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Monday, June 17, 2019

Review: A Game of Thrones

A Game of Thrones A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is always better than the movie (tv show). Being a huge fan of the Tv series, I picked up the book after finishing season 8. It was such a pleasure to read the book, and experience the development of the characters with time, that no movie/tv-show can afford its characters. The book also exposes many facets of the society, the institutions and the characters themselves, that would be a tad harder to spot in the show. The book is a master piece by an epic storyteller, and I am all agog to read books 2 to 5.

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Monday, May 20, 2019

Review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare".

Thus embarks the author, Patrick Lencioni, with his narrative in the form of a parable, that beautifully demonstrates the dysfunctions a team might suffer from. The author has developed a framework, and through this framework he drives his point across about the five dysfunctions that a team might have. The book also contains a lot of practical advice on how readers can apply the lessons learned from the book. At the end of the parable, the author re-iterates everything and provides very actionable and practical advice on how to make the most of the book.

All in all, this was a very valuable resource in learning how to weed teams of their dysfunctions and on how to build strong teams. As I was reading the book, I was taking copious amounts of notes. I will definitely be revisiting the book as I implement some of these exercises in my own team.

At the end of the day, we need to remember that human beings are way to complex to adhere to any model or framework that any other human can come up with. Bearing that in mind, we must recognize that even this model has its flaws and one needs to exercise judgement while using it. In the author's own words,

"...the reality remains that team work ultimately comes down to a practicing a small set of principles over a long period of tie. Success is not a matter of mastering subtle, sophisticated theory, but rather embracing common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence".

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Review: Flash Boys

Flash Boys Flash Boys by Michael Lewis
My rating: 0 of 5 stars

Flash Boys is one of this non-fiction books, that reads like a thriller. Once I started, I could barely keep my hands off it. The tale is gripping, the writing is crisp and the subject matter quite interesting. In the high stakes world of Wall Street finance, Flash Boys is the tale a of a band of brothers, a group of rebels who unearthed a loophole in the system, and decided not to exploit it. Had they joined the bandwagon, they would have been richer by millions of dollars, and their firms, perhaps by billions of dollars, and this book would not have been born. Praise be to them, that these amazing people led by Brad Katsuyama, decided to take a corrupt and selfish system head-on. These people took an incredible amount of risk, and could have been very easily engulfed by the monster they were trying to slay. Fortunately, for them, and for everyone else who was also suffering, unknowingly, the Flash boys were able to bring the matters to light. It warms one's heart to learn that there are people who, in spite of the spoils, in spite of the odds stacked against them, would still choose to right a wrong. Incredible.

To quote the author, Michael Lewis, on this subject:

"If this story has a soul, it is in the decisions made by its principal characters to resist the temptation of easy money and to pay special attention to the spirit in which they live their working lives. I didn’t write about them because they were controversial. I wrote about them because they were admirable. That some minority on Wall Street is getting rich by exploiting a screwed-up financial system is no longer news. That is the story of the last financial crisis, and probably the next one, too. What comes as news is that there is now a minority on Wall Street trying to fix the system. Their new stock market is flourishing; their company is profitable; Goldman Sachs remains their biggest single source of orders; they still seem to be on their way to changing the world. All they need is a little help from the silent majority."


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Review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare". Thus embarks the author, Patrick Lencioni, with his narrative in the form of a parable, that beautifully demonstrates the dysfunctions a team might suffer from. The author has developed a framework, and through this framework he drives his point across about the five dysfunctions that a team might have. The book also contains a lot of practical advice on how readers can apply the lessons learned from the book. At the end of the parable, the author re-iterates everything and provides very actionable and practical advice on how to make the most of the book. All in all, this was a very valuable resource in learning how to weed teams of their dysfunctions and on how to build strong teams.


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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Review: Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul

Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The book's title summarizes what this book is all about very well. Starbucks had started losing its way, so much so that Howard Schultz, the founder who had stepped aside decided to come back and steer the company back. To me, the most interesting aspect of this turnaround was that only the founder, the person who imbued the company with his spirit and the person who drew the company's vision, could have managed to steer it back on course. Because he is the only person who could truly define the right course. My respect for Starbucks and its CEO, in spite of the over priced coffee and snacks, has grown since I finished the book. Everything said and done, Howard Shultz as a leader and Starbucks as a company are worth emulating.

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