At the end of the year like this [2017, 2018], I put together a list of some of the most helpful content I came across during the year, I hope you find a thing or two that’s helpful. This list is a stripped-down version of a monthly newsletter on the most helpful/interesting things I come across every month, I started this about a year ago.

Keeping this list has helped me reflect on what I found most helpful and how it helped me, whilst also, making it easier for me to revisit it when I need to.

You should try keeping a list like this.

 

January

Books 

 Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly and her talks on vulnerability and shame,

Creative Selection: A former Apple employee offers a front-row view of how Apple fuses technology and liberal arts to create brilliant stuff.

Note: This not your typical Apple fanboy book.

Risk and Return: It’s been a long while since I missed my bus stop but I did that while reading Risk and Return, a delightful read, genuine and relatable story.

 I do not come to you by chance was a beautiful read about advanced fee fraud in Nigeria, so much sadness reading this but I liked it.

Articles, a Twitter Thread and a short film

Recently, a lot of media companies have laid off their staff, here’s a Twitter thread on the decline of newspapers.

Everyone has to have tough conversations, here are 4 Things to Do Before a Tough Conversation.

Wait! Maybe waiting isn’t such a bad idea in a world that prioritizes moving fast over waiting, I found Jason’s experiment of puting on some wait appealing.

I’ve been an avid fan of psychology today for years, their write up on Twelve Crucial Agreements That Nurture Intimacy clarity.

Imagine a world where there are no student loans, No Tuition, but You Pay a Percentage of Your Income (if You Find a Job), Lambda school is quite an outlier, perhaps the future of education?

There’s a lot of advice out there on being more creative, Havard Business Review has something good on How to Be Creative on Demand

How many films have you seen this year? I’ve seen 4 and that doesn’t include this award-winning 9 mins short film on YouTube I loved.

 

February

Books

My favourite book in the whole world is A Love Worth Giving by Max Lucado, I got to read it again.
The Meaning of Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller. I haven’t stopped recommending this book since I picked it up.

From the Web

Why are you so afraid of subjective moral reasoning? — Q & A with Ravi

Why do you close your door at night?

God’s Sovereign Plans Behind Your Most Unproductive Days — Desiring God

We all have days when we feel like we didn’t do enough, this should help.

What If God Wants Me to Marry Someone Ugly? — Desiring God

I really liked the answer to this question, I somewhat didn’t expect it.

John and Julie Gottman, relationship psychologists answer questions on Valentine Day… — Reddit

A thread of Questions and answers about Relationships

Weird, or just different? — TED

You might start reconsidering a lot of things after seeing this talk. Hint: It’s only 2 minutes 42 seconds long

This man is trying to sue his parents for giving birth to him — Vox

Weird, funny or both.

Why do some intelligent people fail to achieve their potential? — Quora.com

“There is no heavier burden than a great potential.” 

 

March & April

Books

Dare to Lead — Brené Brown

Perennial Seller — Ryan Holiday

Brand Thinking and other noble pursuits — Debbie Millman

From the web

Simon Sinek Infinite games

Simon Sinek gets you rethinking what it means to be successful in business and how businesses are run

The 3 most effective ways to build trust as a leader — Claire Lewis

How do you build trust as a leader? The answer seems intuitive enough.

The Internet Has Massively Broadened Career Possibilities — Naval

Now that’s not to say that what you build will be the next Facebook, or reach billions of users, but if you just want to reach 50,000 passionate people like you, there’s an audience out there for you.

God Will Provide the Ability You Need — Desiring God

God gave Moses the abilities he personally lacked in the form of other able people. He expanded the “you shall make” into “they shall do.” An impossible job just became more possible.

On feeling incompetent — Seth Godin

A short piece that should get you inspired.

“At some point, grown-ups get tired of the feeling that accompanies growth and learning.

We start calling that feeling, “incompetence.”

The Science Behind “I’m Sorry”: Why to Say It, and How — Craig Dowden

We all like to think that we’re great at apologizing, but the truth is that most of us are terrible at it. Yet mastering this deep and ancient skill can have a profound effect on our relationships.

The Secrets to Designing a Curiosity-Driven Career — Firstround.com

As you set out in your career, let curiosity be your guide. You’ll never know where it might lead you, but that’s the thrill — it empowers you to explore possibilities beyond what you could have imagined.

When God Does the Miracle We Didn’t Ask For — Desiring God

“It’s not about getting what I want. It’s about God giving me what I desperately need: himself.”

 

May

Books

Autobiography of George Mueller: One of the best books I’ve read this year, a simple diary-like account of how George Mueller built an orphanage and relied on God to meet his needs.

The Ultimate Remote Guide by Zapier- A short account of how Zapier runs its remote team.

The Virgin way by Richard BransonA leadership book by someone who never read any leadership book.

The Intentional Accountant by M. Darren Root — Once in a while I read books related to accounting, this was another great one about building a 21st-century accounting firm.

From the Web

REDEF ORIGINAL: ‘Quality’ Is a Distraction — If It Exists at All (Netflix Misunderstandings, Pt. 6)
This would change the way you think about TV content
Few people know about encoding, 5G or derivatives — but everyone has opinions on TV and film; it’s the most intensely and widely consumed medium on the planet. And given the opportunity, few can resist weighing in.

What’s the Problem with Masculinity? — Mark Manson

Why are the Worst People in Human History Almost Always Men?

Let’s Rumble — Brené Brown

Open hearts and open minds are critical if we want to be brave. Remember, it’s not fear that gets in the way of courage — it’s armour. It’s the way we self-protect, shut down, and start posturing when we’re in fear.

How to Start a Speech — Video (~9 mins)

What are the first words of a speech? What should be the first sentence of a speech? How can you engage an audience from the first moment? There are 3 ways to start a speech.

If the Key to Business Success Is Focus, Why Does Amazon Work? — Podcast

Amazon is into dozens of industries including web services, grocery, online video streaming, content creation and physical bookstores. What’s the big plan? Is the company spread too thin, or poised for astronomical success?

 

June

Books

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World — David Epstein

A brilliant case for starting out ‘late’ and having multiple skillsets. The book came along just at the right time for me.

Everyone acknowledges that great progress is made at the interface, but who is there to defend the interface?

Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Big Thing for Businesses — Paul Jarvis

Not everything has to grow big. The point of being a company of one is to become better in ways that don’t incur the typical setbacks of growth. You can scale up revenue, enjoyment, raving fans, autonomy and experiences while resisting the urge to blindly scale up employee payroll, expenses, and stress levels.

Intercom on

Intercom on Starting Up, Intercom on Customer Engagement, Intercom on Jobs-to-be-Done, Intercom on Marketing, The Growth Handbook

I was on a roll here, discovered intercom had many books for free so I started reading and couldn’t stop. Learnt a thing or two from there. The concept of Jobs-to-be-Done was probably the most striking thing I learnt.

From the Web

These Seven Emotions Aren’t Deadly — They’re Your Secret Career Superpowers

“Part of the reason why emotions have such a bad reputation is that we’ve tried to keep them out of the workplace for so long. We suppress everything we feel, which means we don’t resolve issues while they’re still manageable. Instead, our feelings fester. That means the only forms of emotional expression we see in the workplace are someone yelling at a report or breaking down in tears — these very intense, unproductive outbursts,”

My Loss From My Side ~ Anthony Joshua — Video

I learnt more about Anthony Joshua from his first loss than all his wins.

The making of Amazon Prime, the internet’s most successful and devastating membership program

It’s easy to forget now, but Amazon wasn’t always the king of online shopping…

And Jeff blurted out the name. He said, “We’ll call it Prime.”

20 Signs You’re Emotionally Mature — Video (~8 mins)

When Do You Know You Are Emotionally Mature?

The case for bootstrapping w/Mailchimp’s Ben Chestnut — Podcast

“I wanted to build something that would empower small businesses.”

 

July

Books

This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See — Seth Godin

Seth Godin’s most recent book — He’s gone beyond tactics to talking Big Picture.

“Marketers make change happen: for the smallest viable market, and by delivering anticipated, personal, and relevant messages that people actually want to get.”

“Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem.”

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love — Sue Johnson

When farnamstreet said it’s the best relationship book he has read yet then I knew I had to read it and it was worth every minute spent. You can listen to this podcast where she talks about a few ideas from the book.

“Understanding our longing for love and how love works is crucial if we want to shape a world that allows those longings to be answered and reflects the best of our nature.”

Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness (Great Lives From God’s word) — Charles Swindoll

Charles Swindoll does a fantastic commentary on the life of Joseph, drawing parallels with other historical figures and bringing out lessons I never saw before.

“God does not pay at the end of every day, but at the end, He pays” St. Anne of Austria

From the Web

Should You Always Strive to Work at the Most ‘Prestigious’ Places? — NY Times

The strongest opportunities for development aren’t always in the most influential place. They’re in the place where you can be the most influential, where you can accumulate skills and social capital.

Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think — The Atlantic

The biggest mistake professionally successful people make is attempting to sustain peak accomplishment indefinitely, trying to make use of the kind of fluid intelligence that begins fading relatively early in life. This is impossible. The key is to enjoy accomplishments for what they are in the moment, and to walk away perhaps before I am completely ready — but on my own terms.

What to Do When You’re Caught in a Lie (Even an Unintentional One) — Harvard Business Review

Think about the last time you lied at work. Did you feel overlooked or unfairly judged by your boss? Did you fear your mistake would be more harshly criticized than warranted? Do you think your company’s “we learn from mistakes” slogan applied only to “the favorites,” and not to you? Or were you reacting to a larger organizational issue?

Unwanted Roles — Is your job turning into something you don’t want? — Dear HBR (Podcast)

Dear HBR was one of the best podcasts I discovered last month, bright minds giving different perspectives on work-related issues.

They talk through what to do when your boss gives you duties you dislike, your company is grooming you for roles you can’t see yourself in, or you’ve been offered a different job than the one you applied for.

Principal-Agent Problem: Act Like an Owner — Video

Finally, if you’re in a role where you’re an agent — you’re an employee — then your most important job is to think like a principal. The more you can think like a principal, the better off you’re going to be long-term. Train yourself how to think like a principal, and eventually, you will become a principal.

 

August

Books

Financial Stewardship: Experience the Freedom of Turning Your Finances Over to God — Andrew Wommack

It’s been a while I’ve read a book on finances more so a Christian book, I’d easily say it’s the best book regarding prosperity & finances I’ve read recently.

The Mom Test: How to talk to customers & learn if your business is a good idea when everyone is lying to you — Rob Fitzpatrick

I learnt how to get feedback from people with less bias, I learnt better ways to talk to customers.

Get to the Point!: Sharpen Your Message and Make Your Words Matter — Joel Schwartzberg

A book on how to communicate better. A good reminder that communication would always be a work in progress.

The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help — Amanda Palmer

It took me two months to read this book because it’s longgg but it was worth it. I first saw Amanda Palmer’s TED talk a few years ago and had her book in mind. A generous work that has made me more comfortable about asking.

Those who ask without fear learn to say two things, with or without words, to those they are facing: I deserve to ask and You are welcome to say no.

Because the ask that is conditional cannot be a gift.

From the Web

Accept The Awkwardness: How To Make Friends (And Keep Them)

“Do the things you’re passionate about and you will naturally draw people to you, and you’ll naturally connect with other people because you’ll be in the right place,”

The Ultimate Test of Emotional Maturity

“The mature know, and have made their peace with the idea, that being close to anyone will open them up to being hurt.”

Academia: An Outsider’s Perspective — Daniel Gross

Academia is like Twitter, except you can only get Likes from verified accounts. And, importantly, verified accounts are run by old people who aggressively defend their status turf and who can’t lose their magic status. Which brings us to tenure.

Side Project Marketing is the New King

Instead of setting a selfish goal like, “We need 1k unique visitors in 30 days,” we should ask ourselves, “How can we help 1k people? What can we give away that is related to our core business?”

Turn Short-Term Games Into Long-Term Games — Audio

Negotiations are won by who cares less…If you care more about something than the other person and they are taking advantage of you in a negotiation, your best option is to turn into a longterm game.

Privilege explained — Video

Privilege has nothing to do with anything you’ve done, it has nothing with the decisions you’ve made.

 

September

Books

Storytelling with Data — Nussbaumer Knaflic, Cole

In school, we learn a lot about language and math. On the language side, we learn how to put words together into sentences and into stories. With math, we learn to make sense of numbers. But it’s rare that these two sides are paired: no one teaches us how to tell stories with numbers. Adding to the challenge, very few people feel naturally adept in this space.

Love sense: The Revolutionary New Science of Romantic Relationships — Sue Johnson

We’ve long assumed that as we mature, we outgrow the need for the intense closeness, nurturing, and comfort we had with our caregivers as children and that as adults, the romantic attachments we form are essentially sexual in nature. This is a complete distortion of adult love.

Our need to depend on one precious other — to know that when we “call,” he or she will be there for us — never dissolves. In fact, it endures, as Bowlby put it, “from cradle to grave.” As adults, we simply transfer that need from our primary caregiver to our lover….Romantic love is not the least bit illogical or random. It is the continuation of an ordered and wise recipe for our survival.

One thing I’ve gotten from Sue Johnson’s books is a deeper understanding of the different influences and factors that drives human beings. For me, it’s more than just learning about romantic relationships.

The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World — Scott Hartley

The greatest threat is not technology; it is our prioritization of technology at the expense of other subjects, the liberal arts, and how we ask the big questions so that our tools are put to good use. We must nourish technology, not through exaltation, but by bringing to its development and application the diversity of thought.

You’ve often heard advises like “You should learn how to code or Tech is the future”, maybe it’s not entirely wrong but then sometimes it’s a bit too one sided. This book makes a fantastic point for Liberal arts students and why the future cannot rely only on the techies.

From the Web

No, I Shall Not Want: An Anthem for Everyday Anxieties

Imagine you wake up with an instinctive love for comfort. You just want to move from bed to office to couch to bed without interruptions. You can’t be bothered by other people today, especially the needy ones. You need more rest, more me time.

How to write great emails — and why it matters

Despite instant messaging apps and evolving communication tools, email isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the average professional still spend 28 per cent of their workday reading and replying to emails.

I need to re-read this till it becomes a part of me. It has very helpful tips.

Sorry for the Delayed Response — New Yorker

Oh, my God, so sorry. I’m finally responding to this e-mail that I fully intended to ignore forever because I realized that I need to ask you for a favour and I don’t want you to be holding an e-mail grudge against me.

This is a compilation of funny actual things people meant to say instead of the official “Sorry for the Delayed Response”

Why 2019 iPhone Event Was So Boring, and What True Innovation Is

So, if you really understand what innovation is, maybe you will not complain or make cheap comments anymore for the upcoming updates of iPhones, Pixels, and other hardware gadgets.

Are you one of those people that complain new phones aren’t innovative again or know someone who always says so, well maybe this would help.

The Sackler Family — A Secretive Billion Dollar Opioid Empire — Video

The drive market share domination is leading many businesses to cut corners irrespective of the effect it has on people. 💔

Vusi

I’ve been on a watching spree following the videos of Vusi Thembekwayo, a South African businessman and investor. His content is really good.

How to stop dreaming about your business & Get Out of the Starting… — I know the title looks cliche but he does offer some valid advice and new perspective comparing entrepreneurship to being in Prison.

How to create sustainable businesses that solve current realities — Businesses don’t compete with Businesses, Value Chain compete with Value Chain. First time I heard this and it has definitely given me a lot to think about.

How to Boost Sales — Everyone is selling something whether you know it or not.

 

October

Books

Anxious for Nothing — Max Lucado

So if God is in charge, why was Joseph in prison? Why is our friend’s marriage in disarray? Why does God permit challenges to come our way? Wouldn’t an almighty God prevent them?

How Happiness Happens — Max Lucado

Maybe it’s time to look at life differently. Make your happiness dependent on how others serve you, and you will always be disappointed. Find happiness in serving others, and . . . Well, you can complete the sentence.

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on It — Chris Voss

The book exposed me to a whole different way of negotiating, questioning what I already know, it’s based on psychology and understanding of normal human emotions. I’d have to practise this to find out if it works but I strongly sense it’s something different.

No” is the start of the negotiation, not the end of it. We’ve been conditioned to fear the word “No.” But it is a statement of perception far more often than of fact. It seldom means, “I have considered all the facts and made a rational choice.” Instead, “No” is often a decision, frequently temporary, to maintain the status quo. Change is scary, and “No” provides a little protection from that scariness.

When someone tells you “No,” you need to rethink the word in one of its alternatives — and much more real — meanings: I am not yet ready to agree; You are making me feel uncomfortable; I do not understand; I don’t think I can afford it; I want something else; I need more information, or I want to talk it over with someone else.

Maybe you should talk to someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed — Lori Gottlieb

It’s one of the best books I’ve read in the past year. I’d read it many times over because the lessons in it can’t be gotten all at once.

“But many people come to therapy seeking closure. Help me not to feel. What they eventually discover is that you can’t mute one emotion without muting the others. You want to mute the pain? You’ll also mute the joy.”

There’s no hierarchy of pain. Suffering shouldn’t be ranked, because pain is not a contest. Spouses often forget this, upping the ante on their suffering — I had the kids all day. My job is more demanding than yours. I’m lonelier than you are. Whose pain wins — or loses?

From the Web

Oprah Winfrey on Career, Life, and Leadership — Video

This interview with Oprah was very enlightening

“The way through the challenge is to stay still and ask yourself what is the next right move”

“All of your arguments are about 3 things:

Did you hear me? Did you see me? Did what I say mean anything to you?”

The Dog Who Learned to Cuddle

I woke up this morning spooning a 105-pound dog. That might not sound like a huge accomplishment, but for my fiancée and me, it’s the culmination of a year of hard work. Before she came to live with us, Teddy spent the first five months of her life abused and neglected or running feral. And that left her deathly afraid of human touch. This is how we taught her to love.

Getting Rich vs. Staying Rich

Abraham Germansky was a multimillionaire real estate developer in 1920s. He also loved stocks, betting heavily as the market boomed. As the crash of 1929 unfolded, he was wiped out.

How To Handle Other People’s Bad Moods Like a Pro

Instead of viewing someone’s bad mood as a problem to be fixed, what if you shifted your perspective and saw it as a puzzle instead?

How should a company share its values? — Simon Sinek — Video

Values are things we do. The values we share with our employees should be actionable.

Values should be verbs, not nouns.

For example:

Say “Always tell the truth” instead of “Honesty.”

“The 90 Day Test” for entrepreneurs — Vusi Thembakwo

Lessons around how to scale a business

 

November & December

Books

The Organised Mind: Thinking Straight in the age of information overload — Daniel J. Levitin

One of the best books I’ve come across this year, I need to read it again and again.

“As the old saying goes, a man with one watch always knows what time it is; a man with two watches is never sure.”

Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in Business — Aswath Damodaran

“We relate to and remember stories better than we do numbers, but storytelling can lead us into fantasyland quickly,”

The Autobiography of George Muller — George Muller

From the Web

How to Conduct an Annual Life Review That Will Catapult You into the New Year

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” Meg Wheatley

The Lesson to Unlearn

But wasting your time is not the worst thing the educational system does to you. The worst thing it does is to train you that the way to win is by hacking bad tests…If grades were merely a way for teachers to tell students what they were doing right and wrong, like a coach giving advice to an athlete, students wouldn’t be tempted to hack tests. But unfortunately after a certain age grades become more than advice…

Diversify Your Identity — Mark Manson — Pocket

We choose how we measure success and our self-worth, so it helps to have more than one source of validation in life.

Do You Really Need to Hold That Meeting?

A simple tool to help you decide on whether to have a meeting or not.

Trevor Noah Unpacks Religion, Societal Changes & Problematic Culture In America

Trevor Noah has a really intelligent conversation on a range of topics with the two presenters of the Breakfast show

Too many times, we’re pushing for Integration when what we’re struggling for is equal access to opportunities.

How to Make Wealth — Paul Graham

The ball you need to keep your eye on here is the underlying principle that wealth is what people want. If you plan to get rich by creating wealth, you have to know what people want.

How to Get Rich by Naval is also a worthy pair to with PG’s article

Is it worth being wise — Paul Graham

Whereas wisdom comes through humility, it may actually help, in cultivating intelligence, to have a mistakenly high opinion of your abilities, because that encourages you to keep working. Ideally, till you realize how mistaken you were.

How To Overcome Dread Tasks — Daniel Gross

You predict failure when you don’t understand what you need to do. Never, ever, ever have an ominous task on your list. Even “do my taxes” is too vague. How do you do that? Where do you get started?

 

2020

As always I’m learning to slow down; to take time to reflect on what I’ve learnt; to practise what I’ve learnt; to revisit previous stuff learnt; observe what’s happening around me — to put on some wait!

In 2020, I’m looking forward to doing more of reading more thought-provoking pieces and also writing essays on topics and themes that I see around/speak to me.

I look forward to keep curating and sharing what I find helpful.

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