In Originals, author Adam Grant describes the character traits of original thinkers and common threads that led to successful ideas/movements. He draws from women’s suffrage leaders, activists, and inventors to piece together a narrative of what it means to be original. He lays out specific suggestions for how you can encourage more originality in your work and how to avoid common pitfalls like groupthink. If you liked Give and Take, you’ll enjoy this one.
Lone Survivor is the eyewitness account of Operation Redwing, an operation near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that claimed the lives of many Navy SEALs and other brave soldiers. The author, Marcus Luttrell, a Navy SEAL on the mission provides a detailed breakdown of the attack and brave stand then continues on to describe his harrowing return to safety. Everyone should read this book. It’s fantastic.
Alec Ross was the Senior Advisor for Innovation under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her time in office. In The Industries of the Future, he details the futures of industries including robotics, genetics, machine learning, cyber security and big data among others. Alec obviously has some expertise in these fields based on his time abroad visiting other countries and speaking with diplomats.
I found the book really interesting particularly the sections on robotics, machine learning, and genetics. Alec lays out some cultural specifics around places like Japan that could lend them to be leaders in the robotics industry in the near future. For machine learning, Alec describes translation aids that could allow a group of 10 individuals from around the world to converse in their native tongues while still understanding one another (this section is pretty eye-opening). With genetics, I’m optimistically looking forward to a time when we can tailor drugs towards specific individuals based on their genetic makeup.
If you’re interested in the fields mentioned above, I would encourage you to give this one a read/listen. Some of the advancements Alec hints at are extremely impressive and will give you a clearer picture of what some of these fields could look like in the future.
In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, author and entrepreneur Ben Horowitz tackles many topics usually left out of business books like how to fire an employee and when to decide you should sell your company. He uses examples from his own career to illustrate the various points. It wasn’t my favorite recent read, but I found it entertaining for anyone that enjoys books on management and leadership.
I’ve read quite a few books that might be categorized as “self-help” books. This was certainly the most direct and brutally honest. Mark lays out why we should stop caring about many things and why our focus on always being positive isn’t productive for actual happiness. A central idea is that we should focus more on how to stomach hard lessons than how to spin those hard lessons into positive moments. Mark uses a humorous style filled with many personal stories and antidotes. I’d recommend it if you’re looking for something that breaks the traditional positive thinking self-help mold.
Doing Good Better by William MacAskill details the effective altruism movement, essentially how individuals can apply their time, talents, and money to do the most good in the world. MacAskill breaks down specific questions individuals can ask when donation time or money to determine if this is the best cause for their efforts. I thought the book was extremely eye opening and provided a different outlook on common philanthropic efforts like fair trade coffee and sweatshop work.
The Virgin Way covers Branson’s thoughts on leadership and the culture behind the Virgin Group including Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Records. Branson definitely operates in stark contrast to a CEO like Jeff Bezos. It was interesting to see the comparison. Branson prizes giving employees creative freedom to make a difference and treating them exceptionally well. While I appreciate his ideas and insight, I didn’t uncover anything specifically new hence the low rating. I think there are other books that cover these topics just as well if not better.
In What to Do When It’s Your Turn, Seth Godin continues his work on motivation pushing creatives to step out on a limb and “take their turn” by building, leading, doing, and shipping. The book was a quick read and formatted like many Seth Godin books, full of short pieces that could almost stand on their own. If you like Seth’s work, you’ll like this book. If it’s your first book from Seth, I would suggest Linchpin instead.
The Everything Store looks inside of Amazon, one of the most successful companies on the planet. It’s a detailed look at the founder, Jeff Bezos, and the complete rise of the eCommerce giant. I thought the pieces about the company culture were especially interesting. Bezos and Amazon seem to drive employees very very hard in a high pressure environment.
As the subtitle implies, Shoe Dog covers the history of Nike from the very start. As a runner myself and running history enthusiast, I found the book extremely interesting. I learned a ton about the sports giant that I didn’t previously know. For example, Nike originally started by selling Onitsuka Tigers (a shoe now sold through Asics). If you like biographies, give this one a shot.