Steve Jobs by: Walter Isaacson
Walter Isaacson takes an objective approach presenting both the positive and negative aspects of Steve Jobs. The biography is captivating and explains in depth why Steve Jobs deserves all the fame and success he acquired. Steve changed the world and disrupted so many industries with his artistic approach to engineering and product development. He was extremist and as I’ve come to the conclusion after reading a good amount of biographies: If you want to be extremely successful you have to be extremist, otherwise you’ll just be mediocre. Changing yourself, changing the world, etc., requires you to go to extremes other people won’t. Aside from his edgy character and lack of compassion, Steve Jobs really was a creative genius.
Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by: Phil Knight
I’ve read a good amount of entrepreneurial case studies and books, but this book was the most fascinating one. The hardships Phil Knight and his team went through in order to make Nike alive and keep it alive leaves a bittersweet taste of the reality of what entrepreneurship really is. A barrage of cash flow, manufacturing, marketing, and law problems threatened to kill the company but these guys never give up. The harsh reality of entrepreneurship is that in most cases, you have to give up your peace, your time, your sleep, your health and put your family and personal life on the sidelines in order to achieve success. There are so many great quotes and life lessons from this book, but my favorite is: “Life is growth. You grow or you die.”
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by: Ashley Vance
Great biography of the greatest visionary of our time. The book goes into detail to Musk’s family and early years, his life as a kid, his development in early college years and then his first companies being Zip2 and later X.com -> Paypal. Afterward, the book talks about the struggles of SpaceX and Tesla at startup stages and the challenges they faced over the years until takeoff. This book also goes into detail on Musk’s personality, addressing the good and the bad quirks and perks, his social interactions and the relationship with his employees, family, friends, etc. Ashlee Vance does a very good job addressing the opinion of Musk’s critics and cynics as well, trying to present a pluralistic view and respecting polyphony as a good reporter. Each chapter talking about Musk’s company felt like a case study, similar to the ones published in HBR and used as teaching material at business schools. Lastly, the book is written in plain English, without the abuse of buzzwords, unlike many other books I’ve read. This book is 100% value for money and worth your time reading. Highly recommended!
Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living
I’ve always admired Bruce Lee for his philosophical standpoint and his martial arts skills. This book does a very good job of expressing Bruce Lee’s philosophy of life. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from this book and I don’t want to give you any bias but I’m pretty sure, that if you’re an open-minded person you can gain a lot from it. “Having no way is the way”. Bruce Lee died at 32 and accomplished in his life much more than a common man can accomplish in a thousand lifetimes.
Letters from a Stoic by Seneca (Translation: Robin Campbell)
I just can’t begin to describe how good this book is. The expressions at some points were a bit unconventional but that’s just normal. You have to take it for what it is, this is not a novel or history, it’s letters Seneca sent to his student Lucilius. The advice on this book is so valuable, I ended up writing down about 9 pages of life-changing quotes for weekly re-visitation which will be transcribed and added to this review soon. I couldn’t believe how relevant the teachings of Seneca was for our era. He gives solid advice about wealth, materialism, friends, social status, love, pleasure, etc. Also about slaves which in today’s era can be transferred into the context of services (people that serve you e.g. waiters, cleaners, cashiers, customer service reps, etc.). Highly recommended to anyone, this book is a life-changing book if you act and start thinking accordingly. Special thanks to the great author Tim Ferris for recommending this book so strongly. It’s a treasure and if more people start practicing the teachings of Seneca, our world will become a much better place.
Meditations by: Marcus Aurelius (Translation: Martin Hammond)
I just can’t describe how good is this book. It was suggested to me by the author Tim Ferris. It’s a notebook Marcus Aurelius wrote to himself with no intention of publishing. Marcus used to write down things to himself, like valuable lessons from mentors, teachers, siblings, and authorities. As well as his own thoughts, widely inspired by the Stoic philosophical school of thought: “Rejection of pleasure as a standard of human happiness and felicity. A wise and good man is a man who lives in accordance with nature”. The core lesson of Meditations is that of living one’s life as an ongoing journey of self-improvement.
Marcus back then in 160 – 180 A.D. thought about many of the issues self-development coaches and motivational speakers don’t teach nowadays: e.g. You can only worry about the things that are under your control, Focus on those things that you can control: Your intentions, behaviors, and actions. Marcus being an emperor talks about how little wealth have to do with happiness. In fact, he wrote to himself: “Remember that very little is needed to make a happy life”.
Marcus talks about not being a slave to lust, sexual gratification, emotion, desire and to focus on virtue. He also talks many times about living according to nature, which means: examine the nature of human conditions and the nature of the world around you. Live according to the role nature has given you and do your duty. “Nature has set limits on how much you should rest, eat and drink”
The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence by Josh Waitzkin
I thought at the beginning that this book is about theoretical learning principles and ideas and that’s going to be boring. To my surprise, it was the experience of a young chess prodigy who learned through some unusual patterns and dominated many chess championships at a young age, and how he lost his ability to go into the flow zone once fame hit in. He then made a new beginning at a completely different sport: Tai Chi Chuan and used a similar approach to what he used to learn chess. Waitzkin also shares new techniques and experiences gained from his journey to becoming an international Tai Chi champion. The book is great. Waitzkin writes in plain language and he describes everything in a very detailed and understandable way, giving the reader a clear mental illustration of his words. I felt like reading a novel and ended up binge-reading the book. Highly recommended to anyone!
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferris
This is one of the most valuable books I’ve ever read. It’s definitely not a short read (almost 700 pages), it consists of the most valuable information and advice given from world-class performers, successful business people, creative people, celebrities, writers, etc. Over time it’s like reading a few books with the essential information only. I’ve already read the latest similar book to this one called: The Tribe of Mentors (also 5/5), and my suggestion for both of them is this: If you’re new to self-development books, and reading in general, starting with these two books is the best thing you can do. The reason is: Tribe of Mentors and Tools of Titans are the so-called “satellite books”. You’ll build a huge reading list out of them, you’ll follow great influencers on social media and learn the essential teachings from the best in the world. If you want more in-depth info and advice from a specific personality you can find each person addressed in this book and either follow them on social media or find the corresponding episode on the Tim Ferris Show (author’s podcast) completely free. If you want to start reading for self-development, definitely your first choices should be Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors. They’ll expand your growth horizon like no other books. Then you can slowly and gradually go in depth with your personal development, by reading in-depth literature in the areas you want to develop yourself e.g., physical training, mental training, wisdom, spirituality, wealth, health or whatever else you want to get better at. Growth is a circle of becoming aware -> learning from other people’s successes and failures -> applying -> figuring out what works for you -> eliminating what doesn’t -> coming up with your own conclusions -> becoming aware of new things through this whole process and starting over and over again. Each time you start you’ll never be the same because you learn from your mistakes and you learn from your failures. That’s what applying the “progressive overload” principle to your self-development is all about. The principle of every day; in every way, I get better and better.
Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferris
This book is amazing! You can find lots of wisdom and great advice in it from different world-class performers and successful people from all industries and sectors. Some advice is going to speak to you directly and with some, you’re going to disagree! That’s the magic of this book. Polyphony.
Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
This book is great, especially recommended for people that want to become specialists in a specific sector, entrepreneurs trying to build their business and especially those who want to become academics and publish papers/ do research etc. It provides you with a mindset and practical solutions that limit your “shallow work” and help you schedule and commit to deep work sessions on a daily basis.
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone
It’s amazing! The book is pretty good. Everyone is talking about Apple and Microsoft and how they changed the world, but Amazon is the real deal! They not only disrupted the book industry and made the digitalization of books marketable, but they competed with every single retailer in each category including electronics, toys, clothes, shoes, jewelry etc and at the same time with eBay, Apple, Google etc. Amazon is definitely one of the big 5 companies that impact the world the most. Goodread’s owned also by Amazon and personally, it’s one of the best book tools ever invented. This is an amazing book that talks about an amazing company
Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence—and How You Can, Too by Gary Vaynerchuck
Gary is always inspiring and he keeps it real. This book is really good, it gives you motivation and success stories of people “crushing it” AKA people inspired by his first book “Crush It” and they journey towards entrepreneurial success. Gary talks about influence marketing and social media marketing and goes into good detail on the most famous platforms (inc: Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Youtube). The only problem I’m seeing is the fact that in most cases it was required by the influences/ “entrepreneurs” (I wouldn’t call someone who selfies his ass on a designer dress for 1000$ per post an entrepreneur or someone who cuts things in half with his son either but that’s just me) to adopt a “fake it till you make it” mentality in order to create a personal brand. That’s the problem with social media and these types of “businesses”. Second thing is that there are great inequalities in this field of influence marketing: Language, good looks and natural charisma are just some of the things that will make a huge difference and not so much the hard work. As a communication and media studies bachelor graduate and entrepreneurship and business administration postgraduate, my opinion is that the things we learned in university were outdated. Useful if we were living 20 years ago, but for today completely outdated. Books like Crushing It! really help to identify what’s new and they work as a “reality check” on the current world situation. Instead of spending an enormous amount of money on tuition and getting deep into student debt, go do your thing!