Posts Tagged ‘books’

Wonderful ‘little histories’

January 17, 2018 Leave a comment

While not directly related to consulting or tech, I wanted to share a wonderful set of books that I came across recently from Yale. They have undertaken to publish a set of books for both experienced and newbies on a set of subjects – religion, the world, economics, philosophy, science etc.

little history series

Having now read two of these (on religion, and on the world), I can testify that these are really well written, highly informative and (for me) eye opening. I’m looking forward to reading the others. The ones on economics and science may be especially informative towards this blog’s audience.

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Doing less for greater success

January 17, 2018 Leave a comment

The WSJ has a review of a timely new book as people make resolutions for the new year.

great at work

Written by a recovering management consultant (Morten Hansen), he seems to extol what most successful people already do: focus. A couple of points caught my eye. One was his anecdote from consulting that it’s often the more junior consultants that have a hard time “letting go of the slides” and summarizing to just one. Another, was the fact that those who focused and said no to their bosses were ~25% higher in their performance ranking.

The key differentiating points in this book seems to be the reams of research (5 year survey of ~5000 people) on which the conclusions are based. His last book had good reviews on Amazon too. Maybe worth a read?

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Consumption patterns of the 1%

November 3, 2017 Leave a comment

sum of small thingsFor those that are trying to understand the future spending patterns of the 1% (and the others that are aspiring to get there), the new book by Elizabeth Halkett (“The Sum of Small Things“) may not be a bad place to start (at all). Unlike other books that are based on hypothesis and mere observation, the strength of this book is the unique data set that the author (and her doctoral student) have been able to parse and synthesize. And what a synthesis it is: the book is full of really interesting insights. E.g.:

  • Travelers who spend over $100k annually on trips have increased their spending ~2-3x compared to the “regular traveler” (who spend ~$10k a year). Wow.
  • ~80% of Whole Food customers have a college degree
  • The number of farmers markets have doubled to ~8000 over the last 4 years
  • American made apparel dropped from ~55% to ~2% between 1991 and 2012
  • New Yorkers spend 27x more on watches than everyone else (in the US)
  • ….and so on!

You get the idea. It’s a longish read, and at times a bit pedantic, but worth it if you are trying to understand consumption patterns.

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Awful book on AR/VR

October 21, 2017 Leave a comment

I had high hopes when I picked up a book on AR/VR from Scoble based on a presentation I had see him do at MWC in San Francisco. The presentation was really good – full of energy, interesting insights, good facts. (Unfortunately, I can’t find a link to it online)

ar vr

It’s a shame that the book has none of this. It’s full of hype, devoid of any interesting facts and sorely lacking any semblance of a framing to understand the landscape of players. To be fair, the only thing it does have is a whole set of AR/VR examples / companies. I have no idea why it’s rated so high on Amazon.

Definitely save your time and skip.

Categories: books, technology Tags: ,

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.

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: , ,