Archive for the ‘Books’ Category
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is book is not like any of the other “retire early in 10 easy steps” books…it is a full-blown life plan for making it happen, and not for those who aren’t willing or able to take massive action to change their current consumerist habits.
I’ve read a ton of blogs and books on financial management and investment, but this one has a very counter-intuitive and yes – EXTREME – approach to retirement that can be achieved relatively quickly. The overall thesis is that by saving a majority of one’s net income (50, 60, 70 or even 80%!) on an annual basis, it is possible to “retire” in five years or so. This is the case not just due to the high amount of savings, but the low annual expenses needed to sustain a lifestyle where you live on 20% of what is earned. The author was a theoretical physicist and the attention to detail comes through (and at times the math equations get a bit extreme!).
What I liked:
1. A significant amount of the book is devoted to the MINDSET needed (philosophy /psychology) around the early retirement approach. It really goes deep and Jacob provides examples (from his own life), frameworks to help the reader understand character types and plenty of hardcore data.
2. There are specific strategies and tactics that can be applied on day 1 by the reader to boost savings and cut expenses. Some may not apply to you, but many will.
3. There is a very detailed blog Early Retirement Extreme that provides more examples, Q&A topics and links to an active online forum to go deeper into various topics.
What I didn’t like:
1. Many times the books dives too deep into a topic (e.g. in taking about character archetypes, detailing math equations) or seem to be going off on tangents and rambling. I am good at skimming/skipping this stuff so didn’t mind it too much. Overall, there is much more good about this book to love so I was willing to put up with these parts.
I’ve ready several of John Robbin’s previous books, including Diet for a New America and Healthy at 100. Both were awesome, and his latest book, The New Good Life, is no exception. Robbin’s story is remarkable not just because he eschewed a life of privilege at a young age (he was the heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune and destined to take over the business, but gave it up to live off the land in a log cabin for 10 years) but because his message is so clear, supported by facts yet engaging to read.
The book states that “The New Good Life” can be had by anyone who is willing to focus on what brings joy in life and not what prevailing market trends and peers dictate as necessary parts of a successful life. Do we need multiple fancy cars? Do we need large expensive houses? Do we need to work long hours in jobs that don’t bring fulfillment? Do we need to spend money we don’t have on food that is destroying our health and the environment? Those are all trappings of the “old good life” and no longer sustainable for the exploding modern world population.
What I like about this book is that it is NOT a book about minimalism. I personally do not believe a minimal lifestyle is inherently better than a highly consumptive one. There are many positive benefits, however, of being happy with less, when the motivation in doing so is appropriate. That is exactly the message in this book. Explore the possibility that you might be happy with less. Challenge yourself to really focus on the things that bring you happy and your family joy, and do more of those things and less of the rest.
I read this book in a single weekend…..it’s that good – though I did skip the chapter on health as it repeats similar messages as covered in his previous books.
My last two books were both written by vegan endurance athletes. Eat & Run by Scott Jurek and more recently Finding Ultra by Rich Roll. Both were enjoyable reads and inspiring. What I like about Finding Ultra is the focus on multi-sport athletics (triathlon). Rich also has a very unique background; having been a standout student, lawyer and national-level competitive swimmer…all the while battling alcoholism.
If you like Eat & Run, you will definitely enjoy Finding Ultra. However, I did think Eat & Run was a better book overall. It interleaved more plant-based nutritional guidance throughout the book. Finding Ultra, while it did have nutritional advice, seemed to be pitching supplementation using products from a company Rich Roll is involved with. Eat & Run focused on recipes you can cook at home – I like that. I also just think Eat & Run was better written and overall more inspiring a story (Scott Jurek has done some pretty gnarly races and has a much longer endurance race history!).
So do read both books if you can. If you need to pick one, go with Eat & Run.
I thought I knew Scott’s story, but there is a lot in this book that was totally new to me. He had a tough upbringing and surprising stories about his races. For example, I knew he raced the Hardrock 100, but I had no idea he did it on a nearly broken ankle! I also knew he raced (and won) the Spartathlon, a 150 mile race in Greece, but I didn’t he won it twice!
The book also introduces a few dozen vegan recipes….that are quite good. I made his recipe for mushroom-lentil veggie burgers and they turned out amazingly well. Nice to read a story about someone who is performing at a world-class athletic level on a plant-based diet.
I just finished reading The Pilgrimage, A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom, by Paulo Coelho. The novel follows Paulo as he goes on pilgrimage across Spain in search of a miraculous sword. It’s a story of a man in search of spiritual development and mastery. The pilgrim’s path is a sacred one used by millions of pilgrims in the one that leads from the mountains near France to the coast of . The path is also known as “The Way of St. James.”
Along the way, he is guided by a wise man, and learns a number of important lessons. I particularly like how the book introduces a number of interesting meditations (8-10, can’t remember exactly) that you can apply in your own life. It’s both a story and a personal development manual.
While this book is not nearly as profound as The Alchemist (perhaps my favorite book of all-time, also by Coelho) it is a worthwhile and fast read. I got through it in a long weekend of lazy reading.
I just finished reading Clayton Christensen’s new book, How Will You Measure Your Life. As i posted before, when I joined Microsoft as an intern over 12 years ago my manager handed me a copy of his then breakthrough best-seller “The Innovators Dilemma” (it’s still a best seller). I liked it for the way it used historical examples and simple theory to explain complex business situations.
What I like about his most recent book, is that it provides more of these theories, but applies them to personal life situations. Finding a job that is fulfilling. Finding meaningful relationships. Finding a life purpose. Things like that.
The biggest insight I got from the book is to not settle until you find your purpose, and find a career and lifestyle that supports it. I was surprised to learn that Christensen (a Harvard Business School professor) didn’t decide to teach until he was in his late 30’s, after two other careers.
It’s never too late to make a change. When it comes to your profession, you will spend a large portion of the waking hours in your prime years doing what you do. Pick something great and don’t settle until you find it.
One of the first business books I read (not counting college textbooks) was The Innovators Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. I was an intern at Microsoft 12 years ago and my boss had just read it. He handed it to me (along with a stack of printed revenue reports to review) and recommend I take a look. The book is a classic now, easy to read and simple in its theory but very applicable then and now to the problem of sustained innovation for any business.
I’m now halfway rough his latest book How Will You Measure Your Life in which he applies business theory to the problem of finding a career and life purpose that will be fulfilling.
The Innovators Dilemma theory states that businesses that are successful are often and eventually disrupted by emergent strategies by companies in their industry, with products that are initially deemed inferior in some way, but superior in other meaningful ways. In the same way that people initially dismissed autos as inferior to horses and buggies (they were noisy, broke down and were limited to level roads), the autos slowly improved and redefined transportation. The same thing has happened to the steel business, retail stores, tech industry, books, restaurants and almost every other industry.
I like this book because it challenges the reader to think hard about the patterns they are running in their lives and the assumptions and motivations driving their decisions. Christensen himself decided to get a PhD at the age of 37 and change careers to become a professor at 39, after years as a consultant and business owner. He disrupted himself before he found himself trapped in a career and lifestyle he didn’t truly love. That takes courage no book can in itself give to a reader, but the theories he lays out do help.
Just starting to read “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin.
I do truly believe that happiness is a choice, even in the most dire of situations. In the book, Gretchen accounts of her year of test-driving wisdom from various traditions and popular culture regarding how to be happier. I’m not expecting any breakthrough insights from this book but do expect it to be a fun read.
Have you read this book? What do you think about it?
Three words come to mind when recalling the life of Steve as described in his authorized biography:
He was a deeply disturbed individual. Seemingly incapable of showing remorse or sensitivity to others feelings. He was also incredibly driven to create and achieve things that lived up to his ideal vision of how the world ought to be.
This book is a remarkable read. I had no idea Steve was so influenced by his explorations in Indian and Zen Buddhist training. I did know that he was vegan for a time, but was surprised by how much of his life was impacted by his dietary tendencies.
I was also amazed by how emotional a person he was, apt to break into tears when things didn’t go his way. He was a master of harnessing his emotions to create change.
I was also given a glimpse into how he built his company. His relentless focus on doing a few things exceptionally well. His commitment to building a team of only A players (since A players don’t like working with Bs and Cs). Most importantly, his belief in taking responsibility for all aspects of the product experience. From retail to packaging to the chips running Apple device, he demanded control over everything to ensure that customers got something remarkable (or at least his definition of remarkable!).
The most impressive thing to me was how he kept focus on the company even through his painful battles with cancer. His dedication to his vision of the future was unwavering. Most humans would have passed the torch well before he did. He was driven by far more than money or fame.
If you are even remotely interested in technology, and especially if you use Apple products, it’s worth reading this inside look at what made Steve tick.
What gives some people the capacity to reach great heights and stay there? Folks in the limelight are not always the most talented, connected or resourceful people. Look to artists and this is definitely true.
I was at a book reading with Neil Strauss a couple of days ago. His latest book, Everybody Loves You When You Are Dead, is a compilation of interviews he has done with dozens of artists and musicians during his tenure as a writer for Rolling Stone and co-author of numerous biographies.
He is an expert at getting to the heart of an interview…not asking fluff questions but really asking questions that help you understand what people are really like; insecurities, idiosyncrasies and all.
One thing he shared was that in all his interviews he’s come away with a defining characteristic that separates those that are successful long-term or those that are not. Those that are long-term successes believe that they were destined for the position they were in. It was as if they believed that God, fate and all the mysterious forces in the universe were aligning to assure them of their path. That they were truly the chosen ones. That they should not be guilty for what they have or aspire to have because that is their path.
On the flip side, those artists whose careers never took off or fizzled out early felt that they didn’t really deserve their social standing, and along with this came guilt and fear of losing what they had.
Whether you believe in a greater power or not, I think it makes sense to assume that you deserve to be successful and all the good things that come with it.