Video & Book Reviews

NEXUS by Ramez Naam

NEXUS by Ramez Naam is a brain-twisting, action-packed Sci Fi novel. What would the future be like if a new drug could allow us to reprogram our minds and connect with each other? It’s the first part of a trilogy. Next comes Crux, then Apex.

The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

You will love or loath this book: The Black Swan.

You will either think the author is brilliant, witty, passionate and insightful, or you will find him a pompous, egotistical, irritating blowhard.

I actually enjoyed the book, but my partner couldn’t get past the first chapter.

Ironically, all you need to read is the first chapter or two. The rest of the book just elaborates on the same points.

“Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Great book for a college student who has no idea what career path to take. Not so interesting if you already know what you want to do.

BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown: 10 Lessons on Teamwork

BOYS IN THE BOAT by Daniel James Brown is the story how a group of boys from Washington State went on to win the 1936 Berlin Olympics against all odds.

It’s a fantastic story, but even more important, it will teach you the essence of building a winning team. In this way, it’s one of the best business books ever written.

Here are 10 lessons on teamwork learned from Boys in the Boat:

The Hidden Brain by Shankar Vedantam

THE HIDDEN BRAIN by Shankar Vedantam is a fun read. It’s filled with stories about how our unconscious minds control much of what we do.

It’s similar to THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman but less academic and more readable.

It’s filled with stories on how our subconscious can lead us to mistakes, when electing presidents, investing in stock markets, identifying criminals, and waging wars.

It’s also a popular Podcast. Either way, it’s worth tuning in!

The Sentient Machine by Amir Husain

I just read “The Sentient Machine” by Amir Husain. It’s an insightful and well-constructed overview of AI in today’s world. There’s no big idea, but it will give you a solid foundation for where things are headed. Husain is a computer scientist, but his writing is very readable, without a lot of jargon or technical terms.

Black Mirror

I finally got around to watching Black Mirror on Netflix. After all the hype, I had high expectations. The first two episodes shattered them.

I was so disappointed in Season 1, Episode 1: THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. The decisions the characters made were inane. No one would do that. Episode 2 was just plain boring.

Then I watched Episode 3: THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF YOU, and I was converted. It was clever and well done.

Principles by Ray Dalio

The book Principles by Ray Dalio is packed with ideas. Clearly, Ray Dalio is a brilliant guy who has accomplished an enormous amount. He’s a pioneer in management and investment.

The problem is that, except for the beginning, the book reads like an automobile instruction manual. Dalio thinks of companies as giant machines, and his book is a list of principles that he has developed over the years.

Extreme Ownership: How the US Navy Seals Lead and Win by Leif Babin and Jocko Willink

Extreme Ownership: How the US Navy Seals Lead and Win is a business book by Leif Babin and Jocko Willink. It’s a fun read.

It’s thrilling to hear the lessons learned from two amazing Navy Seals who fought in Iraq. The business lessons are less exciting. They are mostly common sense, like own the job, prioritize what’s important, simple is better than complex, etc. Very basic stuff.

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Just finished reading START WITH WHY by Simin Sinek. He’s a talented writer, but this book is too repetitive. He keeps articulating the same, simple message over and over.

The gist of the book is that leaders should not explain what they’re doing. If they want to inspire and motivate, they need to explain why they are doing it.

He gives plenty of examples, from Steve Jobs to Martin Luther King. The other 90% of the book explains why it’s so important to explain why.

Thinking Fast and Slow — By Daniel Kahneman

Does our intuitive judgment work? What is intuition? How can we best solve problems? These are some of the questions answered in THINKING FAST & SLOW. It’s an interesting but not exciting read. Lots of information to digest. Would have been perfect at half the length.

Speaking the Language to Succeed in Silicon Valley


If you like Make Elephants Fly, we think you might also like another book that sheds light on how Silicon Valley works, Valley Speak: Deciphering the Jargon of Silicon Valley by Rochelle Kopp and Steven Ganz. Where Steve Hoffman’s book shows you how you can innovate like the best of those who came before you, Valley Speak gives you a grasp of the ‘lay of the land’: the techniques, assumptions, and jargon that you will need to navigate.

Black Edge by Sheelah Kolhatkar

Black Edge is a shocking book about the excesses and corruption that pervade Wall Street’s largest hedge funds and investment banks. It’s a meticulously researched and well told story of greed and power.

The Book of Mistakes

My friend, Skip Prichard, just launched his new book called: The Book of Mistakes. You’ll love it and learn a lot.

Maybe you’ve heard one of these:

“You need to work harder!”

“The secret is getting more education. Go back to school.”

“Just be a suck-up at work to get ahead.”

  • But then you see that someone who doesn’t work as hard gets that management job.
  • You don’t have the time or money to get another degree.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

divergent

I just read DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth. If you like HUNGER GAMES, you will enjoy this book. It has the same blend of fantasy, action and suspense.

It’s well written, although the ending is a bit predictable. The most interesting part is the dystopian world the author creates. I wish she had gone even further, but that is what sequels are for.

How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

How-Google-Works-Image

HOW GOOGLE WORKS, by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, is must read for every aspiring entrepreneur. It’s a well documented account of exactly how Google was born what makes it so valuable. It’s full of useful tips and practical advice. Big thumbs up!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gone girl

GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn is one of the most entertaining novels I’ve read this year. It’s about an American couple who have the perfect marriage, until it isn’t.

As the back story unravels, the reader is treated to a rollercoaster ride of deception, murder and double crosses. It starts slow but gradually becomes a wild tromp with too many twists and turns to count.

Start, Love, Repeat by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun

start love
Okay, if you’re doing a startup AND you’re married, you MUST read this book: Start, Love, Repeat by Dorcas Cheng-Tozun. It could save you a lot of grief.

Even if you aren’t married but have a boyfriend or girlfriend, this book may make the difference between a lasting relationship and another breakup.

It provides practical tips and strategies from top experts and dozens of entrepreneurial couples on how to keep your relationships strong while pursuing a startup.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

I just read the book WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanithi. It’s the true story of a brilliant neurosurgeon who discovers he has lung cancer. He was only 35 years old. He wrote down his experiences and thoughts as he looked death straight in the eyes.

You can’t live without dying, and Paul takes you as close to death as you can come in a book. It’s a profoundly deep story that both engages and enlightens. It’s not depressing. It’s a brave, bold attempt to make sense of a life cut short and dreams lost.

Discontent and its Civilizations by Moshin Hamid

discontent and its civilization

DISCONTENT AND ITS CIVILIZATIONS is a series of essays and diary entries by the writer Moshin Hamid that describe his life and growth a novelist, philosopher and parent.

What makes Hamid unique is his perspective as a creative, open-minded Pakistani artist and writer. He has a brilliant mind, and his thoughts give you insight into what it’s like to be Pakistani in the modern world, where Islamic fundamentalism and Western ideals clash and often turn violent.