Aug 26, 2018

Siddhartha

I bought Siddhartha when we were shopping for return gifts for daughters first birthday last year at Barnes and Nobel in Huntersville. I have heard only praises of Siddhartha from many people and have meant to read it for long. Vishal Sikka used to quote from the it lot in letters he sent to Infosys employees as an CEO. I read the translation by Rika Lesser.

Siddhartha is a small book, collection of thoughts in poetic form. It tells story of Siddhartha, a Brahmins son, who wants to understand meaning of life. In several chapters the book tells Siddhartha's journey to gain wisdom.

The story felt boring at the start but gained momentum in the middle. Liked Siddhartha's ever questioning mind and ability to "think, wait and fast." The book reminded me of the movie "Ship of Theseus" too. Learning to be in the moment and seeking our own wisdom/nirvana is the mantra of the book. I would add it to the category of - "What I talk when I talk about running" - i.e. a book that deserves to be re-read several times. 

Jul 22, 2018

The Catcher in the Rye

I read Bhalchandra Nemade's Kosla and Baki Shunya by Kamlesh Walawalkar some 9-10 years back. Both are inspired from J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye, very famous novel. I always wanted to read the book and got the copy I have at Mugs Coffee shop in Charlotte, summer of 2015. Got to read it now. Guess I let it wait for at least two summers.

The Catcher in the Rye is account of a depressed high school student, who is yet to find meaning to do anything worthwhile. I was reminded of Pathik from Rabindranath Tagore's Homecoming. Holden Caulfield is trying to find what he wants to do and fails. He fondly remembers his dead brother and loves his little sister. He smokes and drinks. And tries to appear cool and justify his failures to boring teachers and dry subjects. It's easy to judge Holden.

Salinger's writing style is awesome but the story is no big deal. I didn't find it great. If a movie was made of it, I won't go and watch it. One would like this novel when he is age 16 may be? Did not like the don't care, don't bother tone.

Jul 11, 2018

Rebel Talent

In Rebel Talent, behavioral scientist and professor at Harvard Business School uses her research to assert the value of breaking rules at work and in life. Troublemakers pave way for new ways of thinking and work around constraints to arrive at novel solutions. Gino uses examples from military, restaurants and corporate life to name a few, to tell stories of rebel leaders and their path to success.

The book presents ideas of seeking new ideas, curiosity, thinking outside the box (resourcefulness), openness, confidence (being true to our inner voice) and engagement. Engagement being the sauce that binds the ideas and prep work together.
She concludes the book with eight principles of rebel leadership. If you are short of time, going over these should give a glimpse of working theory in the book.

I liked the book. It reminded me other book I read years back - Drucker on Leadership: New Lessons from the Father of Modern Management.

Jul 2, 2018

Blockchain Revolution : How The Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business and the World

"Blockchain Revolution : How The Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business and the World" is a primer on what block-chain can do and how it has arrived on the financial markets scene and soon will enter the main street and our day today lives. Blockchain is a promising technology built on cryptography, algorithms and game theory and therefore less vulnerable to frauds. It has the potential to transform world of finance, insurance and everything that uses "money" so pretty much everything.

The authors have done fine job of introducing the current problems with online transactions and value. They are problems of the "internet" where we need to rely on a third party (bank or credit card company's like Visa) for developing trust between two parties doing business. Third parties certify at a fee of course and that creates a centralized power source in a otherwise decentralized Internet. The ownership of data is a problem too and as recent events have shown these problems are warranting large scale discussions. Remember GDPR?

This book gave me pointers to interesting people and technologies. There are several implementations at large banks which are trying to develop their versions of block-chains. It will be interesting how those will work out. That will be reminder to the "Old is Gold" adage.

This technology will definitely create lots of opportunity for software developers, legal experts and bankers too. I have added Nick Szabo's writing at unenumerated.blogspot.com to my reading list. And listen to the podcast with Nick on the Tim Ferris show.

Lastly it's hard to believe that this book is available for $2 today. Now that's a steal

Jun 25, 2018

Getting to Yes

I am a follower of Scott Adam's blog. I would say was, till he went all podcast/periscope mode. I preferred the article mode more. For last two and half years Scott has been making a point to make readers aware of power of persuasion to sway people's opinion. He claims to see master persuasion skills in Trump and predicted him win 2016 US presidential elections. Scott's writing was the reason to pick up the book - "Getting to Yes" at book sale at our office library. 

"Getting to Yes" is a book on principled negotiations. It outlines techniques to use to negotiate to solve problems and arrive at a amicable solutions. There are many lessons to take home from this gem of a book, the most important one I think is to be patient and endure. Keep inventing options and weigh them on merits. Take time to prepare well and then save time during working at the problem. 

The book fits in the mental models for solving problems. Something we learnt in first year in college with - "How to Solve it by Computer". Good book to put to practice.