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.

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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take ActionStart with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sinek’s Start with Why or his Golden Circle is probably already familiar to you in some fashion if you are in the technology or marketing industry. Start With Why is based on Simon’s powerful Golden Circle model and the question “Why?”. Ultimately getting to the bottom of how great leaders inspire everyone to take action. What makes Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others so capable for leading their organizations to greatness? This is a simple look at how leaders should lead based in the tenets of biology.

“We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with ‘why’ that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.” — Simon Sinek

Golden Circle

Golden Circle

Sinek has a great TED Talk on the How Great Leaders Inspire Action. Check it out to get a feel for whether this book would be meaningful for you.

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Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul by Karen Abbott

Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's SoulSin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America’s Soul by Karen Abbott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Karen Abbott walks us right into the parlors of the Everleigh Club. Giving us a sense of what it was like to be in the Levee district at the dawn of the last century. Adorning us with stories of Minna and Ada’s vicortian-era “butterflies” and the men they kept company with. The book reads like fiction telling the tale of the sisters Everleigh and their rise to fame (or infamy) in the Levee district. Abbott makes you feel like your were there as she vividly describes the brothel and the district, not to mention the characters that run amuck in it. It gives a detailed accounting of the Progressive Era reformers and their fight against “white slavery”, including the formation of the Bureau (later the FBI). I am looking forward to reading “American Rose” and “Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy” in the near future. If you are interested in history, but like it delivered a little less dry, Abbott will surely be a favorite.

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The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The FountainheadThe Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Fountainhead is more of a tome than a book, daunting to most I assume. I have not been a particular fan of Ayn Rand’s view of the world. My daughter ended up having to read this for AP English and I decided to read along. I figured a diatribe of Individualism and the smothering of Collectivism would have me disinterested in the book by the end of the first chapter.

I do have an affinity for architecture, so I figured I could slog through it one way or another. After all I had avoided reading the damn thing for 40 years already. By the end of the first chapter I was sucked in. I know many, even those that like the book, are not a fan of Ayn’s writing style, but I actually enjoyed it. There is a rawness and depth most writers lack.

I get sucked into great characters and this book is packed with them. Howard Roark the perfect protagonist. Wow. That is all I have to say about Howard. Wow. Peter Keating the poor sap caught up in it all. Dominique Francon a heroine that you won’t encounter often. Steadfast and strong except for her one weakness in the world. I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I think this might have been the mid twentieth centuries version in many ways. Rape, sex, murder and destruction in ways unexpected. If this trio wasn’t enough throw in Gail Wynand and Roark’s antagonist, Ellsworth Toohey and you have the stuff movies are made of.

I won’t spoil it for you, but if you are a fan of philosophy this is a must read.

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In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules by Stacy Perman

In-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the RulesIn-N-Out Burger: A Behind-the-Counter Look at the Fast-Food Chain That Breaks All the Rules by Stacy Perman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Perman does a great job telling the In N Out story. The privately held company has always kept their business close to the chest. Starting out in Baldwin Park in the San Gabriel Valley next to my wife’s home town of Arcadia our love story (link) kind of follows along the lines of In N Out. Expanding our family to the Southwest over time.

The book is a great for anyone interested in business. The Snyders were solid entrepreneurs with their “Quality, Cleanliness and Service” mantra. They refused to grow fast, but instead grow smart. The story involves multiple generations changing hands and what it takes to have business continuity in the face of tragedy.

Perman tells the story of the family as much as the business, revealing extremely personal details never fully explored in the public before. You can’t help but fall in love the matriarch and feel the heart break as the family goes through the tragedies of life. If you love a good Double Double and like to learn from business success, read the book. If you hate meat or old ladies stay away!

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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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