Thinking in Systems

Thinking in Systems

This book is as boring as it sounds and I’m someone who creates systems for a living. The book is about Systems Thinking with the goal of teaching you to become aware of Systems Thinkers. According to the book, there are two main schools of thought when comes to thinking about complex systems when it comes to thinking about large systems. There is Systems Thinking, which is a holistic approach that analyzes the entire system, and Reductionism, which focuses on breaking a system down for further analysis.

Become a giver

Become a giver

Last week, I read the book, The Go-Giver, Expanded Edition: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea, by Bob Burg. It was recommended by Josh Brown of the Reformed Broker blog as the one book he’d give a new graduate. It was excellent. What makes a great book is their ability to take simple ideas you’ve heard many times before and allow you to understand their importance.  Ideas like give more value than you take, be yourself, and stay open for opportunities.

I read a copy from my local library but I enjoyed the book so much that I’m going to order my own copy. I can tell this will be a book will be one I read again and again.

I’ll be talking about this book more in the next few days.

Bookbinge: Hemingway on writing

A few weeks ago, I was listening to the podcast, The Moment with Brian Koppelman, with special guest Seth Godin.  Brian was the screenwriter of the movie, Rounders, and the Showtime series, Billions. During the podcast, Brian named his two favorite books on writing, which were, Hemingway On Writing, and Stephen King’s, On Writing.  After listening to the podcast, I requested both books from the library.  Last week, I finished, Hemingway On Writing. It was the perfect book to read for someone who’s been struggling to write. It’s one of those books that I will eventually add to my library because I can imagine reading it again and again. It’s that good. It’s not the stereotypical Hemingway we’ve all heard before. It’s the man in his own words. Talking about his work, his process, how he views over writers, writing for a living, and how to become a writer. It’s fascinating, and motivating, and it’s helped spurn me back into my daily blog post habit.  If you’re interested in writing, which should be everyone, then this is a book you need to read about ten times.

I’ve read a few books in the past month that I haven’t written about on this blog. I’ll be posting them in the coming weeks and updating my online reading list.

I’m currently reading a few books at the same time:

Beach Books

Later this summer, I’ll take some time off to go to the beach with my family.  One of the main things my wife and I talk about in our preparation to leave for the shore is what books we’ll bring with us. Usually, I stick to classics, something I hope will inspire me for the rest of the year.

Last year, I read Hemingway’s, The Old Man and the Sea.  This year, I’m going to try to make a good size dent in a much larger book, Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow. My goal is to learn more about one of the main men who helped create the country I know call home. The questions I have are the following:

  • How did he live?
  • What was his personality?
  • How did he treat others?
  • How he made decisions?
  • What did he want in life?
  • Did he achieve his goals?
  • How do you handle that amount of power and how do you give it up?

This Is the first biography I’ve read since the Steve Jobs biography that completed a few years ago. I have a list of biographies I’m hoping to complete by the end of the year about people like Hamilton, Edison, Charles Schultz, and Gandhi.

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.

Negative Visualization

This past week, I’ve been reading, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine. The book is about Roman Stoic Philosophy and how we can use it in our daily lives to improve our overall wellbeing.  In the following week, I’ll be writing about a number of the topics from Irvine’s book.

The topic I want to write about today is one of his four Psychological techniques, Negative Visualization.  Negative Visualization is a method Stoics practiced to help them appreciate their lives and the things they had. This is the practice of spending sometime thinking about something negative happening to others or yourself and what life would be like without them in your life.  This method can be used to help you appreciate your kids, spouse, parents, extended family, and friends.

Before reading this book, I’ve unknowingly used this method to in the past to help me appreciate the things I have in life.  Now I have a name for it. I find it helpful to do this this periodically. You could try focusing on something different once a week or once a day. Especially, when there are days when you are stressing out about your kids or spouse.  It’s easy to think about what they did wrong but instead of indulging that type of thinking try some negative visualization to put your life in perspective. A few minutes will allow you to realize how empty life would be with out those special people being involved in your daily life. It will not make you feel better but make every act done with your family so much more significant.

Visualizing Your Goals

For the past few days, I’ve been listening to, The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy. I’m only halfway through the second disc but it’s become clear that the main theme of the book is creating a positive attitude and realistic goals to motivate you to achieve your sales targets. 

I’ve never had a sales position but we’re all selling something whether you work in sales, finance, IT, or engineering. If your in a job in finance or IT you’re selling your skills. When looking for another job or a promotion, you’re trying to sell your self to the employer. If you’re an engineer who creates a product then you’ll eventually want to sell that product. 

Everyone is selling, I used to feel a little sleazy about asking people for money especially money for services or charity. This is due to my lack of education in sales that didn’t allow me to understand why people buy or donate. It’s why I’m listening to books like this one. If you feel the same way or you’re struggling with your sales then you should find a copy and listen.

Brain spends the beginning of the book discussing the importance of setting realistic goals and the things you want to do or own as a result of achieving your goals. His suggestion is to come up with around one-hundred things you want to motivate you to achieve your goals. You should create career, financial, personal, and family goals. This week I’ll be thinking about my short term & long term goals in each of these areas of my life and the things I want to own someday in the future.