Bookbinge: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

I recently finished this book over the past week. It’s short, less than 100 pages, but I’ll need to read it again, or probably 10 more times, before I can say that I have an understanding of all the topics Marcus discusses. This book is deep.

The part I enjoyed the most about this book is that here is a man who, at the time, is one of the most powerful men in the world and we get to read his personal journal to find out that he’s experiencing the same every day issues we deal with today. Except he was writing about these topics 1900 years ago. I find it fascinating that I’m reading the words of a man from A.D. 161.

This book is a part of the Art of Manliness’s 100 Must-Read Books: The Essential Man’s Library.

Bookbinge: The Big Short

Bookbinge: The Big Short

I should have read, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, by Micheal Lewis years ago.  Especially, when I was still at my first full-time job in a Fixed Income group of a local mutual fund company during the Great Recession.  I remember a lot of the events and the moment everyone realized that nobody had a good understanding about what the risk was these securities.  There were a few investors who would end up getting wildly rich out of betting against a market, everyone was told would never default, and the money making securitization industry that got completely out of control.

If you want to laugh, learn, and get really upset about Wall Street, Rating Agencies (Moody’s, S&P, & Fitch), SEC, and pretty everyone else involved in the financial markets than this book is for you.  It’s an excellent twenty year followup to Micheal Lewis’s classic, Liar’s Poker.  He thought Wall Street, particularly the MBS market, was dead after his book came out in 80s.  Little did he know, the 80s, would end up being small potatoes to what was going to take place in the middle of the first decade of the new millennium.  It would cause a recession the world financial markets are still trying to correct.

Great read.  Interesting characters.  Go read this book, and then watch Adam McKay’s movie, The Big Short, which was nominated for an Academy Award.  Both the book, and the movie, do an excellent job explaining very technical financial terms and how they almost destroyed the global financial system.

Bookbinge: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

 

A few weeks ago I completed, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink.  It’s a great book about what motivates us and how to motivate yourself, employees, or organization in the modern ear. Here are some of my notes from the books. I highly recommend.  I suggest you read it yourself to figure out ways motivation works in today’s economy.

Drive focuses on the third drive of human behavior.  It was proceeded by two other drives.

Based on Harry Harlow and Edward Deci Three Drives

First Drive: Biological drive includes hunger, thirst, and sex

Second Drive: Response to rewards and punishments in our environment.

Third Drive: Intrinsic Motivation

Daniel Pink labels these three Drives as Motivations:

(performance of the task. Joy of the task is the reward.)

Motivation 1.0 = Survival Motivation

Motivation 2.0 = External rewards and punishments (carrots and sticks)

This type of motivation works fine for routine tasks but it’s not ideal for how we organize what we do, how we think about what we do, and how we do what we do in today’s world. Motivation 2.0 worked well for the industrial revolution. In a time where factory workers had to complete simple routine tasks.

Motivation 3.0 = The way to motivate individuals in the new more creative work that many professionals do everyday. In this line of work carrot and stick rewards are demotivating and encourage the unethical behavior.

This doesn’t mean all rewards are bad. “Now that” rewards given after a task is complete can be more effective if they also provide useful information about performance.

In the last three chapters of his book, Dan lays out the three key elements of Motivation 3.0.

  1. Autonomy
  2. Mastery
  3. Purpose

Dan also describes two types of behavior: Type X & Type I. Motivation 3.0 fosters Type I behavior.  Type I is less concerned with external rewards and more concerned with inherent satisfaction of the activity.  You are not born with either Type I or Type X.  You can always become a Type I.  Type I behavior promotes greater health, stronger performance, and overall well-being.

The three elements help create Type I behavior.

Autonomy

To encourage autonomy people need autonomy over task (what they do), time (when they do it), team (who they do it with), and technique (how they do it).

Mastery

There are three rules to Mastery:

  1. Mastery is a mindset: It requires the capacity to see your abilities not as finite, but as infinitely improvable.
  2. Mastery is a pain: It demands effort, grit, and deliberate practice.
  3. Mastery is an asymptote: It’s impossible to fully realize, which makes it simultaneously frustrating and alluring.

Purpose

What is purpose?

A cause greater and more enduring than themselves.

In organizations, this new “Purpose Motive” is expressing itself in three ways:
1) in goals that use profit to reach purpose
2) in words that emphasize more than self-interest
3) in policies that allow people to pursue purpose on their own terms.

Motivation 3.0- Purpose maximization is taking place alongside profit maximization as an aspiration and a guiding principle.

The move to accompany profit maximization with purpose maximization has the potential to rejuvenate out businesses and remake our world.

Bookbinge: Guns, Germs, & Steel

Bookbinge: Guns, Germs, & Steel

I was recommended this book, Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fate of Human Societies by Jared Diamond, by Seth Godin in his post, end of the year book and audiobook roundup

This book took forever to finish and I was listening to the audiobook which usually takes me about a week. It was equal parts fascinating and mind-numbingly boring. I’m not sure if it’s because of the book itself or the fact that I listened to the unabridged version. I’m not sure if many some of the boring parts were the narrator reading charts. I bought the book a few weeks ago so I’m going to have to skim through to find out.

Either way it’s worth the listen. Simply because the good greatly outweighs the bad. It deserved a Pulitzer. The book gives you the reasons why are civilization turned out the way it is today. 

Have you ever thought about why Europeans exploded and colonized most the world? Why didn’t Native Americans, Africans, or Asians explore and colonize Europe? The book answers these questions. 

In short it’s due to the reasons listed in the title: Guns, Germs, and Steel. Jared dives into each of these topics and how there evolution throughout the world determined our future.

It’s a fascinating book that produced a ton of questions about our world. I’ll be thinking about this book for years to come. This won’t be the last time I read it.

Bookbinge: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Bookbinge: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Last week I completed, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot  by David Shafer.  I listened to the audiobook on the Overdrive app.  I discovered this book through Seth Godin’s blog post, End of the year book and audio roundup.  It’s a funny, fresh, and inspiring story about three people who get caught up in a type of international thriller which hops all over the world.  You’ll laugh, think, and be kind of terrified about the possibilities of what companies could one day do with all the data they’re collecting on us.

I bought a smart watch about a week before I read this book.  This book might have me regretting that decision when you think about all the information they now have on me.  By the end of the book you might finding yourself covering up your computers webcam with a post-it note.

Isn’t that the sign of a good book?  The ones that changed you.  Though maybe it doesn’t mean change you into a more paranoid person.  I don’t think this book does that but t’s hard not to rethink how all of this information we’re posting online will be one day used against us.

I highly recommend.

Bookbinge: Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst

Bookbinge: Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst

My review for Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload by Mark Hurst.

This book is pretty hard to review because there is too much information.  It’s surprising to me.  I wasn’t even sure I was going to read this book.  I discovered it through my favorite business book reading list, Personal MBA. I thought I practically grew up in the digital age.  I have a graduate degree in Information Science. Learning to program. blah, blah, blah.

There is some redundant stuff because this book, reviewing URLs and to make sure the URL in the emails you receive are legitamate, but that’s not common knowledge to everyone.  In Josh Kaufman’s PMBA review, his final sentence says, “even advanced users will pick something up.”  This is 100% true.  I picked up a ton of useful information which would take up much more time than I have for one post.

Seth Godin’s blurb on the front of the book says,”This is the Elements of Style for the digital age.”  I think that’s 100% true.  This should be required reading for anyone entering the workforce.  Though I think it’s the combination of two books.  I’d restate it to say, “This is the combination of the Elements of Style and Getting Things Done for the digital age.”

As Josh points out in his review, a lot of this book deals with email. It also deals with handling todos, media consumption, saving files, creating files, handling photos, and  working more efficiently.  This book is about productivity.

I think it does a better job than Getting Things Done, which is a good book.  I’ve read it and tried to implement the system but where that system gets bogged down by the bits.  The system Hurst explains, that has a lot of the same principles as GTD, is able to manage.  Getting Things done is paper based but many have tried to digitize it.  Hurst finally tells you how to digitize your life in simple and manageable steps.

The advice in this book has helped me clear my work and personal inboxes, organize my todos and files, improve my work with a number of helpful programs to download, and how to handle my exploding iPhoto  album.

It’s only been a few days since I’ve finished Mark’s book and began implementing his suggestions.  I still haven’t download a lot of the programs he suggested.  I’m planning on doing that in the next few days.  I have been following his run of emptying my email at least one a day and I have noticed a significant difference in the way I feel.  It’s refreshing to see it empty at least once during the day.  I’ve chosen to do it before I end my day.  It’s made my mornings less daunting and more structured because I know what I need to work on and where to find it.

That’s a win, and something everyone should hope to achieve.

Bookbinge: Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

Oren is an investment banker who specializes in pitching, and closing deals, but early in his career he thought there had to be a better way to deliver the perfect pitch. That’s when he began his research in neuroscience and how the different parts of the brain react to information.  That’s when he created the process behind his book, Pitch Anything.

In the beginning of his book, Oren talks about the three different parts of the brain:

  • Crocodile Brain: Survival – fight or flight response.
  • Mid-brain: Social Relationships – Determines what is going on in the moment.
  • Neocortex: The problem-solving brain.

The goal is to get your message through the crocodile brain and into the neocortex.  The crocodile brain immediately wants to code new information in three ways:

  1. Boring: Ignore it.
  2. Dangerous: Fight/run.
  3. Complicated: Radically summarize and pass information in severely truncated form. Resulting in a lot of data loss.

The way to make sure your complete message gets through to your audience is to use his STRONG method:

  • Set the frame
  • Tell the story
  • Reveal the intrigue
  • Offer the prize
  • Nail the hookpoint
  • Get the deal

His idea of Frames, and how to use and deal with them, is the main point of the book.

Most business situations you’ll encounter three major types of opposing frames:

  1. Power frame
  2. Time frame
  3. Analyst frame

There are three major response frame types you can use to meet these oncoming frames, win the initial collision, and control the agenda:

  1. Power-busting frame
  2. Time constraining frame
  3. Intrigue frame
    The fourth is useful against all three:
  4. Prize frame

Get in the game (7 steps)
Step 1: Learn to recognize beta traps and how to step around them.
Step 2: Start stepping around beta traps.
Step 3: Identify and label social frames.
Step 4: Begin to initiate frame collisions with safe targets.
Step 5: The small acts of defiance and denial you use to take control of a social frame create a certain amount of conflict and tension.
Step 6: Frame control cannot be forced because this takes the fun out of it.
Step 7: Work with other frame masters.

Most Important Terms
Frame control: This is what you’re trying to do in your presentations.  You want to control the presentation and the direction of the discussion.  If you control the frame, you’ll be able to move past the crocodile brain and into the neocortex.
Power-busting frame:  If you encounter the three types of frames discussed earlier then you can use the four power busting frames to capture frame control to control the direction of the conversation.
Frame collisions: When two frames collide and battle for frame control.  The result of being challenges by one of the power frames and then using a power-busting frame against it.  There can be many frame collisions in every business conversation.
Prizing:  Is a power-busting frame that can be used against any of the three power frames.  Prizing is when you hold a prize out to the audience or target to draw them toward your decision.
Beta traps: Anything that can be used to take away from your status.  Waiting rooms, receptionists, being placed on hold, dealing with non-decision makers, or acting to needy at the end of a presentation are all types of beta traps.
Seizing status: At the beginning of your presentation seizing control of status about why should people listen to you and why you have authority.
Local star power: Similar to seizing status.  Addressing why you’re a start and people should follow your thoughts.
Push/pull: the natural tug and pull of trying to control the frame.  If done to forcibly then it can actually harm your goals and turn the audience off.  It’s supposed to be a fun game and not total domination.
Alpha: The main frame in the room.  If you’re presenting you need to establish yourself as the Alpha otherwise who ever does will be able to sidetrack or derail your agenda.
Hot cognition: Deciding that you like something before you fully understand it.
Crocodile brain: The first area of the brain that new information encounters.  This harbors the fight or flight sensors and immediately tries to code new information.
Neocortex: The problem solving section of the brain.  This is where you want you message to go so people can absorb your story.