Single Sentence Summaries for Every Book I Read in 2018

With too many books out there, and too little time, I thought it’d be helpful to share my 2018 reading list as single sentence summaries. Of course, reducing someone’s life work in such a manner risks misrepresentation. So take these summaries more as the key takeaways I got from each. Hopefully this helps you discover which are of interest to you.



Whether it’s a personal or business goal; focus on the wildly important, set lead not just lag metrics, use a compelling scorecard, and ensure a cadence of accountability.


While you don’t have to employ dirty tricks, it’s still worth knowing so that you can better handle situations when others try to manipulate you.

  Be proactive, work backwards, focus, think win-win, seek to understand others, synergise, and sharpen the saw.


 Imagine what the world would be like if everyone was just that little bit more compassionate towards each other.


Among the many reasons why China is poised to lead the world in AI implementation, one is the vast pool of quality tech entrepreneurs.

  Companies need to nurture a healthy pipeline of ‘Horizon 2’ emerging businesses and ‘Horizon 3’ pilots to sustain growth over longer time periods.
  The opposite is fragile is not robust, but antifragile; and antifragile systems thrive in volatility.
(Summary HERE)


Leverage the many lessons and nuggets of wisdom from the brilliant minds of the past to help lead you to success.


If you know yourself, your enemy, and the terrain; the battle is already won before it is even fought.
  Employees: quit if you have a psychopathic boss, not worth it; investors: conduct proper due diligence; future villains: learn how to charm people to contain a lie for a terrifying long time.
  Think for yourself because a lot of the conventional wisdom out there is just wrong.
  People repeatedly underestimate the likelihood and impact of extreme events (black swans).
  Toxic sexism in tech companies is more prevalent than we hear as it’s terrifying for women to speak up; both men and women must stand up to it when we see it.
  The most effective salespeople focus on teaching their customers something new and reframe the problem they have, while the least effective salespeople just focus on building the relationship.
  Much of our beliefs are outdated, and much like a computer, we need to continually rewrite our models of reality (hardware) and ways of living (software).
   Simple adjustments to the way we think and act in everyday life, will make the world our daughters grow up in so much better.
  Learning complex things or producing craft requires distraction-free concentration – and this takes conscious effort to master.
  Open up to the world, trade goods and ideas, but also recognise that not everything that worked in the West will necessarily work in China.
  Get over yourself and you’ll be happier and will get a better vision of the truth.
  Select a target market, define problem, iterate solution with customers, design business model, map out customer acquisition process, identify and and test key assumptions.
  Much of humanity’s progress can be directly attributed to the phenomenal strides in the return multiple of energy out versus energy in.

Reason, science and human qualities has led us to the best time to be alive in human history, so let’s preserve these 3 things to make tomorrow even better.

  Yes, there are still many terrible things in the world, but let’s acknowledge how far we’ve come, and be conscious of the common mistakes we make when looking at data.
  Intelligence is not about seeing patterns, rather, being able to recognise false patterns.
   When we look at how incentives drive human behaviour, we can see that many big effects have unexpectedly subtle causes.
  Intelligent life will continue to do incredible things, and perhaps even be able to outsmart the inevitable death of the universe itself.
   The goal is throughput (sales) not output (production); also keep an eye on inventory and operational expenses; and optimize for global not local bottlenecks.
  Disciplined people, thoughts and actions builds up a flywheel (momentum) that leads to breakthroughs.
   Training your team is not a waste of time – it’s one of the highest managerial leverage yielding activities.

If humans don’t actually have free will the technological and social megatrends coming our way will spur unprecedented changes.

  Asian tiger formula: first agriculture (especially land reforms), then manufacturing (to build export discipline), then financial sector interventions that focus capital on productive sectors with high future profits (not just high immediate profits).
  So many world events – including supporting the most horrible dictators – were intentionally driven by US political and business interests.
  Humans are extremely emotional creatures; learn how to account for this to be more influential.
  Disruptive technologies often gain traction in low-margin niches, a zone where market-leading incumbents stay away from – this is why so few companies manage to disrupt themselves before it is forced on them by emerging players.
   Coordinate people through proven processes to discover and address value, usability, feasibility and business viability risks.
   Gender inequality unfortunately persists and probably will continue to for a while; there’s lots that both men and women can do to minimise it in the mean time.

Any effort incurred that does not provide benefit to the customer is a waste.

  Given the way intelligence works, it’s clear that general artificial intelligence will eventually arrive; for better or worse, we need to prepare and have these important discussions now.
   Complex problems can be broken into smaller parts, analysed, then reassembled (synthesised) into actionable insights.
  Label people’s pains, mirror them, create the illusion of control and practice mental patience.
  Successful people were lucky to have had opportunities early on, getting a head start on the “10,000 hours”, snowballing into a world-class advantage.
   When we observe our own emotions as they are, without judgement, and with acceptance, we can be at peace.
  Once we understand the cue-routine-reward loop, we can stop bad habits and start new ones effectively.
  We don’t have to wait for life defining moments, we can create them.
  Many exercise attractive qualities when rising to power but get corrupted and discard those qualities when in power.
  It’s hard to overcome the cognitive biases that affect our decision making, but it certain helps to know about them.
  Have clear goals, approach them iteratively and systematically, document what worked and what didn’t, and eventually you’ll get there.
   While deductive communication is good for telling everyday stories, inductive structures are better suited for business contexts.
  Many things that people consider as assets (puts money into pocket) are actually liabilities (takes money out of pocket).
  Homo sapiens got this far thanks to being able to collaborate in much larger numbers, and such grand-scale collaboration was enabled by having shared myths (religion, ideas, etc).
  There are so many unexpected relationships within and between various biological, organisational and social characteristics.
  Reports change an audience’s information, an explanation changes ability, a pitch changes action, and drama changes their beliefs.
  Just as anatomy helps explain how the body works, understanding the silk road routes help explain how today’s world works – it’s a shame this part of the world has been neglected in mainstream history.
  Little remains known in popular wisdom about the potential impact of altered states of consciousness on our distant ancestors’ experiences, visions, and beliefs; and more importantly, the potential impact this had on human progress.
  Be fully present , grounded, balanced, and go with the flows of nature rather than harshly intervening.
  Those that figure out how to unlock the power of the unconscious mind will turn their dreams into reality.
  Make the meaning you construct out of every experience a conscious choice.
  While fighting temptations is more difficult for some than others, monogamy is ultimately the best option.
  Organisational agility is becoming incredibly important.
  It really helps to understand the terminology and way that venture capital firm think and work before securing a deal.
   Your feet is the most honest part of the body, while your face is the least.
  With some simple physics, we can get a sense of what would happen in some unusual circumstances.

Life is fragile, beautiful and cruel; make it count.


Create breakthrough technologies instead of just incremental improvements; and protect it with a monopoly.

Thanks for reading about my reading. Until next year!

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