Summer 2020 Reading List

#managing_yourself I share with you the best of what I've read this summer

It doesn’t really matter how good you feel
Harmful breathes to the midnight meal
I pull down the window as you point out the cops
Pull off your sleeves and I ditch my socks
Dancing to the songs with the cars in their bags
Went to the convoy, smell that trash
Walking around in our summertime clothes
Nowhere to go when our bodies go
And we’ll breathe it down this morning bloom
With the purple young, and you’re sleeping soon
And I want to walk around with you [Repeat: x2]

With the sun, you know I wanna get in [Repeat: x16]

Animal Collective, Summertime Clothes

I want to share with you three books I’ve been reading this summer that I found both fun and inspiring. I’ve broken down my recommendations by what problem you’re solving for, and why you’ll enjoy the book.

You are trying to make a more significant impact at work, or you have limited headcount, and you need instant offense

David Epstein’s latest book, “Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” outlines a comprehensive argument against the 10,000-hour theory popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in “Outliers: The Story of Success.” Epstein argues that the outsized impact by individuals often come from polymaths and regales you with stories of innovation and achievement across entertainment, sports, and science and technology. Do you have “range,” and how do you hire those people who do have “range?” Read the book to understand the clues.

You need some inspiration to solve some sticky real-world problems, or you’re a non-technical person who wants to understand the beauty of computer science (and operations research) algorithms

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions”, by Brian Christian, seemingly has an answer to all of life’s problems - from when you should stop dating and just focus on getting married, to how you should organize your email inbox. Christian even provides a plain-speak explanation on complex topics, such as why all so often we find our data science algorithms inadequate because they are overfitting. Algorithms to Live By is the book I wish would-be college students to read so that they may be inspired by all of the many problems a computer science and operations research approach can solve in life and at work.

You’re wondering why your company isn’t innovative enough despite user research, design thinking, and a rigorous user story process

Christian Clayton wrote the “The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change)”, which articulated the challenges firms face to innovate. In his follow-up, Clayton advocates for a “jobs to be done” approach when defining products called “Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice.” While he admits that he did not invent the approach, he provides a robust argument on why the method works and guides the reader through the thinking process behind various innovations we’ve all experienced. The book illuminated for me numerous mistakes I made in the process of creating and defining Meeting Town while simultaneously providing my team and me a path forward on how we might yet evolve the product to be more meaningful for our customers.

Be safe this summer, and be well. If we haven’t spoken in a while, don’t be a stranger. I’d love to found out how you are.

-Han Yuan

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