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Rethinking what drives success

September 5, 2017 Leave a comment

barking up the wrong treeI don’t often write about self help books. However, it’s not often that one comes across such an entertaining one as the new book – “Barking up the wrong tree” by Erik Barker.

It does a good job of calling BS on a number of success drivers and in a really fun way. The book is chock full of examples, anecdotes, references to other studies. Now granted if you have been keeping up with the other popular books, chances are that you would have heard about say 60% of what he says. But it’s not often that one sees Einstein’s “contract” with his wife in the same book as the success techniques of Genghis Khan.

Worth a read. At a minimum it will make you laugh.

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Categories: books, tips Tags: ,

Machines, platforms, crowds

machine platform crowd

In a new book, Machine, Platforms and Crowds, the authors (Messrs. McAfee and Brynjolfsson, both from MIT) do a good job of stepping back and look at the overall tech landscape and what it could mean for how companies operate.

This is not their first rodeo (they have previously written good books – e.g. The Second Machine age) and it shows. A chunk of the material is repetitive, but there are good sections on the economics of platforms, the potential impact of Blockchain on companies and how companies should think about each of the key tech trends. Their central thesis is the competition is not between machine vs. man, platform vs. app or core vs crowd, but really that the smart companies will leverage both sides of the coin. Some tidbits:

  • As of 2012, Google was not using deep learning at all; by 2015 it was being used in about 1200 projects
  • In the mid 1990s, the US had ~2400 newspapers and generated about $46B in revenue. By 2013, total revenue had fallen by 70%
  • 2017 was the first year in the last 50 years that a new indoor mall didn’t open in the US
  • An estimated 130M books have been published throughout human history, of which about 30M are the Library of Congress.
  • Between 2011 and 2016 Apple acquired 70 companies, Facebook more than 50, and Google almost 200

Overall, worth a read. If you are in a hurry, they were also featured on a A16Z podcast recently.

Categories: books, future, technology Tags: ,

It’s true. Everybody lies.

everybody liesThat the world is awash is data is nothing new. That companies like Google and Facebook know more about us is also of course well known. But now someone with access to that data has published a book  (Everybody Lies) on what our searches really tell us about who we are and what we like. The answers are not pretty. Far from the Facebook pretense that many put on, our searches on Google and other sites are far more revealing than we would imagine. The book has examples on sex, hate and prejudice, careers, betting etc.

My key takeaway for enterprises would be to double down and weight more heavily the “digital trails” of what your customers do, rather than what they just say / buy.

Worth a quick read.

Categories: books, data Tags: , ,

Awesome book on Blockchain

ethereum henning book

I came across this awesome book on Blockchain (particularly Ethereum) by Henning Diedrich. For me this has the right balance. It doesn’t have any of the hype associated with the typical business book on this topic and doesn’t force the reader to understand the details of a particular algorithm. But it does do a great job of explaining simply what the fundamentals of Blockchain in a clear way. Highly recommended.

(Full disclosure: I’m about 1/2 way through this)

 

 

Categories: blockchain, books, technology Tags: ,

Good book on Ethereum

ethereumI know it’s old fashioned nowadays to read anything but tweets, but I’m a sucker for books. Especially ones on tech subjects that are written by people that actually know what they are talking about and clearly explain (in English, rather than gibberish) the subject matter. It seems I’ve hit across one such book on Ethereum (and Solidity). Although I’ve only got to the 3rd chapter or so, the clarity of writing reminds me of the other “classic” – Mastering Bitcoin.

Definitely worth a read.

Amazon’s way on IoT

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

I had big hopes in picking up this book titled “The Amazon Way on IoT“. I had heard snippets of the author on a podcast and thought the book may shed light on Amazon’s IoT strategy.

amazon-waySadly, it doesn’t. Not only is it a painful read, it’s also devoid of any real new information that one can’t Google. It would more beneficial for someone trying to understand Amazon’s plans on IoT to read the documentation. Caveat emptor.

Categories: books, iot, tips

Competing against luck

January 23, 2017 Leave a comment

If you are looking for growth areas for your products / services, this new book by Clay Christensen says that you need to get into the head of your customers and really understand what they are looking to getcompeting-against-luck done (“hire”).

Given all the hype around data and analytics it is refreshing to be told to take a “wide angle” perspective; it is not enough to hoover up all the data, run it through some fancy segmentation analysis and then add in some focus group interviews. One has to think about the context, the emotions etc. I’m not sure if any of this is really new; it kind of reminds me of design thinking. However, it’s probably a good reminder for all of those trying to think about growth and innovation.

By the way, if you are pressed for time and you want to get a flavor of the book, you may want to hear the podcast on HBR.

Categories: books, interesting Tags: