BR 177: Deep Work by Cal Newport

deep work

Category: 2 – BUY it! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: I love Cal Newport’s thought process and approach to excellence and the idea of optimizing life for “deep work” is one that has stuck with me.

This book approaches the “Deep Work” idea exhaustively. I’ve put this as a priority 2 book simply because it is important you ease into this as this is more a “how to” book and requires the context before you buy into the hows and whats. The first step would be to read “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport and then read this.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. The quality of your life is likely directly proportional to the amount of time you spend in deep work. A deep life is a good life.

2. Attention residue is the biggest problem with small distraction. Our brain takes time to switch between tasks and this task switching drains us.

3. A deep work approach to life requires you to make hard choices on what you spend time on. The point isn’t so much about whether something you spend time on gives you benefit. It is understanding everything we give up. Understanding trade-offs are critical.

Book notes here.

BR 175: Why CEO’s Fail by David Dotlich and Peter C Cairo

why ceo's fail, ceo

Category: 2 – BUY it! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Powerful book that is best characterized by a single powerful insight – most CEO failures are really failures of self awareness. It is hard for senior leaders to be self aware because, as you move up, your jokes become funnier and your insights become more insightful.

I didn’t do a book summary but did reflect on the takeaways from the book – that’s here.

BR 170: How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big, Scott Adams,

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: I debated about whether this should be a priority 1 or priority 2 book. I went with priority 1 because I think this book mixes personal experience with provocative ideas and a solid collection of “good life” principles that I’ve found true. I also love (and try living by) Scott’s experimentation based approach to life.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Goals are for losers. Focus on building systems that will last. E.g. instead of trying to lose 10 pounds in 6 months, focus on building a system of exercising 3 times every week.

2. Collect skills like a crazy person. Every skill you collect doubles your chances of success. Greatness is often a collection of mediocre skills.

3. Experiment away your way to a great life. Failure is an important part of experimentation

Book notes here

BR 168: Mastery by Robert Greene

Category: 1 – Read ASAP! (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: A Robert Greene masterclass. Lovely mix of biographical stories wrapped within a compelling framework. A lot of the stuff isn’t new. But, the combination is potent.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Mastery is a culmination of years of intense deep work. There is no easy way.

2. Apprenticeship is both awesome and dangerous. On the one hand, your learning curve speeds up with great mentors. However, very few mentors turn out to be large minded enough to “let go” – it is the typical bad parent problem all over again

3. Developing emotional intelligence is a useful tool to make sure your mastery gets the credit it deserves. This section spoke to me. I assumed I had high EI but had learnt from a relationship that that wasn’t the case. This chapter taught me one simple but critical lesson – stop listening to what people say. Instead, listen to what they do.

Book notes here

BR 165: Case in Point by Marc Cosentino

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments and Learning: 

Top book if you are preparing for case interviews – I had case interviews in a couple of roles I interviewed for in my technology internship quest in the 1st year of my MBA – this book was very useful.

No learning blogged aside from – solve as many cases as possible and develop an approach that’ll help you tackle case interviews. 🙂

BR 164: Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments and Learning: 

Top book if you are preparing for case interviews – I had case interviews in a couple of roles I interviewed for in my internship quest in the 1st year of my MBA – this book was very useful.

My favorite learning from the book was the importance of taking the first 2 minutes in a case and developing an approach/structure for the problem. If you structure a problem wrong or just don’t, there are few ways back in a case.

No learning blogged aside from – solve as many cases as possible and develop an approach that’ll help you tackle case interviews. 🙂

BR 163: Decode and Conquer by Lewis Lin

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments and Learning: 

1. Same as ‘Cracking the PM Interview’ – really good book if you are preparing for Product Management interviews in technology

2. Learnings here

BR 162: Cracking the PM interview by Gayle Laakmann, Jackie Bavaro

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments and Learning: 

1. Top book if you are preparing for Product Management interviews in technology – this book was very helpful in my internship recruiting quest in the first year of my MBA

2. Book learnings here

BR 155: Case Studies and Cocktails by Carrie Shuchart and Chris Ryan

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: Useful collection of pre-MBA resources. Sets expectations around the many priorities you will have to juggle while at school.

Looking back at the book now, I feel the priority and planning for MBA life section could be done much better. But, it was a good pre-school read.

Top Learning: Expect to be overwhelmed by multiple priorities like career, academics, extra-curricular, social commitments, etc.

Add on Mar 16, 2016: I have since blogged about the MBA experience in great detail.

BR 154: More than Money by Mark Albion

Category: 3 – SHELF it (All Categories are 1 – Read ASAP!, 2 – BUY it!, 3 – SHELF it, 4 – SOMEDAY it)

Comments: This is one of 3 books that I read before starting out on my MBA. This is a good book and written with all the right intentions.

However, it failed to make an impact on me just because I’d read “How will you measure your life?” by Clayton Christensen  – which, I found more more comprehensive in terms of thinking about your impact on the world.

Top Learning: Think long term when thinking about your post-MBA career