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Growing a Business

by Paul Hawken

Excellent book. Though most of the ideas it contains were things that I’d learned from others already, hearing them reaffirmed alongside amusing anecdotes was quite welcome. This is a must-read for folks just getting started in business and running their own things. It’s far less of a practical, step-by-step manual and more of a mindset-shaper; a set of moral and ethical guidelines that will indirectly help you find success in business.

The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life

by Kevin Simler, Robin Hanson

A random find—it was randomly pitched to the author’s mailing list that I forgot I was on—this one played my skeptical fiddle extraordinarily well. Through a range of topics, the author(s) break down why we do what we do and how (e.g., political or religious affiliations), more often than not, what we do is backed by hidden motives. It definitely had me questioning my own motives but also made me more empathetic toward inconsistency in the beliefs and motives of others. There weren’t many surprises in this book, but it was nice to see all of the concepts organized and illuminated together.

Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity

by Hugh MacLeod

A good book for folks just getting started out on their own in business or a creative field. I wish I would have come across this a few years ago—it distills a lot of similar thinking I’d read across multiple books into a nice collection of quick-to-digest pointers. The humor it interjects through the use of the author’s cartoons—he doesn’t forget to remind you multiple times that he’s famous for these—makes the read more enjoyable. Worth the short time it took to read.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

by Jordan B. Peterson

I stumbled upon Dr. Peterson’s work last year and have slowly been warming up to his reasoning. It’s a shame that he’s cast in a negative light by so many—what he suggests is far from harmful, hateful, or negative (he’s often referred to as a bigot which is utterly confusing); in fact, quite the opposite. I eagerly awaited the release of this book and it lived up to expectations. A lot of wonderful ideas, and more importantly, questions to ask yourself about your own conduct. A worthwhile read for anyone at any age looking to improve their thought process, and ultimately, their life.

The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem (Audiobook)

by Nathaniel Branden

Random find. I hadn’t heard of Nathaniel Branden until I came across his chapters in The Virtue of Selfishness. I recall liking his writing more than Ayn Rand’s and decided to look him up. Came across this book as an audiobook and put it on while packing for an upcoming move. Really enjoyed the overall message of this one. It underscored the importance of building up one’s self-esteem and learning to enjoy the happiness in your life (and not feel guilty about it).

The Virtue of Selfishness

by Ayn Rand, Nathaniel Branden

Forbidden fruit. This is one of those books that others will shame you for reading and cast judgment on you for agreeing with the principles of, but damn this was good. A great argument against altruism in a way that doesn’t read quite how you’d expect (i.e., don’t pass judgment just based on the title/anecdotal experience with it—read for yourself). A real eye opener for me and a big motivator toward personal responsibility moving forward. Highly recommended, but be careful; what it teaches you will not make others happy (this is addressed in a later chapter).

Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation...

by David Robertson, Bill Breen

I can’t remember how I came across this but glad I did. Interesting story of how the LEGO company almost went bankrupt in the early 2000s and the subsequent turnaround. It was nice to see a major, well-known company making similar mistakes and learning how they corrected them. This was an excellent reminder to avoid complacency at all costs.

The Great Degeneration

by Niall Ferguson

Travel companion for a series of flights. A brief treatise on the buckling of economic and social stability in Western countries. Well-articulated ideas, backed by data, presented without unnecessary fluff. One of the books you hate to enjoy due to the topic matter, but if this sort of thing concerns you: give this a read. Only ~150 pages.

Obvious Adams

by Robert Rawls Updegraff

Quick story written from the perspective of a copywriter working his way up at an ad agency. Nice reminder that the obvious thing is usually the most effective. Short enough to read a few times through to drill-in the concepts.

Dangerous

by Milo Yiannopoulos

A must-read for those who are frustrated and/or tired of the hyper-politicization of the world. Great thoughts about the importance of free speech and the importance of upholding the First Amendment, even if you disagree with what someone says. This book is hardly dangerous. Give it a read. At the very least a few laughs are guaranteed.

A Work in Progress

by René Redzepi

Technically a journal by the chef spanning one year. Learned a lot from this one as René didn’t cover up the mistakes or fears he experienced in his business and personal life. Really unique read that I’d recommend to anyone—especially younger folks—just getting started in business.

Do the Work

by Steven Pressfield

The number one book I either recommend or buy for folks I work with. There is simply no recipe for success better than sitting down and doing the work consistently. This book was the turning point in how I looked at my work (and how I did it).

The Art of Worldly Wisdom

by Baltasar Gracian

I wish I would have read this when I was younger, but it showed up at a point in life when I was confused/scared and it gave me solid Cliffnotes on how to exist without excessive angst. Keep a copy around and review it from time to time; you won’t regret it.

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth (Audiobook)

by Chris Hafield

Adding this review long after I listened to it. Great story about Chris’s life, how he became an astronaut, and some of the lessons he learned on the way up. Entertaining but shouldn’t be dismissed—I learned a ton from Chris about personal conduct and perseverance.