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The Culture Code
The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups
Finished on 2nd of December, buy here.
Another book I’ve read based on a recommendation by my friend Laurie from Lower Hutt. I’ve been talking to him about my company and the challenges I’m having while growing the team, so he told me about The Culture Code. This was definitely a fun read with a bunch of good take-aways, but now I’m thinking a summary could have done just as well. Sure, you develop a better feel for all the points Coyle is making when reading through all the anecdotes and interviews with successful leaders like Ed Catmull from Pixar, but the book’s main argument can be distilled into just these three lessons. Thinking about it now, that was probably the whole point. Fair enough. The topic is how to best get a team of people to become a highly functioning and successful team.
1. Build safety to make everyone feel comfortable in working together.
2. Share vulnerability to show no one needs to be perfect.
3. Establish purpose through a common goal and a clear path to get there.
Small November Ultra: Holsteinische Schweiz Weg
29th of November
The ongoing pandemic keeps making us find new routes to run. A few weeks earlier, in an edition of the newsletter from the FastestKnownTime.com peeps this new record time was mentioned, located in Northern Germany’s state of Schleswig-Holstein, leading from the city of Plön to the city of Eutin via the Holsteinische Schweiz Weg.
#comeon1more – Incremental Running Streak Month
2nd of November
Powered by hot baths, cold showers, horse ointment, and Chartreuse.
Since this COVID-19 pandemic is still going on, I’ve also still been missing out on real challenges. All the races remain cancelled and the outlook continues to be bleak.
Tiny House Follow-Up: Improvements
24th of October
Good to Great
Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don’t
Finished on 22nd of October, buy here.
A business book recommendation from my dear friend Laurie, worth every second spent on it. I think I’ve written down the longest list of take-aways ever from any book I’ve read. Data-driven, thoroughly researched – some say economics isn’t a real science, but this is definitely close.
What is it about? The title says it all, really. Collins and his big team of researchers analyzed 11 huge companies which met their set criteria of having made a leap from an average success (“good”) to a hugely successful company (“great”) in order to find out what those companies, and especially their current leaders, did right. Simple and catchy mantras like “first who, then what”, “confront the brutal facts”, “take disciplined action”, “show personal humility but professional strong will”, “debate rigorously but unite behind the decision”, “do one thing right, don’t lose yourself in many areas”, “technology is only an accelerator”, “there’s no overnight success, just breakthroughs created by constantly intensifying momentum”, “it doesn’t matter which values a company has, but it does that they exist and are preserved”, and so on, will stay with me for long.
Office Not Required
Finished on 20th of October, buy here.
This book about creating a company based on remote working was first published in 2013. Now, that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit so many companies with the necessity to suddenly work remotely, it’s even more relevant. I have run my own company remotely for a few years and in general it‘s been going well. But, of course, some challenges present themselves from time to time, which made me look for answers. Answers from people with lots more of experience with that sort of thing.
This book spends a good percentage of it explaining why remote working is the future and just the reasonable thing to do. I didn’t need that, I’m already convinced. But in between there was a good dozen of little tips and tricks I have written down and will try to implement in my own company now, in order to make the remote working go even better. Never stop to optimize! Also a plus: it’s a quick read containing condensed information.
Facebook: The Inside Story
Finished on 12th of October, buy here.
I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Facebook, the product. Shortly before the company was in its infancy, a bunch of friends and I made our first steps at coding something reminding of an online social network of that sort and ran into similar problems that Zuckerberg had at the beginning. Obviously, the paths quickly diverged enormously. While the first half of the book is recounting basic facts like “and then Zuckerberg put person x into position y, then he bought company z”, the second half of this extensive book is captivating.
I’m glad I didn’t discard the book after a months long break stuck between both parts. The main point we can observe when looking at what happened in the world since Facebook hosts a third of the world’s communications, is the question: Is it worth it? How many live streamed massacres, how much foreign interference into world leader elections, how many millions of leaked personal profiles fallen into the hands of shady people – did you know Steve Bannon was part of the Cambridge Analytica disaster? –, how much abuse of our trust for the gains of ultra-capitalists, how much daily viral News Feed negativity does humankind want to endure in exchange for being “truly connected”?
Right now, my answer is: How about we just write down the phone numbers and email addresses of our friends to stay connected.
Vier Freundinnen, ein Boot
5500 Kilometer im Ruderboot über den Atlantik
Finished on 29th of September, buy here.
[German] I accidentally ordered the translated german version. These four British middle-aged ladies actually rowed across the Atlantic from La Gomera to Antigua, as part of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. I’ve had that trip on my bucketlist for some years and always wanted to read a book about it, and now I have. The whole things seems a lot more doable to me, now. Adventure books mostly have that effect, because the authors tend to have survived. Note to self: do more research on failed attempts.
The book itself is a quick read. A real page turner for me. The ladies aren’t gifted authors, but they had help. They describe a lot of details surrounding the whole endeavor, probably because the journey itself wasn’t as interesting. Water and rowing all day for two and a half months. The structure of the book is therefore quite good and the content is entertaining and informative. But from time to time they described events that made me think these women were actually naïve teenage girls. Starting from being late to so many important events, sleeping through safety training as if that was cool behavior, killing the boat’s battery during a Christmas party and having to go on without it, packing lots of food they didn’t like and then threw overboard, all the way to severely burning their hands with celebratory torches during the arrival in Antigua. How lucky it all worked out in the end.
A Picture in a Thousand Words
10th of September
Explanation: This post is inspired by a challenge created by Tim Hein and Brady Haran in an episode of their Unmade podcast. The task is to take any picture you took and describe it in exactly a thousand words. I chose one of my favorite moments of the recent few years, just before my win at the Te Houtaewa ultramarathon. At the time I also wrote a more detailed blog post about this race.
And as it’s a podcast, I recorded myself reading this post and sent it to Tim and Brady, maybe it’s interesting enough for them. Here’s the audio.
Yearly Goals: Half Time Status
24th of August
At the start of the previous four years, I have set personal goals to reach during those years. For 2020 as well. This particularly weird year is now more than halfway done (and many people hope it will end rather sooner than later). Still, I followed through with my goals as far as I could and will give my halfway point results here.
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