The books that shaped my 2019

It has been a long time since I wrote my last post about books. This is because I was too busy to write a post about this topic. However, I decided to publish more posts about this topic this year. This is because it motivates me to read more books.

Last year, I spent much time reading research papers and articles, and watching online tutorials about my studying fields. As a result, I read only 5 books last year. However, these books grew my mind and personality. So, I think it is a good time to share a brief review of each book.

1. Alibaba’s World – Porter Erisman

This book mainly focuses on the history of Alibaba from 2000 to 2008. It shows how Jack Ma, an English teacher with no technical background, starts the world’s largest e-commerce company. From Jack Ma’s journey which describes in the book, you can imagine the difficulties of starting a company and the emotion when the company starts growing and achieves a goal. By reading this book, you can learn how Jack Ma motivates and leads his team to build a product that could change the world, how he makes decisions that address internal and external company’s problems, how he behaves and communicates with his team when there is a big mistake that leads to the fall of the company, and how he dreams. Personally, I am a big fan of this type of book because I want to learn business lessons as well as the journey that makes those lessons. When reading this book, I enjoyed the competition between Alibaba and eBay in China because there are lots of lessons to learn in this competition. Also, I really liked the way how Jack Ma treats Alibaba’s people during the crisis period. I did finish the entire book, not the “Alibaba and the forty lessons” section. This is because I want to re-read it once I feel I actually grow to that stage.

2. The Storyteller’s secret – Carmine Gallo

Have you ever considered why and how TED speakers present their own topics really well? If yes, this book is for you. Everything has its own secret. This book covers all the secrets of how TED speakers and leaders perform their passion on the stage. It improves the way I communicate with each other in different roles and explain things to other people. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from this book is “Confusion makes education nearly impossible”. It means that you need not only to understand what you are going to educate other people, but also to know how to simplify our explanation such that different grades of people can understand it. The author separates the content of the book into 4 main topics such as education, simplification, motivation, and inspiration. Each section starts with the story of a particular storyteller, the storyteller’s tools and the storyteller’s secret. When reading this book, I enjoyed the backstory of each storyteller because it shows me the journey of becoming an inspirational storyteller. By reading the journey of each storyteller, I learned lots of things related to communication and life. For me, the important secret of being an inspirational storyteller/leader is not knowing all the secrets in this book, but the time you spend to practice these secrets.

3. The right kind of crazy – Adam Steltzner with William Patrick

This book was written by a mechanical engineer in Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) who had been curious about space in his childhood. The book shows the backstory of Adam on how he became an engineer in JPL – a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center in California, US. Moreover, it shows his working journey in JPL. In this journey, you can see how the space product is built, developed and tested.  Also. you can see how Adam, his team and other teams worked together to build a space product. Furthermore, you can see how important innovation is for a successful space product. One of the most valuable lessons I learned in this book is that a leader needs to create an environment that encourages people’s curiosity and lets ideas win rather than people. To do that, a team needs to be really closed such that everyone feels free to share their thoughts together. The book sometimes has lots of technical terms which might be boring for someone who is not in the engineering field. However, if you want to learn more about teamwork, leadership, and innovation in the engineering environment, this book is for you.

4. Minsharing – Lior Zoref

This book shows how crowdsourcing can address different types of problems from research to life. The author shows how he builds a network that benefits his career, life, and curiosity. Also, our questions need to be in the right place so that we can reach the high potential of finding the right answer. Crowdsourcing is not always good. For example, our crowd will get bothered if we try to ask questions that we can easily find on the Internet.  Also, if we do not have enough people in our network, the accuracy of the answer might be really low. Having said that, crowdsourcing is a great technique in most of the cases. For example, the crowd will help us to reach our dream if we confidently share it. Also, it improves our curiosity and creativity when exchanging information with each other in our network.

5. Swimming with Sharks – Joris Luyendijk

This book shows the journey of the author into the world of the bankers. It helps us learn more about the back office of the financial world. The book shows the working lifecycle of different roles in the banking environment. Also, it shows the secret of regulations of working here. Moreover, it shows how busy people in different departments are and how they treat people in other departments. Furthermore, there are backstories of talents working as a high position in banking firms. Not only the back office, but there are also stories about the front office where we tend to meet them in the bank. The more I read, the more I understand the reason why people working in the front office need to show how luxurious they are. Working in a banking firm as either in the back office or in the front office can earn lots of money, but is it actually good at all? This book helps us answer this question. Also, the book teaches us that we don’t need to be too smart to work in the financial field. This is because it is more about our experience.


Thank you for reading!

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