Category Archives: Books

Buy the Early Release of Steve Wendel’s book “Designing for Behavior Change”

book-coverMy good friend, former colleague, and Principal Scientist at HelloWallet Steve Wendel is writing a book for O’Reilly Media on “Designing for Behavior Change.”    Well, they’ve started selling an early release copy of the book on the O’Reilly’s website.   Wanted to give Steve & the book a quick plug.

In the book, Steve really dives into how the human brain works when it comes to developing human behaviors & habits and how that can make you more or less successful with your product.

The concepts Steve writes about are super important.  As early adopters of technology products, every day I’m trying something new.  I’ll get really excited about it for a week or two and then never touch the app again.   That’s because there’s some underlying behavior or habit that this new app has failed to change.

As we design products, it’s crucial to have that high level of empathy for the people that we’re trying to serve if we’re going to be successful in what we’re trying to accomplish.  Steve lays out a roadmap for how to do that.

And… if you buy the early release copy of his book, you can send him feedback and comments that’ll make it into the final copy.

Also… you can read his thoughts on his blog Action Design and if you’re in DC, attend the meetup group Action Design DC where they discuss these ideas face to face.

Just finished reading “Foodist” by Darya Rose

Foodist-cover-flatJust finished reading the book “Foodist” by Darya Rose, author of the blog Summer Tomato.  It was awesome.   It’s the first time I’ve read a food/health/diet book that didn’t make me feel like it wanted me to subscribe to a new religion.  For example, Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Chef and Four Hour Body was just WAY too intense for me.  It stressed me out.  I think Tim Ferriss is just way too intense for me.

Foodist is very logical and practical.  Throughout the book, I was saying “yeah… yeah.”    I felt like it was giving me the proper mindset and understanding for why I am why I am but then giving me tools for making the right decisions and changing my habits.

My only critique is that I wish there was some kind of companion app for the book so that I could better take the tips with me and use them when & where they’re relevant.

Sorry that my analysis isn’t more indepth.  I need to take better notes when I read books.

If you roll your eyes at the thought of yet another food/health/diet book then I’d highly recommend picking this up.

Just finished “Conscious Capitalism” by Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey

One of the amazing perks of living in Downtown Las Vegas is that there’s this constant flow of amazing people coming to town to check things out.    Often, the Downtown Project will ask some of the guests to speak to the community.   A few weeks ago it was Whole Foods Co-CEO John Mackey. 

John had just written the book “Conscious Capitalism.”  In a fireside chat, he shared the story behind Whole Foods and how having a purpose-driven business (beyond just making money) has led to the success of the business.   On the way out, they gave away copies of the book.

I just finished “Conscious Capitalism.”  It’s a great and really easy read.   It’s true that society has told us that business’ single goal is to make money.  John makes the case that that’s just not true.  Businesses are here to change the world in some way for the better and make money.  They’re here to solve a problem.   That mission/purpose is something that affects/changes/touches everything.  It’ll change how you hire, how you relate to you employees, how you relate to your employees, how you lead, and how you manage.

I love how transparent John was about the ups and downs of creating/founding Whole Foods.  Reading this book makes me want to work for John.  He’s a very inspiring leader or seems so from the book.

I’d highly recommend the book to anyone!

Read Randall Stross’s book “The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator”

the-launch-padThis week I finished reading the book “The Launch Pad: Inside Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s Most Exclusive School for Startups” by New York Times Digital Domain columnist Randall Stross. He goes inside and tells the story behind the most well known startup accelerator Y Combinator, run by Silicon Valley luminary Paul Graham. It was especially fascinating to read about YC’s program after having seen 500 Startup’s program first hand last summer.

It’s interesting to learn more about Paul. Have never met him person. It sounds like him and his team get really hands on with birthing all of these companies and he’s very patriarchal in the whole process. And rightfully so, he’s helped birth some real winners… home runs like AirBnb, DropBox, and Heroku.

From the book, you hear how first hand people from around the world flock to Silicon Valley to be considered or apart of the YC program. Some of the young stars don’t even know what their startup is going to be. They just want be apart of the program hoping that at some point genius will strike and they’ll get they’re chance at changing the world.

Was also fascinating to hear the history behind some of YC’s bigger alumni names. They started YC three startups ago, are now on something completely different, and seeing success. It shows the incredible tolerance for risk that there is out in the valley, for both investors and founders.

If your fascinated by YC and want to get the inside scoop or if you wanna better understand the nature of the Silicon Valley startup machine, I’d highly recommend that ya read this book. Randall Stross is a great writer too.

What I’ve Been Reading: “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good” by Sarah Lacy

Ever since the whole SXSW Sarah Lacy/Mark Zuckerberg incident, I was very anxious to read Sarah’s book that was coming out.  Well it came out and I bought it. On the plane ride up to TechCoctkail, I finished the book.

It’s full title is, “Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0.

The book gives some great background about the men or the men behind the men that created a lot of the Web applications that we know, love, and use today.  For example she profiles, Max Levchin of PayPal and Slide, Jay Adelson of Digg, Marc Andreessen of Netscape and Ning, Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook, and others.

In the book there is a definite message that the Valley believes that if you can create one successful company that’s cool but if you can great multiple then you’re really a success.

All in all the book would be great for someone who wants to hear more indepth accounts behind some of their favorite companies.  This is NOT a life changing book.  Meh. It’s actually a pretty quick read.

What I’m Reading: Designing for the Social Web by Joshua Porter

So… I’ve been reading a lot of good books lately and for some reason have forgotten to mention them here.  The book that I’m reading now is “Designing for the Social Web” by Joshua Porter.

I’ve been reading Joshua’s blog Bokardo for a while.  His insights around the social Web have always been really spot on so I didn’t hesitate to pick up his book.

In the book, he analyzes a lot of examples in the social Web that we are all familiar with while abstracting a lot of high level ideas that everyone can use.

Some of the highlights so far have been things like the intro to the rise of the social web,  AOF  (Activities, Objects, and Features) method,  how to build authentic conversations with your users, and how to communicate the actual benefit of your service in a way that will get your users coming back over and over again.

Buy This book.  You’ll love it.

Options – a book that made me laugh out loud

Because I’ve been traveling a lot lately and have had a longer commute to work, I’ve had much more time to read.  One of the books that I recently finished is “Options: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs, a Parody” by Daniel Lyons.

Not too often is there a book that has actually made me laugh out loud. This book made me laugh out loud.

The book is kind of an out growth of Lyons’ blog –  The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs, which is also a riot to read.

I’d recommend reading the book to anyone who is like me a member of the cult of mac.