1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Self Improvement · Skills

BR 109: Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

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Comments: A very very compelling book built off the research of Anders Ericsson. Must read. Enough said.

Top 3 Learnings: There were many many learnings I took away from the book. Here are the top 3 that come to mind –

1. Deliberate practice is everything. EVERYTHING. Deliberate practice is what differentiates the average from the greats. It’s not just about 10,000 hours. It’s 10,000 hours of deliberate practice that makes the difference.

2. Over time, deliberate practice changes the constitution of our brains. When we look at top performers and say they are ‘different’, we are actually spot on. They are different because their practice has developed that particular part of their brains. So, in short, we are probably born with similar capabilities but the hours we spent developing our craft/ability is what separates us in the long run.

3. It’s all cumulative. Ability accumulates over time. And, there’s no such thing as talent.

4. So how does a kid become a genius? The typical genius starts very early and is egged on by her  parents (not pushed, but egged). As she grows up, she develops the necessary intrinsic motivation that comes from experiencing success. That’s generally the beginning of something very special..

Great book. Must read. Go get it. You won’t regret it.

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Philosophy · Psychology

BR 100: The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

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Comments: Fitting that the 100th book review would be about one of the best books I have read.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Emotions trump logic ANY day! The relationship between the two is akin to a rider atop an elephant. If the elephant (emotions) decides to go some place, the rider makes up reasons to go to that place.

2. We all have natural thresholds for happiness. Some have higher thresholds – that’s natural. What that means is that our happiness levels fluctuate between a range. And it gives us a simple goal –  stay on the top end of the range!

3. Everything in moderation..

4. Little things done daily have huge impact on our happiness. Keeping a journal, reflecting, counting our blessings etc

I really could go on. This is one of those books that you will never regret reading. A true masterpiece. Go get it.

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Psychology

BR 92: Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

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Comments: Another masterclass by the Heath brothers. This book is a gold mine of learnings, stories and inspiration – under the excuse of ‘Change’. Switch aims to describe how to drive change when change is hard.

Top 3 Learnings:

If I went down the learnings path, I would go on forever.  At the time of writing, I have already featured 2 book learnings here , here and here. And many more to come. Rest assured, this book is top class.

2 lines that have stuck..

1. What looks like a people problem is often a situation problem.

2. What looks like resistance is often a lack of clarity.

And of course, the learning on Elephants and Riders is a paradigm shifter!

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Psychology · Self Improvement

BR 87: Change Your Questions Change Your Life by Marilee Adams

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Comments: 1 week after buying this book, I gifted 7 copies to friends and family and 2 others bought copies thanks to me raving about it.

The best thing about this book is it’s simplicity and the fact that the book’s learnings can be synthesized into 1 key concept – The Choice Map – THAT is genius!

Top 3 Learnings:

1. We are the questions we ask ourselves. And it is only by changing our questions can we change anything.

2. Questions drive results.

3. At every moment, we have a choice between being a ‘learner’ or being a ‘judger’. A learner asks questions like ‘what can I do to improve the situation? What can I learn from this?’ while a judger asks questions like ‘Why are things so bad? Why am I so bad?’ leading us down a negative path.

The single most powerful idea for me from the book is that every time we feel negative (i.e. low energy, upset, angry, jealous etc etc), it is likely because we are asking ourselves ‘judger’ questions. (See The Choice Map) And the moment we catch ourselves feeling negative, we have the power to switch, ask ourselves learner questions and get positive!

Very powerful stuff.

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Management · Novel Concepts and Interesting Research · Self Improvement

BR 85: First, Break All The Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman

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Comments: Thorough and well researched piece of work. This books beautifully synthesizes 25 years of research into what it takes to be a ‘Great Manager’ and puts it in front of our eyes.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. The Greatest managers focus squarely on strengths

2. We gravely misunderstand the importance of ‘talent’. Conventional management tells us anything is possible and that if we set our mind to it, we can do whatever we want. Great managers understand that an attribute such as ‘calm under pressure’ is a talent and no amount of training can help hone it in people who don’t have that talent.

This ties right back to the 1st point. The simple idea is that we all have our own specific sweet spots – we need to find them and hone them!

3. Great managers build very close personal relationships with their top performers. How else can you get under their skin and push them? :)

And one last learning (this was a great book!), do check out the 12 questions.

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Psychology · Self Improvement

BR 81: Ready for Anything by David Allen

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Comments: Top class productivity book from the master. David Allen delves into the ‘why’ behind time management. He also cushioned the (expected) staid flow of content with tons of inspiring quotes. I loved it!

I loved this book it had lots of simple ideas to streamline our productivity and workflow with a focus on ‘why’ rather ‘what’. In his classic book, Getting Things Done, David Allen focused more on the ‘what’ – practical tips and trips. This book focuses a lot more on the science behind it – how our brain works and how we can use this knowledge to alleviate stress and get things done!

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business

BR 79: Too Big To Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin

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Comments: I was hesitant to read this as I was not a fan of finance related books then. While the financial crisis intrigued me, I still wasn’t convinced if I was prepared to go through an 18 hour audio.

This book, however, is riveting. It is the financial crisis from the perspective of the massive characters/egos who battled hard to save the world from a complete meltdown. The book got me feeling up close and personal with all Wall Street CEO’s like Fuld, Dimon, Pandit, Mack, Blankfeid etc, key US treasury, federal officials like Paulson, Geithner and the like. It took me on an emotional journey that had me smiling at Jamie Dimon’s tact and diplomacy, marveling at the real power and weight that Goldman Sachs carries with it, gasping at the holes in AIG’s balance sheet  and feeling sad at Dick Fuld’s fate along with that of Lehmann Brothers. I can go on forever on this book.. it is one of the best books I have read, period.

And full credit, of course, to Andrew Ross Sorkin as it is rare to come across a book so well written.

 

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · History

BR 55: A Splendid Exchange by William J Bernstein

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Comments: There are many different kinds of books. Some, like the ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective people’, can change the way you think about life and yourself. Those are very impactful, of course. But, if you are looking for a book that would change the way you looked at the world, it’s history and how it ended up in it’s current state, there are probably few books that can match ‘The Splendid Exchange’. This is a classic!

The book is a story of the world from the eyes of trade, and traders. In essence, it is a history of the world presented from a different (and you might argue, more balanced) lens.

If I had to mentally think of a list of the best books I’ve read, this book would be right up there – regardless of genre or type.

Add on Mar 16, 2016: Thoughts of reading this book still gives me goosebumps. I feel like I should go back and re-read this at some point.

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Psychology · Self Improvement

BR 51: You don’t have to be born brilliant by John Mcgrath

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Comments: Fantastic book. It is extremely high on impact and inspired me to no end to get disciplined and start designing systems to manage myself. This is the story of an Australian real estate entrepreneur who had the  lowest scores  in the Australian school system but ‘made it’ thanks to enormous amounts of self discipline.

It is, to me, the tale of a millionaire (not an obscenely rich one) who manages to focus on family and business thanks to tremendous amounts of focus and, of course, self discipline. I love the systems he’s got in place to manage himself.

Add on Mar 16, 2016: It was my first “systems thinking” book and had a huge impact on the way I approach life.

1. Read ASAP! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Philosophy

BR 49: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

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Comments: The Alchemist is one of the best selling books of all time and it isn’t without reason. Very touching, very metaphorical yet, very real. The book tells the journey of a Spanish sheperd who decides to follow his dream of finding a treasure. This is fraught with complications, of course, as it requires him to go to the pyramids and as a result, cross the Sahara desert. And that journey is one that changes his life..
(Saying any more would spoil the plot if you haven’t read it)

This is one of those books that deserves to be right on top of your priority list. I remember being SO excited to finish listening to this book (especially thanks to the fascinating narrative) that I finished the book in 2 sittings  – the 2nd of which involved forsaking sleep so I could get to the end of the story.

My favorite quote – “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”