book review # 35 The power of habit

Book Review # 35 The Power of Habit

20130721_155226

I have been collecting books since I was a boy, I have literally thousands of books where I kept in my library,  my storage room, my bed room, my bath room, my car and my office. My books ranged from fiction to phycology, from history to art.

After years of reading, I developed this ability that can the quality of the books. I classfied it in the following groups

  • bad books :
  • good books :
  • great books :
  • must read books:  books that after the last page, I have to call my local bookstores to order more copies to my family and friends.

This book is in the last group. It’s a must read, I only encounter less than 20 books in my life that is this good. Used it properly, it might change your life.

This is definitely not a self-help book although it did suggest some of the method to solve the problem in your life. This is more like a text book but a fun one. ( I only wish most text books are this fun). It’s a book about human behavior and the answer to why we do things we didn’t want to and how can we do things we wanted to more often. You see….it’s habit

Because we have a complex life, our brain needs to reserve the capability to higher cognition activities, therefore it has to assign some kind of a pattern to govern our daily routine without much of an effort. This comes…yep… habit.

Studies shows that we only make a “real” decision about 10% of a time, the rest we leave to our old and faithful friend …habit.

The thing is that habit can be either good or bad. It didn’t take sides but when it sticks it will definite drive you lower or higher depends on what habit it is.

This book will give you a tour to your own brain in a very scientific manner, studies after studies will be shown as an evidence how the habit is form and stick to us like a glue. Thanks to the advancement of MRI & neuroscience technology, we can now study more about how our brain works in the manner that we can only imagine 10 years ago.

This book will give you a clear answer to two of a very important questions as follows:

– Why people do things that they know it’s bad for them but they can’t seems to resist it such as drinking alcohol or gambling (there is one example of gambler that literally self-destroy her family without any intention to do it… it quite astonishing but today we are quite certain about the process that make this kind of things happen. ). It’s because they  have “habitized” the bad habit in to their daily life.

  • Why successful people seems to be so natural at it. They didn’t seems to put any effort in it. It’s because they have “habitized” their successful factor into their daily life. For instance, the book will explain why Michael Phelps is so good at swimming and what really makes him number one. What did his coach changes for his routine.

There are so many good example in this book that I really can’t write it all here but I can give you my favorite, the Alcoa case. It talked about how Paul O’Neil (later names Secretary of the Treasury in the Bush’s administration) has turn around Alcoa is the most astonishing way. I was very inspired by this case I decide to adapt and implement similar method in my own company.

Another example I like is how successful alcoholic become sober for the rest of his/her life.  It’s also came from understand how habit works and why they are an alcoholic in the first place.

The movement that changes the world like the one Dr Martin Luther King’s Jr. did also come from the implementation of habit in a group of population and how it reaches the point where critical mass kicks in.

And of course, the book did mention how to attack bad habit and start a good habit. This is where it’s divide success and failure in life. One good habit will leads to another good habit for instance people who starts exercise regularly have a tendency to eat healthier, spend less money, sleep better and work better. This one good habit alone can and will change a person’s life.

We all have bad habits, it’s getting rid of some of them. This book will enlighten you how you can do it.

This is a 10/10 book thus go get at least one copy and who knows it might changes your life.

Advertisements

Book Review # 35 The Power of Habit

Book Review # 35 The Power of Habit

Image

I have been collecting books since I was a boy, I have literally thousands of books where I kept in my library,  my storage room, my bed room, my bath room, my car and my office. My books ranged from fiction to phycology, from history to art.

After years of reading, I developed this ability that can the quality of the books. I classfied it in the following groups

  • bad books :
  • good books :
  • great books :
  • must read books:  books that after the last page, I have to call my local bookstores to order more copies to my family and friends.

This book is in the last group. It’s a must read, I only encounter less than 20 books in my life that is this good. Used it properly, it might change your life.

This is definitely not a self-help book although it did suggest some of the method to solve the problem in your life. This is more like a text book but a fun one. ( I only wish most text books are this fun). It’s a book about human behavior and the answer to why we do things we didn’t want to and how can we do things we wanted to more often. You see….it’s habit

Because we have a complex life, our brain needs to reserve the capability to higher cognition activities, therefore it has to assign some kind of a pattern to govern our daily routine without much of an effort. This comes…yep… habit.

Studies shows that we only make a “real” decision about 10% of a time, the rest we leave to our old and faithful friend …habit.

The thing is that habit can be either good or bad. It didn’t take sides but when it sticks it will definite drive you lower or higher depends on what habit it is.

This book will give you a tour to your own brain in a very scientific manner, studies after studies will be shown as an evidence how the habit is form and stick to us like a glue. Thanks to the advancement of MRI & neuroscience technology, we can now study more about how our brain works in the manner that we can only imagine 10 years ago.

This book will give you a clear answer to two of a very important questions as follows:

– Why people do things that they know it’s bad for them but they can’t seems to resist it such as drinking alcohol or gambling (there is one example of gambler that literally self-destroy her family without any intention to do it… it quite astonishing but today we are quite certain about the process that make this kind of things happen. ). It’s because they  have “habitized” the bad habit in to their daily life.

  • Why successful people seems to be so natural at it. They didn’t seems to put any effort in it. It’s because they have “habitized” their successful factor into their daily life. For instance, the book will explain why Michael Phelps is so good at swimming and what really makes him number one. What did his coach changes for his routine.

There are so many good example in this book that I really can’t write it all here but I can give you my favorite, the Alcoa case. It talked about how Paul O’Neil (later names Secretary of the Treasury in the Bush’s administration) has turn around Alcoa is the most astonishing way. I was very inspired by this case I decide to adapt and implement similar method in my own company.

Another example I like is how successful alcoholic become sober for the rest of his/her life.  It’s also came from understand how habit works and why they are an alcoholic in the first place.

The movement that changes the world like the one Dr Martin Luther King’s Jr. did also come from the implementation of habit in a group of population and how it reaches the point where critical mass kicks in.

And of course, the book did mention how to attack bad habit and start a good habit. This is where it’s divide success and failure in life. One good habit will leads to another good habit for instance people who starts exercise regularly have a tendency to eat healthier, spend less money, sleep better and work better. This one good habit alone can and will change a person’s life.

We all have bad habits, it’s getting rid of some of them. This book will enlighten you how you can do it.

This is a 10/10 book thus go get at least one copy and who knows it might changes your life.

Book Review # 34 How Stella Saved the Farm

Book Review # 34 How Stealla Saved The Farm

Image
This book has a particular angle that I like, it’s make relative difficult story to be very easy to comprehend. By using an actual story with each character represented by an animal, it’s kind of making you  grasp the concept of the story fast. That is, of course, comparing people’s characters with animal’s characters are very easy to understand. After all, in a split second, all of us can categorize our bosses as a bull, a horse, a shark or a cow, am I right?

This story telling is a very clever way of explaining things and it also makes the business book much easier to read. I would guess that anyone can go through this book in about an hour and a half which is relatively short for this kind of book.

Now, this book only focuses on one thing i.e. how to make innovation happens when you need it and how to manage changes that come with the innovation itself. My company happens to be in this very innovative stage with a very big challenges like how can we triple our sales and profit in two years. We all understand that with big innovation always come big risks and  this book kind of help to pinpoint what risk can be mitigated.

Strangely, most of the risk come from the place we rarely look (isn’t it always the case?)
I sum up my thoughts on the book in to this one little page where I actually take it in to real action

Image

What you really need to know is that “idea is free” and it’s just the beginning of everything. I saw a lot of start-ups that come up with the good idea and they thought that 90% of the job in done. Na dah, it always not the case (unless you do the “hit and run” business”). The process of methodological the idea and put in to places is actually much more complicated than most people think. Like the wise man said, the devil is in the detail.

One thing I totally agree with the book is that the fastest way to build an innovation in the company is to have a dedicated team looking after it. I prefer to call it “a start-up team” because if you think about it, no matter how established the company is, the innovation team will always go through the situation of a start-ups. Therefore, in order to achieve the innovation, they should have the start-up spirits and the start-up freedom (and as well as constraints).

Another important idea, we do not evaluate the success of the innovation team as the usual on-going business team i.e. the short team net profit can’t be used in this context. What is more appropriate is “discipline experiment” where we stated the hypothesis, predict what will happen, measure results and assess lesson learned by comparing the prediction with the actual outcome. The performances of the term will be evaluated based on whether or not the team executed a disciplined experiment.

To summarize, it’s a good a very concise book that should be helping anyone who is looking to manage the innovation in their company.

9/10

Cheers

Book Review # 33 The Pumpkin Plan

Book Review # 33 The Pumpkin Plan

Image

Yesterday morning, I was reading this book while listening to Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable  album vinyl from a 50 years old restored turntable and suddenly I realized the design of life like the design music is a marathon not a sprint. Nat King Cole’s songs has proved that.

Anyway, I pick this book out of the shelf at AsiaBooks mainly from it’s title and my curiosity towards it. It’s seems to be my lucky day again because this book is soooo good. I finish the whole book in one day, yep, that’s how good it is.

Like any other good books, it didn’t give you the perfect recipes  to help you building a multimillion dollar businesses (which can definitely can’t be obtain through books) but it merely give the “idea” or the “seed” of the idea that with the right nurturing method, it will grow prosperous results.

This book comes with a lot of attitude which happens to fit me. Some of you that read this book might found it offend but keep in mind that we read it to be a guideline if you don’t like the concept, don’t implement it.

The main theme of the book are based on the idea that the “mindset roadmap” is much more important to the success of a company than the actual hard work itself. It’s means that you do not need to pull of that 24/7 stunt to be success. By all means, if you are doing the 24/7 stunt, it’s  very likely that you are doing something wrong. Like I always mentioned, most of the startups still having hard time differentiate business owner from self-employed.  This book will help guiding the direction in a step by step with examples on how and what should be done. If all steps are implemented successfully, you will be able to reach the entrepreneurship liberation (one of my favorite word of all time) i.e. you will exit the world of rat race forever.

The book give out tons of examples which is always good in all type of business books. It’s make things easier to digest.

First part focuses on the important of top shelf clients and how to identify them. Also, how to get rid of the life-sucking-no-profit clients as well. My personal warning, the first 50 pages might be a bit boring but it gets much more interesting after that. This is quite a unique characteristics for this book because normally it works the other way around.

Through the middle section of the book, it’s lay out more on strategy that should be put in place in your company, nothing fancy or technical just plain old mindset roadmap. In my opinion, most of us these days can let the simple basic truth slip our mind because we are trying to focus on something too complicated …. way too complicated. This simple strategy is a good reminder of what we should really be focusing on.

Let me put one example I really like from the book :

Let’s pretend your lifelong dream is to open a restaurant. You have always been known among family and friends for you culinary artistry. This is your chance to show the world. Put on that apron and pour yourself a drink. This in one way to pumpkin Plan your industry.

You run a restaurant that specializes in gourmet comfort food, the stuff your grandma used to make. You thought you’d be packing ’em in, every table booked with people dying for Granny’s Goulash. But instead, you’re competing with ten other restaurants in a two-block radius…. and not very well. Even though you almost always have empty tables, you’re working 19-hours days and borrowing money from your mom to adversities in the local Pennysaver. 

You start with your assessment chart, basing it on the twenty customers you see most often. The Andersons, Blaine and Charlotte, come in three nights a week with their five kids–they’re so obnoxious, you waitstaff plays rock-paper-scisscors to see who serve them. Bill and Steve, the lawyers, bring in the clients for lunch nearly every weekday, dropping more on booze than they do on food. And of course there’s Mrs. Trumper, the sweet old lady who shows up every Tuesday and Friday at four-thirty for an early bird discount (you don’t have one)  and always send her food back three times. Filling out your list and the three theater couples, the six entrepreneurs who frequently bring in prospects, and handful of couples who come out every Saturday for date night.

After you fill out the assessment chart, you know which customers make your life hell (hello, Andersons) and cost you money (talkin’ to you, Trumpet), so you cut them loose. Since it’s against the law to deny someone service just because you don’t like them, you’ve you to figure out what would make them want to stop coming to your restaurant. 

You’ve had enough of broken glass, crayoned walls and noisy kids, and you’ve figured out that it’s not just the Andersons who have to go- it’s all families with kids. It’s not that families with kids are bad thing (you have two kids yourself, after all), it’s that families with kids are scaring away big money clients who want your restaurant to be a mini-vacation – delicious food couples with sophisticated  conversations. 

Since you usually don’t have much business before 8.00 pm you change your hours, opening for dinner at 7:00 instead of 5:00, well after parents are giving their precious bundles a bath. (Sneaky, but effective.) You get rid of the kid’s menu and ban stroller from the restaurant (Bold. Very Bold) Sure you are going to catch hell on the mommy blogs and forums, but you don’t want them there anyway, right? The Andersons are pissed, but they get over it, and move on to bug your main competition, two doors down. 

And because you changed your hours, Mrs Trumpet hates you. She’ll “never eat in your establishment again.” Thuchdown! Your waitstaff is so happy, they buy you the cheesy “#1 Boss” mugs, high-five you a lot and vow not to use real scissors for rock-paper-scissors ever again. 

You look at all expense related to serving families you stop ordering frozen chicken and fries, eliminated your crayons budget, watch you linen cleaning bill plummet, and stop running ad on local parenting rag. (Now that you’ve not borrowing money from her to pay for ads, Mom loves you too.) Since you no longer have to make room for strollers and high chairs, you add a few more tables to bring in more revenue. Nice.

Now that you have eliminated the group that bugs you the most and pays you the least, you can focus on your top clients. You decide that Bill and Steve were best clients ever, and the entrepreneurs are a close second. So you decide to focus on professionals entertaining clients. The next time Bill and Steve come in, you go up their table and ask if you could sit with them for ten minutes. (Your missions: get their wish list.) 

You ask, “What d you wish all restaurants would do for you? How can we make your experiences here perfect?” You gave them a few ideas to get them comfortable with the idea that they can ask. “ For example, would you like to ability to set up an account, or make spacial request for wine or food?” You get their pet peeves about your industry. “What frustrated you most about restaurants?” 

And this is where big, shocking, totally unexpected discovery were made. Bill and Steve point out that a lot of business discussions and sales go down in your restaurant. They prefer to meet clients at your restaurant because the food is great the location is ideal. They tell you that when they’re eating in your restaurant, they are almost always on the clock. The problem is, their clients frequently step away to answer their cell phones, and when they do, Bill and Steve are off the clock. 

This is when they let you in on their big wish: could you make the restaurant a cell-phone-free zone? You tell them it’s a great idea, you’ll put up a sign the next day, and of course you get right on over-delivering on that promise. When Bill and Steve come in again, they notice the “No Cell Phones” sign on the door, and smile. They’re happy. You listened. You care. You want to help them put money in their pockets/ 

But you’ve also come up with a genius idea. You tell Bill and Steve that you’ve installed a device that jam cell-phone signals, so even if the clients disregard the “No Cell Phones” sign, they still won’t get calls at the table. Genius! Bill and Steve are thoroughly impressed–after all, you just boosted their billable time, big time. You went above and beyond them; they are customers for life. 

You know asking for clients referrals is not often fruitful. So next, you ask for vendor referrals to other hospitality providers Bill and Steve love to use. One of the referrals you get is for a limousine company, Bob’s elite car service. You call Bob and ask him for a meeting to brainstorm ways you can help serve your mutual clients better. 

Bob mentions that he has a car drop off a client at your place at least once a week. You had no idea. You start asking any and every question on how to make hid job easier. 

“Do you need spacial parking spot? Do your drivers need a heads-up from one of our servers when Bill and Steve are about to pay the check, so your drivers can “magically” show up just as the client walks out the door? Would you like a little table in the kitchen so your drivers can grab a bite while they’re waiting? Would it help if we have a to-go cup of coffee or bottle of water for them?”

Bob has been in business for more than 25 years now, and he has never had anyone offer to help in the way you are. Not even close. 

Now you and Bob are best friends, so Bob tells all of his drivers to recommend your restaurant to their high profile clients looking for a restaurant. Suddenly you’re pack with men and women in suits, ringing up big checks while they wine and dine clients over Grandma’s Goulash. See how that works? 

This example might be a bit extreme on the cell phone part but I think it really works!

Keep it plain, simple and bold

Towards the end of the book, we learn more on the integration of the whole method and how to keep repeating it for the next business. This is really important because once you have fine the method you should be able to use it again and again. It’s what’s we called a scalable business model.

This part also talk about the disruptive thinking method which is very similar to model created by Luke Williams. You can more about it in detail from the book called “Disrupt” which is another very good book.

Don’t let the pumpkin graphic on the cover or the name fooled you, I  believe that the idea behind this book is really a powerful one. Strongly recommended for business transformation.

9.5/10

Book Review # 32 The Lean Start Up

Book Review # 32 The Lean Start Up

Image

This is probably one of the most popular book in the start-up community. If you recalled, we just actually using “start-ups” terminology not long ago in Thailand. While most people might familiar with “start-ups” in the sense of “tech start-ups”, I like to think that all kind of start up in kind of the same. In the past two years, we are getting more and more familiar with co-working spaces, incubator, startup week-end, VC, echelon etc. which are a strong signal that Thai’s start up eco system is now established

So many people want to have their own business especially the younger generations of our society. However, most people end up with being self-employed not business owner. The major different between these twos are the mindset of the leader of the firm which needs to be established from the early days of business incubation.

This is relatively an easy book to read with simple language and examples. The name kind of suggests it all, when you want to grow fast and strong, you need to be “lean”. Because start-ups deal with tons of uncertainty and eat scarcity of resources for breakfast, ability to adapt is crucial. How can you adapt if you are too fat?

Therefore, start-ups need to put the lean mindset into every aspects of their operations especially the product development stage, the book refer to this mindset as “Build-Measure-Learn” concept with the emphasis on doing everything fast by trying to avoid being “too fast” i.e. jump in without a plan or being “too perfect” i.e. try to come up with a perfect plan. All these while using minimum requirement of resource.

One big mistake that start-ups often do is  trying to adopt a methodological of a major conglomerate into their company. It simply won’t work because the structure is vastly different. Successful start-ups way have it’s dynamic bizarre way of building their business.

Established firm can also use a start-ups mind set and most of the time it work very well because if done right, they will have both advantages of start-ups and established firm. The easiest way of doing this is setting up a dedicated team inside the established company. My company is currently adopt this experiment as well.

Not the best book in this area but still a must read for start-ups!

8.5/10

Cheers

book review # 31 ความสำเร็จไม่มีข้อยกเว้น : ดร.สุรินทร์ พิศสุวรรณ

book review # 31 ความสำเร็จไม่มีข้อยกเว้น :  ดร.สุรินทร์ พิศสุวรรณ

photo

 

 

โดยปรกติผมจะไม่อ่านหนังสือแนวที่มีเรื่องเกี่ยวข้องกับนักการเมืองหรือเขียนโดยคนที่เคยทำงานการเมืองเพราะโดยส่วนตัวเป็นคนกลุ่มประเภท”เบื่อการเมืองไทย”มาก แต่หนังสือเล่มนี้ได้รับคำแนะนำจากน้องคนหนึ่งบอกว่าดีมากเลยต้องลองซักหน่อย

 

ปรากฏว่า

 

เป็นหนังสือเพียงไม่กี่เล่มที่เคยอ่านมาแล้วต้องอ่านรวดเดียวจบแบบไม่วาง ชนิดทานข้าวไปก็ต้องอ่านไปด้วยเพราะเขียนได้สนุก ลึกซึ้ง และทรงพลังอย่างยิ่ง

 

แม้หน้าปกที่อาจจะดูจืดชืด(มาก) แต่ตัวหนังสืออัดแน่นไปด้วยเรื่องราวของ ดร. สุรินทร์ พิศสุวรรณ ตั้งแต่ชีวิตของเด็กบ้านนอกที่เดินเท้าเปล่าไปโรงเรียน ผสมผสานเรื่องราวและแนวคิดของศาสนาพุทธและอิสลาม เรื่องราวของความขัดแย้้งทางความคิดของคนสองรุ่น ฯลฯ

 

…..เรื่องของชีวิตเด็กธรรมดาๆที่ไม่ได้เกินมาบนกองเงินกองทอง….

 

แต่ด้วยแรงผลักดันอันแรงกล้าทำให้ท่านไปจบการศึกษาปริญญาเอกจากมหาวิทยาลัยอันดับของโลกอย่าง Harvard มาได้ การเข้ามหาวิทยาลัยอย่าง Harvard ได้นั้นสำหรับคนที่มีพื้นฐานอย่างท่านในช่วงวัยเด็กดูจะเป็นเรื่องที่ไกลเกินฝันแต่ท่านก็ทำสำเร็จจนได้

 

แต่นั้นเป็นเพียงแค่จุดเริ่มต้นเท่านั้น เรื่องราวอื่นที่ท่านจะได้อ่านในหนังสือนี้เป็นการใช้ภาษาที่มีมิติมากและผมไม่ค่อยได้เห็นในหนังสือไทยของนักเขียนไทยเท่าไร (จริงๆหนังสือของนักเชียนต่างชาติก็มีไม่เยอะที่ใช้มิติได้ดีขนาดเล่มนี้) ต้องชมทั้งผู้เขียนและผู้เรียบเรียงว่าทำออกมาได้ดีเหลือเกิน เรื่องราวไม่เหย่อหยิ่งและเต็มแนวคิดคมๆแทบทุกหน้า มีทั้งเรื่องหลักคิดของท่านที่ต้องการพัฒนาประเทศ ทำงานเพื่อพัฒนามนุษยชาติ และแนวคิดเรื่องจิตสาธารณะที่เป็นมุมที่ลึกซึ้งกว่าที่ผมเคยเห็นทั่วๆไป

 

นอกเหนือจากนี้หนังสือยังได้แทรกเกร็ดความรู้เรื่องการเจรจาทางการทูตและเบื้องหลังของงานของรัฐว่ากว่าจะเป็นอย่างที่เราเห็นกันในฉากหน้าตามข่าวนั้น เบื้องหลังต้องมีการต่อสู้กันดุเดือดขนาดไหน

 

สรุปเลยละกัน..    ไปซื้อมาอ่านนะครับ

 

แล้วท่านจะพบว่า

 

“ความสำเร็จไม่มีข้อยกเว้น” …..อย่างที่ท่านว่าไว้จริงๆ

 

9.8/10

 

Book Review # 30 : Clean

Book review# 30 Clean

Book Review # 30 : Clean
Just to make it clear, this is not the book for diet or weight control. It’s the book that intends to change your eating habit and relationship with your food. The goal is to transform your eating perspective completely.
After reading this book and try some of its method, I suddenly realized that my relationship with food is more important than I think. The following sentence from the book actually explains the whole concept.
“You are what you eat and you eat what you are”
The first part of “ you are what you eat” is quite straightforward and familiar. I grew up listening to this phrase all the time. However, I still eat bad food even though I know it’s unhealthy. The reason is I can’t fight the “craving”. Whenever, I go into diet program it seems like tons of effort has to be put in. My body actually “wants” the bad food but can’t eat it because I’m on a diet. Sounds familiar?
Here comes the second part that will explain the first part,
“you eat what you are”
This phase is not so common to me. Actually, I think I never heard it before I read this book. Explained in detail in the book is how the chemical in our body reacts to cravings. Basically, if you train yourself by putting in fat and unhealthy food you will crave for more fat and unhealthy food. Your body actually “wants” the unhealthy food.
On the opposite side, if you train yourself to eat healthy food. Your body will be craving for healthy food. You will actually “wants” to eat healthy and believe when it’s come to food, “want to” is much different from “have to”.
It might be difficult to believe but you can actually crave for broccoli instead of french fries.
The book will give you how you will be able to change eating habit completely and what will happen to your body and mind.
I have personally tried some of the methods in this book. Within less than a month, these are the things that happen to me :
  • I have much more energy, I no longer feel lack of energy and sleepy during the afternoon
  • My concentration is at all time high
  • I no longer have sleepless nights
  • I no longer suffer from GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease)
  • I lose 5 kg
  • My skin condition is improving magically without using any cosmetics
My relationship with food has evolved to the level that sugary donuts don’t seem attractive  to me anymore. All the carving for fatty food suddenly disappears. When there is a sugary stuff in front of me, I no longer “want” to eat it.
The routine is quite simple, apart from vegetable juice I ate before meals, I just avoid three whites which are white sugar, white flour and white rice (and all of its byproducts). It might seem a bit difficult to follow the routine at first but once you’d get everything settled, good things come naturally. You will not want to get back to your old eating habit again.
If you believe that a healthy mind stays in a healthy body, this is definitely the book for you.
9/10
Cheers