Reading Review – Best of 2014 – Piketty, Klein, Osterwalder, Pigneur, & Botton

December 21, 2014

Here is a quick review of my 2014 readings and recommendations. The lists, in each section, are in priority order.

(Note that many of these books are pre-2014. My criteria is that I read the book in 2014.)

Quick —”Best Of The Year”

Thomas Piketty, Capital, and Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything, blew my mind. These are mind altering books on Wealth and Climate Change.

Alex Osterwalder & Yves Pigneur’s Value Proposition Design, took entrepreneurship books to “eleven”. Great job guys.

Alain de Botton’s, Art as Therapy, provided me with a new way to view art.

Important Reads

  • Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty — The most important part of this book is the data on public and private wealth. In my reading there seems to be consensus that the data is the best we have and most of the stir is What to do about this data? There is no question that the data is shocking. The CBC is a good starting place.
      On the “non-political” side of things, this book has tremendous business application, especially for marketers and market sizing exercises. The data presented shows a dramatic change in demographics and projects deeper change. Companies need to actively react to this change, if they haven’t already done so. I would guess that Apple’s deepening move towards luxury goods is informed by these trends. They believe in market share measured in “$ shipped” instead of market share in “units shipped”.
  • This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
    by Naomi Klein — If you want to know what the “Climate Change” movement is “doing and saying” in 2014 then read this. It does not disappoint. It explains the recent #blockadia movement and “First Nations” positions. If you don’t believe in “Climate Change” then you will hate this book. More here … Naomi Klein wins 2014 Hilary Weston Prize | CBC.
      My favorite part is in Chapter 9. Blockadia. It’s the story of Lummi carvers traveling ~1,300km over 16 days to 8+ communities with a 22 foot totem pole strapped to a flatbed truck. They finally permanently planted the pole in North Vancouver. more

Fun — Fiction

  • Scott Pilgrim Volume 1: Precious Little Life – Colour Version by Bryan Lee O’Malley — This is a great series. The colour version is a good reason to re-read it.
  • A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
  • The Circle by Dave Eggers
  • Wise Mans Fear by Patrick Rothfuss — this is the second book.
  • Fortunately The Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fun — Non-Fiction

  • Kitten Clone: Inside Alcatel-Lucent by Douglas Coupland — There is a positive interview in IEEE Spectrum and an negative interview in the Globe & Mail. In a nutshell engineers will like this book. He knows us well, as shown before in Microserfs and jPod. I was surprised that he only dedicated a couple sentences to EDFAs. To me these “Optical Amplication” devices are pure magic. (thx M. Spooner for the tip)
  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield — Fantastic!
  • On Writing Stephen King — Very useful and an entertaining read. ( thx to review by Brain Pickings )
  • The Swerve: How the World Became Modern By Stephen Greenblatt — Here is review by Brain Pickings (thx T. Lawrence for the tip)

Business — Startups & Innovation

  • Value Proposition Design by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur — An instant Classic. Get this now.
  • Talking To Humans by Gif Constable — A very useful extension of Gif Constable’s blog posts discussing Customer Discovery Interviews. (thx to @denisewithers for tip)
  • Startup Boards by Brad Feld — an Awesome Resource for Young Startup CEOs ( and those in Training )
  • Brand Thinking by Debbie Millman — This is great Branding Immersion for Engineers. (It’s About People guys. )
  • To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink — This is a great introduction to sales for Scientists & Engineers or those who believe “Sales is the Dark Side”.
  • No Exit: Struggling to Survive a Modern Gold Rush by Gideon Lewis-Kraus
  • Ingenious: A Crash Course on Creativity by Tina Seelig — ( thx to @sgsblank for the tip)

Science

  • Life Out Of Sequence: A Data-Driven History of Bioinformatics Hallam Stevens — I’ve been doing a lot of work with Genomics groups and this book really helped me get up to speed. ( thx @sgsblank. )

Health & Spirituality

  • Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong — Fascinating book. (thx Brainpickings review )
  • So Far From Home by Margaret J. Wheatley — highly recommended. (thx to B. Ross for the tip)
  • Blue Nights by Joan Didion. Not sure if I can call this fun. It is a great read wrt/ parenting.
  • Anatomy Of An Illness by Norman Cousins — If you’re living with a chronic illiness, this old book is still relevant.
  • Jewel Tree Of Tibet by Robert Thurman
  • Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor
  • Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life by Karen Armstrong
  • Lying by Sam Harris

Thank You For The Great Experience in Kenya!

September 21, 2014

– updated December 16 with revised “UBC SSE 2014 Video”
– updated November 28 with “Final Day Presentations”
– updated October 29 with “UBC SSE 2014 video”


I’d like to give a big “Thank You” to Frances Chandler for putting on a great show in Kenya this summer. I hope that all future trips are as successful.

My trip to Kenya with UBC Sauder Social Entrepreneurship (UBC SSE) this summer was fantastic.

Below is a summary of the trip — Photos, Blog Posts, Partner Links, And UBC SSE Links.

/Enjoy.

Video

What Happened in the Classroom?

  • Final Day Presentations — A collection of all the “Final Day Presentations” — Business Model Canvas, Plan-of-Record, and Financial Summary.

Photos

Favorite 5 Blog Posts

Partners in Kenya

UBC SSE ( Sauder Social Entrepreneurship )


First Ten Days in Africa With UBC Social Entrepreneurship

August 5, 2014

Kenya is not a simple place.

It’s beautiful.

We went to the Nairobi National Park to see incredibly beautiful animals. We saw Lions, Wildebeest, Giraffes, Secretary Bird, Heart Beast, Elan, Thomson Gazelle, Wart hogs, Rhinoceros, Hippo, and more. It was wonderful. Way better than on TV or photos. The smell was unlike anything I’ve experienced. Over the top beautiful.

2014 08 03 Lion 3

It’s a mess.

The slums are a collage of garbage, rubble, corrugated metal, rope, and “mystery materials”. It is hard for a Canadian to actually look at it. It is also very hard for a Canadian to listen to the slum people talk about their beautiful home neighbourhood (especially Mathare). I’m getting used to it and beginning to see the features they love. It’s kind of like a beehive where they need all the people around them. They love the sound and smell. I’m still exploring this and don’t really understand it.

It’s densely populated.

There are tons of people and cars. The traffic is bumper to bumper. There are times when our drivers turn off the car and we wait for 15 minutes to get going. The people density is thick downtown, it gets denser in Kibera, it gets even denser in Mathare, and then we went Korogotche (ultra-dense) which was a mind altering experience. To help you understand, Mathare rents are around $12USD month and Korogotche is less. The guys from the Kibera neighbourhood were wary of driving thru it.

It’s well dressed and groomed.

Everywhere. We are teaching in the slums of Mathare and the contrast between the people and the landscape is shocking. The people are all dressed, pressed, and groomed. Even as they navigate the garbage. The sight is disorienting, well dressed people and slum buildings in the same place.

Kenya is friendly.

Everyone has been extremely nice to us. Our program has helped many business owners in Kibera, Mathare, and Dandora become more successful and they want to talk to us about it and train more of their neighborhoods.

Kenya is security conscious.

We went to Safaricom House for a student show and went through a process like at the airport. Metal detectors for bags and personal search. We’ve been shopping at the Nakumatt General Store and security is a bit lighter, but still it’s there. There are security people working at every store downtown and at every hotel. The locals expect it.

Pictures

Here is a link to my photos.

/Enjoy
Iain


Branding Immersion for Engineers (It’s About People )

April 6, 2014

What the !@#$ is modern Branding?

Brand Thinking by @debbiemillman is very useful for Engineers. http://ow.ly/sra9u thx @brainpicker

I keep meaning to write up a deeper post on this book. I really like this book because it is a collection of interviews from Brand experts over a wide range of experiences and applications. It has modern guys; like Dan Pink, Seth Godin, and Malcolm Gladwell and business examples from guys at Starbucks, Nike, and Coca Cola.

The key insight for me is that Branding is about “People and Problems they have” —

Page 210. Bill Moggridge. It’s interesting that as so many things change around us, the evolution of technologies, social relationships, and so on simarly change very fast. But that basic principle of human centered design — “start with people” — you can rely on it.


R.I.P Bernard Daines. I’m so sad.

April 3, 2014

R.I.P Bernard Daines. I’m so sad. He was a courageous leader. He showed us where we needed to go. http://ow.ly/vp09Q


Five Great Posts on Mentorship From Five Great Mentors

December 15, 2013

Here are 5 great posts on the topic of being a “mentor & advisor” from some pretty good sources.
/enjoy

and a bonus collection of career advice posts — Career Planning With pmarca, Seth Godin, & Steve Blank (and Ben Horowitz)


Christmas Reading List For *Fifty Something* Dad’s

December 2, 2013

Here is a quick review of my 2013 Readings. The lists are in priority order.
These may be good gift ideas for *50 something dads*

/enjoy.

Fun — Fiction

Fun — Non-Fiction

Business — Must Reads

Business — Startups & Innovation

Business — Stories and Attitude

Self Help

Science

Health & Spirituality


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