reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 5


    1. Bodies Remodeled for a Life at Sea
      On Thursday in the journal Cell, a team of researchers reported a new kind of adaptation — not to air or to food, but to the ocean. A group of sea-dwelling people in Southeast Asia have evolved into better divers.

    2. An alternate ending to the tragedy of the commons
      Elinor Ostrom’s work deals with common pool resource (CPR) management, for which she won a Nobel Prize in economics in 2009. She argues that current game theory doesn’t explain why some commons are, in fact, sustainably managed.

    3. Distribution vs. Innovation
      The battle between every startup and incumbent comes down to whether the startup gets distribution before the incumbent gets innovation.

    4. The Designer Who Changed Airbnb’s Entire Strategy
      At the time, like a lot of tech startups, we called the website and the app “the product” — which was both limited and limiting. Suddenly, we were looking at a journey through these sticky notes, imagining our customers booking, and we saw that the moments that mattered most were offline. This offline experience — this trip to Paris or stay in a treehouse — is what they were buying from us, not a website or an app. That’s when we started to say, “the product is the trip” and began shifting our perspective. 

    5. The Freakishly Strong Base
      It is so easy to overlook how powerful it can be to take something small and hammer away at it, year after year, without stopping. Because it’s easy to overlook, we miss the key ingredients of what caused big things to get big. How can most of Buffett’s success be attributed to what he did as a teenager? It’s so crazy, so counterintuitive. And since it’s crazy and counterintuitive we overlook the right lessons. So we write 2,000 books on how Buffett sizes up management teams when the biggest and most practical takeaway from his success is, “Start investing when you’re in third grade.”


    7. Your body wasn’t built to last: a lesson from human mortality rates
      What do you think are the odds that you will die during the next year?  Try to put a number to it — 1 in 100?  1 in 10,000?  Whatever it is, it will be twice as large 8 years from now.
      This startling fact was first noticed by the British actuary Benjamin Gompertz in 1825 and is now called the “Gompertz Law of human mortality.”

    8. Geoffrey West on the Life and Death of Companies
      As a biologist, he was particularly interested in scaling—the underlying laws that govern life in all forms as they grow, live, and die—and the fundamental role it plays across nature and the evolution of the universe.

      For instance, cities and companies have much in common with organisms, West said.”The question was, can that the same kind of the math and the theory be applied to cities and companies? Are there underlying laws that are constraining the underlying growth of cities and companies?”


Thinking in Systems: A Primer – Donella Meadows

Shoe Dog – Phil Knight


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