Thursday, December 18

Book Review: What Got You Here Won't Get You There

The premise of this book is the cut-throat no-mercy end-justifies-the-means killer instinct that got you where you are today (upper management) is paradoxically going to prevent you from climbing that final rung of the ladder to becoming a successful top dog CEO. The author preaches - with anecdotal parables cherry picked from his vast clientele - once you reach the pinnacle of your career you need to change your competitive ways and be more nurturing to and supportive of your staff rather than using them as stepping stones to success. He builds a nice long list of traits and behaviors to be cognizant of changing, such as taking credit for the work of others, always adding your two cents just to assert your authority, showing favoritism to employees, etc. He outlines his technique for breaking potential executives of these habits, interviewing the subordinates to determine which areas need the most attention, and making the 'patient' actively participate in the exercises of periodic self review. It's one of those books where each chapter you read you think, "Ha, I knew a guy like that!" but you rarely think, "Ooh he's talking about me here." If you're in upper management and you're having trouble reaching the next level or you've got turmoil with your peers and employees, it might be worth cracking this book and doing a little self evaluation.

Saturday, December 13

Book Review: The 4-Hour Workweek

I added this book to my reading list a long time back but kept bumping it down in priority because I expected it to read like one of those get rich quick infomercials you see in the wee hours of the morning when most sane people are sleeping. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I was dead wrong, and the timeliness was uncanny as I was "downsized" from my employer of nine years shortly after I cracked the book (metaphorically speaking - I read it on my Kindle).

The general gist of the book is retirement is a scam; you're saving money for when you're too old to spend it and too feeble to enjoy spending it on adventures like traveling around the world. The author recommends you start taking mini-retirements right now, while you're young and energetic enough to carpe diem.

He expands on this by pointing out that living like a millionaire doesn't require being a millionaire. Instead of focusing on making a million dollars over the next twenty years, focus on making just enough money to take the adventure you desire as soon as possible, like three-thousand dollars to spend a month in Berlin studying the tango. Rinse and repeat.

How is this possible? The author goes to some pretty impressive extremes insisting that most of what you do during the day is bullshit busywork and if you quit it all cold turkey there would be practically no consequences. He preaches that you can start by answering e-mail twice a day, then work your way to once a week, spending just an hour on the task. You can send all phone calls straight to voice mail and hire by-the-hour personal assistants in India to handle all the minutiae of your day to day responsibilities, both personal and business. In short, it's delegation on steroids.

The end goal is to own a business and not run the business. The former gets to jet set around the world and party while the latter punches the clock and works themselves to an early grave. The author insists it's easier than it sounds and the hard part it just making the leap - I'm dubious, of course.

Regardless of the fantastic stories and extraordinary claims contained in the book, I still consider it a worthy read as at the very least it makes you think. It makes you reconsider what you do at work on a daily basis and reevaluate how much of it really makes a difference and how much of it is masturbatory. It also makes you wonder "what if" I did make the leap?

Saturday, December 6

iPhone RDoc Template
I just made public my GitHub repository for a pet-peeve project: an RDoc template that looks good on the iPhone browser.

I used this template to generate the Rails documentation and you can check it out at (visit it from your iPhone).