Great by Choice

Great by ChoiceI read this book on a recommendation by one of  my brothers, the book is an analysis of the 10x companies that have consistently preformed better than average over several decades. The authors have attempted to analyse what makes these companies superior and they also supply a comparison company for each of the 10x companies that failed to achieve the same growth.

One of the core findings of the book was that the 10x companies are disciplined focused on growing a consistent amount each year, this is compared to explorers restraining themselves to only 20 km a day on expeditions instead of doing as much (or as little) as the terrain and weather permits. This discipline prevents over stretching during good times and limits under performance in the hard times.

The 10x companies also tended to run test projects before committing large amounts of resources to new ideas. This helped mitigate against unforeseen problems and bad ideas by preventing over investment from occurring to early.  Operational paranoia was also another 10x trait: keeping sufficient resources stock piled to last through any unexpected rough patches.

So the combination of these three traits are the suggested reason for the ten times performance of the 10x companies.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin FranklinBenjamin Franklin has recently had several mentions on some of the creativity and productivity blogs that I frequent. So I thought it was time to see what all the fuss was about and read his biography (which is freely available on Kindle).

I’d heard of him before but I hadn’t quite realised just how focused a man he was on self improvement through journalling. The fact that he managed to contribute to scientific research, run a publishing house, invent lightning rods, bifocal lens, a new type of stove, be an active civic figure and a statesman/diplomat is awe inspiring. It is no wonder that Franklin is often termed ‘the first American’ and clearly he fully deserves the honour of being know as one of the founding fathers of America.

While I found his scheme for self improvement a bit too intensive for my own applications it was interesting and inspiring to see just what he managed to achieve. I wonder what a modern Benjamin Franklin would be like and what they’d achieve with the technologies available today?

I also found this book interesting due to its coverage of early American history which I wasn’t taught at school.

Blog Inc.

Blog IncThe last year or so I’ve found myself in a bit of a blogging draught, needing to revitalise my writing and this site. To attempt to achieve this I decided to do some reading on blogging and seeing as my good friend Corwin had just read ‘Blog Inc’ I thought I’d have a read of it too.

The book is focused on how to develop unique content, attract readers to a form a community, how to develop your writing ‘voice’ and your personal brand. There are also chapters on monatization, making a career from blogging and going from blogger to author for those so inclined.

As someone who essentially blogs for a combination of letting off steam, spreading knowledge and some personal branding I did find this to be a useful book to read. As a ‘self taught’ blogger I’ve mostly copied other bloggers I’ve admired and have read little on blogging etiquette or manners.

I’d recommend this book to any current or aspiring blogger.

Retiring See Stockholm & hello 500px!

I have decided to retire my photo blog SeeStockholm.com, the main reason for is that I have many photographs from outside Stockholm (and Sweden) that I’d like to share. So I’ve made the decision to move to 500px for picture sharing where you can find me at 500px.com/EndlesslyCurious. This change also frees me from maintaining two wordpress sites at once, which was becoming a bit of a burden.

I’m contemplating how I can also have my photographs on this site too but right now I am going stick with just a 500px sidebar widget.

Edit:  Ten months later and I’ve deleted my 500px account, its a great site I just didn’t find myself engaging with it as much as sharing here or on Instagram.  Perhaps sharing on 500px was a bit too intimidating..

Knowing what you can control..

I find it useful to categorise sources of stress in the following ways as soon as I realise I am stressed:

  1. Things I can control e.g. preparing for a examination.
  2. Things I cannot control but can mitigate e.g. the weather.
  3. Things I can neither control or mitigate e.g. war.

This  helps me to focus on available courses of action or begin to mindfully relax if there is nothing I can do.  In the pas coming to the realisation I am effectively a spectator has been surprisingly calming, although not always in extreme cases.

This has been in part inspired by the serenity prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr which was made famous by the AA:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Knowing what you can change and letting go of the rest is indeed a powerful tool.

Interesting podcasts

I am quite fond of listening to podcasts while doing repetitive tasks or walking to/from work as a means of keep up to date with subjects I am interested in.  I try to keep the number of podcasts I’m subscribed to low so I don’t end up with a huge backlog as I always finds that puts me off listening for some reason.

The Accidental Creative The Accidental Creative is focused on the creative process for people working under pressure to deliver creative solutions regularly, it is hosted by Todd Henry.  Topics range from generating ideas to delivering the product and business strategy discussions.  The book of the same name is also very much worth reading too.  Episodes tend to be between 10-25 minutes long.
Agile Weekly Agile Weekly is focused on discussing the agile development process, it is run by the crew at Integrum Tech.  It is a weekly discussion of topics relating to agile development, scrum and running software teams to deliver software on time and at quality.  Episodes tend to be around 15-30 minutes long.
The Candid Frame The Candid Frame is a series of interviews by Ibarionex R. Perello featuring a different photographer each week.  It is very interesting as Ibarionex interviews photographers for all photography disciplines and styles so there is plenty of variety of subject matter and photographic journeys.  Episodes tend to be around 30-60 minutes long.
Coastal Church Coastal Church’s podcast is the Sunday sermon from my old church in Vancouver by the Pastor David Koop, who I find to be an excellent preacher and always worth listening too.  Living thousands of kilometres from Vancouver its great that I can still keep up with my old church via the podcast.  Episodes tend to be 30-45 minutes long.
HanselMinutes Hanselminutes is a programming/technology focused podcast by Scott Hanselman which tends to cover allot of the latest technologies and trends in software development.  Although sometimes there are special issues on non-technology subjects (which tend to be equally interesting).  Episodes tend to be around 30-35 minutes long.

These days my podcast app of choice on iPhone and iPad is Downcast which I highly recommend.