Saturday, 4 August 2018

Image result for the subtle art of not giving af * ck

Title: The subtle art of not giving a f*ck

Author: Mark Manson
Year : 2106
My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:  Thought provoking perspective that a pain free life isn't real, you just have to make sure that you're choosing a path that you're prepared to put in the hard graft for

As someone who has a tendenc to overthink things and sweat the small stuff this felt like a read that could help to put things into persepctive and I wasn't dissappointed.

Biggest lightbulb moment was the idea that you have to decide 'what pain you want in your life' as 'most people want to get the corner office and make a boatload of money - but not many people want to suffer through the sixty hour workweeks, long commutes...'  You can't achevie something unless you are prepared to not give a f*ck about the hardship and problems you will encounter on the way.  You are defined by what you are prepared to struggle for whether its the perfect body, happy family or the big house.

Other key points that resinated with me were...

  • Unless you find the things in life that are important to you, you'll end up wasting you f*cks on the trivial
  • There is no such thing as a life without problems, just hope for good problems
  • Negative emotions are a call to action, you feel them as you need to do something
  • Entitled people exude a delusional degree of self confidence
  • Anti-entitled people are the ones that become great as they recognise that they're average and could be so much better
  • Instead of looking to be right all the time, we should be looking to see how we are wrong as this is how we grow the fastest
  • If someone is better than you at something they have probably failed mor times
  • If you're stuck on something just start working on it and the right ideas will materialise
  • If you lack motivation, do something and harness the action to create motivation... the 'do something principle' overcomes procrastination
And then you die, what is the legacy you want to leave??

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Image result for do no harm

Title: Do No Harm

Author: Henry Marsh
Year: 2014
My Rating:  5/5 Stars

Synopsis: Absolute page turner giving a rare insight into the world of a neurosurgeon and the ailments that plague the brain

I loved this book, each chapter recounting various cases and events of Marsh's professional career.

Not only a fascinating insight into the brain, its fragility and various ailments but also a very honest and sobering portrayal of the inevitable successes and debilitating failures of such delicate surgery.

I couldn't put this book down, would recommend it profusely and bought the sequel 'Admissions' within minutes of finishing the last chapter!

Tide by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
Title: Tide

Author: Hugh Aldersey-Williams
Year: 2016

My Rating:  2/5 Stars

Synopsis: More fact and less fluff please

I was really excited to read this book as the tide is something I didn't really know that much about other than the moon is pretty important.

In all fairness, the synopsis does call out that this book is a combination of science, history and literature however as a reader looking for facts on the tidal world, I was left wanting more.

The book was peppered with interesting nuggets such as the variances in tidal heights across the world, how the moon creates a bulge in the sea and the fact that you can take a guided walk across the perilous Morecambe bay.  However overall it created more questions than it answered.  It highlighted the variance in tidal heights but didn't really explain what causes it, it teased me with strange phenomena such as the Maelstrom but left me questioning whether its more of a folklore.

I'm sure for some this book would be a delight, however as someone looking for an education on all there is to know about the tide, I wanted more fact.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Image result for the little black book for managers

Title: The Little Black Book for Managers

Author: John Cross & others
Year: 2013
My Rating:  4/5 Stars

Synopsis: 75 bite size management tips spread across 4 areas.  Not ground breaking but inspired a few new ideas and highlighted some principles I could be better at.

1. Your Rewarding Job - the main aspects of your job as a manager
2. Its all about you - the importance of knowing yourself to effectively manage
3. Your Team is What you Make it - how to influence improved team performance
4. Your Talented Staff - How to maximise the output of each team member

I've read a number of books in this arena and have been a manager for some years so a lot of it wasn't new news, however I always find these books inspire some new thinking or highlight something I haven't done for a while - below are the points I've highlighted from this book.


All employee objectives should relate back to certain top level goals, commercial examples would be,
1. Customer Satisfaction
2. Margin
3. Market Share

Challenge team members to assess whether their objectives tie back to the above.

Don't mindlessly obsess about targets, do the right thing and it should come - good wording for team

Create sticky headline messages - Use plain English and catchy phrases for team objectives which they can understand and connect with.  Example = 'the 5 minute suitcase' was an airline objective to get suitcases from the plan to carousel in 5 minutes

  • Consider what is the correct amount of time spent operating versus managing, should at least be 50/50
  • Infect everyone around you with your positive attitude
  • Get team members to say yes to objectives as it increases the accountability to deliver
  • Think of ways to make your team happier and do it
  • Show more trust than you think you should
  • Don;t give people the answers
  • When the team react to your suggestion in silence, assume it is resistance and find out why
  • Apply the six thinking hats model
  • Understand the specialist skills in your team using the Belbin model
  • Its your duty to kick and pat, know which employees need a kick versus which respond best to a pat and use appropriately
  • Better understand attitudes and behaviours through MBTI model
  • 360 degree model is Leadership Dimensions Questionnaire
  • People more naturally adapt or innovate use the Kirton Adaption-Innovation inventory
  • Sometimes it may be better to allow a team member to execute against an imperfect plan rather than risk dampening the enthusiasm and energy
  • Use the STAR method as a debrief system with team members - Situation/Task/Action/Result
  • Ben on your guard for monkeys
  • Use I feel when giving negative feedback
Worth a read, introduced me to a few new models and a good one to have in the library for future reference.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

The Lifestyle Entrepreneur

Author: Cato Hoeben & Angela Neustatter
Year: 2016

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Synopsis:  Interesting insight into a world where people earn a living by developing a variety of work streams as opposed to following the traditional monogamous career path.  All based on the premise of pursuing your interests and building working patterns that fit around your life rather than the other way round, this book would make a good handbook for anyone serious about making the lifestyle switch

After 14 odd years in the corporate world, I have started to become a bit disillusioned with the sacrifices so many of us make in the name of being successful and climbing the career ladder.  Having vocalised this to my nearest and dearest in the form of an occasional rant I received this book as an Xmas gift and was intrigued to know what it was all about.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Confessions of a Sociopath

Title: Confessions of a Sociopath
Author: M. E. Thomas
Year: 2013

My Rating:  2/5 Stars

Synopsis: Thomas gives an honest and at times uncomfortable insight into her world as a sociopath which whilst interesting, became rather repetitive midway through the book.

This book was a complete impulse purchase as I got sucked in by a bogof offer at the airport.  I'd been reading a few books on psychology by this point and had a basic understanding of the personality traits of sociopaths and I thought this book might help to deepen my understanding and confirm my suspicions on a couple of potentially sociopathic work colleagues.

As a self confessed 30 something female sociopath, Thomas is everything you would expect her to be... charming, manipulative, intelligent, heartless and generally lacking any kind of moral compass in life.  The opening paragraphs portraying perfectly her complete lack of empathy as she sets the scene of a woman returning home on a beautiful day to find a baby opossum paddling frantically in the pool trying desperately to find a way out but unable to lift itself over the side.  She rushes for the net and then proceeds to try and drown the poor thing, after several unsuccessful attempts she then decides to leave it and let nature take its course - this is apparently how a TV show of Thomas's life would start?!  As a self confessed 30 something animal loving softy this was uncomfortable reading  and instantly switched me off from the idea that there is a benefit to having socipathic characters in society, which I think is one of Thomas's objectives.

I do feel a bit bad giving it 2 out of 5 as it was in places an entertaining read, I just found it became boring and self indulgent.  Perhaps if you are a sociopath, you might enjoy it more as you can relate to Thomas but for anyone else I would suggest there are too many other good books out there and this one might just be best left on the shelf.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Get Some Headspace

Title: Get Some Headspace
Author: Andy Puddicombe
Year: 2013

My Rating:  5/5 Stars

Synopsis: Andy Puddicombe is on a mission to demystify the world of meditation and spread the word about the powerful positive effects it can have of your mind.  As a previous cynic of anything 'spiritual' I am now totally converted and would encourage anyone and everyone to read this book!!

I am completely in awe of Andy Puddicombe!  In his early twenties he decided to trade in his life as a sports science student to head off into the depths of Asia to become a Buddhist monk.  Throughout the book Andy shares a number of stories and anecdotes from the numerous monasteries he lived in which give a really interesting insight into the life of a monk which overwhelmingly constituted meditating.

Now if you are like me six months ago, you would be switching off at the first mention of the M word, thinking its something for hippies sat in meadows with long hair and psychedelic tie dye t-shirts.  Well, I was completely wrong, meditation is a serious business which is scientifically proven to improve brain function and structure.

Andy articulates it well when he compares the mind to a computer hard drive, central to everything we ever do.  As Andy describes, our entire existence is experienced through our mind, yet, unlike our bodies which we are obsessed with keeping fit and healthy, the mind gets totally taken for granted perhaps because we can't see it.  However, advancements in brain mapping and MRI technology means scientists are now able to prove that in the same way doing bicep curls will make your arm muscles thicker and stronger, training the mind with meditation can make the area of the brain associated with happiness and well being thicker and stronger - well when you put it like that Andy how do I get started??

Well, by the time you have finished reading this book you will have all the information you need to start incorporating 10 minute meditation sessions into your life.  You will learn how to approach each session, the practise itself and the different ways you can integrate meditation into your life whether that be eating, walking, running etc.  And if that isn't enough Andy also has a website where you can download an app to talk you through the ten minute sessions each day.  I found this worked better for me as you don't have to think about timing or what comes next as its all explained to you in a a very calm and soothing voice.

Speaking as someone that seems to have a pretty active mind that has a habit of running away with itself, meditation hasn't come easy.  The first attempt I found myself feeling really breathless, the next few I couldn't stop my mind from thinking, but over time it has started to get easier and I've started to enjoy a nice feeling of serenity when I finish each session.

I'm new to this book reviewing malarkey and struggling to convey my sentiment in words so if the above hasn't convinced you that this book is worth your time, please take 10 minutes to watch Andy's Ted talk as no one articulates this subject better than him...