Sunday, 7 January 2018

Book Review - Things a Little Bird Told Me

Things a Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone

Core Idea Discussed : Living one's values and mission in the startup world and in life 

A lovely book by Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter. The most striking thing about the book is the honesty and sincerity of the author in penning down things as they happened, presenting them with all the facts. While reading, it didn't appear that the book is written by a techie from Silicon Valley. The book is an interesting mix of insights, ideas and sharing and goes much beyond than just telling us how the little bird (Twitter as we know it !) came about. The revelations about the struggle and tribulations involved with a startup makes for some real interesting reading. The valuable lessons shared makes the book quite inspirational. Of particular interest was how the idea of starting cropped up, how twitter grew organically, how it metamorphed into a collaborative platform impacting humanity at a deeper level.

The wisdom and knowledge shared in the book turns it into a treatise for multiple topics/ subjects, some of which could be entrepreneurship, start up world, people over technology and how to create a value-driven business/ organisation. The real personal stories and incidents shared in the book provides the much needed inspiration to the budding entrepreneurs. Anyone reading the book could also get a slight peek into how the silicon valley operates (don't expect too much of it !) 

Though the last 20% of the book deals with the author's life after leaving Twitter but still it has so much to offer to the reader in terms of lessons in meaningful living. Reading about how Twitter turned around a "startup co-founder" into an altruistic being is pretty impressive.

It also has great lessons for startup geniuses who are smitten with greatness. It also provides some real common sense principles which every employee working in a startup need to be aware of to help them contribute their best.   

Key Learnings/ Interesting Bits from the Book

  • Purpose, Passion and Patience hold the key to success in life and business
  • Lesson about how inspite of so many obstacles, optimism and value driven approach could help us lead the way
  • How the "bird" logo came about 
  • How to convert a user into a "co-owner" and help the product evolve
  • How technology could build a global bridge of human collaboration with the simple principle of putting people before technology
  • Being effective and impactful while still being neutral in approach and intent
  • How a simple tool could create changemakers
  • Altruism and Empathy is the way forward for any technology driven business to reach out and make a real impact on human lives

Book Review - Inherit The Wind

Inherit The Wind by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee

Core Idea Discussed - Darwin's Theory of Evolution

A wonderful book for 2 reasons 

  • Based on an American Play about a courtroom drama
  • Based on the interesting theme of Darwin's Theory of Evolution
My first tryst with reading a book based on a play left me wanting more. The book revolves around the courtroom drama related to a school teacher who is accused of breaking the law by teaching about Darwin's Theory of Evolution. The book is an interesting account of the heated arguments between the plaintiff and the defendant and which gradually turns into a contest between religion and science. The book beautifully touches upon the freedom of speech and how religion and science crosses path. Whether the school teacher has committed a crime is the main topic of contention between the two parties. The reader actually feels a part of the courtroom drama when the tempo picks up towards the latter half of the book. The book ends with an interesting verdict to the case.

Key Learning/ Interesting Bit(s) from the Book

The book makes you wonder how difficult it would have been for Darwin to find takers for his Theory of Evolution.       

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

The Art of Reading Better and More

Every book lover has this inherent wish to read more and more but this wish is undone by the chaos and distraction prevailing in the times that we live in.  "More Time = More Reading" is the easiest solution but what to do when we feel hard pressed for "self-time"and can't find enough time to read.
We keep searching for that magical strategy/ strategies that could help us quench our thirst for reading more.

The motivation doesn't seem to be a problem as with great enthusiasm we enroll ourselves in various reading challenges. But soon we realize that motivation alone won't take us as far as achieving the unrealistic target that most of us set. This is when we start exploring strategies to help us keep pace with our reading target.

I have been through that phase where i struggled with my quest for reading better and more and tried many strategies, a few of which i will share in this post. For all the passionate readers (including myself), reading is an experience and the idea behind picking any strategy should be to ensure that the "experience" is not compromised upon. This post is not about speed reading techniques at all (though i tried many of them in my quest to read more) because if a passionate reader starts focusing on "quick reading" then the entire essence of reading is lost. The strategies mentioned below comes entirely from my own experiences at becoming a better reader - someone who could read more without losing the real essence of reading.

Few of the common sense/ smart techniques that can help any of us read more (these techniques have worked for me !) are as mentioned below:
  • Be Selective - Each one of us is hard pressed for time and therefore it makes sense to be selective about what we pick up to read. First and foremost, let's identify what genre we enjoy reading the most. Once we have identified our favourite genre, then we must go through the preview/ review of books in that genre (based on popularity, recommendations, preferred sub-topic/ theme, favourite author, preferred style of writing) and then finally do the selection.    
  • Follow your Interest - While picking a book for reading, we must always follow our interest rather than the herd
  • Multimodal Reading - Be open to reading books across different modes and formats. Even if we are a die hard paperback/ hardbound fan, we should get accustomed to reading on e-readers and other gadgets. Building this flexible habit will help us twofold
    • even if we are not carrying the paper books, we can still utilise those tiny, little free time slots that we get during the day. 
    • we can never be without our preferred stockpile of books even during travel as e-readers (kindle, etc.) and gadgets (smartphone) can carry ample of books 
  • Cross-Reading - Parallel reading in terms of picking books from different genres will retain the motivation and excitement. This not only broadens our thinking but also brings more variety in our reading habits   
  • Read the Original - Never compromise on reading the original.An abridged version or a derived version may not do justice to the thoughts and ideas contained in the original edition.
  • 3 by 5 Reading Rule - To learn about any subject, i follow the technique of identifying the 5 best books on that subject/ topic and then reading any 3 out of that. And i don't forget to read the earliest one on the subject.
  • Chunking - The days when i was experimenting different techniques for improving my reading habits, i tried skimming and scanning but these did not achieve my goals of reading more and better. I discovered Chunking and that suited my objective. Chunking is all about reading a group of words (usually 3-5 words) rather than word by word.
  • Make Reading a Habit - Building reading time in our routine will make us more disciplined and regular     
Hope applying few or all of the above mentioned simple and common-sense tips help you read better and more.

N.B.: Reading is fun as along as it is immersive, so retain your passion for reading and not get lost in the quest for quantity instead of quality !

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

24 Life Changing Books

Books have the power to change and  this post is all about 24 life changing books that can transform our lives. This is not a sacrosanct list but purely my pick. These books have been my companion and support system, always preparing me well to deal with any upheavel in my life. This list is neither comprehensive nor complete but just an attempt to get the readers started with few real gems.

This compilation is based on the following premises:
  • The book should touch our lives and personality at a deeper level
  • The book should should be an easy and simple read so that any reader could relate to it
  • The book length should keep the reader motivated to finish it in 1-2 readings to deliver the desired impact instantly. Almost all the books are short reads. 
Here's the list (the books are not ranked in any particular order)

  • Notes to Myself - Hugh Prather 

A lovely insightful and honest book which provides ample of opportunities for self-reflection. The beauty of the book lies in how it came about out of personal scribblings and notes. Every page is like a food for thought to discover ourself. Read the detailed review at
  • The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

This book is all about fulfilling our dreams. It is about how a young man discovers his true calling, listens to his heart and realize all his dreams. This book is for every soul who dare to dream. 
  • Who Moved My Cheese - Dr. Spencer Johnson

Most probably, the first (and maybe the only) book that explains the topic of CHANGE in such an interesting manner. It's a lovely fable which delves into the importance of change, why we resist change, what it takes to move us out of our comfort zone.
  • The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari - Robin Sharma

The book uses a fable to share about the modern day dilemma of materialism. It's about dreams and  goals but most importantly it's about how we, most of the times, tend to forget the real purpose of our existence end up pursuing goals which only leads to a dead-end. 
  • The Greatest Salesman In The World - Og Mandino

If looking for a shortcut to success, then this book fills that void. A wonderfully written book which talks about the principles of success. The book is like a convergence of sales and success and describes how a young man is shared the secrets of success by a dying old man (a trader) in the form of ten scrolls. The principles mentioned still hold relevance today. 
  • Eat That Frog - Brian Tracy

Procrastination is the bane of effective time management and if there's any book which deals nicely with this then it's this one. This book is about prioritization and how simple habits and techniques could help us crack the productivity conundrum.
  • Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen Covey

This book is like a treatise on the subject of Productivity, Effectiveness and Efficiency. The book serves as a manual on Personal Excellence and deal with the topic so comprehensively and holistically. No need to look any further than this book for achieving your best self. 
  • The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch

Ever imagined, what if we just had today to live. This book is a real account of the author's tryst with reality after being detected with terminal illness and with limited time to live. The book is about living our dreams now and not waiting for any other day or occasion.
  • Tiny Buddha - Lori Deschene

A nice book about the vagaries of life. For sure it contains good wisdom on living a better life. The book is all the more interesting because of the way the book got conceived. The author's personal experiences make the book very authentic. Read the detailed review at
  • Man's Search For Meaning - Viktor Frankl

Mere words can't describe the greatness of this book. The book has many useful lessons on how to survive and thrive in most adverse circumstances in life. It's an account of the author's struggle for survival in Nazi's concentration camp during World War 2. The book is a lesson about living a purposeful life even in face of dire constraints 
  • One Small Step Can Change Your Life the Kaizen Way - Robert Maurer

Applying the principles of Kaizen to bring about positive and progressive personal change is the theme of this book. It's amazing to note how the philosophy of incremental change could be descibed in such a simple way and that too with huge impact on our life. 
  • Fish - Harry Paul, Stephen C Lundin, John Christensen

This book is about happiness and shows how even the most mundane task could be made exciting and fun-to-do. Applying the 4 guiding principles of Fish philosophy can transform any workplace into a highly motivated and productive place full of positivity and result-orientedness.   
  • Tuesdays With Morrie - Mitch Albom

The book is all about hope and optimism. Based on a true story, the book is about a young man (the author) who gets to learn a lot from his once professor, who unfortunately is nearing death due to a terminal illness. The beauty is how the author's professor delivers life lessons even in the face of imminent death.
  • Finding Your Strength In Difficult Times - David Viscott

When feeling short of advice or suggestions while dealing with upheavel in life, this book serves as a true companion. Written in a succinct manner, the book provides nuggets of wisdom for self-discovery and sane living. The book describes about how to develop a positive outlook while facing adverse situations and circumstances in life. Read the detailed review at
  • The War of Art - Steven Pressfield

This book is all about enabling us to be creative. It talks about the various resisting factors, the inner conflicts, the demons inside us that hold us back from being our creative best self. It then discusses about how to overcome the different types of Resistance and create our best possible self. 
  • The Secret - Rhonda Byrne

This bestseller book is all about the ancient theory of "Law of Attraction" and describes how our thoughts create our desired reality. Not only the universal principle of "like attracts like" but also how to apply it in our real life is so beautifully explained.  An amazing book, it teaches us how we can manifest our own dreams by the power of thoughts and how our thoughts act like magnets and create the universe that we consistently "think".   
  • Jonathan Livingston Seagull - Richard Bach

An interesting book about the story of a seagull who pushes the limit to reach greater heights. The message is all about self-discovery, moving out of comfort zone and achieving our best possible self through the power of self-belief and confidence.
  • The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success - Deepak Chopra

This masterpiece is a convergence of spirituality and practicality. The book explains how understanding our basic "human nature" and following the universal laws of nature enables us to achieve personal success. The premise is - whatever laws work with nature will work with humans too. 
  • The Miracle Morning - Hal Elrod

This wonderful book, through its easy to apply approach provides six habits (routines) that can catapult us to greater heights of success and achievement. These requisite six habits of success mentioned in the book help build the required discipline to start our mornings more productively and calmly.     
  • The Gifts of Imperfection - Brene Brown

A wonderful book with a profound message that "even with all our imperfections, we(humans) are still complete". Backed by research, the book delivers how inculcating the 3C's of Courage, Compassion and Connection can lead us embrace imperfections and lead us towards "Wholehearted Living". The book also highlights the need to be be authentic self and letting go of what holds us back from achieving that "self".  
  • The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz

Drawing from the Toltec Wisdom, the book delivers four simple yet extremely powerful principles to help us get rid of our self-limiting beliefs and create a life full of love and happiness. The simplistic approach to explaining the four principles and their application in our lives makes it a wonderful read. 
  • The Art of Living - Epictetus

This book makes a good read because of the crispness with which the underlying message is delivered in each of the teachings. The instructions are simple and clear and each of the 93 instructions in the book still hold as much relevance today as when the book was written. 
  • Sam The Magic Genie -  Brian Mayne

An interesting tale on how positive thinking can change our lives for better. This book reiterates that even during times of fear and doubt, being positive is the only way to keep moving forward. The book presents the message of "positive thinking" through an interesting adventure tale undertaken by a boy who is struggling in life.
  • Achieve Anything in Just One Year - Jason Harvey

An excellent book that can help create our dream life. A book full of inspiration where each of the 365 days provide a wonderful quote to start the day followed by relevant stories and/ or action items. Overall a highly impactful book.

Hope you have found your pick from the above !

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Book Review - The Magical Book of Affirmations

The Magical Book of Affirmations by Jack Canfield and Ram Ganglani

Core Idea discussed - Affirmations (for Success)

The book is all about Affirmations and that too plenty of them, about 405 of them (not sure why this number!). The affirmations are based on the 64 principles of Success by Jack Canfield, who is also a co-author. There are multiple number of Affirmations for each of the 64 Success principles mentioned in the book. Some of the success principles stand out as mandated ones to lead a good life and the affirmations pertaining to them are quite powerful and relevant.

While reading the affirmations in the book, these affirmations may themselves appear like basic principles of living a successful life. At times, it many become an overdose of Affirmations but keep going as it will definitely provide you with set of affirmation suited to your context.

The best way to derive the maximum benefit from the book is to handpick your set of affirmations and start applying them in life to bring about the desired change.

The book may be previewed and bought from (Amazon India) or (Amazon Global)

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Book Review - The Noticer

The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Core Idea discussed - Perspective

The book deals with the idea of Perspective and how it could bring about a desired positive change in our life. In life, when we get stuck and are unable to move forward, the key culprit is our perception of the situation. With a slight shift in perception, we could move beyond the roadblock and gain momentum in life. The title of the book, "The Noticer" is derived from what the chief protagonist, "Jones" does best i.e. "Notice" or "Observe". He notices and observes and gets in a new, different perspective to things and situations that hold us back in life; things that pull us down and at times blind us to reality and facts. The book presents multiple stories of different characters where the key protagonist plays the role of a guide/ mentor who helps build up a different perspective for the protagonist of each story. Each story is quite relatable which brings our practical dilemmas that we face in our lives. Jones, the  the key protagonist plays a coach and helps the characters build perspective that's obvious and common sensical but which we sometimes tend to oversee. There's no connection between the different stories and the only connecting factor among these stories is "Jones", who assumes the hat of a sage too, at times, and renders advice to the protagonists of the different stories. At times, the book becomes drab with Jones playing the same card again and again and overdoes of "perspective" but it's still worth the time and effort to read the book for gems of wisdom that it delivers.

Key Learnings/ Interesting bits from the Book

The following are some of the wonderful learnings that i derived from the book

  • The description of 4 dialects of love is unique where characteristics of four popular animals/ birds relate to our behaviour patterns in love relationships. The four animals/ birds mentioned are Dog, Cat, Goldfish and Canary
  • Describing about Worry, the book again reiterates how just 8% worries are legitimate concerns which we actually need to deal with in life.
  • The first 10 minutes after we wake up should be spent on thinking the following
    • What i have to do today?
    • Who i have to call/ meet/ connect?       
    • Things i need to deal with
    • mixed with other thoughts like "Things i am grateful for"
  • A person could lose everything chasing nothing
  • Focus on what can be controlled
  • Many of life's treasures remain hidden from us simply because we never search for them
  • If your purpose has not yet been fulfilled, then the most important part of your life has not yet been lived
  • When you need most to accomplish something great in your life, you are only lacking an idea.
Even if the key protagonist remains an enigma till the end, the book is worth a read for all its simple, practical doses of wisdom !

You may buy/ review the book at

Monday, 18 December 2017

Book Review - How to Develop Your Personal Mission Statement

How to Develop Your Personal Mission Statement - Stephen R. Covey

Core Idea discussed in the book - Personal Mission Statement

A highly relevant book on a very powerful idea, an idea that holds great importance in our lives. The
book discusses in great depth about "Personal Mission Statement" which is like the nucleus of our life; the core of our life around which our entire live revolves. It deals with the following key components of the topic i.e. Personal Mission Statement
  • What is a Personal Mission Statement?
  • Why is it important to have a Personal Mission Statement? 
  • What impact does a Personal Mission Statement creates in our lives?
  • How to develop a strong Personal Mission Statement?
  • How to evaluate whether the existing Personal Mission Statement is giving the desired results?
A Personal Mission Statement is very crucial for defining our success in life as it lays down the principles with which we live our lives.Right from establishing the need for Personal Mission Statement to developing a proper Personal Mission Statement, the book delivers it all extremely well.The book draws not only from the rich experience, knowledge and thought process of the author but from other renowned personalities also such as Viktor Frankl, Norman Cousins and Goethe to reiterate how having a Personal Mission Statement in our lives changes it all and guide us towards more success.

The book provides a useful linkage between "Personal Mission Statement" and our Purpose, Vision and Goal and how to establish among them. 

If you still fail to develop your "Personal Mission Statement", you need not lose hope as the trigger questions towards the end will ensure that you have your "Personal Mission Statement" in place before keeping the book down.

There couldn't be a better time to pick the book and start reading it !

You may preview/ buy the book from the following link -