Reading List

I often collect ideas from books I’ve read, often weaving them into my presentations.  On this page I’ll share some of the writings I’ve found particularly meaningful to apply in my work and daily life.

Currently reading:

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, by Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg.  A breezy and entertaining read about out of the box thinkers, and a worthy companion to Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers.  A motivational primer for thinking different, and questioning restricted current thinking.  If you want to be a change agent, start here.

Most recent business reads:

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson.  I’ve been a fan of Jon Ronson’s journalism pieces for some time.  This mesmerizing, cautionary examination of the perils and injustices of personal shaming in our social media-driven world, which can ruin a person’s life in moments, should be a must-read for anyone who posts anything online.  Always breathe and pause before hitting Enter.

Between You and Me:  Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris.  One of my favorite reads of recent years.  Mary Norris has spent a career as a copy editor for The New Yorker and here presents a memoir-cum-treatise on best practices writing fraught with personal history and extraordinary wit.    An extraordinary, occasionally laugh-out-loud insight into the work of great writers and a focused life.  You can get a pretty good glimpse from an excerpt published early last year in The New Yorker.  If you love the art of writing, read this book.

The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life by Thomas Sterner.  A short book by a musician and piano tuner about focus, which decries multi-tasking and stresses being in the moment, essentially a mindfulness approach.  Useful tools includes the 4S’s (Simple, small, short and slow) as a guide to undertaking any project and DOC (Do, Observe,Correct) when practicing any task, from music to sports.  

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler.  An optimist’s pep rally for those of us who are worried about the perils of the future (e.g., climate change, obesity, air pollution, etc.), this book makes a strong case for the transcendence of science, technology and the human spirit in having the ability to solve almost any problem.  The authors review many emerging technologies which will impact daily life in the future.  Definitely should be on the list of any visionary.  

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance.  A biography of one of the more enigmatic and unusual visionary entrepreneurs, much in the spirit of Steve Jobs (and even a bit of The Wright Brothers).  While I’m not sure I’d want to work for Musk or adopt him as a role model, it’s hard to argue with his extraordinary vision, ambition, hard work and results.  A thorough, fascinating and thought-provoking profile.

The Boys in the Boat:  Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.  A fitting companion to The Wright Brothers, another inspirational tale of struggle and persistence against all odds, with many lessons on the importance of teamwork.  I never would have guessed that competitive rowing would have been such a popular spectator sport in the 1930s.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough – the must-read book of the Summer.  A wonderful, inspiring story of vision, persistence, methodical research and engineering, and the American dream.  Yes, this really could be read as a business book.

Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts—Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith (Author) and Mark Reiter (Author), May 19, 2015, Crown Business, ISBN: 9780804141239 – Also on the New York Times Bestseller list, Triggers is about learning to identify those instigators that drive our behavior in often undesirable directions, and how to effect lasting change in an organization or yourself.  I was particularly impressed by the Wheel of Change,  which offers a handy tool for periodic self assessment.  But effecting change requires persistent effort and follow up, and Goldsmith offers another powerful tool in the form of daily questions for that.  One of those books that prompted more than a single read for me.

The Gift Book Bag from my CDISC Farewell Party

FullSizeRender   I’ve gone through about 6 of these so far; reviews to come.

Other noteworthy recent reads:

Hell and Good Company by Richard Rhodes.  An oral history of the Spanish Civil War through the eyes of expatriate observers.  A reminder of how ideology and bloated egos can lead to senseless, dehumanizing tragedy and destruction in an unnecessary war that was a dress rehearsal for World War II.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kundo — another long-time NYTimes Best-Seller.  Decluttering your life really does matter, and Kundo’s methods apply not just to your clothing, papers and possessions, but to your digital life as well.  A great complement to the “Eliminate” quadrant of Goldsmith’s Trigger Wheel.

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland.  Scrum is the only way to do group projects — small teams, time boxed sprints in small packages that add real value, based on transparency and continuous review and improvement.  While Scrum was defined originally for software projects, I’ve found it to be particularly applicable to other types of group projects, including standards development.  Another one worth more than single read.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.   One of my fundamental values, together with Steve Jobs’ mantra “Focus and Simplify” is how to eliminate the unnecessary noise and clutter in my work and life and stay focused on what’s really most important.  “Wenniger, aber besser” — do less, better.  A worthy companion to Kundo and Sutherland.

26 Time Management Hacks I Wish I’d Known at 20. I often struggle with time management, and Étienne Garbugli has succinctly provided rules to live by better than any other source I’ve encountered.  Worth reviewing periodically.


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