Posts tagged books
David Kelley, who co-wrote ‘Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All‘ with his brother Tom, had worked with, and was a close friend of the late Steve Jobs. In the book, we learn that, “Steve had a deep sense of creative confidence. He believed — he knew — that you can achieve audacious goals if you have the courage and perseverance to pursue them.”
The intention of the book is to dispel the notion that only some of us were born with creativity in our genes, when in fact, we all have the ability to be creative, despite what we might have been told and taught over the years. We can all achieve “audacious goals,” just like Steve did, or at least to believe in our own ability to change our world in some way.
It’s explained that we came into the world with creativity and fearlessness, but as time passes we encounter others who shake our confidence by saying we’re not creative, including schools where we learn to think too constructively — that there can only be one right answer. So, we unlearn creativity and lose our confidence, fearful of what others might think.
Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” is mentioned as a must-see and as an example of how traditional education has, well, killed creativity.
The book inspires us with examples of people who were overly analytical: accountants, scientists and lawyers who didn’t have a bias toward action. Even companies that suffered from inertia; bogged down with data and decisions by committee. But by unleashing their creativity, they have learned to conjure up and consider a myriad of solutions to problems, no matter how absurd, and to learn by doing.
There’s also an emphasis on empathy and human-centered design. How important it is to observe customers and end-users when designing solutions and products instead of burying heads into spreadsheets and dreaming up things we think will work.
The authors share the experiences of many students who’ve attended their d.school at Stanford University. It’s a fast-paced, team-based learning environment where students, young and old, and from diverse backgrounds, are asked to find human-centered solutions. A popular project is figuring out how the experience of a daily train commute from San Francisco to Palo Alto can be improved for passengers, from waiting on the platform to disembarking at their destination.
The book not only focuses on inspiring individuals to build their creative confidence, but also delves into the importance of working in teams and provides case studies where entire companies have embraced creative confidence to improve the experience of workers and customers.
Written in a friendly conversational tone and filled with real human stories and experiences, ‘Creative Confidence’ was a pleasure to read, and having finished it, I’ve realized I’ve highlighted so many passages to read again.

David Kelley, who co-wrote ‘Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All‘ with his brother Tom, had worked with, and was a close friend of the late Steve Jobs. In the book, we learn that, “Steve had a deep sense of creative confidence. He believed — he knew — that you can achieve audacious goals if you have the courage and perseverance to pursue them.”

The intention of the book is to dispel the notion that only some of us were born with creativity in our genes, when in fact, we all have the ability to be creative, despite what we might have been told and taught over the years. We can all achieve “audacious goals,” just like Steve did, or at least to believe in our own ability to change our world in some way.

It’s explained that we came into the world with creativity and fearlessness, but as time passes we encounter others who shake our confidence by saying we’re not creative, including schools where we learn to think too constructively — that there can only be one right answer. So, we unlearn creativity and lose our confidence, fearful of what others might think.

Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” is mentioned as a must-see and as an example of how traditional education has, well, killed creativity.

The book inspires us with examples of people who were overly analytical: accountants, scientists and lawyers who didn’t have a bias toward action. Even companies that suffered from inertia; bogged down with data and decisions by committee. But by unleashing their creativity, they have learned to conjure up and consider a myriad of solutions to problems, no matter how absurd, and to learn by doing.

There’s also an emphasis on empathy and human-centered design. How important it is to observe customers and end-users when designing solutions and products instead of burying heads into spreadsheets and dreaming up things we think will work.

The authors share the experiences of many students who’ve attended their d.school at Stanford University. It’s a fast-paced, team-based learning environment where students, young and old, and from diverse backgrounds, are asked to find human-centered solutions. A popular project is figuring out how the experience of a daily train commute from San Francisco to Palo Alto can be improved for passengers, from waiting on the platform to disembarking at their destination.

The book not only focuses on inspiring individuals to build their creative confidence, but also delves into the importance of working in teams and provides case studies where entire companies have embraced creative confidence to improve the experience of workers and customers.

Written in a friendly conversational tone and filled with real human stories and experiences, ‘Creative Confidence’ was a pleasure to read, and having finished it, I’ve realized I’ve highlighted so many passages to read again.

Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, is unconventional in the traditional work sense, particularly since it embraces distributed work, where it’s more than 130 employees are located around the globe using Skype and IRC as a means to communicate. Telephones and e-mails, not so much.
The company headquarters in San Francisco is rarely used. You’ll be hard ‘pressed’ to find the company founder, Matt Mullenweg, there. He’s often out of town, somewhere around the globe working from his laptop. And it’s this distributed work environment that is largely the focus of the book by former Automattician, Scott Berkun.
During his short tenure at WordPress.com, Mr Berkun led a team of programmers small enough to fit in a car. Together, they created and developed new WordPress tools and features that affected over 50 million websites and blogs.
The ‘Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work‘ not only covers the pros and cons of remote global working, but also some smart insights into team leadership, project management and productivity.
Scott takes us inside the company, exposing some of it’s not-so-secret secrets on how, with just a fraction of the workforce of other internet titans like Facebook, Google and Amazon, it has captured more than 20 percent of the world’s web users with its WordPress software.
Despite WordPress’ success and impact on the internet, it does have its failings, some of which are addressed in the book. But still, Berkun enlightens us on what could truly be the future of work with some reasoned arguments and great examples.
He questions the tradition of work, explaining that “the responsibility of people in power is to continually eliminate useless traditions and introduce valuable ones.” Explaining, in one example, that “Mullenweg went to great lengths to keep support roles, like legal, human resources and even IT, from infringing on the autonomy of creative roles like engineering and design… management is seen as a support role.”
It’s little gems like this that make the ‘Year Without Pants’ a worthwhile read, not only for those in technology, but in most other industries as well.

Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, is unconventional in the traditional work sense, particularly since it embraces distributed work, where it’s more than 130 employees are located around the globe using Skype and IRC as a means to communicate. Telephones and e-mails, not so much.

The company headquarters in San Francisco is rarely used. You’ll be hard ‘pressed’ to find the company founder, Matt Mullenweg, there. He’s often out of town, somewhere around the globe working from his laptop. And it’s this distributed work environment that is largely the focus of the book by former Automattician, Scott Berkun.

During his short tenure at WordPress.com, Mr Berkun led a team of programmers small enough to fit in a car. Together, they created and developed new WordPress tools and features that affected over 50 million websites and blogs.

The ‘Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work‘ not only covers the pros and cons of remote global working, but also some smart insights into team leadership, project management and productivity.

Scott takes us inside the company, exposing some of it’s not-so-secret secrets on how, with just a fraction of the workforce of other internet titans like Facebook, Google and Amazon, it has captured more than 20 percent of the world’s web users with its WordPress software.

Despite WordPress’ success and impact on the internet, it does have its failings, some of which are addressed in the book. But still, Berkun enlightens us on what could truly be the future of work with some reasoned arguments and great examples.

He questions the tradition of work, explaining that “the responsibility of people in power is to continually eliminate useless traditions and introduce valuable ones.” Explaining, in one example, that “Mullenweg went to great lengths to keep support roles, like legal, human resources and even IT, from infringing on the autonomy of creative roles like engineering and design… management is seen as a support role.”

It’s little gems like this that make the ‘Year Without Pants’ a worthwhile read, not only for those in technology, but in most other industries as well.

A rare, intimate portrait of President John F. Kennedy and his son, John Jr. outside the Oval Office at the White House on March 28, 1963.
Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House is a book featuring photographs by Cecil W. Stoughton, the first White House photographer, who accompanied the first family everywhere.

A rare, intimate portrait of President John F. Kennedy and his son, John Jr. outside the Oval Office at the White House on March 28, 1963.

Portrait of Camelot: A Thousand Days in the Kennedy White House is a book featuring photographs by Cecil W. Stoughton, the first White House photographer, who accompanied the first family everywhere.

Marilyn Monroe was an avid reader of 20th-century literature; photographed often while curled up with a book.
Alfred Eisenstaedt worked on a photo shoot for LIFE magazine at Monroe’s Hollywood home in the spring of 1953, when she was just 26 and before her roles in Bus Stop, The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot.  And before her ill-fated marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller.

What’s perhaps most striking about these photos, especially in light of all we now know about Marilyn’s fraught and deeply sad life is how relaxed, self-possessed and (dare we say it?) how happy she looks. – LIFE.com

Perhaps Monroe sought sanctuary in her books. Quite the bookworm, she stocked over 400 of them on her shelves, preferring those by James Joyce and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
Her poetry collection included works by Robert Frost, John Milton, and Edgar Allan Poe.
Out Of My Later Years by Albert Einstein; Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert; and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner were among titles that were catalogued and auctioned off by Christie’s in New York after her death.

Marilyn Monroe was an avid reader of 20th-century literature; photographed often while curled up with a book.

Alfred Eisenstaedt worked on a photo shoot for LIFE magazine at Monroe’s Hollywood home in the spring of 1953, when she was just 26 and before her roles in Bus Stop, The Seven Year Itch, Some Like It Hot.  And before her ill-fated marriages to Joe DiMaggio and Arthur Miller.

What’s perhaps most striking about these photos, especially in light of all we now know about Marilyn’s fraught and deeply sad life is how relaxed, self-possessed and (dare we say it?) how happy she looks. – LIFE.com

Perhaps Monroe sought sanctuary in her books. Quite the bookworm, she stocked over 400 of them on her shelves, preferring those by James Joyce and Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Her poetry collection included works by Robert Frost, John Milton, and Edgar Allan Poe.

Out Of My Later Years by Albert Einstein; Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert; and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner were among titles that were catalogued and auctioned off by Christie’s in New York after her death.

A bookcase inspired by a DNA double-helix.
Designed by Italian company Cattelan Italia, the 6-foot tall tower can slowly rotate around a central column. Looks ideal for a space-saving book shelf and conversation-starter.

A bookcase inspired by a DNA double-helix.

Designed by Italian company Cattelan Italia, the 6-foot tall tower can slowly rotate around a central column. Looks ideal for a space-saving book shelf and conversation-starter.

(Source: mymodernmet.com)

During Milan Fashion Week, a model reads a book backstage at the presentation of the Blugirl Spring/Summer 2014 collection.
Photo by Max Rossi - Reuters

During Milan Fashion Week, a model reads a book backstage at the presentation of the Blugirl Spring/Summer 2014 collection.

Photo by Max Rossi - Reuters

It’s a tough thing to do, to propose marriage to your loved one, right? 
So, Paul Phillips decided to be creative, offering his girlfriend, Erika Ramos, a custom-made children’s book, with colorful illustrations and poetic words. 
The books story about their relationship is ‘A Tall Tale.’
(via Man Proposes to Girlfriend with Custom-Made Children’s Book - My Modern Metropolis)

It’s a tough thing to do, to propose marriage to your loved one, right? 

So, Paul Phillips decided to be creative, offering his girlfriend, Erika Ramos, a custom-made children’s book, with colorful illustrations and poetic words. 

The books story about their relationship is ‘A Tall Tale.’

(via Man Proposes to Girlfriend with Custom-Made Children’s Book - My Modern Metropolis)

Would you believe that actress Emma Watson is an introvert? 






She credits her introverted personality for her reputation as a non-party girl.






And Watson isn’t alone. Many other successful, smart people are (or were) introverts, like Albert Einstein, J.K. Rowling, Abraham Lincoln and Gwyneth Paltrow. 
In an interview with Rookie earlier this year, Watson mentioned the book Quiet, by Susan Cain, saying…






It discusses how [extroverts] in our society are bigged up so much, and if you’re anything other than an [extrovert] you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you.






In the book, Ms Cain wrote extroverts crave external stimulation. Being surrounded by people and lots of noise. Introverts embrace the ‘Power of Quiet.’
In brainstorming sessions and meetings, the more thoughtful and intelligent thinkers are often participants who get drowned out by the more verbal extroverts, which ultimately can harm an organization.
She also referred to a study ”of sixty-four traders at an investment bank, found that the highest-performing traders tended to be emotionally stable introverts.”
Bill Gates, also an introvert, has Susan Cains’ TED Talk, The Power of Introverts listed as one of his favorites. 
Quiet is a book worth reading; empowering many introverts who thought they didn’t belong in what seems like an extroverted world; and to understand the ‘power of quiet’, being our most thoughtful and creative in moments of solitude and peace. 
Also, read 16 Outrageously Successful Introverts on The Huffington Post

Would you believe that actress Emma Watson is an introvert? 

She credits her introverted personality for her reputation as a non-party girl.

And Watson isn’t alone. Many other successful, smart people are (or were) introverts, like Albert Einstein, J.K. Rowling, Abraham Lincoln and Gwyneth Paltrow. 

In an interview with Rookie earlier this year, Watson mentioned the book Quiet, by Susan Cain, saying…

It discusses how [extroverts] in our society are bigged up so much, and if you’re anything other than an [extrovert] you’re made to think there’s something wrong with you.

In the book, Ms Cain wrote extroverts crave external stimulation. Being surrounded by people and lots of noise. Introverts embrace the ‘Power of Quiet.’

In brainstorming sessions and meetings, the more thoughtful and intelligent thinkers are often participants who get drowned out by the more verbal extroverts, which ultimately can harm an organization.

She also referred to a study ”of sixty-four traders at an investment bank, found that the highest-performing traders tended to be emotionally stable introverts.”

Bill Gates, also an introvert, has Susan Cains’ TED Talk, The Power of Introverts listed as one of his favorites. 

Quiet is a book worth reading; empowering many introverts who thought they didn’t belong in what seems like an extroverted world; and to understand the ‘power of quiet’, being our most thoughtful and creative in moments of solitude and peace. 

Also, read 16 Outrageously Successful Introverts on The Huffington Post

Summer reading by the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 
Photo: Gonzalo Fuentes - Reuters

Summer reading by the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 

Photo: Gonzalo Fuentes - Reuters

Reading a good book, a café patron in Paris. 
Photograph by Christophe Debon | National Geographic 

Reading a good book, a café patron in Paris. 

Photograph by Christophe Debon | National Geographic 

I just finished reading ‘Linda McCartney - Life in Photographs’, and published a review: 

'Linda McCartney - Life in Photographs' is a remarkable tribute to a photographer, who was first, and foremost a life partner and mother.
Linda passed away at the age of 56 in 1998, succumbing to cancer, leaving behind a treasure trove of extraordinary images.
Prefacing the book are commentaries by her former husband, Paul McCartney, and  two of their daughters Stella and Mary. Another renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz also shares some thoughts.
Throughout the book is a collection of photographs of some famous subjects like Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles. Mostly musicians because Linda loved music, and the musicians.
Despite their extraordinary lives, Linda had a way of capturing their moments of insecurity. There is one photograph of Twiggy someplace in London in 1969. She’s sitting alone, pensively, gazing downward that is especially captivating. It’s not the usual model shot, not a pose, but a natural look.
In interviews with family and friends, many remarked how Linda had a gift for capturing her subjects when they were vulnerable and in the moment, rather than being contrived, putting on a face for the camera. It was as if Linda wasn’t even there. She made everyone feel comfortable around her.
Amongst the collection are also a number of intimate family photographs, including one with Paul balancing himself on a fence on a farm in Scotland, wearing his night robe, while son James and daughter Stella were playing around, with the family dog in the distance. A typical family photo, it seems.
And some photographs demonstrate Linda’s sense of humor. A stack of empty coffee cups in a studio in London, and one with a bottle of Whisky and baby milk, side by side.
The e-book edition is made for Apple’s iBook for iPad, and includes a video interview with Paul McCartney, Stella and Mary. It’s a pleasure to scroll through the photographs interactively, rotating and zooming in, and reading the captions.
It’s also an inspiration for those who have, or want to take up photography. A gem. 

I just finished reading ‘Linda McCartney - Life in Photographs’, and published a review: 

'Linda McCartney - Life in Photographs' is a remarkable tribute to a photographer, who was first, and foremost a life partner and mother.

Linda passed away at the age of 56 in 1998, succumbing to cancer, leaving behind a treasure trove of extraordinary images.

Prefacing the book are commentaries by her former husband, Paul McCartney, and  two of their daughters Stella and Mary. Another renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz also shares some thoughts.

Throughout the book is a collection of photographs of some famous subjects like Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and the Beatles. Mostly musicians because Linda loved music, and the musicians.

Despite their extraordinary lives, Linda had a way of capturing their moments of insecurity. There is one photograph of Twiggy someplace in London in 1969. She’s sitting alone, pensively, gazing downward that is especially captivating. It’s not the usual model shot, not a pose, but a natural look.

In interviews with family and friends, many remarked how Linda had a gift for capturing her subjects when they were vulnerable and in the moment, rather than being contrived, putting on a face for the camera. It was as if Linda wasn’t even there. She made everyone feel comfortable around her.

Amongst the collection are also a number of intimate family photographs, including one with Paul balancing himself on a fence on a farm in Scotland, wearing his night robe, while son James and daughter Stella were playing around, with the family dog in the distance. A typical family photo, it seems.

And some photographs demonstrate Linda’s sense of humor. A stack of empty coffee cups in a studio in London, and one with a bottle of Whisky and baby milk, side by side.

The e-book edition is made for Apple’s iBook for iPad, and includes a video interview with Paul McCartney, Stella and Mary. It’s a pleasure to scroll through the photographs interactively, rotating and zooming in, and reading the captions.

It’s also an inspiration for those who have, or want to take up photography. A gem. 

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in New Haven, CT, is considered one of the most beautiful college libraries in the world. 



Colleges and universities are understandably quite proud of their libraries, which can be a selling point for prospective students and donating alumni alike, and they often become the most well-designed and beautifully adorned buildings on campus. - Flavorwire

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University in New Haven, CT, is considered one of the most beautiful college libraries in the world. 

Colleges and universities are understandably quite proud of their libraries, which can be a selling point for prospective students and donating alumni alike, and they often become the most well-designed and beautifully adorned buildings on campus. - Flavorwire

Everyone seems to have their own ideas on how to educate children. Perhaps the best predictor of success is to look at those countries that have already experimented and succeeded in developing a world-class education system.
Like Finland.
In early October, I wrote a piece about how Finland’s education system is the best in the world, and that many countries should try to emulate some of its best practices.
Philanthropist, Bill Gates, has reiterated this argument in his review of Viviene Stewarts book, ‘A World-Class Education’.
Mr Gates wrote,

As recently as 1970, only 40 percent of Finnish adults held a high school diploma. Today, its student rank among the top on global assessments of student learning.
One key to Finland’s success was the decision in 1979 to require a two-year master’s degree for all teachers, even those teaching  primary school.
Teachers are trained to spot students who aren’t doing well early on and each school has a multidisciplinary team of education professionals available to support students and help them catch up.
Finland also did away with traditional structure and replaced it with a more flexible approach that encourages creativity and problem solving, individualized learning, and a wider range of academic and vocational options.

Mr Gates also noted that ‘Like Finland, Singapore decided that its future lay in tapping its human capital… investing significantly in teachers - with strong teacher evaluation and personnel systems and intensive training.’
He agrees with the authors assertion that ‘the quality of student learning is only as good as the quality of the teachers.’
Excerpt from The Gates Notes | Related Post
Photo: Go Finland: The Secret of Good Education in Finland

Everyone seems to have their own ideas on how to educate children. Perhaps the best predictor of success is to look at those countries that have already experimented and succeeded in developing a world-class education system.

Like Finland.

In early October, I wrote a piece about how Finland’s education system is the best in the world, and that many countries should try to emulate some of its best practices.

Philanthropist, Bill Gates, has reiterated this argument in his review of Viviene Stewarts book, ‘A World-Class Education’.

Mr Gates wrote,

As recently as 1970, only 40 percent of Finnish adults held a high school diploma. Today, its student rank among the top on global assessments of student learning.

One key to Finland’s success was the decision in 1979 to require a two-year master’s degree for all teachers, even those teaching  primary school.

Teachers are trained to spot students who aren’t doing well early on and each school has a multidisciplinary team of education professionals available to support students and help them catch up.

Finland also did away with traditional structure and replaced it with a more flexible approach that encourages creativity and problem solving, individualized learning, and a wider range of academic and vocational options.

Mr Gates also noted that ‘Like Finland, Singapore decided that its future lay in tapping its human capital… investing significantly in teachers - with strong teacher evaluation and personnel systems and intensive training.’

He agrees with the authors assertion that ‘the quality of student learning is only as good as the quality of the teachers.’

Excerpt from The Gates Notes | Related Post

Photo: Go Finland: The Secret of Good Education in Finland

How Benjamin Franklin’s curious mind helped predict Hurricane Sandy.
Nearly 270 years ago, a violent storm hit the northeast and caused significant damage from Virginia to Boston.
Benjamin Franklin was looking forward to a lunar eclipse on the night of October 21, 1743, but any view was spoiled by the storm-darkened skies. His scientifically curious mind was then diverted to understanding the storm systems and forecasting the weather. 
A great scholar, William Morris Davis later proclaimed, “With this began the science of weather prediction.” 
To explain the stormy phenomena that plagues the eastern seaboard, here’s an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s biography, ‘Benjamin Franklin: An American Life’:

Among his most noteworthy discoveries was that the big East Coast storms known as northeasters, whose winds come from the northeast, actually move in the opposite direction from their winds, traveling up the coast from the south. On the evening of October 21, 1743, Franklin looked forward to observing a lunar eclipse he knew was to occur at 8: 30. A violent storm, however, hit Philadelphia and blackened the sky. Over the next few weeks, he read accounts of how the storm caused damage from Virginia to Boston.
Further inquiries into the timing of this and other storms up and down the coast led him to “the very singular opinion… that, though the course of the wind is from the northeast to the southwest, yet the course of the storm is from the southwest to the northeast.” He further surmised, correctly, that rising air heated in the south created low-pressure systems that drew winds from the north. More than 150 years later, the great scholar William Morris Davis proclaimed, “With this began the science of weather prediction.”

Isaacson, Walter (2003-07-01). Benjamin Franklin (pp. 132-133). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition. 

How Benjamin Franklin’s curious mind helped predict Hurricane Sandy.

Nearly 270 years ago, a violent storm hit the northeast and caused significant damage from Virginia to Boston.

Benjamin Franklin was looking forward to a lunar eclipse on the night of October 21, 1743, but any view was spoiled by the storm-darkened skies. His scientifically curious mind was then diverted to understanding the storm systems and forecasting the weather. 

A great scholar, William Morris Davis later proclaimed, “With this began the science of weather prediction.” 

To explain the stormy phenomena that plagues the eastern seaboard, here’s an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s biography, ‘Benjamin Franklin: An American Life’:

Among his most noteworthy discoveries was that the big East Coast storms known as northeasters, whose winds come from the northeast, actually move in the opposite direction from their winds, traveling up the coast from the south. On the evening of October 21, 1743, Franklin looked forward to observing a lunar eclipse he knew was to occur at 8: 30. A violent storm, however, hit Philadelphia and blackened the sky. Over the next few weeks, he read accounts of how the storm caused damage from Virginia to Boston.

Further inquiries into the timing of this and other storms up and down the coast led him to “the very singular opinion… that, though the course of the wind is from the northeast to the southwest, yet the course of the storm is from the southwest to the northeast.” He further surmised, correctly, that rising air heated in the south created low-pressure systems that drew winds from the north. More than 150 years later, the great scholar William Morris Davis proclaimed, “With this began the science of weather prediction.”

Isaacson, Walter (2003-07-01). Benjamin Franklin (pp. 132-133). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.