Book review: Ark

Book cover for Ark (Amazon Forward Series) by Veronica Roth

I’m a fan of the short story format. It’s impressive when an author tells a captivating story with well-developed characters in a condensed number of pages. I’ve also found it a great way to explore new authors to get a feel for their writing style.

So in the breaks between books on my reading list, I’ve been working through the short stories in the Amazon Forward series. I’ve read four of the six stories, and recently finished the 5th – Ark by Veronica Roth. If the author sounds familiar, she wrote the Divergent series of books that was made into a series of movies starting back in 2014.

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Planting trees

“A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in” – Greek proverb

I’ll admit it. There are a lot of things in life that I take for granted. Here’s a few of them:

  • Turning the handle on a faucet and having clean water come out
  • Flipping a switch to light the darkness
  • Driving my car on well-maintained roads
  • Heating my house during the cold winter months
  • Having access to a wealth information through the internet

I could continue on, but you get the point. The common thread in this list of amenities is that they are the result of infrastructure built by those before me. At some point, people made decisions to put their time and effort into building things that were bigger than themselves. They had the foresight and took the initiative to build something that would not only benefit them and their direct descendants but also society as a whole.

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Book review: Don’t Just Roll the Dice

Book cover for Don't Just Roll the Dice: A usefully short guide to software pricing

No, this isn’t a book review about gambling. although it tends to be the way most companies price their product, especially when the product is software. Why is that?

Pricing a software product is a difficult, challenging task. The problem is that the cost of software doesn’t lie in making another copy. The marginal cost to make an additional unit is effectively zero. The internet has eliminated the cost of distributing it. So if production and distribution are free, what makes software so expensive?

It’s the cost of the people required to develop, market, and sell it. These elements add up quickly and can get very expensive.

In Don’t Just Roll the Dice, Neil Davidson addresses the difficulties pricing software. And as the subtitle states, it is a ‘usefully short guide to software pricing,’ with the operative words being short and software.

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Hearing something regularly doesn’t make it true

Do you know what the “illusory truth effect” is? It’s our tendency to treat a false or misleading statement as fact after repeated exposure. You see, as humans, we tend to take shortcuts when assessing if what we hear is true or not. Instead of racing out to collect facts, we evaluate statements based on prior knowledge and how familiar we are with them. Researchers have shown that people who are exposed repeatedly to statements, even when false, are more likely to believe they are true.

How does this work you ask? Let’s take a look at a specific example.

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Book review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Book cover for The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

If you’ve been following my latest business book reviews, you’ll notice they’ve been mostly of the storytelling type. They include The Energy Bus, The Go-Giver Leader, and Get A Grip. I like business books written in this style. They’re much easier to read than business books written like academic textbooks. They’re more entertaining, obviously. Best of all, when they’re written well, I learn from them.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that my latest business book read was also of the fable variety. My nemesis, the Amazon recommendation engine, has clearly figured me out. It suggested The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, multiple times. I finally relented, purchased the book, and added it to my reading list.

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Sweeping the Floor

We’re 2 weeks into the new decade. How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?

From what I see at the gym in the morning and around my neighborhood, a lot of people are doing a good job sticking with it. As I do every year, I’m seeing new faces at the gym, and new people walking and jogging around the neighborhood. While most will dwindle away, some will stick with it. The new routines will become habit, which is when they will start to notice changes in their body.

When people set resolutions for the year, they are always around diet and fitness. People want to eat better and work out to improve their health and lose weight, which are both great goals. Why don’t people place the same attention on their mental health as their physical health?

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Book review: Get A Grip – An Entrepreneurial Fable

Book cover for Get A Grip: An Entrepreneurial Fable by Gino Wickman and Mike Paton

Most business books tend to be dry and boring. An author introduces a framework or set of concepts. These are explored in detail. Theoretical examples of how to apply them are given. Every once in a while, I’ll come across a business book in this format that is well written and reads easily. For the most part though, these books are a slog and take me a long time to read.

The business books I like are those that weave the framework or concepts into a story. They are easier to read and entertain at the same time. While I may not be able to apply or use the concepts presented, more often than not, I read through this style of business book faster. It feels a lot less like work and is way more enjoyable.

My latest business read, Get A Grip: An Entrepreneurial Fable by Gino Wickman and Mike Paton, uses the story-telling style to introduce their Entrepreneurial Operating System framework, or EOS for short.

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2019 – Year in review for the blog

2019 marked the 7th year that I’ve maintained a blog. Since the overwhelming majority of blogs don’t make it past the 6-month mark, I’m happy that I’ve been able to stick with it for this long, and I plan to continue.

As I’ve done each year, here’s the review of the blog’s performance in 2019 and my blogging goals for 2020. It’s a fun state of the union exercise to look back and see how things have went, traffic levels, popular posts, and more.

If you’re interested in past year’s performance, click on the year to see the review for that time and the forward looking goals:

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Book review: Giving It All Away…and Getting It All Back Again – The Way of Living Generously

Book cover for Giving It All Away...and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously by David Green

What do you do when your mother gives you a book recommendation? You read it, of course.

I don’t get a lot of book recommendations from my mom. One of the last ones that I remember getting was Boys in the Boat, which I enjoyed. So when I get a recommendation from her, I take it seriously.

The most recent recommendation I got was for Giving It All Away…and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously by David Green. If you don’t know who David Green, don’t be ashamed. I didn’t know who he was either until I started reading the book.

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2020 Fitness Goals

Every year I like to review my fitness goals for the prior year and set new ones for the upcoming year. I’ve found that setting measurable goals and then publishing them keeps me on track and holds me accountable.

In 2019, my goals were focused around three areas – working out, walking, and diet. These were the same 3 areas of focus for 2018, and they will be the same for 2020.

When looking back over the last year, things went well for the most part. There a couple of adjustments I’d like to make. Otherwise, it’s going to be more of the same in the upcoming year. Sometimes it’s best not to fix it if it isn’t broken, if you know what I mean.

Here’s the look back at 2019, and the look ahead at 2020.

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