My friend recommended Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport, and I just finished reading it. It gave me a lot to think about and ideas to consider for "minimizing the shallow" in my life and carving out more periods of time for work on the long-term, less urgent, deeper things that matter more.
I definitely have found myself falling into the trap of shallow work. The deep vs. shallow concept also reminded me of the maker vs. manager schedule by Paul Graham. When you're a founder, there are elements of the job that are deeper and elements that are shallower, and figuring out how to balance between them isn't easy. This book gives some good advice on setting up a balanced schedule with different types of approaches offered to move back and forth.
I definitely think this book is helpful for founders and others wondering how to free up more time for deeper work. Below are my main notes and takeaways.
Over the past year, I heard recommendations from multiple unrelated people to read The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building by Matt Mochary, Alex MacCaw, and Misha Talavera. Wow, am I happy I listened to their advice.
This book is easily the best business book I've read in the past 5 years at least and top 3 in the past 10 years. The title doesn't do it justice. The title made me think it's a book just for CEOs (it's not) and that it's a book just about CEO skills and inner game (it's not). It goes way beyond both of those.
For me, this book is basically a distillation of best practices from the most effective entrepreneurs and companies and most useful books of all time. It's strategic, practical, tactical, and opinionated. I loved all the examples as well as the exact scripts to use in various situations. The subtitle of the book is probably the more apt description: "The Tactical Guide to Company Building." I am so appreciative of the author's hard work to distill all these lessons and best practices into one text and to even share it freely for other entrepreneurs to learn from. This is the kind of book I know I will want to re-read multiple times and reference over the years. I've now already recommended it personally to several other founders I know.
As an indication of how much I liked it, my notes on the book (below) span 33 pages (I took all the notes before I realized the author shared an early version of the entire book for free, but it's not all time wasted since my own note taking and filtering probably helped me internalize the material better).
If you're working on a company, you have to read this book.
I really enjoyed Ben's previous book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things (especially the rap intros to each chapter). I recently heard on Tim Ferriss's podcast about Ben's newly released book, What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture. Based on how much I liked the first book, I decided to read the new one.
I found the stories and historical anecdotes interesting, and I also enjoyed hearing more "war stories" from Ben about his previous startups. I did enjoy this second book a little less than the first; its core messages were less impactful/applicable. The beginning and end of the book were solid, but the middle didn't seem to connect and flow as well in one cohesive narrative. As a book focused on culture, it did teach some important lessons; I just was hoping it would've been weaved together as well as the first book. In any case, it was still enjoyable and instructive.
Below are some of my notes and takeaways from the book.