Great Books

Some of the recent books I have read and found illuminating
Daniel Pink
1.       A Whole New Mind: This is an absolutely original book and the author has done a great job in helping us think out of the box. He argues that the new world order requires more creativity and right brainers will rule the future. His main argument is we should be able to do something that cannot be done cheaper overseas, computers cannot do it faster and that appeals aesthetically. He explains the process through Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play and Meaning. I really enjoyed this book with great stories and made a great impact on me. He also provides resources which are extremely useful. One of the examples he gives is to maintain a gratitude log so write on every birthday the number of things you are grateful for. The number of things you are grateful for should total the number of your years. Also maintain a daily gratitude log to be thankful daily for things that are good in your life. Select one day a week to renew, turn off your email, cell phone and just reenergize yourself. Picture yourself at 90 years old, look from that vantage point on what accomplishments you have, how you have lived life and what you have contributed to make the world a better place.

2.       Drive: This is an amazing book and again Daniel Pink delivers great information with amazing examples. He says intrinsic motivation is more important than extrinsic rewards. He talks about carrot and stick motivation and argues successfully for theory I of motivation. There are 3 key discussion points on Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose. At the end of the book he also provides a tool kit for persons and organizations. Mastery involves deliberate practice and focus on working relentlessly on your improvement areas. Also set more learning goals than performance goals. Learning goals could be learning French while performance goal could be to get 90% in an exam. One of the other suggestions for parents is to give your kids one day where they are free to do anything, providing the tools they require but asking them to produce something concrete at the end of 24 hours. In the Type I for individuals he gives an idea about describing your life in one sentence. For example for Abraham Lincoln it is “He preserved the union and freed the slaves”. Give yourself a performance review frequently. Ask yourself where you better off today than you were yesterday and what you have done to move forward.
Jim Collins
1.       Built to Last: - This book is nearly 20 years old and I know there have been some arguments that some of the visionary companies that have been mentioned in the book are no longer visionary. However I still think the book merits a read and has some good examples that can be applied. I particularly like the concept of setting BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). Kennedy’s mission to the moon was a BHAG. It has to be simple, precise and easily understandable. Your BHAG might be to run a marathon, for organizations it could be to be number 1 or number 2 in a market. The fact is BHAG’s puts energy into individuals and organizations alike.

2.       Good to Great: This is an amazingly well researched book and has excellent concepts. I like the hedgehog concept which provides the following questions.
a.       What can you be the best at
b.      What are you deeply passionate about
c.       What provides an economic engine
 Some of the other concepts are the fly wheel effect and a culture of discipline. Interestingly he found that great companies had level 5 leaders who put the company first before their personal ambition. They did it with personal humility.
3.       Great by Choice:  This is again a thoroughly well researched book on what makes great companies. There are three qualities which distinguishes what the authors call 10X leaders.They are fanatic discipline, empirical creativity and productive paranoia. I also like the 20 mile march concept which basically says that irrespective of conditions keep moving 20 miles. He makes the comparison that if you initially do 40 miles in a day and then the next day you do only 5 you will not be successful. Also he gives example of the South Pole expedition by two explorers and how one team survived because of intensive preparation and another failed because of the lack of it. The authors also have a chapter on luck and what role it plays.
Jack Canfield:
1.       Success Principles: The author has provided a clear roadmap on how to get from where you are to where you want to be. It is a wonderful synthesis of all the success concepts ever found. I like the first principle which is take 100% responsibility for your life. Overall a very thorough summary of all principles on success. It also contains principles on building a success team, financial aspect as well. His main point is we are responsible for our success and if we blame others for our condition then there is no chance of long term success.
Walter Isaacson:
1.       Steve Jobs: This is a wonderful book on Steve Jobs. It gives a thorough analysis on the life of one of the business icons of all time. He talks about the reality distortion field which is Steve Jobs ability to buy other people on to his views. It also talks about his relationship with Bill Gates and has interesting anecdotes. There are also some points on the downside of working with Steve Jobs. Overall a wonderful inspiring story that will surely stand the test of time. Steve Jobs penchant for creating wonderful products and his obsession with controlling the user experience end to end is well chronicled.


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