To start of the new year, I want to share my favorite three books from last year. The topics range from leadership to a biography to self-improvement. All three books gave me a lot to think about and I highly recommend reading them.
This seemed like the right book at the right time and was one of the most practical books on leadership I’ve read so far. Kim Scott is a former manager at Google (YouTube and AdSense) and also developed and led a leadership seminar at Apple University. In her book “Radical Candor” she distills her knowledge and experience into a simple and easy to follow framework to become an effective manager. According to her, a manager’s task is to…
- provide guidance as well as give honest and direct feedback,
- build great teams (hiring, firing, promoting and motivating)
- and drive results.
She addresses those three areas and provides tips, which you can use directly the next day you walk into the office. Even if you are not in a role with direct responsibility for a team, this book has many valuable insights. Read it and learn more about her leadership mantra: care personally and challenge directly.
Leonardo Da Vinci
What a fascinating person this guy was. Walter Isaacson (also known for his biographies about Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs or his work about the digital revolution called The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution) did a great job on providing an overview about Da Vinci’s life, work and his personality. Da Vinci was a true master of his craft. Not only did he devote much of his time to deeply think about a wide variety topics (e.g. frescoes, sculpturing, engineering, anatomy or biology to name just a few), but he also was a true craftsman. His deep curiosity and his amazing observation skills made him the genius designer he was.
Asides from that, the book does not only cover the bright side of Da Vinci’s life. His penchant for perfection prevented him from completing and publishing his works (sometimes for decades). Furthermore, his restless curiosity made him jump on new projects before finishing his current work. This humanity makes the book and Da Vinci even more interesting.
All in all, a well-researched and -written biography about a truly impressive person.
What a book to finish 2018. I’ve already read some of his articles and was skeptical at first: another book on habits? I was surprised by how well he provided a high level overview about the important foundations regarding habits. After a short introduction to habits and the compounding effects little actions can have in the long run, he provides practical tips along four questions:
- How can I make it obvious?
- How can I make it attractive?
- How can I make it easy?
- How can I make it satisfying?
Furthermore, he talks about the inversion of these questions (e.g. “How can I make it harder?) in order to break bad habits. One simple trick I really liked is called “Habit Stacking”. Here is how it works: to establish a new habit, just perform (“stack”) the new habit after a habit you already mastered. Example: After brushing my teeth, I will do 10 push ups. This will make it much easier to think about and actually execute your new habit.
If you are curious about why habits are so important, how to break bad habits or how to establish new ones, this is your go-to book.