Book Reviews

I’ve started documenting the books I’ve read here, including a short summary, and a link to the full notes I took while reading the book.

If you want summaries of the best book I’ve read delivered to your inbox sign up for my newsletter here.

Training the Mind and Cultivating Loving-Kindness – Took a break from business books to read this book about Lojong mind training. The author Chogyam Trumpa is an interesting person, and there’s a lot of controversy surrounding him and his methods. However his writing is really direct and to the point, which I really appreciated because sometimes these books are very abstract and hard to understand. The books is short but the material is dense so I could see myself coming back and revisiting this material as I practice these concepts. — FULL NOTES HERE.

The Start-Up J Curve – I bought this book on a whim because is was only $1.99 on Kindle, its a steal for that price. The author has a lot of experience in startups and has seen the J curve apply as a framework to all the startups he’s worked with and observed. I think it would be especially useful to someone who is in the tech space and actually running a startup so as an outside observer it wasn’t super useful to me. I didn’t take many notes for but would definitely re-read and note up this book if I ever start a company up because its a great guide.

Rise – This is one of the better books I’ve read about what its like working at a large corporation and how to rise through the ranks to become an executive. The author is impressive and she tells it like it is. Great practical advice that I can apply directly to my work. — FULL NOTES HERE.

Mastery – I’ve realized that I really really like reading biographies of great people and learning about their lives and how they got to be so great. So for me, this book is amazing! The lessons are pretty common sense: find out what you’re good at/what you enjoy, study hard, work hard, and become very good at what you do, but the way these Masters executed on these lessons is very fun to read. There are some spots that feel repetitive and I think the book could have been cut down a bit, but overall a great read. Especially enjoyed the chapters about Paul Graham and how he started Y Combinator – a good primer to all the startup books I’ve been reading after finishing this book. — FULL NOTES HERE.

Shortest Way Home – This guy is the real deal. He’s authentic, kind, smart, and very capable. Uses data to drive his decision making and actually has a plan to speak to Americans in the middle of the country and improve peoples lives. It’s nice to know that there are actual decent common sense people still involved in politics. — FULL NOTES HERE.

The Craving Mind – Recommended highly from my friend and it did not disappoint. A good introduction to Buddhist concepts from a western medical POV. Lots of good examples from the Dr.’s practice and own experience, he really knows his stuff! Addiction is basically everywhere, because it is the result of craving. Freeing ourselves from attachment helps us live a happier life. Nice to read a book about the power of mindfulness backed up by modern science, and incredible to think that the Buddha figured this out so long ago! — FULL NOTES HERE.

Educated: A Memoir – This was a highly recommended book and even with the high expectations it didn’t disappoint. A lesson in going beyond your limits and the difficulties of relationships, especially with family. How abnormal behavior can become normalized through gaslighting. How you are trapped by your former self but have the ability to change and let go. There are parts of this book that are very uncomfortable but her story is incredible and well worth the time spent reading. — FULL NOTES HERE.

Radical Dharma – I read this for our “unbiasing” book club and had a great talk about it with other coworkers. Three different viewpoints presented in this book that’s a combination of autobiography, essays and talk transcriptions. So many sections underlined with great insights into the dharma, what it means to be an American practicing the dharma, what it means to be black/ what it means to be queer, how to recognize the systems that are around us, and how to effect positive change in the world. It was a great perspective to the dharma that I otherwise would’t have been exposed to. Grateful to the facilitator that chose this for our book club reading! — FULL NOTES HERE.

Finding Ultra – Another book in the vein of Can’t Hurt Me , Rich Roll is a badass who quit drinking, became vegan, and started running ultra marathons. An inspiring tale that change is possible at any age. Just because you are approaching middle age doesn’t mean you can’t get in the best shape, turn your life around, and find self-worth again. Lots of good plant based tips and recipes as well, I’m a believer in the power of plant based diet. — FULL NOTES HERE.

Leadership In Turbulent Times – This is an amazing book if you want to learn about the upbringing of some of America’s greatest leaders. They all had monumental struggles that shaped them into who they were. Success is not linear, it has ups and downs, and how you respond to adversity shapes the type of leader you become. Leaders have different styles, but the way they responded to the most difficult challenges the nation faced is a testament to the power of humans to develop into amazing leaders, provide hope and inspiration, and change the course of history. Leadership is something you grow into, its not something that you are born with. — FULL NOTES HERE.

Corporate Confidential – There are unspoken cultures and norms at large corporation. Learn the rules of the game so that you can win. You might be holding yourself back in your career by acting like an employee and not an owner. Step up and take responsibility. Make the people around you better. Build a team and be a great leader by treating teammates with respect and your upper management as the ultimate client. Hard work and personal sacrifice deserves a reward. Its time to win. You have the power to open doors and allows your employer to see your value and talent. The higher you rise, the more positive change you can effect with your organization and corporate America as a whole. — FULL NOTES HERE.

Can’t Hurt Me – You can go beyond the limits of what you think was possible; when you think you’re done you have 60% left in the tank. The past doesn’t define you, use your past to give you strength for the future. You can overcome anything if you put you mind to it. You can push past pain and get to your full potential. Look in the mirror and call yourself out on your bullshit with brutal honesty. Don’t get comfortable. — FULL NOTES HERE.

The Happiness Advantage – Happiness is the precursor to success, not the result. If you are happy, you will perform better and it will be your competitive edge. Your brain is malleable and change is possible throughout our lives. — FULL NOTES HERE.

Measure What Matters – Its hard to get things done when you’re managing an organization, especially as it grows larger. You need to get employees aligned and moving in the right direction. Using the OKR approach (setting objectives and managing to them using quantifiable key results) will help organizations continually achieve results. — FULL NOTES HERE.

When Breath Becomes Air – Life is short. Do your best and do something that matters. Live each day to the fullest. — FULL NOTES HERE.

The Fifth Risk – The US government is responsible for a lot more than you know. Innovations we take for granted would not be possible without government investment. The Trump administration is trying to dismantle the government from the inside and this could have huge (and bad) consequences. — FULL NOTES HERE.

Captain’s Class – Great teams have common elements and data driven analysis supports this point. What makes a great leader is not always what you think of when you think of what a leader is supposed to be. Serving others and being in control of your emotions are essential leadership traits. — FULL NOTES HERE.

2019