components. Using a laptop screen in the Tesla instead of an automotive screen. Starting with Lithium Ion batteries instead of making custom batteries right off the bat.

Overall a good read but some of it reads as a marketing ad.

What Great Brands Do

  • Read: Fri Mar 18 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 3 / 5

The book is basically an anthology of anecdotes of what great brands do. Although it does have some good things to remember such as branding starts from within, inform all decisions, etc. those could also just be construed as something a company does anyways. So I was a bit disappointed in that there was no deep dive into branding from a human psychology perspective. Otherwise, you can just read the table of contents and extrapolate what the message of the author is.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X

  • Read: Mon Mar 14 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Malcolm X can essentially be described as a constantly evolving man. He has hard ideas but time and again he seems to have changed them. He grew up in a segregated town his father being killed, then he went to Boston and Harlem and became a hustler, then to jail where he relearned to read and write, then became a Minister in the Nation of Islam and then after the break with the Nation went to a more peaceful Islam as practiced in the Middle East.

The things I noticed about Malcolm X was his ability to dig deep into the layers of socio-economic and political aspects of society and how to use those to his advantage. He completely comprehended the box he was a part of and he made use of that for progressing the American Black. He understood the Art of War and a Foucaultian Care of the Self to lead a legitimate battle against the American White.

However, reading his autobiography has continued to show me that much of what is televised about American Blacks hasn't changed. Malcolm X covers how the media portrays blacks, the type of questions asked, the way they are portrayed and how the blacks in response behave. It is very much a Stanford Prison Experimentesque situation but in real life and with a real society.

Certain aspects of the book dragged on. Reading the story of Nation of Islam's creation myth sounded like reading about Scientology. But overall it is a book on a persons transformation and I believe Malcom X touched on those points.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles

  • Read: Mon Mar 14 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Reading Drucker is like reading the source that every other business author seems to go to. He has basically distilled Innovation and Entrepreneurship to a management science. The effective strategies to use and the different types of innovations that are possible. Not all of them have to be high tech and not all of them have to be based on new knowledge. They can be boring like coming up a mechanism for a farmer to pay for a tractor in installments also known as an installment plan. In the book Drucker uses multiple examples of innovation in both industry as well as governmental/nonprofits and recommends a practice which is basically akin to the Lean Startup/Toyota Method. Though it was first published in 1984 the book is great and should be read by anyone who is going to be an entrepreneur. I highly like his view that an entrepreneur is not a risk taker per se but who has managed the risk that they are going to be embarking upon.

The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms

  • Read: Mon Mar 14 00:00:00 -0700 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

This book of aphorisms are a critique of modernity and economists. Don't know how to really explain it other than his work of Antifragile in aphorism form.

Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

  • Read: Mon Mar 07 00:00:00 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Antifragile is a weird book to say the least because it seems to be a reverse of what is taught. Taleb shows that we as humans have created very fragile systems that don’t have fail safes built in such the whenever a chaotic Black Swan event occurs it completely destroys the system. Most of the book are example of the fragile and the antifragile equivalent.

Examples range from medicine where by getting unnecessary surgery you are making yourself more prone to complications that the body itself can resolve or taking multiple different medicines which might have side effects that are not known. The fragility of globalization and finance, of large companies, of science as it is practiced, soccer moms, etc.

Overall a great book that has really awakened me to the fragilities in the systems we have in place but also a book that acknowledged my own sense of unnecessary interventionism that modern day society imposes.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

  • Read: Thu Mar 03 00:00:00 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Ed Catmull describes how he and his team keep Pixar creative. It is in Pixar style very story based so it does at times drag on instead of getting to the point. It is dialogue heavy so it does take 2x the time it would talk to read a regular book on this topic but I think that's the point.

He covers the braintrust, the ability for all employees to feel like peers, the ability to speak candidly about things, allowing employees to express their individuality, learning and reorienting. All in all a book on how to lead creativity though situations of uncertainty. However, very much focused on Pixar's situation as an entertainment company such as having to replace directors midway through a movie, what happens when the movie needs to be completely overhauled, etc.

Though it could have been shorter I liked the near Socratic dialogue on how they came up with changes for Pixar.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

  • Read: Sat Feb 27 00:00:00 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Linchpin is Seth Godin's call to action of being an artist (i.e bringing humanity to what you do) in a world of mechanization. His thesis seems to be that we are in a world where mechanization or being a cog seems to be what the flow of the world is asking. We are individual pieces that are replaceable, we do as we are told, we follow the script given to us, and we don't deviate from the norm.

His view seems to be that is the way to obsolescence. That if you are just a cog then your job is not safe because you can be replaced much easier with another cog or machine. He, therefore, calls to bring artistry to whatever we do. To customer service, coding, etc. To make yourself the irreplaceable one. However, my view differs here in that when you work for someone you are replaceable. Regardless of how good you may be the company will go on and right itself. You as an individual don't really matter that much and as such being a cog in a wheel no matter how linchpinesque you make yourself at the end doesn't really matter.

But in terms of you running something I could see this call of bring artistry to what you are doing more applicable. Because if you can provide a service as an art form then that is worth something. People pay extra for that because there is a human aspect to it, e.g the hipster coffee shops. Basically being a linchpin is nothing more than bringing out the humanity that is held down from corporate regularity.

A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science

  • Read: Thu Feb 04 00:00:00 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 3 / 5

A Mind for Numbers is not just about math and science but about learning in general. It was a good read which I wish I had in college as I struggled to really comprehend Physics and Math equations. I really liked the first part about chunking ideas, diffused and focused mind, and the notion of transfer. But the latter part got a bit more wishy washy in terms of psychology and was a bit less interesting as it seemed to be focused more for college students.

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

  • Read: Wed Jan 13 00:00:00 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 5 / 5

I feel like this book took me into a mind trip in terms of understanding how companies sell us stuff by getting us addicted to certain actions triggers in our hunter gatherer brains. Eyal describes there are 3 kind of validations that we have: to the tribe, to the hunt and to the selves. The first is social validation for example things like "Likes" on Facebook, the second is our want to hunt for bargains (the word hunt literally takes on a new meaning there...) and our want to validate ourselves.

As such Eyal lays out a cycle of why certain things take off but others don't. We want infinite variability as it causes things to stay fresh and want us to come back where as finite variability won't. For example, World of Warcraft is still a thing, FarmVille isn't.

I highly recommend this book not only for product developers but also just people who need to see how products are designed to hit these addictive nerves.

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

  • Read: Tue Jan 12 00:00:00 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The content of the book is valid for any woman who is working in a professional setting. As a male it has given me thoughts on how to structure my interactions at the workplace. I have to acknowledge that many of the the unconscious biases Sandberg says men do are more apparent to me now that I have read the book. This includes my own. It has also given me a wider lenses to look at professionalism and women who lead family but want to work.

However, this book does not seem to have much barring for women who are not professionals or American raised. As an Indian I see an immense cultural stigmata my cultures place on women. Though Sandberg addresses that she is coming from a particular situation it does seem difficult for some people to take this advice. A poor family may need the man and woman to work regardless of children and day care is not an option. This limits the potential growth of those individuals and might even lead to the woman staying home because daycare is too expensive. In that situation even if the woman is Leaning In and working the natural course is that she has to work.

However, it is quite a good book and I’d recommend it for anyone who is working in a professional setting to read and everyone else to ponder.

Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

  • Read: Thu Jan 07 00:04:54 -0800 2016
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Well read this in like 30 minutes but it has good advice in a more succinct format than War of Art. Just another way to think about producing creative endeavors if anyone needs a boost.

The Effective Executive

  • Read: Tue Dec 29 00:00:00 -0800 2015
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The Effective Executive is the book I wish I had when I first got a job. A lot of knowledge work is self structured and not handed top down per se. But nobody teaches you how to structure your work or what to work on. The first part of this books gives a definite structure on how to achieve this though the latter half somewhat dragged a bit.

Some key insights:

"The knowledge worker cannot be supervised closely or in detail. He can only be helped. But he must direct himself, and he must direct himself toward performance and contribution, that is, toward effectiveness."

"The fewer people, the smaller, the less activity inside, the more nearly perfect is the organization in terms of its only reason for existence: the service to the environment."

"An organization, a social artifact, is very different from a biological organism. Yet it stands under the law that governs the structure and size of animals and plants: The surface goes up with the square of the radius, but the mass grows with the cube. The larger the animal becomes, the more resources have to be devoted to the mass and to the internal tasks, to circulation and information, to the nervous system, and so on."

"An organization is not, like an animal, an end in itself, and successful by the mere act of perpetuating the species. An organization is an organ of society and fulfills itself by the contribution it makes to the outside environment. And yet the bigger and apparently more successful an organization gets to be, the more will inside events tend to engage the interests, the energies, and the abilities of the executive to the exclusion of his real tasks and his real effectiveness in the outside."

"One of the weaknesses of young, highly educated people today—whether in business, medicine, or government—is that they are satisfied to be versed in one narrow specialty and affect a contempt for the other areas. One need not know in detail what to do with “human relations” as an accountant, or how to promote a new branded product if an engineer. But one has a responsibility to know at least what these areas are about, why they are around, and what they are trying to do."

"Most discussions of the executive’s task start with the advice to plan one’s work. This sounds eminently plausible. The only thing wrong with it is that it rarely works. The plans always remain on paper, always remain good intentions. They seldom turn into achievement."

"Effective executives, in my observation, do not start with their tasks. They start with their time."

"He asks: “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?” His stress is on responsibility."

"Executives who do not ask themselves, “What can I contribute?” are not only likely to aim too low, they are likely to aim at the wrong things. Above all, they may define their contribution too narrowly."

"For every organization needs performance in three major areas: It needs direct results; building of values and their reaffirmation; and building and developing people for tomorrow."

"We know very little about self-development. But we do know one thing: People in general, and knowledge workers in particular, grow according to the demands they make on themselves. They grow according to what they consider to be achievement and attainment. If they demand little of themselves, they will remain stunted. If they demand a good deal of themselves, they will grow to giant stature—without any more effort than is expended by the non achievers."

"The effective executive fills positions and promotes on the basis of what a man can do. He does not make staffing decisions to minimize weaknesses but to maximize strength."

"Every one of Lee’s generals, from Stonewall Jackson on, was a man of obvious and monumental weaknesses. But these failings Lee considered—rightly—to be irrelevant. Each of them had, however, one area of real strength—and it was this strength, and only this strength, that Lee utilized and made effective."

"The idea that there are “well-rounded” people, people who have only strengths and no weaknesses (whether the term used is the “whole man,” the “mature personality,” the “well-adjusted personality,” or the “generalist”) is a prescription for mediocrity if not for incompetence."

"Strong people always have strong weaknesses too. Where there are peaks, there are valleys."

"The effective executive, therefore, asks: “What can my boss do really well?” “What has he done really well?” “What does he need to know to use his strength?” “What does he need to get from me to perform?” He does not worry too much over what the boss cannot do."

"The people who get nothing done often work a great deal harder. In the first place, they underestimate the time for any one task. They always expect that everything will go right. Yet, as every executive knows, nothing ever goes right. The unexpected always happens—the unexpected is indeed the only thing one can confidently expect."

"Social organizations need to stay lean and muscular as much as biological organisms."

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

  • Read: Tue Dec 29 00:00:00 -0800 2015
  • Rating: 5 / 5

This is the books for any CEO, executive or employee of a VC funded startup which is around 100 people or more. Horowitz describes most everything that can go wrong at a company that size and how to deal with the situations. These include hiring executives and potential pitfalls with their backgrounds, how to deal with promotions and training of employees, and all the role of a wartime CEO. A wartime CEO being one who has to deal with a sea of uncertainty in an environment where the company is not thriving. This is the main aspect of the book that I enjoyed since it seems that Opsware was a company that was constantly in wartime. Horowitz covers many of the bad things that I had experienced at companies that I have worked for so it is great to see insight on how to deal with some of those issues.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

  • Read: Wed Dec 09 00:00:00 -0800 2015
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Achievements of Genghis Khan and his kin.

- Freedom of religion in his empire. Its interesting how many of the wives and sons and advisors were Christian, Muslim or Mongol religion.
- No torture. Not saying their complete annihilation of cities was a boon but it was interesting that Genghis Khan himself did not want torture.
- Effective use of propaganda to make enemies give up before there was even a battle. Most of what we hear about Mongols ruthless destruction was largely due to this propaganda which allowed easy wins by intimidating the enemy.
- Effective distribution of wealth to his soldiers. He even distributed a share of wealth from raids to his soldiers that died and their family.
- Effective organization of an entire society based on groups of 10.
- Effectively used the strengths of different groups to create a greater whole. Siege machines, gunpowder from China, German miners, Turkish administrators. They were really effective at putting the intelligentsia to use.
- The silk road which became a major trading route between the East and West. The trade also lead to the Renascence.
- Genghis Khan himself came from poverty and created the biggest empire.

On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

  • Read: Tue Dec 08 18:01:40 -0800 2015
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

  • Read: Thu Dec 03 00:00:00 -0800 2015
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Boyd was someone who was trying to shake up institutions that was tried to tradition and continuing existing modes of thinking: the armed forces. His theories are basically akin to the lean movement where a bunch of experiments are done quickly to take an enemy by surprise. In his system of OODA look the goal is to take the least-expected action instead of the most-effective action. To win before the battle ever starts by overwhelming the enemy by surprise.

The first part of the book focuses a lot on Boyd's time in the Air Force and the E-M theory that he developed, but it seems like the last part just glances over his ideas on the OODA loop and Creation and Destruction (his only written work). I wish there was more time spent on it. Overall a good book but it could have been cut by maybe a 100 pages as every chapter basically included some portion of how he insulted some general or another instead of giving enough credence to the ideas themselves.

The Remains of the Day

  • Read: Mon Nov 23 00:00:00 -0800 2015
  • Rating: 5 / 5

A book about butler transitioning from his role before world war 2 to his role after world war 2. It covers the nature of work, taking pride and ensuring perfection in our work, how being too focused on work may lead to us being distant from our coworkers and family. That at the remains of the day it is not only that we serve but that we may not forget our other obligations.

Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass

  • Read: Thu Nov 05 00:00:00 -0800 2015
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Fredrick Douglass’s account of his life as a slave is inspiring. But there were two underlying themes that I seem to gather from the book.

1. While slavery has ended the socio-economic prejudices that people have has not changed at all. In his descriptions and modern society it seems the poor white man is always acting as the arbiter of violence. Blacks are still largely vastly under educated and are told to not recognize their plight.
2. Fredrick Douglass noticed the conservative ideal of the South. The going to church, family values and what not but still being racist rhetoric and violent.


“I have observed this in my experience of slavery,—that whenever my condition was improved, instead of its increasing my contentment, it only increased my desire to be free, and set me to thinking of plans to gain my freedom. I have found that, to make a contented slave, it is necessary to make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate the power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery; he must be made to feel that slavery is right; and he can be brought to that only when he ceases to be a man.”

“As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing. It had given me a view of my wretched condition, without the remedy. It opened my eyes to the horrible pit, but to no ladder upon which to get out.”

“…if we should take the land route, we should be subjected to interruptions of almost every kind. Any one having a white face, and being so disposed, could stop us, and subject us to examination.”

“Many of the black carpenters were freemen. Things seemed to be going on very well. All at once, the white carpenters knocked off, and said they would not work with free colored workmen. Their reason for this, as alleged, was, that if free colored carpenters were encouraged, they would soon take the trade into their own hands, and poor white men would be thrown out of employment.”

“I assert most unhesitatingly, that the religion of the south is a mere covering for the most horrid crimes,—a justifier of the most appalling barbarity,—a sanctifier of the most hateful frauds,—and a dark shelter under, which the darkest, foulest, grossest, and most infernal deeds of slaveholders find the strongest protection.”

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

  • Read: Sat Oct 24 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 5 / 5

One of the best books I've read recently. Thiel covers the nature of startups but he covers it in the context of contemporary society. He states that companies no longer plan for the future and are beholden to very short term returns. Instead he recommends planning a company for the long haul and figuring out how to get there by starting with the smallest piece of a market which can be monopolized as profits and value are created from monopolistic enterprises. If you are beholden to competition then you can't plan for the long term because you are constantly fighting battles in the short term. It prevents long term thinking.

Tropic of Cancer

  • Read: Sat Oct 17 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 3 / 5

I honestly don't know what to think about this book. It had debauchery, philosophical musings, rampant racism, and indulgence. I almost feel like it is a book espousing white male privilege which makes me dislike it. But it does have a stream of consciousness style that I enjoy.

Gates of Fire

  • Read: Sun Sep 13 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 3 / 5

It was a great fictionalized account of the Battle of Thermopylae but
I have to say that the last 100-150 pages could definitely have been
shortened. Though the first part was engaging and I loved it the last
third dragged on a bit.

The story is of Xeo a Greek whose polis was attacked and destroyed and
him going to Sparta to become a servant there. In the process we learn
about what Sparta was like in terms of their men, women, children and
the politics.

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage

  • Read: Thu Jun 25 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Good book on condensing stoicism to modern view points.

Tribes We Need You to Lead Us. Seth Godin

  • Read: Thu Jun 11 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Good book on motivating you to start leading. Sort of limited in details on how to actually do it though. Maybe that was the point?

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader

  • Read: Thu Jun 04 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 5 / 5

It was a much more personal biography than the Isaacson one. The book contains a lot more personal anecdotes and references people that Jobs worked with. It also tried to cover the arch of his growth and that he wasn't completely an asshole by the end.

All Quiet on the Western Front

  • Read: Thu May 14 11:13:41 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 5 / 5

The book shows the hells of war from the point of a German private in World War I. The toils of losing friends, being a youth and having to grow up quickly to see death, not knowing who you are when you come home. It is a touching book in many levels and shows how war's humanizing and dehumanizing aspects.

A Random Walk Down Wall Street

  • Read: Tue May 12 11:42:30 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 5 / 5

This book covers most aspects of investment strategy. It covers the pitfalls of technical and fundamental analysis and what an appropriate strategy would be to get reasonable returns. He also covers a lot of issues with other methods of investing and gives a good list of index funds to choose from.

Breakfast of Champions

  • Read: Sat Apr 25 11:05:46 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Pretty well written but I was a bit confused about the end...

All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World

  • Read: Fri Apr 24 08:52:22 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Godin thesis is that marketing is telling a story that the consumer believes. We as consumers buy certain things not because there is an inherent need for that item but because we have been made to feel and believe a story that is being sold to us. When we buy an Apple item we believe the story of immaculate design and melting of technology and art, the story that Apple tells us, but we disregard the part where the conditions in which those items are made is subpar. We believe the a story when we go into a Starbucks, when we drink Coke over Pepsi, and even what kind of motor oil we buy. What Godin states is that a lot of these companies can charge a premium for their items because we as consumers have been foiled into their story and are willing to pay the price so we may have the experience.

Heart of Darkness

  • Read: Tue Apr 14 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 3 / 5

The book covers many themes including colonization and what it means to be civilized. But the book mostly dehumanizes Africa and Africans. Overall a dark view of colonization and its dehumanization of groups and their achievements because of the perceived superiority of the invading race. But the book is honest insofar as it acknowledges that the colonists agenda was to raid the continent with the undertone of civilizing them. Kurt then is the extreme colonist who is both able to get the most ivory but also able to "civilize" the people he comes in touch with but he does it in a burtal way. This extremity is perceived as bad by the other colonists.

The 7 Day Startup: You Don't Learn Until You Launch

  • Read: Sun Apr 12 16:01:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 3 / 5

Seems a very light digest into how to do an actual startup. It should be more accurately labeled how to bootstrap quickly in 7 days or something similar.

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

  • Read: Tue Apr 07 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 5 / 5

If you feel depressed about how little you have achieved in your life reading this biography won't make it any better. The amount of things that Roosevelt did before he even became president is immense. From writing multiple books, being a colonel, governor, cattle rancher, etc., etc. the list goes on.

The book itself is a bit dense and tiresome to read at times but it gives a pretty balanced view of Roosevelt's life and I hope to read the next book at some point.

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

  • Read: Tue Apr 07 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 4 / 5

If there is a book to pump you up about going on your own this would be it with all the positive examples that are laced in the book. But that is the double edge sword of reading it, you get the motivation to start but you don't really hear about the failures.

However, the point Guillebeau makes is that doing an idea should be as simple as figuring out something that you can offer people which gives value. Since startup costs are so low now it shouldn't be a big deal if you fail since you will have spend so little money on it.

Your Money: The Missing Manual

  • Read: Mon Apr 06 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 3 / 5

This book was mostly links to other references. It explained things at high levels but never felt like it dove into anything specific about personal finance. It is good as a reference for other things to read but if you looking at specific things to do it seems to fall short a bit. But I'd say it'd work as a book for someone trying to figure out personal finance for the first time.

Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

  • Read: Mon Mar 23 00:00:00 -0700 2015
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Quite a good read considering it has been about 10 years since the book has been published. I do wonder how things have changed in that time.

The Easy Way to Stop Smoking: Join the Millions Who Have Become Nonsmokers Using the Easyway Method

  • Read: Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 -0800 2015
  • Rating: 4 / 5

All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works--and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All

  • Read: Thu Jan 01 00:00:00 -0800 2015
  • Rating: 0 / 5

Power: Why Some People Have it and Others Don't

  • Read: Sun Oct 05 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Power is an interesting subject because as group animals we partake in it and it is a part of any large institutions. This book distills how to influence power dynamics in various ways and the potential pitfalls of doing so. It seems that it is lonely at the top...

The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring

  • Read: Tue Sep 23 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 4 / 5

I loved the first 75 pages and the last 100 pages but the middle was a bit of a bore. The first and last part was written with rich detail about the the redwoods, their biology, as well as what is found at the canopy of these gigantic trees. The last 100 pages cover the scientists who climb these giants to study them, the risks they take to understand the delicate canopy life that exists at the top of these trees.

Cat's Cradle

  • Read: Sun Sep 21 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Fight Club

  • Read: Wed Sep 10 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Fight Club is a book about men. It is a book about men who have absent fathers, going through the motions, never really enjoying what they are doing, defined by their possessions, etc. These seem to be all the ones that are specifically mentioned in the book. Basically a group absent of identity and empty of soul.

The book is, therefore, about this everyman, the narrator who doesn't have a name, who has an dual personality which is everything that he is not. The premise is the dual personality, Tyler Durden, creates a fight club and Project Mayhem a project to bring society back to a more tribal state. Essentially a metaphor about the conflict of the desire for tribalism and its fight with consumeristic individualism.

Overall a great book especially for the style it is written in which intersperses dialogue and thought between the narrator, his insomniac state, and Tyler Durden.

Musonius Rufus on How to live

  • Read: Wed Sep 10 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 4 / 5

Musonius Rufus is a Stoic philosopher like Marcus Aurelius. This text assembled by his students since Rufus himself didn’t write is similar to Meditations in that regard.


  • Read: Wed Aug 20 16:57:44 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 4 / 5

A list of ideas by the 37signals guys on how to run a company. Some things to think about including: not taking VC money, do the job as long as possible before hiring someone else to do it, hire slow that everyone is willing to share their opinion instead of having awkward unemotional talks. Overall a good read even though every company I have been at doesn't follow a word that it says.

The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses

  • Read: Sat Aug 16 00:27:29 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 4 / 5

The strenuous life is a collection of speeches and addresses that Roosevelt gave to encourage Americans to achieve Manifest Destiny. The book has both positive and negative qualities. The negative include Theodore's call to take land from the Native Americans and civilize them. But the positives are just as relevant today as they were then. A call to work not only to improve yourself but also to help grow the community, that every person has a role in society to uplift each other, that we can work to improve ourselves with limited welfare.

At the same time these come off as a bit preachy since Theodore was given a golden spoon which others didn't have. But he did hold the view that America by and large was a classless society in the Old World sense and manliness and virtue were what Americans value to grow the nation. It was people who took risks who made America and expanded it.

Overall quite a good read save the few parts where it becomes a bit preachy. A great call to action, if ever, to do your civic duty as an American and get off your ass.

Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training

  • Read: Fri Aug 15 15:04:58 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 5 / 5

This book teaches the correct form for barbell exercises. I keep returning to it time and again to fix my form and learn good technique. It is also very dense covering both the exercises and the biomechanics behind them. The section on doing squats is 80 pages alone. It’s a great reference for learning barbell based weight lifting.

Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks Build an Incredible Career

  • Read: Tue Aug 05 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 2 / 5

I don't know why I read this book. Seems like there was some advice which seemed reasonable but overall it could be grabbed by reading Thinking Fast and Slow or 4 Hour Work Week.

Treasure Island

  • Read: Wed Jul 30 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 3 / 5

I attempted to read this book when I was ten and got no more than 40 pages in before it became difficult for me to get through because of my difficulty to read the 19th century english. But I finally read it again and it was still a slog to get through. I mean the first 40 pages and the last 40 pages are good but the middle was a bit of a drag. Overall a good story of adventure which can no longer be possible. Not much to say other than it is a classic for a reason and most modern day costumes of pirates take after Long John.

Practical Programming for Strength Training

  • Read: Tue Jul 29 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Well to make it clear I didn't really finish the book because I didn't read the section on Intermediate and Advanced training. I probably would have never even gotten to the section on the Advanced training since it is for competitive lifters.

But overall this is a great book on understanding the physiological aspects of weight training and how to adjust weight training goals with the physiological response of the body. It really serves as a compliment to Starting Strength which goes through all the exercises that this book bases its training program on.

But the main thing I got out of the book is this: days of lifting are not when change happens, change happens on the days of rest after training when the muscles break down and get rebuilt. Further, as they get rebuilt they get rebuilt stronger so adding weight every time to the exercises would be a good way to improve until the point where it is no longer possible. After that is where the sections on Intermediate and Advanced training comes in and I haven't gotten through that because well I'm not there yet.

I Will Teach You to Be Rich

  • Read: Mon Jul 28 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 5 / 5

A book on personal finance which seems to be tailored towards people who don't really want to pay much attention to doing it. But it is a very good book with very practical advice on basic investment strategies, optimizing 401ks and automating your finance as much as possible for the future. Overall a solid first book on personal finance for someone in their 20s and early 30s.

Do the Work

  • Read: Sun Jul 27 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Good motivation for what is preventing you to work on the art that you want to work on.

The 4-Hour Workweek

  • Read: Wed Jul 23 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 4 / 5

This is a combination of Getting Things Done and 7 Habits with a modern take on work as a non 9-5 worker entails. Ferris's whole deal seems to be not work in one place and travel a lot and do non work things while working minimally. The way he seems to be doing this is to delegate as much as possible to virtual assistants and others. Overall a fun read but I feel like the info on the virtual assistants was sort of intriguing to do the stuff that you are not good at and having someone else do it.

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society

  • Read: Mon Jul 21 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 5 / 5

Probably one of the best books I've read explaining violence not only in the armed forces but in gangs. Grossman explains that in most wars prior to the Vietnam war most soldiers refused to kill. It was only about 15% of soldiers that killed during battles. What is interesting about this is that most people refuse to kill which should be a big pat on the back for humanity. But during the Vietnam war the training changed from training to conditioning. Soldiers were no longer being trained but being conditioned to kill through a B.F. Skinneresque reverse Clockwork Orange method.

Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

  • Read: Sun Jul 20 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 3 / 5

The latter two sections were not super helpful but the first section on how to organize the day to be effective was quite useful. Would recommend this to anyone trying to come up with a routine.


  • Read: Mon Jul 14 00:00:00 -0700 2014
  • Rating: 5 / 5