Monday 28 September 2015

Book Review: How to lie with statistics

Published in 1954, this classic book pretends to educate us on how to lie with statistics. But the real and noble intent is to make us aware of pitfalls of blindly trusting statistics. It provides detailed elaboration along with illustrations, on how statistics can be used to deceive facts. In final chapter, it provides a list of five simple questions to ask, which can help uncover the truth. Indeed, this book is very useful reading for every manager.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Book Review: The Test of My Life

The Test of My Life is an autobiography of Yuvraj Singh, who is not only known as fighter Indian cricketer but also the one who fought against deadly disease of cancer. This book describes the story of both these aspects of Yuvraj's life. Book begins with his childhood at Chandigarh and ends with his resuming of cricket post his chemotherapy. On the way, it delves in detail on days of world cup 2011 and the chemotherapy at Indianapolis. It is truly a motivational book on how one can fight against tough challenges and continue to pursue his/her passion. It's highly recommended to everyone!

Sunday 7 June 2015

Book Review: You can sell

Written by Shiv Khera, this book is a how-to book for a sales professional. The book contains many examples from the areas of life insurance selling and vacuum cleaner selling. Still it is a useful resource for anyone desirous of selling ideas, solutions or services. Written in simple language, this book is quite readable and motivational. It covers entire sales process and provides detailed-level guidance for each stage of sales process. It also covers related areas such as goal setting and time management. Would recommend it to every aspiring sales professional.

Thursday 4 June 2015

Book Review: Flow

Flow is defined as the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it. It is one of the key concepts in positive psychology. Developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and his colleagues starting in 1980s, a lot of research has been done to explore how flow happens in various domains such as sports, education, work and leisure. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has presented this research in this book in a language that can be understood by laymen like us. Though the book runs over some 300 pages, it takes time to read and absorb the concepts discussed in this book. A recommended reading for a person who is interested in positive psychology.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Book Review: How Google Works

Written by Eric Schimidt (former CEO and current executive chairperson) and Jonathan Rosenberg (former SVP for Products and current advisor to CEO), this book provides insights into functioning of Google. But more than describing how things work at Google, the authors have attempted to provide guidance on how to manage new-age companies that would employ "smart creatives". The advice is given for almost all aspects of business, starting from culture to strategy to decisions to innovation. As Product Head for Educational ERP SaaS, I found the guidance given in this book quite relevant and useful. A must read for every practicing and aspiring manager!

Let me note down my key takeaways from this book:
  • product excellence is now paramount to business success.
  • rule of seven - managers should have minimum of seven direct reports.
  • exile knaves but fight for divas (great example of diva is Steve Jobs!)
  • bet on technical insights, not market research
  • hiring is the most important thing you do
  • hire learning animals
  • schedule interviews for 30 minutes
  • decide with data
  • every meeting needs an owner
  • spend 80% of your time on 80% of your revenue
  • the world's best athletes need coaches, and you don't?
  • guidelines for over-communication - reinforce core themes; make it effective; make it interesting, fun or inspirational; let it be authentic; ensure right audience; use right media;tell the truth, be humble and bank goodwill for a rainy day.
  • guidelines for email communication - respond quickly; be crisp; clean your inbox constantly; handle email in LIFO order; remember you are a router; use bcc feature judiciously; don't yell online; copy yourself on email for which follow-up is needed and then flag it accordingly; forward useful emails to yourself with search-friendly keywords.

There is also 8-page career advice, which I liked the most. Let me quickly note down the key points here:
  • when out of college, look for right industry over company
  • plan your career - think about your ideal job after five years and then assess your strengths and weaknesses
  • learn how the right data, crunched the right way, will help make better decisions.
  • read.
  • know your elevator pitch - your current work, the driving technical insight, measurement of success and how it fits into the big picture
  • travel across the globe
  • combine passion with contribution

Thursday 12 March 2015

Book Review: A mind for numbers

This book helps in learning how to learn. I got to know about this book after attending a MOOC on learn how to learn. Though the subtitle of this book is “how to excel at maths and science”, the book is helpful for learning any subject. It provides conceptual understanding of how brain works and how brain power can be used effectively for learning. It also provides various useful tips and techniques for efficient way of learning. Would recommend it to all avid learners.