Single Sentence Summaries for Every Book I Read in 2019

In keeping with yearly tradition, here are my single sentence ‘summaries’ for every book I read in 2019.

  Throughout history people have wanted similar things (freedom, security etc) – the challenge is finding the right balance for the right place at the right time.
  While riddled with its unique regional challenges, business opportunities in Africa are underrated.
  Human behaviour is incredibly complex: much of our decisions are influenced by what was going on seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, and even generations before the event.
  Modern healthcare has steered too heavily on seeking treatment that merely prolongs life, even if it makes the reminder of one’s life miserable.
  Given we’ve moved on from the dogma of genetic determinism and towards recognising gene-environment interactions, it’s now important to realise that our own mindset is one of these environmental factors.
  Oftentimes, taking calculated risks to prioritise speed over efficiency sets up a business for sustainable expansion.
  The common practices and legal frameworks in which businesses and markets operate in today can be better understood by studying business case precedents.
  Design thinking brings a harmonious balance of feasibility, viability, and desirability into the heart of the most impactful projects and products.
  Just as the discipline-specific language once challenged scientists from conceptualising chaos theory, the practical challenge now is being able to see chaos in daily life when it is there.
  Once one learns the basics about the complexity – emergence, self-organising, chaos, non-linearity, entropy, computation, networks, scaling etc – it becomes apparent that it is one of the most powerful mental models to help make sense of the world.
  In the recurring revenue SaaS world, customer loyalty built on relationships alone is insufficient – customer health needs to be relentlessly monitored and value needs to be proactively added.
  Wisdom is predicated on how see things, make decisions, and deal with what’s out of our control.
  The assumptions behind the neoliberal economic framework has been ignored by too many, too often, for too long, and it’s about time we popularise models that better integrates sustainability.
  Economic theories have always been contentious and difficult to prove, so it is essential to appreciate the contextual conditions under which each theory developed, and consider economics as life-long learning.
  The breakthroughs that had substantial flow-on effects originated in all sorts of places, caught on due to all sorts of reasons, and all created winners and losers along the way.
  When the mind seeks truth, caution must be taken not to celebrate merely re-discovering self-projected ‘truths’.
  I’m convinced that the intimate dance between politics, science, economics, and society transcends the boundaries of fiction.
  Just as Western powers recede into isolationist policies, the East is acclerating its global reach and influence.
  An old sin of biology is to confuse the definition of a feature with the feature itself.
Upcoming technologies will further escalate the wealth inequality problem and there is some data in favour of a universal basic income to alleviate this.
  Mental caution must be taken when one questions the logic of logic – mathematical paradoxes, circularity, self-referencing, infinite loops, nested logic, recursive functions etc – for they are dangerously fascinating, and cognitively infinite.
  Looking beyond proximate factors such as technology, initial geographic advantages is likely the most upstream explanation for Eurasians conquering American and African natives rather than the reverse.
  Entrepreneurship and leadership is not for everyone so “if you’re going to eat shit, don’t nibble”.
  Understanding the science and shifting cultural norms about certain psychedelics sheds new light on how the mind works, and how to get even more from it.
  It pays to understand the distinguishing details behind performance measurements, in the world of private equity, particularly so with IRR.
  The placebo effect from alternative medicines is undeniable, but most alternatives generally do more harm than good.
  While history smiles at all attempts to force post-hoc theoretical patterns, there is still much to learn from its reoccurring rhymes.
  A stubbornly persistent non-violent approach is so effective because it shames the oppressors.
  Living a good life requires truly understanding yourself, and truly understanding yourself requires bridging the gap between the personal conscious, personal unconscious, as well as the collective unconscious.
  OKRs (objectives and key results) helps bring focus, alignment, and commitment on the goals that truly matter.
  Old Power is centraliesd, exclusive, and specialised, while New Power is distributed, collaborative, and generalised – this doesn’t necessarily mean New Power is always better though.
  As China’s Belt and Road initiative revitalises the old silk roads and paves new ones into Europe and Africa, central Eurasia’s geographical importance will rise once again.
  The food industry has become more mechanised, monocultured, and misleading than ever before.
  When faced with an either-or binary choice, successful leaders always manage to find alternatives.
  The universe had to overcome several critical thresholds against entropy to get to where we are now.
  The conditions and sequence in which the 3 political institutions – rule of law, modern state, accountable government – developed explains much of a nation’s political characteristics.
  While many of our ideas on being, metaphysics, epistemology and morality, have changed, many more have not and perhaps never will.
  History has shown us that even the most politically advanced nations are subject to political decay: when political development struggles to keep up with other dimensions of development.
  As geography evidently enables or constraints development, states have and will continue to fight over strategic geographic positions. (summary HERE)
  Despite its dark past, the new Africa is coloured by a new sense of bottom-up self-assertion, with Africans solving African problems rather than getting muddled in ineffective old Africa foreign aid.
  Not only are planned economies ineffective, they are also likely to turn totalitarian.
Despite high hopes following the wave of independence in the mid 20th century, the post-colonial institutional fragility in this region has proven incredibly difficult to overcome.
  Normal science accumulates and re-articulates already-accepted facts, while anomalies lead to paradigm shifts that redirects research into completely new fronts.
  Self-improvement is really about choosing better things to give a fuck about.
Some are fortunate to get a kick out of exploring how the natural world works.
The paradoxes of nature can be perhaps be reconciled by seeing balance on multiple dimensions.
Game theory situations are subtly prevalent and better understanding its key concepts is incredibly useful in business and daily life.
Most marketers deliver the same feelings, just in different ways, with different stories, for different products, people, and moments.
  The second and third order effects of advanced sex robots may take society by surprise, maybe even as much as contraceptives did in the 60s.
  Racism is a system, not an event – so it is important to acknowledge the subterranean social forces that affect our perceptions.
We all know stress is bad, but understanding the specifics on a physiological level has been a powerful deterrent to consciously managing my own stress levels.
There are two opposing approaches to environmental sustainability: Prophet says we should consume less, while Wizard says we should focus more on devloping new technologies.
Without romanticising pre-agrarian tribal life, since this is how we lived through most of human history, it’s likely that there may be some surprising lessons on sociology to re-learn from our ancestors.
From social services to finance, energy and telco, the Australian neoliberal reforms (privatisation, deregulation, and marketisation) in the 80s have not lived up its promises.

Thanks for reading about my reading. Until next year!

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