Books I’ve Read in 2012

20 Dec

I found the Amazon widget on a LinkedIn a useful way to track the books I have read throughout 2012. Recently, LinkedIn changed their profile set-up and have relegated the Amazon widget out of existence. I decided to transfer my short books reviews for 2012 to this post.

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The most amazing and scary story so far is about the Israeli judges and how the farther away from meal time they were the more they chose the default “no” answer for parole requests, to the point of granting no request a few hours after lunch but granting about 65% of the requests right after lunch.

Also fascinating is the difference between are experiencing self and our remembering self. When someone asks, “How was xxx”, we typically answer with our remembering self. If asked during an event, our experiencing might give a very different answer.

The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working by Tony Schwartz


I listened to this one in the car and loved it. Schwartz points out that many of our cultural business practices are not very conducive to high performance. His researched-based approach to developing a new and better way to balance out and live our life is inspiring.

Schwartz’s Four Key Energy Areas
Sustainability – Physical
Security – Emotional
Self-Expression – Mental
Significance – Spiritual

A must read to consider how to achieve a balanced, happy, and productive life.

More information can be found at: www.theenergyproject.com

Focal Point: A Proven System to Simplify Your Life, Double Your Productivity, and Achieve All Your Goals

A longer book, but very similar to “Eat That Frog”, which I recently read. The book does not have the best flow and Tracy seems to just jump from list to list. Every list is a variation “Seven things you should do that will change your life”. The sheer number of lists detracts somewhat from his idea of finding a “focal point”.

Becoming Enlightened

I’ve been fascinated by enlightenment since I was a kid. This is a great and somewhat surprising “how-to” guide by the Dalai Lama. His explanation of the idea of dependent-arising is life-changing. I say the book is surprising because the Dalai Lama challenges many strongly held beliefs in a very matter-of-fact way.

Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

Do you want to take action now to be more productive? This is the book to take you there. Tracy’s style is straight-forward and action-oriented. He combines great ideas from Stephen Covey, David Allen, and many others into this little gem of a book. My favorite feature: each chapter includes simple action steps to get started.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

One third to one half of your employees are introverts. Cain’s book provides amazing insight into the strengths introverts possess. But to harness their talents you need to help them thrive. This book is a must read for both introverts and extroverts.

Seeing Organizational Patterns

You need only the simplest of shapes to navigate Keidel’s pattern framework. He argues that the three core variables of control, autonomy, and cooperation underlie nearly any conceptions of organizational patterns.
Keidel suggests that if his triangle does not quite fit it is still a good exercise to try and frame your thoughts around a three variable solution.

The next time you approach an organizational issue see how the three ideas of control, autonomy, and cooperation fit into the equation and subsequent possible solutions.

A Technique for Producing Ideas

Here’s the secret process:

1. Gather raw materials – both specific to the area where you want to develop ideas and more generally as you encounter anything interesting in your life.
2. Process materials consciously – work at it and go past at least the “second wind” your mind will experience.
3. Walk away from the problem and give your mind space to process the materials unconsciously.
4. Idea appears!
5. Submit your idea to the world. Test it out, play with it, and give it wings. Put it to use.

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

Many golden insights in this book.

The Framework for Changing Habits
1. Identify the routine.
2. Experiment with rewards (these can be harder to determine than you may first imagine).
3. Isolate the cue (may also be hard to determine at first).
4. Have a plan to change (detailed, written plans are best).

Other Helpful Clues
Keep the cue. Provide the same reward. Insert a new routine.
Script how to get past the “pain points”.
Sandwich the novel between the familiar.

The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice

Preparing diligently for brilliant insight is a great strategy. I’ve already stopped wasting some precious moments on seemingly productive (but really just busy) tasks. Clearing space for more creative accidents. Many similar tones to David Allen in this book.

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age

We are sharing in ways we have always shared. The tools, potential audience, and potential impact are very different.

The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything

Trust is the thing that underlies so much that we do in life, yet it stays hidden most of the time. Covey brings to life the many ways we can build and maintain trust and the benefits people and organizations derive from high levels of trust.

The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things with Money

No one wants to do dumb things with money, but it still happens. Carl Richards does tell you what to do but tells you how to think about what you should do.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

One of my favorite books. I’ve read it twice and recommend it to many people that I meet.

We all have great ideas. Turning them into reality is the hard part. This book and the SUCCESS framework Chip and Dan Heath outline is a great way to get started.

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