Sunday Book Review : What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite by David DiSalvo

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the OppositeWhat Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite by David DiSalvo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed DiSalvo’s journey on this topic. His search grabbed from cognitive science, neurology, social psychology, economics and the kitchen sink to find out about what makes us happy. Why do our brains get in the way? How do we find a fulfilled life? If you dig cognitive psychology or books that highlight studies on the brain and behavior (think Malcolm Gladwell) done well, you will like this book.

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Sunday Book Review : Smart Tribes by Christine Comaford

SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant TogetherSmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together by Christine Comaford

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The content here seems to all line up. The “critter state” seems similar to Seth Godin’s “Lizard Brain”. The concept of a high performing team (tribe) resonates well. However, the book is pretty geared towards Christine’s system which can feel a bit of a pitch at times distracting from the content. She shares neuroscience mapped to her five key Accelerators of the Smart State: Focus, Clarity, Accountability, Influence and Sustainability.

If this would have stuck to the material and dropped the sales pitch to hire her company as a proven management consulting firm it would have been a lot better.

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Happy Anniversary. Twenty Years of Learning

Today I celebrate 20 years married to the woman I was meant to be with. The woman who completes me in ways I am just starting to fully understand. The woman who is the mother to my three children (Brittany, Ashley, Noah) and who treats many more like her own (Ricky, Jessica, Shelby). The woman who has given me all of her.

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I used to count down our anniversaries for how long I had been married in life versus how long I hadn’t. Last year I had been married 19 and single 19 on our anniversary. Hitting a mark that seemed pretty incredible to me at the time. This year I have been married 20 and alive 39. Meaning that I have been married to the woman of my dreams for over half my life at this point. I am still all in everyday, excited to see where we go together.

As our children age and we add new children to our family via marriage and relationships (Chad, Chase), I can only feel our journey together is just beginning. That our brightest moments are ahead of us.

She often asks me, “Why do you love me?”. The reasons are too vast and many beyond my own understanding, but here are just a few. She is my muse, my inspiration, my reason for being. She completes me, showing me the sides of me that I have yet to discover.

Her empathy is automatic. Her hearts bleeds and wails for those in pain. Complete strangers, best friends or animals, she can’t rest if she knows they are suffering. Her own inner self is so real and raw that she relates to their every struggle. I can only hope to one day be able to find that level of depth in my being.

Her adventure fuels me when I am timid. Some of my best memories of our times together often start with “we shouldn’t be doing this”, “stop that”, “hey now”, “but what if” or “some one is gonna see”. She unlocks the parts of me that need to be free, but have been told they shouldn’t come out.

Her passion matches mine. All or nothing may suck when it comes to the standard of cleaning a toilet, but it’s nice to have someone in my corner that knows, understands and appreciates long hours trying to make it perfect or endless days committed to something because you can’t half ass it. A commitment to following through when running through the suck is always better together than alone.

Her smile. It can make me cry. It can make me laugh. It can warm my heart. Seeing her content let’s me know that there is a happy place in a laugh, where if even for a moment you find it, that you should hang on to it and save it for when you need it.

Her vulnerability. Can you make a new best friend in a grocery store line with a complete stranger? Me either, but she can. She has the ability to be completely vulnerable and without pretense opening herself to complete strangers. This often has me pinching, nudging and kicking her to stop because I am so embarrassed. The truth is I am just jealous that I can’t be that open with the world. I won’t let them see me. I don’t share the best and worst of me with everyone. She does. I could learn a lot there.

Laurie I give you all of me today and all the days that follow. I look forward to the next 20 together. The places we will go, the friends we will make and the things you will teach me.

Love Derek

Sunday Book Review : Remote by David Heinemeier Hansson

Remote: Office Not RequiredRemote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier Hansson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tend to find myself repeatedly finding I agree a lot with Jason and David even though I struggle to identify with them. I thought for sure this book would piss me off to no end. Mainly because I think that physical interaction is so important for success. However, they hit the topic pretty eloquently. They highlighted the right things about what is amazing when remote work is done right, but acknowledge that some face time and presence (head gap) is so very important. I suspect this book is powerful as a cultural wake up to many of the industrial minded managers out there that struggle greatly with effort versus results.

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Sunday Book Review : Please, Don’t Be a Dick by Alexey Golev

Please, don't be a dickPlease, don’t be a dick by Alexey Golev

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reasonable representation of the landscape of working with a designer. The authors style felt overly passively pretentious hipster more often than not, but it could have just been them trying so hard to explain from the lens of the client. So I won’t pass immediate judgement. Okay I will, but then I will readily admit that it is on me and not them.

I am not sure I agree with a lot of the advice or even the final words.

“The designer and the client ultimately share a common interest — beautiful, functional design that communicates a message in a clear and interesting manner. ”

Every client I met wanted to make money. Some wanted to so with style but usually if given the choice of great design or quick money they would choose the later.

I do agree it’s all shit clients deal with when hiring a designer.

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Sunday Book Review: Leading Successful Change by Gregory Shea

Leading Successful Change: 8 Keys to Making Change WorkLeading Successful Change: 8 Keys to Making Change Work by Gregory P. Shea

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a consultant that deals with organizations desiring radical change, thought this might be a good investment of time. It is a quick read, that gives some reasonable practical advice about overcoming a staggering failure rate of change initiatives. However, it was pretty dry and lacked the kind of story telling narrative that makes for good non-fiction. Shea does a good job of sharing proven methods (8 Levers of Change) and notes that a strong vision for the future is necessary. Most importantly change is not option, nor is it impossible.

Successful change efforts require 2 vital elements to meet their objectives:

1. Change behavior and
2. Change the work environment to support the new behavior

I liked that they acknowledge taking a more systems approach. Good content, poor read.

Available on Overdrive

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Sunday Book Review : The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt

The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient WisdomThe Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have a reputation of being some what of a negative cuss. In the spirit of ever seeking improvement of myself, I figured I would begin seeking what psychologists have to say about happiness. Haidt’s work seems fairly well received so I started here. Holy shit, this was not what I expected. I expected Oprah-esque doses of fluffy psycho-babble about positive feelings. In stead I got a a healthy dose of vitrue, happiness, fulfillment and meaning.

Haidt has taken several “Great Ideas” on happiness by luminaries of the past such as Plato, Buddha, Jesus, etc and studies those ideas that have common themes through the lens of modern psychology. From these he spells out lessons that apply to us.

In it, Haidt poses several “Great Ideas” on happiness espoused by thinkers of the past – Plato, Buddha, Jesus and others – and examines them in the light of contemporary psychological research, extracting from them any lessons that still apply to our modern lives. Central to the book are the concepts of virtue, happiness, fulfillment, and meaning. This is not a self help book, it is a philosophy book.

James Flint’s review in the Guardian probably sums it up best – “I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that laid out the contemporary understanding of the human condition with such simple clarity and sense.”

Available on Overdrive.

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Sunday Book Review : The New New Rules by Bill Maher

The New New Rules: A Funny Look At How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their AssThe New New Rules: A Funny Look At How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass by Bill Maher

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I think my review of Bill’s New Rules still hold true.

“If you enjoy Bill Maher, you will like the book. If you hate him, you will hate the book. I don’t tend to agree with a whole lot that Bill has to say, but I enjoy his humor and like that he pushes the boundaries of discussions.”

However, this go around the rules seemed less humorous. They seem more agenda filled. They were kind of tired. Maybe my tolerance for idiocy is waning or my ire for Maher is clouding my objectivity. This one just wasnt worth the read. Not even for humors sake. Unless you are a huge Maher fan, spend your time reading something else.

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Sunday Book Review : The Sports Gene by David Epstein

The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic PerformanceThe Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance by David Epstein

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Similar to Colvin’s Talent is Overrated and Gladwell’s Outliers, Epstein hits it out of the park digging much deeper and getting more real. He sheds more light on the notion of 10,000 hours and nature vs nurture when it comes to performance. The best part is that Epstein uses stories to give us an in depth look at genetics, physiology and sports medicine. This is an interesting space (as evidenced by the number of best sellers written about it), that we are continuing to better understand, but still has a lot of black holes.

Available on Overdrive

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Sunday Book Review : The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking by Matthew Hutson

The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and SaneThe 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane by Matthew Hutson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one, I predicted it would be a self-help like book that would have me frustrated for selecting it. The title inclusion of irrational beliefs had me intrigued. I am glad that I gave it a try. This is a book about the science of “magical thinking”. You know things of religion, superstition, ritual and taboo. Why is a bat that Babe Ruth held to hit a home run, worth so much more than an identical bat made in the same period owned by an unknown 12 year old? Huston uses cognitive science to show that magical thinking is hardwired into our brains. In fact, it part of our evolutionary success. Skeptics who are actually open to science may find interest in this book. Huston also has a wicked sense of humor making for an easy read.

Available on Overdrive.

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