Sunday Book Review: The Art of Doing by Camille Sweeney

The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So WellThe Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well by Camille Sweeney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was surprised by this one. I expected it to be a bunch of science around how to get more done. Instead it was a collection of thoughts from successful people about what made them successful. The variety of people, all at the top of their field, was inspiring.

The interviews give a taste of experience, wisdom and perspective about what makes the best tick. It was inspirational to hear many of the stories. I really enjoyed Tony Hsieh, Yogi Berra and Martina Navratilova (I mentioned the diversity of the interviewees right?)

A theme that seemed relevant to me. Self-Awareness. To be great you have to be hyper aware of who you are, what you want and your surroundings.

View all my reviews

Sunday Book Review: Hitmaker by Tommy Mottola

HitmakerHitmaker by Tommy Mottola

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love music history. Tommy is full of great music stories. That alone endeared me to this book. I expected it to be much more about the music industry and less stories about Tommy and the artists he worked with at Sony. Imagine my delight that not only did it have a unique take on the music industry, but also all these great insider views about artists I grew up loving.

I am glad to report while there was some chatter about his relationship with Mariah, it didn’t dominate the book and was always in a good context. Oddly there was some interesting insight from Tommy into the life of Michael Jackson. Mottola and Mellencamp are decidedly not friends. :) Mottola worked with so many great artists and was at the top when the music industry and sony were at their crest.

View all my reviews

Sunday Book Review : Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products by Leander Kahney

Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest ProductsJony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products by Leander Kahney

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A rare look into the life of Apple’s star designer and right hand man to the genius of Steve Jobs during Apples rise to the top. Leander Khaney does a good job of putting as close to the inside of Apple with out being an insider as possible. Khaney highlighted Jony’s early life and decisions that landed him his role at Apple.

It was interesting to see a divide between design and engineering expressed. Rumored in the book to even lead to the departure of more than one executive employee. I enjoyed the stories, but wish that they would have been from Jony’s voice instead of just assembled from anecdotes. This is a good read for designers and product people.

View all my reviews

Sunday Book Review : Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robert I. Sutton

Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for LessScaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less by Robert I. Sutton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I grabbed this interested in Sutton’s take on scaling. I am already a fan of greatness/excellence as a path to magnificence. This book re-enforced that there are no silver bullets and that everyones journey is a bit different. It did a good job of laying out what others have experienced and what it looks like. Scaling isn’t about simply more. That more has to be excellent to scale. Additionally an organization is really a collection of individuals and having great ones is pre-requisite to scaling. I am reminded again that illusion, impatience and incompetence are sure fire traits that will kill scaling in it’s tracks. If you are serious about scaling the work you are doing, you should check this out. If you feel that it is the role of someone else or you aren’t attempting to scale I would skip this one.

View all my reviews

Sunday Book Review: One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com by Richard L. Brandt

One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.comOne Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon.com by Richard L. Brandt

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A good high level look into where Amazon came from and where they are going. If you are wanting an indepth dive into Amazon culture and operations this isnt the book. If you want a 3rd party view point on how the company got started, some of its early history and some nice anecdotes. The book is well written but a bit shallow. It is a shame that Brandt didn’t take a deeper dive.

View all my reviews

Sunday Book Review : Wittgenstein in 90 Minutes by Paul Strathern

Wittgenstein in 90 MinutesWittgenstein in 90 Minutes by Paul Strathern

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paul Strathern gives the 90 minute run down on the “last philosopher” Wittgenstein. I love the 90 minutes series for philosophers as it gives you a good idea of their background and careers while jumping into their most famous works. Wittgenstein like most the rest of his time seemed to toe the line between genius and crazy on a regular basis.

I was curious to learn of his relationship with philosopher Bertrand Russell as some how I missed the two were friends and exchanged ideas often. Wittgenstein came from a tremendously wealthy but disturbed family (three of his brothers committed suicide). Wittgenstein is one of the few philosophers that was truly original and summed up key thoughts into simple yet powerful postulates.

“God is Dead” – Friedrich Nietzsche
“I Think Therefore I am.” – René Descartes
“Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein

View all my reviews

Sunday Book Review : The Start-up of You by Reid Hoffman

The Start-up of YouThe Start-up of You by Ben Casnocha Reid Hoffman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The title and cover made me think that this would for sure be a dud. When it started off all I could think was, “Shit why I am a listening to a book on how to get a job. FML.” I tend to finish a book if I start it so, kept with it past the first chapter. I am glad that I did. Reid Hoffman founder of LinkedIn and one of the ring leaders of the Pay Pal Mafia is full of wisdom. He drops enormous amounts of it in The Start-up of You. More importantly the wisdom is for much more than the job seeker.

This book is about the foundations of charting the course for own life. Setting out to follow your dreams and implement the strategies to get there while still providing a place to land if they all go horribly wrong. I love that a basis of the book is around “All humans are entrepreneurs not because they should start companies but because the will to create is encoded in human DNA.” I find this to be so true to the essence of my world view.

Hoffman’s assertion that “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” rings true to the work I have done the past decade at Integrum and Gangplank. I am reminded also that “The fastest way to change yourself is to hang out with people who are already the way you want to be.” Who are you hanging out with today?

View all my reviews

Sunday Book Review : Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and ActionsEnchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Who better than to talk about what makes a company or product enchanting than Guy Kawasaki. If you are building products or running a company this should be on your reading list. Kawasaki’s insider views from the start of Apple to the influence of Garage Ventures should be enough to make it worth picking up. It is easy to pass this book off as social media fluff, but I think that there are some gems buried within. Learn how to get DICEE, deliver and make your product truly enchanting.

View all my reviews

Sunday Book Review : Ahead of the Curve by Philip Delves Broughton

Ahead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business SchoolAhead of the Curve: Two Years at Harvard Business School by Philip Delves Broughton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Former journalist Philip Broughton decided to take a turn in his career and learn business. What better place to do so than at Harvard Business School. He thought for sure doing so would put him Ahead of the Curve, but after two years he felt the truth needed to be told. This is his account of what it was like, what his peers were like and what opportunities existed for him on exit.

Philip is able to be light hearted and to the point. This gives a little peek into how the other half lives and what drives them. If you plan on going to HBS or are disappointed you didn’t get the chance but always dream about it, this book may be for you. It might give you a glance into what you missed or as the case might be, didn’t miss.

View all my reviews

Sunday Book Review : The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful BusinessesThe Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Eric Ries breaks down what startup success can look like and furthermore how it can be learned and replicated. Bringing forth the following principles.

1. Entrepreneurs are everywhere.
2. Entrepreneurship is management.
3. Validated learning.
4. Innovation accounting.
5. Build. Measure. Learn.

Items 1 and 5 are critical to how we think about innovation. This was a quick read that has influenced a lot of thinkers in the software startup scene. Well worth the read.

View all my reviews