Book Summaries


Far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory, nor defeat. – THEODORE ROOSEVELT, 1899

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Built to Last is a great book that outlines the results of a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, conducted by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras. The book explores what leads to enduringly great companies, the authors examined eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. 

Built to Last is one of the most influential business books have read multiple times as the concepts in the book is evergreen: Clock Building, vs Time Telling, Preserve the Core / Stimulate Progress, Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs), Try a Lot of Stuff and Keep What works, Cult-Like cultures, among others.

Here are my favourite take aways from reading, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies by Jim Collins:

The study found a negative correlation between early entrepreneurial success and becoming a highly visionary company. The long race goes to the tortoise, not the hare,

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“Do all the right things to precision and “the score will take care of itself”

The Score Takes Care of Itself was recommended by Jack Dorsey at Y Combinator’s Startup School 2013, and John C. Maxwell says the book is one of his favorite books on Leadership.

Bill Walsh was one of the NFL’s pivotal figures, a leader, head coach, and general manager whose innovations changed how football is played and whose San Francisco 49er dynasty—five Super Bowl championships in fourteen years—ranks among the great achievements in sports history.

The Score Takes Care of Itself is Bill’s very personal and, at times, painful account of the leadership lessons he learned during his life and his conclusions on how they might help you overcome your challenges as a leader. The book is based on Bill’s extensive conversations on his philosophy of leadership with best-selling author Steve Jamison.

“Most big things are simple in the specific, much less so in the general.”

Here are my favorite take-aways from reading, The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Wash.:

  • Your effort in the beginning is part of a continuum of effort; your Standard of Performance is part of a continuum of standards. Today’s effort becomes tomorrow’s result. The quality of those efforts becomes the quality of your work. One day is connected to the following day and the following month to the succeeding years.
  • Your own Standard of Performance becomes who and what you are. You and your organization achieve greatness.

A good leader is always learning. The great leaders start learning young and continue until their last breath.

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The object of life is not to be on the side of the masses, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.~ Marcus Aurelius

MJ DeMarco had an epiphany when he had a chance encounter with a Lamborghini Countach owner; the meeting led him to have a paradigm shift about wealth. The Millionaire Fastlane is the belief that creating wealth need not take 50 years of financial mediocrity devoured by decades of work, decades of saving, decades of mindless frugality, and decades of 8% stock market returns

The book has a get rich scheme title, but it is not the theme of the book; the Fastlane is just a metaphor on the path to creating wealth, which the author classified as the sidewalk, the slow lane, and the Fastlane. The author deliberately chose the name of the book because he knows the society as we have it structured is attuned to shortcut, quick fixes, and immediacy.

“The goal of the book is to change your perception about wealth and money. Believe that retirement at any age is possible. Believe that old age is not a prerequisite to wealth. Believe that a job is just as risky as a business. Believe that the stock market isn’t a guaranteed path to riches. Believe that you can be retired just a few years from today.”

Here are my favourite take aways from reading, The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco.

As the area of our knowledge growsso too does the perimeter of our ignorance.

Neil is, best known as the director of New York’s Hayden Planetarium and an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History. Between his decade writing a column for Natural History magazine, bestselling books (including 2017’s Astrophysics for People in a Hurry), his podcast and TV show StarTalk, his many television and radio appearances, and his nearly 14 million Twitter followers, he’s become perhaps the world’s most recognizable living scientist. He’s a Carl Sagan for the 21st century but with an even wider reach. 

Neil has said repeatedly that more important than the general public recognizing the names of individual scientists—his included—is a basic level of science literacy. These cultural appearances are part of his effort to spread that literacy and infectious curiosity to a wider audience. 

While Neil is dedicated to facts, rigor, and objective truth, he’s not divorced from other aspects of the human experience; he recognizes that not everything about our lives is purely rational. (For example, he notes that art is a vital and fundamental expression of what it is to be human but it doesn’t need to be anchored in scientific truths.) 

Science literacy is not so much about what you know, but about how your brain is wired for thought, how your brain is wired to ask questions.

What makes therapy challenging is that it requires people to see themselves in ways they normally choose not to. A therapist will hold up the mirror in the most compassionate way possible, but it’s up to the patient to take a good look at that reflection, to stare back at it and say, “Oh, isn’t that interesting! Now what?” instead of turning away.

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Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a witty and thought-provoking memoir by Lori Gottlieb, where she takes the reader on a journey of being a therapist, her patients, and her therapy session with another therapist. The book reads like a frequently asked question on psychotherapy, the therapy process, vulnerabilities, suffering, pain, childhood trauma, shame and all the things we deal with as humans.

Lori Gottlieb is an American writer and psychotherapist, who writes the weekly “Dear Therapist” advice column for The Atlantic. ABC Studios is developing a television series based on the book with Eva Longoria.

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.” – Carl Jung

Lori shares some great insights through her therapy sessions with her clients and her therapy session with her own therapist. She delivers the lessons, anecdotes, rants, jokes, and insights through the following characters:

  • Lori Gottlieb: therapist and a patient
  • John is a self-absorbed Hollywood producer
  • Julie is a newlywed around the age of thirty, diagnosed with a terminal illness
  • Rita is a senior citizen who wants to end her life on her birthday
  • Charlotte is a twenty-year-old woman struggling with damaging relationships and alcoholism
  • Wendell is Lori Gottlieb’s psychotherapist

“The nature of life is change and the nature of people is to resist change.”

Therapy is about understanding the self that you are. But part of getting to know yourself is to unknow yourself—to let go of the limiting stories you’ve told yourself about who you are so that you aren’t trapped by them, so you can live your life and not the story you’ve been telling yourself about your life.

Here are my favorite takeaways from reading, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: by Lori Gottlieb:

“Somewhere in the tangle of the subject’s burden and the subject’s desire is your story.”—Alex Tizon

Anyone who has survived childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days. ~Flannery O’Connor

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Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird
is a very great and funny book for aspiring writers, the book contains lots of advise she normally gives her creative writing workshop participants such as Getting started as a writer, Short Assignments, Shitty First Drafts, Writing as a gift, False Starts, Perfectionism, Writers Block, publication, among other insights.

The genesis of the title, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott writes:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

Here are my favorite takeaways from reading Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott:

Leadership is like maturity. It doesn’t automatically come with age. Sometimes age comes alone.

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John C. Maxwell is my favorite Leadership Author and I like reading his books because they are always well researched, with very good stories, anecdotes, and book references that would make you want to explore the topic further. In Developing the Leader Within You 2.0, John outlines principles for inspiring, motivating, and influencing others from any type of leadership position.

Everything rises and falls on leadership. The world becomes a better place when people become better leaders. Developing yourself to become the leader you have the potential to be will change everything for you.

Success leads to the greatest failure, which is pride. Failure leads to the greatest success, which is humility and learning.
In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.…That may lead to failure, but it will eventually lead to genuine success. – David Brook

Here are my favorite takeaways from reading Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 by John C. Maxwell:

“Chess is above all a struggle, the point is always to win, no matter how you define winning.” – Emanuel Lasker of Germany, the second world champion

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Garry Kasparov was the highest-rated chess player in the world for over twenty years and is widely considered the greatest player that ever lived. In How Life Imitates Chess Kasparov distills the lessons he learned over a lifetime as a Grandmaster to offer a primer on successful decision-making: how to evaluate opportunities, anticipate the future, devise winning strategies.

He relates in a lively, original way all the fundamentals, from the nuts and bolts of strategy, evaluation, and preparation to the subtler, more human arts of developing a personal style and using memory, intuition, imagination and even fantasy. Kasparov takes us through the great matches of his career, including legendary duels against both man (Grandmaster Anatoly Karpov) and machine (IBM chess supercomputer Deep Blue), enhancing the lessons of his many experiences with examples from politics, literature, sports and military history. 

“The stock market and the gridiron and the battlefield aren’t as tidy as the chessboard, but in all of them, a single, simple rule holds true: make good decisions and you’ll succeed; make bad ones and you’ll fail.”

Here are my favourite take aways from reading How life Imitates Chess by Gary Kasparov:

No matter what you’re facing, you have what it takes to figure anything out and become the person you’re meant to be.

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From the host of the award-winning MarieTV and The Marie Forleo Podcast, an indispensable handbook for becoming the creative force of your own life. Everything is figureoutable is more than just a fun phrase to say. It’s a practical, actionable discipline. A mantra that helps you operate at your best and achieve what you want. It’s a mindset to help you solve meaningful problems, learn new skills, and find ways to help and contribute to others. Once adopted, this attitude will make you virtually unstoppable.

Purpose fuels persistence. Reasons come before results.

Premise of Everything Is Figureoutable: No matter what you’re facing, you have what it takes to figure anything out and become the person you’re meant to be.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”- Maya Angelou

Here are my favourite take aways from reading Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo:

If you try to play checkers in a chess world, problems are your reward.

Chess is not a game of luck, and neither is business. When you win, it’s because you made good decisions.

I am fascinated with the game of chess, even though I do not know how to play it yet. It is on my bucket list of games to master; the game contains lots of strategies that are applicable in life and business. I have seen lots of movies (Searching for Bobby Fischer, Life of a King), Documentaries (Magnus, Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine), read some books such as How Life Imitates Chess by Gary Kasparov to name but a few.

Chess Not Checkers by Mark Miller is an excellent book on how we can apply the game of chess to win in business. The author share four Chess Moves that have Parallel to Business, these moves, derived from winning strategies and principles from the chess world, have parallel applications in any organization. The four chess moves are: Bet on Leadership, Act as One, Win the Heart, and Excel at Execution.

In Chess Not Checkers, Mark Miller tells the story of Blake Brown, newly appointed CEO of a company troubled by poor performance and low morale. Nothing Blake learned from his previous roles seems to help him deal with the issues he now faces. The problem, his new mentor points out, is Blake is playing the wrong game.

The early days of an organization are like checkers: a quickly played game with mostly interchangeable pieces. Everybody, the leader included, does a little bit of everything; the pace is frenetic. But as the organization expands, you can’t just keep jumping from activity to activity. You have to think strategically, plan ahead, and leverage every employee’s specific talents—that’s chess. Leaders who continue to play checkers when the name of the game is chess lose. 

On his journey, Blake learns four essential strategies from the game of chess that transform his leadership and his organization. The result: unprecedented performance!

Here are my favourite take aways from reading Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game:

Tech isn’t morally good or bad until it’s wielded by the corporations that fashion it for mass consumption. Apps and platforms can be designed to promote rich social connections; or, like cigarettes, they can be designed to addict. Today, unfortunately, many tech developments do promote addiction.

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Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter is a very great book about how most of the technology products we use daily are irresistible and invariably addictive. From Social Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to Addictive Games such as World of Warcraft to Flappy Bird. I found the book paradigm-shifting, just the way I felt after reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport.

In Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, Adam Alter, a professor of psychology and marketing at NYU, tracks the rise of behavioral addiction, and explains why so many of today’s products are irresistible. Though these miraculous products melt the miles that separate people across the globe, their extraordinary and sometimes damaging magnetism is no accident. The companies that design these products tweak them over time until they become almost impossible to resist.

We obsess over our emails, Instagram likes, and Facebook feeds; we binge on TV episodes and YouTube videos; we work longer hours each year; and we spend an average of three hours each day using our smartphones. Half of us would rather suffer a broken bone than a broken phone, and Millennial kids spend so much time in front of screens that they struggle to interact with real, live humans.

By reverse-engineering behavioral addiction, Alter explains how we can harness addictive products for the good—to improve how we communicate with each other, spend and save our money, and set boundaries between work and play—and how we can mitigate their most damaging effects on our well-being, and the health and happiness of our children.

Addictions bring the promise of immediate reward, or positive reinforcement. In contrast, obsessions and compulsions are intensely unpleasant to not pursue.

Here are my favourite take aways from reading irresistable by Adam Alter:

Intuition heeded is far more valuable than simple knowledge. Intuition is a gift we all have, whereas retention of knowledge is a skill. Rare is the expert who combines an informed opinion with a strong respect for his own intuition and curiosity.

In The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence, Gavin De Becker shares some great insights on how to spot even subtle signs of danger—before it’s too late, how most violent acts are predictable, the need to follow your intuition more often. Gavin De Becker is the founder, and chairman of Gavin de Becker and Associates, Gavins’ firm predicts human behavior, behavior in one category mostly: violence.

The basic premise of the book: Listen to your intuition more, and the gift of fear can save your life. In the book, Gavin shows how intuition works for you, and how denial works against you, how fear can be central to your safety, but is frequently misplaced. He also explores the role of threats in our lives and show how you can tell the difference between a real warning and mere words.

Every type of con relies upon distracting us from the obvious

Here are my favourite take aways from reading the The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker:

Life is over so quickly. It is possible to reach the end with no regrets. It takes some bravery to live it right, to honour the life you are here to live but the choice is yours. So will be the rewards. Appreciate the time you have left by valuing all of the gifts in your life and that includes especially, your own, amazing self.

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Australian palliative caregiver Brommie Ware, documented the top regrets of her dying patients, their insights on living, their dying epiphanies and their top regrets. Having cared for and sat by the bedside of terminally ill individuals for several years, she got exposed to their unbearable pain and anguish of dying with regret. The insight she garnered from being around them led her to start a blog and eventually led to writing a memoir, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing.

According to Bronnie Ware, here are the top Five Regrets of the Dying:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

Here are my favourite take aways from reading, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware.

We are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard

A Leader is a dealer in hope, during adversity, obstacles, crisis, and trying times; the leader should always show optimism and positivity. The most powerful tool in a leaders toolset is what he does (example), not what he says. A leader who is positive and optimistic during trying times gives followers the confidence they need during tough times.

In the Power of Positive Leadership, Jon Gordon shares what he has learned and provides a comprehensive framework on positive leadership filled with proven principles, compelling stories, practical ideas, and practices that will help anyone become a positive leader.

Positive leadership is all about seeing and creating a brighter and better future. It’s about inventing, innovating, creating, building, improving, and transforming education, healthcare, business, government, technology, farming, design, communities, cities, transportation, and every aspect of our lives and the world we live in. Some scoff when leaders share bold ideas, imaginative goals, and seemingly impossible dreams, but ideas, imagination, and dreams are the fabric positive leaders weave together to create the future and change the world.

Here are my favourite take aways from reading, The Power of Positive Leadership by Jon Gordon:

Life is a game, and the player opposite you is TIME. If you hesitate before moving, or neglect to move thoughtfully and decisively, your pieces will be wiped off the board by TIME. You are playing against a partner who will not tolerate INDECISION!

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Think and Grow Rich is one of the few books I have lost count of the number of times I have read and listened to the book. It is by far one of the most influential book have ever read as it contains lost of wisdom and insights; each look or reading of the books makes the point clearer.

Think and Grow Rich was first published in 1937 by Napoleon Hill during the Great Depression, and it has sold more than 15 million copies to date. The book was the suggestion of one of the richest men in the world at the time, business magnate Andrew Carnegie.

Think and Grow is based on the Author Napoleon Hill’s twenty years study of successful individuals in that era such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, George Eastman, Theodore Roosevelt, Elbert Hubbard among others. His study is distilled as 13 principles contained in the book as the “Philosophy of Achievement”. They are:



Here are my favourite take-aways from reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill: