In 2023 I aim to post every week a new book recommendation on linkedin. This is the summary of them.

Safe Haven: Investing for Financial Storm

In “Safe Haven: Investing for Financial Storms”, Mark Spitznagel skillfully marries philosophical wisdom with the practicalities of investing. Spitznagel’s distinctive perspective on risk management underlines the essentiality of minimizing losses.

His philosophy-driven approach to investment is compelling: in the quantum realm of Schrödinger, where all potentialities exist simultaneously until the final moment, one might instinctively rely on the arithmetic mean of investment returns. However, by invoking Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence - living as if destined to repeat our lives innumerable times - Spitznagel invites us to reconsider the significance of sequence and order in our decisions. This is dramatically exemplified when considering that a stock needing to rebound by 100% after a 50% fall just to restore its original position.

The book further equips the reader with insightful strategies on asset allocation and the use of insurance to lever returns during unforeseen market crashes.

Due to the complex mathematics involved, I highly recommend digesting this work as a book rather than an audiobook. Some of the concepts demand contemplation and the mathematics can be challenging, but the core principles remain accessible and resonate long after reading.

Plays Well with Others: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Relationships Is (Mostly) Wrong

I highly recommend “Plays Well with Others,” a captivating non-fiction book that provides a fresh perspective on why much of what we know about relationships is (mostly) wrong, including commonly held beliefs like “don’t judge a book by its cover” and “love conquers all.” The author meticulously examines these notions through scientific studies, offering invaluable insights for personal and professional growth. Takeaway: The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has occurred.

Effective Remote Work: For Yourself, Your Team, and Your Company

I had the pleasure of hearing James Stanier speak at a conference, and his insights on remote work stuck with me. That’s why I highly recommend his book “Effective Remote Work.” In it, Stanier argues that remote work without an emphasis on asynchronous work modes is just like working in a physical office, but with all the downsides amplified.

To truly thrive in a remote work environment, we must embrace methods promoting autonomy and allowing for flexible schedules. Stanier’s book contains practical tips for making remote work successful and enjoyable, even facing challenges like time zones and communication barriers.

(It is focused on engineers, but my wife also took a lot out of it for their job to digitally transform government work.)

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World

“Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” holds much personal meaning for me as I have held many diverse responsible positions from a young age. I struggled with not having an explicit professional specialization (like being the Goto-Guru for this or the other thing) for a long time. Still, slowly I am recognizing how much I have benefited from being a generalist and being able to puzzle situations together and drive them forward.

One of the key takeaways from this book is that only through taking action can we truly learn who we are, rather than just thinking about an ideal “should be” future. The author argues that it’s about more than just working towards a specific goal but moving forward from promising situations.

I highly recommend “Range” to anyone grappling with the idea of being a generalist in a specialized world. It’s a refreshing and inspiring read that challenges conventional thinking about career paths and success

The Zen of Steve Jobs

It tells not only the story of Steve Jobs, but also his connection to Buddhism and explains some of his values that still influence the products we all use today.

Thinking in Systems: A Primer

My book recommendation for this week is about System Thinking. Why is it relevant? Feedback loops are everywhere. –> It’s not about who is at fault. It’s about understanding the system. Dynamic systems cannot be understood via statistical correlations. (This can only ever be used to map the past but cannot produce strong statements about the future. ) Systems cannot be mastered or wholly understood. -> You have to ““dance”” with them, and you can shape your sphere of influence correctly.

In the end, there is no single truth. On the one hand, the world is not linear, but on the other hand, system boundaries are also messy.

Are Your Lights On?: How to Figure Out What the Problem Really is

Solving a problem is easy. The hard part is about figuring out / defining the problem! In this “problem-space” (pun intended) is my recent book recommendation (from 1990 - but its wisdom is not old.)

It is about working with problems. Because in the end, that is what we all do, day in and day out, when hacking code, developing products for customers, or managing people.

Favorite Takeaways:

  • If you can’t think of at least three things that might be wrong with your understanding of the problem, you need help understanding the problem.
  • Each solution is the source of the next problem.
  • The source of the problem is most often within you.

The Dip: The extraordinary benefits of knowing when to quit (and when to stick)

A little book by Seth Godin (I love short, concise books, by the way!).

Well, the title says it all. In the book, Seth introduces the concept of a “dip” that everyone goes through in their creative/entrepreneurial endeavor. The difficulty is recognizing whether you are in a dip or a hopeless situation.

Besides that, my most important takeaway is: The opposite of “to stop” is not “to wait.”

Learning to Build: The 5 Bedrock Skills of Innovators and Entrepreneurs

It is about: empathic perspective, uncovering demand, causal structures, prototyping to learn, and making trade-offs.

Every single one of those topics is probably not a news flash - but they were completely redefined for me through this book.

For example: When he talks about prototyping, he does not think of a/b tests - he rather thinks of building an orthogonal array of experiments to test all possible variations of a problem at once! This is something completely different, then “iterating” on a product.

The same goes for the other 4 topics. There is a lot to unpack behind those words and a lot of wisdom in this book.

Demand-Side Sales 101: Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Make Progress

The title says “Sales,” but I am not a Sales Person, and everybody knows this. But it is about much more. Ultimately, the book discusses the empathetic development of businesses and business models. It comes with intelligent models and processes that are more customer-centric than anything I have ever encountered elsewhere.