The Right Book at the Right Time
It’s cheesy, but I’ve always thought there was a certain magic in reading the right book at the right time.
This quote caught my eye recently and reminded me of a year of transitions I had a decade ago. In 2012, I went from scale at Amazon to scaling Twitter, came into my own as a manager, and had several life changes to boot. And I happened to read 3 books during that year that have shaped my approach to work (and life) over the last 10 years.
So what are these evergreen books? And what were my notes-to-self as I read them?
The Effective Executive
This book taught me that time management is the foundational skill for a leader.
managing time as the most precious resource
blocking off time to actually work
measuring time to make adjustments
efficiency is not effectiveness
outcomes over output, which requires operating on a longer time horizon
focus on high-leverage vs time spent
My takeaway from this book was the need to be intentional about your choices.
discipline required when trying to scale but used to saying yes to everything
started journey on strategic learning (vs tactical execution)
multi-tasking is a myth and single-tracking is how real problem solving happens
living intentionally vs going along with status meetings, career ladders, etc
not feeling guilty about saying “no” - origin of principle “no is a complete sentence”
not chasing optionality, just because it’s en vogue to not commit
This book has tons of best practices on building an org that outlasts you.
operationalized feedback systems are critical for a self-learning org
psychological safety required to communicate and experiment, otherwise isolated incrementalism
great teams vs great charters - diversity of team in every sense
getting team to express it’s diversity in ideating, decisions, etc
I’d love to hear from readers about their right book at the right time moments - please chime in via comments👇. And if you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing.
further reading / references
the intro quote is from a book recommendation newsletter (fun fact: before finding my niche talking about product strategy / execution / leadership I almost started a newsletter focused on reading suggestions)
some of you may remember this poll about books that need to exist
childish drawing / interpretation