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10 Books Recently Recommended By Bill Gates

10 Books Recently Recommended By Bill Gates

Bill gates has been called a genius and an innovator in more ways than I can count. But he wasn’t born as the superhuman he is now. And it’s not exactly an easy task becoming the world’s richest man. He had to work hard just like every other successful person, constantly learning and applying what he learned.

We all want to become successful. So why not look to whom many would call the world’s most successful person to see what resources are needed to reach our dreams? Through his personal book reviews, we see that Gates has an eclectic yet polished taste in literature, with preferences ranging from business and capitalism to poverty and healthcare.

Here are 10 books Bill Gates has recently and personally recommended, which means you should probably order them right now.

How to Lie with Statistics

    1. How to Lie with Statistics, by Darrell Huff

    What It’s About

    Statistics can be a beautiful instrument of learning for businesses and humanitarians alike, when used properly. Even though statistics inherently has checks and balances to keep representations as accurate as possible, people purposefully rephrase or misrepresent stats everyday. Huff explains how much statistics actually affect our daily lives, and how they are often used to fool, rather than inform, the reader.

    Just under 3,000 Goodreads users gave How to Lie with Statistics a rating of 3.85 out of 5.

    Why Gates Recommends It

    I picked this one up after seeing it on a Wall Street Journal list of good books for investors. It was first published in 1954, but it doesn’t feel dated (aside from a few anachronistic examples—it has been a long time since bread cost 5 cents a loaf in the United States)… It’s a timely reminder, given how often infographics show up in your Facebook and Twitter feeds these days. A great introduction to the use of statistics, and a great refresher for anyone who’s already well versed in it.

    The Rosie Effect: A Novel

      2. The Rosie Effect: A Novel, by Graeme Simsion

      What It’s About

      This sequel to The Rosie Project is about Don and Rosie, the main characters of the novel, and their story as newlyweds in the grand city of New York. Rosie announces that she’s pregnant, so Don works hard to become the master of all things obstetric. Even though he gets the knowledge side down, he bombs the emotional aspect of his wife’s pregnancy and his own fatherhood. Throughout the process he nearly loses Rosie!

      25,000 Goodreads reviewers gave this novel a 3.54 out of 5.

      Why Gates Recommends It

      If somebody asked me, “what do you think your decades of working in technology have prepared you for?” my first answer definitely wouldn’t be, “writing a best-selling novel that beautifully explores the human condition.” But Australian author Graeme Simsion has taken his extensive experience in the data modeling industry and used it to do just that.

      I was happy to learn that one of my favorite things about both books is also one of Graeme’s favorite things. Usually, when we meet people who are different from us, in whatever way, we tend to treat them as inferior, even though we say that’s not what we’re doing. We may not even consciously realize we’re doing it. But through Don Tillman, the hero of both books, Graeme casts the issue in a different light.

      Different doesn’t mean less than.

      XKCD Volume 0

        3. XKCD: Volume 0, by Randall Munroe

        What It’s About

        This is the first book to come from the popular (and rather humorous) webcomic XKCD. Though incredibly witty, and somewhat geeky, it is essentially a large collection of fan favorites.

        With a huge popularity among geeks and nerds, 4,400 of the Goodreads community gave it a 4.36 out of 5.

        Why Gates Recommends It

        This is one of two Randall Munroe books I’ve read, and it is (by design) the funnier of the pair. It’s a collection of posts from his blog XKCD, which is made up of cartoons he draws making fun of things—mostly scientists and computers, but lots of other things too. There’s one about scientists holding a press conference to reveal their discovery that life is arsenic-based. They research press conferences and find out that sometimes it’s good to serve food that’s related to the subject of the conference. The last panel is all the reporters dead on the floor because they ate arsenic. It’s that kind of humor, which not everybody loves, but I do.

        Hyperbole and a Half

          4. Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened, by Allie Brosh

          What It’s About

          This illustrated edition of life events and stories by Brosh brings us many humorous and insightful musings from, well, her personal life events and stories. It is a great additive to Brosh’s blog that keeps readers laughing to the point of tears from cover to cover.

          82,000 Goodreads users gave it a 4.13 out of 5.

          Why Gates Recommends It

          According to Bill, it’s “funny and smart as hell.”

          [It’s] an honest-to-goodness summer read. You will rip through it in three hours, tops. But you’ll wish it went on longer, because it’s funny and smart as hell. I must have interrupted Melinda a dozen times to read to her passages that made me laugh out loud.

          But her best stuff is the deep stuff, especially the chapters about her battles with severe depression. There is a lot of self-revelation here but no self-pity. She brings the same wit to this subject as she does to her stories about her dogs—even if it makes the reader more likely to tear up than crack up.

          Hyperbole and a Half gave me a new appreciation for what a depressed person is feeling and not feeling, and what’s helpful and not helpful.

          What If: Serious scientific answers to absurd hypothetical questions

            5. What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe

            What It’s About

            Former NASA employee and creator of webcomic XKCD, Munroe tackles a series of impossible questions, like “What would happen if your cells stopped dividing?” or “How bad is it really to be in a pool during a thunderstorm?” or “How high would you need to drop a steak from to make sure it was cooked by the time it reached the ground?” What If? is full of entertaining nonsense (or rather, complete sense), sure to inform and captivate the reader for hours.

            24,000 Goodreads users gave it a 4.14 out of 5.

            Why Gates Recommends It

            The reason Munroe’s approach is a great way to learn about science is that he takes ideas that everybody understands in a general way and then explores what happens when you take those ideas to their limits.

            So if you’re dying to know how fast you can drive over a speed bump and still live, or how many Legos it would take to build a bridge from London to New York, or whether we could make the moon change colors by pointing every single laser pointer on Earth at it—you’re in luck. Not only do you have a place to go for the answers, but you’ll also learn about a lot of other things like ballistics, DNA, the oceans, the atmosphere, and lightning. And when to duck if the glass is half full.

            The Magic of Reality

              6. The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, by Richard Dawkins

              What It’s About

              Dawkins takes the reader through, well, a magical journey of reality. So many things happen in the world that seem unreal or supernatural. Here readers learn the science behind these mysteriously captivating phenomena.

              Over 10,000 Goodreads users gave The Magic of Reality a 4.05 out of 5.

              Why Gates Recommends It

              Richard Dawkins… has a gift for making science enjoyable. I’ve read many of his books over the years, including The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker. His antagonistic (and, to me, overzealous) view of religion has earned him a lot of angry critics, but I consider him to be one of the great scientific writers/explainers of all time.

              It’s an engaging, well-illustrated science textbook offering compelling answers to big questions, from how the universe formed to what causes earthquakes. It’s also a plea for readers of all ages to approach mysteries with rigor and curiosity, rather than buying into the supernatural myths at the core of most faith traditions.

              Stress Test: Financial Crisis

                7. Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crisis, by Timothy F. Geithner

                What It’s About

                It’s a New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller. What more do you need to know? Geithner was President Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury, and president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before that. As such, he gives a fascinating and enlightening account of the worst American financial crisis since the Great Depression.

                Readers learn how a group of policy-makers avoided a second great depression, but lost the support of the general public in the process. Readers also get to learn about Geithner’s life from a vantage point other than his appearance in the public eye.

                1,100 Goodreads users gave Stress Test a 3.95 out 5.

                Why Gates Recommends It

                I’ve now read four or five of these first drafts of the history of the Great Recession, and I believe Stress Test represents the biggest contribution of the bunch.

                While some chapters dive into details that only a true policy wonk could love, I found the entire book very clear and easy to read.

                Ultimately, Geithner paints a compelling human portrait of what it was like to be fighting a global financial meltdown while at the same time fighting critics inside and outside the Administration—as well as his own severe guilt over his near-total absence from his family.

                Reinventing American Health Care

                  8. Reinventing American Health Care: How the Affordable Care Act will Improve our Terribly Complex, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Expensive, Grossly Inefficient, Error Prone System, by Ezekiel Emanuel

                  What It’s About

                  If you’re entering med school, this is the book for you. The title says it all! In this insider’s analysis, Emanuel takes us through a history of government regulated healthcare, and explains how the Affordable Care Act was the off-kilter medical move America needed.

                  The Goodreads community – a solid 150 of them – gave it a 4.03 out 5.

                  Why Gates Recommends It

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                  Emanuel is good about making it clear when he’s educating you about the history of health care and when he’s advocating for his ideas. He calls out a few things he disagreed with in Obamacare, like the creation of a separate health-insurance exchange for small businesses. And unlike a lot of experts, he’s willing to make predictions about how health care will change in the coming years… The facts and history that Emanuel lays out would be useful to anyone involved in the debate over health care, no matter what their point of view is.

                  Business Adventures

                    9. Business Adventures: Twelve Classic Tales from the World of Wall Street, by John Brooks

                    What It’s About

                    As a longtime contributor to the New Yorker, Brooks helps us understand the nuances of corporate life in America during the ’50s and ’60s. Though aged, it still holds as an insightfully intriguing set of tales, through which much may be gleaned.

                    1,800 of the ever-faithful Goodreads community gave it a 3.80 out of 5.

                    Why Gates Recommends It

                    Today, more than two decades after Warren [Buffett] lent it to me—and more than four decades after it was first published—Business Adventures remains the best business book I’ve ever read. John Brooks is still my favorite business writer. (And Warren, if you’re reading this, I still have your copy.)

                    Brooks’s work is a great reminder that the rules for running a strong business and creating value haven’t changed. For one thing, there’s an essential human factor in every business endeavor. It doesn’t matter if you have a perfect product, production plan, and marketing pitch; you’ll still need the right people to lead and implement those plans.

                    Business Adventures is as much about the strengths and weaknesses of leaders in challenging circumstances as it is about the particulars of one business or another. In that sense, it is still relevant not despite its age but because of it. John Brooks’s work is really about human nature, which is why it has stood the test of time.

                    The Bully Pulpit

                      10. The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, by Doris Kearns Goodwin

                      What It’s About

                      A historical piece on the Progressive Era (a mix of the Industrial Age and progressive social reform), Goodwin focuses on the relationship of political rivals Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

                      6,300 of our loyal comrades at Goodreads gave The Bully Pulpit a 4.12 out of 5.

                      Why Gates Recommends It

                      There’s [so much] fascinating material competing for space, from Roosevelt’s relationship with the press and his friendship with William Howard Taft (who was brilliant in his own right) to his efforts to fight corruption and reform the political system.

                      I’m especially interested in the central question that Goodwin raises: How does social change happen? Can it be driven by a single inspirational leader, or do other factors have to lay the groundwork first?

                      Featured photo credit: Gisela Giardino via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on March 21, 2019

                      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                      11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

                      Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

                      You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

                      But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

                      To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

                      It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

                      “What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

                      The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

                      In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

                      Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

                      1. Start Small

                      The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

                      Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

                      Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

                      Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

                      Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

                      Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

                      It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

                      Do less today to do more in a year.

                      2. Stay Small

                      There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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                      But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

                      If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

                      When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

                      I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

                      Why?

                      Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

                      The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

                      Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

                      3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

                      No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

                      There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

                      What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

                      Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

                      This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

                      This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

                      4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

                      When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

                      There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

                      Peter Drucker said,

                      “What you track is what you do.”

                      So track it to do it — it really helps.

                      But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

                      5. Measure Once, Do Twice

                      Peter Drucker also said,

                      “What you measure is what you improve.”

                      So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

                      For reading, it’s 20 pages.
                      For writing, it’s 500 words.
                      For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
                      For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

                      Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

                      6. All Days Make a Difference

                      Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

                      Will two? They won’t.

                      Will three? They won’t.

                      Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

                      What happened? Which one made you fit?

                      The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

                      No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

                      7. They Are Never Fully Automated

                      Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

                      But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

                      What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

                      It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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                      The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

                      It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

                      It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

                      8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

                      Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

                      Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

                      When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

                      The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

                      Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

                      9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

                      The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

                      Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

                      You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

                      But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

                      So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

                      If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

                      This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

                      The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

                      Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

                      10. Punish Yourself

                      Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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                      I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

                      It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

                      You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

                      No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

                      The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

                      But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

                      11. Reward Yourself

                      When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

                      Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

                      The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

                      After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

                      If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

                      Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

                      If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

                      In the End, It Matters

                      What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

                      When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

                      And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

                      “Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

                      Keep going.

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                      More Resources to Help You Build Habits

                      Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
                      [2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
                      [3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
                      [4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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