What I’m Reading
Recent travelling has allowed me the chance to do something that too often gets pushed to the bottom of my to-do list: read.
This week on the blog I thought I’d share some of the books I’ve been getting through and let you know how they’ve been shaping my thinking.
* * * * *
“There is nothing that fascinates us more, little that agitates the body more completely. Information warns us of danger, prepares us for action, helps us survive. And it enables us to perform that most magical of all tricks—predicting the future.”
My co-founder Rob and I are fascinated by the frantic goings on in the world of fintech at the moment, with sky high startup valuations, wildly oversubscribed ICOs and a cryptocurrency boom. Irrational exuberance is everywhere and, as has been in the case in financial markets for centuries, human psychology is a driving force.
This fascinating book by former Wall Street trader turned senior neuroscience research fellow, John Coates, examines bankers in their natural habitats – on the trading floor – and reveals how humanity’s biological makeup and animal spirits have a significant impact on our economies.
The title refers to the constant switch between offense and defence that traders – and humans – make in their everyday lives as they manage risk, seek opportunities, and work out whether to fight or flight. It’s this deep rooted biological instinct that has such a powerful and often unpredictable impact on the financial world.
“Tip to aspiring entrepreneurs: if you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic, don’t become CEO.”
Ben Horowitz is an investor, blogger, author, and co-founder of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. So he knows a thing or two about starting a business.
As Ben explains in this honest, challenging book, a good idea is easy. But its execution and the challenge of making hard choices that sorts the good from the great entrepreneurs.
At Origin, whilst we are early on our journey along the growth curve, this book spoke volumes to me and taught me so much about the great mountains we have yet to climb.
“There are no gods, no nations, no money and no human rights, except in our collective imagination.”
If you’ve even got a cursory interest in history, politics, sociology, economics, finance… okay, if you’ve got literally any interest in anything, you’ve got to read this book.
Written in 2014 by Israeli writer, Yuval Noah Harari, this history-of-humanity epic will give you a deeper understanding of the last 70,000 years and how we came to be who we are today. Beautifully written, stuffed full of facts, this is a must read for anyone with an interest in the past.
It’s the sort of book you read and wish you could remember every line. I definitely recommend reading with a highlighter and notebook!
“Like firefighters in a world without fire, so humankind in the twenty-first century needs to ask itself an unprecedented question: what are we going to do with ourselves?”
Whilst Sapiens looks back, this book looks forward and makes some bold, bright and mind-bending predictions about what is set to come for humanity in the future.
Building upon Harari’s epic first work, Home Deus is a thought provoking survey of what life could look like if technology continues to grow at its current pace. Some of this development will be great, some may be damaging. One thing is certain: life and society – especially the way humans live, work and occupy our time – is set to change beyond recognition.
An amazing book that will make you think about the future, and force you to assess the present, to see how you can best prepare your business, yourself, your world for what is yet to come.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I haven’t got round to reading this yet, but given Thaler’s recent Nobel Prize for Economics, it’s at the top of my list. Nudge, Thaler’s earlier work on behavioural economics, is another book of his that I’ve heard great things about. All I need now is another long haul flight to give me the time!
* * * * *
These are my current favourites, and, seriously, it’d be great to hear yours. Send any ‘must read’ recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear them.