3 Stars


Powerful

by Patty McCord

Powerful is a fairly short book (4 hours) which is a longer version of Culture Deck slides. The book is easy to read and very well structured.

Patty describes her work at Netflix as a head of HR. She explains why she made certain choices. Patty provides good reasoning and practical advice. I  mostly agree with her points. Most companies, in my experience, are suffering from excessive positivity and family vibes which hurt productivity. Instead of firing underperformers, they are transferred to another team. I'm yet to see a company which has a culture of timely constructive feedback. That's some of the points that Patty touches on.

However it's important to remember the context surrounding her experience. Netflix is a public company which grew at a stunning rate. The challenges they faced are quite different from what any small or large company would. So her advice should be taken with caution.

I'd recommend this book to managers and higher (like cofounders and HR). Just like Nine Lies About Work book, it will help you question industry status quo and think of alternatives.




Running the Room

by Tom Bennett

This book is about the classroom but I found half of it is relevant for my daily work when dealing with adults. The main idea is that we need to teach good behaviour explicitly. I fully agree with the author. Social and work rules and norms are usually implicit and unclear. In multicultural society it's even harder as people dilute the norms with their cultural flavour.

The book reminded me of The Art of Gathering. Especially the part of setting explicit rules, protecting the group from bad behaviour and utilising your power.

Some chapters touch on habits buliding. They only cover the surface, and if you want to go deeper, have a look at Atomic Habits book.

I found the book very repetitive with poorly set emphasis in text. A bit disappointing to see that from a teacher. I guess teaching is not writing.

Overall it's a good read and worth it if you want to understand and deal with people's behaviour, good or bad.




The High 5 Habit

by Mel Robbins

This is a very easy to consume book. It's inspirational and story driven. The book talks about Growth mindset without naming it like that. It encourages to love yourself and put yourself first. It's a simple but very enabling idea.

There is little practical advice to make it somewhat useful. There are few tips on building habits, but for a deeper understanding I'd recommend Atomic Habits book. For the deeper dive into mindsets have a look at Mindset book.

I'd recommend this book if you'd like more confidence, motivation and inspiration. Mel narrates the audiobook herself. She definitely brings a lot of energy and emotions into it. I like this trend when authors narrate their own books.




A More Beautiful Question

by Warren Berger

It's an interesting book. I like the premise and don't like the delivery. The main suggestion is to start questioning the world as a way to creative thinking. The author doesn't offer much himself, but has a couple of good references to other people's work.

The majority of the book is a collection of cherry picked success stories from history. It's a typical over simplification of reality twisted to fit the book's narative. It's fun and inspiring to read but has no practical value.




How Charts Lie

by Alberto Cairo

This is an insightful read. I've built many charts and graphs myself in the past and rate my chart skills above a majority. However I still learned something new.

I have two highlights. Any chart is a simplification of reality, and it reveals as much as it hides. You can present any information in both positive and negative light on the chart. Which leads to the second highlight: a chart shows only what it shows and therefore, we must strive not to read too much into it.

The book is short and easy to read as it has a lot of graphs to look at. I'd recommend it to everybody as it gives basic graphical literacy or graphicacy how the author puts it.




The Art of War

by Sun Tzu

I found this old book quite interesting as it dives deep into combat, human nature and social structure. There are multiple additions, extensions and explanations which I didn't touch, but might in the future. Personally I'm interested in the ideas, but since it's so old historic knowledge is required for the full understanding.




Models: Attract Women Through Honesty

by Mark Manson

This is the first book by Mark Manson which gave him an initial boost of popularity. You probably know Mark by his second book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck".

The book tells how to attract women. To summarise the book: be good looking, smart, interesting, communicate well, confident, flirtatious and more. Book's advice is to be everything, but I bet you already knew that. So yeah, not that useful. The author provides some practical advice but it's quite shallow.

Models book presents good intentions on how to be an attractive partner. I like that the book critiques the famous pickup artist culture popularised by "The Game" book. However the book is still about pickup games but only with a slightly different mindset.

I found the book useful to read about other dating experiences and like few ideas.

In short the book had great potential but the author failed to execute on it leaving it as an average read.




How to live

by Derek Sivers

This is a short book based on author's opinon, which mostly aligns with mine. I found that many principles from the books are based on Stoicism philosophy.

The book contradicts itself few times, but I still had a good time listening to it. I found it a bit inspirational to be reminded of those things.




Staff Engineer

by Will Larson

Software engineer titles are a mess. Senior Software Engineer title got deflated over the years. It's not uncommon to see people with 3 years of experience with it. As a result technical career path becomes problematic as there is none. As an obvious solution new titles started appearing. Company started to create their own titles, which doesn't tranfer or communicate much outside the company. The most common title above the Senior in Australia is Lead Developer, but that's pretty much it.

Recently I've discovered a new title taxonomy called Staff Engineering. It is still loosely defined. This book is based on aggregation of opinions and defines the next technical levels above Senior.

The book has lower quality than I'd expect from books. It feels like a collection of blog posts. However it's still useful to read to get the authors opinion.




The Art of Gathering

by Priya Parker

You probably wouldn't think much what there is to a gathering. This book goes into details what makes gatherings good or bad. The book is not prescriptive and gives a good high level guide to different aspects.

I think everybody could benefit from this book, but probably not many people will find it interesting. I've read this book twice in a row, as the second round was for the book club.




The Alphabet of Emotions (Rus) / Азбука Эмоций

by Natalia Kedrova

I had fun reading this small Russian book. It talks about the most common emotions and how to interpret them.

The book has colorful design and illustrations, which made me think that most books are visually boring.

I would recommend it to everybody if you can read Russian.




A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy

by William B. Irvine

This book is my first introduction to Stoicism. I would say the book is well written, but I didn't like the audiobook's narrator on Audible. It was too monotone for me.

Stoicism itself is an interesting philosophy and I would recommend you to look into it if you still haven't.




Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World

by Marcus Buckingha, Mashley Goodall

That's a pretty interesting book about debunking the status quo. I generally agree with the author that the “lies” as the status quo make little sense. However, I’m not fully sold yet that the “truths” is the right solution. I felt the arguments were very weak at times. Also, the author gives weird definitions to the problems so later he can present his solution, which are only relevant in such setup.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the argument as it got me thinking. The book is easy to read. I would recommend it if you want to challenge your beliefs with the new facts.




Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

by John C. Maxwell

I listened to this audiobook and I should say it would be better to read it instead. The book is very well structured. The author provides a good breakdown of how to connect with people when communicatating.

The book doesn't offer anything groundbreaking: be valuable to others, puts others' interestes first, be interesting, be inspiring, speak clearly, be authentic. I feel the advice is too generic and theoretical. I might read it in the future though.




Do the work

by Steven Pressfield

This is short (2 hours) motivational book. It’s written in an engaging style. The main idea if you want results you should do the work.

The author encourages to distance yourself from your own bad habits and lack of discipline. I think that’s an interesting idea which might yield better results.

This book feels like more like a summary essay of the author’s previous book "The War of Art". I haven’t read it yet, but even the foreword makes it very clear.

Below are my highlights.




The Four

by Scott Galloway

The book includes the short analysis of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google along with future prediction. It was an interesting listen but I didn’t make any notes.




Хулиномика

This book gives a good introduction to ecomony basics. It quickly touches on a lot of concepts so don’t expect to get a good introduction. The author prioritises cool slang over explanation simplicity. This book is very entertaining indeed, but having the basic knowledge myself I found it had to follow.