reading list

Highlights from my Reading List – Week 6


  1. When You Change the World and No One Notices
    Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood. You do something that you genuinely believe in, that you have conviction about, but for a long period of time, well-meaning people may criticize that effort … if you really have conviction that they’re not right, you need to have that long-term willingness to be misunderstood. It’s a key part of invention.

  2. Reframing entropy in business
    Once again, the key idea here is that the decay of entropy flows from chaos to order – not from order to chaos – and that the imposition of ‘order’ is itself the key driver towards decay in the usefulness of systems.

  3. What doesn’t seem like work?
    If something that seems like work to other people doesn’t seem like work to you, that’s something you’re well suited for. The stranger your tastes seem to other people, the stronger evidence they probably are of what you should do. When I was in college I used to write papers for my friends. It was quite interesting to write a paper for a class I wasn’t taking. Plus they were always so relieved.

  4. Why Being First Is Overrated.
    Today we overvalue being first. First to market. First to raise money. First to have a higher valuation. First to garner attention. Being first feels good. It gives you an undeniable sense of accomplishment, fleeting recognition and euphoric bursts of dopamine. However, after that’s all done, there is still a tremendous amount of work to do. The obsession with being first takes away from what truly matters, perfecting your craft, which is a neverending process.

  5. Ode: How to tell a great story
    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.”

  6. People as a Moat: What Startups Can Learn from McKinsey About Building a Strong Company
    Most companies that survive the tests of time and tide are built on a strong moat — a competitive advantage enjoyed by first movers in a particular industry. For example, back in the day, Unilever had an enviable distribution channel; IBM built unique IP. McKinsey, however, proved to be the most fascinating case study. As a management consulting, people-centric business, McKinsey lacked the traditional moat, and yet it achieved unquestionable industry dominance.
    This is where McKinsey has created one of the most formidable moats the world has seen — a talent factory that is almost impossible to replicate.

  7. Claude Shannon: How a Genius Solves Problems
    Shannon’s reasoning, however, was that it isn’t until you eliminate the inessential from the problem you are working on that you can see the core that will guide you to an answer.
    Creative thinking is a little different. It, too, makes connections, but these connections are less logical and more serendipitous, allowing for what we think of as new thinking patterns.
    One of Shannon’s go-to tricks was to restructure and contrast the problem in as many different ways as possible. This could mean exaggerating it, minimizing it, changing the words of how it is stated, reframing the angle from where it is looked at, and inverting it.
  8. Why Complexity is Different
    The key, it turns out, is figuring out how to identify which properties are important, which itself is a dynamic property of the system.
  9. Curiosity and What Equality Really Means
    Regarding people as having lives of equal worth means recognizing each as having a common core of humanity. Without being open to their humanity, it is impossible to provide good care to people—to insure, for instance, that you’ve given them enough anesthetic before doing a procedure. To see their humanity, you must put yourself in their shoes. That requires a willingness to ask people what it’s like in those shoes. It requires curiosity about others and the world beyond your boarding zone.
    Once we lose the desire to understand—to be surprised, to listen and bear witness—we lose our humanity. Among the most important capacities that you take with you today is your curiosity. You must guard it, for curiosity is the beginning of empathy.
  10. The Case for the Fat Startup
    Here is my central argument. There are only two priorities for a start-up:
    Winning the market and not running out of cash. Running lean is not an end. For that matter, neither is running fat. Both are tactics that you use to win the market and not run out of cash before you do so. By making “running lean” an end, you may lose your opportunity to win the market, either because you fail to fund the R&D necessary to find product/market fit or you let a competitor out-execute you in taking the market. Sometimes running fat is the right thing to do.



From Third World to First World – Lee Kuan Yew

High Output Management – Andy Grove


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