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.
3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Career · Psychology · Relationships

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.
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).

3. SHELF it · Bio/Autobiographies · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Management · Psychology

BR 242: Principles by Ray Dalio

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

Comments: This is going to be a controversial rating for a book that has been lauded a fair bit in the mainstream media. Ray Dalio is a legendary investor and is clearly very smart. I just happened to follow his work via his videos and his “Principles” website after having done a case on Bridgewater in graduate school. So, a lot of the book wasn’t new to me. It would be in the “Buy it” category otherwise.

Top 3 Lessons: 

1. Ray Dalio’s success built on investing since he was 12 + reflecting on experiences + approaching every decision with a fear of being wrong (never being over confident).

2. First order and second order consequences are often in opposition. Unhealthy food has a good first auto consequence but a bad second out a consequence.
Question – Will you choose a painful healthy route or an unhealthy comfortable delusion?

3. Managers are engineers. They focus on setting up the machine to create the outcomes they seek. Build systems first, then put people in.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Fiction · Relationships

BR 238: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez

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

Comments: I read this over the holidays at the end of the year. It is a beautiful, poignant, story of a Mexican family who made it over the border to live a better life in the United States. I read it as a friend shared it as among her favorite books of the moment. Books have this magical ability to open your eyes to what someone else is going through.

This book does just that.

3. SHELF it · Money

BR 235: The Ivy Portfolio by Meb Faber

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

Comments: Interesting compilation of how endowment managers of the best Ivy league endowments manage their money. Very applicable to personal investing and offers a sliding scale of actions depending on how actively you want to manage your money.

Top 3 Lessons:

  1. Ivy portfolio is 20% each for
    • us stocks
    • International stocks (VWO has emerging stocks or GWX, EWX)
    • Bonds (consider TIPS)
    • Commodities – DBC, GSG (international) – could also do DBA, DBB, DBE, DBP
    • Real estate – VNQ, RWX (foreign real estate), IGF (infrastructure)
  2. If you really want to buy individual stocks, all institutional investors disclose their individual stock holdings. Why would you not follow them?
3. SHELF it · Business · Entrepreneurship · Technology

BR 234: Subscribed by Tien Tzou

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

Comments: This felt like subscription economy 101.. I guess I expected more. :)

Top 3 Lessons:

  1. With subscriptions, product companies are replaced by companies who put the customer first.
  2. When we said newspapers and music were dead, what we were really saying is that the old business model was dead.
  3. The move from access to ownership means everyone is creating a subscription business. And the presence of sensors means even old manufacturers are embracing it. Schneider electric is making elevators default to most used floors for example.
3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Creativity · Entrepreneurship · Leadership · Management

BR 226: Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull

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

Comments: This will be a fun read if you are a Pixar fan. I enjoyed Ed Catmull’s narration of the Pixar story as most other versions I’ve read focus largely on the genius of John Lasseter (who, as expected, is a key character in this book too). I think my rating for the book was tainted a bit because of the news around John Lasseter’s sexual abuse allegations. :-(

Top 3 Lessons:

  1. For all the care you put in artistry, visual polish doesn’t matter if you’re not getting the story right.
  2. Drawing well requires us to learn how to see. The difficulty with drawing is that we let our mental models of objects get ahead of us and get us to jump to conclusions. So, we lose track of what is actually on the page. Art teachers teach students to conquer this by getting them to draw an object upside down or by asking them to drag the negative space around the object – both of which don’t require mental models.
    This is applicable to problem solving. Don’t just look at the problem. Look at the context/situation around it. In Pixar, a scene could sometimes only be fixed by looking at the entire story or preceding scenes.
  3. If there is more truth in the hallways than meetings, you are in trouble. For managers who go out of the way to prevent surprises, get over it.