Book Reports


That 👆 is a “book report”. A rudiment from my drumline days.

Don’t worry. You won’t find drumline’s shredding notes here. Rather, summaries and detailed notes (maybe) from the books I’ve read. This page will be updated as I continue to work on the site (and read more). So if you’re curious, you can always come back later.

Principles by Ray Dalio

The first quote on the cover says it all. “Ray Dalio has provided me with invaluable guidance and insights that are now available to you…” – Bill Gates. The book is well thought out and delivered with such clarity, it’s no wonder how Ray has been able to start and scale such a successful culture at Bridgewater. His five step process to get what you want out of life? Have clear goals. Identify and don’t tolerate problems. Diagnose problems to get to their root cause. Design a plan. Push through to completion. Ray also includes a friendly reminder, “…weaknesses don’t matter if you find solutions.”

Measure what Matters by John Doerr

A ruthlessly simple idea; Objective. Key Results (must be measurable!). But implemented and delivered in a way that wants me to learn more about Intel and specifically Andy Grove. Big take aways for me: measure output, the difference between aspirational and committed objectives, and, “we do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience”.

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

I don’t know what took me so long to pick up this book. 7 lessons worth their weight in gold. The real eye opening one for me was his perspective on financial literacy. It’s not about how much money you make, but about how much money you keep. His illustrations around the cash flow pattern for a Rich Dad versus the cash flow for a Poor Dad was worth reading over a few times. I also followed the recommendation to play the Rich Dad, Poor Dad game online, which helped reinforce concepts shared in the book.

Rental Property Investing by Brandon Turner

I actually read a series of 4 different BiggerPockets books back to back over the Holiday break: Rental property investing, Investing in real estate with little (or no) money down, Managing rental properties, and Tax strategies for the savvy real estate investor. Tax strategies offered some incredible insight into the ways you can used self-directed IRAs or Solo(k). Much more personal exploration needed to effectively use that concept. Little (or no) money down offered some good insights into creative ways to structure real estate deals.

Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon

My key take aways: Climb your own family tree. Rather than studying one discipline, study one thinker/doer. Then find 3 people that they studied. Rinse and repeat. I’ve read this book a few times (it’s a quick read), and I’ve found that to be really valuable when trying to understand the “why” behind what others are up to and how they got to where they are. Also the Not-So-Secret formula. Step 1. Wonder at something. Step 2. Invite others to wonder with you. Opening up the process and inviting people in is another way to explore ideas, build relationships, etc.

Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse

A vision of life as possibilities and play. The premise: There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite; the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play. Seth Godin did a great episode about infinite games on his podcast, Akimbo.

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

This book expands on the old proverb, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Q: Five frogs sit on a lily pad. 1 decides to jump off. How many frogs are left on lily pads?
A: Five. They’re all still sitting there.

Small changes compound into great accomplishments. It’s never too late to start but it’s always too late to wait.

What every real estate investor needs to know about Cash flow…by Frank Gallinelli

If you want to get taken to school about the ins and outs of real estate calculations this is the book for you. It definitely isn’t a front to back read but this will always be nearby when I’m considering deals or evaluating my current projects.

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Compelling cases about figures through out history who put their ego aside and were able to accomplish great things (contrary to the typical narrative around leadership). Also, the first book I’ve read that has put stoicism on my radar. Three big take aways: Remember to always be a student of your craft. Have purpose, not passion. Beware of the “Disease of me”. Reading this book has opened me up to reading some other recommendations of Ryan’s as well as getting me interested in figures in history that I wasn’t before. A branch on the tree worth exploring…

How to fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

Before I picked this book up, I was already aware of one of Scott’s thoughts, “losers have goals, winners have systems.” One of the similarities between this and Rich Dad Poor Dad is the idea that you should seek to build assets (systems) so that you can make money while you sleep. Another concept that I love is talent stack. The right combination of skills can be incredibly valuable (and more achievable) rather being an expert at one skill. For instance business experience, throw in some drawing skills, and you’ve got Dilbert. He’s also peaked my interest by spending some time on psychology and how the human brain perceives the world. His introduction in this book led to my curiosity into picking up another book of his, “Win Bigly”.

Win Bigly by Scott Adams

Persuasion in a world where facts don’t matter. Reading one of Scott’s earlier books got me interested in wanting hear more about how understanding human psychology can add value to your own talent stack. That combined with his perspective on the 2016 election made it for a great read.

Billion Dollar Lessons by Paul B. Carroll and Chunka Mui

Business books usually look at the success path. The offense. But rarely do they look at failure paths. This book is about how to play defense and avoid common paths of failure. This book shares some case studies I was never aware of: Green Tree, Iridium, and Zapmail to name a few. After covering the seven main types of failure, the authors cover some best practices to help avoid making the same mistakes. Two concepts that have stuck with me? Context is worth at least 80 IQ points. And, the same team that was responsible for the Bay of Pigs also handled the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard

The book’s thesis: Why do some individuals and teams succeed more quickly than others and sustain that success over the long term? Of those who pull it off, why are some miserable and others happy on their journey? What motivates people to reach for higher levels of success in the first place, and what kinds of habits, training, and support help them improve faster?
Brendon’s answers cover two areas, personal and social. From a personal perspective: seek clarity, generate energy, and raise necessity. From a social perspective: increase productivity, develop influence, and demonstrate courage.

The 10x Rule by Grant Cardone

The 10x rule – Pure domination mentality. Massive thought. Massive action. Grant’s observation about success,  “The interesting thing about success is that it’s like a breath of air; although your last breath of air is important, it’s not nearly as important as the next one…”

Success is not a zero sum game. Success is not copper, gold, or steel. It’s not a commodity, it’s not a resource. Success is created, not acquired. It’s creativity, it’s ideas. Then their implementation.

4 degrees of action: Do nothing, retreat, normal level of action, massive action. Obviously this book is about taking massive action.

The obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday

Three parts: Perception, Action, Will.

Perception – a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression. The mental impression that only you control. Rockefeller called it the, “School of Adversity and Stress”. Jim calls it, “University of Trial and Error”. How you perceive the world, and more specifically your failures, sets you up for either future failures or future success.

Action – people turn shit into sugar all the time. And in less favorable circumstance’s than we’re in.

Will – Persistence is an action. It’s an energy to continue. Perseverance is a matter of will. A matter of endurance.

Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Another standard in the personal finance world. What I call a “mind power” book. A reminder that you are “the master of your fate and the captain of your soul”. In order to do anything you must magnetize your mind with intense desire. Nothing can be accomplished with out first setting the intention of desire. Then build your base of specialized knowledge. Organized planning and persistence also big topics…sound familiar?

One of my favorite lines from the book, “You are playing against a partner who does not tolerate indecision – time.” 

What I learned losing a million dollars by Jim Paul and Brendan Moynihan

“Experience is the worst teacher. It always gives the test before giving the lesson.” – unknown. Similar to Billion Dollar lessons, Jim tells his own story on how he lost it all, and then reflect on his losses.  Learning how not to lose money is more important than learning how to make money. Think of the variety of advice you’ll find on how to make money but how similar the advice on how to not lose money is. Smart people learn from their own mistakes. Wise people learn from other people’s mistakes.

Will Power doesn’t work by Benjamin Hardy

Most of us are probably familiar with Steve Jobs and his black turtle necks or Mark Zuckerburg and his hoodies and jeans. The idea is that to preserve will power and decision making energy, reduce the number of decisions you need to make. At a surface level yes, but the reason will power is even required to begin with comes from several sources: lack of clarity, lack of desire, lack of investment, and an environment that opposes your desired outcomes. 

Barking up the wrong tree by Eric Barker

Should we play it safe and do what we’re told if we want to succeed? Being average is deceptive. A formula 1 car on the streets is impractical and basically undrivable but it will break records on the race track. Know thyself so you can confidently pick challenges and succeed.

An antedote I want to learn more about: Robert Axelrod and the prisoner’s dilemma. The tournament of computer algorithms that would battle to see who could “win” the dilemma. The most successful program was also one of the simplest. Called TFT, tit for tat. There’s magic behind the humble strategy of, “I’ll give first and then just respond to whatever you do.” If the program ran into a giver…sweet! If it ran into a taker it’s downside was the first round. And if it ran into a matcher they would “match” themselves into success.

Deep work by Cal Newport

The principle of least resistance: In a business setting, without clear feedback on the impact of various behaviors to the bottom line, we will tend toward behaviors that are easiest in the moment. But! Just because it’s easier doesn’t mean it’s right. And it’s because of this principle that people get caught up in looking busy rather than spending time on deep, creative, meaningful work.

Part of this is also driven by the trend to jam as many desks as possible into an open floor plan to promote collaboration. From an architecture perspective a really interesting concept is the Eudaimonia Machine. A rectangle space. That flows from Gallery, Coffee shop, Library, office space, then deep work chambers.

The Godzilla Trilogy by Robert Cialdini

Scott Adam’s calls Robert Cialdini “Godzilla”, which is fun, so I’m going to too. He call him Godzilla because he is a beast in the world of persuasion psychology. The trilogy is me reading all three of the books by Robert: Influence (his first book), Yes! 50 Scientifically proven ways to be persuasive and Pre-Suasion: A revolutionary way to influence and persuade.

As I was reading these books I started using my sticky note method but there was 2-3 sticky notes per page. These are 3 books I’ll be acquiring for my personal library to always have them for quick reference.

Tribe by Sebastian Junger

This book is about the shock a combat veteran can have when coming back into modern society. Specifically the lack of community and support. Sebastian talks about how early English Settlers in North American would fleeing to Indian society but it was rare for Indians to do the same. This is all rooted in the lack of community in European society. Which interesting enough, when there’s a natural disaster or a war sometimes people feel, “It was better when it was really bad.” Just one example shared in the book that was spray painted on a wall about the loss of social solidarity in Bosnia after the war had ended…

Wiser by Cass R. Sustein and Reid Hastien

I tried a new method to approaching non-ficition with this book. Read the table of contents, intro, then the conclusion, then end of each chapter, then pick out the details.

Groups don’t usually correct individual mistakes, they actually amplify them. 

Ways to avoid that: 
-Leaders need to listen to their team. There’s a reason they have one
-Adopt a “red team”. Group that is responsible for looking at and calling out all the risks. 
-Building the right group culture. Turn down the “happy talk” and increase the team’s willingness to add new info and ask questions. 

Anxious leaders ask, “what can go wrong”…they keep looking around the corners. Focusing on minimizing downside/risk to moves.

The Fish that ate the Whale by Rich Cohen

The story of Samuel Zemurray, the United Fruit Company, and its connection to the birth of modern American diplomacy. Zemurray started selling “browns” out of the side of a boxcar. His original plan was to buy browns and risk getting them back to New Orleans in time. As the train experienced delays he wired ahead that bananas were going to be for sale. As the train stopped in every town, he opened the door, and sold bananas before they all went bad. As his business grew he took on debt expanding into owning farms in Central America and ships to move the goods to the United States. As his business and interest grew he became entangled in regime changes in Honduras and Guatemala. Eventually his company, Cuyamel Fruit Company, was merged with United Fruit. Sam was crafty. One example: In competition to buy prime farm land and there was a dispute of ownership. Rather than spending money on lawyers and investigators to determine the true owner, Sam just bought the land from both of them.

Range by David Epstien

Epstien argues that generalists will triumph in a specialized world because they a) won’t be fooled by their own experience b) they’ll have the ability to think more creatively drawing on their range of experience rather than their depth c) stories told in retrospect for popular media typically manipulate these paths to look like ordinary A to B plans, rather than the murkier reality of a sampling period until things started to click.

Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell asks, “How can we best understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of crime waves, or the phenomena of word of mouth?” The answer lies in 3 rules: The law of few, the stickiness factor, and the power of context. The most interesting to me was the law of the few. An idea that just a few key types of people help an idea reach its tipping point:
1. Connectors: they just know a lot of people. A classic example is the concept, “6 degrees of Kevin Bacon”. Check out Brett Tjaden’s Oracle of Bacon tool for some fun. These people are social glue. 2. Mavens: they know a lot of information and can help you connect dots. The word maven comes from the Yiddish, and it means one who accumulates knowledge. These people are the databases. 3. Salesmen: with the skills to persuade people when they are unconvinced they are the final piece to how a word-of-mouth epidemic gets started.

Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

Meeting strangers is something we do almost on a daily basis. But how do we know if we can trust a stranger?
Society is built around a simple construct, that we must default to trust in all of our transactions. Other wise, society would be very different.

But how do we know what a stranger is thinking? Gladwell talks about the “Friends fallacy”. If you were to watch the TV show “Friends” on mute you would still understand the emotions all the characters are feeling. But in real life, reading peoples emotions is much more difficult and nuanced.

How should our police force function? Should they default to trust? In Kansas City District 144, they theorized (after a few failed attempts to reduce crime) that crime was tied to an environment and coupled to a few key blocks, so the police force used traffic stops to try and stop crimes in progress or just after they occurred. It was tremendously effective and other police forces were interested in applying the results. Unfortunately, this strategy was then incorrectly applied across the country.