Business, life

Good Podcasts

headset with colors in the backgroundYesterday I had an interesting conversation with a friend about ways to improve your knowledge in different topics.

I suggested to him to leverage his long commute or runs to listen to audio books and podcasts. I have been doing it over the last 15 years and it’s a great way for me to utilize time better. Suddenly the long runs become interesting and time flies. So his next question was what are the podcasts I like and why.

Here are the top ones:

  • Revisionist History is my favorite one. Gladwell does what he is excelling at… telling a story you think you knew but turn it on its head and during this process teach you a thing or two. In the last two seasons, Gladwell went back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood. The one on Martin Luther King is fascinating.
  • Freakonomics is an award-winning podcast with a lot of listeners (which most, I suspect, like logic, economic etc’). Stephen Dubner has conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature — from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt. The last few episodes (as of March 2018) about CEOs are really good. Check it out.
  • Here’s the thing with Alec Baldwin – Alec really knows how to interview his impressive guests and listen to their ideas and stories. It’s great to follow him and learn about people that changed history, industries or ‘just’ put a smile on our faces.
  • Epicenter – I’ve been passion about the crypto world since 2012. Around early 2014 I found this one. It’s a podcast that takes you to the heart of this important technological revolution: the rise of decentralized technologies. Every week, they bring conversations with some of the brightest minds in this bourgeoning ecosystem of startups and open source projects. Good stuff if you want to learn more about decentralized technologies and the crypto world.
    Btw, Block Zero is a new podcast that deal with this topic as well. It’s still young but sounds good so far.
  • The Moth – The Moth Podcast features stories that are being recorded live on stage around the USA.
    Some of them are really good! Episodes are released every Tuesday.

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life

Two Books On World War II

2 books

I don’t know why, but in the past month I read (again) two books that tell personal stories during World War II / holocaust.

I didn’t plan it. But like most things in life, while we are making plans, things happen.

In retrospective, it was a powerful, sad and interesting time. You can hear a lot of stories about WW2 and the holocaust but there are some that hit you right in your heart.

As the say, “Long story short”, here are the two books I recommend.

The Nightingale

Kristin Hannah is so talented. She does a great job in capturing an intimate part of history from a unique perspective: the women’s war. It is a combination of two stories or two sisters. They are separated on many levels: years, experience, ideals and mostly character. Each one is paving her own path toward survival in German-occupied France. It’s a beautiful, sad story that shows the real strong gender – female.

 

Beneath a Scarlet Sky

It’s a real personal story of Pino Lella, a young Italian teenager who wants to ski and have fun. Up to here it’s just like any teenager who lives near the amazing mountains in north of Italy. But, there is a war and he started it by joining the underground where he helped Jews escape over the Alps to Switzerland. From one step to another he become the personal driver of Hans Layers who reported to Hitler. The story tells how is manage to spy for the allies and his relationships with Hans, Anna (his love) and his family. During the book, you keep thinking it can’t be a real story. But, you keep realizing, it is all happen in Europe only 60 years ago.

 

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life

How Nike Became Nike

I just finished this book and really enjoyed it.

Any entrepreneur and/or a runner should read it. Such an amazing story of a startup (they didn’t have this term back in 1962) that fight against the giants (e.g. Adidas, US customs, Tiger etc’) and succeed to win. Big time.

It’s told by Nike founder and CEO Phil Knight and he does a great job to describe the inside story of the company. From the early days as a one man show startup and its evolution into one of the world’s most iconic and profitable brands.

In 1962, fresh out of Stanford business school, Phil Knight traveled the world. When he visited Japan he was able to get a deal with Tiger (well known brand at the time) and with fifty dollars from his father he created a company “Blue Ribbon Sports“. They had many issues and problems (like any startup) but in the end, Nike’s annual sales last year top $30 billion. The story between these two extremes is fascinating.

It’s a candid and humble memoir. Knight details the relationships he had with the first employees and the (many) risks and daunting setbacks that stood between him and his dream. He is a real problem solver and keep learning on the go but the most impressive quality I learn about him is the relationships he was able to make (with very few words) with athletes, employees and friends.

Enjoy it!
…And go for a run.

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life

Great Books To Start The Year

Few of the best books I’ve read in the past and you might enjoy. There are in no special order, but if you love good stories start with the first and the last.

 

One of the best books I read in a long time. It’s an interesting story about the humankind in the last ~70,000 years and Harari does it so well, you won’t feel it’s a history book.

I like the 2nd book (Homo Deus) as well and found more things in it that I would like to discuss about with the author. I just need to find the right time and place. Continue reading

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Business, life

Books I Enjoyed During 2017

This year was full with good books.

I got to some books by mistake (e.g. Girl with a pearl earring during a trip to Zion national park) and others after getting a warm recommendation. Here is the list of the ones that I like most. There were at least ~12 other books that I didn’t like and stopped in the middle, but I guess, it’s part of life.

One of the best papers I read this year (again) was “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. The paper is quite short (only 8 pages without the references) but every word there counts and it’s giving a total picture of this powerful invention. It’s much bigger than ‘just’ cash system and in the future we will see this technology breakthrough changing many industries.

OK, let’s jump to the books. Continue reading

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Business

My Favorites Books 2016

screen-shot-2016-12-16-at-11-22-27-pmHere are some of the books I’ve enjoyed in the past 6 months. I am trying to alternate between fiction and non-fiction on a weekly bases. I did two official marathons (Teveria and California international marathon) and another 2 that weren’t part of an organized race, so in the training for these events, I had a lot of time to listen to audio books.

Below are the ones that I really liked.

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

It’s an intersting story (behind Money Ball) that I enjoyed a lot thanks to Michal Lewis. It’s about two Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky who wrote together a series of breathtakingly studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Daniel Kahenman received at 2002 the Nobel price for economic on their work on physiology and how the human mind is being fooled in many situations.

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations

It’s a long one, but with the great talent that Mr. Friedman got it’s passing quickly. In this book, he cover what he think we need in order to understand the twenty-first century. It’s about the planet’s three largest forces:

  1. Moore’s law – The acceleration in technology. From hardware/Internet Of Things/Mobile to big data to tools to analyze it and use it (e.g. Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning).
  2. The Market – Globalization. The ‘world if flat’ and the way we are all connected more then ever. The fact that many companies are global and markets are very connected.
  3. Earth – Climate change and biodiversity loss.

These fast accelerations are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community. What does it means for you? Well, it will change the way you understand the news, the work you do, the education your kids need, the investments your employer has to make, and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate.

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

I wrote about this one here.

Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets

It’s a story that is told by the talented Sudhir Venkatesh. He is the source for some of Freakonomics great articles and ideas. In this book, Sudhir take us with him when he walked into an abandoned building in one of Chicago’s most notorious housing projects. How he meet and befriend a gang leader named JT and later spend the better part of a decade embedded inside the projects under JT’s protection. From this unique position of unprecedented access, Venkatesh observed JT and the rest of his gang as they operated their crack-selling business, made peace with their neighbors, evaded the law, and rose up or fell within the ranks of the gang’s complex hierarchical structure. It’s an amazing story. I highly recommend it to anyone who is running a business or just curious to learn more. Continue reading

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Business

The Idea Factory Review

idea-lab

I’ve just finished “The Idea Factory” and although it was long, I really enjoyed it.

It deals with a question that kept me (and many others) busy in the past few years: What causes innovation? and it’s doing it by telling the history of the most productive scientific laboratory on the planet (between 1920 to 1980): Bell Labs.

How did this organization become such a success story?

Bell labs produced seven Nobel Prizes and contributed important innovations: the transistor, transatlantic cable, the laser, UNIX, C++, photovoltaic cells, error-corrected communication, charged-coupled devices, digital communications and the mobile phones. Continue reading

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