BR 137: Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage by Mark Gungor

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

Comments: I read this book for 2 reasons – because I’m getting married and because I loved Gungor’s famous YouTube video on men’s and women’s brains. The book was okay – very good in parts and pretty okay for the most part.

Gungor is occasionally scientific and structured but for the most part it centers around his observations as a pastor. I also think it didn’t help that he wrote this for Christians. There were way too many bible, Jesus references for a non Christian.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Boxed in (watch Mark Gungor’s famous nothing box video on YouTube for this section). Men’s brains are like boxes – they are dealt with one at a time and DO NOT TOUCH. And a man’s favorite box is the nothing box… Given a choice, we love the nothing box and hence, love staring into the ceiling.

This is contrast to a woman’s brain which is like a bunch of wires and is typically thinking of many things at once.

2. Communication. When men communicate, they say what they mean and mean what they say. Women, on the other hand, are masters of nuance. Words are just one part of communication. So, in a women case, what is said matters less than how it is said.
The way to get past this is to implement the Covey principle of understanding – seek to understand before seeking to be understood.

3. What men want: Respect – unconditional respect. Men don’t want to earn respect on performance. They want it because of who they are. They don’t want criticism or women to change them – they want to be loved as they are. But just because men aren’t resistant to improvement doesn’t mean they can’t be improved, a women’s effect on a man’s maturity, cleanliness, etc is always massive. Strong women make a huge difference to a man’s life. A touch of fear of the wife has also found to be good in strong marriages. ūüôā

What women want – women want to be picked. They want to know that you would choose them above all else – your tv show, your outing with the lads, etc. the more you

Book notes

BR 136: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

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

Comments: SO inspiring.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. The “resistance” is the most toxic force on the planet. It’s an internal force of nature that thwarts us every time we try to move from a lower to higher place – when we want to start a new venture, work on a piece of art, or embark on an education of any kind. We move forward when we learn how to fight our resistance.
2. Art is the most noble thing we can set out to do. An artist believes the best lies ahead and constantly works on imagining and creating this future and thus taking the human race forward. This is opposite to the fundamentalist who tries to destroy to take us back to the basics as it is his belief that the best existed in the past.
3. Being an artist is all about behaving like a pro. That involves showing up every day, working on your art relentlessly, listening to feedback, ignoring critics, not taking failure personally, and exhibiting humility and patience.
It’s very hard to just talk about 3 things that I learnt from this book. It is so inspirational.. and Steven Pressfield is such an accomplished writer that attempting to say it in anything but his own words doesn’t do it justice.

Book notes

BR 135: The Millionaire Teacher by Andrew Hallam

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

Comments: Really good book. This book was recommended to me by one of my favorite authors William J Bernstein when I asked him for Singapore specific investment advice.

A must-read for folks living outside the US looking for solid money and investment advice.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Live like a millionaire. Millionaires wear cheap watches, buy second hand cars, and live in the suburbs. Real millionaires live frugally and invest wisely.
2. Compound interest is the most important mathematical concept you need to know. The earlier you start investing, the better it is for you as compound interest will take over. Invest in simple plain vanilla index funds (same as Bernstein’s advice.. the value add here is clear steps for folks living in Canada, UK, Australia, and Singapore) and remember that financial service firms are out to eat into your money. Actively managed mutual funds are a no-no.
3. Every generation is gripped by irrational financial madness at some points (the tech bubble being an example). When you see a market behaving irrationally, be fearful. The relationship between the value of a stock and it’s earning is similar to a dog on a leash with it’s master. One can be far ahead of the other for only a short while.

Click here for book notes from the book

BR 134: I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

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

Comments: Ramit’s book is very US centric but many of the principles hold true wherever you are. I think this book is worth reading because he explains very basic personal money management concepts very well. I liked his no-bullshit approach and his simple-yet-good advice.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Don’t buy the Dave Ramsey advice of “cancel all your credit cards.” If you are sane about using your credit cards, improving your credit score and credit history can save you 1000s of dollars in terms of better interest rates over a lifetime.

2. The following ratios off your paycheck are healthy –
50-60% Fixed costs Рrent, utilities, debts, transport, normal food, health
10% Investment
10% Savings for upcoming expenses vacation, gifts for friends and family
20-30% Guilt free spending

3. Conscious spending is key. Spend on great experiences and never regret.

Book notes.

BR 133: To Sell is Human by Daniel H Pink

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

Comments: I’ve been a fan of Dan Pink’s approach of presenting well researched trends with a nice framework and “so what’s” ¬† – ‘A Whole New Mind’ and ‘Drive’ did it well. “To Sell is Human” doesn’t disappoint.

Top 3 Learnings: Selling has moved from the old ABC (Always Be Closing) to the new ABC of Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity.

1. Attunement: This section is all about empathy, connection, and most importantly, asking great questions. The main trend here is that we have moved from information asymmetry between buyers and sellers to information symmetry. Buyers now have all the information that sellers have and don’t need sales people in the traditional sense. They need folks who will help them solve their problems.

2. Buoyancy: Recent research points to the important of having a healthy ratio of positive:negative thoughts but not approaching everything by just pumping yourself up. In fact, research shows that interrogative self talk (i.e. asking yourself – can I do it?) works much better.

It also involves learning optimism (Martin Seligman style) and making sure we aren’t knocked out by rejection.

3. Clarity: Clarity of purpose and making it personal are critical. Many many experiments show that an appeal to a deep, intrinsic purpose moves people.

BR 132: The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson

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

Comments: This is the sort of history book I enjoy. Hot on the heels of “A Splendid Exchange” and “Guns, Germs, and Steel,” this book is fantastic for those interested in understanding the story behind the financial infrastructure that exists today. Given the increasing spotlight on financial instruments (thanks largely to their failure), this is compulsory reading for anyone interested in understanding the real “infrastructure” of our development.

Top 3 learnings:

1. The world would NOT be a better place without our financial evolution. Credit and debit are critical to the growth of economies, businesses, and are the foundation to economic progress. Finance has underlined the big shifts in our societies. For example, the era of colonialism (or the first attempt at globalization) was only made possible by financial innovation – the dutch VOC was the first “public” company with a swath of public shareholders. The British emulated the Dutch and did it better.

2. War is the mother of all things. War was the real reason behind financial innovation. The concept of the bond market was created to fund wars between Italian states, the stock market was invented for better success in colonial wars.. and finance also played it’s part by being the real cause for wartime success and failure. The British triumph against Napoleon and the defeat of the south in ¬†the American civil wars were determined more by financial causes than any other.

3. Credit is critical for growth. The biggest benefit of the modern day financial system is that a larger proportion of the population are able to escape the clutches of loan sharks who charge interest rates upto 11 million percent and thus keep the poor poor.

Book notes here