Non-Fiction books

How I Built This by Guy Raz
How I Built This by Guy Raz

The only book you need to read if you own a business or dream of starting a business.

Guy Raz has interviewed hundreds of brilliant and successful CEOs, serial entrepreneurs, and silicon valley giants on his podcast “How I Built This”. This book (of the same name) is a condensed and distilled version of the pearls of wisdom gathered from all those interviews. Consider it a crash course on entrepreneurship or a startup Bootcamp in a book.

Whether you are still looking for a startup idea to call your own or looking to scale up your business or hunting for funding, this book will give you amazing ideas to accomplish all of them.

One of my school teachers used to say every student should possess an Oxford English Dictionary. In a similar vein, anyone who wants to succeed in business for their side hustle should have this book in their personal library. Even if you work in a company, the ideas in this book will help you take better ownership of your tasks and become an intrapreneur innovator!

This is a book you want to savor, read, refer, and re-read.

Running a business comes with many highs and lows. This book will keep you motivated throughout that roller coaster ride. Many entrepreneurs and freelancers find themselves lonely and unable to discuss their stressors with friends or family. Consider this book your escape hatch and therapist!

Unlike other books, which propagate various kinds of hustle “porn”, a single-method playbook that rarely works for anyone, this book has meaningful and practical techniques that can be applied by everyday hustlers trying to keep their idea afloat. The book presents multiple pathways to business success – like an entrepreneurial buffet. As the subtitle says, this book will present the reader with multiple paths to success. So choose your journey and launch yourself to success.

Last but not the least, shout out and thanks to Technical.ly and Philly Tech week for bringing in Guy to be the main speaker at the recent “Introduced” conference. Thanks to Guy Raz himself for giving away signed copies to the attendees of the conference!🙂

In summation, brilliant book! 5* rating.

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Books on Creativity & Innovation

Feeling stuck or devoid of inspiration? A problem irritating you to no end? Stuck with writer’s block?

Creative inspiration is an ideal answer to all these problems. In today’s knowledge economy, innovative ideas and creativity are the new currency for career acceleration. Also, as more jobs get automated, soft skills combined with innovative thinking is the only way to remain relevant and valuable in the marketplace.

Creativity & Innovation Thinking – the only way to save your job from being made obsolete by Automation!

So here is a list of 7 superb books that will turbocharge your thinking and sharpen your creativity muscles:

1. Alchemy. Author = Rory Sutherland.
2. Creativity Inc. Author = Ed Catmull.
3. Design Thinking. Author = Tim Brown.
4. 131 Boredom Busters & Creativity Builders for Kids. Author = Jed Jurchenko.
5. The Accidental Creative. Author = Todd Henry.
6. Creative Careers. Author = Jeffrey Madoff.
7. Tools of the Titans. Author = Tim Ferris. Review here

Some of these books also feature on my list of Top 25 books to read this year. A modified version of this article was also posted on Medium.com under the title “Best Books on Creativity & Innovation

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Welcome to Day 06 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s challenge is to review any book with 400+ pages.

Shoutout to Miss Camilla and her blog . All the entries were brilliant. But Camilla’s style of “rebelling” was both unexpected and unique. The bonus of getting to read 4 reviews for the price for one? Awesome!  Hat tip, Rebel Camilla!

Prompt Choice

For today’s challenge I went with another masterpiece by Tim Ferris – “Tribe of Mentors”. At 627 pages, the book is fatter than most dictionaries! This book is basically a compilation of success tactics used by the world’s most brilliant performers. This is literally “Mentor in a Book”.

  • Title – Rebel Talent: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World
  • Author – Tim Ferris

REVIEW SCORE = 4/5

Book Review

The book asks a set of 11 poignant questions to experts in different domains, styled after his podcast interviews. The answers are mind-blowing and immensely practical. Each chapter in the book contains answers and thoughts from one influencer who is considered the leader in his/her field. Industries and names include authors (Neil Gaiman), graphic designers, chefs, actresses (Aisha Tyler), athletes, swim coaches (Terry Laughlin), filmmakers (Darren Aronfsky), CEOs and many more.

Word of warning – If you have already read “Tools of the Titans” (which I reviewed earlier) by the same author, like me, then some parts might seem repetitive. For example, tech genius and venture capitalist Naval Ravikant features in both books. However, his advice is incredibly spot-on, so I did not mind reading it all over again! Consider it “reinforcement learning”.

For those who have not heard of Naval – he is the founder of AngelList, a recruiting platform for startups. He also invested in 100+ companies including Uber, Twitter, Clearview AI and multiple others, making him a billionaire considered to have the “Midas touch”.

The Qs Tim asks are designed to extract pearls of wisdom that these luminaries use – imagine how amazing your life can be, if you followed 3 or 4 religiously! Some example Qs from the book:

  • What do you do when you feel unfocused or overwhelmed?
  • What is the book you have given the most as a gift and why? Books that influenced your life. Special note to readers – this single point alone proves an important fact – all successful RICH people read books! ? If that does not motivate you to read more, I wash my hands off you!
  • Your best investment of $100 or less.

Quotes from the book:

Some of the advice from the book that resonated the most with me are listed below:

  • Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep.
  • It is easier to ask forgiveness than to ask Permission.
  • Play iterated games. All returns in life, whether in wealth, relationships or knowledge come from compound interest.

Similar Works

  • Books – “Tools of the Titans” also by Tim Ferris. “Peak Performance: Elevate Your Game, Avoid Burnout, and Thrive with the New Science of Success” by Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness. “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” by David Epstein. “Think Like a Rocket Scientist: Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life” by Ozan Varol.
  • Movies – Rocky, Theory of Everything, Slumdog Millionaire, The Intern, Joy (starring Jennifer Lawrence).
  • Genres – Self-Help, Productivity, Popular Development Psychology

Until next time, Adieu and Happy Reading!

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Welcome to Day 05 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s prompt is “Rebel”.

Shoutout to Niru from “Opinions of a Catty, BookLoving Couch Potato” for her witty review of “The Duke and I”. The book was a perfect fit for the theme, the review notes were heartfelt and Julia Quinn book covers themselves are so quirky and attractive!

For today’s challenge I went with a relatively safe choice – “Rebel Talent” by Harvard Business school Professor, Francesca Gino. This book explains why creative rebellion is essential to find joy at work and in life, using diverse examples like a Michelin star chef, the Head of animation studio Pixar and many more!

  • Title – Rebel Talent
  • Author – Francesca Gino

REVIEW SCORE = 4/5

The book uses the term “Rebel” to mean outlier and someone who shatters conventions, not necessarily mean or evil or aggressive. The author argues that rebel employees are critical to companies and help to raise the bar on innovation, thus contributing to profits and branding and shareholder value.

We all can agree that mindlessly following rules and policies and repeating mundane tasks does suck the satisfaction out of work and life! However, not many of us can gather courage to break the norm, or risk failure. The special few who do are the ones who reach spectacular success!

Note that the author is not suggesting that every employee start breaking rules. Rather the book shows how to balance social conventions and be rebellious for useful purposes. The book also has tips for managers to reign in rebellious employees just enough to maintain a healthy equilibrium between hellion and star performer.  

The book reminds me of a quote from Iris Apfel’s book “Fit in before you Step Out”.

The “Pygmalion effect” in the book and the anecdotes in the book were quite interesting. What I would have liked to see more steps to cultivate this mindset, especially for employees who have been conforming for too long. This was a bit lacking in the book.

Similar Works

  • Books – “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, “What You Do is Who You Are” by Ben Horowitz. “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” by Peter Drucker. “It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work” by Jason Fried and David Hansson. “The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in a Multigenerational Workplace” by Lindsey Pollak.
  • Movies – Legally Blonde, Braveheart, Brave.
  • Genres – Organizational Culture, Workplace Behavior.

Until next time, Adieu and Happy Reading!

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Welcome to Day 03 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s prompt is “Golden Classics”. Any book published before 1995.

I chose Robert Cialdini’s evergreen bestseller “Influence” for today’s prompt. This book was published in 1984 but the evergreen content still holds true after all these decades!

Bestselling authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Tim Ferris suggest that everyone should read at least 3-4 books written 50-100 years ago. These books have stood the test of time, so the wisdom remains immortal across generations! Some other perennial classics are listed in the end of this blogpost.

  • Title – Influence
  • SubTitle – The Psychology of Persuasion
  • Author – Robert B. Cialdini, PhD

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

The book outlines six main principles of persuasion that you can use to influence others and be aware, so others do not take undue advantage of you! Must read for anyone looking to accelerate their career or business, not just marketing professionals or sales folks! If you work in product design, social media marketing or want to boost your personal branding, then please pick up a copy today!

The principles listed in this book have a very sound foundation in science and decades of research. But the book is never dry or boring and uses compelling examples to explain the topics. This book was a recommended reading for my organizational behavior and strategy class during my MBA program.

As a female immigrant, I sometimes encounter subtle prejudices and unconscious bias. I have used the principles of this book to great success to counter these effects.

One example of the effectiveness and ageless insights of this book is the principle of social proof. This book was written before the internet ever existed, but today we rely so heavily on social media reviews on Amazon, Google testimonials, Yelp stars and other proof before making even a $20 purchase.

Even Ramit Sethi, New York Times bestselling author of “I will Teach You to be Rich” and coach of Growth Labs also recommends this book as a must-read for anyone starting their business.

Similar Works

  • Books – “Alchemy” by Rory Sutherland, “Made to Stick” by Dan and Chip Heath.
  • Golden Classics – “Art of War” by Sun Tzu, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, “Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • TV Series – Mad Men
  • Genres – Applied Psychology, Social Psychology, Consumer Behavior, Marketing for Small Businesses.

Until next time, adieu and Happy Reading!

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