Book: Creativity, Inc.

Problem-solving at its best. The problem at hand is how to build a sustainable creative culture:

What had drawn me to science, all those years ago, was the search for understanding. Human interaction is far more complex than relativity or string theory, of course, but that only made it more interesting and important; it constantly challenged my presumptions.

The book follows the path of Pixar, Inc. Along the way Ed Catmull (one of its founders) both reveals the core of what’s needed for few hundred people to work together to build a great product and shares a lot of tactics that either did or not work for Pixar itself.

If you work or play with groups of people of two or more, I would recommend you have a look at Creativity, Inc.

P.S. You might also want to check out Dave Martin’s 36 Things You Might Take Away From “Creativity, Inc.”

Thinking, Fast and Slow

The book cover Never has a book become more deeply ingrained in my daily life for such a short time. Every day, since the moment I started reading Thinking, Fast and Slow, I have either referenced it in a conversation or have noticed a situation, explained in the book.

Thinking, Fast and Slow contains all the psychological wisdom the Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman has gathered through the years. He’s almost 80 years old, this makes for a lot of wisdom.

The goal of the book is to give us names to the most common errors of judgement we make. In addition to the names there are a ton of amusing stories and insights into how our mind works. While most of the content isn’t unique, the value of the book is in its completeness. It covers all aspects of the way humans make decisions, both right and wrong.

If you answer with “yes” to at least two and a half of the questions below, move Thinking, Fast and Slow to the top of your reading list:

  • Have you wondered why very smart people have a hard time navigating in the outside world?
  • Have you ever submitted a sub-par essay, because the professor knew you were smart?
  • Have you ever negotiated over something?
  • Have you ever given money to a charity?
  • Have you ever evaluated (in your mind) whether a person is attractive or not?
  • Have you wondered why we trust some politicians even if we don’t know their work well enough?
  • Have you wondered why people love conspiracy theories?
  • Have you ever had to make an important work decision?
  • Have you ever had to make an important life decision?
  • Have you ever had to make a decision about anything?

Thinking, Fast and Slow is the most complete and in-depth popular work on how and why we make decisions, that I’ve read. It was worth every minute I spent with it.

Book: Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

Mortality sounds like a road trip motto. Coincidentally, I accidentally bought the book right before we set off on a road trip.

The moment I saw the small, hardcover book with the great serif on the cover I couldn’t resist. Yes, I choose my wine by the label, too.

Under the beautiful cover, Hitchens is dying of cancer. It doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? He’s not the first to try it, neither was the first who succeeded.

Mortality cover

The pleasant surprise was that the book isn’t about rethinking his life, feeling sorry he didn’t return that phone call in 1977, or trying to convince me I had to stuff my short mortal life with daisies, love, time for my family, and blueberry pancakes.

Instead, Hitchens tells us 6½ stories from “Tumortown”. Stories about different aspects of his experiences with having cancer. And with the cancer having him. And with the surrounding world having them both.

If you have read any of his previous writings, you already  know that he’s an ironically witty, straight-forward atheist. If you haven’t read any of his previous writings, you still don’t know that he’s an ironically witty, straight-forward atheist.

Staying witty, while dying at the same time sounds incredibly hard. I don’t know if Hitchens showed his true emotions in the book or he started believing in god and kept atheism just as a marketing tactic, but I don’t really care. All I know is that I want to be witty when I’m dying.