Tag Archives: inspiration

How We Got Here: A Slightly Irreverent History of Technology and Markets – Andy Kessler

In 1642, 18-year-old Blaise Pascal, the son of a French tax collector, tired of waiting for his dad to come play a game of “le catch”. Blaise’s dad was what is known as a tax farmer, sort of a 17th century version of a loan shark, threat of broken bones and all. Tax farmers advanced tax money to the government and then had a license to collect taxes, hopefully “harvesting” more than they advanced. Elder Pascal was constantly busy calculating and tabulating his potential tax haul. To help him out, Blaise envisioned a mechanical device with wheels and cogs and gears and numeric dials that could sum up numbers to eight digits long. That’s 10 million francs. Dad must have been a top tax guy.

The book explains the history of technology, from the Industrial Revolution to contemporaneity, through the lenses of capitals and stocks. The books is written in a simple way and without much depth, kind of like Wikipedia is explaining. However, the connections it makes are genius and really make the reader think.

Andy Kessler, the author, worked for two decades in the banking and investor sector, from research analyst to hedge fund manager.

A brilliant and easy to follow history of technology, that connects the dots and makes you think.

The book is divided in 5 chapters: The Industrial Revolution; Early Capital Markets, Components Needed for Computing; Digital Computers and Modern Capital Markets.

Each chapter has small stories, linking to each other, explaining the creation and change of some concepts, laws, industries. The overall thematic is economics, trade and, partially, laws influencing trade, money, finance and national economies.

Andy Kessler explains in a simple and brilliant way very complex concepts, such as fractional reserve banking and the Corn Laws. While it doesn’t have depth, it has the right amount of detail to made the reader understand why things happened that way.

All those facts presented are freely available online, but Kessler put them together in a logical and consequential way. It is really a book that “connects the dots”.

It is rarely that a book has so much ingenuity, easiness of writing, clarity in thinking and presenting the facts. The book can be freely found on the author’s website. One of the few that I would read twice.


How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.

Hands down, this is one of the best motivational books I have ever read: practical and full of wisdom gems. It is basically a self-development book which tries to teach the reader to be a better person with others, with pragmatic advance, encouragements and a positive attitude.

A very positive, helpful book, easy to read even for those who don’t like reading.

Written in 1936, the book is a classic, almost 80 years in print, a testament of its solid advice, timelessness, deep thinking and overall, just common sense. It feels like it was written last year.

It is true that the book is addressed foremost to a readership looking for improving speaking for sales and building self-confidence. However, it does not teach duplicity nor underhandedness. It looks a bit cheesy and superficial indeed, but that makes it easy to read, re-read and motivate for every reader, even the ones that don’t like reading.

The author, Dale Carnegie, had several selling jobs, quite successful, before trying teaching public speaking, which made him rich. He wrote several other books, but this one is the most famous.

From a political philosophy viewpoint, it presents the classical liberal argument that rationally helping others, you help yourself. In essence, even forgetting empathy, we help others for a virtual social safety net. A human being doesn’t need to be nice, it just need to be rational, in order to be kind, attentive to others, helpful and polite.

To conclude, this is an easy-to-read book with timeless advice for those who look for a better self and a better place in society. A short book that I recommend wholeheartedly.

[Featured image by BK, Flickr]

Le Style Masculin, Guide a l’usage de l’homme moderne – Bernhard Roetzel

Le look business conventionnel

  1. Le costume foncé en fin lainage constitue la base du look business. Couleurs : bleu foncé ou gris foncé. Le marron et le noir sont interdits.
  2. Avec le costume, il faut une chemise à manches longues dotée de poignets classiques pour le quotidien et de poignets mousquetaires pour les occasions. Le col à pointes boutonnées, au col mou dont les pointes peuvent être boutonnées sue le devant de la chemise, est d’abord un col business, même si les experts en style et les vendeurs disent le contraire. Mais, en Europe, cette variant est souvent considérée comme trop sportive. Encore quelques mots sur un vêtement que beaucoup préfèrent pour le bureau : les chemises à manches courtes conviennent très bien aux chauffeurs d’autobus et aux policiers, mais pas au bureau.
  3. La combinaison veste-pantalon ne convient pas pour le business, mais seulement pour la transition vers le week-end, le vendredi. Exceptions : entreprises moyennes, travailleurs indépendants, collaborateurs sans contacts avec la clientèle. Le blazer bleu marine non plus n’est pas conçu pour le monde d’affaires.
  4. La cravate reste un must. Cela changera peut-être, mais pour le moment elle fait encore partie du costume d’homme affaires dont on ne peut se passer. C’est autre chose si nous parlons de branches dans lesquelles il est de bon ton d’être en tenue décontractée. Mais ce n’est pas ce dont il est question ici.
  5. Les chaussures doivent être noires. Les conventionnelles sont des modelés à lacets et avec peu de motifs perforés. Les derbys à double semelle de cuir sont trop grossiers pour être portes avec un costume raffiné. Les mocassins sont trop sportifs pour le puriste et les chaussures à boucles font trop dandy. La couleur est cependant plus importante que le modèle.

Parfois, je suis étonné de voir le manque d’attention aux vêtements que beaucoup de hommes matures ont. Ça veut dire pas d’habiller tout le temps à la cravate, mais juste une peu d’attention.

Homme ou garçon ?

Le livre parle des règles de base pour habiller, principalement au bureau, pour hommes, pour les métiers qui ont des contacts avec les clients : finance, politique, conseil, assurance, commerce, etc. Le livre a des chapitres sur Look casual et Tenue de cérémonie aussi.

Bernhard Roetzel couvre aussi les chaussures, les accessoires, le nettoyage et entretien, silhouette et les règles de la coupe. Il donne plusieurs conseils pratique pour construire une garde-robe flexible, de grande qualité et pas chère. Les sub-chapitres sur Combiner les couleurs sont particulièrement très bien écrits.

L’auteur est strict avec ses règles, mais c’est bien de leur lire, juste pour avoir une idée qu’elles sont les grandes fautes. Pour les connaisseurs, Mr Roetzel a quelques sub-chapitres sur les tissues, filature et juste une peu de connaissance générale pour reconnaître un vêtement de bonne qualité.

Je vous laisse avec quelques images des hommes bien habillés.

Regarde la différence, Source: http://collider.com/kingsman-the-secret-service-images/
Promenade au travail Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/492933121684658485/

Shadow work-the unpaid, unseen jobs that fill your day – Craig Lambert

Shadow work will grow. It rewards businesses and organizations in ways that are irresistible. No capitalist can refuse a chance to cut those heavy personnel costs by transferring jobs to customers who work for free. As shadow work merges into our daily routines, it will affect social habits, economic patterns, and lifestyles.

This amazing book by Craig Lambert discusses the many small jobs that fill the day, uselessly tiring a person and keeping it in constant stress. From the self-check out to cleaning your own table , from the meaningless coupons and small reduction cards to freely creating content by posting reviews (TripAdvisor, GoodReads), the author gives many examples of work that keeps us busy, without actually creating significant value-added.

The phrase that I loved most was: if you are not paying for the product, you are the product. Think of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others.

Is your time precious?

The book has some parts where the author rather rants and does not make clear that some of this work is to save money. Nonetheless, it is often forgotten that time is the most precious resource and the author correctly notes that people prefer giving time for money rather than money for time.

Craig Lambert makes the reader think of how much content and personal information, he/she is giving for free. Reviews, grading, customer experience surveys, likes, are all commercial information freely given. It has a huge success: Facebook, Uber, AirBnb, Quora, Booking.com thrive on the free work done by customers, giving their own time.

The book is a good read for everyone tired at the end of the day and wondering why. Some enjoy doing the volunteering job, others just get caught in a whirlpool of small tasks.

Autobiography – Alex Ferguson

I made an error at half-time. I was still focusing on winning the game and told Rooney he needed to keep running into those gaps behind the full-backs. “We’ll win the game if you keep doing that”, I urged him. I forgot the big issue with playing Barcelona. So many of their games were effectively won in the first 15 minutes of the second half. I should have mentioned that to my players. I might have been better asking Park to mark Messi for the first 15 minutes and pushing Rooney wide left. If we had employed those tactics, we might just have sneaked it. We would still be able to counter-attack.[…]

Alex Ferguson, the legendary manager of Manchester United, tells the story of his successes. He talks about his teams and players, Beckham, Rio Ferdinand, Keane, Van Nistelrooy, Rooney and, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. He presents rival teams and coaches, such as Liverpool and Barcelona, Mourinho and Wenger.

Ferguson recalls with great clarity the big games and transfers he made over the years. The reader can see that he developed a plan for the long term, but it was not without mistakes.

An inspiration for long term planning

He presents, for example, the after-training of great players, like Ronaldo and Giggs, who took great care of their bodies, lengthening their football careers. He shows how players grow, perform and then have to leave the team. It is not always about tactics, but also human psychology, dealing with powerful personalities, young players in their teens, reliable players that had to go.

The United coach mentions “confidence” a lot , players with confidence will fight further, perform and recover after disasters.

While his successes, players and rivalries will fade over time, his advice, ranging from player scouting, politics and media handling to player psychology and long term team planning, remain a lesson for life.

Presentation Thinking and Design – Ed Gruwez

It is also important to remember the principles of the working memory:

  • Ask for, and hold, your audience’s attention.
  • Make your message easy to understand by limiting its cognitive load.
  • Fix your message in your audience’s mind through repetition, stories and the use of sensory detail. (Presentation thinking and design)

How many times you cursed your days and the speaker for the most insipid, unreadable and tedious presentation that has ever seen the light of a projector?

There are so many tips floating around, just at the fingertips of an Internet research. Why do people do not read them, even the top 5?

Presentation design
Book cover, the inside full of notes

Ed Gruwez shows the basics of creating interesting and memorable presentations. While nothing the author presents is totally new, he puts forward a clear structure, where indeed, the message and the inner logic of the presentation is more important than the fluffy part.

The book comes also with a sum of examples and tips that help create better presentations, quicker. For example, would you delete a slide you worked for2 hours, despite the fact that brings only unrelated information? This is why is better to put the outline of the presentation first on paper, rather than jumping on creating the slides.

Ed (Edouard) Gruwez specializes in presentation thinking and design, and works as Managing Director of “Ogilvy Internal Communications”.

If you know you will do presentations in your lifetime, where you have to deliver a message, this book is helpful. It is easy to read and follow, and you can learn something useful after browsing it for only two minutes.

The Chimp Paradox – Steve Peters

Whenever you want to stop the Chimp, always actively slow your thinking down. This will work in ALL situations. It is another excellent way to manage the Chimp (The Chimp Paradox).

The book cover of a thoroughly read book

The Chimp Paradox is a great book on human psychology, written with the intent to explain how the mind and the psychological processes work.

Dr. Steve Peters is a psychiatrist, particularly involved in sports. He worked with the British cycling team (14 medals at the Beijing Olympics, while Peters was mental coach), with the snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan (helping him win his 4th and 5th World Snooker titles), with the football club Liverpool F.C and with the England National Football Team.

The author talks about self-motivation, happiness, understanding and dealing with others. But most of all, the book is about patience. We all have a chimp inside, strong and taking childish decisions. The book teaches how to deal with our and others’ chimp, in a fascinating journey through human psychology.