Some Books, Blogs and Podcasts I’ve Enjoyed Lately

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Here’s some stuff I’ve been reading, watching and listening to lately.


This being so, so what? – Jerry Colonna

Jerry is an ex-VC and now coaches CEOs. In this episode, Jerry talks with a startup CEO who has 4 months of money left in the bank and how to make sure they keep the company around. This episode has been really useful to multiple portfolio companies already. Check out episodes 9, 20, 25 and 45 as well.

Tony Robbins on the Tim Ferriss Show

Tim interviews Tony again. They talk about health, investing and living a good life. If you’re looking for an intro to Tim Ferriss’ podcast, checkout Jamie Foxx, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Naval Ravikant, Sebastian Junger, Cal Fussman.

Kiernan Dougherty on Jocko Podcast

Jocko Willink is ex special forces and talks about war, discipline and other interesting things. Parts can be tough to listen to, especially in this episode, but this episode is extraordinary. Kiernan is a veteran war and natural disaster photographer in places like Iraq, Belfast and the indian ocean tsunami. He tells his story on this podcast.

Continue reading…

Seven Important Books


Over the past nine months or so I stepped back from writing and threw myself into reading. I took a trip into the classics, reading Wealth of Nations, Crime and Punishment, Brothers Karamozov, 1984, Brave New World, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, some light fiction and fun non fiction, but what I’ve really been interested in lately is the intersection between technology, our economy and how it’s changing our culture, both for the better and for worse.

I’ve started to formulate a thesis. And I don’t really like the conclusions that I’ve been reaching. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing about what I think might be going on, why its happening and how it may affect our present and our future. These are the key books that I’ve read that have shaped my thinking.


Antifragile – Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Taleb’s follow up to best selling and paradigm breaking The Black Swan, Antifragile, is probably the most important book in the past decade, if not longer. I found myself smiling and nodding in agreement throughout the book. And I’ve found that if someone’s read this book and enjoyed it, I’ll likely be their friend and share a similar world view.

Taleb creates a new word: antifragile – things that grow stronger from stressors. Humans get stronger from mild stressors. A glass vase does not. The restaurant industry does. Wall Street does not. Taleb shows that lack of skin in the game, the agency problem, micromanaging and a lack of understanding of real risk is causing our world to be more fragile when we should be orientating toward antifragile approaches.

Shorter: My Rules for Life in The Guardian.

You Are Not a Gadget – Jaron Lanier

Lanier invented the term Virtual Reality and has been involved in Silicon Valley since the very beginning. And he thinks technologist have gotten it all wrong. We’ve built technology that serves technology, not technology that serves humans. Our iPhones control us, not the other way around. And it’s wrecking our culture and economic future.

If you can’t read the book, read his oped in the Wall Street Journal, World Wide Mush.

Who Owns The Future – Jaron Lanier

In Lanier’s follow up, he talks about how technology is accruing massive returns for those who have the biggest, most powerful servers, not those who have the best ideas or give humans the most benefit. This techification eliminates the middle class and pushes economic returns up to a small group and gives the rest candy. Facebook without any users is worth $0. So why do so few people as a percentage earn money using Facebook?

If you can’t read the book, read his NY Times piece Fixing the Digital Economy.

Coming Apart – Charles Murry

Murry shows how the US has developed extreme income inequality that’s led to a small, super rich upper class that’s both physically and culturally separate from the rest of the population, similar to Latin American and other oligarchical countries. His description of how the US looks today is spot on and some of the consequences of income inequality, but I don’t buy his social root causes. I believe a similar pattern is taking place globally.

If you can’t read the book, read his Wall Street Journal piece The New American Divide and then Ross Douthat’s What Charles Murry Gets Right from the NY Times.

US Specific

Rise of the Warrior Cop – Radley Balko

Balko traces the militarization of US police forces from the US’s birth to present day and shows how the drug war and now terrorism fears have turned a police from traditional beat cops who knew everyone in their neighborhoods into body armored, automatic weapon toting, tank driving para military forces that have eviscerated the 1st and 4th amendments, wreaked havoc on families, killed innocents and brought terror the american households, all without even doing anything to lower crime.

Shorter: Why Did You Shoot Me? I was just reading a book! from Salon.

Three Felonies a Day – Harvey Silvergate & Alan Dershowitz

The US federal law system is now so vague that we all commit at least three felonies per day and the only reason we don’t get prosecuted is that we haven’t run afoul of a politician, a bureaucrat, or a prosecutor or even just gotten unlucky. Rise of the Warrior Cop interplays very well with this book. While I don’t recommend reading this book for pleasure reading, as its clearly intended for technical attorneys, the thesis is spot on.

These two books together paint the picture of why I’m very worried about NSA spying. Between a militarized police force, a government that collects all of our data and a criminal justice system that can indict you with lifetime jail time for living a normal life, we’re well on our way toward a police state.

Shorter: You Commit Three Felonies A Day from The Wall Street Journal.


Super Sad True Love Story – Gary Shteyngart

A dystopian, but extremely readable look at what the future might look like where everyone’s always connected to the internet, we’re constantly alone together, the government monitors everything, the US is a banana republic and everyone is rated on everything via metadata. Read it.

Photo Credit: hobvias sudoneighm

March Books


I got a bunch of reading done this month, mostly because I found myself on an airplane fairly often.  Of the four, The Last Lecture was the best.

Rework – Rework is the newest book by 37 Signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  They are well known for creating simple, easy to use online products that help business get things done.  Rework is the follow up to their first book, Getting Real, and attempts to show people how to work more efficiently and effectively.

I first became interested in 37 Signals when I heard Jason Fried speak at an entrepreneurship conference in Milwaukee where I was also speaking. Fried stressed simplicity, focus and building something you would use because if you are building something you’d use, you are already an expert.

My favorite chapters were Go, Progress, Promotion and Productivity.  They explain how to get started, make progress and then promote your business.  They also have a ton of great tips about how to be more productive.  My biggest take away is that companies should be teaching instead of promoting.  Most companies do not teach, they promote.  Companies that teach lessons to their customers have bigger followings, which leads to free promotion.

The book is a little repetitive at times, but is worth reading.  I’m fairly familiar with 37 Signals because I read their blog regularly, so most of the ideas weren’t groundbreaking, but it was nice to hear everything in a single place.  If you don’t read their blog or haven’t heard about 37 Signals, this book is a must read.  If you are familiar, you can save the money and just read their blog again.

Mark Cuban recently said “if I had to choose to invest in someone who’s read Rework or has an MBA, I’m choosing rework every time.”  While I wouldn’t go that far, I’ll want any new Entrustet hires to read the book as part of their initial training.

The Checklist Manifesto – I heard about Checklist by Atul Gawande while reading Switch last month.  It sounded interesting and I planned on picking it up.  Luckily, my Aunt came to visit and happened to have the book.  I read the book on the plane to SXSW and really enjoyed it.  Gawande is a brilliant surgeon who wanted to know how he could improve medical care.  He got interested in checklists after marveling about airline safety.  In the book, he investigates how checklists can be used to prevent mistakes in any industry. He first helped implement a clean IV lines program that help Michigan hospitals reduce infections almost entirely, which saved lives and millions of dollars.  He later helped the WHO implement a standard checklist for surgeries that has saved countless lives and money.

The book is a quick read because it is written more like fiction than non fiction and provides tips to increase productivity and help you get things done, while avoiding mistakes.  Highly recommended.

Leadership and Self-Deception – Someone gave me this book right before I got on a plane when I was complaining that I didn’t have anything to read.  It’s a self help book, styled as dialogues between an employee of a company and his bosses.  Written in 2002, the main idea is that it is not what you do, but why you do it that matters.  The central advice is that whenever you want to do something to help another person, you should do it, otherwise you make excuses for yourself and it starts a downward spiral.  I don’t agree with everything from the book, but I believe that the world would be a better place if people were motivated to help others more often.

The Last Lecture– I had seen Randy Pausch’s last lecture on youtube before, but had not read the book.  For those who don’t know, Randy Pausch was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and was given 6 months to live.  He spent that time trying to make life better for his wife and his three young children.  Pausch was a professor at Carnegie Mellon and was given the opportunity to give a “last lecture.”  It was recorded and Pausch used the time to talk about how to live life, pursue your own dreams and enable the dreams of others.  It is a sad and uplifting book at the same time.  It is well written and funny, informative and wise.  I especially liked the section about enabling the dreams of others.  The Last Lecture is one of the best books I’ve ever read and should be required reading in high school classes.

February Books


It’s been a busy last two months, so I haven’t been able to read as much as I’d like to.  I only had a chance to read two books this month, but both were really good.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  This was one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long time.  The book is set in post WWII London and later Guernsey, one of the channel islands between England and France.  It is historical fiction about what life was like on Guernsey during and after WWII. I had never heard about this aspect of WWII and it was really interesting to read about what life was like on the island.  For example, I didn’t realize that Germany took over Guernsey fairly early in the war, expecting to only be there for a brief stopover before attacking the UK and that there was a small concentration camp on the island.

Aside from the history, the book is interesting because it is written all as letters between the characters.  There are no chapters, making it easy to continue reading.  At first, I thought I would have trouble keeping all of the characters straight because of the format, but I quickly started to enjoy the new format.

Another unique aspect of the book is the authors themselves.  Shaffer had never written a book before this, but had stopped over on Guernsey and was stuck in the airport with nothing to eat except candy from the vending machine and nothing to read except travel books about the island.  Fast forward 30 years and she started to write this book after being harassed by her book club.  After completing the first draft, her health began to deteriorate and she realized she would not be able to do the necessary edits and rewrites.  She drafted her niece, Annie Barrows, who is also a writer, to complete the book.

The overall plot isn’t incredibly complex and fairly formulaic, but the book is a winner because of the interesting historical context, great descriptive writing and unique format.  I highly recommend reading it.

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard – Chip and Dan Heath.   In their follow up from their must read book Made to Stick, the Heath brothers have done it again.  Switch details a simple strategy to help create change in all different scenarios, from eating behavior, politics, business and health care.

They believe that the human mind is broken down into two parts, which they call “the rider” and the “elephant.”  If you imagine that the rider is attempting to ride the elephant, The rider is the analytical part of our brain that likes to think things through, while the elephant is our emotions and motivation.  They show that in order to create change, you need to get both the rider and the elephant moving in the same direction along a well defined path. They offer some inspiring stories to go along with some great strategies that help make campaigns work better.

They show examples of people with small amounts of power who created huge changes in behavior using simple, innovative strategies.  They show how a tiny group highlighted the bright spots of villagers’ behavior in Vietnam to help end childhood malnutrition in the country and how providing a roadmap to child abusers can reduce abuse by 3x.  I can’t really do this book justice with a short blog post, but if you are interested in change and how it works, read this book.