We Were Born to Run

I run frequently and had heard some buzz about this book. I’m keenly interested in the amazing results that often come from ancient wisdom and using our incredible human body as correctly as possible. These are the exact ideas that author, Christopher McDougall touches on in his book, “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.”

The book has two main parts. First, it follows the story of the author as he investigates solutions to his own problems with running. Along the way he, meets, befriends, and races with members of a mysterious southwestern tribe known as the Tarahumara Indians and several other interesting characters. The second part of the book (which is mixed in with the story) contains various accounts of scientific study, an evolutionary history of running, and the modern history of the running industry. Here are some key points I found very interesting: Continue reading “We Were Born to Run”

The Science of Success

Koch Industries is the second largest privately held company in the world. In “The Science of Success,” the C.E.O. talks about the management philosophies that his company uses to be so successful.

 

In short, the techniques called “Market-based Management” (MBM) described in the book are string of very sensible ideas. The true power of the book is that it shows how to join these sensible ideas together into a cohesive and effective management strategy. In this review, I’ll briefly describe the points that really hit home with me. Continue reading “The Science of Success”

Evolution by Stephen Baxter

As a dedicated member of the human species, I was curious when my advisor recommended this book about human evolution. The author uses an engaging approach to discuss the changes that took place as early primates from the Cretaceous period evolved bit by bit towards modern humans and beyond!

Evolution by Stephen Baxter

Baxter selects 19 individuals and follows each through a portion of their lives. The first is a tiny, rat-like primate living along-side dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and the last is a distant relative of humans living 500 million years in the future. As we get to know each individual we get a sense of what motivates them, how they live, and how they have built upon that which their ancestors used to be successful.

I had two big take-aways from this book. Continue reading “Evolution by Stephen Baxter”

Still Life with Woodpecker

It is with a sense of sadness and triumph that I write these words. Last night I finished the last of author Tom Robbins’ books. It was a good one to end on. “Still Life with Woodpecker” expounded on the nature of love, outlaws, pyramids, and redheads. Being crowned with crimson myself, I tried to identify with the fanciful prose and witty remarks about my carrot-topped comrades.

I even went on to investigate my own redness. When I asked my mother (who recently did our family lineage) if the red hair was Irish or Scottish or what, she informed me that the rouge locks on my noggin were “from the Saxon Reds.” Ah yes. Visions of sea-faring Vikings wielding battle axes and the pagan god Thor wielding lightning and hammers flashed in my head. Anyway… back to the book.

Still Life with Woodpecker

Now that I’ve read all of Tom’s stuff, I guess I’ll have to find a new author to obsess over and kiss the ass of. Anybody have a good suggestion? I’ll leave you with some amusing and inspiring quotes.

“Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced, not because it has been sober, responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and immature.”

“The analytically minded might conclude that persons with red hair tend to be either dangerous or funny.”

“In the world according to the positivist, the inspiring thing about scrambled eggs is that any way you turn them they’re sunny side up. In the world according to the existentialist, the hopeless thing about scrambled eggs is that any way you turn the they’re scrambled.”

“What limits people is that they don’t have the fucking nerve or imagination to star in their own movie, let alone direct it.”

4-Hour Work Week Review

I finished Tim Ferris’s book, The 4-Hour Work Week. This book is very inspiring, and takes a very different take on entrepreneurship than most books you’ll find on the subject. Tim suggests increasing efficiency in everything you do (both personal and professional) by applying the 80/20 rule and setting deadlines. (The 80/20 rule says that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts) When you only do 20% of the things you were doing before, and you set deadlines so you complete them faster than you normally would… efficiency ensues.

4-Hour Work Week

So in addition to this efficiency point, Tim also suggests setting up little-to-no effort income streams in the form of small niche-market internet-based businesses. He recommends outsourcing everything to a handful of companies so that your only “job” is making sure everybody plays nice together.

Once you have your life efficiently outsourced and funded with a work-free business… you take unlimited vacations and party like a rock-star! That sounds like a pretty sweet deal. I think this review came off making his book seem overly simplistic and not realistic. That wasn’t my experience at all. I really felt like he gave good information on how to make his reality come true! In fact it got me very excited about the prospect of having a “muse” (his word for a hands-free income stream). I’ve been making some moves in that direction since then. This book is definitely worth a read, and will end up in the stockings of some of my friends this Christmas.

Also, check out Tim Ferris’s Blog. It has lots of interesting stories and ideas regarding his “lifestyle design.”

The Myths of Innovation

I just completed this book, The Myths of Innovation, by Scott Berkun after receiving a recommendation (and borrowed copy) from my friend/colleague Jimi Malcolm.

This short, fast read talks about the myths that people have about the process of innovation, and some steps on overcoming these myths and innovating well anyway! Although I found the book inspiring and informative, I think I can sum up all of Berkun’s talking points briefly below and save you the trouble of reading the book : )

Myths of Innovation

  • Work hard.
  • Work on meaningful problems.
  • Work on hard problems.
  • Work diligently and tirelessly, but take well-earned breaks to reflect. He belabors the point that innovation comes from persistent effort, not “ah ha” moments.
  • Frame and re-frame the problem you’re working on. By following the same rules and same metrics for success that everyone else follows, you’re doomed to mediocrity. Re-examine the problem and re-frame it.
  • Work really, really, really hard.

Finally, here is a video from the “Google Tech Talk” series. I haven’t watched it yet, but I’ll bet you can get the gist of the whole book over the 1 hour video.

Hackers and Painters

Last night I finished Hackers and Painters. This book is a collection of essays by Paul Graham, a PhD computer scientist, entrepreneur, and accomplished painter. (All of the essays are also available on his website) He makes a lot of great points about economics, entrepreneurship, design, and society. He also rants ad nauseum about his belief that LISP is the best programming language ever.

Hackers and Painters

One of my big take-aways from this book are that to be successful in a tech startup you must work very hard, and make a product that is beautifully designed and loved by users. Furthermore, you must continue working hard and improving constantly or you’ll get squashed by big competitors. If you can do this, then Graham claims success is inevitable.

Practical Magic

This weekend I finished reading a book that had been on my “to read” list for *years.* This is a book written by my father in 1980 three years before I was born (and again in 2003). The book, Practical Magic, is not about wizardry or any other kind of Harry-Potter magic. It is instead about some fantastic methods and results in doing brief therapy. My take away though, was on how directed attention to people’s communication methods and your own can be very important.The book talks in depth about peoples’ sensory representation systems (auditory, visual, kinesthetic). It then teaches how to learn by looking and listening carefully, which one(s) an individual uses. The observation is then made that by understanding how people are repenting the world to themselves you can relate to them on a much more comfortable and profound level. This is a large part of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).

The book’s supposed audience is other therapists wishing to use these NLP ideas in any type of therapy, but I think that anybody reading this book could learn something useful. Just days after finishing it I’m finding myself watching eye movements and body language and listening for linguistic queues to help me understand the ways people are experiencing their world.

Suburban Nation

Over my Christmas Travelling I finished “Suburban Nation” by Duany, Plater-Zyberk, and Speck. It was a very interesting read that really identifies the pattern that you see all through all of the United States. It points out the fact that no matter where in the country you go, as soon as you get out of whatever ‘downtown’ remains, you see the same Bed Bath and Beyonds, Best Buys, Targets, Wal Marts, McDonnalds, Wendys, Starbucks, housing pods specking the paved, parking spot covered, unwalkable terrain.
Not only does “Suburban Nation” identify this problem… The authors also discuss the historical caues as well as the current policy that keeps this type of development going. The book makes me yearn to live in a world where everybody lives in a real town, and I don’t have to feel like I’m in the same city everywhere I go! It also makes me happy that the place that I live now I can ride my bike to the gym, to work, to class, and to the grocery. I can even walk to the neighborhood bar or cafe!

I’m hoping I can keep a similarly city lifestyle once I’m a ‘grown-up.’