BR 160: What To Do When It’s Your Turn by Seth Godin

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

Comments and Learning: 

First, I have to acknowledge that the rating for this book is VERY biased. Here’s why –

1. I love Seth’s blog. I think it is the best blog out there. When I sit down to write out my blog post for the day on ALearningaDay, I just try to make it worthy of Seth’s blog. I fail on most days and succeed on some. I’m just hoping I’ll increase the percentage.

2. Seth is everything he talks about. As a result, I feel like I know him well even if we haven’t met. So, I think of his work as an extension of himself.

3. Seth has been an enormous ALearningaDay cheerleader. And, in this book, he’s been generous enough to share an ALearningaDay post on page 97.

I think of this book as similar in style to “The War of Art” – it is a book you can pick up whenever you need inspiration and you will not be disappointed. It is also a much better paper book because it has a lot of images that makes reading it really easy.

It is written in the style of a collection of some of his best blog posts. And I love that. It won’t take you more than 2 hours and it is well worth it. Check it out. 🙂

BR 159: The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt

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

Comments: Outstanding book. The only reason it is priority 2 vs. 1 is because Operations Management may not be everyone’s forte. I read this just beforegraduate  school and I’m sure it’ll be covered in the Operations Management introduction class. I can’t wait.

The other note – it is an excellent audio book as it is produced like an audio movie. Makes for a very interesting read.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. First, understand the goal and ONLY optimize with respect to the goal. Once you understand the goal, understand the bottlenecks. Imagine a plant’s bottleneck / constrained resource can produce 400 units. Having non bottleneck machines produce more than 400 only excess inventory. In fact, if market demand is 300, we are in our interest to produce around 300. The rest is waste.

2.  “Local efficiencies” are useless. Having one part of the plant product top class equipment while everyone is below average and late is useless. The big picture is what matters. Once again, understand the goal and only optimize for it. Beware metrics that result in optimizing parts of the picture at the expense of the whole (e.g. cost cutting on R&D that messes with future pipeline)

3. When trying to understand a problem, think of the Toyota 5 Why system. Ask why 5 times so you get to the route of the problem.

Book notes here.

Add on Mar 16, 2016: This book has had a huge impact on me in retrospect. Some very powerful life analogies here. 2 lessons I’ve repeated many a time –

1. Productivity is actions that us move toward the goal.

2. You can’t optimize sub-systems (point 2).

BR 158: Decide To Play Great Poker by Annie Duke

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

Comments: A really good poker book. I was introduced to poker by a wiser friend and got very interested in the game as a way of thinking about decision making. As a result, I zoomed through some of the detailed case-situations. My goal was to understand the key principles that a beginner should know. I definitely got that from the book.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Poker is about 2 things – decisions and information. The information you collect feeds into your decision making. In the long run, the better the decisions, the better you will do at poker.

2. The best way to avoid making mistakes in contentious situations is to avoid getting to them altogether. You do that by making decisions easy for yourself. So, at every moment, think of second and third-order consequences -e.g., if I choose to play this hand, will it make my future decisions earlier? If not, fold.

3. Understand WHY you make every decision. Great players fold 80% of the time but, when they decide to play, they play decisively. Really understand why you’re making a decision

(No wonder every life situation has an equivalent poker analogy)

Book notes here.

BR 157: Mandela’s Way by Richard Stengel

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

Comments: A nice read on Nelson Mandela’s life. I took away a few nice stories and the quote – “courage is not the absence of fear but the realization that there are things more important than fear.” Mandela really lived that quote.

I was hoping for more depth, however..

Top 3 Learnings: 

1. Mandela really had to change with the times. He was a revolutionary of sorts at first and, as he grew, he became the peacemaker. His 26 years in prison were fundamental to that change..

2. He repeatedly demonstrates the power of choice. He even alienated those who supported him by adopting a peaceful political stance following his release (which was negotiated in fairly contentious circumstances). He chose not to lead with anger.. and what a great choice that turned out to be.

3. Mandela always was a charismatic change maker. He had his way even in prison – that leadership streak never left him. As he matured, he just chose to channel it differently. Once he’d made that decision, however, he put in extraordinary effort to make it happen. For example, he learnt Afrikaans to understand his then-enemy and made friends with the guards. In doing so, he expanded his capacity to understand people differently. He no longer saw his captors as the enemy. Instead, he realized they were men just like him and understood where they came from. He went on to embrace their sport – Rugby – and used the world cup to unite the country in 1995 (Cue: The movie Invictus).

Book notes here.

BR 156: How to Become a Straight A Student by Cal Newport

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

Comments: I enjoyed reading this book. It had been a while since I had actually thought about academics and I love Cal Newport’s writing. If you’re going to school and if you’re generally geeky, I’d definitely recommend it. 1 line summary of the book is – be organized and disciplined. 🙂

Of course, the principles don’t just apply to school.

Top 3 Learnings:

1. Make sure your schedule is very well organized. Block out times for future assignments and study in advance.

2. Compile your own summary of all lectures as a pre-exam study guide

3. Take control of your own calendar. Schedule meeting such that they don’t interfere with your productive time.

Book notes 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