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It's an Exciting World

The life and times of David Geisert

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Business

The Founder’s Dilemma

This was one of the best books about founding companies I’ve read.  It has all the basic high level things that one may need.  It covers a lot of the topics that I was unsure about, and I am recommending it to the rest of the team.  Steph is ready to start it, and I explained most of it to Candice.

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Economics

This book was a great overview of the basics of economics.  It covered really well microeconomics, macroeconomics, and the players in economic policy.  If you want a full overview of economics I would strongly recommend this book.  It has a lot of really well done examples and thought experiments.

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Effective Communication Skills

This lecture series I finished a while ago and never got around to posting about it since I was getting busy and distracted.  I enjoyed most of what was said in this book.  The series of books I’ve read have built up well, with logic, argumentation, and communication.  There was a lot of repitition of concepts from the other books in this one, but it was taken in a new light.  Instead of trying to win arguments you were trying to steer conversations.  I like this approach much better than the previous ones, and I think it is more applicable in everyday situations.  A lot of what is described can be summmarized as just talking to persons, not talking to people.

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Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning

I had a great time listening to this.  It was in a very different direction than Your Deceptive Mind.  This was about using the biases and heuristics, along with controlling the conversation.  This had a lot more to do with situations where there isn’t Truth but only truth.  What I mean by that is this deals with situations where there is uncertainty.  It is a really interesting listen.

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Startup Weekend: How to Take a Company from Concept to Creation in 54 Hours

This book was a great representation of what I experienced at Startup Weekend when I won the gaming vertical in Mega Startup Weekend.  There is only one thing they don’t really talk about, and that is how the people you meet and get along with in 54 hours may not be people you get along with in longer term settings.  In my case it was a little bit of that combined with the person I started the weekend with not putting me as a founder, but as the first employee.  It was a little disheartening; especially since he didn’t officially tell me that until nearly a month and a half later.  I did learn a ton in the experience, both worldly knowledge and technical skills.  I might even go to another startup weekend event.

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The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups

I really like the story of this book, but was expecting more of a how to than a long narrative.  There was a ton of advice that came from lots of sources in the book, but none of it was distilled to be useful directly in my situation.  I think I’d like to give applying to Y-Combinator another go for the upcoming session, but I’m not sure if any of the people I would want to work with are up for that kind of adventure and life investment.

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The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career

This book had a lot of good points around self improvement being the driving factor of life.  It also made the point that money should not be an end goal.  Money is purely a means to other items.  That mantra is in line with one of my personal mantras; it is the use and experience of something that gives it value, ownership or control are simply easy ways to get use.  I’m already doing most of what the book recommends, but I should be networking a good deal more.  I certainly have enough friends in interesting groups and companies that could introduce me to more interesting people.  I have been ok at keeping in touch with my friends and acquaintances, but haven’t used them for introductions as much as I could.

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Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change

This book had some really amazing points about the processes behind phsychological treatments and practices.  The best of which is how they don’t tend to follow the scientific practice, and how anyone can spout nonsense and get others to pick it up.  This was especially well demonstrated by the best seller “The Secret.”  In The Secret the reader is told that things are attracted to you when you think about them, which is absurd and doesn’t go into edge cases well.  The best way in my understanding to know if some process is real or fake is if the edge cases are appreciably addressed.  There is also the double blind controlled study, but that is hard to come by when dealing with people.

One of the things I’m taking away from this is that determining the story one thinks about oneself can drastically change the way one behaves.  This mantra can be applied to myself, or I can work on others by trying to change their story.  I do all the time with Steph to help her see how amazing she really is; that cute, ninja, scuba, sailor, geeky, robot-making, adventurous, kind woman.

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The Lean Startup

This is a book about how to focus on what matters in a Startup.  It also changes the definition of startup to include groups inside of larger companies.  The processes that it describes touch on several of the books I’ve read before, such as the Toyota Way.  I think that the learning that I got at Zynga are very heavily along the lines of this book, with some important differences.  The data driven approach is certainly a halmark of the Zynga approach.  I hope to have tighter feedback loops, and that means getting things exposed to people that can give the feedback.  I will try to keep myself focused on what will matter both long term and short term, and reconcile those as needed.

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