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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Am Legend - Richard Matheson


  • Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; paperback / softback edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765357151
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765357151
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches

This book is quite short. Though it is not very similar to the actual movie itself, it was pretty un-put-downable. Easily read within 1 day. Enjoyable read!

Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G LTE Wireless

Amazing and a great alternative to the ipad. Comes in 4G LTE too! Awesome! 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America



  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307717879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307717870

The 2008 financial crisis spurred me to read this book. It is pretty insightful with much depth in the building of each character in the story of Merrill Lynch. There was much history and Farrell ploughed into the details of how Merrill got neck-deep into the CDO and subprime mess. Even excellent companies have their black swan events which can wipe them out entirely. To protect this excellent heritage somewhat, it had to be finally merged with BoA. Any BoA employee should give this a read.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

5* Must read again

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 Exp Rev edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061353248
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061353246
This book is an excellent book. It is not only insightful into human behaviour as a whole but is great for self-reflection to a greater awareness of why we do the things we do. As usual, I try to summarize the learning points after I read this book. You should read it, and re-read it.
  1. Anchoring
    We are influence by context even if it can irrational. We compare things in relative terms. This point is great for marketers who want to sway choices. By inserting an anchor, people will form their opinions/expectations around it.
  2. Zero - It is not 1 minus 1
    Free as compared to taking an absolute discount off, can tilt decisions dramatically. It has an immense distortion effect. 
  3. Social norms has no economic equivalent
    We can be happy to do things for free, but we don't be if we are paid to do the same things. Social exchanges interact at a deeper level and putting any market price to them automatically strips them away. The learning point is to leverage on social exchanges to get the things money can't buy. Give symbolic gifts whenever possible and not the money equivalent.  
  4. We possess an unpredictable animal self
    When we are in a state of heightened emotion (be it anger, lust etc) , rationality goes out of the window.
  5. Procrastination is normal
    Immediate gratification is the anchor that sways our decisions even though our long term plans are the most rational. To master this, have fixed painful deadlines or have another anchor to sway your decisions to do short-term actions that contribute to long term goals. 
  6. We overvalue what we own
    This is due to the emotional attachment to what we have and assign them as unique.
  7. Options are not a good thing as they serve as distractions that affects our productivity
  8. Expectations are anchors on their own so try to moderate expectations to your benefit
  9. Expectations can cause placebo effects
    Preconceived notions like better price equals higher effectiveness works because the mind feeds on itself
  10. Tragedy of the commons is everywhere around us - The cycle of distrust
  11. Dishonesty is more prevalent than we thought - especially if disassociated from money. We need a moral reminder for us to stay honest.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired and Secretive Company Really Works


  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus (January 25, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145551215X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455512157
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
Following the last book I read on Steve Jobs, I landed my hands on this book to read more about one of the most astounding company of this era.

This is quite a small book and elaborates further on what the general public already. It makes a good light reading and reinforces on certain principles Apples holds very closely to its core.

A few things that I have gleaned from this:
1. Do a few things but do them very very well. The entire suite of Apple's products can fit onto a conference table
2. Even the top leaders micromanages in Apple
3. From the outside, Apple looks like a great firm to work in. From the inside, it is true if you believe in being a slave to this great company.
4. Integrate everything but control everything.
5. Secrecy will help promoting the brand more than anything else as it will create conversation.
6. Own your own message and make others sing it for you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson


  • Hardcover: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (October 24, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451648537
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451648539
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.9 inches 
I read this book shortly after the passing of Steve Jobs and it certainly gave an insight to how he was a person and the history of one of the greatest companies of this age. Some key things that I remember reading in this book.
  • Jobs was given up by his birth parents and at a later part, gets reunited with his family somewhat
  • He was a college dropout doing the things he loved to do.
  • Taking drugs and being into Zen formed the basis of how he thinks and operate
  • He was more of a marketing person than an engineering person
  • GUI actually came from Xerox but Jobs capitalised on it. That shows that being first does not translate to being a winner. 
  • Bill Gates was actually quite close to him. 
  • Jobs was fired from Apple. Jobs was actually very hard to work with and has a very difficult personality. 
  • He did not create Pixar but owned it and drove it to what it is today.
  • Jobs died of cancer in part due to his obstinate personality. 
  • After he came back to Apple, the first foray into music started the ball rolling. 
  • His concept of having products as extension of the PC sparked the post-PC revolution. 
  • He keeps everything tightly controlled and integrated. 
All in all, a cool book that is hard to put down. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Supertrends: Winning Investment Strategies for the Coming Decades by Lars Tvede

  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470710144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470710142

This is quite an intriguing book, and an excellent one at it. If you have no time for details, just flip all the way back to Appendix A: The 100 most dramatic events, 2010 - 2050, to get a summary and gist of it all. Otherwise, the chapters itself are mind-numbing at most parts.

Split into 5 parts, the salient parts are summarized for my future understanding and reference.

1) Superscares
- A great explanation of business cycles by looking at inventories (4-5yrs), capital spending (9-10yrs) and property (18 -20 yrs).

Money and Assets:
- MV = PQ.
- Money flow can dry up very quickly and assets with huge values (i.e. property) can drag the economy down fast

Bubbles, Scares and Crashes:
- The fact that these exists does not mean trends will not continue.
- The key thing is to realise if trends end or they are over-inflated

2) Supertrends
Population growth, female emancipation and aging:
- Global population will rise but stablised, however urban population will increase dramatically with focus on emerging markets.
- More will progress up Maslow's hierarchy of needs, fueling explosion of leisure activities.
- Increased female emancipation leads to less children plus decreasing workforce ratio rapidly later.
- Huge increase in aging support. 

Globalisation, urbanisation and wealth explosion
- Growth explosion by emerging markets as they leapfrog with better technologies than the past with no legacy infrastructure

Intelligence, knowledge and innovation
- Moore's law in practice for many technologies (compounding effect due to meta-ideas)
- Meta-ideas fueling increase in IQ over the years
- Focus on genomics and computing

Environmental and resource strain
- Increase in population plus longer lives
- A good comparison was done of various stands on global warming. Author seems to be inclined that this is a scare and would drive bubbles in commodities and alternative.

3) Superempires
Tribes and Empires (a good historical narrative was shared)
- Empires decline due to the disappearances of the following: the need to achieve, the will to achieve, the opportunity to achieve and the incentive to achieve
- Future empires will not be geographical but economical and through social fascination (social fabric achieved by certain ideals or way of thinking)

War, terror and the bottom billion
- Most wars will be civil and terror-related
- The bottom billion will have missed the boat, as they are locked out due to a vicious cycle of problems (landlocked, conflicts, natural extraction economies, bad governance and bad neighbours)
- Drivers of war and peace was nicely presented

4) Supersectors (7 of them in the order below)
Shape of things to come
- Most technologies are S curves
- 2 key factors - rapid growth and a great profit model
- Categories - Asset, network, speed, customer relationship, cost-cutting, financial timing, financial arbitrage, active financial
- 20 drivers of civilization summarized (as above)

1. Finance
- Controls everything. Has strong entrenched network effects

2. Real Estate
- Residential property is a business cycle kick-starter; commercial property is a lagging indicator
- Increase in holiday homes and global tourism due to increasing middle class
- Focus on urbanising cities, cities where people want to work, high IQ areas, network effect areas + scarce land
- 3 crucial aspects of property markets: location, valuation and property cycles (a 30-step review of timing is provided)

3. Commodities
- Many commodities are unlikely to face an end limit; we will be able to replace with alternatives or extract better
- We become more effective in growing food
- Energy will have alternatives before we finally break the fusion barrier.
- Pressure for commodities will get greater due to increase in population and urbanisation but we will be able to cope.

4. Alternative Energy
- Going solar and being more efficient
- Debunking hydrogen

5. Genomics and Biotechnology
- Essential an Information Technology
- Gene manipulation to improve food production and longevity

6. Information Technology
- Will continue to explode, reaching human brain capability by 2030
- RFID, GPS and mobile phones (location technology) will provide new possibilities
- IT will become more unbundled, atomized, instant, mobile, contextual, autonomous, virtualize physical items and more real time
- People must focus on creativity for jobs

7. Luxury
- Driven by growth in wealth, especially in emerging markets

8. LifeStyles
- IT will shift the focus of jobs to service and creative sectors
- Future economy will be storyteller economy (luxury, finance, sport, health/food particularly)
- Focus on the experience!

5) Superbrains
- Virtual/microscopic developments follow aggressive progression curves whilst physical/industrial technologies are much slower
- If a human need can be met by IT or molecular technology, solutions will evolve much faster than demand
- There are 5 rules for intelligence
- Happiness stems from having a (1) pleasant/comfortable life (2) engaged life and (3) meaningful life. Essentially, freedom (particularly economic)

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