Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

THREE MAJOR HUMAN REVOLUTIONS The Cognitive Revolution (c. 70,000 BCE, when Sapiens evolved imagination). The Agricultural Revolution (c. 10,000 BCE, the development of agriculture). The unification of humankind (the gradual consolidation of human political organisations towards one global empire). The Scientific Revolution (c. 1500 CE, the emergence of objective science). # YEARS AGO 13.5 billion: […]

Rainwater Harvesting, Vol 1 by Brad Lancaster

Eight Principles of Rainwater Harvesting Begin with long and thoughtful observation: Notice what’s working and what’s not. Start at the top of your watershed and work your way down: Collect water at the top, and then let gravity drive your water distribution downhill to meet your needs. Start small and simple: Strategies are easier to […]

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and DHH

The Big Idea: choose to have a calm, profitable, healthy workplace.  Why is work so crazy? Physical and virtual distractions at work. And an unhealthy obsession with growth. Sustained exhaustion is not a badge of honor, it’s a mark of stupidity. How many hours at the office are really spent on work itself? The answer […]

Data Science for Business by Foster Provost and Tom Fawcett

The Big Idea: Invest in data and data science teams. Better data + better data scientists = better models = better business decisions = sustainable competitive advantage.  Chapter 1: Introduction, Data Analytic Thinking Data mining is the extraction of knowledge from data. Data science is a set of principles to guide data mining. Big data […]

Permaculture by Sepp Holzer

The Big Idea: Learn how nature works. Then work with nature, instead of against it, to practice sustainable agriculture. Ch 1: Landscape Design Permaculture landscape design is about restoring a partially destroyed natural landscape. Keep water on your land as long as possible. Terraces are an important part of my permaculture system. With the exception […]

Built From Scratch by Bernie Marcus and Arthur Blank

The Big Idea: Clarify your core values and make sure everyone knows them. Core Values 1. Excellent customer service 2. Taking care of our people 3. Developing entrepreneurial spirit 4. Respect for all people 5. Building strong relationships 6. Doing the right thing 7. Giving back to our communities 8. Shareholder return Ch 1: Two […]

The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

The Big Idea: focus on fundamentals and execution (The Standard of Performance), instead of focusing on the score and on the competition. Part I: My Standard of Performance Failure is a part of success. Everyone gets knocked down. The Standard of Performance is the set of core values, principles, and ideals that define the organization. […]

Tribes by Seth Godin

The Big Idea: In today’s world, where geography doesn’t matter, tribes are thriving. Tribes are about connection and caring. Leaders of tribes build connection and caring into the tribe. Human beings need to belong. You can’t have a tribe without a leader, so learn about leadership. Everyone is expected to lead. Geography used to restrict the […]

Influence by Robert Cialdini

The Big Idea: The presence of cognitive biases means we don’t always act rationally. Cialdini outlines six weapons of influence which can be used to influence behavior. Even if you aren’t a salesperson, you are a consumer so it’s good to be aware. 1. Reciprocation We tend to reciprocate a favor, even if it is […]

The Right and Wrong Stuff by Carter Cast

The Big Idea: High potential people stumble in their careers most often because of a lack self-awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses. Fantastic advice in this book. The five archetypes of high potential people who stumble: Captain Fantastic: high performer but terrible interpersonal skills Solo Flier: high performer when working by himself but doesn’t know […]

To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink

The Big Idea: Even if you’re not a “salesman”, you probably have to sell or persuade people all the time. Therefore, learn how to sell. Everyone sells. Physicians sell patients on treatments. Lawyers sell juries on verdicts. Teachers sell students on coursework. Entrepreneurs sell investors on visions. Writers sell producers on scripts. Coaches sell players […]

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

The Big Idea: An efficient, eco-friendly homestead takes good planning and years of work to become stable and self-sufficient. Modern, industrial agriculture is incompatible with a rapidly growing population and resource depletion. Well-designed permaculture systems promote biodiversity and restore land back to health. Nut trees are the core of good permaculture. A nut tree is simply […]

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Summit Interview

The Big Idea: Be resourceful, think long-term, and have a sense of adventure. I learned self-reliance and resourcefulness on my grandfather’s Texas ranch. Building Amazon is a constant flow of problems solved by self-reliance and resourcefulness. About letting his kids use power tools, “I’d much rather have a kid with nine fingers than a kid […]

How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons

The Big Idea: Grow Biointensive (a variant of organic farming) produces more food per square foot while also building soil, using less water, using less fertilizer, and requiring less fossil fuel. Industrial agriculture depletes 6 pounds of soil for every 1 pound of food produced. Organic agriculture also depletes soil as it produces food. Grow […]

How I Built This: Patagonia

The Big Idea: We’re here for the long-term. That means we need to treat everyone well and make quality, long-lasting clothing. I started Patagonia to make better quality climbing gear for myself. Our profit margins were about 1% Patagonia branched out into clothing when I wore some local clothing and people started asking me where […]

The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama

The Big Idea: You have everything you need to achieve happiness. Happiness is achieved through mental practice. Service to others is the best way to live. If you can’t live your life in service to others, at least refrain from doing harm to others. Happiness is not a luxury but the purpose of our existence. Eliminate […]

Extraordinary Experiences by Denise Lee Yeon

The Big Idea: creating extraordinary customer experiences is an essential part of building a great brand. Intro. Brands matter more than ever. The internet has increased transparency, so now brands need to be more authentic than ever. Image manipulation through marketing muscle is not enough. Great restaurant and retail brands rely heavily on great customer experiences […]

Kellogg on Branding by Kellogg School of Management

The Big Idea: a strong brand is one of the most important economic moats a company can build. Building a brand is not easy but, if done well, can pay dividends for many years. Intro A brand is much like a reputation. A strong brand will reshape perception. Cash: Executives are pressured to focus on […]

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

The Big Idea: you can’t trust the media. Clicks equal revenue. Therefore, online news sites care more about clicks than truth. Since all news is online now, established media has to compete for clicks with millions of blogs, twitter accounts, and satirical news sites. The result of this competition is that the media we consume is flooded with […]

Permaculture for the Rest of Us by Jenni Blackmore

The Big Idea: With creativity and persistence, you can live well on a small homestead, even if the climate is difficult and the soil is subpar. Every homestead will be unique. Contours, zones and sectors should be mapped out on paper before getting started. Zones are concentric circles around your home. Zone 0 is your […]

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

The Big Idea: the key to success in life is relationships + creating with others. Real networking is about helping others succeed. Make goal setting a lifetime habit. Young Bill Clinton would record the names and backgrounds of everyone he met on index cards. Older Bill Clinton is famous for creating instant rapport with everyone […]

Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

The Big Idea: how to succeed in business and life using science. Chapter 1: Should We Play It Safe and Do What We’re Told If We Want to Succeed? Grades are a great predictor of self-discipline, conscientiousness, and compliance. Grades are a poor predictor of career success. There are two types of leaders: filtered (rise […]

Folks, This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin

The Big Idea: Today’s level of overconsumption and resource-depletion is unsustainable. Ch. 1: Children, Chores, Humility, and Health Historically, children had chores and responsibilities that taught them how to be an adult. Our children were homeschooled, never had television, and were encouraged to pursue entrepreneurial adventures. I don’t believe in allowances. 50 years ago, 50% […]

Who by Geoff Smart and Randy Street

The Big Idea: to win in business, learn how to recruit A players. CHAPTER 1: YOUR #1 PROBLEM When do most hiring mistakes happen? Most mistakes happen when managers are: 1. Unclear about what is needed in a job 2. Have a weak flow of candidates 3. Do not trust in their ability to pick out […]

With Winning in Mind by Lanny Basham

The Big Idea: winning consistently requires the mental programming of a champion. Principles of Mental Management Your mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time.  If you are picturing something positive in your mind, it is impossible, at the same time, to picture something negative.  Choose to think about what you want to […]

The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

The Big Idea: focus on fundamental principles and foundational movements until they are unconscious. Tao Te Ching is a life changer. I’ve been keeping journals of my chess study since I was twelve. Eventually, the foundation is so deeply internalized that it’s no longer conscious. The boating life has also been a wonderful training ground […]

SAS Survival Handbook by John Wiseman

The Big Idea: if you head out to the wilderness, tell someone exactly where you are going. Take a wilderness survival course to learn how to survive for a few days until you are found. The average person requires 0.5 liters of water a day. Three fires are an internationally recognized distress signal.  SOS is also widely […]

Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

The Big Idea: Productivity can be learned. Chapter 1: Motivation To feel motivated, people must feel like they are in control. Leadership is learned. Don’t praise people for intelligence; praise them for effort. A bias towards action keeps people motivated. Start with why; why are you doing what you’re doing? Examples: Marine boot camp, renegade […]

Aquaponic Gardening by Sylvia Bernstein

The Big Idea: Aquaponic gardening is a symbiotic, permaculture-friendly version of gardening in which fish supply nutrients to plants, which then remove all fish waste from the water. Aquaculture dates back to 5th century B.C. China Benefits of aquaponics: completely organic, cheaper than hydroponics, minimal maintenance, minimal fertilizer, lots of vegetable production, fewer diseases, no […]

The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox

The Big Idea: identify the bottleneck.  Relieve the bottleneck.  Repeat. The Goal is one of Jeff Bezos’ three required books for his senior team. (Also, Effective Executive and Innovator’s Dilemma) Cost accounting conventions lead businesses to focus on the wrong things. The goal of a business is to make money. Therefore, every operational metric should […]

Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew

As a beginner, gardening can be quite overwhelming, but learning from experience is key. Last year, I jumped right into creating a square root, raised bed vegetable garden without much prior knowledge or preparation. However, this year I plan to approach it differently and do some research beforehand. In addition to learning about plant care […]

Made in America by Sam Walton

The Big Idea: Walmart succeeded through a combination of unique culture, very effective strategies, and lots of hard work. Nadine West’s two favorite role models are 1) Southwest Airlines and 2) Walmart, for their shared focus on affordable prices, lean operations, and Texas/Arkansas authenticity. Wal-mart Culture Building a great team is a given. Hiring only people […]

The Best Place to Work by Ron Friedman

The Big Idea: Happy employees are a competitive advantage.  Chapter 1: Success is Overrated, Why Great Work Places Reward Failure make it okay to try new things and fail learn something from every failure, always reward attempts, not just results Chapter 2: The Power of Place, How Office Design Shapes Our Thinking office design matters eg. red invokes […]

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

The Big Idea: the purpose of life (and business) is happiness, not money. Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and yourself. Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself. When you make a company, you make a utopia. It’s where you design […]

Good to Great by Jim Collins

The Big Idea:  Chapter 1: Good is the Enemy of Great Good to Great companies always had Level 5 Leaders. Recruit the right people before choosing a direction/mission/vision/strategy. Confront the brutal truth and move forward anyways. Stick to your core. Create a culture of discipline. Use technology as an accelerator of existing greatness. Focus on […]

High Output Management by Andy Grove

The Big Idea: Understand the principles of factory production and apply them to business management. Chapter 1: The Basics of Production Focus efforts on identifying and fixing the bottleneck (limiting step) in the workflow Chapter 2: Managing The Breakfast Factory Define good KPI’s. Understand JIT inventory management. Automate things to improve work leverage. Chapter 3: Managerial […]

Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit by Leonardo Inghilleri and Micah Solomon

The Big Idea: Invest more in creating an exceptional customer experience. What is the cardinal rule of exceptional service? Anticipate the needs of your customers. What are the four basics of good (but not yet exceptional) service? 1. Perfect product 2. Delivered by a caring, friendly person 3. In a timely fashion 4. Supported by good problem […]

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

The Big Idea: Losers have goals.  Winners have systems. Losers have goals.  Winners have systems. Your mind isn’t magic.  It’s a moist computer you can program. The most important metric to track is your personal energy. Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success. Happiness is health plus freedom. Luck can be managed, sort of. […]

Scaling Up Excellence by Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao

THE BIG IDEA Scaling is a ground war, not just an air war. Scaling requires grinding it out; building the organization brick by brick, day after day. One more metaphor…it’s a marathon, not a sprint. META LESSONS 1. All scaling issues are basically the same across all organizations and industries. 2. Scaling entails more than […]

Nuts! by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg

The Big Idea Southwest succeeded by focusing on profitability over market share and by taking the time building a fun and positive culture. Doing this likely slowed down their growth but also resulted in top customer service ratings, top safety record, very low employee turnover, and 40+ consecutive years of profitability Key Takeaways Chapter 1: […]

Smartcuts by Shane Snow

The Big Idea Work smarter, not harder. Key Takeaways Hacking the Ladder: sometimes the fastest way up is side-to-side; eg. US presidents with little political experience, movie stars with little acting experience Training with the Masters: find a successful mentor to accelerate your learning; eg. Jimmy Fallon, Steve Jobs Rapid Feedback: embrace failures but always learn from […]

Get Acquired by Ian Bednowitz

F***ing amazing Udemy course for founders on how to get acquired — taught by the former head of M&A for eBay, Ian Bednowitz. THE BIG IDEA Fortune 500 M&A teams have different priorities than investors.  They care much more about strategic fit than about traction and revenue. KEY TAKEAWAYS Take the course. It’s all meat, no filler.

The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington

95% of this book was about why sleep is so important. 5% of the book is about how to get better sleep.  Save time by reading this article instead. THE BIG IDEA More and better quality sleep will make your life better.  Exercise. Meditate. Avoid caffeine after 2pm.  No digital devices near bedtime. Keep your bedroom cool. KEY […]

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

THE BIG IDEA: We, as individuals and organizations, operate by habit; learn how to engineer good habits; learn how to identify keystone habits that shape many other habits KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THE POWER OF HABIT Habits emerge because the brain is looking for ways to save effort. The habit loop is: cue => routine => […]

Traction by Gabriel Weinberg

The Big Idea: concentrate your efforts on the core traction channel that really matters; learn how to quickly identify your core traction channel because it will change as your startup grows KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM TRACTION One traction channel will always dominate. Predicting which traction channel will work for you is nearly impossible, so always test and let the […]

Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

This is a study on how to build a company that is resilient and exceptional.  It’s one of my favorite books. The Big Idea: visionary companies have a strong inner core (core purpose, core values) and a willingness to change and adapt everything except that core. KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM BUILT TO LAST 1. Build clocks instead of relying […]

Emergency by Neil Strauss

After reading Emergency, I watched the bleak, post-apocalyptic The Road, with Viggo Mortensen.  Bad combination for a good night’s sleep. The Big Idea: when the shit hits the fan (WTSHTF), will you be prepared? LA >> NYC, since it’s too spread out and has no single building or monument that symbolizes the nation Most gas […]

Cosmos with Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Just finished watching Cosmos on Netflix.  Amazing work!  Had to post this final monologue by Carl Sagan. From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone […]

Get Backed by Evan Baehr and Evan Loomis

The Big Idea: you need a well-designed pitch deck and a well-planned road show to raise serious money for your startup. Pitch Deck Overview Opportunity Problem Solution Traction Customer or Market Competition Business Model Team Use of Funds Road Show Investors love a great story Potential stories: origin story, customer story, industry story, venture growth […]

The Next 100 Years by George Friedman

The Big Idea: U.S.A will dominate the next hundred years, first by controlling the oceans, then by controlling space. Geographic isolation gives the U.S. military advantages few nations can claim, which translates to economic and political dominance. Russia will challenge American dominance but will suffer from internal problems, declining population, and poor infrastructure. China will not […]

The One Thing By Gary Keller

The Big Idea: 1) find your purpose and then 2) for four UNINTERRUPTED hours every morning, focus on THE ONE THING that will get you there fastest. If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one. –Russian proverb Ask yourself “What’s the one thing you can do right now that will make everything else easier or […]

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

One of the top ten most influential books of the 20th century.  It’s a great book to read or re-read when I’m in need of a little perspective and inspiration in my life.  Read wikipedia’s book summary. the meaning of life is found in every moment of living Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost […]

Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

This is another quick read from the founders of 37 Signals and creators of Ruby on Rails.  Nadine West has been working remotely from the beginning and there isn’t anything in the book to disagree with. ADVANTAGES TO REMOTE TEAMS Fewer interruptions than at the office No commuting Technology makes it possible Flexible work hours No need to […]

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It by Kamal Ravikant

Two things about this book: it’s very short and it has a very simple message: repeat “I love myself” over and over, every day.  I bought it because it was recommended by James Altucher, Tim Ferriss, and Sean Stephenson. Repeat “I love myself” every day.  Do this with emotional intensity. Meditate for 5-10 minutes every […]

Work Rules by Laszlo Bock

Preface: Why Google’s rules will work for you Companies who follow many of the same principles: grocery chain Wegman’s, a Sri Lankan clothing manufacturer, a Nike factory. The book’s key messages: take power and authority over employees away from managers, managers serve the team not vice versa, empower your employees Chapter 1: Becoming a Founder […]

Advice From First Round Capital

The Most Dangerous Leadership Traps — and the 15-Minute Daily Practice That Will Save You Spend 15 minutes a day in reflection — true reflection, in a quiet space, with your inbox closed. Take this time to review the events of the previous day and make plans for the one coming up. At the end […]

Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff

I read in the Amazon reviews that Oren Klaff is the Neil Strauss of Wall Street.  That comparison makes a lot of sense.  I really liked this book. My notes are below. CHAPTER 1: THE METHOD Pitching may be the most important thing we do. What are the two brains humans have? Crocodile brain (fast thinking) and Neocortex […]

Unbeatable Mind by Mark Divine, Part 2

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some notes on Unbeatable Mind, based on a quick skim and video from Philosopher’s Notes.  I’m adding some more in-depth notes today. Intro Mark Divine is a former Navy SEAL turned life coach, fitness trainer, business trainer, and entrepreneur.  Unbeatable Mind is about the mental training he learned as a […]

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This book is on my top 20 books of all-time list. I must have been in middle school when I first got my hands on this book and read it cover to cover. Ever since then, I’ve had a copy on every bookshelf I’ve owned. Dale Carnegie included his own book summary at the end of […]

Entrepreneurs Are Made Not Born by Lloyd Shefsky

Written by my Entrepreneurship professor at Kellogg. Ch 1 luck is opportunity meets preparation learn how to overcome rejection Ch 2 believe in your dream take the angel money do what you know and love believe in yourself project conservatively Ch 3 keep your business plan informal at first be ready to pivot or even […]

Unbeatable Mind by Mark Divine

For this book, I’m piggybacking off of Philosopher’s Notes’ book summary. 1. First Premise Win first in your mind and then on the battlefield.  An unbeatable mind knows it will win. 2. Starve + Feed In the parable of the two wolves — the wolf of fear and the wolf of courage — which one […]

Simplify by Joshua Becker

This book, from the blogger behind Becoming Minimalist, wasn’t terrible, nor was it great.  But at least it was only $3 on Kindle and took 20 minutes to read. 1. Be Convinced easier to clean less stress eco-friendly more time for other things 2. Make it Work for You find a style of minimalism that works for […]

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz

Not a classic business book, but I’ll post my summery anyways. When you are down to three sheets of toilet paper, you are very careful with it.  When starting a company, you should have the same mentality.  You should manage your precious resources while building the business using creativity and hard work. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur […]

Delivering Happiness By Tony Hsieh

This is one of our top 5 business books.  Our first company tagline was “Happiness in a Pink Package.” Book notes are below: Books recommended: Good to Great, Tribal Leadership, Fred Factor, Fish, Made to Stick, Peak, Emotional Equations, Connected, Re-Imagine, Crush It Be clear about your company’s culture, values.  Communicate them.  Commit to them. Ask yourself, “what […]

The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

This one’s a classic business book by the dean of business thinking. Effective executives know where their time goes Effective executives focus on results Effective executives build on strengths Effective executives focus on the 80/20 Effective executives make effective decision 1. Effective executives know where their time goes people can be very time consuming be […]

Life of the Party by Bert Kreischer

Collection of hilarious real-life stories by stand up comic and Joe Rogan regular Bert Kreischer.  Below are my notes from the book: That is all.

Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

This book has some simple but valuable ideas on how to change your life.  The message is simple, probably similar to what you’ve read or heard elsewhere but still valuable.  Another book in this genre is Daily Rituals, one of Tim Ferriss’ favorite books. The author’s message is that if you want to transform your life, you should six […]

Predictive Analytics by Eric Siegel

Predictive analytics is about what the mass media calls data science or big data.  It seems that practitioners prefer the more precise term, predictive analytics, which is what is sounds like, using analytics to predict behavior.  The book is a quick, non-technical introduction to data analytics, explaining basic concepts and definitions, and then sharing real-world […]

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

Stoicism is trending these days on the internet, especially among entrepreneur-types.  What is Stoicism?  Wikipedia says that stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy (300 B.C.) with a number of tenets but most practically for today’s entrepreneur: “Stoicism teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions.” The Obstacle is the […]

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

We want to model Nadine West after Zappos. Happy employees = Happy customers. Happy customers = Happy company. Which means, we need to study the science and psychology of happiness. Below are my notes from Shawn Achor’s book The Happiness Advantage. The science says that we become more successful when we are happier and more positive.  Not the other […]

Like a Virgin by Richard Branson

Weekends are for good books, podcasts, and blogs. Richard Branson is my favorite entrepreneur.  According to Branson, success in business is best measured by whether or not you have created something of which you can be truly proud. Below are my notes from Like a Virgin: Secrets They Won’t Teach You at Business School. Success in Life […]