I just finished reading A Few Lessons for Investors and Managers From Warren Buffett by Peter Bevelin. It was a quick read with lots of quotes from various writings of Buffett categorized by topic. It was mainly around how they think about business and investments, and there were many great bits of wisdom. Below are my biggest takeaways and most memorable quotes.
I just finished reading my first book by Richard Branson: The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership. I've been impressed by how prolific Branson is and the breadth of successful businesses he has started; it's also great to see how supportive he is of the global entrepreneurship scene.
It was interesting to read about his upbringing and the founding stories of many of the Virgin companies. I thought the leadership lessons and takeaways were pretty conventional (I didn't find much new in this book), and I thought that too many sections of the book read like advertisements for Virgin companies. But the stories of the unconventional strategies used by Branson and his various executive leaders were fun to read. Branson is definitely a great role model for someone who can have a ton of fun while building an enormous empire according to his own rules.
I also collected a few pithy quotes that Branson included in his book like, "A good speech is like a woman's skirt: long enough to cover the subject but short enough to create interest" (Winston Churchill), "Leadership is the ability to hide your panic in front of others" (Lao Tzu), and "Live as if you're going to die tomorrow. Learn as if you're going to live forever" (Gandhi).
I heard about What I Learned Losing a Million Dollars by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan on Tim Ferriss's podcast. According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, it is "One of the rare noncharlatanic books in finance." That was enough of an endorsement for me because I know how many BS "get rich quick" and "how to earn a million dollars" books there are out there, and I buy in to the idea of learning from mistakes and via negativa.
I enjoyed the book, though mostly the first half. I found it a bit odd how the first half was an entertaining narrative demonstrating how the author kept getting lucky in the markets (and in life) and attributing that luck to himself and how "special" and "different" he must be whereas the second half was a much more academic and dry overview of cognitive biases and the trading psychology issues that led the author to lose his fortune. That firsthand account had many lessons within it which were fun to read, whereas the second half seemed like it was almost a totally separate book; I would've wanted to hear more interweaving and a return to the author's original voice from the first half even while going over the lessons in the second half.
I also yearned to hear about how the author "changed his ways" and what he did after losing his fortune and learning all these lessons; how did that change his trading (or career) and what he does now.
I just finished reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, who was a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon working on virtual reality (and spent some time as a Disney Imagineer!). It was a bittersweet tale of a professor in the last few months of his life as he recounted his life's dreams and his preparation for leaving his wife and kids live their life without him. It was inspirational, funny, and thought-provoking, and I was impressed by the humanity and humility of such an intelligent, scientific man.
Below is the actual video of his lecture at CMU, and below that are my main takeaways and nuggets from the book. It's so wonderful that he could share such meaningful lessons with the world.
I heard about Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Steven Kotler and Peter Diamandis on some blog post and thought it was an intriguing idea. I am typically optimistic and think there has been so much progress made in civilization, and I was curious to hear why the authors of this book were optimistic too.
The book was effectively a long catalog of many of the exciting technologies people have recently launched or are actively working towards across many fields such as robotics and medicine. It was nice from the one hand to hear about the many big problems facing the world and the different initiatives people are taking to fix them. But I found the book to be too descriptive of the current solutions and approaches, and so I think it will be quite dated in a few years. I would have preferred more detail on the actual problems because those are the entry points to real opportunities.
Even though I expected a bit more depth to the various arguments and less cataloging of examples, it was still an interesting read.
(It's been a wild and crazy busy summer for me, and the reading and all other hobbies have taken a toll. I'm now getting back into a better reading rhythm and hope to catch up soon.)
I've recently faced a number of personal and professional situations where people didn't live up to what they promised. To provide some tools and perspective for this situation, a colleague recommended I read Crucial Accountability: Tools for Resolving Violated Expectations, Broken Commitments, and Bad Behavior by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, and David Maxfield.
I had read their predecessor book, Crucial Conversations, and enjoyed that. This book was a nice build on the earlier one, and what I enjoyed most was the actual verbatim quotes and conversation snippets. I enjoy this sort of specific advice, with exact language that can be used in different scenarios, more than general, high-level advice.
One of my biggest takeaways is the CPR model of having accountability conversations. The first conversation should be about the content (C) of what went wrong. If the problem continues, the second conversation should be about the pattern (P). And the third should be about the relationship (R). But as I said, what I found most useful were the concrete examples of language for how to start these conversations and how to frame the accountability issues while maintaining respect and safety.
I just finished reading Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. I had it on my reading list for a while, and several people recommended it to me.
The book definitely was inspirational, and I liked many of its Zen-like lessons, such as about paying attention to life, being happy for no reason, and appreciating each moment you have. It also demonstrated the hard work it takes to make real change in life and the value of good teachers. The book reminded me a lot of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance; the fact that the teacher was a gas station attendant and car mechanic must have been an implicit nod to the Motorcycle inspirations.
What I didn't like were the several totally magical/fantastical/shamanistic elements; if these were brought down to earth and reality and explained as simple visualizations rather than as special powers of the teacher, I think it would have made the book lose less of its seriousness and value. Overall though, I did enjoy it and got many good ideas, inspirations, and butt kicks out of it, so it was all good.
I remember reading and enjoying Montaigne's essays in high school French class. A lot of the Stoicism works I've been reading recently referenced Montaigne's essays, so I figured I'd revisit them again by reading How to Live: Or A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell.
She took an interesting spin on Montaigne by explaining how he was the first writer to write about his own inner thoughts and experiences and what it meant to be alive. This was something new for his time, so you could say he was like the first blogger (with a fountain quill). He wrote about himself so others could see themselves in him and understand humanity overall. He
dealt with with his own public issues by writing about his private life and wrote about commonplace things with simple titles, drawing lessons from everything around him. He also read a lot about others and tried to learn from cultures very different from him, which is very rare for someone living in the 16th century.
I thought the book was alright, but I found it to be too much about history and background and less about the essays themselves. Like Montaigne, the author of this book would frequently change the subject and write about things unrelated to each chapter's title (maybe that was on purpose to demonstrate directly Montaigne's styles). I would have preferred more discussion of specific essays and the lessons within them and deeper discussion of the title question, "how to live."