Review: Guy Raz – How I Built This (S)

How I Built This by Guy Raz

“Award-winning journalist and NPR host Guy Raz has interviewed more than 200 highly successful entrepreneurs to uncover amazing true stories… In How I Built This, he shares tips for every entrepreneur’s journey: from the early days of formulating your idea, to raising money and recruiting employees, to fending off competitors, to finally paying yourself a real salary. This is a must-read for anyone who has ever dreamed of starting their own business or wondered how trailblazing entrepreneurs made their own dreams a reality.”

I read this as an audiobook and it was absolutely amazing! It helped that the author read it as the way he told the stories was just brilliant. It’s jam packed full of founder/CEO/business owners stories of how they got where they are today – the good, the bad, the boring and the ugly parts. A lot of business books only tell the success stories. I love that this book didn’t just show the successes but was just the truth of how they got there.

The author did an absolutely amazing job of the story telling, which in itself makes the book. It is structured in chapters where each chapter has a point that those stories relate to, but it’s hardly a theory book. It’s the stories told in really awesome ways that keep you on the edge of your seat. If you are an entrepreneur or in business, you will find something there that is relatable to you.

The author does run a podcast, but is not like other authors that spend half the book selling their business product to you. His podcast business is relatable because he would be unable to write this book without it, but it’s not sold to you.

5 stars normally means a reread. But I’m unsure if I need to hear the stories again. It was totally still deserving of 5 stars though! If business is what you want to do in your life – it’s a must-read for daily inspiration and small business tips that make a difference.

Review: Michael Robert – The New Strategic Thinking: Pure and Simple (S)

The New Strategic Thinking: Pure and Simple
Michael Robert

“Management expert Michel Robert unveils his practical and proven methodology for you to plan and implement effective corporate strategies. Featuring a detailed explanation of how Robert used his approach to turn around Caterpillar as well as case studies of leading companies that utilize Robert’s method, The New Strategic Thinking shows you how to assemble a strategy team, identify your company’s driving force, determine the focus of the strategy (product, customer, or market), and launch initiatives company wide.”

This book was just average and just another strategy management book. The author says they are bringing something different to the business world but it still came across as the same as other similar books on the topic.

On the first page the author mentions the “Decision Processes International” which is from then on referred to as “the DPI process”. DPI is the company the author is from, but he doesn’t actually explain what this “DPI strategy process” is. I guess it’s a secret only for those hiring their company and not to be exploited in a book.

There is then a little more on little tips, but nothing substantial. For the whole second half of the book you get case studies of real examples. Now normally I like the case studies, but this was the worst part of the book. They all started with how they needed help, then they found the DPI company and used DPI strategy and then bam everything was great again. It was in depth in the before and after but only 1 line saying they used DPI strategy and then the switch to it that saved the business. There was no actual explanation of the DPI strategy, what it is, how etc.

There were some tips at the start that I remember thinking at the time were great and I should review them at a later stage, but by the end I couldn’t remember these at all. The book gets too caught up in how awesome the creator is, and forgets that not everyone has the time or inclination to hire DPI. Overall it felt like the author was just promoting their company and not actually having any knowledge explained. 2 stars.

Review: James Clear – Atomic Habits (S)

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

“People think when you want to change your life, you need to think big. But world-renowned habits expert James Clear has discovered another way. He knows that real change comes from the compound effect of hundreds of small decisions – doing two push-ups a day, waking up five minutes early, or holding a single short phone call… These small changes will have a revolutionary effect on your career, your relationships, and your life.”

This book really dives into all the insights of habits and leaves pretty much nothing out. It gives an in depth understanding of how habits are formed and how to start new habits. My only downside was that it had a lot of tips to create new habits but not a lot on changing old ones.

It has a summary page after every chapter – which has at least twice as many on the creating a good habit side then it does breaking an old. The chapter summaries are great to refer back to and the examples throughout explain each concept thoroughly. I would have perhaps liked to see the same example for each step to get more of an idea of how they stack together but otherwise the variety of examples were good.

I loved the advanced tactics section at the end which both summarizes and adds to the book, rather than just the 4 laws and then a conclusion. Overall I would recommend it to someone wanting to change their life by starting a new habit. As this book says it doesn’t need to be a massive change, but an atomic small habit. This is the only book on ‘habits’ you should read. 4 stars from me.

Review: Robert Gerrish – The 1 Minute Commute (S)

The 1 Minute Commute
Robert Gerrish

“Map your path, define your work style and seize your market. From freelancers and soloists to entrepreneurs and micro-business owners, this book will give you the knowledge and skills to shape your professional life to fit your lifestyle. Ditch your job and work for yourself…  Work for your best boss yet – you. What are you waiting for?”

I listened to this as an audio book. It was just average. It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. I expected a lot more modern tips and tricks such as working from home apps, software, and things to assist in the modern age. I guess the author did have outsourcing in there in a general form which was nice. But instead, pretty much all of the tips and insights have been discussed before and I didn’t get anything new from it. For example, one point was the the urgent/important quadrants of using your time.

It sounded promising at the start, but then went into too much detail in some things that weren’t needed. At the same time there was not enough detail in other areas. It also seemed to just jump around a lot and had no consistency. You could pick it up anywhere and not feel lost. Overall, I would recommend it to anyone that is just starting a business or in the early stages of business. It’s a nice reminder that you’re a solopreneur to work in with your lifestyle. I’m giving it 3 stars.

Review: Jack Delosa – Unwritten (S)

Unwritten
Jack Delosa

“Unwritten presents a startling, revisionist approach to our understanding of entrepreneurship and living a life that aligns with your purpose. Through personal reflection and stories of unconventional wisdom, adversity and success, Jack examines what it means to be great, how we can achieve our life’s best work, shape the world around us for good and leave a legacy far more valuable than wealth alone.”

I read this book as an audio book. Some parts I thoroughly enjoyed, and other parts I completely tuned out of. Although I normally enjoy hearing real life stories, some of them were not that great or I have heard them many times before – for example: Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr “I have a dream speech” and Richard Branson. Some stories, particularly the case study examples, were good though and had me listening for more.

I don’t think the author told their own life story very well and he often either came across as bragging or the story wasn’t really relevant. Most stories in general didn’t really link to any points that the author was making or the point just got lost along the way.

The author’s points were basically follow your vision, do what you want to do and disregard the status quo. I liked the OPRs (other people’s rules), but the message seemed to get lost and it was just thrown in again every now and then in between a lot of stories.

It’s just another inspiration or motivation book and nothing special. It is  a good reminder to follow your vision and mission. 3 stars.

Review: Carmine Gallo – Talk like TED (S)

Talk Like TED
The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds
Carmine Gallo

“In his book, Carmine Gallo has broken down hundreds of TED talks and interviewed the most popular TED presenters, as well as the top researchers in the fields of psychology, communications, and neuroscience to reveal the nine secrets of all successful TED presentations. Gallo’s step-by-step method makes it possible for anyone to deliver a presentation that is engaging, persuasive, and memorable.”

This book was actually pretty good, but I still have mixed feelings about it. I thought it would be dry and boring, but it really wasn’t. I learnt quite a few new things. It’s not endorsed by TED conferences in any way, it’s fully the author’s opinions. In saying that, it’s obviously still based on real TED talks which he refers to and analyzes comprehensively.

The contents are broken up into 3 parts; Emotional, Novel and Memorable. Under each of these 3 areas there are 3 of the public speaking secrets that you are promised from the front of the book. I felt that these were pretty obvious, like being passionate about your topic. They weren’t exactly secrets or anything different from other public speaking books.

The good thing about this book though was it gave a range of examples for each. My only issue is within each chapter you seem to get “lost” and not know which secret it was you’re learning about. There seemed to be multiple sub ideas within the one secret/chapter. They were all good though, but at the end of the chapter I’d forgotten what the author’s main point of that chapter was.

Overall it was pretty good. 3.5 – 4 stars from me. I would recommend it to anyone who is public speaking in any shape or form.

Review: Barry Schwartz – The Paradox of Choice (S)

The Paradox of Choice
Barry Schwartz

“In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz explains why too much of a good thing has proven detrimental to our psychological and emotional well-being. In accessible, engaging, and anecdotal prose, Schwartz explains how a culture that thrives on the availability of constantly evolving options can also foster profound dissatisfaction and self-blame in individuals, which can lead to a paralysis in decision making and, in some cases, depression.”

I was looking for a book to read at the local library. I had heard that this author wasn’t bad except I was looking for a different book by him. All I could find was this one so I thought I’d give it a try. Unfortunately it’s not really the right book for me or in my area of interest.

I completely agree with the argument of the book, which is that less is more in making decisions.
But I didn’t need to read a whole book about it. I was sold on the argument and idea early on. But then the book keeps going on about it more and more, and simply dragging it out in a way that wasn’t necessary.

There is only a very small section of one chapter at the end with “what we can do”. That’s what I was waiting and wading through the rest of the book to read! Unfortunately it was more like a conclusion rather than an action plan. It was very repetitive and seemed like the author was just having a rant. It was also very heavily geared at Americans. Which is fine, except parts are just not relevant to me or people in other countries. For example, the private health system and even just the volume of choices at supermarkets, here it is nowhere near what’s in the book.

I would recommend it to anyone who is a complete “maximizer” as referred to in the book. But even still, you only need to read a bit of it to get the point. 2 stars.

Review: Barry Schwartz – Why We Work (S)

Why We Work
Barry Schwartz

“An eye-opening, groundbreaking tour of the purpose of work in our lives, showing how work operates in our culture and how you can find your own path to happiness in the workplace. Why do we work? The question seems so simple. But Professor Barry Schwartz proves that the answer is surprising, complex, and urgent… How did we get to this tangled place? How do we change the way we work? With great insight and wisdom, Schwartz shows us how to take our first steps toward understanding, and empowering us all to find great work.”

This was the book I was trying to get, when I ended up getting The Paradox of Choice as this one wasn’t there. I put this one on reserve and hence read it next. Unfortunately, it’s still not that great. It was better than The Paradox of Choice, but not great. It’s also a lot smaller then The Paradox of Choice which is good as at least it got to the point a lot quicker. But it still didn’t have much in it or much of a point.

The sub-stories in each chapter are ok, but basically only relate back to the point of “people don’t work just for money”. This is ok, but really I was expecting more interesting stories but instead these were just flat. I was also expecting additional ideas, solutions and actionable items that can be taken away from the book, to provide a meaningful workplace. But it seemed to just rant about “people don’t work just for money” for the whole book.

The action items were only very briefly touched on in the last chapter which is only 5 pages and is basically a conclusion. Thus it’s only a 2-3 stars from me.

Review: David J. Schwartz – The Magic of Thinking Big (S)

The Magic of Thinking Big
David J. Schwartz

“The Magic of Thinking Big gives you useful methods, not empty promises. Dr. Schwartz presents a carefully designed program for getting the most out of your job, your marriage and family life, and your community. He proves that you don’t need to be an intellectual or have innate talent to attain great success and satisfaction, but you do need to learn and understand the habit of thinking and behaving in ways that will get you there.”

Despite being first published in 1959, it’s not bad! Most of the book’s ideas are still relevant today. Obviously with older books such as this, you can tell that is is older from the style of writing and examples being used. However the principles and overall message is still the same. I think it would have been really good for it’s time. It has aged a little but not as much as you would think.

I read this book on and off and took quite a while to read it. I felt like you needed to be in the mood for it. Most of the “magic secrets of success” are things such as believing you can succeed, setting yourself up, managing your environment etc. For me tp enjoy and take it in, I needed to take breaks in between these chapters and not read a lot of it at once.

The author’s writing style was good and draws on his personal experience for short stories and examples. For a self help book which I don’t normally like, it is pretty good. I would recommend it for anyone who likes self help books, or needs to think more positive or stop procrastinating. I wouldn’t read it again; overall it was average. 3 stars from me.

Review: David Vise – The Google Story (S)

The Google Story: Inside the Hottest Business, Media and Technology Success of Our Time
David A Vise

The Google Story is the definitive account of one of the most remarkable organizations of our time. Every day over sixty-four million people use Google in more than one hundred languages, running billions of searches for information on everything and anything. Through the creative use of cutting-edge technology and a series of groundbreaking business ideas, Google’s thirty-five year old founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, have in ten years taken Google from being just another internet start-up to a company with a market value of over US$80 billion. Based on scrupulous research and extraordinary access to the inner workings of Google, this book takes you inside the creation and growth of a company that has become so familiar its name is used as a verb around the world.”

2 stars? I mean, I finished it, so it’s more than 1 star right? But really I skimmed for the last while, so it  should be 1 star. I honestly don’t think it had anything good in it. I was expecting some insights, including ups and downs of the journey along the way. Yes it was a journey I guess, but it was written by someone else and it had no insights at all. It was like the author had found a bunch of people that knew The Google Guys and interviewed them, and then mashed it together. He didn’t have any knowledge or access to Google Inc….

Even more terribly, because they were all raging fans of The Google Guys already, they gushed over them or ideas. There were no “hard” moments in the journey of the business or even anyone that disliked The Google Guys. There is always controversy and hard decisions to be made, but none of these were mentioned at all. It was very one sided towards the things that were being done well.

Even the good parts of business that the author advised The Google Guys were doing right, were glossed over and had no depth or insight. It was just like “now they made $x profit or share price” with no detail of how that happened. It also went into the origins or backstory a lot more than needed. We seemed to spend a lot of the book there, languishing in the past of a business that is actually relatively futuristic.

The back of the book clearly tells us that the book was not created, authorised or endorsed by Google, Inc – and you can see why. I only picked it up thinking that everyone should know a little about Google and some stories to tell, but after I finished I don’t think I have any, and as a book it didn’t do it for me. I have had more insights into Google from other books who have done short 1 chapter or so case studies on Google, such as Simplify, then this whole book just on Google was. I really didn’t get anything out of it at all and I do NOT recommend it to anyone.