For the potentially interested reader, I'd recommend checking out some of Deepak Malhotra's youtube lectures. They are representative of what you get in this book. (In my case, I was impressed with the lectures and so I bought the book.)
Negotiation Genius reminded me of Getting to Yes (both Harvard Business School products) in terms of its win-win value creation strategies, its emphasis on information gathering, and explanation about why its important to put yourself in the shoes of the other side. While the book generally discourages "tactics" as the most effective way to negotiate, it explores several tactics/influence strategies that you may encounter and how to deal with them. It also explores how irrationality and bias can impact negotiations and coping strategies.
The content will be most valuable to those who conduct negotiations with "value creation" potential (aka "win win" solutions). Many of the examples in the book show how value can be created for all parties involved even where that possibility is not at all obvious.
I'm a lawyer and while there can be some settlements with value creation potential, often negotiations take place in a zero-sum world (especially in tort cases). Even so, I found much of the content here informative and, I hope, useful. It may be there just isn't that much to say about zero sum negotiation (and what there is to say, this book covers well in its first chapter). Namely, calculate the range where you would consider settling (taking into account your best alternative to negotiation or BATNA); calculate the other side's range where it'd consider settling (taking into account its BATNA); then, try to claim as much of the part of the two settlement ranges that overlap as possible ("claiming value")...all the while gathering information to confirm that your assumptions are accurate.
Some reviews were negative about the narrator. I thought he was just fine. I generally prefer listening at 1.5x or 2x and found the narration comfortable at both speeds.
For many reasons, I had high expectations for this book: a trusted friend’s recommendation; the high Amazon/Audible ratings; and Fishman’s track record (the Wal-Mart Effect).
By no means is the book a dud, but it’s not profound either. Here are my main two beefs and then I’ll spend some time explaining what the book does well.
First, unnecessary repetition pervades the entire book. For example, the first chapter is dedicated almost entirely to describing how water is enmeshed in all aspects of our lives. It keeps going long after its point has been made. Even the repetition of the word “water” – repeated well over 100 times in the first chapter and appearing multiple times in nearly every paragraph – grated on me (at least listening to the audio). In later chapters, Fishman repeats this tendency, not just leaving no stone unturned, but turning the same stones over, again and again.
Second, while Chapter 1 tells us that there’s a “new era of water” coming, Fishman’s more nuanced thesis doesn’t start to crystalize until later in the book.
My advice, should you choose to read this book, is to start by listening to the last chapter first. There, Fishman makes clear that this book is not an alarmist book or doomsday prophecy. Instead, we learn that the book’s core message is this: when the externalities of water use are not priced into consumption, water consumers make poor, non-sustainable decisions. No surprise there. And, hearteningly, when there’s an economic incentive to manage water use such as for large consumers of water (e.g., computer chip manufacturers, large hotels), those large consumers make smart decisions that cut costs and save water resources. Fishman also provides cautionary examples where municipalities failed to undertake needed water innovation because of politics, inertia, and outdated expectations about water.
Finally, the narrator is one of my least favorites for reaons I can’t quite put my finger on.
The book begins with a quote that says “you can’t do much carpentry with bare hands and you can’t do much thinking with your bare brain.” The first chapter catalogues some “tools” of philosophy designed to help thinking such as reductio ad absurdum, Occam’s Razor, and other useful ones that Dennett and his colleagues have invented more recently. These tools may have originated with philosophers, but they have application outside the world of philosophy and are generally helpful “tools” for critical thinking.
But after this short introduction, Dennett primarily focuses on debates native to academic philosophy. He does so using “intuition pumps,” i.e., thought experiments. Just a fair warning: these are tools for thinking about specific puzzles in academic philosophy. Unlike a concept such as reductio ad absurdum, these intuition pumps really aren’t transportable outside of the specific philosophical puzzles they are designed to explore. So, the book’s title, “Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking,” should have a subtitle: “…about Certain Problems in Academic Philosophy.”
Topics explored include: meaning, evolution, the nature of consciousness/materialism (including extensive discussion of the Chinese room and Mary in the black and white room); and free will. Dennett seems to presume some familiarity with these topics. And, it’s hard to imagine that a reader would really enjoy the discussion without some prior interest or background. As an undergraduate and graduate student (years ago), I read many of the papers Dennett discusses.
This is dense and challenging listening, but well worth the reward -- if it's your thing. I usually have a few audible books going at one time, and I found myself choosing to listen to this one over the others. I did make a conscious effort to avoid listening when distracted or tired because it is more demanding than other audiobooks.
In the wrong hands, I fear this narration could have been trouble, but I cannot say enough good things about this heroic narrator, Jeff Crawford. His voice crackles with intelligence, clarity, and playfulness too. While a lot of that is Dennett shining through, Crawford must share the credit. This is dense stuff, but Crawford never sounds weighted down. When I finished this book, the first thing I did was to look up the other books Crawford has narrated. I'm sad to see he has only narrated a handful of others and nothing else like this.
I’m on the fence about these “Great Courses.” Each lecture begins with the same snippet of classical music. The kind that (tries to) signal that something sophisticated is about to happen. Each lecture ends with obviously fake clapping. The folks reviewing these “Great Courses” universally have taken notice of how awful it is. Maybe I’m petty for mentioning it, but it made me suspicious of the whole product.
I listened to this course and another one (by a different professor) on cyber security. Each of these courses shared the same strength: organization/conceptual clarity in surveying the various topics you might expect to find under the topic’s umbrella. But that strength notwithstanding, I struggled to finish both courses. Here, there’s a dumbing down quality; a feeling that Roberto is lecturing to the lowest common denominator. Also, the book’s audible blurb suggests that the course is aimed to help you “approach the critical decisions in your life,” but the material is 99% MBA-type material addressing business/management situations. I was also left with the nagging feeling that Roberto could have delivered the same content in a quarter of the time.
The Audible environment makes transparent the time commitment the book or lecture commands. Twelve and half hours (or faster if you rev up the audio) spent on this lecture series is twelve and half hours I won’t spend on something else. And so, when it comes to spending future credits – to committing my future listening time – I’m leaning towards picking what’s behind door #2.
Zigzagging through dozens of seemingly unconnected stories, Gladwell explores how greatness can arise from life's difficulties, unfairness, and tragedies. "One time in ten out of that despair rises an indomitable force." The "Davids" explored include orphans, dyslexics, bomb survivors, civil rights leaders, and more. Gladwell is a wonderful storyteller and (who knew?) a powerfully restrained reader. And along the way, Gladwell never forgets the other 9 out of 10 (e.g., the disproportionate number of inmates with dyslexia or that lost a parent when young).
Wonderfully researched and well-written, but not the shocker that Fast Food Nation was for some. What Moss shows us is not surprising: profit drives the food processing giants, not concern about its customer's long-term health.
The most disturbing idea here is that the heavy doses of salt, sugar, and fat repeatedly delivered to children may alter their sense of what food should taste like....And, these children eventually grow up into adults who will only be satisfied by foods pumped with unnatural amounts of salt, sugar, and fat.
Well executed premise; theatrical narration; and satisfying conclusion to this first in the series. But a few flaws worth mentioning:
(1) Almost no character has any arc to speak of.
(2) Male/female interactions are at a juvenile fiction level.
(3) A grating main viewpoint character - a naive teenage girl from Oklahoma, who was one of the few characters the narrator just couldn't carry.
If you've read Outliers, Talent is Overrated, etc., there's nothing new for you here. If you haven't read those books, they're better than the Talent Code.
This book in a nutshell: Deliberate practice + motivation + coaching = the Talent Code.
A really strong effort, but a few warnings:
It’s border-line young adult fiction.
The plot unfolds slowly. For example, by the end of book one, you have no real idea why its called the king killer chronicles – there isn’t even a mention of a king. I understand that the plot doesn’t progress much further in book two. (I’m particularly wary of beginning unfinished fantasy series have been burned a few times in the past.)
The romance stuff grows tiresome.
Finally, I’m not in love with the narration. Fantasy read out loud is already a dicey proposition. Prodehl doesn’t help matters with a somewhat overly theatrical performance.
This would have made for an excellent (free) blog post. But it’s not worth your credit.
The first chapter discusses meta learning/skill acquisition generally. While the best chapter, plenty of free discussions are out there as good as what Kaufman offers here.
The marketing for the book might make you think you’ll learn how to become expert extremely quickly. But Kaufman’s real message is a truth that doesn’t sell books: there are no shortcuts; you have to put in the time to get good at anything.
In brief. Yoga chapter. Kaufman takes one private lesson of yoga. That’s it.
Programming chapter. Brutally boring and not helpful if you don’t program.
Touch typing. My favorite of the chapters. Kaufman switches from the standard QWERTY keyboard to a non-standard keyboard. After initial frustration, he achieves QWERTY speed and accuracy on the new layout within 20 hours of deliberate practice.
Go chapter. After getting crushed online by real humans, Kaufman plays against his computer. After 20 hours, he decides that getting good would actually take a real time commitment and gives it up.
Ukulele. He learns three chords and sings a song.
Windsurfing. Due to bad weather, he only gets in 9 hours of practice. Seriously.
My negativity aside, Kaufman seems like a genuinely good guy and I agree with his core message. If you make the time and give it 20 hours, that’s usually enough time to scale the learning curve and achieve an enjoyable level of proficiency.
By chance, I read this book and In the Plex (a Google biography) one after the other. It made for an interesting side-by-side. Both have massive data storage facilities and, in their different ways, brilliantly make sense of mountains of data. Both kinda creep us out. When I type “what sound does a g…,” google auto fills “giraffe make” – nailing what I was going to query. And when the NSA snags a 6 second audio clip of a most wanted terrorist in a jeep in a remote part of the desert thousands of miles away, Bamford tells us how the NSA/CIA not only IDs him, but destroys his jeep with a hellfire missile within 40 minutes.
The first quarter of the book pre-dates NSA’s big data days. It details the 9/11 hijacker’s movements within the United States just prior to the attack, while telling the parallel story of NSA’s intelligence gathering and communication failures with the FBI/CIA.
The second part of the book deals with NSA’s growth post-9/11 and its gathering of massive amounts of data on citizens and non-citizens. Politics aside, I was interested in the nuts and bolts of how the NSA captures the data.
The third part explores NSA’s growing reliance on government contractors, including several Israeli ex-military types that apparently concern James Bamford.
I’m trying to make sense of the big data world we find ourselves in and the commercial and government titans who are figuring out how to wield it. This book was a helpful piece of the puzzle.
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