I recently finished two books in about 4 days. Granted, they were small books and very easy to read but, I’m still counting it. Both of them will be added to the personal reference library because we need to be able to go back and look at them again and again.
Steal Like an Artist: Written by Austin Kleon, the author of Newspaper Blackout (featured at the top of the post) this book is simple, straight-forward, and offers good creative advice. It isn’t ground-breaking but it’s a good pick-me-up – something to keep around to pull off the shelf as an inspired reminder from time to time. One of my favorite points is the idea of keeping separate digital and analog desks. I would love for Bryan and I to find a way to do this because I think it’s one of the biggest challenges we have. Bouncing back and forth from the PC to create something with our hands is challenging. It’s hard to get into the right mindset quickly and having the computer right there makes it easy for us to lose momentum on one side or the other.
Rework: In a similar vein, Rework this includes practical advice for those who like to do-it-yourself and embrace an entrepreneurial spirit. Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are partners in 37signals, a Chicago-based company whose focus is on building easy to use web applications that serve solely their primary function – limited features and no frills. It’s a great concept and it’s worked for them. While I can’t apply many of their ideas at my big corporate job, the insights presented could do wonders for our personal endeavors. Towards the end of the book the ideas aren’t as new if you’ve already been experimenting in your own businesses. However, I did have two great “duh” moments (those times when you realize just how obvious something should have been all along):
- The concept of selling your by-products. Lumber yards make a mint off of sawdust, wood chips, etc. and it’s all just a by-product of their primary business.
- Meetings are toxic. While I already knew this I had not been thinking about meeting participation in quite the same way. Having 5 people in a one-hour meeting is actually costing an organization 5 hours of productivity. I have often been guilty of trying to get everyone possible in a room just so I don’t have to run around and try to coordinate follow-ups later on. This is the wrong call.
I’m adding their first book, Getting Real: The smarter, faster, easier way to build a successful web application to my non-fiction reading list.
First, though, I have two “being in the moment” books from very separate perspectives that I recently downloaded from the library. I’m in the process of deciding which one will be the right fit for me to pursue. More to come on that soon.