What I’ve Been Reading

Posted: October 24th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: hustle | No Comments »

I read a lot of great books. Sometimes good reading comes in PDF form. Here are some that I’ve read lately that other people should too.

Jeff Bezos writes great letters to shareholders. This is a PDF of all of them since the beginning. They’re almost Buffett-level. Worth a trip through time for any aspiring business person.

If you do dig through Bezos’s letters, you’ll find a mention of decision making. If there were one single thing that wish I could do with expert-level perfection, it would be an ability to make better decisions. This is an analysis of how “unstructured” decisions are made. If Bezos felt it was worthy to be one of the few publications he mentions in all of his annual letters, then I think it’s worth considering that he seems to have been very good at making decisions over the years before not clicking the following link: The Structure of “Unstructured” Decision Processes

On Advertising: David Ogilvy recommends that everyone read this book seven times. Of course, Ogilvy would know how to write an endorsement. Here it is: Scientific Advertising

Here are copies I’ve downloaded in case any of the links go dead.

Amazon Shareholder Letters 97-12

Mintzberg – Decision Processes

Scientific Advertising

Vitamin A(rt)

Posted: October 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: art, culture | No Comments »

Art is good for you.

Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies. Yet little research has investigated what fosters this skill, which is known as Theory of Mind (ToM), in adults. We present five experiments showing that reading literary fiction led to better performance on tests of affective ToM (experiments 1 to 5) and cognitive ToM (experiments 4 and 5) compared with reading nonfiction (experiments 1), popular fiction (experiments 2 to 5), or nothing at all (experiments 2 and 5). Specifically, these results show that reading literary fiction temporarily enhances ToM. More broadly, they suggest that ToM may be influenced by engagement with works of art.

The NYTimes breakdown and a link to the study are worth being aware of.



On Meaning

Posted: September 13th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Apple makes it mean something to you. Microsoft makes it mean something to themselves.

Apple says what you want to hear. Microsoft says what they want to say.

On Starting A Company

Posted: September 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: hustle | No Comments »

When I interviewed Mark Zuckerberg at Startup School, he said that while it was a lot of work creating course lists for each school, doing that made students feel the site was their natural home.

Word for word, this (long) Paul Graham post might be the best read on starting companies. Even if he doesn’t always explain himself well ;)

of the people, by the people, for the people

Posted: August 29th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Key to any worthwhile public relations effort, Mr. Werner believes, is getting to facts about what people actually think about an organization, product or cause. “They are ingredients which are far more important to an organization’s standing with the public than all of the tactical stunts of publicity that stick out and create attention as a program.

“The north star of your course should be other people’s opinions. Walk across the street and look at your store as other people see it. Instead of thinking about a broad, hazy public, think rather in terms of the many different publics your organization meets and serves, their differing needs, likes and dislikes.

“Good public relations thinking – two-way thinking – digs up the reasons why the public feels as it does about a business.”


What is up with the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards?

Posted: August 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: culture | No Comments »

So this happened…

and a few years ago, this happened…

Celebrities really like giving good advice to kids. Maybe they should give advice to adults too.

Russell Brand

Posted: June 25th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: art, culture | No Comments »

Reminds me of

You make poor decisions

Posted: June 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: hustle, ideas | No Comments »

Here’s a talk from Charlie Munger. He’s Warren Buffett’s very close business partner who Warren would never have been as successful without. I’ve read and listened to a lot of what he’s written and said. He is extremely smart in that he’s able to notice things other people might now, and he’s also well-educated so that he has a lot of raw material to work with.

Watch this and take to heart what he says.

And here’s a summary of it thanks to The Motley Fool.

Also, here’s something that strikes me as relevant, probably due to the use of incentives, and the fact that it’s a good example of systems thinking, and Charlie would like it:

In 1986, new federal legislation, the Toxic Release Inventory, required U.S. companies to report all hazardous air pollutants emitted from each of their factories each year. Through the Freedom of Information Act, that information became a matter of public record. In July 1988, the first data on chemical emissions became available. The reported emissions were not illegal, but they didn’t look very good when they were published in local papers by enterprising reporters, who had a tendency to make lists of “the top ten local polluters.” That’s all that happened. There were no lawsuits, no required reductions, no fines, no penalties. But within two years chemical emissions nationwide had decreased by 40 percent. Some companies were launching policies to bring their emissions down by 90 percent, just because of the release of previously withheld information. — Thinking in Systems, Donella Meadows

The more software you have, the more software you need.

Posted: April 24th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: coding | No Comments »

Jevons Paradox says that as a resource can be used more efficiently, more of it ends up being used overall. That is, the better the deal you’re getting, the more you’re interested in buying.

This example of real-world compounding reminded me of another example: software. There’s an interesting quirk about software — the more you have of it, the more you need.

Let’s trace through one recent path of the software industry. We start with a website.

A website is a great idea. Websites (code) make it easy to distribute information. There’s so much information that people create dynamic websites (more code).

Dynamic websites are useful, but once you’ve got dynamic data, you want the data available via API (even more code) so that outside developers can build applications (lots more code).

To help with this, you build an API management layer (tons more code), which produces information about all these other applications.

You want that data combined in a dashboard (still even more code) alongside data from all of the other software that relates to your business (which is even more code than all of the other code so far).


Anything that cannot go on forever must stop. But there doesn’t seem to be any reasonable end in sight. This is one small piece of the software industry that points to a bigger trend, which seems to contradict common sense. People intuitively understand supply and demand. But here, supply creates more demand.

It’s a good time to be a programmer.

Claude Lorrain – Seaport at Sunset

Posted: March 29th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’ve always liked this picture.