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…ย  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 lifeโ€™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 isย  a good reminder to follow your vision and mission. 3 stars.

Review: Peter Sheahan – Flip (S)

Flip
How to Turn Everything You Know on Its Head and Succeed Beyond Your Wildest Imaginings
Peter Sheahan

“Emphasizing flexible, counterintuitive decision making, Flip calls for a new way of doing business in an economy where conventional wisdom won’t get you anywhere.”

Let me set you straight from the beginning. I read this as an audiobook and it was pretty average. There is nothing new on offer in this book. I had to force myself to keep listening – I didn’t even really want to finish it because then I would have to review it.

I believe the whole point of the book was that in business you need: fast, good, or cheap – pick 3. The idea was that it’s not good enough to have only 2 of these in your business, you need all 3 and then even a 4th which sets you apart from your competition. Besides that, the rest of the points are examples of businesses that have done things differently.

Unfortunately it doesn’t actually give you any insight to take away with you. It had a few good stories that you listen and tune into, but others I found myself no longer paying attention to them. The stories didn’t seem to link back to any points, sometimes the main point, but usually didn’t link it to anything. The difference between the start, middle and end of the book is absolutely nothing. It’s all just one big blob on the same thing. Throughout, it gives a lot of stats and I mean A LOT, but they are not meaningful. They are not put in a way that makes that statistic seem astonishing. I particularly found myself tuning out at these times.

It might have been better for the time that it was released but now the book is getting outdated as it was released in 2008 – over 10 years ago now! I know the author makes a point that the overall theme of the book is still true and relevant. But when the author goes into so much detail explaining MySpace, it’s hard to make this connection.

The author also jumps around a lot with the stories, they really just seem randomly thrown in. He mentions Toyota at least 6 times, so you would think I would come away knowing a bit about Toyota. But instead the message is lost and it’s hard to make sense of it. The Toyota examples could have been all together in a Toyota case study style not scattered throughout.

I wouldn’t recommend this book. 2 stars
.

Review: Michael McQueen – The New Rules of Engagement (S)

The New Rules of Engagement
A Guide to Understanding & Connecting With Generation Y
Michael McQueen

“WHO ARE GENERATION Y ? To some they are the tech-savvy, well educated and ambitious youngsters poised to take on and change the world. Others, however, describe a disloyal, disrespectful and demanding generation who have never learned to wait or really work hard for anything… Get set for an entertaining, revealing and insightful look inside the minds of todayโ€™s young people.”

This book was pretty good! The first half of the book goes through what a generation is and each of the generation types. Normally this is the boring part of business books where it just explains the definitions and how it currently is. I actually found this section the best part! Perhaps it was because I am a Gen Y, and so I learnt about the other generations. Or perhaps simply because it was funny and put the different generations in perspective – with different examples that we can relate to with others. The book definitely needs this first section.

The second half of the book is the “new rules”. This is the section where you are going to learn why Gen Y does what they currently do. What this means and how to communicate with Gen Y on “their terms”. I enjoyed this section of the book still, but not as much as the first. Again, as a Gen Y myself, I completely agree with everything that the author said. I also found that a lot of things I had previously put down to my personality is actually not unique to me, and is something that most Gen Y people do. I don’t think I learnt much from the second half as I knew most of it. However it’s definitely worth the read if you are not a Gen Y and are interested in understanding them.

I’m giving it a solid 4 stars, and highly recommend it for those engaging (haha) gen Y-ers across a wide range of context, not just business.

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 itย  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.

Review: Stephen Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (S)

Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Stephen R. Covey

“One of the most inspiring and impactful books ever written, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has captivated readers for 25 years. It has transformed the lives of presidents and CEOs, educators and parentsโ€”in short, millions of people of all ages and occupations across the world. This twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Stephen Coveyโ€™s cherished classic commemorates his timeless wisdom, and encourages us to live a life of great and enduring purpose.”

This book was pretty much as I expected. It’s thick, large, and long, which is good for stopping and starting and sinking into. I liked some parts of it, I think more of the good parts were at the start than the end – this is different from most of the business books I read.

Overall it was fairly good. The downside was its length because you never know when a good bit might come up. So you could be reading a patch of average or just felt like this part could be edited out and condensed and then suddenly be hit with something insightful. A lot of the book at the start dragged out, including the Introduction before even getting to habit one.

The 7 Habits are as follows:

  1. Be proactive
  2. Begin with the End in Mind
  3. Put First Things First
  4. Think Win-Win
  5. Seek First to Understand, then to be understood
  6. Synergize
  7. Sharpen the Saw

The 7 habits aren’t particularly new or anything different. But the author does have some different perspectives, points and tips under each one. I found some of these hidden gems and stories under each. But overall the habits are nothing new.

I would recommend it for anyone who is in sales or a leadership role. However the principles could be applied to anyone’s personal life who wants to foster continual learning. I wouldn’t re-read it again but it was good. 4 stars.