Books

The Lean Startup

Validate or invalidate your ideas as quickly and inexpensively as possible. That is the main point of the book and despite the title, this applies to all businesses. Do this in a granular fashion, isolating a/b tests from one another to get a clear picture of the data.

 

Getting Real
This is almost like a more technical version of The Lean Startup. Eliminate wasted time anywhere and everywhere you can, with yourself and your team. Iterate often and as quickly as possible. Do not “overdevelop” when it comes to an application but rather “under develop” on the front end. Give the users only the features that add value and eliminate all other “bells and whistles” as it distracts the customer and accumulates technical debt for your engineers. 

Getting Things Done

5 core components of the GTD system:

1. Capture: Get absolutely everything collected somewhere i.e. Business ideas, tasks you need to do, meetings, chores anything and everything. Make it easy as possible with notebooks, evernote, ipads, sketch pads, pencils whatever your tools of choice may be. 2. Process: Is this item actionable and if so when? Delegate, defer, do, or trash it. 3. Organize: Place all the tasks, notes, projects, meetings, ideas, etc in the appropriate bucket to make it as easy to find and handle as possible. And date everything in the order with which you plan to do them. 4. Review: Conduct a weekly review of your systems and tasks themselves. Are things running efficiently and how can I improve the process? Also, this is your time to reprioritize tasks as you revisit them. Did something take priority and need to be moved in a different bucket? Is this business idea actually worth pursuing or should I trash it? 5. Do: Complete the tasks scheduled during the organize phase as well as within the context of the day. Do you have a mental block, task or a problem solve where you don’t know how or where to start or have some indecision to ponder? Draw and flow chart absolutely all the if/then scenarios and decision tree. Also break down into micro tasks similar to packet delivery on a network and solve the micro task.

On Writing Well

First and foremost clear writing only happens when one is thinking clearly. Say exactly what you mean. Do not use run on sentences. Write in a voice that is entertaining to yourself and authentic and the audience will likely be entertained as well. Each sentence has to lead logically into the next. Set a consistent writing schedule and stick to it as writers are notorious procrastinators. Edit, then edit again, and even a 3rd, 4th or 5th time or more until your sentence and even each word comes out right. The thesaurus is your friend there are so many words in the English language that are subtly different. Choose the best ones. Keep the same tone throughout your writing. Surprise the reader with interesting facts, studies and theories. Avoid words that express doubt or take away from the emphasis or strength of the piece like maybe, kind of etc. The best non fiction writers solve a problem. The real art is arranging all of the paragraphs and sentences together into a tapestry.

Profits Aren’t Everything, They’re the Only Thing

He gets right into it on how to evaluate a profit and loss statement, cash flow and DSOs. Focus on sales and marketing first and foremost. Charge for what you are selling and do not engage in creative avoidance. Be honest with yourself on the state of your businesses. Although being rich is not how someone should define themselves, telling yourself stories that securing financial resources does not give one an advantage is lying to yourself. And it can be even dangerous for the well being of you and your family as you all depend on these resources. Interesting note, do not be a “business martyr” and not pay yourself a salary during startup or a leaner phase. You need to be able to operate without being stressed out, and will actually perform better paying yourself a reasonable salary.

The Art of Learning

Chess prodigy Josh Waitzkin and subject of the movie “Searching for Bobby Fischer” shares his learning process. He stresses mastering the micro over the macro/depth vs. breadth in any field. And mastering chess or anything MUST be done in the right order based on “ever smaller circles” and whittling down to absolute core components. Extreme visualization and patient repetition over and over and over of the fundamentals FIRST as a base. In any game play someone better, learn from someone smarter and avoid “comfort zones” that only serve to validate the ego. Don’t fight noise distractions or obstacles as that is part of the real world, instead use them to your advantage to trigger “flow states” and be in rhythm with them. When training and competing in anything know how to trigger “flow states” and go to those when you need them. Take proper rests as burning out is a pyrrhic victory and harmful to progress. Be in sync with left/right brain harmony. And he uses chess as a microcosm for evaluating other life situations.

Present Shock

Part philosophical but more hard hitting and insightful description of the state of technology, where we came from and where things are going. We must not lose our humanity through these advancements and connection to the “real world” as that is a very real possibility, not just a clever intellectual discussion. The book starts off in the backdrop of the “two types of time” as the Greeks described the 4th dimension…Chronos and Kairos. Chronos represents the measurable progression of time i.e. grains of sand, hours in the day. Kairos is the perspective that not all moments are created equal and the same hour on one day is very different from the measurable hour on another. We should dance with the two forms of time. As we shift from analog to an entirely digital world we must not lose touch with Kairos. There are so many derivatives and simulations of interactions with the advent of the internet and smart phones, we are in an enormous perpetual game of operator.

Influence

Every business markets itself in some way whether intentional or not. This gets into the psychology of why people make or refrain from purchasing a good or service. It thoroughly analyzes the emotions, psychological “triggers” and even other factors tying into our hard wiring and survival instincts. Potentially more important than the business benefits from understanding this is having a better perspective on seemingly “irrational” or “rational” decisions of people in general, and even ourselves.

Rich Dad Poor Dad

No nonsense list of the actions and perspectives that give one group of people an economic advantage and ownership of assets. It also juxtaposes that group with another who is perpetually on the hamster wheel. What is most fascinating is that his allegories of the group who seems to be stuck in the rat race has little to do with a lack of work ethic or overtly reckless behavior. It has more to do with what superficially would “seem responsible” yet are very flawed career, education, leisure and investment ideologies. When comparing the two groups the picture is so clear and obvious. This is a must read and following this advice will likely improve your standard of living as well as future generations.

My Life in Advertising

The more things change the more they stay the same. One of the most successful marketers and advertisers in history, Claude Hopkins (1866-1932) discusses the psychology behind branding and converting prospects into buyers. He is the inventor of the coupon…seriously. Coupled with his relentless work ethic he spearheaded and came up with some of the most notable ad campaigns ever. The underlying principles of business and advertising have remained the same. Since his career was in the late 1800s/early 1900s it actually makes those principles more easy to understand, as for the present day marketer, they can get lost in the noise of social media and smart phones.

 

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Videos

No holds barred truth about the likely future of technology and its incomprehensible impact on the world and employment. I have 0 political opinion on this. However, whether you like something or not or think it is fair or not, that will have NO effect on the outcome. Align yourself with this trend and make yourself relevant or KEEP yourself relevant as fast as possible.

Psychological study proving that the number one contributor to personal happiness is gratitude. I would note to remember sincere gratitude is of particular importance vs. going through the mental motions or being overly polite as an insincere way to “prove or disprove this”.

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