Book Review: My Own Liberator: A Memoir by Dikgang Moseneke

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This has to be my top 5 book of the year for 2017.

It is when you read such books that you remember where we come from and sometimes feel that we are not doing enough to capitalise on the sacrifice made by those who fought and struggled for the liberation of South Africa.

I grew up being a huge fan of Justice Dikgang Moseneke. It is people like him and Shucks Sefanyatso who inspired me and other young men to have hope that we can be professionals of the highest quality.

My own liberator is well written. It takes you through the life of Rre Moseneke from childhood, through Robben Island, until freedom, practicing as a lawyer, a businessman and ultimately the Constitution Court deputy chief justice.

The first thing you encounter about this book is the remarkable foreword written by Former President Thabo Mbeki. It’s after reading this preface that you know you are in for an amazing ride and you must buckle up.

In the book, he talks about his family background, his childhood, high school which was cut short due to his activism.

As a young activist, at the tender age of fifteen, Moseneke was arrested, detained and, in 1963, sentenced to ten years on Robben Island for participating in anti-apartheid activities.

He was the youngest political prisoner in Robben Island.

He takes us through incarceration, through the trials and tribulation of court trials, though the emotions of his first day of prison after being sentenced to 10 years.

He takes us through the harsh conditions of Robben Island, the food, the clothes, he shares stories of parent visits in jail.

He is so vivid about each major step taken on the day, about how he felt, about what kept him going.

He is equally vivid about his last day in prison, about the emotion he felt when they called his name that he is going home.

These events happened long time ago, but they are so well captured in this book, it is as if they happened yesterday. It is as if he was keeping a journal and documenting each step of the journey.

This book captures you. It owns you. It transcends you and takes you through the steps of a giant. It is as if you are sitting front row watching Judge Moseneke’s life unfold in front of you in big screen.

At some point in the book, the judge talks about the moment when he is out of prison and he is a lawyer and then meets the judge who sentenced him to 10 years in jail in one of the private tea rooms in a courthouse.

He was a hero then, he remains a hero today.

He was a role-model then, he remains a role-model today.

One gets the sense reading this memoir that you are walking in the footsteps of a giant.

He pays tribute to everyone that helped define him as a husband, father, lawyer and ultimately, guardian of our Constitution.

It is obvious from this very personal account of his life that a strict moral code, a deep empathy for those affected by apartheid and an unflinching refusal to accept its injustices inevitably shaped him into the jurist he is today.

Some of the chapters in the book are:

  • On my mother’s side
  • Eagles, sir!
  • High school years, twice cut short
  • Arrest, detention and interrogation
  • Robin Island, here we come
  • Wheelbarrows and handguns, the first six months
  • Prison letters, visits and unfailing support
  • ‘Dikgang, I am glad I have found you…’
  • ‘What matters is what is good for our people’

Rating

9/10

This is an amazing story of overcoming, of courage, of professionalism of the highest order.

The book is so well written.

The thing with lawyers, accountants, engineers is that the are technical people. You don’t expect these professions to write like artists, journalists or philosophers.

You expect lawyers, accountants and engineers to write like lawyers, accountants and engineers, to write technical things, using industry jargon and structured following rigid thought-patterns. It is always about less emotion and more logic.

My Own Liberator has artistic swag to it like Shakespearian novels, it has that emotional connection that hits to the core of your soul.

Long story short, this book is beautiful art. It is very emotional, it is a remarkable story of a brutal system of apartheid, and a young man who had overcame it and rose to the highest courts of the land.  

It is stories of Justice Dikgang Mosekene that reminds us that we have the best people in our midst. That we were once led by greatness and that we come a history of remarkable men and women.

Thank you Lolo for this gift, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Quotes that stood out for me:

  • “They cheered me on to blow out the candles. ‘Cut the birthday cake, Tata; cut the cake! they yelled and clapped excitedly. Love without qualification flowed abundantly. Unconditional affection is the only stuff grandchildren trade with grandparents.”
  • “Even the racist types did not lightly mess with a black person wearing a coat and tie.”
  • “Mma, as most wives do, outlive Papa and lived as a widow for nearly a decade. She was visibly depressed and lonely.” 😦
  • “Over only a few weeks, Ike had introduced us to a man who lived in Saulsville, John Nkosi, a self-effacing and rather irritatingly quiet man. He seldom made eye contact and he spoke in monosyllables, and yet the word ‘revolution’ was written all over his forehead.”
  • “After all, only medical doctors had this compelling title. You had to call them Dr Nkomo, Dr Moreosele, Dr Tsele, Dr Mogoba, and nothing less. Doctors saved lives. You never knew when you might have to wake them up late at night, so they were revered. They married the prettiest wives, lived in best homes, drove the best cars and still they did not have to work for white people. They were gifted the best of all worlds even under racial oppression. But this was not to be my path after all.”
  • “I had to give up looking for my parents to save me. They were not allowed to. The message was clear: Dikgang, you must paddle or drown, my boy. Nobody was allowed to or could do it for me. I had to find inner vigor, a big heart, to go through this challenge.”

  • “My mother tongue, Setswana, teaches that matsha ga ana swele. For certain, a new dawn will come and displace darkness. And every dawn is a new day. It holds promise of a new beginning.”
  •  “Dikgang, kom uit! Vermeulen yelled. I wondered that was on my handler’s mind and he soon told. “You will be appearing before Supreme Court in Pretoria this morning. ‘Vandag gaan jy tronk toe vir ewig, kleintjie.’
  • “When you walk a difficult road, you do well to have a companion at sunset.”

  • “A prisoner who cared to study would, in effect, escape from prison. It was a case of mind over matter. The space to study freed fresh energy and gave us abundant hope.”
  • “Lack of formal tuition does not deprive a person of common sense and native intelligence. A sense of self-worth is not diminished by illiteracy alone.”
  • “Matsha ga ana swele [dawn will surely break]”
  • “We need heroes. They are a glimpse of what we can be.”

  • “A good few [Robben Island political prisoners] were served with divorce summons while they were on the island, events that unleashed a deep grief of rejection. In some instances, news would arrive that a child has been excluded from school on financial grounds or that a daughter has fallen pregnant. News of that kind hurt more than the scorn of captivity.”
  • “Towards the end of the 30 minutes [prison visits] she [mother] never omitted to say: ‘Son, this, too, shall pass. We love you, Dikgang. She used the ‘royal we’ because my father never dabbled in unmanly stuff like ‘I love you’. He tended to be a matter-of-fact. He would probe the progress of my studies, and ask whether he needed to send me prescribed books or money, and whether I had grievances he should know about.”
  • “Se se sa feleng sa tlhola [every hardship comes to an end]”
  • “The monitor shouted: ‘Sabela wena, Dikgang Moseneke, uya bizwa! Sabela S’boshwa [Answer, Dikgang Moseneke, you are being called. Answer, you prisoner] It had been ten years since I had been spirited away on 21 March 1963 from my parents’ home. I had been on the island for nine years and nine months. As the monitor called my name, my gut took over. It felt hollow and my stomach churned. Had my moment come? Did I have to pinch myself out of disbelief?”
  • “But then prison is not a tourist venture, certainly not for an inmate. What mattered was the ticking clock. From day to day, I waited lazily for my time, counted in days, to run out.”

 

 

Book Review: My Story by Jo Malone

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This is a remarkable story of an amazing entrepreneur. Like it is really really remarkable.

Known around the world for her eponymous brand of fragrances, Jo Malone tells the remarkable and inspiring story of her rise from high school dropout to beloved business success.

She left school at 15 and worked for her mother, learning how to mix face creams and developing both her sense of smell and a desire to live a better life.

She moved closer to central London and swept floors for high-end grocer Justin de Blank for £19 a week, earning extra cash as a dogsitter for a rich woman in Belgravia, before working at posh florist Pulbrook & Gould.

All this gave her a glimpse “into a privileged world that I wanted to know more about”.

She enrolled at a Bible school in Kennington, where she met Gary Willcox, a surveyor, whom she married in 1985. Both her faith and her husband remain central to her life.

In 2003 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent two bouts of chemotherapy and had both breasts removed.

Figuring that she needed time to relax, she bowed out of the business but realised that idleness was the last thing she wanted.

As soon as a five-year lock-out clause, which prevented her from  working in the beauty business ended, she launched her new brand, Jo Loves, which continues to thrive, as clearly does she, today.

Rating

9/10

I think it is a book for everybody.

If you have ever doubted who you ar, and your life is about to change, it is a book you’ll find strength from.

You will find creativity in there. You will find passion, you will find humour, and also, if you have been in that awful situation where you are fighting a life-threatening disease, you will find strength, resilience and courage from it as well.

I am a male entrepreneur but this book is not just a female entrepreneur book. I think men are really going to enjoy it because I do deal with the times that were really tough, not just the easy times, so I think men will relate to this as much as women.

As much as this is a personal story of sheer determination and bloody-mindedness, it is also an invaluable manual for any would-be entrepreneur, filled with insights and written in a brisk style.

This is a very easy read, engaging and totally fascinating read. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it is a must read for entrepreneurs.

I will read it again.

Quotes that stood out for me

  • “Always find Tracey (her younger sister) something to do, never take your eyes off the ball, and be willing to toss it out and start again if it’s not absolutely perfect.”
  • “When I start to develop the idea for a fragrance, I am, in my mind, creating a unique character that breathes on its own, with a heartbeat, soul and personality: whispering to me its capabilities, strengths and weaknesses; hinting whether it will be dominant in a room or more reserved, and whether it will turn heads or slowly grow on people. But however it behaves socially, one thing is guaranteed: each one will make its charm and presence felt, stirring moods, memories, emotions…..and our senses.”
  • “I’m like a conductor pulling in different instruments and musicians to create a symphony”

  • “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life – Confucius”
  • “How does anyone get started? Easy. You start by getting off your arse and making difficult calls.”
  • “Simplicity sums up my approach. I believe that the hallmarks of quality and luxury are discernment, not fuss, not razzmatazz, not bells and whistles. Understated. Subtle. Like a scent that gradually makes itself known and quietly commands attention.” 

  • “To ask ‘why me?’ would be to wish that it was on someone else, and that didn’t seem fair. Life doesn’t always deal the good fortune cards.”
  • “It’s important to share my story……the more we shine light into the darkest, scariest of places, the more acceptable it seems and the less alone we have to be.”
  • “Cancer doesn’t define me. It only signifies eight months and three chapters in my life story.”
  • “Find a ladder. Or find a way to climb over the wall. Or dig a tunnel. Just find a way.”

 

Book Review: Business Tips To My Daughter by Ndzavi Derrick

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The challenge with reviewing a book that you know the author very well is that as you read, you keep hearing the voice the author through and through.

As I was reading this book, I kept laughing because I could hear Ndzavi’s voice in my head.

Ndzavi is an accredited Business Advisor and speaks on various platforms on entrepreneurship. This book is a culmination of years of experience dealing with entrepreneurs.

I enjoyed this book, it has amazing business tips and it is also very funny. Ndzavi has a way of making serious topics easy to digest.

The book presents 20 potent tips that I think every business person should know.

The tips ranges from business etiquette, professionalism, marketing, pitching, time management, managing staff etc.

The tips are small bite-sized nuggets that you can consume one day at a time.

The book is practical and gets to be point without laboring on it.

Rating

8/10

For a first book, Ndzavy has collected important tips that business people should know.

Knowing Ndzavy, I felt he held back a bit, he is an experienced businessman and knows more than he tells in the book. I’m sure there will more books to come from him.

I recommend this book to entrepreneurs, old and new.

Quotes that stood out for me

  • “Rather pay more money to an expert than pay a quarter of the amount to someone who has no clue on how to get things fixed.”
  • “Create something that will outlive you when you are gone. Let your name be mentioned by 3030 as fresh as it is mentioned today.

  • “Everybody knows there is traffic, as a matter of fact some of the people in the meeting used the same road you used and arrived earlier and you lie saying there was an accident on the road that’s why you are late, might make things worse for you.”
  • “Before quitting that job to start your business, you might as well have to exchange the luxury car for a double cab or any car that will assist in making your business run smoothly.”
  • “Running own business takes a lot of discipline and effort. Every business is like a child that waits on mommy to breastfeed, the moment mommy fails to continuously breastfeed the child, that child will be exposed to different kind of diseases.”

  • “The moment you make your client feel less important, you make that client think that you are too busy for them and that client will look for another service provider, not because your product is no longer the best but because you are doing the opposite of who you say you are.”
  • “Take note that when you are not in the office or leave early, there are those employees who leave 5 minutes after you and it becomes a culture. Even when you call a person on the phone, the other staff members can cover up for that person knowing fully well that the person has gone home and they will claim that the person has just gone outside and will be back.”

Book Review: Homo Deus – A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

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Yuval Noah Harari is a breath of fresh air. He makes history look very sexy. He is a historian off-course, how he analyses and interprets history will make you fall in love with history.

I have followed his work for a while, watched his TED talks and other lectures he gave, listened and watched is podcasts. He has a very interesting and intriguing mind.

Homo Deus is a sequel to his first bestseller book Sapiens: Brief History of Human Kind, which was an amazing book, even former President Barack Obama highly recommends it.

Homo Deus” takes off where “Sapiens” left off; it is a “brief history of tomorrow.”

In Homo Deus, Yuval takes us into his interpretation of what the future will look like. He talks about the new human agenda which is a different agenda from the past.

Humanity has solved most its challenges. We have stopped wars, the world is peaceful today than ever before.

We have contained outbreaks, today if an disease breakout in any part of the world, we are able to respond quickly to contain it in that part of the world and end it,

We have contained lethal diseases like HIV/Aids. In 1980, if you contracted the disease, you would die within 12 months, but today, you can live a long healthy life, the disease moved from being lethal to a manageable chronic disease.

Yes, there is poverty but it is not as devastating as it used to be.

Basically the world has done well so for itself so far.

So what’s next?

Yuval believes that since we have solved most our critical challenges that occupied most our times, now we have enough spare time to explore other things that will improve our lives.

Instead of being merely satisfied with our achievements, we want more.

We are now going to spend our times exploring ways of improving our lives.

Enter: the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Yuval believes that the next human agenda is to improve the quality of our lives through technology.

The new quest for humanity to increase our life expectancy to more 100.

Machines will take up jobs that humans used to do.

According to Yuval, the industrial revolution created the working class, the new 4th industrial revolution will create the lazy class.

Humanity will move from organisms not algorithms. Through technology, humans will be half-man half-machine.

Rating

9/10

This is the same rating I have his first book, Sapiens.

Yuval writes like he talks. When you listen to his talks, he has that British dry sense of humor, [no wonder he studied in Oxford], his writing carries the same sense of humor.

The book will challenge you, your beliefs, but for me, most importantly it will expand your horizon. I understood where the world is going and thinking through this book.

Do I recommend this book?

Off-course I do.

If Barack Obama recommends it, and Bill Gates recommends it too, I recommend it too.

Who should read it?

Hhhhmmm, I read it because I love history, but anyone who is interest in future trends, scenario planners, innovators and creators and people who are interested in shaping the future should read this book.

Yuval’s writing style is storytelling, uses analogies and humor, here is an example of what I mean, this is the opening paragraph of the book:

“At the dawn of the third millennium, humanity wakes up, stretching its limbs and rubbing its eyes. Remnants of some awful nightmare are still drifting across its mind. ‘There was something with barbed wire, and huge mushroom clouds. Oh well, it was just a bad dream.’ Going to the bathroom, humanity washes its face, examines its wrinkles in the mirror, makes a cup of coffee and opens the diary, ‘Let’s see what’s on the agenda today.’ ”

Quotes that stood out for me:

  • “The most common reaction of the human mind to achievement is not satisfaction, but craving for more.”
  • “In most part of the planet, even if a person has lost his job and all his possessions, he is unlikely to die from hunger.”
  • “We do not become satisfied by leading a peaceful and prosperous existence. Rather, we become satisfied when reality matches our expectations. The bad news is that as conditions improve, expectations balloon.”

  • “This is the best reason to learn history: not in order to predict the future, but to free yourself of the past and imagine alternative destinies. Of course this is not total freedom – we cannot avoid being shaped by the past. But some freedom is better than none.”
  • “They were told that there was no way for China to feed its billion people, and that they world’s most populous country was heading towards catastrophe. In fact, it was heading towards the greatest economic miracle in history. Since 1974 hundreds of millions of Chinese have been lifted out of poverty, and though hundred of millions more still suffer greatly from privation and malnutrition, for the first time in its history China is now free from famine.”
  • “Wars are disappearing. Throughout history most humans took war for granted, whereas peace was a temporary and precarious state.”
  • “For the first time in history, when governments, corporations and private individuals consider their immediate future, many of them don’t think about war as a likely event.”
  • “If you ask me today, is it possible to live to be 500, the answer is yes.”

  • “People will have much more longer careers and will have to reinvent themselves again and again even at the age of ninety.”

Book Review: Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

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Adam Grant is an organizational psychologist, and professor at Wharton.

He has been recognized as Wharton’s top-rated teacher for five straight years, and as one of the world’s 25 most influential management thinkers and Fortune‘s 40 under 40.

As an organizational psychologist, he studies how we can find motivation and meaning, and lead more generous and creative lives.

In this book, Adam Grant digs into the psychological traits and behaviors of people who are originals.

It is a book about psychological behaviors of non-conformists, people who don’t fit in but stand out.

It seeks to define what it means to be an “original” and how a sense of originality has manifested itself within some of the most successful people in the world.

Grant has studied a lot of successful and original people and shares his findings in this book. I loved the storytelling in this book.

It brings fresh research, counter-intuitive insights, lively writing, practical calls to action.

In this book Grant looks at the following chapters:

  • Creative Destruction: The risky business of going against the grain
  • Blind Inventors and one-eyed investors: The art and science of recognising original ideas;
  • Out on a limb: speaking truth to power;
  • Fools rush in: Timing, strategic procrastination, and the first-mover disadvantage;
  • Goldilocks and the Trojan Horse: Creating and maintaining coalitions.

Grant’s optimism about the potential of human beings to improve themselves and their organisations is refreshing, and his willingness to challenge and test the status quo instructive.

Rating

8/10

If you are into innovation, art, creativity, inventing things. This book is for you. I enjoyed this book tremendously.

I found myself writing notes on the book. Scribbling things like “interesting” on certain paragraphs, writing “Potent” next to amazing thoughts. I highlighted a lot of sentences.

I’m going to have to re-read this book. It is jam packed with original ideas in one, it is not comprehensible to sink all the information at one go.

Readers will find Originals to be a call to action, propelling them toward taking the road less traveled in hopes of conquering their domains and accomplishing just what the title suggests, moving the world forward.

Do I recommend this book? If you are a non-comforist, someone who doesn’t like rules, yes please get this book.

After all it is better to make rules than to follow them.

Quotes that stood out for me

  • “The least favorite students were the non-conformists who made up their own rules. Teachers tend to discriminate against highly creative students, labeling them as troublemakers.”

  • “At its core, comedy is an act of rebellion. Evidence shows that compared to the norms in the population, comedians tend to be more original and rebellious—and the higher they score on these dimensions, the more professional success they attain.”
  • “Being original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better.”

  • “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw”
  • “To become original, you have to try something new, which means accepting some measure of risk.”
  • “Procrastination may be the enemy of productivity, but it can be a resource for creativity.”
  • “Practice makes perfect, but it doesn’t make new.”

  • “The greatest shapers don’t stop at introducing originality into the world. They create cultures that unleash originality in others.”
  • “People who suffer the most from a given state of affairs are paradoxically the least likely to question, challenge, reject, or change it.”
  • “When our commitment is wavering, the best way to stay on track is to consider the progress we’ve already made. As we recognize what we’ve invested and attained, it seems like a waste to give up, and our confidence and commitment surge.”

 

 

 

Book Review: How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen

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This has to be my book of the year 2017 without a doubt.

This book is like that last lecture class of the year before your final exams before you graduation where the Professor is giving you life lessons beyond your degree.

“Okay now that you know how to calculate ROI, Beta and risk models, here is what you need to know about life.”

Professor Christensen, famous for his theory on disruptive innovations, is an amazing human being. Very humble, smart, and funny.

I have never read a book that combines business lessons and applies the same lessons to our personal lives. In this book, Prof Christensen does an amazing job of combining business and life lessons in each chapter of the book.

The storytelling in this book is remarkable. This book has changed my life and how view a number of things and challenges in my life.

If books were to come with warning labels, this book’s warning label would be “WARNING: Reading this book will change your life.”

In this book, Prof Clayton Christensen reflected on the lessons learnt in his career from business to academia and how the same lessons from company culture, motivation factors in hiring people and business ethics learnt can be translated to family life.

Written together with two co-authors, James Allworth & Karen Dillon, the book introduced how our careers whether as an entrepreneur or corporate leader can provide us a mirror in how we view our family life.

This book combination of business and family wisdom.

Some of the chapters in the include:

  • What makes us tick
  • Your strategy is now what you say it is
  • Sailing your kids on Theseus’s ship
  • The invisible hand inside your family
  • The ticking clock

Rating

9.5/10

I love this book. Yeah I know, I’m saying it for the second time.

I personally admire the way how real-life stories of successes and failures found their place in this book and how these stories are interconnected.

This is the book that I will read few more times for sure and that I will recommend to my close friends as well.

It feels like a short-book, while you are still enjoying it, it ends. This is what happens with great books, you don’t want them to end. Prof Christensen leaves you want more of his wisdom.

I recommend this book, especially for entrepreneurs who have started their families with kids or currently studying in a business school (likely a MBA or EMBA) and contemplating their next career moves or starting their own business.

What I enjoyed about the book is the sense of perspective that he has placed on how one should balance their career and family and integrate work with happiness.

In the end, all of us will go back to the same question that Christensen sought to address, “How will you measure your life?” Christensen has provided his perspective, how about the rest of us then?

Quotes that stood out for me

  • “If you defer investing your time and energy until you see that you need to, chances are it will already be too late.”
  • “Fast-paced careers, family responsibilities, and tangible rewards of success tend to swallow up time and perspective.”

  • “You can talk all you want about having a clear purpose and strategy for your life, but ultimately this means nothing if you are not investing the resources you have in a way that is consistent with your strategy. In the end, a strategy is nothing but good intentions unless it’s effectively implemented.”
  • “What we can learn from how companies develop strategy is that although it is hard to get it right at first, success doesn’t rely on this. Instead, it hinges on continuing to experiment until you do find an approach that works.”
  • “But there is much more to life than your career. The person you are at work and the amount of time you spend there will impact the person you are outside of work with your family and close friends.”

  • “In your life, there are going to be constant demands for your time and attention. How are you going to decide which of those demands gets resources? The trap many people fall into is to allocate their time to whoever screams loudest, and their talent to whatever offers them the fastest reward. That’s a dangerous way to build a strategy.”
  • “It’s easier to hold to your principles 100 percent of the time than it is to hold to them 98 percent of the time. The boundary, your personal moral line, is powerful because you don’t cross it; if you have justified doing it once, there’s nothing to stop you doing it again.”

  • “All parents aspire to raise the kind of children that they know will make the right choices – even when they themselves are not there to supervise. One of the most effective ways to do that is to build the right family culture.”
  • “Intimate, loving, and enduring relationships with our family and close friends will be among the sources of the deepest joy in our lives.”

  • “I had thought the destination was what was important, but it turned out it was the journey.”
  • “the only metrics that will truly matter to my life are the individuals whom I have been able to help, one by one, to become better people.”
  • “Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.”

PS: Thank you so much Lolo and Efosa for making me encounter this book.

 

 

Book Review: Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

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This book is huge, 674 pages, it’s intimidating. When I browsed through it, I saw weirdly structured chapters so my initial impression was, may be not.

And then I saw Seth Godin, and then I said hmmm maybe. If you occassionally read my thoughts on this blog, you will know that I’m a Godin fan.

Once you overcome the 700 pages shock, you actually realise that it is an easy read. It is not this over-jargoned literature.

It turns out that Tim Ferriss, one of the most successful podcasters, has used his podcast interviews and converted them into a book. Not a bad idea.

Basically in this book, Tim interviews just about 200 amazing people. He interviews people such as Arnold “Terminator” Schwarzenegger, Jamie Foxx, James Altucher, Brene Brown [Popular TED talk on vulnerability], Ed Catmull [Toy Story, and the book Creativity Inc], Paulo The Alchemist Coelho, Malcolm Gladwell [popular successful writer with a huge afro, he might have cut it by now], Amanda Palmer, Kevin Kelly, Peter Thiel [of Zero to One], Seth “Purple Cow” Godin and many other great achievers.

The book is structured in a interview format, for example:

Merchant: “… If you are without possessions, how can you give?”

Siddhartha: “Everyone gives what he has. The soldier gives strength, the merchant goods, the teacher instruction, the farmer rice, the fisherman fish.”

Merchant? “Very well, and what can you give? What have you learned that you can give?”

Siddhartha: “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.”

In between the interviews, Tim shares his thoughts and views on the various topics making the interviews.

Tim asks his guests various questions covering the topics ranging from productivity, meditation, morning rituals, tactics dealing with haters, testing the impossible, thoughts on suicide,  excellence, etc.

The Tools of Titans: the tactics, routines and habits of billionaires, icons and world-class performers, is the perfect read for obsessives wanting to boost their productivity.

The book is divided into three sections: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.

Tim has selected nuggets of wisdom from high-achievers he has interviewed over the years.

It is a brilliant book.

Or at least, it is brilliant if you are interested in fitness and strength, working more efficiently, getting mega rich, and trying to live in a way in which you consciously strive to improve, become happier, and live with purpose.

As Tim says in his intro, it’s a book to dip in and out of, and a book to skip through the bits that don’t resonate with you. I can’t say I was very interested in the advice on getting mega rich or drinking funny combinations of ginger and beetroot for breakfast.

As I devoured all 674 pages of the book in little more than a week (a sign that I loved it), I kept interrupting myself to scribble down notes.

I take notes from all good books that I read, I highlight and write notes in my my books, but I wrote a lot of notes this time.

It remains one of my favorite 2017 book.

Rating:

7/10 

I loved this book. huge as it is, I carried it to various coffee shops, offices I went to, I read it while waiting for the Gautrain, or waiting for a meeting,  basically it was my partner for the two weeks I read it.

It was cool carrying it with me because it will always evoked comments from people who who saw me with it, they will be shocked at how thick it is, “are you reading this huge book?” “wow, I can’t read such a huge book, looking at it already gives me stress” these are some of the interesting comments I got from friends and people I met while reading this book.

I rate the book 7 out of 10 because even though it is a very good book, I would have loved to read more interviews from women, people of color and other nationalities.

Otherwise it is a good read. I recommend it to anyone who is into self-improvement books.

Quotes that stood out for me:

  • “The most important trick to be happy is to realize that happiness is a choice that you make and a skill that you develop. You choose to be happy, and then you work at it. It’s just like building muscles.”

  • “There is more freedom to be gained from practicing poverty than chasing wealth.”
  • “Productivity is for robots. What humans are going to be really good at is asking questions, being creative, and experiences.”
  • “Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”

  • “Creativity is an infinite resource. The more you spend,the more you have.”
  • “Happiness is wanting what you have.”
  • “Be a meaningful specific instead of a wandering generality.”
  • “My goal is to learn things once and use them forever.”

  • “Give vulnerability a shot. Give discomfort its due. Because I think he or she who is willing to be the most uncomfortable is not only the bravest, but rises the fastest.”
  • “Ours is a culture where we wear our ability to get by on very little sleep as a kind of badge of honor that symbolizes work ethic, or toughness, or some other virtue—but really, it’s a total profound failure of priorities and of self-respect.”
  • “Every day, it’s something to reflect on and think about ‘How do I become less competitive in order that I can become more successful?”