List: Books read in 2016

This post is written for the Day 2 exercise of the blogging course Writing: Finding Everyday Inspiration. The topic is List. The exercise was to write a list on any of these four topics – Things I like, Things I’ve learned, Things I wish and Things You’re good at. Since the main idea is about list, I am ditching these four topics and writing about the books that I read this year which I was planning to write about anyway.

As I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts, I had set myself a challenge of reading at least 12 books in 2016. The previous year I had set a lofty goal of reading 18 books and failed miserably. So this year, I set myself a realistic goal of 12 books. By writing about the books I read, with the kindle that my wife gifted on my birthday and through some smart selection of smaller books (wink wink), I completed the challenge this year. Here is the list of the books that I read and one or two lines about them.

  1. The Secret of the Mantle by Harini Chakrapani
  2.  The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
  3. Delivering Happiness – A path to profits, passion and purpose by Tony Hseih
  4. The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone

I had already written my view about these books here. I will have to remind you that I have an ability to completely surprise you. There is this comedy scene in one of the Tamil movies where the comedian will boast that he will switch the right indicator on, give the hand signal for turning left and confuse the cops by going straight. Similarly, I had given the list of next books to read in the above link for 2016. I read none of them and chose a completely different set of books.

5. How to live 24 hours a day by Arnold Bennet

This is one of those smart selections. A quick read. I had posted about this book already here.

6. The Professional by Subroto Bagchi

This book is written by a senior IT business professional and most of the advices and examples are related to IT field. Cleverly organized as well. I felt like I have read this book already but through different words. If you know, what I mean.

7. One small step can change your life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer

This is one of the best books that I read this year. This book talks about the Japanese practice of continuous improvement called Kaizen and how small changes can eventually help you in moving mountains. I would recommend this book.

8. The Leadership Sutra by Devdutt Patnaik

This is the best book that I have read this year. This talks about leadership and management using the Indian mythology. The best thing I like about this book is that it does not tell you what to do or how to do. Instead, it tells a story from the mythology and a relevant story from the corporate world. It leaves it there so that you can chew on that thought later rather than forcing the author’s opinion down the throat. I highly recommend this book. I learnt that this is an excerpt from the book Business Sutra by the same author. I am currently reading that book and it is quite gripping and brings fresh perspective about management.

9. Work Smarter not Harder by Timo Kiander

This is again one of those smart moves to complete the challenge ;-). This is a quick read. Most of the points, you would have come across already. Neverthless, a quick refresher.

10. Mastery Manual by Robin Sharma

I am not a big fan of Robin Sharma’s style of story telling. I have read his books The monk who sold his Ferrari and The leader who had no title earlier. I was skeptical about reading this book. I don’t remember anything about this book now. The only thing that I remember is that this book was not as bad as the first two.

11.Who will cry when you die by Robin Sharma

Okay. I chose this book just because I learnt that this is not in a story form but a collection of individual chapters. I felt that only a few chapters were good and rest all were the points that are etched in the stone tablets. Few of the chapters were total BS. They were either a book recommendation, a movie recommendation or a marketing gig for his lecture. The good thing is you can choose which chapter you want to read and omit the others.

12.Ennadudaia Iyarkaiyey Potri by K.Nammazhvaar

This is the only Tamil language book I read this year. There is something about reading in your mother tongue. Mother tongue can always get the point across easily and deeply. The author is a renowned Organic Farming evangelist. This book gives good points about organic farming and crop rotation that would keep the land fertile and our coming generation healthy.

Other than these I have a read good portion of the following books

  1. Business Sutra by Devdutt Patnaik
  2. Faster, Smarter, Higher: Managing your career by Utkarsh Rai

I am tempted to give you the list of books that I am planning to complete in 2017. But, you and me, both know that I am not going to follow that list. So why waste your time?

What books have you read this year? Please leave some recommendations in the comment section.

Merry Christmas! Cheers.

Dilemma

The other day I was on my way to work. The traffic was jammed. It was drizzling. During peak hours in monsoon, one can easily get stuck in traffic for hours. Even when walking. Yeah, a bit of an exaggeration but you get the point. I was casually looking around all the directions while the vehicles were competing to claw the next available inch. One guy in a motor bike picked something from near his leg space and threw it on the pavement. Well, it was a garbage bag. I could feel the mercury levels of my irritation rising. I always get irritated when somebody doesn’t exhibit civic sense. It could be as trivial as three friends walking slowly on the pavement not leaving the way for the person behind them. But I have never acted in haste. I remember The Hulk for a minute, take some super deep breaths and focus on something else.

The person throwing the garbage out on the road would have zero impact until two years back. Nobody used to care about it. Including, your’s truly. But with the new government promoting Swacch Bharat (Clean India) initiative, people are showing awareness. Why wouldn’t they? The government has imposed 2% Swachh Bharat cess on all taxable services. And organizing Swachh Bharat campaigns and taking the responsibility a bit too far has become a fad. So after this guy threw the garbage on the pavement, one biker from behind rushed towards him, condemned him and directed him to pick the bag up. This is a good deed and you can tell from other people’s faces that everyone thought it is a good deed. Until the other guy parked his bike to pick up the garbage bag.

The guy was limping. It looked like he was a victim of polio and it was difficult for him to walk. Now he had to walk about 20 to 25 meters to pick up the garbage bag. But no one cared. No one, including me, tried to help that person. Thinking about it now, was making a guy with disability pick the rubbish he threw nobler than letting him carry on with a simple verbal advice? I don’t know. Maybe that guy will never throw rubbish again on the road. But what about the person who made him pick the bag? He didn’t even flinch when he saw the man limping. Was his action (or inaction) a moral one? The ideal thing to do could have been to help him by picking the bag for him.

As scriptures and philosophers say, an action is labeled good or bad by the purpose or intention. A person is called a criminal if he kills another person normally. But if he takes part in a war and kills people of the enemy’s side, he is called a soldier. Good and bad are again perspectives. They co-exist like two sides of a coin.  So what is good? What is bad? And what is better of the two goods and worse of the two bads? Confusions, questions and dilemmas!

 

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 5/12

Today, I went to a local saloon (or some people may call, a barber shop) and found myself to be on a waitlist. There were quite a few people before me. Appointment concept is for only for those places which call themselves professional and cost you your arms and legs. The output from both the places are same, in my opinion. You lose some damn hair. I don’t want to sell my kidney to get a haircut. This place had some magazines that were from last year. Few more months, and they could be sold on ebay as antiques. So while I was wondering how to utilize the time usefully I got reminded of my reading challenge.

The last time I wrote about the book challenge I had completed 4 out of 12 books. I had also mentioned a list of books that I am intending to finish reading this year. I have started at least four of them and finished reading one-fourth of each of them. Should I claim that as one more book? Anyways, coming back to the topic, I was going through my Kindle app to see which of the downloaded books I could read. I finally chose the one – ‘How to live on 24 hours a day’ by Arnold Bennet.

How to live on 24 hours a day

I bought this book from Amazon, if I could call that buying, because it featured in classics and free ebooks section. I have never heard about this author before. However, I liked the title and bought it. My expectation from this book was that it would be something like ‘Stay alive all your life’ by Norman Vincent Peale. Instead this book actually gives you pointers on how to literally use 24 hours a day. I would not claim that it’s a self-help book. Nor would I say it would give you clear processes like Getting Things Done. Instead, it just picks your brain about how you might have been wasting time and what could you do instead.

It was written a century ago but some of the points are still relevant. The book started off with explaining about how everyone is given 24 hours every day and how we could perceive it as a currency. Most of the time management books focus majorly on the work hours. How distracted are you at work, how much time are you wasting at work, how productive can you be at work? Now entrepreneurs may like those books because they directly reap the benefits of hard work. But for people in jobs, working for others, it may sound like a propaganda to work hard for somebody else. What I like about this book is that it ignores the work hours completely. It assumes by default that work hours are productive. The question directly is how do you spend the remaining hours? How can use that time wisely to do more. Doing more doesn’t mean working the same ‘work’. It talks about doing more to improve your knowledge, your art, your family relationships or anything else.

I felt that I was starting to get bored when the author picked up few average people and tried to explain what they could do productively instead of what they were doing. There were different possible options but none of them conclusive. The author himself says that this is not a handbook and there is no one solution. He, in fact, warns the readers to start slow. May be, squeeze out 7 hours a week to do something else rather than over confidently doing more and falling hard.

It’s a light breezy read of 25 pages, giving some good insights and throwing some good questions to ponder.

PS: I should keep such books handy to complete my challenge this year, I guess.

Goodreads Reading Challenge – 5/12

Today, I went to a local saloon (or some people may call, a barber shop) and found myself to be on a waitlist. There were quite a few people before me. Appointment concept is for only for those places which call themselves professional and cost you your arms and legs. The output from both the places are same, in my opinion. You lose some damn hair. I don’t want to sell my kidney to get a haircut. This place had some magazines that were from last year. Few more months, and they could be sold on ebay as antiques. So while I was wondering how to utilize the time usefully I got reminded of my reading challenge.

The last time I wrote about the book challenge I had completed 4 out of 12 books. I had also mentioned a list of books that I am intending to finish reading this year. I have started at least four of them and finished reading one-fourth of each of them. Should I claim that as one more book? Anyways, coming back to the topic, I was going through my Kindle app to see which of the downloaded books I could read. I finally chose the one – ‘How to live on 24 hours a day’ by Arnold Bennet.

How to live on 24 hours a day

I bought this book from Amazon, if I could call that buying, because it featured in classics and free ebooks section. I have never heard about this author before. However, I liked the title and bought it. My expectation from this book was that it would be something like ‘Stay alive all your life’ by Norman Vincent Peale. Instead this book actually gives you pointers on how to literally use 24 hours a day. I would not claim that it’s a self-help book. Nor would I say it would give you clear processes like Getting Things Done. Instead, it just picks your brain about how you might have been wasting time and what could you do instead.

It was written a century ago but some of the points are still relevant. The book started off with explaining about how everyone is given 24 hours every day and how we could perceive it as a currency. Most of the time management books focus majorly on the work hours. How distracted are you at work, how much time are you wasting at work, how productive can you be at work? Now entrepreneurs may like those books because they directly reap the benefits of hard work. But for people in jobs, working for others, it may sound like a propaganda to work hard for somebody else. What I like about this book is that it ignores the work hours completely. It assumes by default that work hours are productive. The question directly is how do you spend the remaining hours? How can use that time wisely to do more. Doing more doesn’t mean working the same ‘work’. It talks about doing more to improve your knowledge, your art, your family relationships or anything else.

I felt that I was starting to get bored when the author picked up few average people and tried to explain what they could do productively instead of what they were doing. There were different possible options but none of them conclusive. The author himself says that this is not a handbook and there is no one solution. He, in fact, warns the readers to start slow. May be, squeeze out 7 hours a week to do something else rather than over confidently doing more and falling hard.

It’s a light breezy read of 25 pages, giving some good insights and throwing some good questions to ponder.

PS: I should keep such books handy to complete my challenge this year, I guess.

Monsoon, where art thou?

I am looking forward to a good monsoon this year. Timely monsoon is very important every year, for its failure causes undescribable agony to all the living beings. Some people, like the farmers, are directly impacted and struggle to run their day to day life. Some people, in the city, are not directly impacted for money could help for sometime. Only for sometime. But eventually they are impacted as well. Same is the case with the animals and crops.

Monsoon last year was as weak as the economy. The State is completely dry and only a good monsoon this year can be a saving grace. It has already started in Kerala and will reach Pune in few days.

With that said, an overcast sky makes me as happy as a peacock would be. I have mentioned earlier that my workplace has one of the best views in the town. On an overcast day like today, the view is soothing and comforting. Bring the rain on!

image

PS: A mark of a true modern professional is to never leave any chance of tooting his/her own horn. While we are talking about monsoon and rains, I would like to shamelessly replug my 2008 post about rains here.

Cheers.

212 degrees

The very first company that I worked for used to conduct annual conferences for employees where employees from all over the world would fly to a common location (usually foreign country) and spend 3 days together. The goal was to celebrate past year’s achievement, set the goal and tone for the next year and to have total fun! Each year there will be a central theme. Each year they broadcast an inspirational video around that central theme that was either produced in-house or from the web. The main theme for one of those years was 212 degrees. I really loved the video and the concept and I would like to share that here. This is about going one extra mile; making one extra degree of effort.

Original Video

Here is another one on the same topic

How’s that for Monday Motivation?

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev on Prioritization

I couldn’t have heard this speech of Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev in a better time. This one is about prioritizing the important things and removing all unnecessary things in your life. Especially the first two minutes about how providing a joyful environment for our children is more important than providing them with material stuffs. Just this week, I managed to take a vacation after a long time and spent some quality time with my daughter. Not any fancy vacation but just an ordinary one where we spent more time together. It just hit me on the head when she said this vacation was the best.  I promised myself that I would take regular breaks and spend good quality time with family as often as possible. Aren’t we all chasing wrong things and paying too much attention on the wrong stuffs?