Sunday Book Review : The First 20 Minutes by Gretchen Reynolds

The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live LongerThe First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can: Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer by Gretchen Reynolds

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gretchen did a fabulous job challenging every major assumption, wives tale and commonly held belief that we have around exercising. Do you stretch before and after exercise before strenuous exercise? Do you carb load the day before an endurance event? Do you make sure to hydrate yourself frequently during that tennis match, marathon or soccer game? If so, you may be amazed at what modern science is telling you about many of these things.

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Sunday Book Review: Nudge by Richard Thaler

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and HappinessNudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard H. Thaler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thaler and Sunstein give an ample dose of psychology and behavioral economics to define the process of “choice architects”. Coining a new view (libertarian paternalism) on when and we shouldn’t nudge peoples behavior through influence.

When it comes to human behavior they classify human nature into two groups: homo economicus (the rational ideal) and everyone else (humans). We all tend to think of ourselves as the rational ideal, that which is laid out by economists. However, we rarely fall close to that tree.

Like Dan Arielly and other behavioral economists have show us, we tend to be Predictably Irrational. Whether it be logical fallacy or influence from others, we just aren’t the ideal.

Ultimately they lay out two systems of thinking. The “Reflective” and the “Automatic” systems. The Automatic system is that which is instinctive. Why do you duck when someone throws something at you? The Reflective system is deliberate and self-conscious. How did you decide what to wear this morning?

Because of these differences and conflicts between these systems, people are often subject to making mistakes that are the result of widely occurring biases, heuristics, and fallacies. Including anchoring, availability heuristic, representativeness heuristic, status quo bias and herd mentality.

The pair goes on to quite about how libertarian paternalism and choice architecture could be used to influence policy for better outcomes. At this point if you are a “political” person you will likely be highly turned off because they are not shy about the logic that should exist in policy. Many politicos are far more emotional than logical in ideology. You have been warned.

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Sunday Book Review : Getting Real by 37 Signals

Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Web ApplicationGetting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Web Application by 37 Signals

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

David and Jason were ahead of their time. Preaching a more simple way. There were others at the time talking about doing things different, but these guys were making it real. A lot has changed for them since they wrote the book, but a lot in the industry has stayed the same. Looking forward to another young, hungry company to show up on the scene and rewrite some more rules. Getting even more real. We could use it.

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Sunday Book Review : The Oz Principle by Roger Connors

The Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational AccountabilityThe Oz Principle: Getting Results through Individual and Organizational Accountability by Roger Connors

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Refreshing book that talks about accountability. It isn’t evil and it has a bad reputation. As someone who deals with commitments and visibility of work in teams, it feels like people are distancing themselves more and more from this style of think. I think that is a mistake. The book could have been half as long and the phrases “above the line” and “below the line” are used at least once per paragraph. The writing style leaves a lot to be desired but the content is definitely worth putting up with it.

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Sunday Book Review : The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely

The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone--Especially OurselvesThe Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves by Dan Ariely

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you like Dan Ariely’s stuff you will like this book. If you don’t, you won’t. It does a good job of putting forth a number of experiments to get to the bottom of lying, deception and dishonesty. What you find might surprise you. Does culture matter? How you were raised? Your gender? Your potential gain in lying? I thoroughly enjoy hearing about the data in detail.

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Sunday Book Review : Enjoy Every Sandwich by Lee Lipsenthal

Enjoy Every Sandwich: Living Each Day as If It Were Your LastEnjoy Every Sandwich: Living Each Day as If It Were Your Last by Lee Lipsenthal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lipsenthal has an easy flowing style that makes staying engaged with the book easy. As a medical doctor his lessons learned surrounding death, fear and anxiety seem to carry a unique perspective. Opening up new insights into what a life of meaning, purpose and peace might look like. A purposeful life is certainly not a unique concept nor is writing about it, but it is rare to hear about it from someone with a strong science background. One must be warned that Lee goes into the metaphysical quite a bit and stretches way outside the comfortable norms of western views on many subjects. I suspect for most this will discredit much of what he has to say, but I have learned over time to largely ignore rather than discredit that which I am not fully aware of. Your mileage may vary. Did some one say sandwich? nom. nom. nom.

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Sunday Book Review : Microsoft: First Generation by Cheryl Tsang

Microsoft: First GenerationMicrosoft: First Generation by Cheryl Tsang

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Those that know me well, know that I am not a fan of Microsoft products. However, there is no denying that Bill Gates and Paul Allen created something special back when they began. I have heard Bill and Paul’s stories, but this book was different. It showed how the company was perceived not by the founders, but by the first wave of employees that implemented the vision the founders put before them.

Cheryl did a fantastic job of telling the stories of these employees. Showing the culture of Microsoft. Highlighting that many of the first wave left as Microsoft got bigger because they couldn’t adapt to a more corporate setting. This gave me insights into Microsoft that I have never had before. I felt what it must have been like to be there in the beginning before the machine started to turn people out. If I was born 5 years earlier I may have been a Microsoft fan.

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Sunday Book Review : Birth School Metallica Death Volume 1 by Paul Brannigan

Birth School Metallica Death, Volume 1: The BiographyBirth School Metallica Death, Volume 1: The Biography by Paul Brannigan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you are looking for the early history of Metallica seen through the lens of someone not in the band this is it. It does a good job of telling the story without being a tell all. It mainly covers the musicians and their journey opposed to highlighting all the stories and antics. This is the story of the grind it took to make it. No over night success here. Looking forward to Volume 2.

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