Books I read in 2015

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About 6-7 years ago I made an important but not incredibly groundbreaking discovery: The people whose opinion I admired and respected were often some of the most intelligent and thoughtful people I knew. Their common denominator? They all were vociferous readers.

 

Since then, I’ve tried to push myself to read often. I made a New Year’s resolution 2 years ago to average a book a month, and for the 2nd year in a row I can proudly say that I hit that goal. Here’s a short book by book review of what I read in 2015:

 

Give and Take – Adam Grant

Adam Grant does a great job using research, data and facts to prove something that I’ve always thought to be true but could never prove: Helping others can actually help you achieve your owns success. For self-serving reasons this is one of my favorite books of the year. Even if you don’t buy to his theory, I encourage you to try it out and see how it works.

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The Road to Character – David Brooks

I’ve always enjoyed Brooks’ perspective. It’s a bit aspirational, but gives us a model to strive for. In this book, he talks about how we’ve been trained to develop great resume virtues (things we think society values) but that we really should be focusing on eulogy virtues (things that give us an internal peace of mind) If anything, it helped me ask the honest question of what metrics do I want to use to define success for myself?

 

Mindset: The new psychology of Success

Carol Dweck does a phenomenal job using psychology research to illustrate how success can be tied to your mindset and belief in yourself and your abilities. What was most compelling about Dweck’s book is that I saw her points illustrated in my own life. I’ve definitely approached certain aspects of my life with both a growth and fixed mindset, but after reading the book I hope to use the growth mindset more often. (PS – Bill Gates has a much better review of this book here)

 

Modern Romance: Aziz Ansari

I’m a big Aziz fan, so I was super excited for this book. I’m also a 20-something millennial living in a city with lots of single 20-somethings. The book delves into the history of dating and goes pretty deep into dating in the digital age (e.g. texting, online dating, dating apps, etc) Aziz does a great job of relying on his co-author to provide the context and grounded research while he infuses in his own insights and humor. The balance is excellent, and gives you an enjoyable but thought-provoking read. If you’re a 20-something and on a dating app, I highly recommend you read this.

 

The Hard thing about Hard Things:

When it comes to entrepreneurship, Ben Horowitz is one of the best. What I didn’t realize is that he is one of the top thinkers when it comes to management. This book details the ride he took with Loudcloud/Opsware from idea to when it IPO’ed and the lessons he learned along the way. His insights on management are thoughtful, and useful even if you aren’t an entrepreneur

 

 

 

 

Zero to One – Peter Thiel

This is Peter Thiel’s manifesto on entrepreneurship and startups. One thing I’ve adopted from this book is Peter’s top question he asks people when he interviews: “What’s one thing you believe that others don’t?”

 

Get Big Things Done – Erica Dhawan

Written by my friend and former colleague Erica Dhawan, this is a great book for understanding how you can use technology, your network and your own self-awareness to identify opportunities and execute them to fruition. Erica does a great job explaining her theory on connectional intelligence, and helps people understand how they can use what they already have at their disposal to get things done, either for yourself or within the context of a business or organization.

 

The 2-Hour Job Search – Steve Dalton

If you’re an MBA student and about to embark on your recruiting process you should give this book a read. It’s a great systematic process for helping you understand what you what to do in your career and how you can create a plan that helps you achieve that goal.

 

Not Your Parents’ Workplace – Nate Tanner

If you’re a young professional this is a great read. Nate, who now currently works at LinkedIn, does a great job sharing his career journey to date and some of the most important lessons (and in some cases, tough failures) he learned throughout his 20s.

 

The Alliance – Reid Hoffman

Hoffman, the Founder of LinkedIn, is one of my favorite entrepreneurs and management thinkers. In his book, he postulates that employers need to re-write the employee contract. Hoffman suggests that if employers can create an environment where employees can be more open and honest about what they want out of their jobs they can get and give more to their jobs and their organizations.

 

Smart Cuts – Shane Snow

Snow, a writer, and entrepreneur, postulates that instead of merely paying our dues and waiting it out, we can use a hacker mindset to accelerate our path to success. Each chapter focuses on a different lesson or takeaway, and the rest of each chapter is filled in with examples of different people who illustrate the particular lesson.

 

Leading the Life You Want – Stewart Friedman

A lot has been written about the struggle to finding work-life balance. But what if it doesn’t exist? Stewart Friedman suggests work-life balance isn’t possible, and that instead of trying to search for work-life balance (which in his mind, over-simplifies the conundrum) what we really should search for his work-life harmony. He then goes onto profile a number of people (Sheryl Sandberg, Bruce Springsteen) who have demonstrated work-life harmony.
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