Category Archives: Reviews

I usually read allot, but I am expecting to read even more during the time we will be in Fernie. So I will post reviews of the books and other toys here:

Multipliers by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown

Best Leadership book ever!

I love reading, and mostly read business related books.  I have also read my fair share of leadership books over the past 10 years.  A month or so ago a friend that I studied with recommended Multipliers.  His book recommendation has always been good in the past and he was quit excited about Multipliers.  So immediately got a copy on my Kindle.

He turned out to be spot on. Multipliers is the best leadership book I have ever come across.  I found it so valuable that I read it a second time right after I’ve finished it the first time.

==> Click here to buy: Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter <==

Multipliers describe a continuum of leadership with the two extremes being Multipliers and Diminishers.  The research Multipliers is based on, showed that Multipliers on average, got more than two times more out of their people than Diminishers.

Throughout the book they contrast the behaviour of Multipliers with Diminishers.  Multipliers are Talent Magnets while Diminishers are Empire Builders, Multipliers are Challengers while Diminishers are Know-it-Alls, you get the idea.

One of the most fascinating observations was that many people that worked for Multipliers reported that their boss managed to get more out of them than they thought they was capable of.  While many former Rock Stars revert the ‘quit and stay’ approach when working for a Diminisher.

Multipliers managed to reframe the whole way I look at leadership.  I just look at the world through completely different lenses now.  Where previously, I would get frustrated with some situations I now immediate ask my self how a Multiplier would look at it.  I try to figure out how I can learn from it and change my behaviour.

==> Click here to buy: Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter <==

Multipliers work from the assumption: “People are smart, they will figure it out”, while Diminishers assume: “really intelligent people are rare, I am one of them”.  This leads to two complete diverging ways of operating and behaviours.

You have to read Multipliers, it will change the way you see the world!

The $100 Startup

The $100 Startup

One of the other students, in the HTML/CSS beginner class that I am doing at Starter League, suggested that I read $100 startup.  It is written by Chris Guillebeau, and was done after research he did with more than 1500 business owners.

==> Click here to buy: The $100 Startup <==

The book offers some great motivations and is in many ways very similar to The 4-hour workweek by Timothy Ferriss.  He tells the stories of many of the people included in his research; why they’ve started, how they’ve started and grew from there.

I found the first half of the book to be really good and inspirational.  He encourages actions and talks a lot about finding the point of convergence between what you love to do and finding something others are willing to pay for.

In The $100 Startup he also explains this idea of selling emotional benefits of your product instead of the descriptive features.  The examples he gave here illustrated the point perfectly, like a ranch that sells “Be a cowboy” instead of “take a horse ride”.

I found the second half of the book a little slow going.  Sometimes this type of self-help book does a great job motivating action but then slows down too much in order to try and convey very practical advice.  I am sure that it is great for some people that are looking for that type of practical advice.

==> Click here to buy: The $100 Startup <==

My own take is that motivation is the biggest stumbling block.  Once you take action your learn to solve the many problems that cross your path once you get going.  Learning to solve some of the potential problems while you are still standing still is pointless.

Overall The $100 Startup is worth the read.  But more importantly – take action! Follow Chris Guillebeau’s advice and start doing something today.

Think and Grow Rich – Review

Cover of Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Think and Grow Rich is a self-improvement classic; it is right up there with ‘How to Win friends and influence people’.  I must have read this book for the first time about 15 years ago, just after I’ve started reading.  It was an amazing read again after such a long time.  Some of the things he suggests one does in the book, I have been doing for years, only to realize now where I’ve learnt it from.

==> Click here to buy: Think and Grow Rich <==

In Think and Grow Rick Napoleon Hill sets out to teach you ‘The Secret’ to amassing great wealth.  He was inspired or rather guided to do this by Andrew Carnegie, one of the wealthiest guys in the world at the time.  Hill went on to learn from many titans of industry at the time including Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and others.

The setting of the book is also fascinating.  After two decades of research the book was published in the late 1930s’, after the great depression but before World War 2.  This context makes some of the comments in the book even more fascinating.

What is also very interesting is some of the parallels to our own time. Like Hill’s reference to how the public has lost confidence in the banking business, or the lack of real leadership in politics.  He also got a few things wrong like he predicted that newspapers would need to find a way to stop depending on advertising revenue and also, newspapers that focus on publishing scandals will not survive.

Although I’ve found the unrelenting focus on only money in the book a little too much, the world these ideas were conceived in, explain it rather well.  But I am sure the techniques and thinking are applied to many other endeavours today.

==> Click here to buy: Think and Grow Rich <==

Think and Grow Rich is definitely worth a read, just make sure you see it from the context it was written, in a world far different from the one we live in today.

Macbook Pro 15′ with Retina Display

When I was studying in 2008 I bought my first MacBook.  I never used it as much as wanted or should have. I’ve tried to do my study work on it, but was a little frustrated that everything worked different to Windows.  Back then I didn’t feel like I had the time to spend learning how to use the MacBook Properly.

Since then I have not used the MacBook much. But when we went to Fernie I decided to take it along and started spending more time on it. The more I used it, the more I liked it. The only challenge was that it was now pretty old and slow. So when I got into Starter League, I decided it was time for a new one.  With the prices in SA and the falling rand, I could not wait to get to Chicago to buy one.

Picture of My New Macbook Pro 15' with Retina Display

My New Macbook Pro 15′ with Retina Display

So the day I landed in Chicago I made my way to the Apple Store on Michigan Ave in down town Chicago.  After some discussion with the sales rep, I decided to get the MacBook Pro 15’ Retina display with a 2.7 GHz processor and 16 GB memory as well as NVIDIA GeForce graphics card with 1GB on board memory.

==> Click Here to buy a MacBook Pro 15′ with Retina Display <==

This retina display is really amazing, it is crystal clear and at this resolution watching HD videos are really cool.  I also love the mouse pad without buttons, actually works much better.  Apple has also done a great job with all the added functionality through gestures on the mouse pad.

Picture of My coding setup with Terminal and Sublime

My coding setup with Terminal and Sublime

The battery life is also impressive.  Between Dropbox and iCloud my docs and personal info was synced in no time, and it felt like I have been using this MacBook for ages.  I am really looking forward to spending many happy hours on my new MacBook Pro learning to code! It is going to be awesome!

==> Click here to buy a MacBook Pro 15′ with Retina Display <==

I also got a snazzy hard shell cover to protect the Macbook. I looks really cool!

Business Model Generation – Review

Business Model Generation by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur

Business Model Generation turned out to be a great book even though it started a little slow and I found it a challenge to read on my Kindle. In fact, I think it is the first book I have read on kindle that I would have preferred to read in hard copy.  Business Model Generation is full of images, diagrams, and what they call the business model canvas, which was very hard to decipher on the kindle.

The deeper I got into the Business Model Generation the more I enjoyed it.  They offer a very structured approach to strategize about a business model.  The business model canvas, which they explain in great detail, force you to explain and write down the ideas one often have inside your own head about how your business works.

==> Click here to buy: Business Model Generation <==

The authors refer to a business model design space, by analysing four areas of the business environment: 1) market forces 2) industry forces 3) key trends and 4) macroeconomic forces.  I found the contrast that they point out between design attitude and decision attitude fascinating.

The authors reference an article “Design Matters” by Fred Collopy and Richard Boland, in explaining the two concepts. Decision attitude works from the assumption that it is easy to come up with alternatives but challenging to pick the best one, while design attitude assumes that it is difficult to envisage an outstanding alternative.  In design attitude the clearly superior alternative then makes the decision very easy.

In The Business Model Generation the authors place a lot of emphasis on being patient in the following a process to get the best alternatives, and making sure you don’t jump ahead or ‘fall in love’ with a solution to early. I think I have been guilty of doing just that in the past.

==> Click here to buy: Business Model Generation <==

There are opportunities for business model innovation everywhere. The Business Model Generation offers a fantastic structured approach to help anybody from a small startup to multinationals come find and explore these opportunities.