Okay, I’ll keep this one short. However, I do want to share a quick overview of the most interesting books I read over the past few months. I’ll admit it straight away that the majority of them are probably known to you by know but that doesn’t mean they still can’t be on my list of favourite books.
Before we dive into the list of books, I do like to mention I have read most of the book below on paper. Although I tried to read ebooks on my iPad for several years, I have recently moved back to paper and actually started to like it over reading from a screen. Flipping back and forth through pages is easier, it is calmer to the eyes (yes, I promised myself to buy an e-reader sometime sone) and I don’t get distracted that much compared to when I would read on my iPad.
Okay, let’s move on to the books.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Like I said. You are probably already familiar with a bunch of the books that are on the list. But hey, this is my list, you wanted to read it. And, I guarantee you that there are some books you have not heard off! This one tops the list and it is there for a reason. This book, it took me some time to read it from cover to cover, is not meant as a book. It is more like a manual that you keep on your desk, in order to refer back to it and refresh your mind every now and then.
The habits that Stephen Covey lines out in his book are not habits that help you get more done. Instead, they are universal habits that help you progress in life. They are very wide and high level and in many cases very practical at the same time. I personally love the large number of examples with each of the habits that he describes as it really got me thinking about how I want to live my life.
Verbaal Meesterschap (or: verbal craftsmanship)
You won’t find this book on Amazon, simply because it has not been translated to a foreign language. Nonetheless, this one had to make it to the list. Primarily because it provides a very interesting perspective on verbal mastery (or simply put: being a very effective speaker). Here’s the catch: the first half of the book is not about speaking!
What it is about…
Before entering into the world of speaking, the author, Remco Claessen, first takes his time to talk about listening. The idea here is that you can spend a whole lot of time speaking. However, if you can’t figure out how others perceive your message, all speaking remains useless. I was surprised at first, as I probably expected some really useful and proven tricks. But as I progress through the book, I started to appreciate its set up more and more. This resulted in me buying the book twice. As in eBook first and a physical book subsequently. To have it on the shelve, allowing myself to refer back to it from time to time.
Another Dutch book, but there’s good news on this one: it looks like it is being translated as we speak. So, it might become available at an Amazon webshop near you soon! Grip is the first book written by Rick Pastoor. He was formerly the Head of Product at Blendle. Blende is a software company in the Netherlands that set out to make quality journalism profitable in a digital world. I closely followed the company but never heard about Rick until he had left Blendle to pursue his own passion: make people work smarter.
Work smart, not hard
So, Grip is all about working smart. Not necessarily hard, but smart. Rick states that we never really learned how to work in the 21st century. Taking into account all tools available today, distracting us all the time and therefore not allowing us to find our true productive mode.
I guess there are two main things that I really like about this book.
- First of all, it is written in a very practical manner. Both the writing style as well as his approach to working smarter is very hands-on. I really modified my workflow while going through the chapters.
- Second, Rick combines knowledge and methods from many different gurus and productivity book authors in his very own process. So this is not just about Getting Things Done or Deep Work or one of the Seven Habits. It really is about all of them and more.
Grip was a real page-turner to me. I still read from it once in a while to see if he has some additional tips for me that I overlooked when first reading it.
More good news, beyond the translation. Rick is using his book as a way to start a ‘work smarter’ community. I haven’t yet purchased a Grip membership subscription but the idea is tempting and I see its value. So he is turning his book into a platform. Including proper interaction between its members, some relevant tools, and frequent digital meet-ups.
Hold your horses! This one should become available in English sooner or later!
Huh, what is this one doing over here? Shouldn’t all books be about improving your life and personal productivity? Well, not necessarily if you ask me. I believe Satya Nadella’s book deserves a place on this list.
This may sound a bit weird but I have always been kind of a fanboy of Microsoft’s third CEO. Don’t worry, I don’t have posters of him hanging over my bed. However, it is his leadership style that I very much appreciate. I have been fortunate enough to attend his first keynote as Microsoft CEO back in Washington in 2014. Obviously, the stakes were very high as everybody was eager to see where he would take Microsoft after Steve Balmer. I can’t remember his exact words but this is the picture he drew.
If you look at the PC market, Microsoft is the dominant player and the one to beat, with over 90% market share. If you include all devices though, that market share drops to somewhere between 10% and 20%.
So, here are investors claiming that Microsoft was in a very good position. However, all at once, its newly appointed CEO announces they are not the market leader, but a challenger in fact. Too bad…
Nadella, however, used that (and some other) statement as a paradigm shift to make Microsoft push their own refresh button. F5, FN F5, CTRL+R. If you hit refresh, you keep the really precious and valuable parts. In addition, you remove most of the clutter, and build of a clean sheet. Which is what he has done with Microsoft. I witnessed this from close by as I work with Microsoft on a regular base. The company changed, for good. And his book gives some very interesting insights on how he approached it and why he did it. Oh, and on the side, it provides some interesting perspective on where the world is going from a software industry perspective.
How to make friends and influence people
This one is gold! Old and gold! And it remains hot and actual today. Dale Carnegie wrote this book in 1936. Can you imagine? A book that was written before World War 2 that is still very actual. Let me take it even further: Robert Cialdini solved over three million copies of his book Influence, which was published in 1984. Next level, Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits, published in 1989, has been sold over 15 million times. This classic, and yes I know it has been around longer, has sold over 30 million copies, and still going strong. That’s double the Seven Habits!
This one is more difficult to read than the others since, indeed, the writing style is from the thirties. But the ideas and methods raised by Carnegie are very much true today. And frankly, because it was written almost a century ago, it does push you to read a part, read it again, think about what he is really trying to say, and translate that into nowadays life. Another example of a book that I appreciated that much that I bought it twice. first as an ebook and later on as a physical copy. It is not on my desk but in our library, and from time to time I pick it up, flip through the pages and seek some interesting passages.
The infinite game
Okay, I’ll admit it. I haven’t read this book, yet. I did read Sinek’s Start With Why, a book he published a few years ago and really liked the idea of connecting the existence of your company to something bigger than what you are doing on a day to day base. In addition, I was fortunate enough to hear him speak at a conference in Las Vegas, where he briefly touched on The Infinite Game. I only added this title to the list however after watching him speak at a seminar, which happened to be posted on YouTube. That speech was all about The Infinite Game and is a straight recommendation.
Unlike Start With Why, I thought that the concept of The Infinite Game was way easier to apply. The YouTube video definitely made me think. Think hard, about where I want to be, what I think is worth pursuing in life. I, therefore, promised myself to read the book soon to find out what he didn’t share in the seminar!
Men, this goes fast. So many books, so much more to tell. Is this the whole list? No, for sure not. Are there other books that are candidates for this list: yes, definitely. But hey, let’s save that for another time. Thanks for making it this far. I hope you enjoyed reading it!