Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Books

Here are some of the audiobooks I've recently listened to.  [Is that bad English?  Did I just end that sentence with a preposition?  I couldn't think of an alternative wording.  Sorry for that.]

The Job
This is a great book if you like law enforcement stories.  The Job, by Steve Osborne, is full of stories from the his 20 years with the NYPD and the audiobook is read by the author.  I really enjoyed listening to it.  Here's more info from NPR and an interview with the author.

Zombie Loyalists
This is an interesting book with a lot of neat ideas for securing customer loyalty.  Many of the ideas might not work at your company, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try.  The basic tenet is that the customer is the most important thing.  They are the reason you are in business.  Customer satisfaction, and even joy, should be a higher priority than shareholder value.  The thinking is: if you succeed at nurturing fanatically loyal customers, then the rest (shareholder value, etc.) will follow.  I suspect that Zappos subscribes to these beliefs.  Here's the book's website.

Becoming Steve Jobs
This book has received a great deal of praise in comparison to Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson's authorized biography.  Many say that Isaacson dwelled too much on the negative aspects of Steve's behavior and were pleased when they read this book.  I've read them both and I like them both.  No book can fully capture a person, and I didn't expect that from these books.  Both books have positives and negatives.  I won't criticize either.  I will say that if you want to learn about Steve Jobs, then, in addition to these books, please read Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull.  That book includes a lot about Steve's gradual maturation and his blossoming business acumen over the years.

Work Rules
This book pulls back the covers on some of the inner workings at Google.  It's written by Laszlo Bock, Google's head of HR, which is called something else there.  It's an interesting book, but not as interesting as How Google Works, by Schmidt and Rosenberg.  If you want to learn more about Google in general, read How Google Works.  Work Rules provides some history about the evolution of people processes at Google.  I did learn that you won't get hired if you send Laszlo a pair of shoes.

Zillow Talk
I thought Zillow Talk was good.  Not great.  It's got some interesting factoids in it.  It's also full of advice for home buyers, so I recommend it for those shopping for a house.

The Innovators

This is a long book, written by Walter Isaacson (the same man who wrote Steve Jobs mentioned above).  I listened to this audiobook in the car while driving around town for several weeks.  The content is well suited for short notice interruptions (unlike a mystery thriller or such).  A diverse range of people are covered, from Ada Lovelace to Bill Gates.  I found myself wanting more info about some of them.  That's probably a sign that the writer has effectively grabbed my attention and interest.  I wish the author had included more coverage of Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn and Bob Metcalfe.  For more information, here's the publisher's page for the book.  I recommend this book for those interested in the history of computers and the internet.

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