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BR 252: Trillion Dollar Coach by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Got off to a promising start as it promised to detail how Bill Campbell became such an influential executive coach. However, it quickly just became a gushing list of platitudes. So, the book works as a lovely memoir if you knew Bill Campbell in some ways. For folks who’d like to learn more about the “how” behind Campbell’s magic, it falls short.

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BR 250: Who Gets What and Why? by Alvin E Roth

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: This was a case of reality unable to meet expectations. Prof Roth is a Nobel Prize winner thanks to his pioneering work on creating a market for kidney transplants and it was recommended by a good friend who works with me on our hiring marketplace at LinkedIn. The book started off with plenty of promise as he spoke about the impact of marketplaces in our lives.. but the book was understandably focused on the marketplaces he’s worked on (kidney exchange, school enrollment, and law clerk enrollment). It is great in many respects and opened my eyes to some of the complexities involved in these markets.

It was just not what I was seeking. :)

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Creativity · Design · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Technology

BR 249: Alchemy by Rory Sutherland

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Book of the year. It’s impact on me was as follows – every time I hear someone say “that makes sense – should work” or something similar, I stop in my tracks and remind myself that things that the idea that things that make sense should work is a falsehood.” Alchemy has put in a reminder as strong as any that things that work don’t need to make sense and that a dash of alchemy is often what we need to solve problems. In that sense, its impact on me was profound.

Top 3 Lessons: 

1. The opposite of a good idea is often a good idea. The most successful supermarkets post recession were either really cheap or really expensive. Luxury brands work. So do mass market ubiquitous ones.

2. The Earl of Sandwich asked for a type of food that would allow him to eat without leaving the gambling table. The sandwich since has received mass adoption. But innovation happens at the edges. Not for the average user.

3. Why do we have reason? So many animals have survived just fine without it and evolution doesn’t plan for the future and predict reason will be necessary for us to send someone to the moon. One interesting theory is that we developed reason as a way of justifying our actions to others – a necessary investment in a legal and PR department in a highly social species.

It is honestly really hard to bring this down to a top 3.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Technology

BR 248: Valley of Genius by Adam Fisher

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: This book would be category 2 if you are a technology buff. It is a wonderfully put together collection of commentary of the story of Silicon Valley in a unique format – as excerpts from various interviews. I loved the first half of the book as there was a lot about the early history of the valley that was new to me.

Top Lessons:

  1. I was frequently reminded of the notion of clusters of talent. It happened at Fairchild Semiconductor (leading to Intel), happened at General Magic (leading eventually to the iPhone), and then at PayPal and so on.
  2. History doesn’t repeat itself.. but it does rhyme. A lot of the issues around content moderation were faced in “The Well” and a lot of what Napster struggled with was a precursor to Spotify.
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BR 247: The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: The Algebra of Happiness is a nice collection of his weekly newsletters with many nice nuggets. This book didn’t rank as high on my list as I’d already seen most of the content. I guess I was looking for something I hadn’t seen when I read the book.

Top Lessons:

  1. Hard work and lack of balance early in your career has a disproportionate impact later in your career. Speed matters. There’s no right way to do it. It involves trade offs.
  2. Most important decision you make is who you marry. Good sex is 10% of a good relationship but bad sex can be 90%. Aside from that, your values – especially on money matter a lot.
  3. The ratio of how much you sweat to watching others sweat is a leading indicator to success.
1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research

BR 246: The Diet Myth by Tim Spector

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: A must read. Tim Spector is a geneticist who does a fantastic job tackling the many myths that surround nutrition. This is a book I’ve recommended in every conversation about diet since.

Top 3 Lessons:

1. There is no perfect diet because it is an interaction between the person’s gut microbes and the food. Everyone reacts to different things differently.

2. Focus on natural, plant based, foods, Milk and food with living bacteria (yoghurt, cheeses), etc., are recommended. You won’t go wrong with diet that worked for your grandmother. Everything is best in moderation.

3. Avoid artificial/synthesized food, vitamins, and antibiotics.

4. SOMEDAY it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Management

BR 245: Brave New Work by Aaron Dignan

Category: 4 – SOMEDAY it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: I think this might work for folks who are working in an old-world industry with no exposure to technology driven workplaces. It didn’t work for me. I got through 80% of the book before I quit.. so, I might have missed something game changing in the last 20%…

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Design

BR 243: Microinteractions by Dan Saffer

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: An interesting book on the importance of getting the small details in Ux design right.

Top 3 Lessons:

1. When microinteractions are done well, you get to design “signature moments” – e.g. “You’ve got Mail.”

2. The more frequent the microinteraction, the more visible it should be.

3. The best, most elegant, microinteractions are often those that allow users a variety of verbs with the fewest possible nouns. E.g. users can enter any credit card and the field auto detects which one it is (versus asking users to select a credit card first).