Drive

Drive is an interesting books that talks about what motivates us. Dan Pink goes through and talks about a lot of the studies on human motivation and behavior. Showing that the main motivation for people isn’t so much the if you do this you get rewarded if not you get punished. It is actually a drive for self control and interesting work to do.

Most of the book is focused on what motivates us in the work place. He makes reference to companies like Google and Atlassian and their 20% time. Which allows employees to spend 20% of their time working on what ever they want with who ever they want. This time actually produces many new products and a lot of bug fixes for existing products.

Dan also talks extensively about how work using this type of motivation is of a higher quality than other types. He makes reference to Wikipedia putting Encarta out of business, and the extensive use of Linux and other open source tools.

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Ikigai

In Ikigai  Sebastian Marshall talks about life achievement and his philosophies on both. The main topic of the book is motivation. It’s not so much about the Get Things Done type of motivation as it is about the motivation for living the way you do.

Sebastian dives into finding what truly drives your life. To live a great life and be a great person he says that you need real dreams, a strong code of ethics and strength. He also goes in-depth into how to find your code of ethics and what you truly want to do with your life. His main suggestion is to just get out into nature, a nearby coffee shop, or anywhere that you don’t have your normal distractions. Take only a notebook and a pen and just write down the things that come to mind, and over time a pattern will emerge.

I need to re-read the book to get more from it. I know there was more that I didn’t fully understand or pick up on. I’ll post more later but for now these are a couple of my favorite highlights from the book.

The million dollar question … why don’t people take the large opportunities in front of them? Why don’t they allow their dreams to become realities? Because it means you won’t be understood. And we need to be understood, fundamentally, it’s so important to us.
Ikigai (Sebastian Marshall)
– Highlight Loc. 257-62

I think this is actually a really good reason for why people don’t take certain opportunities. I have a friend whose family doesn’t understand his work and don’t think he has a real job. His mother told one of his employee’s “You know this isn’t a real thing right” almost like his successful business would just go away and he would have to grow up and get a “real” job.

They say the law of diminishing returns on money kicks in around $60k or so. I think they’re crazy. They must be thinking only about their happiness as individuals. I want $40 million before I slow down. $40M is enough that you can drop $2 million on building something–a school, a bridge, an orphanage, a shrine, a monument, a massive work of public art–and it’s only 5% of what you’ve got. If you see a deal of a lifetime, you can put $10 mil into it and it’s only 25% of what you’ve got.
Ikigai (Sebastian Marshall)
– Highlight Loc. 303-4

I really like this idea on money. There is no reason to fear money. It doesn’t change you it just makes your more of what you are, and I think that scares people. If you’re able to use it for good and to help out family, friends or society why not make plenty of it.

The Lost Dogs

The Lost Dogs is a  really interesting look into the Michael Vick dog fighting case. I have taken a lot of interest in the case of the last while because of my work with animal rescues. Most of my interest comes from the negative stereotype associated with pitbull type dogs, and the number that were saved. Only one of the dogs from the operation was put down. She was bred to the point that she was aggressive towards humans.
Jim Gorant does a good job of telling the facts without much if any bias, and has extensive research documentation to back up what he’s written. That is one of my favorite thing about the book. For dog lovers and many sports fans this is a touchy subject and many things from the case could easily be sensationalized for one audience or the other, so it’s nice to see something that’s not skewed for any one audience and focused on presenting the facts. The only thing that isn’t based on fact in the book is when Gorant tries to tell portions of the story from the dogs perspective.

With all the information in this book the thing tha surprised me the most was actually in the introduction. Gorant is talking about the original article he wrote for Sports Illustrated, and the ~488 letters the magazine received about the story.

The second complaint was more troubling. In its simplest incarnation it usually went something like this: “Why does it matter, they’re just dogs?” The more verbose in this camp might elaborate: “People are dying and starving every day and we’ve got bigger problems. No one cares if you kill cows or chickens or hunt deer. What’s different about dogs?”
The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant

I can’t understand this line of thinking, but I’m not the average person. I’m around anywhere between 3–10 dogs at any point in the day and usually sleep with 2+ in my bed at night, but I think that Gorant does a great job answering that question.

The answer, cobbled together from all those readings and conversations, took me back to the beginning. Men first domesticated dogs more than ten thousand years ago, when our ancestors were hunting for their meals and sleeping next to open fires at night. Dogs were instant helpers in our struggle for survival. They guarded us in the dark and helped us find food by day. We offered them something, too, scraps of food, some measure of protection, the heat of the flames. In an article about the origin of dogs that ran in the New York Times in early 2010, one expert on dog genetics theorized that “dogs could have been the sentries that let hunter-gatherers settle without fear of surprise attack. They may also have been the first major item of inherited wealth, preceding cattle, and so could have laid the foundations for the gradations of wealth and social hierarchy that differentiated settled groups from their hunter-gatherer predecessors.”

Certainly, as man rose in the world, dogs came with us, perhaps even aiding the advance. They continued to guard us and help with hunting, but they did more. They marched with armies into war, they worked by our side, hauling, pulling, herding, retrieving. We manipulated their genetic makeup to suit our purposes, crossbreeding types to create animals that could kill the rats infesting our cities or search for those lost in the snow or the woods.

In return we brought them into our homes, made them part of our families. We offered them love and companionship, and they returned the gesture. From the start it was a compact: You do this for us and we’ll do that for you.

Our relationship with dogs has always been different than it has been with livestock or wildlife. The only other animal that comes close is the horse, which has undoubtedly been a partner in our evolution and a companion. But a horse can’t curl up at the bottom of your bed at night, and it can’t come up and lick your face when you’re feeling down. Dogs have that ability to sense what we’re feeling and commiserate. There’s a reason they’re called man’s best friend.
The Lost Dogs by Jim Gorant

Crush It!

I really loved Crush it! It is a short and simple book that can be read in one night. Gary Vaynerchuck gives a lot of great advice on how to make a living by doing what you love. I really like that he doesn’t pretend that you can do so in one night, like many self help books I’ve seen the covers for. He even says flat out that it wont happen over night. Gary talks about how if you work on stuff that you’re interested in, build a community around it, and put the time in you will eventually be able to make money from doing what you’re passionate about.Gary also talks about building your personal brand, and how it can benefit you in the long run. I think this is a really important aspect of the book. As we’re moving toward a more distributed work force your personal brand will help a lot when you’re looking for work. Employers will start looking to hire employees with great personal brand that can help the company.

My favorite part of the book though was his talking about the three rules.

  1. Love Your Family
  2. Work Super Hard
  3. Live Your Passion

Gary talks about how you should measure success by how happy you are not how much you have. He also talks about how you should put your family first. You need to take care of them before you worry about anything.