Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reading and Writing

It is quite unfortunate that English teachers are the ones who teach young children about the importance of reading. The only things I ever saw English teachers read were novels, and I found it difficult to believe that reading novels is that important.

Fast forward a couple of years, almost everything I learn is from books, blog posts, or other forms of written media. Reading has been the easiest way to get inside the best minds.

Since I've founded the data visualization startup Polychart, I've been spending a considerable amount of time learning enough business-ish concepts to get by. Books I've recently enjoyed include:
  • The Lean Startup by Eric Ries: a book that everyone in the startup world talks about and references. The case studies included are interesting.
  • The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman: a really dense book about many aspects of business; claims to contain all the fundamental principles taught in an MBA program.
  • The Art of Profitability by Adrian Slywotzky: thoughts about profitability in an almost novel-like format. It's hard not to read many chapters in one sitting, even though you're not supposed to.
  • Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod: fun read but really only learned one thing from it, which is to separate one's work from one's hobby. This goes against the conventional wisdom that you should follow your passions and make it your career.
  • Purple Cow by Seth Godin: again a fun read but it seems like the ideas in this book are already well-received enough that they are no longer surprising.
  • Don't Just Roll The Dice by Neil Davidson: a short read on software pricing. Page 37 onwards contain a lot of not-so-obvious psychological nuances about how people react to pricing. There is also a free PDF version.
It is also quite amazing how much time I'm spending writing. I spend maybe 10-20% of my time on email, and at least 30% of my time writing. This includes writing things like documentations, blog posts, emails, and other necessary documents.

So if you're still in grade school, don't neglect to practise reading and writing.

End of Entry