Tag Archives: Books

Book review: Sprint – How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days

Book cover for Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp

Running a technology business, I’m always on the lookout for ways to tweak or improve processes, particularly around new product development. As a smaller company, resources are valuable and precious. Chasing a new product that doesn’t pan out can have dire consequences for the business. You want every advantage you can get screening product ideas and determining product-market fit.

We’d implemented agile methodologies in our development workflows, but these concepts have more of an impact on scheduling and getting product releases completed. They have minimal, if any impact on what product or features should be built. If what is getting put into the top of the development funnel isn’t a viable product, it doesn’t matter how fast or how good the product is that comes out the other side. You need to have a good methodology in place for building the right stuff.

For suggestions in this area, I turned to Sprint – How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days by Jake Knapp. I wanted to get ideas and gather insight into evaluating and fine-tuning new product ideas.

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Book review: All I Can Be – A Time Travel Story

Book cover for All I Can Be: A Time Travel Story by Michael Bunker

The short story genre feels like it is a dying breed. For whatever reason, there seems to be pressure for authors to write full-length novels these days. In some cases these novels turn into trilogies, and others turn into even longer series (yes, I’m looking at you Harry Potter).

While I certainly enjoy a well written full-length novel, I love a good short story. For one, it makes for a quick read that can be read in under an hour. Second, it’s a great way to sample and get introduced to an author’s writing.

It’s why I was interested in reading All I Can Be: A Time Travel Story by Michael Bunker. I had heard some good things about a couple of his novels, but I figured that sampling a short story of his first would be a good way to see if I’d like his writing style in a longer format book.

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Book review: A Dog’s Purpose – A Novel for Humans

Book cover for a Dog's Purpose: A Novel For Humans by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans by W. Bruce Cameron had been on my reading list for quite some time. When our family dog passed away at the end of 2017, I decided to move the book up a few slots. I figured it would be good to read as one of the final steps in the healing process. I realize that I could have just watched the movie, but I prefer reading the book. Instead of going into details as to why, let’s just say it’s part of who I am. We’ll save those details for a post some other time.

(For the record, I finished the book last February. Yes, I know. I’m a little behind on my book reviews but doing my best to catch up).

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Book review: Stories of Your Life And Others

Stories of Your Life And Others by Ted Chiang - book cover

Normally, I like to read a book before watching the movie adaptation of it. Why? I’ve seen one too many movie adaptations that either weren’t true to the book, tainted my memory of a good read, or were just poorly done.

I had quite a few close friends, whose recommendations I trust, tell me that I needed to watch the movie Arrival. Yes, they used the word ‘needed’. I knew it was based on the short story Stories of Your Life by Ted Chiang, which was on my reading list. I tried to hold out until I read the story, but when Arrival appeared as a selection on Amazon Prime, I was hit with a dilemma. Movies come and go on Prime. If I waited, I might miss my opportunity to see it as part of Prime. If I watched, I might ruin the book that I wanted to read. What was I to do?

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Book review: Dark Matter

Book cover - Dark Matter by Blake CrouchI enjoy reading and discovering new authors. My first interaction with Blake Crouch’s work was the Wayward Pines trilogy, which I thoroughly enjoyed. After finishing it, I knew that I would want to read more of his work. When the Amazon recommendation engine kicked in and suggested Dark Matter, which was reinforced by a strong review by Brad Feld (a regular source of book recommendations for me), it was done. Dark Matter would be my second foray into the works of Blake Crouch.

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Book review: Shoe Dog

Book cover for Shoe Dog by Phil KnightAutobiographical business narratives are generally not my thing. I’ve read enough of them to know the general format. The beginning of the book is a recount of how the narrator built their business, the middle tells how the narrator overcame various trials and tribulations to achieve the pinnacle of success, and the remainder of the book is either a defense of their character, an explanation of why their company is not evil, or a lecture on how to grow and run a business. I find the beginning of the books interesting, and then tend to zone out through the rest.

Therefore, it was with a bit of trepidation that I picked up Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. I wasn’t excited about reading it, but it was very highly recommended by a close friend and had also received a good review on Brad Feld’s blog, where I’ve gotten many, many good book recommendations.

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Book review: Get It Done

Book cover for Get It Done by Michael MackintoshWhen it comes to personal development books, most tend to be abstract, theoretical pieces. They discuss the concepts of becoming a better person, being more self aware, leading people, and other desirable traits in high level terms. In other words, they leave the application of the concepts they espouse as an exercise for the reader. On occasion, you run into books that are different. Such is the case with Get It Done: The 21-Day Mind Hack System to Double Your Productivity and Finish What You Start by Michael Mackintosh. Sure, it has high level concepts in it, but more importantly, it has all the things you need to implement the system he professes. I would consider it more of an instruction manual than a personal development, self-help book.

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Book review: The Go-Giver

I’m going to kick-off this book review with a short story that shows the network effect as it applies to books. You see, a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a Ninja Selling installation in Orange County. It turned out to be a significant event for me. It wasn’t because of what it taught me about selling. It was the information they presented about creating the proper mindset for success. The installation inspired me to read Larry Kendall’s book, Ninja Selling: Subtle Skills, Big Results, which I liked a lot. One of the books that Larry mentioned in his book was The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. Larry talked so highly of the book that I knew that I had to add it to my 2018 reading list.

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Book review: The Daily Stoic – 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

Book Cover for The Daily Stoic by Ryan HolidayThe best way to start one’s day is by reading something positive and inspirational. For 2018, I used The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations of Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday. I discovered the book through one of my trusted review sources, the blog of Brad Feld. He wrote about it towards the end of 2017. After reading his review, I figured it would be a great way to start my day throughout 2018. Previously, I had been using numerous blogs for daily readings, but there’s something different about a daily reading that follows a theme and has a purpose. For me, it’s one of the many things that makes The Daily Stoic special.

 

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Book review: As a Man Thinketh

Book cover for As a Man Thinketh by James AllenYou would think that a self-help book written over 100 years ago, in 1903 to be exact, would not be applicable in the modern world. A person writing a book at that time would not have to deal with the distractions of mobile phones, email, social media, and incessant negativity in the media. How could their wisdom possibly help someone today?

As it turns out, some pieces of wisdom are timeless when it comes to personal development. The guidance James Allen provides in As a Man Thinketh is one such case in point. It was the first book I read in 2018, and it was a great way to kick off the year.

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