Hey there. I’ve gotten back into reading this summer, so I’d like to post some snippets of the books I’ve read. I won’t call these reviews, because I don’t think I’m in the position to judge anyone’s writing. Either way, books are meant to entertain and teach a variety of people, so one person’s trash may be another person’s favorite book. Let’s get into it.
This book is about persuading people through advertising. My little brother was reading this little black book while we were at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. I was intrigued so started reading it while waiting in lines. Written by someone who consulted on the show Mad Men, the anecdotes about the show make the book more entertaining than a traditional book on advertising. The book is split into two sections, the first being a general discussion of principles and theory, the other being specific breakdowns on the different type of ads. I only read the first half and took away some key points.
No amount of advertising or showmanship can fix a bad product or service. Advertising is about nudging people in a direction they already want to go in. Persuading people to get past their inhibitions or doubts is the name of the game. For this reason, be wary of anyone who says, “we need to change the way people think.” To get the best result, you must get to know your customer. Ask a lot of questions. One of the greatest insights of the book is to ask your customer what they want to be celebrating at the end of the project. Then you know your goal. In the modern age, the world and plenty of commerce exist online. The online world is about attention, so advertising there is different.
For those who want to know, the second half is about the four types of ads: intros, calls to action, differentiation, and loyalty builders.
Anyone who has been online has seen the ads for getting rich. Courses teaching us how to make passive income through real estate, blogging, YouTube, and drop shipping are abundant. Entrepreneurship is a buzzword for the ages. However, for those who are not so bold or enjoy working a traditional job, there is still a way to get rich. This is a simple finance book for the masses, and things may be more complicated than the book lays it out to be. I’ll point out those caveats, as I understand them, as well.
The method is slow and doesn’t result in riches until you choose to retire (which may be early if you follow the advice). The first principle is to pay yourself first. This means use your 401k to the max. It takes your money pretax and saves it for you, allowing it to grow. What the book doesn’t mention is how to choose between a 401k and Roth IRA, which is funded by post-tax dollars. When you do retire, you pay taxes on your 401k withdrawals, but not your Roth withdrawals. So, depending on your income at the time and how much you intend to withdraw during retirement, the choice may be different. The second principle is to make contributions automatic. If you do, it’s like the money was never there in the first place and that reduces the perceived burden. After your 401k, you should develop a rainy-day fund of at least six months and then start investing the rest of your savings in low to medium risk accounts. Other tips include using a sizable down payment on a home, paying half of your mortgage payment every two weeks instead of the whole thing every month (which results in an extra month paid every year), and making those payments automatic as well.
This book was my first step into personal finance, a journey which I now find exciting and confusing. I also enjoy minimalism as a lifestyle concept, which fits well with this style of wealth accumulation. With most things, a balance must be struck between saving for the future and enjoying the finer things of the present.
Astronaut’s Guide to Life
I used to want to be an astronaut and would still jump at the chance. For anyone with similar feelings, this may be the best motivational book out there.
Astronauts are incredible people, but not superheroes. They are constant learners. They prepare all there lives to go into space, which, even if they are in the astronaut core, may never happen for various reasons. But preparedness is what makes them incredible. It keeps them calm under pressure and allows them to make the quick decisions necessary for success. For them, preparing and learning is the end. It can never be a means to an end because the end is so rare it is easily discouraging. They learn procedures for when things go wrong because that’s what results in the calmness under fire. Anyone who doesn’t anticipate and prepare for the bumps will fail. Even if things are going wrong, things you can’t control, you can always control your attitude. For them, attitude is not only their emotions but also the direction of a vehicle. So, when things are out of your control, be assured your preparation will see you through and maintain your course.
To beat a dead horse: Always be learning and preparing for the result you want, but you should love the process.
I’ll be honest, these next two were audio-books I listened to, not read. But the following books are science-based, citing many studies, and having them read to me improved my experience.
The world is integrated into the online world. Everyone has a smartphone and media controls much of our perception. How do we remain unchained? How do we break the chains? Many of the points below are tied to research and examples. I know I said these weren’t reviews, but I highly recommend this one.
The book is about behavioral addictions as they relate to technology. These types of addictions are very real, although the effects are very different, and they are easier to hide in a modern world. A key point is that no one is born prone to addictions, we are all equally at risk. These addictions are all about pleasure, escaping pain, and satisfying unconscious needs. They are often tied to our environments. Companies know the formula for addiction and use it against us, but after reading this book so will you. Goal setting and the metrification of everything can be dangerous. Sometimes achieving a goal isn’t enough, there must be more, which can lead to unhealthy actions. If numbers are involved, comparisons with peers can lead to addiction. Phones and email are notorious for ruining our sleep, productivity, and ability to empathize/socialize with the real world. A key to avoiding addictions is to learn how to regulate and deal with emotions away from the screen. Today’s parents taught children how to walk and talk, but not how to use technology in a healthy way. The next generation of parents will be the first to have grown up with technology and will have to change their parenting to adjust for the tech factor.
There are a few different schools of thought for how the next generation should grow up with technology. Today’s biggest tech leaders tend to limit their children’s interaction with screens. Others think kids should be immersed in the digital world they are bound to grow up in. I could not do this book justice with just my takeaways. Don’t judge this book by my post, try it for yourself.
This one is a landmark book on introverts. The possible origins, their strengths, and how the world needs them. And yes, I’m an introvert. This was another audio-book and another science heavy book.
There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. It’s different from shyness or social anxiety. Introverts make up anywhere from 30% to 50% of the population. In fact, there may be a biological basis for introversion that has to do with the sensitivity of the brain to new stimuli. Introverts seem to be shy because they need time alone to recharge their brains. Society has a lot to do with why introverts are perceived poorly. It started with the classic salesmen of the early 1900s and that influenced society to see extroverts as the ideal personality type for success. However, introverts have many strengths that extroverts don’t have and should not be marginalized. Introverts are compassionate, empathetic, calm, and thoughtful. They look before they leap, and many introverts saw housing bubble burst coming. Extroverts may have caused it. Introverts can have social skills and be good public speakers, but just need time to recharge. Their alone time is also beneficial for many skill based and creative pursuits that require practice alone.
The book finishes off with a look into the possibility of changing our personality type. While we may be able to act different, the book shows evidence that our brains never really change.
And that’s that, stay tuned for more books. Suggestions welcomed!