Audiobook


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 Way of the Superior Man

by David Deida

This book was recommended by my friend who said it changed her life. The book offers few models of what men and women are, and what roles they should play in life and relationships. The author doesn't bother explaining or backing up any of it, so as a reader you can only take it at face value.

Author uses sexual language a lot. For example "penetrate" is used 31 times. The book is written in a beautiful metaphorical language which is open to different interpretations. I'm yet to understand what "penetrate the world" means.

Like a popular saying "All models are wrong, but some are useful", some of the book's models can be useful. Some definitely resonated with my experience. The problem is the offered models are on a high level. Think of them as symptoms. It's easy to observe the symptoms and think you understand a disease. However it's not. If you don't know what a bacteria is, you will think "bad spirits" are the cause.

I think advice like "men should do X" with a "just because" reason is dangerous even if it's correct. For each one valid model, there are ten invalid ones.

Overall it's an interesting read. I'd like this book to be rewritten with more substance.




The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

by Patrick Lencioni

I wish all books were like this one. Great story, practical, short and to the point. I love it. It's a must read for all people who work in a team or in other words all people.

In my experience most teams are all about a positive vibe and avoid any conflict even if it's essential for better results. As a result people don't understand that the lack of conflict is detrimental to work. If you don't know what I mean by "conflict", great, read the book.

I'm a bit surprised that it's only now that the book came on my radar, it should be a part of an essentials pack for everybody.




Basic Economics

by Thomas Sowell

What a book! As dry as it sounds, this book is an infinite source of knowledge. I think this book should be studied by everybody at school. Only now after learning more about economics I understand how clueless most people are, including politicians. If only all of us were educated on that topic, we'd stop creating so much damage while we are trying to improve things.

This book changed my opinion multiple times. It's very extensive and provides good arguments. I only wish it was a bit shorter to appeal to more people. As much as I loved every single chapter I was over it closer to the end. It's very comprehensive, which is another beauty of it. Read it.




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.




Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

by Seth Godin

The audiobook is 3 hours long, which is relatively short, and yet I think it could be 30 minutes. The main idea of the book - (as a business) stand out from the crowd. Give people a reason to talk about you and as a result they'll do free marketing for you. That's it.

The book is a little inspirational. It has many examples and is easy to listen to.




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.




The Code of the Extraordinary Mind

by Vishen Lakhiani

10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms

It's amazing how this book is good and off-putting at the same time. This book is for people who want to take control of their lives, live true to themselves and be happy. I really like the author's ideas and suggestions. They are easy to understand and practical.

If not the endless self promotion and name dropping littered all over the book, that book would go to my best list. The book would be much better if those parts were simply removed.

I recommend this book as long as you can focus on the good parts.




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.




Tools of Titans

by Tim Ferriss

This book is a compilation of interviews of famous people. Overall the book expanded my knowledge on a variety of topics. I like the small chapters and found it great for short read sessions.

The book is mostly an aggregation of raw answers and offers very little on top of that. If you are interested in interviews, I would recommend it in audiobook, as it's long and has low content density.




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.




The New Manhood

by Steve Biddulph

Wow, I didn't expect this book to be that good. I think manhood is one of the most important topics and yet I rarely see it discussed. The book is very well structured and easy to follow. The author walks you through life stages of being a son to maturing, being a father and living a fulfilling life. It covers a bit of everything: emotions, relationships, love and meaning.

While the book is written by an Australian psychologist, it resonated with my experience growing up in a different country and culture. It's scary how universal the conclusions are.

I'd say this book is a must read. While the book mostly talks from the men's perspective I think it will be valuable for all women too. I want to find a similar book but the women's version to better understand them.




Team Topologies

by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais

Finally a good book on team structure. I really enjoyed this book. It's very practical and provides a deep understanding of choices. Recent trends that more collaboration is better or all teams are the same are a big delusion. In fact sometimes less collaboration yields better results. But the question is which is which? The book doesn't give you a solution, but rather gives you tools and understanding to decide for yourself.

I listened to the audiobook, and while it was insightful, the book has a lot of diagrams, so I'll be reading it. I think this book is worth reading when you have at least 15 people across all teams.

While the book talks about tech teams, I'm curious how well these concepts could work on the organisational level across departments. 🤔

Update 13th Nov 2021: finished reading the book. Yeap, it's still very good. I definitely missed some parts in the audiobook as there are many images related to the discussion.




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.




Team of Teams

by Stanley McChrystal

This book is highly rated and I can see why. It tells a great story from life experience. The story is engaging and exciting.

However if you want to get more than a story that's not a book for you. The book lacks research and analysis. The advice is delivered in the form: "it worked for us, so it must be great and you should do the same". While such experience is great to share, it carries little value because it's not transferable in the abstract form.




Dare to lead

by Brene Brown

This is one of the harder reads I had. The topic and content are great. However it seems, I’m allergic to the way it is delivered. It took me 3 attempts over two years to finish the book.

The book highlights the importance of acknowledging our emotional side at work. I like that it recommends defining your values and enforcing them through hard conversations.

I recommend this book if you can finish it. If it's also hard to swallow, try an audiobook.




Start with Why

by Simon Sinek

I was worried that I’m not critical enough when I’m rating books as I usually give high ratings to books I read. I’m glad to know that’s not the case. This book is terrible. It’s the worst I’ve seen in a while. I enjoy Simon’s inspirational speeches and I’m fully on board with the importance of “why” topic. And yet when combined the book has nothing to offer. The reasoning is flawed and the ideas are very repetitive. It is not inspirational, nor practical, nor insightful.




Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

by Lori Gottlieb

Wow, just wow. I love this book. It's amazingly touching and absorbing. I started reading it, but soon realised it's perfect for audiobook. The chapters are so well written and delivered, it got me to tears multiple times. This book is like a good friendship or movie series, you connect with the characters like they are your best friends. After it's over it makes you sad you can't follow them any more.

Extra shout-out to Brittany Pressley who narrated the audiobook. She did an amazing job conveying different characters and their emotions.

I highly recommend this book to everybody.




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.




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.