2. BUY it! · Creativity · Novel Concepts · Psychology · Technology

BR 232: Algorithms to Live By Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

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

Comments: Really fun, geeky, book that doubled up as being insightful and applicable.

Top 3 Lessons:

  1. Explore/exploit: Exploration early in the lifecycle is the right strategy. Kids were considered intellectually deficient. But, as researchers opened up to the idea that they were in the exploration phase of their life, it made sense. Same with smaller social networks for the elderly.
  2. Wrong lesson from the marshmellow test. University of Rochester researchers exposed kids to an adult who promised to bring them better supplies but didn’t. When those kids were exposed to the marshmellow test, they did far worse.

    Willpower is important in enabling kids to be successful. But, it is likely more important for kids to grow up in an environment where they trust the adults they grow up with. Still a small sample (28 kids) but worth revisiting the learning.

  3. Prisoner’s dilemma has a dominant strategy that is worse for everyone. Unlimited vacation works like that because everyone wants to be perceived as a little more hard working. Equilibrium is 0.
    The only way companies can get around that is by shifting equilibrium – e.g. enforce x weeks of mandatory vacation.

Book notes here.

2. BUY it! · Career · Novel Concepts · Philosophy

BR 231: Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris

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

Comments: An enjoyable book with many nuggets of life advice that will likely resonate with you depending on when you read it.

Not top, but the first 3 Lessons:

  1. Susan Cain – “You will hear so many stories of people who risked everything in order to achieve this or that goal, especially creative goals. But I do not believe that your best creative work is done when you’re stressed out because you’re teetering on the edge of bankruptcy or other personal disasters. Just the opposite. You should set up your life so that it is as comfortable and happy as possible — and so that it accommodates your creative work.”
  2. Tim Urban – “Society loves to glorify the “you-as-CEO” paths and make people who don’t want to be the CEO of their own career feel inferior about their path, but neither of these paths is inherently better or worse than the other — it just depends on your personality, your goals, and what you want from a lifestyle. There are some super smart, talented, special people whose gifts are best expressed as CEO and others whose are best expressed when someone else is worrying about keeping the lights on and you can just put your head down and focus on your work. Likewise, there are some people who need to be CEO to find their work fulfilling and others for whom being CEO and having their work bleed into everything is a recipe for misery.”
  3. Graham Duncan – “I like to think about careers through Dan Siegel’s model of a river flowing between two banks, where one side is chaos and the other side is rigidity.. It’s critical to remember you can always choose to course-correct and swim toward structure or chaos, apprenticeship or freedom, depending on what you need at that moment, what tempo and phase of your career you want to be in, which riverbank you’re coming from and where you want to go.” Advice to himself – be more patient with the rigid side where you’ll likely find yourself in your early life.”

There are literally the first 3 quotes from my book notes. There are many ideas that have stuck with me. Rest of the book notes here.

2. BUY it! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Money

BR 225: Simple wealth, Inevitable wealth by Nick Murray

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

Comments: I am a fan of personal finance and investing books and enjoy reading one every year or so. For the most part, they serve as a nice reminder to me to be thoughtful about saving and investing. This book was particularly interesting because Nick Murray makes a strong case for working with a financial advisor. This is contrary to nearly every other famous investing books. Nick is biased by his own experience as a financial advisor and author of books for financial advisors of course. But, he is upfront about those biases. While it didn’t result in me engaging in an advisor, it inspired me to speak to one. While it was definitely not the right time, I might still end up taking his advice some day in the future. He also hammers home the point that ownership (via stocks) is the only route to wealth.

Top 3 Lessons:

  1. Most wealth is lost not by bad investments but by bad behavior. Fear has a greater grasp on human action than the impressive weight of historical evidence. And, there’s a financial advisor out there for you who is going to be worth every cent you pay (typically 1% of your investments) in terms of adding to your gains, avoiding weaknesses and saving time.
  2. Stocks are the only strategy for long term wealth. Once you adjust for inflation and taxes, bond return is near zero. The real long term return of equities is so much greater than that of bonds that holding bonds is irrational for the true wealth seeker – people fatally underestimate the risk of not holding stocks
  3. Ownership is the only route to wealth. The great long term financial risk isn’t the loss of principal but the erosion of purchasing power = money. Stocks increase in value and raise dividends at a much greater rate than inflation saps our purchasing power.

Book notes here.

2. BUY it! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Career · Creativity · Novel Concepts · Psychology

BR 222: When by Dan Pink

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

Comments: Dan Pink, like the Heath brothers, is a specialist at condensing tons of great research into a few digestible ideas. He does that again by bringing together a ton of great research on timing with “When.”

Top 3 Lessons: I’ve gone with 5 as there were many cool nuggets.

  1. All studies on energy show a spike in the morning, a trough in the afternoon and a rebound in the evening. This is because nearly 70% of the population are “larks” and have spikes in the morning (stays true for most of life except in our teenage years – where most of us become “owls”). The afternoon trough is dangerous – more surgery mistakes, more accidents, and lower test scores.
  2. American Association of Pediatrics in 2014 and even the CDC have issued guidance that middle schools and upward should have starting times after 830. Starting early for kids who are going through prime owl years is a recipe for lower test scores, tardiness, less learning and even more accidents.
  3. Endings matter a lot. At the end of your week, note what you have accomplished, plan the next day, and send a thank you to someone.
  4. Managers email response time to their subordinates was a leading indicator of their subordinates happiness. (Fascinating)
  5. Living in the present isn’t always great advice. Instead, life requires us to integrate our past, present and future.

Book notes here.

2. BUY it! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Creativity · Marketing · Novel Concepts · Psychology · Relationships

BR 221: The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath

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

Comments: I love books by Chip and Dan Heath. While this book didn’t resonate as strongly as Decisive (their previous book) did, I thought it brought together lessons on a very important topic, Great moments are what we remember in this life. Understanding how these get made is, thus, as important a lesson as any.

Top 3 Lessons:

  1. A formula for excellent mentorship: High expectations + Assurance + Direction + Support
  2. Responsiveness is the key to strong relationships. It means you are attuned to the other person. The idea that physicians ask patients “what matters to you” revolutionized children’s healthcare in Scotland.
    Do we understand what matters to the people we care about? (Deep questions, thus, are a great way to get to know people.)
  3. In the short term, we often choose to fix problems over creating moments. In the long term, that backfires. Moments are not a means to the end, they are the end. They are what we remember in the end.

Book notes here.

2. BUY it! · Bio/Autobiographies · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews

BR 219: Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haims

 

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)
*A category 2 – BUY it book if are based in the US

Comments: This is a powerful, often riveting, memoir of a thoughtful, hard working mixed race woman’s experience growing up in the United States. I went to graduate school in the US and had many discussions with friends of various races (often in the same room) about race relations in the US. While all of those brought increased awareness about how things were, this book would have done the job in 6 hours. :)

2. BUY it! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Psychology · Self Improvement

BR 217: Grit by Angela Duckworth

 

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

Comments: Solid book. Angela Duckworth has clearly done a lot of interesting research and worked with the who’s who in the psychology world. There are moments in the book when grit is over sold – but, I think that comes with the territory of writing a book on the subject.

My view is that grit is a second order virtue. It follows a growth mindset. So, I’d recommend Mindset by Carol Dweck above most psychology books as a result. :)

Top 3 Learnings: 

1. Skill = Talent x effort, Success = Skill x effort

Grit is passion + perseverance.

2. Grit based parenting is combination of high standards and consistent support (clinically – authoritative but can be confused with authoritarian)

3. Jeff Canada – famous for improving outcomes for kids in poverty in New York – did so with a comprehensive approach including summer and after school programs that was based on research. But, he also added one thing that wasn’t based on the research-extracurricular activities. He said he did this because “he liked kids.” He treated kids in his school just like he treated his own. He enjoyed watching them learn and grow. This extra curricular difference illustrates why low income kids have a difficult time catching up. Poorer schools cut these critical programs.

Book notes here.