My Reading List For Success At Work (Part 1)

shelf-of-books

I often get asked what the best books are to help one at work. As it turns out, I give reading lists to whoever works for me. One list is focused on developing good character and “soft skills” and is relevant for whichever line of work you are in. The other list is on more technical knowledge related to the finance industry. Below is the first list, I’ll post the second one next week: Continue reading “My Reading List For Success At Work (Part 1)”

My 9 Best Books For the Summer

summer-reading

With school holidays upon us, August nearing and hints of the sun, it’s time to think of what to read on holiday. I’ve read a ton of books this year, and here’s 9 that I’d recommend for a summer holiday:

  1. Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking) by Christian Rudde. The writer has a treasure trove of data from his dating website, OKCupid. He uses it to draw out what we’re really like, especially looking at the gap between what we say and what we do. One observation from the book I have to share: a 20-yr old woman tends to find 23-yr old men look the best to them, a 30-yr woman finds 30-yr men look best, a 40-yr old woman finds 40-yr old men look best and a 50-yr old woman finds most 46-yr old men look best So women find men their own age look the best. How about men? Well, a 20-yr old man tends to find 20-yr old women look best to him, a 30-yr old man finds…20-yr old women look best, a 40-yr man finds…um…21-yr old women look best and a 50-yr man finds…yes, you guessed it…22-yr old women look best. A fun, revealing and surprisingly deep book.

Continue reading “My 9 Best Books For the Summer”

From Greek Drama To Shakespearean Tragedy (5 min read)

Shakes-EU-web-960x600

Shakespeare. You cannot get more British than that. His works are taught in schools across the country, revered by the guardians of British culture and promoted as the quintessential British cultural icon abroad. With the UK’s referendum to leave the European Union, it may be time to fall back on such an icon to help forge a new path for Britishness. Continue reading “From Greek Drama To Shakespearean Tragedy (5 min read)”

Has Democracy Failed? (3 min read)

EU_UK_flags

After last week’s UK referendum result to exit the European Union (EU), I wonder whether democracy has its limitations. At the very basic level, one would hope that voters are knowledgeable over the issue at hand, and that each political group vying for votes will be held accountable for their promises.

Yet, with the prospect of Brexit now on the horizon, I’ve been looking into the mechanics and consequences of exit and its mind-bogglingly complex. Continue reading “Has Democracy Failed? (3 min read)”

36 Awesome Opening Lines Of Books

Metamorpheses

The best writing advice* I ever got was to make sure my opening lines were great. To see why, look at the following opening lines:

1. “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.”  Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis (1915)

2. “The way you can go isn’t the real way”  Lao Tzu, Ta Te Ching (circa 500BC)

3. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) Continue reading “36 Awesome Opening Lines Of Books”

The Best Description Of Jet Lag…Ever

airplane-145889

I’m reading the novel “Pattern Recognition” by William Gibson. Seth Godin recommended it. Loving the book, especially its description of jet lag, which unfortunately I often have to endure:

“Five hours’ New York jet lag and Cayce Pollard wakes in Camden Town to the dire and ever-circling wolves of disrupted circadian rhythm. Continue reading “The Best Description Of Jet Lag…Ever”

What Would You Say On Your Deathbed?

Grave

I know, I know, not the most happy title to a blog, but sometimes it’s worth thinking about death as well as life. It’s amazing how we airbrush death out of our lives. On TV, social media and in magazines, all we can see is youth. On the news, death is only shown as a shocking event (usually in the form of murders and such things), yet millions die every year from old age in the US alone. It’s inevitable, and death is  the great leveller – rich, poor, black, white, religious, atheist – we all die.

So what do we think when we’re close to our last breath? Continue reading “What Would You Say On Your Deathbed?”

Does Work Have Any Morality? (2 min)

Jane_Jacobs

(An excerpt from upcoming book)

Jane Jacobs (1916-1996) was an expert on urban planning and the economics of cities. She was an activist who helped protect Greenwich Village in New York from being overhauled by an expressway running through Little Italy and SoHo and was arrested in the process. Through her work, she became an expert on the intersection between regulation and business and developed a framework to think about the moral dimensions of each. These were outlined in her excellent book “Systems of Survival”

She argued that there were some universal values such as cooperation, courage, patience and competence. But after these, two types of “moral syndromes” Continue reading “Does Work Have Any Morality? (2 min)”

What Causes Great Civilisations To Fail?

Arnold_J._Toynbee_Anefo

The excellent British historian, Arnold Toybee (1889-1975),  studied the rise and fall of great empires in his 12-volume “A Study Of History“. He couldn’t find many common drivers for them. That’s why no-one could easily have predicted that the British would have the largest land empire of all time,the Mongols the second largest, and the Umayyads the fifth largest. But he did find Continue reading “What Causes Great Civilisations To Fail?”

Everybody Hates Bankers

t-the-big-short-brad-pitt-steve-carrell-ryan-gosling-christian-bale-book-michael-lewis

Some people binge watch TV shows, I binge read books. Now that I’ve finished the first draft of my book on how bankers can become better citizens of the world, I read three books on bankers in three days. I also watched “The Big Short”.

The common thread to all these is that bankers are evil! Continue reading “Everybody Hates Bankers”