Favourites from my reading list

General (Philosophy, management and stuff)

  • Single-serving friends – “I used to think that the longer you’ve known someone and the more time you spend together, the stronger the relationship is. But I find myself opening up more to new friends than I am able to with some of my best friends. I think the reason is that as relationships age, we start to find the right level of vulnerable we can be with each other because we know more about each other and the stakes are high.”
  • The bus ticket theory of genius – “If I had to put the recipe for genius into one sentence, that might be it: to have a disinterested obsession with something that matters. An obsessive interest will even bring you luck, to the extent anything can. Chance, as Pasteur said, favors the prepared mind, and if there’s one thing an obsessed mind is, it’s prepared.”
  • Peter Thiel’s religion – “Three simple statements will lead us towards our ultimate answer about the importance of religion:  1) Don’t copy your neighbors 2)Time moves forward 3)The future will be different from the present.”
  • Collapse – An awakening – “What if a systemic collapse brought down capitalism and all its injustices with it? What if the poorest strata of our society were the richest when facing survival and resilience? What if we could access through the foreseen fall of our civilisation the ability to gather and become smarter together?”
  • Elizabeth Gilbert on Love, Loss, and How to Move Through Grief as Grief Moves Through You – “I have learned that Grief is a force of energy that cannot be controlled or predicted. It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to. In that regard, Grief has a lot in common with Love.”
  • Bob Levine: ‘Nobody has just a single ‘self’’ – “The reality is, we are many different selves, but we want to convince ourselves there’s something deep inside that is basically us. The self we believe exists is a narrative, a story we tell ourselves. It’s a way of making sense of who we are and how to act and, perhaps most importantly, enables us to connect to the person we are going to become.”
  • Mayhem – “Neither illness nor lassitude prevented him from going on with his work. For fourteen years he toiled unremittingly. He made thousands and thousands of notes. He sorted and classified them. He had his subject at his finger ends, and at last was ready to begin. He sat down to write. He died.”
  • 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice – “Separate the processes of creation from improving. You can’t write and edit, or sculpt and polish, or make and analyze at the same time. If you do, the editor stops the creator. While you invent, don’t select. While you sketch, don’t inspect. While you write the first draft, don’t reflect. At the start, the creator mind must be unleashed from judgement.”
  • If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough – “The reason this period was so useful was that it helped me develop a really thick skin. I came to realize that employers weren’t really rejecting me as a person or on my potential – they were rejecting a resume. As it became depersonalized, I became bolder in my tactics.”
  • Career Advice: Simplifiers Go Far, Complexifiers Get Stuck – “My advice:  strive to make things simple.  Seek to understand them.  Struggle to find apt metaphors for them.  If you’re not burning real energy trying to simplify things for you audience, you are most like a complexifier.”

Product (Marketing, technology and stuff)

  • We Don’t Sell Saddles Here – “There’s no point doing this to be small. We should go big, if only because there are a lot of people in the world who deserve Slack. Going big also means that it will have to be really, really good. But that’s convenient, since there’s also no point doing it if it is not really, really good. Life is too short to do mediocre work and it is definitely too short to build shitty things.”
  • The Content Marketing Handbook – “Great information spreads, but only if you design it to spread. It needs to be packaged into a great story, and you need to anticipate the channels through which it will spread. Being talented and doing a good job isn’t enough; you need to have a plan. Write about information. Make it great. Have a plan.”
  • How To Become A Customer Acquisition Expert – “In learning digital marketing, nothing is more valuable than hands on experience.  The courses I will list are useful.  But I really really urge you to find a product/company to try out what you learn as you take the courses.  Maybe you are already in a company.  If not, volunteer as an intern somewhere.  Or use yourself (via a blog, mini website, etc) as the experiment. “
  • If your product is Great, it doesn’t need to be Good – “By focusing on only a few core features in the first version, you are forced to find the true essence and value of the product. If your product needs “everything” in order to be good, then it’s probably not very innovative (though it might be a nice upgrade to an existing product). Put another way, if your product is great, it doesn’t need to be good.”
  • Why it’s nice to compete against a large, profitable company – “Attacking a profitable business on its loss-leaders is a terrible strategy, because it can use all its powers against you, plus orders of magnitude more dollars, and not care about a direct business model to support those decisions. That is a scary competitor — lots of resources and nothing to lose!”
  • Platforms vs Verticals and the Next Great Unbundling – “As the platforms grow, their submarkets grow too; their product gets pulled in a million different directions. Users get annoyed with an experience and business that caters to the lowest common denominator. And suddenly, what was previously too small a market to care about is a very interesting place for a standalone newco.”
  • Come for the tool, stay for the network – “The idea is to initially attract users with a single-player tool and then, over time, get them to participate in a network. The tool helps get to initial critical mass. The network creates the long term value for users, and defensibility for the company.”
  • A Steve Jobs masterclass (from a decade ago) – “We are about making better products, and what I love about the consumer market that I always hated about the enterprise market, is that: we come up with a product, we try to tell everybody about it and every person votes for themselves. They go yes or no, and if enough of them say yes, we get to come to work tomorrow.”
  • The most creative product ever – “So look at the way you spend your time. Are you creating the next great innovation, or are you creating an environment that stimulates innovation? Are you focused on what to do when your current product line becomes obsolete, or are you focused on building a unique culture that cannot be copied? Are you busy inventing gadgets, or are you experimenting with social inventions? “
  • The changing role of product marketers in product-led companies – “Marketing 2.0 embraces product, instead of side stepping it. When marketing becomes product driven, marketers are required to understand the product on a much deeper level. In this new world, every aspect of marketing must be rooted in the product experience. “
  • Great taste is underhyped – “There are no text book ways to develop great taste. It doesn’t come from countless A/B testing or cloning some successful feature in another app. It often is derived from a some unique combination of vision and talent. And always comes from the heart.”
  • Stupid Apps and Changing the World – “One, don’t claim you’re changing the world until you’ve changed it.  Two, ignore the haters and work on whatever you find interesting.  The internet commenters and journalists that say you’re working on something that doesn’t matter are probably not building anything at all themselves.”
  • Why now? – “If you can find novel solutions to problems because of new technology, regulation changes, new business models, or a new customer acquisition channel, then you can often win big and win quickly.”
  • Mastering Product Experience (in SaaS) With Product-led Strategy – “This book shows you how to transition to a product-led GTM, put in place all necessary elements, and capitalize on your product as a primary go-to-market channel.”