In my last blog of 2019, I’d like to share some of my recent favorite reads.
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
“The difference between who you are and who you want to be is what you do.” Charles Duhigg
I had no idea this would be such a terrific book. It is a quick but powerful read. Duhigg describes the neurological science behind habit formation and how to use the process of habit formation to change them. At the same time, he is a great story teller, and tells how Alcoholics Anonymous developed its famous 12 step process which modeled the neurology of habit formation and change before the science was known. He also describes the powerful, but scary, ways that marketers use habit science, plus data, to build markets for products.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.
“The hard thing about hard things, is that there is no formula for dealing with them.” Ben Horowitz
While waiting to speak about SaaS benchmarks with some folks at Andreesen Horowitz on Sandhill Road, the famous VC address outside San Francisco, I noticed about a hundred books in a stack, so of course picked one up and saw that it was by the founder of the firm, Ben Horowitz. My host later told me that firm keeps a supply of the books and gives them to portfolio companies and that I was welcome to keep it. I was surprised to find that I couldn’t stop reading during my business trip. I remember vignettes from the book frequently. The book is authentic. “Embrace your weirdness, your background, your instinct. If the keys are not there, they do not exist” – if that’s not a call to be true to yourself, what is?
One of the many valuable messages is that there often is no formula for dealing with difficult things, but Horowitz shares the processes that have worked for him to get thru and even succeed at hard things.
My favorite story in the book is about finding the most amazing head of Sales ever, someone who went against all the stereotypes out there of aggressive, macho sales managers exemplified by Alex Baldwin with his “put that coffee down” in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. And in telling his story, Horowitz not only describes the attributes of a successful sales executive in the 21st century, but also how he had to battle advisors and board members to overcome their rigid stereotypes.
The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
“We study natural stupidity instead of artificial intelligence.” Amos Tversky
Again, here’s a book I picked up on a business trip, this time in New York. It is the story of how the friendship between Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky produced amazingly original thinking about the way the human mind errs, laying the groundwork for behavioral economics for which Kahneman would later win the Nobel prize. They identified systematic biases in the way humans estimate probabilities and, in so doing, revolutionized the study and practice of economics, medicine, law, and public policy. Written by Michael Lewis who wrote the influential books, Liar’s Poker, Moneyball and the Blind Side, it is engagingly written and helped me understand some of the psychology of decision-making as well as how a partnership between two very different people can lead to great advances.
What Happens When an Economist Walks Into a Brothel? By Allison Schrager
“Even the best risk assessment can’t account for everything that might happen.” Allison Schrager
An economist asks prostitutes, gamblers, paparazzi, and big-wave surfers how they manage risk. To manage high levels of risk, it must be visible, understood, and priced. Legal brothels manage risk for both sex workers and customers. It is a fun read with useful lessons for business and life about how to evaluate and live with risk – I recommend it.
Building the SaaS benchmarking and metrics peer community worldwide
From everyone here at OPEXEngine, we wish our benchmarking community a truly joyous holiday with family and friends. Very excited to expand and continue sharing of SaaS metrics best practices in the new year.
Happy Holidays everyone!