3×3 Lessons From My Summer Reading Part 1

I’ve done a bit of reading over the past summer while away from school, and I’ve managed to read quite a few of the business books that I own (I find I have a problem of constantly walking out of book stores with 4 to 11 books in my bag). One of the things I like doing with my books is to stick on tiny tabs on the bits of each book where there’s a key lesson or something worth remembering and referencing for later.

In the first of this two part post, I’ll list the top three lessons that I’ve gotten out of 3 of the 6 books I’ve read. I quite enjoyed each of these books because they left me with a way of thinking about common things in life that I hadn’t considered before. I love reading books that set out to destroy conventional thinking.

The Paradox of Choice, by Barry Schwartz

  • You can feel more satisfied by choosing an option that’s good enough, and save yourself a lot of the burden that takes place when you try to analyze all of the options and choose the best one.
  • You need to decide what is important enough to invest your time making a decision on. Make a choice on what sorts of things you should invest your time on deciding (an education, a partner), and when it’s better to be efficient with a choice that is good enough (brands of cloths or foods).
  • If you have a choice to make from a selection of multiple options, your mind will compare the benefit of the one option against the opportunity cost of all the other options combined. So if you try to make a subjective decision and hold all of the possible choices in your head, more more options you consider the more you’ll actually be thinking about opportunities lost.

The Dip, by Seth Godin

  • When looking at the Top 10, the rewards that accompany the #1 spot are greatly skewed (e.g., the #1 golf player, the #1 graphic designer) and can be more than #2 through #10 do combined.
  • The things you invest in, depending on your effort might do either of 3 things: pay off big, will remain unchanged regardless of your effort, or kill you in the end.
  • Strengthening your focus by stopping to do the things that won’t pay off in the end will let you focus more, and help to push you through in the things that will.

The Laws of Simplicity, by John Maeda

  • Creating a feeling of trust in a product or service helps people form a connection with it just like they would another person. Trust can free of us worry and stress.
  • When the learning process can be made to be a pleasant aspect of a new device or application, rewarding feelings of growth and independence can be felt by the user.
  • (More a point about the book:) Simple products, simple applications, and simple processes are becoming a popular trend today. Simplicity is a popular attribute of many of the new products being released, and of the new tools to help managing business. Understanding simplicity and what makes simple products appealing doesn’t only help when thinking of products, design, or processes, but it also helps you to appreciate all of the simplicity in your own life.

Do you find that you try to keep track of short and simple bits of knowledge when you read?

What are some of the best lessons you’ve gotten out of your reading this summer? 

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1 Comment

  1. Nice post. Especially the lessons from the Paradox of Choice really make me rethink my decision making strategy.
    Like you, when I read I put a bunch of stickies to track memorable quotes. I am also thinking of developing a tracking app for such purpose.
    This summer I was at school and one thing I learned by reading textbooks was that I really have to expand my attention span. And that’s exactly what I am going to do for the next 4 months while I am on coop. wish me luck!

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