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Anil Lakhman

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World book day 2018


Today is world book day, I’ve started reading books ranging from business, economics, psychology and philosophy.

I’ve started to list them here along with the notes I make as I get around to transcribing them.

Aim to read dozens of non fiction books a year, reading is the fastest route to gain valuable knowledge and insight from a range of experts across a wide range of fields.


Here’s what I’ve read so far, The notes will follow in the coming weeks as I find time to transcribe them.

The lean startup by Eric Ries
The lean startup by Eric Ries

I’m so glad I read this book when I did. During the development of a product we waste a lot of time building things that may not come to fruition, using the methods in this book, you can keep waste to a minimum and also learn how to objectively measure what you’re working on using data.

This book tells you how to ensure your business is kept running lean.

  • Entrepreneurs are everywhere
  • Entrepreneurship is management
  • Validated learning
  • Build, measure and learn
  • Innovation accounting
  • Five why’s

How Google Works Paperback – by Eric Schmidt,‎ Jonathan Rosenberg

This was a great read, if you’re planning on hiring people some day this is a must read.

The smart creative was the most memorable thing for me. They’re always working on crazy new ideas, you can’t shut them up once they get started, they’re always learning, they’re a fire hose of new ideas - original new ideas.

  • Hiring is the most important thing you do, everyone should be involved
  • The smart creative - a new breed of technologist
  • Disproportionate rewards for superstars (they can have a disproportionate impact)
  • Don’t listen to the Hippos (Highest paid persons opinion)
  • Knights and Knaves - “Exile knaves but fight for divas”
  • Decide with data
  • Listen for those who get technology
  • Fun not FUN! - Let it come naturally via a permissive work environment
How Google Works Paperback – by Eric Schmidt,‎ Jonathan Rosenberg

The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen
The Innovator's Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

This book shows us how to drive constant innovation in your company. Large companies can fail as they don’t keep up to pace with the latest technological advancements in the field. The book used examples from the hard disk drive industry.

  • Sustaining vs Disruptive technologies
  • There’s a good book group guide at the end which provides a great summary.

Zero to One by Blake Masters &‎ Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel’s a smart guy, learn all you can from him by reading this book and watching his talks on youtube.

Doing what we already know takes us from “1 to n”.

To create something new, you go from “zero to one”.

  • Characteristics of a monopoly / creative monopoly (p.48)

    1. Proprietary technology
    2. Network effects
    3. Economies of scale
    4. Branding
  • Autism / Aspergers

    The hazards of imitative competition may partially explain why individuals with an Asperger’slike social ineptitude seem to be at an advantage in Silicon Valley today. If you’re less sensitive to social cues, you’re less likely to do the same things as everyone else around you. If you’re interested in making things or programming computers, you’ll be less afraid to pursue those activities singlemindedly and thereby become incredibly good at them.

    —Zero to One, Peter Thiel (p.40)

  • A wrongful practice persists only when most people don’t perceive it to be unjust. (p.99)
  • Equity is a powerful tool precisely because of these limitations. Anyone who prefers owning a part of your company to being paid in cash reveals a preference for the long term and a commitment to increasing your companies value in the future. (p.116)
  • CAC < CLT, Customer acquisition cost should be less than customer lifetime value (p.135)
  • Gains from trade a greatest when there is a big discrepancy in comparative advantage but the global supply of workers willing to do repetitive tasks for an extremely small wage is extremely large. (p.142)
  • Founders traits appear to follow an inverse normal distribution (p.175)
  • Primitive societies faced one fundamental problem above all; they would be torn apart by conflict if they didn’t have a way to stop it. So whenever plagues disasters or violent rivalries threatened the peace, it was beneficial for the entire society to place the entire blame on a single person, someone everyone could agree on: the scapegoat. (p.181)
  • The lesson for business is that we need founders. If anything, we should be more tolerant of founders who seem strange or extreme; we need unusual individuals to lead companies beyond mere incrementalism. (p.188)
  • The lesson for founders is that individual prominence and adulation can never be enjoyed except on the condition that it may be exchanged for individual notoriety and demonization at any moment - so be careful. (p.189)
Zero to One by Blake Masters &‎ Peter Thiel

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

This book was simply awesome, it took me ages to read but was well worth it.

I have so many notes and ideas from this, it’ll take me a while to write them all up.

  • System 1 (Fast, lazy, sometimes wrong) & System 2 (Slow, requires effort)
  • The priming effect (p.52)
  • The ideomotor effect (p.53)
  • Prospect theory

The Telomere Effect by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn & Dr Elissa Epel

The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer

This was a great book for learning about aging and keeping your body within a health span for longer before progressing into an inevitable disease span later in life.

The ends of your chromosomes have something called telomeres, which are like the aglet’s on the ends of your shoelaces. During your lifetime, the number of base pairs found in these telomeres wear down as your cells age (through mitosis). The shortening of these telomeres is what drives you from your “healthy span” into your “disease span”

Read an interview with Dr Elizabeth Blackburn here on the guardian.

  • Negative effectors like stress, toxins and processed food can shorten telomeres.
  • Positive effectors like developing a challenge response to stress, eating healthy (non processed and organic) foods and exercise can reduce telomeres shortening and even lengthen them.
  • The hayflick limit is the natural limit that human cells have to dividing. (p.21)
  • Senescence is the stage at which cells stop dividing permanently - but still alive. (p.21) Senescence cells control the aging process. (p.36)
  • A relationship exists between more smoking and increased telomere shortening. (p.66)
  • Developing self-compassion is not weak or wimpy, it is self-reliance, and a part of stress resilience. (p.132)
  • Aristotle reportedly said “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom”. (p.148)
  • Major stress, depression & anxiety are linked to shorter telomeres, it’s important to seek help to protect your telomeres. (p.160,163)
  • Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist who studied grief and mourning once said:

    The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.

    Beautiful people do not just happen.

    —Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss psychiatrist. (p.160)

  • MBCT - Mindfulness based cognitive therapy (self awareness & focused attention) can help reduce stress and therefore the shortening of your telomeres.
  • “When the caregivers practiced Kirtan Kriya for twelve minutes a day for two months, they increased their telomerase by 43 percent and decreased their gene expression related to inflammation.” (p.171)
  • “People who exercise spend less time in the toxic state known as oxidative stress. This noxious condition begins with a free radical, a molecule that is missing an electron. A free radical is rickety, unstable, incomplete. It craves the missing electron, so it swipes one from another molecule—which is now unstable itself and needs to steal a replacement electron of its own.” (p.193)
  • “Your body requires omega-3s to reduce inflammation and keep telomeres healthy. Omega-3s help form cell membranes throughout the body, keeping the cell structure fluid and stable.” (p.250)
  • “a health researcher at UCSF who has been following cohorts of pregnant women, found that children who were breast-fed only (no formula or solid foods) in the first six weeks of life have longer telomeres.” (p.255)
  • “Higher levels of vitamin D in the blood predict lower overall mortality rates. Some studies find that vitamin D is related to longer telomere length, more so in women than men, and other studies do not find a relationship.”

    “It can be hard to get enough vitamin D from diet and sunlight alone, depending on where you live, so this is a case when you may want to consider supplements (consult your doctor).” (p.258)

  • “the closer a pregnant mother lived to a major roadway, and the fewer trees and plants in her neighborhood (which can reduce air pollution levels), the shorter were the telomeres of her placenta, on average.” (p.288)
  • “severe adversity is related to feeling more compassion and empathy for others” (p.325)
  • “Children (and adults) with more variations in the genes for neurotransmitters that regulate mood, like dopamine and serotonin, tend to be more sensitive to stress. They’re orchid children. Those most stress sensitive, based on genetics, tend to benefit more from supportive interventions and will thrive.” (p.334)
  • “It’s easier to be distracted than you might think. When a cell phone is present on a nearby table, people engage in conversation that is more shallow, and their attention is more divided.” (p.340)
  • Conclusion with this great Einstein quote:

    “A human being is part of the whole, called by us “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such an achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”

    —Albert Einstein, as quoted in the New York Times, March 29, 1972

The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

An intriguing book, explains a number of weird economic phenomena, how a small legislation change can have a huge impact 2-3 decades down the road and more.

  • School teachers and sumo wrestlers - Cheating.
  • How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real estate agents?
  • Why do drug dealers live with their moms?! They don’t make any money
  • Where have all the criminals gone? Romania abortion laws.
  • What makes a perfect parent? Why do parents give their kids names that will hurt future prospects?

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

I read this after the lean startup, this was very interesting and got me thinking about product design from a new perspective.

  • The Hook
  • B = MAT - For any Behaviour, we need, Motivation, Ability and Trigger
  • The unknown is fascinating, it creates suspense and mystery and makes us engaged
  • BF Skinner - Variable ratio of reinforcement (Rewards of the tribe, hunt and self)

    • Tribe - Social reinforcement (Facebook)
    • Hunt - Search for resources (Gambling, twitter/facebook feed, endless scrolling for the next reward)
    • Self - Feel good and variable, Intrinsic pleasure, control, completion (Email inbox, gaming, iPhone app badges)
  • The hook cycle consists of the following four stages:

    1. Trigger - External triggers (Buy now button) & Internal triggers (places, situations, emotions - particularly negative emotions)
    2. Action - Checking email, opening apps with badges, etc
    3. Variable reward - Skinners “variable ratio of reinforcement”
    4. Investment - Stored value, data, the better the feed becomes and appreciates through time - done to increase their likelihood of another pass through the hook cycle
  • Aim to create habits in your consumers via frequency and perceived utility (p.28)
  • Vitamins vs pain killers - Start with a vitamin which turns into a mild pain killer over repeated use (p.34)
  • 2003 study of consumer behaviour and trust
  • 1999 study - Building Consumer Trust in Online Environments
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products