One of my goals for 2019 was to read 26 books, effectively one every other week. Well, I ended the year having completed 18. I fell short of my goal; still feel like I satisfied my CQ (Curiosity Quotient), with completing one of my other goals of doing a deep dive in to ML/DL, so it’s no longer a black box. Done!

Below are the list of books I completed in 2019. For 2020, I plan on doing 10% better than 2019 so will be targeting 20 books. Currently, I’m reading “Aligning Strategy and Sales” by Frank V. Cespedes, then “The Model Thinker” by Scott E. Page.

The List:

1) “Neuroscience of Leadership” – Provides insight in to the chemical reactions taking place within each of us; what triggers them, and how they manifest themselves in everyday interactions with others. Engender oxytocin in others, not cortisol.
 
2) “Strategy Beyond the Hockey Stick” – Looks at the Power curve of economic profit, and how companies can move us the curve,l through Endowment, Financial starting point; Trends, Right industry, right time; Movement, Reallocation of resources.
 
3) “The Gift of Black Folks” – Power book on the significant impact of the “Negro” in the making of America. From exploration, revolutionary war, slavery and all skilled labor, civil war, invention, and beyond. Goes through the mid-1920’s.
 
4) “The Master Algorithm” – Become a savvy consumer of AI/ML/DL, avoiding the pitfalls that kills data projects; anticipate next.
 
5) “The 12 rules of life.” Fundamentally about putting your own “house” in order impact those around you.
 
6) “Applied Artificial Intelligence” – A practical guide to leveraging AI in the Enterprise. Next up, “The Art of Facilitation.”
 
7) “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster. This science fiction book written in 1909, presents a world where most humans no longer can live on Earth’s 
surface; living below the surface in a “standard room.” All human needs are met by the Global Machine. Any communication is by instant messaging/video conferencing machine. Prescient? We hope not!
 
8) “Superintelligence” by Nick Bostrom. The more optimistic view of what AI can bring to humanity; with the possibility that we may not be able to get to AGI.
 
9) “The Path Made Clear” by Oprah Winfrey. Shared this before. I hope you read it.
 
10) “The Mueller Report” by Robert S. Mueller III and the special counsel’s office, U.S. Department of Justice. I think American should read this, and not just take others opinions.
 
11) “Skin in the Game” by Nassim Taleb. This book hinges on the idea that you can not truly make significant decisions without having “skin in the game.” That is, making a decision under the prospects of both being impacted if there is a good turn out, and being impacted if there is a negative turn out. Nassim cites several examples in the book of cases where decisions were made without this symmetry, where a given decision with a negative outcome did not impact the deciders, but several people removed from them.
 
12) “Unlocking the Customer Value Chain” by Thales Texera. This is a great book for looking at value creation from a customer-first lens, instead of inside->out. Thales is clear to layout why technological innovation is not enough, and that business model innovation has been the real disruptor. Thales presents examples of startups who decouple the customer value chain to capture value in a net new ways.
  • Key steps to decoupling:
    1. Identify a target segment, and map their CVC activities in hyper-detail. [50%⌛of steps taken]
    2. Classify the CVC activities (e.g. Value creating, Value charging, Value eroding)
    3. Identify weak links between CVC activities. Links that are logical to decouple should be targeted.
    4. Break the weak links.
    5. Predict how incumbents will respond, then take preemptive action.
13) “Made in America” by Sam Walton. As I read this book, in so many cases, I could have replaced “Walmart” with “Amazon.” In many ways, the beliefs and motivations of Jeff Bezos, are the same ideals Sam Walton held. I could imagine that Sam would have looked at today’s marketplace and would see a tremendous opportunity, and exciting competitive challenge. This book was a great read and really gives you insight in to what set the culture of Walmart, thus why they have been so successful.
 
14) “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown. Brene is a refreshing voice in leadership training, asking leaders to lead bravely and foster a courageous workplace. I think this book can be summed up in Brene’s own voice “Leadership is not about titles or the corner office. It’s about the willingness to step up, put yourself out there, and lean into courage. The world is desperate for braver leaders. It’s time for all of us to step up.”  Brene has a ton of great content at  https://daretolead.brenebrown.com/
 
15) “The Book of Why” by Judea Pearl. Judea reminds us that data is dumb. Telling us what has already happened, being able to predict what could happen, but without understanding Why, causation. Though there’s a lot of work in the area of cause, “AI” doesn’t quite get P(y|do(x)) > P(y). Instead it is a lot of P(y|x)… correlation. This book can further explain what is “AI,” what it is not, and what it could be.
 
16) “The Value of Everything” by Mariana Mazzucato. The Value of Everything rigorously scrutinizes the way in which economic value has been determined and reveals how the difference between value creation and value extraction has become increasingly blurry. Mariana Mazzucato argues that this blurriness allowed certain actors in the economy to portray themselves as value creators, while in reality they were just moving existing value around or, even worse, destroying it.
 
17) “Questions are the Answers” by Hal Gregersen. In this book Hal lays out why having the right answer is not what’s most important; instead asking the right question is. Endeavor to use more “?”, than “.”. 
 
18) “Principles” by Ray Dalio. This book should is a must read. Ray I think it’s a classic though only published in 2017. Ray believes that life, management, economics, and investing can all be systemized into rules, or principles. The book is broken up into two sections, Life Principles, and Work Principles.
 
Enjoy!