I want to share an inventory of the important books that I’ve read, what the key learning was and how it has influenced my thinking.
- 1984, by George Orwell. The idea about Newspeak; creating a language to control people, was so shocking and profound it left me open to different ways of thinking about languages. It softened up my mindset to first be open to the idea of “linguistic determinism” but also to eventually learn there are totally different languages: computer / machine languages, professional languages (legal, finance, etc), emotional languages (how to relate to expressively to other people), conceptual languages (there is a whole language to how to tell as story) and analytical languages(using mathematical ideas to either understand or communicate complex ideas through an objective frame). I never would have been open to that if this book didn’t disturb me so much or if I had not kept it in my mind.
- Micheal Criterion (basically everything he wrote). I really love to idea of the fallacy of man and all of his stories really bring out the duality of man. One the one hand the total brilliance (I use the concept of taking frog DNA to “fill in the gaps” of the generic code all the time for a lot of other problem solving techniques) of humanity and on the other end – how our brilliance without temperament for understanding nature (evolution, time travel, the environment, nature, humanity, etc). I love this balance and factoring both of those dimensions. I was also always impresses with his overall body of work and dedication to learning about the subject he’s writing. Truly, a hero of mine.
- Tipping Point, by Malcom Galdwell. This book was critical to me when I was pulled from the field and given the assignment to build a “sales ennoblement” function (my actual title was VP of Product Marketing and Management) in 1998-2001. The whole “change” processes that I’d read about (Kotter, etc) made conceptual sense, but didn’t align with my personal experiences of how people behave in the trenches. So, whats this – a book of just observations about it? Wow. Too this day I always consider the 3 “laws”: the few, context, and stickiness and the 3 “roles”; the salesman, the maven, the connector. I’ve built so many thoughts on top of this foundation I would love to sit down with him and unpack it all some time.
- Chaos Imperative, by Ori Brafman. When times change, humanities ability to constantly perfect an “operating model” can get in the way of progress. Examples from how the plague lead to the period of enlightenment, the “surge” in the Iraq war, to techniques for hospitals all make an incredible case for a being more thoughtful about what we are optimizing towards. These ideas helped me start to codify some ideas of contract between “old way” and “new way” that i’d already had. What’s more? It’s written sort of like an intellectual “who done it”. Lastly, this book really resonates with me because my friend Brian Lambert recommended it to me. It never would have been on my radar screen unless he suggested it. I love this serendipity.
NOTE: Adding more as time goes on.