Top 5 Quotes from Books I’ve Read in 2015
This year, I’m committed to reading one book a month as part of my marketing resolutions.
Reading wasn’t part of my life since leaving the comic books in my middle school drawer.
When trying to get back to it, the thickness of a book would scare me. It looked like such a big commitment for someone who could barely watch an entire movie all at once.
But one day, I thought about it: I already read a lot! Most of my reading were online articles, so maybe reading eBooks would be the way.
I now read almost exclusively on my electronic devices. Here are some of the benefits I’ve found:
- Interactive reading (bookmarks, syncing in between devices)
- Less clutter at home
- More opportunities to read, anytime, anywhere
- Better way to review and share my notes
Those benefits helped me create my reading habits. The more you read, the longer your reading list will become.
In between books, I enjoy going through my notes so I can remember the things I’ve learned from previous books.
In this article, you will find some of my favorites quotes and notes from books I’ve read in 2015, and what we can learn from them.
How to get filthy rich in rising Asia
As many of the books on my reading list, I’ve heard about How to get filthy rich in rising Asia on the Tim Ferriss podcast. I remember Tim talking about this book as a non-fiction novel written like a self-help book. Since I’ve starting reading more, I usually read non-fiction so I thought this book would be a good segway to reading more novels.
Your master has spent time in many of the small towns in the region that forms the economic hinterland to your metropolis, and his chameleon-like ability to match his speech to his surroundings has often worked to his advantage.
That chameleon-like ability to blend in any type of environment is something I can relate to. Over the years, I’ve met people with different backgrounds, cultures and languages.
I get along with a lot of them because I can adapt to my surroundings. This was helpful when moving to Monterrey in Mexico to be a French tutor while learning Spanish. Picking up local slang, customs or gestures can go a long way when trying to immerse yourself in a new culture.
I’ve now been living in Atlanta, Georgia for six years. Even though I still don’t feel comfortable saying “y’all” with my french accent, being able to immerse myself in the culture made it easier to interact with people for both my personal and professional life.
To go back to the book, the other big lesson I’ve learned is that you shouldn’t wait until you’re old to be happy and enjoy the fruits of your labor. Be happy now, and enjoy the journey. You don’t want to be old and look back at your life wondering why you tried so hard to have more things that don’t make you happy.
Your brain at work
I read Your Brain at Work as a productivity book, but there’s more to it. Everything in it is backed up by science and studies.
Because those topics can be hard to go through, the author David Rock introduces two characters in the book, Emily and Paul, to better illustrate his point. Emily is the newly promoted VP of marketing at a large corporation while Paul works from home or from clients’ offices as an independent IT consultant.
Both go through stressful situations you could be in, and the author uses them to help you figure out how to prioritize it, organize it and act on it.
One thing I really loved about this book were the summary sections at the end of each chapter called “Surprises About the Brain” and “Some Things to Try”.
These sections are so full of insight, I couldn’t only pick one quote.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Focus on the connections between information rather than drilling down into a problem; look at patterns and links from a high level rather than getting detailed.
- Don’t waste energy solving a problem you know you will have more information about later.
- Labeling an emotion can reduce limbic system arousal.
- Anytime you meet someone new, make an effort to connect on a human level as early as possible to reduce the threat response.
- Playing against yourself increases your status without threatening others
- Bringing people to their own insights is a fast way of getting people back on track.
- Great leaders are often humble leaders
The Lean Startup
The Lean Startup introduces a new model to build and launch new products. A lot of startups do apply these principles now, sometimes too literally. It has become so popular that even GE is using the Lean Statup model.
Most entrepreneurs and product development people dramatically overestimate how many features are needed in an MVP. When in doubt, simplify.
When starting a business, it’s tempting to add as many features as possible to impress your potential customers and investors.
It’s usually smarter to consider building your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) before investing too much money in your idea.
The MVP doesn’t have to be a finished product, a prototype will be sufficient. The goal is to share it with your friends and other people who are interested in giving early feedback. Your first iteration will most likely fail but you will be apply the lessons learned through validated learning on your next iteration.
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
If you like The Lean Startup, you will also like Hooked. I think the principles described in this book should be used by startups in general, even though it’s more relevant if you’re building a digital product.
In this book, Nir Eyal defines the pattern that helps creating habit:
- Variable reward
A company can begin to determine its product’s habit-forming potential by plotting two factors: frequency (how often the behavior occurs) and perceived utility (how useful and rewarding the behavior is in the user’s mind over alternative solutions)
One of the example used in the book was the game Flappy Bird. The app’s 29-year-old creator, Dong Nguyen, was trying to build a game that could be played with only one finger tap. As he mentioned during his Rolling Stone interview, he wanted to make games for people like himself: busy, harried, always on the move. “I pictured how people play,” he says during the interview, as he taps his iPhone and reaches his other hand in the air. “One hand holding the train strap.”
Creating a highly addictive game backfired and Nguyen couldn’t handle the tweets coming from moms begging him to remove the game as their kids wouldn’t do anything else but play.
If you’re interested in the topic, I recommend reading the book and also the article about the inevitable death of Flappy Bird.
This is the first true novel I have read since my renewed love for reading. Written by Maupassant in 1885, it’s amazing to see ideas around love and infidelity could still apply today.
I also enjoyed traveling through my country’s past, France. I’ve learned a lot about the different social classes during that era. I also learned about the corruption and the role played by journalism at a time when information was held by few people and used to manipulate the crowd.
It is not difficult to pass for being learned. The secret is not to betray your ignorance.
– Guy de Maupassant, Bel Ami
In 1885, only a few had access to knowledge and education. Being educated could change the course of your life. Bel-ami, the novel’s main character, realized that when he started working for a newspaper. He wasn’t as well educated as the other journalists, but he knew how to pick is words. He was very smart, but also very deceitful. He was ready to attain his goals by any means necessary.
Sadly, a lot of people still think like Bel-ami nowadays.
One shouldn’t feel the need to be an information hoarder as if it was the only reason they have a job. If you’re scared to share your secret formula with others for the greater good of your organization, you’re doing something wrong.
Working in silos has never served a company well. Collaboration and transparency is the key to success.
It’s good to see some startups realize that, like Buffer which has made transparency one of their core value.
What’s the best quote from a book you’ve read?