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

BR 158: Decide To Play Great Poker by Annie Duke

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

Comments: A really good poker book. I was introduced to poker by a wiser friend and got very interested in the game as a way of thinking about decision making. As a result, I zoomed through some of the detailed case-situations. My goal was to understand the key principles that a beginner should know. I definitely got that from the book.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Poker is about 2 things – decisions and information. The information you collect feeds into your decision making. In the long run, the better the decisions, the better you will do at poker.

2. The best way to avoid making mistakes in contentious situations is to avoid getting to them altogether. You do that by making decisions easy for yourself. So, at every moment, think of second and third-order consequences -e.g., if I choose to play this hand, will it make my future decisions earlier? If not, fold.

3. Understand WHY you make every decision. Great players fold 80% of the time but, when they decide to play, they play decisively. Really understand why you’re making a decision

(No wonder every life situation has an equivalent poker analogy)

Book notes here.

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

BR 144: Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

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

Comments: I think the Heath brothers are the best business book authors out there. Made to Stick was brilliant. They managed to surpass it with “Switch.” And, against the odds, they’ve delivered another great book.

As always, a perfect blend of stories, research “wrapped” in an easy-to-remember and apply framework. I’ve begun implementing the learnings from this book already and I’m sure it will go on to be a very important part of my decision making.

(Add on Mar 16 2016: Quick add more than a year after writing this post: This book did impact my decision making and I carry the WRAP framework card in my wallet. )

Top 3 learnings:

Instead of 3 learnings, I’ll share a somewhat long overall synthesis. Please ignore the formatting – this is just a copy paste. You’ll see a better formatted learnographic on http://www.learnographics.com soon. :)

The first step to decision making is understanding the difference between kind environments and wicked environments.

Kind environments – where feedback is clear, immediate, and unbiased by the act of prediction. e.g. the weather.

Wicked environments – where feedback is unclear, delayed and biased by the act of prediction. e.g. stock markets, new products introductions.

“Gut” works well in kind environments e.g. if you are well trained in chess/football, you know there are only so many different possibilities. So, your gut is an important data point.

In the stock markets, however, the gut might be a data point but doesn’t suffice.  Life is also a wicked environment. As a result, we tend to make decisions with narrow frames and overweight the short term.

We need a good decision making process to make good long term decisions. Hence, the WRAP framework –

W – Widen your options (avoid narrow frames and “whether or not” decisions)

R – Reality test your assumptions (fight confirmation bias)

A – Attain distance before deciding (resist short term influences, make decisions aligned to core priorities)

P – Prepare to be wrong (don’t get cocky about your decisions)

W – Widen your options (avoid narrow frames and “whether or not” decisions)

  1. Make sure you have at least 3 options before making a decision – and think AND not OR – can you follow multiple options at once?
    Whenever you hear a decision being prefaced by “whether or not,” it is time to reconsider.

  1. Find someone who has solved your problem.
    Sam Walton who made many Walmart decisions by copying competitors.

  2. Toggle between “Promotion” and “Prevention” mindsets.
    Circuit City’s actions in the aftermath of the 2001 stock market crash was a perfect example – they cut down underperforming stores (prevention) and also invested in new product lines (promotion)

R – Reality test your assumptions (fight confirmation bias)

  1. Tripadvisor it!  Zoom out (consider base rates) and zoom in (take a close up)
    Pick a job like you would a sushi bar on tripadvisor. Speak to lots of people and get an overall rating. Then, take a close up at negative feedback.
    Similarly, when engaging with experts, don’t ask them for predictions. Ask them historical trends and understand them to really understand your probabilities of success.

  2. Fight confirmation bias – spark constructive disagreement by considering the opposite point of view
    Alfred Sloan, legendary CEO of General Motors, refused to make decisions if there wasn’t at least one opposing point of view.

  3. Ooch before you leap
    An “ooch” is a small experiment to test a hypothesis. Approach a decision like a designer approaches a design – put together a prototype first and gather feedback.

A – Attain distance before deciding (resist short term influences, make decisions aligned to core priorities)

  1. Identify and refer to your 3 core priorities
    Take stock of what matters to you. You might decide against that expensive car if your long term priorities are to save and invest wisely.

  2. What would you advise your best friend to do? / What would a new person do?
    Intel took one of it’s biggest decisions after years of debate – getting out of memory and focusing entirely on processors – by asking the question “What would a new person do?”

  3. Try the 10/10/10 rule
    How would you feel 10 minutes from now? What about 10 months from now? And 10 years from now?

P – Prepare to be wrong (don’t get cocky about your decisions)

  1. Bookend the future – view it as a full spectrum of possibilities
    A top fund manager creates a whole range of potential future stock prices and a list of criteria that would make the upper end of the range more of a possibility. Predicting the future is impossible – viewing it as a spectrum of possibilities is realistic and guards against over confidence.

  2. Set a tripwire/trigger to review your decision
    What if Kodak, who religiously followed their 1980 report that said digital cameras would not get mainstream in the next decade, had a set a “tripwire” saying that they would review their decision not to enter digital cameras if adoption was greater than 10%? Would it have filed for bankruptcy in 2010?

  3. Create a realistic job preview
    Call centers did a much better job of retaining employees when they gave them a one day job preview taking them through the worst situations they might face. This triggered all sorts of coping mechanisms and also increased determination among the future employees.

If you were to make a quick spur-of-the-moment decision, I’d suggest a quick version of the WRAP process

W – Make sure you have at least 3 options or find someone who has solved your problem

R – Tripadvisor it!

A – Identify and refer to your 3 core priorities

P – View the future as a spectrum of possibilities and set a tripwire

The key principle – Follow and trust the process. You might fail on individual decisions. That’s okay.

Bookbytes here and learnographic here.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Psychology · Skills

BR 111: What Every Body Is Saying by Joe Navarro

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

Comments: Nice book. Not necessarily the most entertaining book in the world but definitely has interesting insights.

Top 3 learnings:

1. The most honest parts of our body are our legs. As we move further up the body, we become increasingly dishonest as we learn to mask our emotions over time. As a result, if you see a couple in serious argument at a dinner table with their legs entangled – rest assured, all is well.

2. Any position that makes it hard for us to run is one that indicates our comfort. Our “lymbic” system is wired to react to any kind of threat. That explains why we immediately sit up when someone unknown enters a room (Especially if we are lying sprawled on the floor).

Another defence mechanism is covering important parts of our body. The best example here is the percentage of freshman girls who cover their chests with books.

3. Gravity defying gestures indicate happiness. Dancing, jumping, hugging, throwing our arms up are all gestures that define gravity and hence, indicate happiness.

Similarly, gestures that work with gravity i.e. shoulders drooping, head down etc indicate sadness. (Learnings here and here)

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

BR 109: Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin

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

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.

2. BUY it! · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Psychology · Skills

BR 89: Yes! by Robert Cialdini

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

Comments: Robert Cialdini doesn’t disappoint with this book. Well researched and well delivered piece of work. Lots of little nuggets and learnings.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. I recently blogged about ‘Even a penny will help’. And I am sure you will see more of these nuggets pop up.

2. Another one I remember is that we negotiate better when we are happy. Staying positive is of extreme importance to serial negotiators.

3. Our desire to be ‘consistent’ with who we have been in the past is very important to us. Hence, it matters a lot to us that we keep promises we made in the past, act in accordance to the way we behaved in the past.

4. Social proof matters a lot. The wisdom of the crowd does matter.

5. The best way to get people to buy into a big decision is to have them buy into smaller bits first. Before you request people to join a campaign to add more speed breakers for example, requesting them put up a sticker on their door that says ‘we love safe drivers’ (seemingly harmless step) goes a long way in increasing their probability of saying yes.

and many more..

(I took the liberty to exceed ‘3’ thanks to the nature of the small bite sized learnings in the book. Definitely Enjoyable..)

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

BR 83: Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman by Richard P Feynman

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

Comments: Richard Feynman narrates the story of his very interesting life. This is an exceptionally smart, extremely curious scientist who, aside from being a Nobel Prize winning Physicist, is also a part time drummer, painter and the like.I think there are a few nice things to learn from this book – especially Feynman’s strait jacketed approach to everything in life and his knack of figuring out a way to have fun.

A fun read.

Add on Mar 16, 2016: Years after reading this book, I’ve come to appreciate it more over time. What has stuck with me is Feynman’s learning focused approach to life. He was a master at picking up skills thanks to his openness and childlike curiosity. That idea is one that has stayed with me.

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

BR 62: The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto

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

Comments: Very good book if you are interested in being/are a consultant. This is an ex-Mckinsey consultant taking you through her approach to structuring thinking and writing. It is universal, easy to apply and definitely helps putting frames around all sorts of content and problems.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Self Improvement · Skills

BR 38: 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More by Stever Robbins

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

Comments: Stever Robbins’ team sent the book over via mail to Singapore so I could review it. For a small time blogger like me, it is massive inspiration. And after I finished the book, I found it to be on that fine line between ‘Shelf’ and ‘Buy’ as it does have a very wholesome collection of productivity hacks. In fact, to many a reader, it could be a ‘Read ASAP’ as well! It’s just that I’ve spent a good part of my past 3 years integrating these hacks into my life that most of them were not new to me. Good book all in all, though!

What to expect: 9 steps increase your productivity and each step typically contains a bunch of easy-to-execute hacks that are certain to improve your productivity if implemented.

3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Business · Skills

BR 37: The Unwritten Laws of Business by W J King

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

Comments: Fantastic book for anyone who is just about to enter into his/her first real job. It is a collection of rules that are fundamental to the working world but may not be all that obvious when you start out. It was written in the 1950s but is probably as relevant today as it was then.

Add on Mar 16, 2016: I don’t remember much but do remember finding it useful as a student. Then again, I don’t know if I’d change my recommendations having spent a few years working.

2. BUY it! · Book Reviews · Career · Psychology · Relationships · Self Improvement · Skills

BR 34: Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

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

Comments: Very very very good book. It clarifies that networking is really caring more than a next person, and that it can go a long way in taking you far in life!

What to expect: The story of a person who made it big thanks (in big part) to fantastic networking ability honed with time. It was an eye opener for me as it clarified what networking really is – making an effort to reach out, connect and care. And most importantly, it made me realize that keeping in touch is, and requires, hard work!!

Do I recommend this book?: Very good book. Almost a great one – not so much on the story line but very high on learnings and impact! :)

Add on Mar 16, 2016: This was one of the first business books I read. Definitely impacted me very positively!