LIFELINE OF COINCIDENCE


blog by Anton Katunin
 

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.




Designing Data-Intensive Applications

by Martin Kleppmann

Great book. Data-Intensive Applications topic is new to me. This book served as a good introduction. It's very detailed and comprehensive. It slowly walks you step by step through different topics. The book gets overwhelming by the amount of new concepts but the author does a good job explaining it.

Unfortunately there is little knowledge I can apply to my daily work. The biggest highlight for me: distributed systems are very hard and there is no single solution, but rather the solution with the best set of compromises you can tolerate.

After reading the book, I became a bigger fan of single-leader database replication. It offers the best balance of cost, performance and complexity.

I would recommend this book to people who think they need distributed storage, because "SQL doesn't scale". Also it's a good read for senior devs who want to upskill and get an introduction to distributed systems.




The Manager's Handbook

by Alex MacCaw

I love this book because it's not written to be sold, but rather intended as a capture of the best experience. Until recently it was only available online.

The book truly stands for its title. It's a handbook. It's well structured, comprehensive and very dense. I expect to revisit it very often.

I'd like to recommend this book to everybody, including non-managers. The book is free which simplifies the distribution.

Managers can use it as a handbook. Others will benefit from a better understanding of their manager and improve at their job, as the discussed topics are relevant to all job titles. In fact, everybody will be better off if we upskill on topics of personal productivity, working as a team, goals, information sharing, conflict resolution, and consciousness.




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.




Non-Violent Communication San Francisco Workshop

by Marshall Rosenberg

I read Non-Violent Communication book a few years ago. I liked it but already forgot a decent chunk of it. Recently I discovered a workshop on the same topic.

I was dreading watching it as it's 3 hours long. However after the first 30 minutes I couldn't stop watching it. It's amazing! It's very insightful and practical. I highly recommend watching it to everybody. If you like it, then you can read the book and get more details.




Talking to Crazy: How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life

by Mark Goulston

Very useful book. I love books that are written by professionals and based on their practical experience. Such books rarely give you hypothetical models which authors dreamed about. However, they always give practical advices that worked for them. Another similar book is Defining Decade.

The book gives 22 communication techniques which could be used in conflict situations or when logical reasoning failed.

Like any good book based on experience, this book has plenty of stories to better explain the point. I can't wait to read another book by the author Just Listen.

I recomend this book to everybody.




The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail

by Clayton Christensen

This is a masterpiece. This book has everything I'm looking for in a book: great research, interesting insights, clear book structure, smooth flow, just enough examples to prove the point, and finally the book is tested by time.

What's the book about? It's exactly said in the title "When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail". I have nothing else to add, it delivers on the promise.

While the research talks about huge businesses, I think it’s still important to understand what’s going on at the large scale.

Three thoughts related to the book:

  1. "Follow your customer" is a terrible idea when dealing with disruptive technologies
  2. Outsourcing will kill your ability to innovate fast when faced with disruption
  3. I found technological S curve is identical to 3X (Explore Expand Extract) idea popularised by Kent Beck

Recently Apple released and switched to M1 chips on laptops. It was perfectly timed to the letter as the book suggested 23 years ago. You don’t know what I mean? Have a read and you’ll know too. ;)




Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

by James Clear

Great book! Good structure, practical content, easy to read. The book offers a systematic approach to dealing with habits and not relying on will power.




The Defining Decade

by Meg Jay

I wish I’ve read this book in my twenties. The book explains what’s going on with the brain of 20 years old person and how that affects their life viewed from the psychologist perspective. Now I’m in my thirties I can’t agree more because most of those lessons I had to learn myself.

Below are my highlights.




The Alchemist

by Paulo Coelho

Hah! I listened to this book a long time ago but seems like I didn’t blog back then. Luckly I decided to listen to it again.

I think it’s safe to call this book classic. It’s very popular and highly rated, while was written 30 years ago. It has great story, good character development and all of that is interweaved with life lessons. On top of that is fairly short, so I highly recommend it.




Brave New Work

by Aaron Dignan

Overall this book is a good introduction into new way of working. It compiles a lot practices into place. It doesn’t go in depth but it shows you the direction you can explore yourself.

The key idea is to rethink how we interact and do work. It gives a new framework to think about the change. The book starts with establishing the ground work and introducing the new concept of Organisation debt.




Rough Consensus

by Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)

I'm very excited about Rough Consensus. Democracy is built around the majority. It works great when all voters are at the same high level of expertise. Unfortunately that can't be further away from reality. For example in voting: "Don't let ignorant people vote".

In practice nobody knows everything, so we should respect our differences. The core idea of Consensus: the lack of disagreement is more important than agreement. The focus on the flaws helps to drive the discussion and share the knowledge of the minority to the rest of the group. It's a way to pick the best option, and not the popular option.

I highly recommend to read the original paper: On Consensus and Humming in the IETF. It explains how to do it and the mistakes to avoid.




Theory of Human Motivation

by A.H. Maslow

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Everybody heard of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I was curious to know more about it than what's in wikipedia so I read the original paper called "Theory of Human Motivation".

To remind you, the paper was written in 1943 and it's one of the best reads I've done. Modern books prioritise the high words count. The paper is opposite of that. It is very concise and full of references.

To my surprise only the first half of the paper talks about five levels. There are so much more to it! The second half argues that the hierarchy is not rigid. It was never meant to fit everybody and be 100% accurate. I think that's a very important part that got lost in the process of over-simplification to a single image of a triangle.

It was pleasing to see the author arguing both sides of the argument. The paper mentions the limitations of the proposed model, exceptions and areas for the further research.




Atlas Shrugged

by Ayn Rand

This is a second time I listened this book. It wasn't a standard audiobook, but audio theatre with multiple voices and sound effects.

I enjoyed it like the first time, but also picked up the bits that I missed before. That allowed me to enjoy the book even more.

I better understood the characters and the love narrative. My original critic is only partially relevant now. Turns out I didn't get it the first time.

This time I spent more time researching the Objectivism, which is the main philosophy in the book. I found that hard to navigate and differentiate philosophical terms. It's like learning chemical elements without periodic table. Would be great to get some framework for different philosophies.




Peopleware

by Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister

I love the title of this book, it can't be said better. The book was release in 1987 and had its third edition in 2013. The content is still relevant to this day, but sometimes it feels dated.

This is a great book, but I'd say hold off from reading it until you get into managing people. Then this book becomes invaluable resource. It describes the work dynamics from the social perspective and even touches on a big topic like happiness in life.

The book confirmed and cleared a lot of my observations. My three highlights:

Software quality is a cult. Not striving for the best is the common mistakes most companies do. It's not just cutting corners but has an enormous psychological consequences. One of them is job satisfaction. By pushing dev speed over quality you rip the most important part for developers, to be proud of the craft. You might say the speed to market is the king. Sure, but don't be surprised when developers resign.

Hidden hiring costs. It's not so hidden, just ignored. Based on my estimates it costs 50k to hire new candidate. The average employment duration is 2 years. It means you pay 25k per year per hire. It's ironic when company wants to save 5k and not to match the salary offer of the resigning employee. People overvalue simple numbers and ignore more complex ones. The short story, value your people while you have them, otherwise you will pay for it. Even if you spend 20k in perks per employee per year, you should celebrate your decision. It made your employee happier and you saved 5k.

I also enjoyed the chapter on introducing change to organisations. I was burnt in the past when I wanted to improve things. I leant the lesson: people really hate to change. The chapter shows a technique to ease the transformation. Each change needs a catalyst. You need to show and convince the people that the status quo is wrong. The catalyst should create the chaos, the bigger — the better. Only after the people are scared enough you can introduce your idea as a solution to the chaos.

The book sounds too good to be true, but I like the reasoning. I wish it had more to back it up, to build my confidence in the content. But as mentioned above, this book is highly recommended.




Tribal Leadership

by Dave Logan, John King & Halee Fischer-Wright

Great book! It talks about tribe (group of people) culture. It's mostly described in the context of work organizations. The book is inline with my own experience. I saw it as the explanation of the things I didn't see at the time.

The content is very well structured and to the point. It has a good balance between stories and actionable steps.

You can download free audiobook. You'll need to go through 5 pages to get the file, but it's worth it.

If you've achieved competence in your career, this book is a must read for you.

I will read the book the second time to better understand it. One audiobook wasn't enough to fully appreciate the insights.