Blue Flower

Here are some of the books that I've read and for which I think it was worth take notes and write a review



Brilliant NLP, David Molden & Pat Hutchinson

Bought this book in Ealing, back in 2012, not remember well from which shop, but I did noted I was with Mercedes. I don't think is a book that is going to make history, or a must read for everyone. Nevertheless, it does contain some interesting stuff about how to face life following a "scientific" approach and most importantly how to relate to others and understand their motives. On my arrogance, I started the book with no much hope of learning anything new ("like a frog on a well who thinks that the small circle of blue sky is all there is above the well"), but got to admit that some of the NLP concepts will present with new lines of thought that are worth embracing

Some of the bits that I like the most about this book was the clear explanation between the "thru-time" people and the "in-time" people, as well as the different kind of recalls we may have: visual, internal dialogue, auditory construct, etc

Here are some extract from this book that I absolutely love:

  • You may not know how to act differently and find the change awkward and unnatural. This in itself will create a tug for you, a feeling that something isn't right, and you may want to revert to your more usual behaviour. If this happens, remind yourself why you want to change and that the tug will diminish the more you repeat the new behaviour. Think of the rug as a signal that you are making a transition from old habits to new and this will help you to become more flexible as a person.
  • Limiting beliefs; question everything that you know, that limits yourself. Do you have any prove of that believe? be aware of them!
  • You can't see a believe or touch it. Beliefs have no physical form other than the activity in your mind,but we need them in order to survive and thrive. Beliefs are powerful. Even though you can't see one, you can observe the results of a belief very clearly. In the extreme, beliefs are fuel for both suicide bombers and peace activist. What you belief has an impact on every aspect of your life. Some may have a positive effect, others may not.
  • Think of beliefs and values as a tree. The values form the stable trunk and the beliefs are the fruit. Sometimes the fruit is fresh and nutritious, some times it rots. Every now and again, it's worth giving the branches a good shake so that old and unwanted beliefs fall to the ground.
  • Everything begins with a thought and that thought will attract similar ones until you have a cluster of thoughts. That cluster becomes a pattern of thinking, which form a habit. The habit will then be applied to many different scenarios. Scientist believe that the conscious mind is able to cope with only about seven pieces of information at any one time and can become overloaded very quickly.
  • A problem only exist in your mind, outside of your mind there are only a set of circumstances
  • Is you behaviour aligned with your thinking? Happiness is a state of mind, and you arrive to it by being congruent with your actions. If you decide to be unhappy, you'll be. This is how life works
  • The key is to develop "curiosity" about what is causing a person to behave in such a way
  • When you are having a tough day and your mind is working flat out to meet deadlines, stress accumulates in your body (your may become tense and your breathing erratic). Your body will reacts to whatever changes your mind goes through and vice versa
  • Be aware of your own, as others are likely to be making judgements about you from your posture, gesture or tone of voice.
  • A smarter way to have your ideas accepted is to connect them with the ideas already held by the other person.
  • Observe carefully: if you are selling you want your customer to be in a "buying" state. Having the sensory acuity to notice when a person is processing in downtime is fundamental to building rapport, pacing and leading and, ultimately ,effective communication.
  • It is not so much the content of what you are saying, that ensures you make the connection, but the way you say it. Your language is just the superficial expression of the structure of your experience, behind which lies your kaleidoscope of values and beliefs.
  • Your personal perception of events is called your "map of reality"
  • You have programmes for everything you do; all the programmes consist of sequences of thoughts and behaviours that are triggered by certain stimuli
  • Whatever aspect of your life you want to improve, you can bet there is a strategy you are currently using that is holding you back, either creating inertia or producing undesirable results. the key is to know the beginning and end of each strategy so that you can change it.
  • Watch out for these rules that limit your potential, and focus instead in these rules that keep you open to the world of possibility.
  • Everything starts with one thought. If you are in control of your thoughts, you are in control of your behaviour and, therefore, your results. 

The Fly Trap, Fredrik Sjoberg

Bought it Daunt Books (Chelsea store) in August 2016. This book enlight on you the passion for hoverflies and open you eyes to their existance. I always thought those insects were bees, and it is funny now to see how the pretty girls in the park in London get up from their lunch on the grass and wave their hand in fear to the passing of hoverflies. They have been fooling people for million of years.

The book is a nice read, but it could have been a lot better. Instead of a personal biography or insight of the author, it could have been transformed into a research on the life of Rene Malaise with a hint of adventure, where the author could start discovering things as he deeps on the life of Rene, instead of merely describe it as an anecdotal events. I missed more of Rene and less of the personal life of the author. All his ideas could be masquerade on the life of Rene. Overall, I recommend it!

Oh! Forgot the mention, I loved the fact Rene Malaise defended the idea of Atlantis, just like me, and that he was a supported of the Constriction Theory, a very plausible theory.

The Personal MBA, Josh Kaufman

Got this amazing book in September 2016, from Foyles, Covent Garden, London. This is a great piece of work by Josh Kaufman that I would recommend absolutely to everyone. It contains not only a great deal of information for anyone doing an MBA, as it says on the tip, but also and most importantly a huge deal of sound advice about how to face life both professionally and within the inner workings of your mind. Defenitely a must read for everyone.

Quotes found on this book:

"It is better to be roughly right than precisely wrong" (Jonh Maynard Keynes)

"People don't like to be sold, but they love to buy" (Jeffrey Gitomer)

"Price is what you pay. Value is what you get" (Warren Buffett)

"Don't build better cameras, build in the process better photographers" (Kathy Sierra)

"In nature, there are neither rewards nor punishments, there are consequences" (Robert G. Ingersoll)

 "When I was young, I thought money was the most important thing in the life. Now that I'm old, I know it is" (Oscard Wilde)

"Action comes about if and only if we find a discrepancy between what we are experiencing and what we want to experience" (Philip J. Runkel)

"We don't see things as they are. We see things as we are" (Anais Nin)

"No battle was ever won according to plan, but no battle was ever won without one...Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable" (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

The only limits are on your brain

Here are some of the sections (described to my own understanding) that I personally liked the most:

  • Critical Assumptions; do your research well before embarking on a new project, and focus on the facts, that will prevent you from failing
  • Field Testing; nothing better than eating the food that you produce, wearing the gear that you manufacture an following the norms that you dictate. On any new project, use the final product as much as possible in order to improve it and identify flows
  • The Universal currencies; they are resources, time and flexibility, where resources is the stuff that you put to get stuff that you want, time is just that and flexibility is the amount of sacrifice that you are willing to put to balance the other two currencies; every project is composed of these 3 currencies one way or another, identify them well
  • Sufficiency; money is just a tool, very true, it is just a medium to get what we think we want; money is not the end result after all but is the most popular tool to get the end result (happiness with family, etc)
  • The Onion Brain; "one of the best things you can do to get more done is to dissociate yourself from the voice in your head", so true! "A few moments of meditation every day can be the difference between feeling scared and overwhelmed and feeling in control of your destiny"
  • Reference Level; Nobody likes pain, but "f you are in the process of getting a tattoo, pain receptors firing is an acceptable situation"; you need to define your reference levels, what you actually understand for pleasure, pain or value before investing on a project
  • Guding Structure; yes, you need to setup rules, hash but fair, like for example the "Sterile Cockpit Rule" where pilots can only talk about the flight below 10,000 feet, above that altitude all other conversations are allowed,what did you do on the weekend, etc
  • Interpretation and re-interpretation; "It is entirely possible to change your beliefs and Mental Simulations consciously by recalling and actively Reinterpreting past events. Reinterpretation is possible because your memory is fundamentally impermanent. Our memories aren't like computer disks, every time we recall a memory it doesn't re-save it to the same location or in the same state. Every time we recall something, the memory is saved in a different location with a twist: the new memory will include any alterations that we have made to it. Reinterpret your past, and you'll enhance your ability to make great things happen in the present".
    "Reinterpret your past mistakes in a constructive light, and focus your energy on what you can do right now to move in a positive direction".
  • Motivation; "motivation is an emotion, NOT a logical, rational activity", the logical behaviour is derived from the emotion
  • Cognitive Scope Limitation; this is an amazing concept by which more or less we can only take about 150 relationships with people, according to Dunbar's Theory (though I personally believe that "healthy" or "fullfiling" relationship would be a lot less). It is really valuable to know this concept and to know and be aware of your own cognitive limitation at the time of approaching people and doing stuff
  • Novelty; another beautiful concept for both your life and professional endavours: "Human attention requires novelty to sustain itself. Continue to offer something new, and people will pay attention to what you have to offer"
  • Akrasia; meaning "lacking command over oneself", it is all of word for a concept that has been hitting (and hit) us since the dawn of mankind. Akrasia is not like procrastination, it can be easily identified when you add the "should" to whichever action that you have long consider but never actually started.
  • Cognitive Switching Penalty; "eliminate unproductive context switching, and you'll get more done with less effort", this sound so logical but nobody applies it: if you are writing a report, don't take calls on that time and avoid precisely that, unproductive context switching, it will take a while for your mind to re-concentrate when you go back to the subject
  • Five-Fold Why; another powerful concept to put into practise, this consist of asking yourself five times "why" to discover the root causes of what you want. "Discover the root causes behind your goals, and you'll discover new ways to get what you actually want", for example, to the question: I want a million pounds:
    • Why do you want a million pounds? because I want to buy a house
    • Why do you want to buy a house? because I want me and my girlfriend to live in there
    • Why do you want you and your girlfriend to live in a house? because we want to live together
    • Why do you want to live together? because we want to create a family
    • Why do you want to create a family? because we want to create a family (that's the root reason of you wanting a million pounds!) nice ah?
  • Doomsday Scenario; this concept explores the idea that our brains assume threats as life-or-death situation, that's why when we have no money or no love we feel so vulnerable and about to die. Life continues, don't be pessimistic
  • Confirmation Bias; "paradoxically, one of the best ways to figure out whether or not you're right, is to actively look for information that proves that you're wrong"
  • Hedonic Treadmill; this is a cycle by which we pursue things that we think will make us happy, to ultimately no longer make us happy once we got them
  • Attachment; you cannot change a single bit of the past, no a single second, therefore: "the more you focus and accept the things that have happened and choose to work on things that you can do to make things better, the happier you'll be"
  • Communication Overhead; another massively useful concept, the more people on your team the more the communication needed and the less effectiveness achieved
  • Reason Why; "people will be more receptive to any request if you give them a reason why. Any reason will do"
    Commander's Intent; this is a master rule for delegation, explain the overall purpose and let them take the actions needed to achieve the goal
  • Option Orientation; "focus on options, not issues, and you'll be able to handle any situation life throws at you"
  • Performance-Based hiring; "the best predictor of future behaviour is past performance"
  • Gall's Law; "all complex systems that work evolved from simpler systems that worked", in other words: start simple, be a new relationship (don't start giving the ring away on the 3rd date) or embracing a new professional career
  • Flow; "follow the flow, and you're on your way to understanding how the system works"
  • Constraint; to increase performance, eliminates first of all constrains, if at the time of making coffee you never find a spoon, stick one to the wall with a rope
  • Uncertainty; "Contemplating uncertainty feels bad, because not knowing what's going to happen feels like a threat. Instead of fixating on predicting the future and invisible and unknown threats, it's better to channel your energy into enhancing your ability to handle the unexpected"
  • Second-Order effects; "approach making changes to a complex system with extreme caution: what you get may be the opposite of what you expect"
  • Intervention Bias; this is a concept by which humans are likely to introduce changes on a system that are not necessary in order to feel in control of the situation. It's definitely worth always exploring the "null hypothesis", virtually do nothing and see what happens
  • The Experimental Mind-Set; "You learn the most of what doesn't go well. As long as your mistakes don't kill you, paying attention to what doesn't work can give you useful information you can use to discover what does work. All failure are temporary, what you learn in the process always helps you move forward", in other words: setup that lab before that given upgrade! lol 

Hello World, how to be human in the age of the machine, Hannah Fry

In autumn 2018 I visited once again the IP expo at the Excel Center in London, ready to be bombarded again by IT sales business cards in exchange for the valuable insight of seeing their products and consulting with them in regards to innovations and new features. It was almost the end of the day when I passed around a crowd of people that where queuing to get to a table. OMG! I recognised on the table the doctor Hannah Fry signing her new book, so I queued too, patiently, and got the chance to congratulate her for her amazing BBC documentary Calculating Ada - The Countess of Computing, about Lady Lovelace , and obviously bought the book she was selling, here my review below, well worth the reading!

Her book is an interesting reading full of bibliography (as you would expect coming from an academic background as she is) and a compilation of real events of how algorithms shape our society. She puts in evidence that while algorithms could do a good job, they are "not accountable" for any decision, and that there is always a level of bias in the creation of every code: if for example some algorithm tend to be racist, that's because the creators are, and the creator do noting but trying to represent the best of what society is. The conclusion to draw from her book is that algorithm can never be perfectly accurate, and "the question is whether the pros (of its usage) outweigh the cons". We can use them to certain level, to make our lives "easier", but there always have to be a human factor involved in the chain of decision making.

Neural Network is a new term that I've learnt on her book, thank you Hannah! I also learnt on her book that Burgeoning Eugenics is a movement that aims to provide genetic compositions of humans by selective breeding, euthanasia and force sterilisation, awful! Had no idea such things existed outside of the nazi regime. Probabilistic Interference and the Trolley Problem, along with Distance Decay, Doppelganger and the Buffer Zone are some terms that I learned in formal detail, and yes, Social Proof Phenomenon too, in which you don't question the behaviours of others in a situation where you're not that familiar with. I knew all these things, but never knew the scientific formal terms to describe them.

Extracts from her book: 

 "A price hike from £1.20 to £2.30 seems enormous, but an increase from £67 to £68 doesn't seems to matter", even though in both cases the increase is £1, this is because we humans perceive our environment in relative terms rather than in absolute values, as described by Webber's Law We only notice the "weight" of difference in small scales

"It'll only be able to find patterns in the data if that data is collected, collated and connected" A great advice of every algorithm builder

"The algorithm are undoubtedly great imitators, just not very good innovators"  If we are the image of God, and we are imperfect, isn't it God imperfect too? How can we possibly aim to create something perfect? a perfect algorithm? Impossible. If we are created by the evolution of a Universe, and we admit that by nature we are imperfect, and thus that we are evolving, and so is the Universe, our creations should therefore be "dynamic", and have some kind of airtifical intelliguence on them that will allow them to evolve. 

Drawbacks, but add it on your next edition Hannah! 

I was kind of hoping for Hannah to mention Edward Snowden move in 2013 of leaving the CIA, and how his disclosure in regards to the algorithms he created had a mayor impact of the impression we have of data usage by governments and corporations nowadays, but I guess she kept it all quiet and avoid any comments in case she will be ban from entering the USA in the future. She does however speaks amply about Cambridge Analytica, yet another event (scandals labelled on this occasion, espionage in the other) of data misuse

Some of the videos in the "Notes" are unavailable, not her fault of course, but it would have been handy to have just one page on her website, where you can check her Notes and she can update the links as needed, amen from saving the time and frustration of reader like me, who had to type on the address bar of the browser the tedious long hyperlink that she provided on paper. Overall, a fantastic read!















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