What I’m Reading in 2018

2017 | 2016

Changing on the Job: Developing Leaders for a Complex World — I hate the title of this book but love the content. The book tackles big questions like: How do we make sense of reality? How do we develop? How do we advance and get better? How do we understand our own growth or lack thereof? How do we understand reality? Jennifer Garvey Berger suggests we can learn something about the patterns of adult development not only to understand ourselves and move us forward but to better understand and support others. This book isn't something you read before bed when you're tired but it is something you read to push yourself forward and better understand the world.

The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling —Before you walk into a Casino you should read this book. Investors will love the section on pari-mutuel betting. Gambling attracts a lot of incredibly intelligent people — like Richard Feynman, Claude Shannon, and Ed Thorp — to see if they can gain an edge over the house. It strikes me that gamblers share a similar mindset with hackers — seeing gambling as a system with rules and probabilities where small advantages can be unearthed and exploited before the opponent catches on and closes the loophole.

Average is Over — There is a fundamental divide between workers, for some the computer will help and for others, it will cost them. This will increase the wage gap, however, it might not be as bad as you think. The future it working with technology, which is constantly adapting. The future will be owned by those with wonderful people skills and those that can rapidly adapt and use technology.

The Complacent Class — We're becoming more risk-averse, moving less, productivity is declining outside of tech, and more medicated. Individually we're settling, but collectively this has massive impacts like screwy politics and reduced competitiveness on an international level.

Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts, which comes out this week. I was lucky to have an advance copy. I read this in preparation for having Annie Duke on the podcast. Anyone interested in making better decisions can learn a lot from this book.

Fear City — A fascinating overview of New York's fiscal crisis and the rise of austerity politics. More than a financial thriller, Kim Phillips-Fein gives you a front-row seat into how seemingly small steps lead to unforeseen outcomes. Essential reading for anyone looking to understand New York's brush with bankruptcy and how it shaped politics.

A Beautiful Terrible Thing — For anyone that's ever dated psychopath, this incredibly powerful memoir will not only resonate but offer inspiration. The way the book was constructed is creative and engaging.

America's Bank by Roger Lowenstein — A legacy of the Jeffersonian era of small traditions and small government, Lowenstein tells the story of the creation of the Federal Reserve. Before the reserve, financial panics, bank runs, money shortages, and depressions were common. By the early twentieth century, it had become apparent the banking system was ill equipped to handle the rapid development of the industrial industry. The abandonment of the gold standard would have shocked the founders, who assumed money had to be more than pure paper. The challenge of organizations, including the Federal Reserve, is to adapt to a world for which it was not intended. This means organizations are created with flexibility that can accommodate a wide variety of scenarios, like the financial crisis. The Federal Reserve, no more guarantees sound banking policy more than Congress can guarantee the creation of good laws or the President can ensure good Policy.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers — Engaging and thoughtful, this book explores the many uses cadavers have. Done with both respect and a quirky curiosity, the author tells a fascinating story about what can happen to our bodies after we die. Reading this also provokes a lot of questions about what is life, and what really matters. The answers will be different for everyone, but this book certainly provides a unique perspective on how to consider the relationship between our biology and our ‘selves'.

Merchant Kings: When Companies Rule the World, 1600-1900 — It's not a part of history that many are fond of remembering, tied up as it is with exploitation and murder. So bizarre to us now, that a country could just ‘give' a monopoly on land that it didn't own thousands of miles away to a private corporation that wasn't required to obey national laws, completely disregarding the wishes of the land's inhabitants. The author manages to be honest about this history while providing a fresh perspective on the relationship between company and country, and why every single one of them were both moral and financial disasters.

Great at Work: How Top Performers Work Less and Achieve More — A lot of practical advice in here on how to focus your energy to do more. The section on constrictive conflict and meetings dovetails well with Ray Dailo's notion of an idea meritocracy.