Three major things changed in my life in 2017.
The combination of those three things has inspired me to start consuming content again. You see, I have been on a content diet for the last five years.
So, here are some books and podcasts I’ve enjoyed and recommend. One thing to note, I hate reading and listening to fiction books. I’ve only ever consumed non-fiction books my whole life except for the required reading in grade school. I much prefer Graphic novels as a medium for fiction.
I really enjoyed Ray’s dedication to understanding the “truth” in all things. His obsessions of seeking things based on logic and absent of emotional guesses are inspiring. His concrete list of achievements is hard to ignore. However, I would only suggest reading the first half of the book. That part of the book is written by him and focuses a lot on his biography and his thought process. The later parts of the book are more of “Checklist of things to do be to be like Ray” which I find a little too “self-helpish” for my taste. It’s filled with anecdotes such as “4.4 If it is your meeting to run, manage the conversation.” and “5.5 Disagreeing must be done efficiently.” Some might find these bullet point phrases useful, but overall I’d suggest avoiding them. Developing your interpretation of a concept is a valuable exercise.
Very entertaining and inspiring memoir of Phil Knight. However, I would recommend the Audible book version above all else. It’s beautifully read by Norbert Leo Butz, a fantastic Broadway theatre actor. He adds such colour and depth with his perfectly placed pauses. I will warn you that this book is neither tactical nor strategic, it’s just entertaining. The book lacks any tangible “business lessons”, but makes up for it with vivid lines such as
The interior designer put a chair shaped like a baseball mitt in my office. She thought would it be funny. “Here you can sit here thinking sports all day”. “I sat there staring out the window like a foul ball, everyday “
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
I’m late to the party with this gem. There’re more than enough nice things said about it. One point that surprised me was how much Ben Horowitz’s wife played in the overall story. You will find, in this self-biography, many scenarios that make even the most experienced entrepreneur’s heartache. However, you will also discover that having the right person by your side makes all the difference.
I read this book almost two years ago. Personally, I find this book to be one of the best books to read when trying to expand your perspective of the world. Peter Thiel has one of the most strategic minds in the universe. When finishing this book, you realize how small your vision of the world actually is. Also important to note, your agreement or disagreement with his concepts is not relevant. Just peeking into his multi-level-chess mind is more than eye-opening.
Here are titles I’m still in the middle of finishing. Will come back with a review of them if they’re worth mentioning.
Best thing I’ve learned about reading/listening to books: It’s okay to quit. Most books get boring for me 30% through so a lot I don’t finish.
Some books I read or listened to in 2018 with a snippet about my feelings about them.
Team of Teams – Not bad. But the most interesting part is how ISIS is like a startup and the US government is like a big-slow-brick-n-mortar company playing catchup.
The Hard Thing about Hard Things – Super good read. One of the most riveting and heartbreaking ones. Only book that gave me real pain when reading.
Playing to Win – Surprisingly also quite good. Great people who are trying to understand what “Strategy” is. I would say this book is useless unless you actually apply the concepts in your life. Then the concepts feel a lot more vibrant. If you don’t then you risk looking like an annoying wannabe consultant.
Measure what Matters – Was shocked how good this classic book is. We use OKRs at work and we’ve been doing quite a few things incorrectly. This helped course correct.
Delivering Happiness – Never thought I’d like this book. But it’s beautiful in its simplicity. Also Tony Hsieh’s voice really makes it feel more real.
Good Strategy/Bad Strategy – prefer the Playing to Win one better. But also not bad.
Nudge – Boring, stopped after page 20 or so. Too over simplified psychology concepts.
12 rules for Life – My favorite book I’ve read up to this point in my life.
Secret Empires – I fairly enjoyed this. It feels like a raw investigative reporting on the ties of American Politicians and their under table dealings. This book leaves a bad taste in Democrat mouths but (at least from what I can tell) it’s fairly accurate to the truth.
Factfulness – So far so good. The first 15 pages will hook you.
Narconomics – This is fun only because the math is so relatable in my day to day.
The Fish that Ate the Whale – Had high hopes for this but became super fucking boring fast.
Debt – I thought this was going to be much more math heavy. It’s not – it’s more about the concept of DEBT. Which is interesting if you’re in the mood for that. I prefer more technical topics.