Thursday, February 28, 2013

Book Review: Conversations with Millionaires by Mike Litman


If I would have read the book, it would have made it in my books-i-didn’t-finish shelf in few pages only. Good God!! I listened to the audio book and to say that I was mesmerized would be an understatement. Well, this is not any regular audio-book which is just a rendition of the content, it is the collection of the original radio interview recordings which led to this book. You have to listen to Mike Litman hosting radio show to understand how mediocre and numb Indian radio hosts are. He is so full of energy, well-read and smart that even some of the TV hosts would not be able to match up by his side.

 

Ah, coming to the content side of the book. Well if you take nine cheap self-help books having the most promising names from any of the railway station bookstand and bind them together, it will not be very different from the current book. The millionaires selected for this book are not any millionaires or even the most successful millionaires – they are the millionaires who are into motivational-speaker-and-self-help-books business themselves. And all throughout the interviews they are establishing how their work is groundbreaking and how they are better than others into this business. By the time you reach fourth or fifth part, you are already sick of their know-it-all-achieved-it-all attitude. Come on man, you are not Bill Gates or Larry Page!! Have some humility.

The ‘millionaires’ are divided into two parts – those who coach about success and others who profess about financial freedom. You can definitely skip the former guys but you can still go through the latter if you have not read any books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Overall, I highly recommend giving this book a skip as well. Maybe you can listen to one or two interviews of Mike Litman to understand to what extent he is better than the rest. Continuously two bad books is making me want something meaty now – have high expectations from the body language book I am reading.

Book Review: The Dip by Seth Godin



The Dip is a book about quitting or not quitting depending on where you lie. I am not quite sure what significant I got out of the book. The part where he explained why you should be the best and how there are disproportional rewards for being number one was really good. So was the part where the difference between active perseverance and passive sufferer was highlighted. But all else was very generic. The fact that you should quit when it is right time rather than keep on hanging or similar stuff about when you should be perseverant – I mean we know all these stuff already, dont we? There are few good pointers about when you shouldn’t quit – when long term seems better than short term. I believe I expected more out of the book – something thought provoking. Maybe that’s what happens when marketing writer tries to venture into behavior psychology with few of his observations. But probably my views are so because I went through the abridged version and that too an audiobook. I recommend you can give this book a skip.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Polaroid


It was the same old world
Things haven't changed really
But 'unfamiliar' is the word
When I look around slowly

They say happiness is a pursuit
Then why I don't wanna go anywhere
There are thousand possibilities
But where have you gone my fear

Why suddenly I feel complete
When I am sure I saw a void
I thought of it as so many things
But I forgot its also a Polaroid

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: Good to Great by Jim Collins


This book is about 11 companies who made a leap from “Good” to “Great” and what caused them to make that leap. And what is the definition of Great? Continuous 15-years highest stock market returns is the definition author uses of which I was highly skeptical about. I am sure there can be many other data and non-data points like Revenue growth, Innovations and Self-disruptions made by the company that can be used or even a longer time horizon wouldn’t hurt. Except this reservation of mine, I liked the way the book is researched and the conclusions are drawn. The book is divided into nine chapters and each chapter is about the common things that the research team found in the 11 companies and did not find in the other non-great companies.


The book makes an interesting read definitely. Though I did not find it ground-breaking but I am sure in 2001 when it got published it must have been. I would give 4 stars to the book and put it in “Can-Read” category. 

How to Read More?


I so wanted to write a “How-To” for a long time but was not finding the right topic of expertise. Well I am not one of the most voracious, versatile and learned readers. Not even anywhere close. I do admire the likes of Churchill for whom a book a day was the norm. But I do read a lot, specifically non-fiction. Maybe a few good fictions like Fountainhead, White Tiger here and there but non-fictions for the most part. And I have been fairly regular in my quest for knowledge as there was no point in past 8 years when I did not have a book with me. So here are some pointers from me for all those who wish to read more but somehow not able to:

1. Why to Read: Before starting any new habit it is extremely important to understand the need for that habit. You cannot find the desire and the will to persist in the habit without being clear why you want to do it. For me, it is simply the quest to know more, to get varied point-of-views and at times to get inspiration. For some of my friends, it is the beauty of literature, the thrill of a suspense novel or to get out of the triviality of everyday life. Find your own reason but do it for sure because if won’t you will give up post few books!!

2. What to Read: Again some part of the answer to this will come out of your why-to-read but here is what has worked for me marvelously – NECESSITY or rather RELEVANCE. I have found myself continuously reading because the books I read kept on answering the questions my life posed at those very moments. For example, most recently I read books on e-commerce and negotiations when I joined Amazon because that is what was needed of my job; I read on entrepreneurship when I almost started my own company; I read various books on emotions and psychology during tough phases of my life and I read biographies of sportsperson in the sports I suddenly have grown my interest. I would not be able to read a book on philosophy today but when I was questioning my theological belief system I did read on atheistic philosophy. I am sure this will be as applicable to non-fictions as well. Your reading can depend on what you want to feel – romantic, thrilled, peaceful or sympathetic. Or even what you want to know more about. For example, Arthur Hailey completely decodes one industry in one book and has bestseller novels like Airport, Hotel, Wheels etc.

3. Audiobooks: As Descrates said “The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest men of the past centuries”. Those conversations just come more alive when you are listening to an audiobook. Imagine Dalai Lama telling you about philosophy in his own words. You have to listen to him speaking to understand how his voice brings life to all those words you read in the book. His serene, calm, sympathetic voice with the utmost sincerity has the highest possible impact. But my argument for audiobook is primarily not because of the impact of the book but the convenience. I have started reading while I am driving, walking, gyming or doing chores. My responses in those moments are so automated that I do not need my full concentration there and rather can listen to an intelligent mind speaking. There are two concerns that people raise when I suggest them audiobooks – Safety and Distractions. Yes it is might feel a little unsafe to listen to a book while you are driving or lifting weights but isn’t listening to music is as unsafe. You also get distracted being lost in your own world listening to great songs. But anyways, what I do practically is to focus more on what I am doing currently than listening to the book. I might miss a few sentences here and there but non-fictions do not change course in the matter of sentences. The whole theme essentially remains same and so you do not lose much. But if you feel like if you have lost track completely, just rewind 2 minutes and listen it over. I would rather read for 1 hour with 80% efficiency than not reading at all. I am not sure how it would pan out in fictions as the beauty of language and the transportation to another world is more important there. Also one hint in a few sentences missed might be crucial for the suspense. But for non-fictions it works amazingly well. I do not recommend listening to books whenever you can read just because you can read much faster and skip the things unimportant.

4. Gadgets: I own a Samsung Galaxy Note (Screen Size 5 inch), an Ipad 2 (Screen Size 10 inch) and of course a laptop. Depending on whether I want to have a browsing experience across various windows, read while waiting for flight boarding to start or to read at peace on a bean bag every device has its purpose. I mostly browse through magazine and news articles on my phone, read books and magazines on Ipad and research extensively on a topic browsing through various websites on my laptop. I strongly recommend a 4+ inch smartphone and a tablet to anybody who wants to increase his reading time.

5. Social Networks: I owe my sudden spike in reading to also the amazingly wonderful social network goodreads.com. Not many of my friends are here but many of the friends who are avid readers. It is a platform where you share what you are reading, what you have read, what you liked and your reviews of books. How it has helped me? 1. Discover good books basis what my friends’ reviews, what they have liked and are currently reading. 2. Discover yet more good books basis the awesome recommendation engine which tells you what books you are likely to love based on your current likes 3. I keep on updating my progress on goodreads every 50 pages I complete. It keeps me motivated and gives a small sense of accomplishment 4. I keep on bookmarking the books I find interesting in my to-read shelf and immediately-to-read shelf and often choose my new book from those shelves.
Well I was also recommended Shelfari which incidentally is owned by Amazon and is a similar social network. But I did not find all the features I love in Goodreads. Ofcourse there would be much higher number of reviews given that all Amazon’s reviews would be imported here but I do not need 60,000 reviews, I just read a few!! There are others like aNobii and Librarything which I haven’t explored. Go and find where your friends are and which interface and content you like better.

I hope these tips might help you. Do let me know in the comments if you have found a different useful or practical way to read more or if you agree/disagree. I would like to summarize with this beautiful thought by Mark Twain, “A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read.”