The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking – Burger and Starbird

effective thinking book coverMy Rating: 4 /10
Title: The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking
Author: Edward Burger and Michael Starbird

Some interesting points were made in this book, but mostly was a rehash of common ideas. Several years ago I may have rated the book higher, but now I found it very academic and student-focused. Just not what I was really looking for.

The Elements

  1. Learn from Fundamentals
  2. Make mistakes.
  3. Question everything
  4. Let ideas flow
  5. Embrace change

Overall, fairly stock standard stuff.

Check out Derek Sivers’ book notes if you want more detail. For what it’s worth he gave the book a 9/10.

Also, check out the Amazon page for other peoples reviews.

– Stephen


Do the Work – Steven Pressfield

Do the Work - Steven PressfieldMy Rating: 7 /10
Title: Do the Work
Author: Steven Presfield

Short but sweet; and just what I needed.

Start Before You’re Ready

Resistance is your enemy. Resistance to do the work. Resistance to stop in your tracks. Resistance that presses you to turn around. So start before you’re ready. Start before you know everything. The more you know about how difficult your task is – the more you will feel resistance. Sometimes blind faith and ignorance is preferable.

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How to Learn a Foreign Language – Paul Pimsleur

How to learn a foreign language - BookMy Rating: 8 /10
Title: How to Learn a Foreign Language
Author: Paul Pimsleur

Adults can learn languages faster than children. This might be surprising to people, but it makes sense when you think about it. Our brains work through association, matching up our actions and experiences over time so that we can adequately respond to the environment around us. A new born baby has a blank slate, no pre-existing associations that can be used to interpret language. So not only does a baby have to learn how to pronounce the word “dad”, she also has to learn the concept of a “dad”; how is “dad” distinct from “mummy”? How is “dad” distinct from all the other men that pass by her gaze?

Fortunately, with age comes a broader wealth of experience and knowledge that we can associate words against. We already understand the concept of a “dad”. In our native tongues, we could probably provide a nuanced description of surrounding concepts such as parenting styles, genealogy, nature versus nurture, and masculinity. All that’s left to learn with a new language is the vocabulary and grammar to express these ideas in a different way. Sounds easy doesn’t it.

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An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth – Chris Hadfield

Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth book coverMy Rating: 8 /10
Title: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
Author: Chris Hadfield

Competency. That’s now the word I associate most closely with astronauts. They embark on a long, seemingly never-ending road of training to improve their skills and abilities. All with very limited chances of making it into the space program. And then, once they are in, only a very limited chance to actually make it onto a space-flight. Orbiting at an altitude of 400 km does come with it’s benefits though. For instance, you can do things like this:

A few quick lessons can be learned from the life of an astronaut:

  • Consistently working hard over an extended period of time can get you places. Extended periods of time are measured in years and decades – not weeks or months.
  • Always prepare for the worst and ask yourself, “what can kill me next?” When the worst doesn’t happen, you will over-deliver.
  • When you’re new, just aim not to make things worse. Once you’re contributing positively, don’t get cocky.
  • Take the time to experience the environment around you.
  • It’s okay to have big goals. However you won’t always reach them. Give yourself the best shot by continually readjusting course at each major decision point in your life.

I first came across this book after watching Chris Hadfield’s Ted Talk. That talk provides a good litmus test. If you find it interesting then you will probably enjoy the book. Also can you can click here to read other people’s reviews and thoughts of An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.

The Art of Non-conformity – Chris Guillebeau

The Art of Non-conformity book reviewsMy Rating: 8 /10
Title: The Art of Non-conformity: Set your own rules, live the life you want and change the world (Amazon Link)
Author: Chris Guillebeau

Have you ever felt a pang of discontent? A sense that there is something more to life. Resolving this requires something unusual. A deliberate choice to think differently and live a remarkable life.

It is easier to ask forgiveness than permission.

There is a pleasure that comes when you do exactly what you want. The things others say you can’t do.

Often people try to bring you to their level. Asking you to justify why you want to do something is a subtle but effective way of bringing you down. Just remember the only person you need to justify your actions to is yourself. Why would you want to climb that mountain? Because it’s there.

“Whatever your dreams are, start taking them very, very seriously.” – Barbara Sher

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Extracted – Ugo Bardi

Extracted book review and information, Amazon.comMy Rating: 7 /10
Title: Extracted, How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet (Amazon Link)
Author: Ugo Bardi

Extracted could be described as the story of society’s resources. Where they’ve come from and where they’re going. These resources have enabled society to develop the modern technologies underpinning our current way of life. Along with this comes a level of dependence on mineral resources. One that would be difficult to replace should the resources run out.
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Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming – McKenzie Funk

Windfall book cover, Amazon.comMy Rating: 9 /10
Title: Windfall: The Booming Business of Global Warming (Amazon Link)
Author: McKenzie Funk

I feel like this was a really important book for me to read. For the past ten years I have been reading non-stop about climate change. The science, the politics, the technologies and economics. This reading has significantly shaped the path I have taken through life. So it’s refreshing to come across a book that comes at this topic from a new perspective. Who is going to profit when the predictions come true?

“This book is about how we’re preparing for the world we seem hell-bent on creating. It’s about climate change, but not the science of it, nor the politics, nor directly about how we can or why we should stop it. Instead, it’s about bets being placed on a simple, cynical premise: that we won’t stop it anytime soon. It’s about people like me: northerners from the developed world – historically the emitter countries, as we’re called – who occupy the high, dry ground, whether real or metaphorical.” – Excerpt from the book
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Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers by Malcolm GladwellMy Rating: 7 /10
Title: Outliers: The Story of Success (Amazon Link)
Author: Malcolm Gladwell

Ever since I read Outliers, I am glad that I was born in February. This has given me several relative advantages not bestowed upon those born in March and beyond. Before starting school, I had a solid 10 or so months of growth and development over those born in December. When it came to age groups in sport, I was close to being the oldest I could be. Small differences compound over the long hall. If these small advantages are anything to go by, than I just may have won the ovarian lottery. Let’s forget about those born in January.

Where does success come from?

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I’m not for Everyone. Neither Are You. – David Leddick

I'm Not For Everyone. David LeddickMy Rating: 10 /10
Title: I’m Not for Everyone. Neither Are You. (Amazon Link)
Author: David Leddick

I didn’t know what to expect going into this book. It popped up as a $2.80 special on my kindle recommendations, and for some reason I impulse bought it. Usually I only read books that I have heard someone describe and recommend. Not for this one though.

When I sat down I was only planning to spend 15 minutes to start this book, but I ended up reading the whole thing in a several hour sitting. A unique, concise, and deliberate collection of the insights and lessons of David Leddick’s life.

David Leddick has been a lot of things. He directed the Joffrey Ballet School. He managed Revlon’s marketing campaigns for 40 years. He directed TV shows in France. And he is also a landowner on three continents.

If there was one word to describe this book, it would be: style. If I had a second word it would be: unexpected.

If you have read a book that was unexpected I would love to hear about it. Why not leave a comment below?

– Stephen

Click here to see other people’s thoughts and reviews for I’m Not for Everyone. Neither Are you.

Zero to One – Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Zero To One reviewMy Rating: 9 /10
Title: Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to build the Future (Amazon Link)
Authors: Peter Thiel, Blake Masters

“If nothing about our society changes for the next 100 years, then the future is over 100 years away.”

Zero to One covers a lot of ground, but upon reflection the core principle presented is that innovation is required for real societal change to occur. Globalisation and competition are simply expanding the systems we already know; taking us from 1 to n, while at the same time spreading a pool of profits more thinly over a larger number of people.

Innovation and technology development provides new systems that the world hasn’t seen before; providing new sources of wealth and livelihood. Importantly, it takes us from us from 0 to 1.

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