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. :)

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

BR 218: Mindset by Carol Dweck

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Comments: This is a seminal work. The concept underlying this is the same as in Marilee Adams’ book – Change Your Questions, Change Your Life. However, this makes the case for a growth mindset by adding a ton of well researched examples and a lot of scientific rigor.

Mindset is central to how we approach things. And, we always have a choice between fixed mindsets and growth mindsets.

The belief that people/adults cannot change wreaks a lot of havoc in the world. Here’s hoping more folks read this book.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Companies are better off reminding manager’s about Growth mindset first before doing any kind of training.

2. The best environments combine challenge and nurture. They involve high standards in an environment of trust.

3. Praise children for effort, not ability. When a child does something fast and perfect, Carol says – “sorry that was so easy and a waste of your time.”

Book notes here.

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

BR 217: Grit by Angela Duckworth

 

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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.

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

BR 216: Product Leadership by Richard Banfield, Martin Ericsson, Nate Walkingshaw

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Comments: There are few good books written on technology product management. So, I’d still recommend folks in product management to read it. However, the biggest challenge I had with this book was that it felt like a collection of quotes from various PMs around the world. I wish there had been more of a central thesis or hypothesis laid out.

Top 3 Learnings: 

1.  Product Management is the intersection between business, user experience, and technology.

Business: Primarily focused on optimizing a product to achieve business goals while maximizing return on investment
Ux: Voice of the customer and must be passionate about the customer and their problems.
Tech: Understand the stack and the level of effort involved.

2. The best roadmap is a strategic communication artifact that is focused on the big picture and conveys the path you’ll take to fulfill your product vision. Split roadmap into themes based on customer problems

3. The product leader as CEO idea is misleading. A better analogy would be the product leader as the captain of a sports team, a conductor of an orchestra, or a university professor guiding their class. Like the professor, conductor, or team captain, the product leader is an individual who succeeds only by bringing the whole team along with them, working toward a common goal.

Book notes here.

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

BR 215: The Bad Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang

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Comments: A perspective changer. I was aware of the IMF, The World Bank and the World Trade Organization thanks to social science classes in middle school. But, I had no idea of the role they play in (arresting) the development of developing nations.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Every developed country rose to power thanks to protecting infant industries via imposing tariffs or protecting patents. But, they’ve sold the idea of free markets to the world so it is impossible for countries developing right now to do it. The US was the most protectionist country in the world until the Second World War and grew the fastest. Britain and the US had tariffs as high as 50%.

2. This is particularly because the IMF, World Bank and WTO (i.e. the bad samaritans) are run by developed countries and only offer aid in exchange for policies that suit developed countries. It is very hard for poor countries to out-negotiate the rich countries in Geneva given paucity of resources.

3. In the first few years after 1900, multiple books described the Japanese as lazy, care free and emotional people. Similarly in the 1800s, the British and French described Germans the same way.
Economic development often creates the culture it needs. Hard work, time keeping, frugality often follow economic development.

Book notes here.

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

BR 214: The Right and Wrong Stuff by Carter Cast

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Comments: I am a biased reviewer here as this is written by one of my favorite Professors and a good (wise) friend. But, I think this is an important book and one everyone should have on their bookshelves. We all think about and talk about careers. We also talk about folks who are successful and folks who aren’t (or those who have derailed). This book brings together a lot of wisdom around what makes and breaks careers and packages it nicely.

Top 3 Learnings:

  1. Brilliant careers derail due to a variety of reasons. But, the biggest among them is a lack of self awareness that blinds a person to their tendency to overdo their strengths.
  2. 3 strengths/traits that accompany great careers – initiative, the ability to build positive relationships and a combination of perseverance and drive.
  3. The right stuff formula: (Job Skills + Industry Knowledge + Operational ability) x (3 Distinctive strengths/Derailers). This is a nice summary. Start with hard skills, industry knowledge and the ability to get stuff done. These are table stakes. Differentiate based on everything else.
3. SHELF it · Book Review Actions · Book Reviews · Philosophy · Psychology · Self Improvement

BR 213: The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

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Comments: The Obstacle is the Way is a book that reads almost as a beginner’s guide to stoic philosophy. If someone were to write a book about the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling, I’d expect this to be that book. A nice, positive read.

Top 3 Learnings:

  1. Courage is taking action.
  2. Out of 280 successful victories analyzed by historians, only 6 were a result of direct assault. In many of these, disadvantages were turned into advantages. :)
  3. Perception is how we see and understand what occurs around us—and what we decide those events will mean. Our perceptions can be a source of strength or of great weakness.