December 2020 Book Reads
1. The Richest Man in Babylon — George S.Clason
A foundational text for anyone wanting to build long-term wealth. Much of today’s wisdom on personal finances is a derivative of the lessons in this book. Rules such as paying yourself first by saving 10% of your income and investing your money to work for you through compound interest all have their origin from this book.
Through a series of easy to digest and short parables, the author takes the reader through core lessons and laws of building wealth. This book was written in the 1920s and it is pretty amazing how the laws still hold strong today. I wish I had read this book when I was younger and it should be required reading in highschools.
- Pay yourself first
- Make money work for you
2. Peak — Anders Ericson and Robert Pool
I’ve always been fascinated by what we can learn from high performers — musicians, athletes and entrepreneurs and how I can apply their mindsets or methods to my life. Growing up around sports I always felt athletes had something different about them like their brains were wired differently or they just saw the world differently.
Well, it turns out I am not completely wrong. This book dives into what makes certain people high performers and others not. But this is no ordinary documentary. The book’s overall intention is to demystify what it takes to be great in a given domain whilst also making these practices available to the everyday person.
- If you never push yourself beyond your comfort zone, you will never improve. Your day-to-day practice needs to constantly challenge or improve your abilities. Our brains and bodies are extremely adaptable and malleable to stimuli.
- Practice = Complete focus + prompt and clear feedback
- Accumulated experience does not always equal expertise. What actually makes expertise is the quality of mental representation that is developed through deliberate practice.
- There is no such thing as innate talent. While people may have certain predispositions to sports or music, anyone can improve their ability through deliberate practice.
3. Blue Ocean Strategy — Renée Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim
Probably one of the best strategy books I’ve read. Deeply insightful, analytical but also really well-written and enjoyable to read. It is a hard tri-factor to achieve, especially for a business book. The authors have a wealth of experience and compile a decade's worth of research in an accessible way.
I am a big sucker for the use of infographics, a 2x2 matrix and frameworks. They just seem to stick in my head more so than just words on a page.
- Don’t compete. Create or expand the market authentically. You can do this by offering a complementary product, becoming more functional or emotional, changing the buyer-chain of your product.
- Value Innovation is critical for business. Value with no innovation only creates incremental progress for customers. Innovation with no value can often isolate customers as the product might not be accessible to the average buyer.
- Every market has a combination of Pioneers, Settlers and Migrators. The best and most successful companies have a unique balance of all 3 products in their portfolios
4. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion — Robert Cialdini
This book is one of those foundational books you should read no matter what industry or domain you find yourself in. Being able to communicate and influence people is fundamental in society and a highly valued skill in business. It is incredibly hard to teach someone to become more influential.
The author combines a couple of decades worth of rigorous academic research into an that is accessible to the general public. Through a series of anecdotes, pop culture references and stories, I was able to readily understand and apply some complex psychological terms easily. As humans, it is incredible all the ways in which we can be influenced.
- Our ability to be influenced is an adaptive trait carved through evolution. This means it runs deeply within our psychology. Through modern marketing, advertising and sales, these traits can be exploited by others for financial gains and political power.
- Self-awareness is the antidote to being manipulated. Once you understand the psychological tricks someone is using, you can step back, reanalyse and make sure you’re making the right decision.
- There are six core ways you can be influenced: reciprocity, commitment and consistency, social proof, liking authority and scarcity
5. The Inner Self — Hugh Mackay
I am a sucker for psychology books that might teach me more about myself and why my fellow humans do the things that they do. Admittedly, I have been on my own self-development journey over the last 2–3 years so I’ve gone through almost all self-help books you can find.
I like this book because of how accessible it is for the reader. If I could go back, I would probably want to read this book first before tackling more challenging reads. I would only really recommend this for people who want to change. There is no point reading something you have no interest in putting into action.
At times this book can simply regurgitate popular self-development concepts that have been floating around but occasionally there are some lessons that can be learned.
- The journey to discovering the inner-self is difficult and requires a lot of work. You’ll have to confront aspects of yourself that you don’t like and make some active decisions to change your life. That’s why not many people choose to take this path.
- Most people live their life on autopilot or unconsciously. But one of my favorite sayings is hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.
- There are around 20 ‘hiding places’ that people seek in order to avoid doing the inner-work. Some of the places I am guilty of hiding include ambition, busyness and achievement. I have used these places in the past as a refuge to distract me from having to confront difficult things about myself.