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Category: Monday Review

What is Airtable?

The cliche would be to call Airtable Google sheets on steroids. I think that sells Airtable short. I’m a fan of Airtable because it’s flexible. I’ve used it for budgeting, keeping a database of clients, project management, and tracking applications. It’s also free and cloud-based which are positives in my book. Their templates, ranging from wedding planning to advertising campaigns, show Airtable’s versatility, though so far, I have only built mine from scratch. It’s true you can do a lot of what Airtable does in other apps and websites, but its big advantage is how everything integrates seemlessly. Airtable is… Read What is Airtable?

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Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

J.J. Abrams. Sir Richard Branson. Arianna Huffinton. Sheryl Sandberg. Peter Thiel. The blurbs on the back cover of Originals are impressive. The list of awards the book has won is impressive. Adam Grant’s research is impressive. But for a book on originality and creativity, Originals is shockingly formulaic and derivative. If you’re dying to get an overview of management psychology, read this book. Otherwise, the irony of the author constantly quoting other people’s work on how to be an original thinker will drive you crazy. The formulaic, academic structure compounds this bland writing style to create a book on originality… Read Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

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Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

When you work regularly, inspiration strikes regularly. (35) There’s a pervasive myth of the genius creative person. Breakthrough inventions, great pieces of writings, and works of art seem to come out of thin air. Created by an inventor, writer, or artist that stumbled upon the right inspiration at the right time. Anyone who has done creative work for a long period of time, knows this isn’t the case. Manage Your Day-to-Day gathers a number of successful writers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, and others who make creative work into their career, to share the wisdom of becoming more productive, encouraging creativity, and making… Read Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind

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Baby Books

My brother Peter and his wife have an adorable 14 month-year-old and we’re constantly getting her books. Thankfully, they love reading to her. Peter wrote up the following introduction and compiled the lists below (while at Med School!). It gave me lots of ideas for the next holiday… Building Your Baby’s Library Story telling is one of the great cultural universals, a part of the human condition wherein ones role evolves within a lifetime. Perhaps the most important form of storytelling today is reading with children. Reading, particularly goodnight stories, to your young child is a bonding experience that creates… Read Baby Books

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Revisionist History

From the Vietnam War to inequality in higher education to free throw shooting in the NBA, Malcolm Gladwell tells a compelling story in each podcast while teasing out the deeper meaning. Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History allows him to explore shorter story arcs that might not otherwise make it to a larger audience. Each podcast features a well told story entertaining enough to keep your attention, but simple enough to listen to while doing another activity – I found the podcast to be a good accompaniment to mowing the lawn and working out. I think too often we make up our… Read Revisionist History

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How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

Jordan Ellenberg is one of the rare university professors who also publishes prodigiously for the public. Much of his writing comes together in his book, How Not to Be Wrong. A collection of mathematical history, practice, and theory, the book is engaging and provocative. Ellenberg’s writing style allows him to present a seemingly bland topic in an approachable manner. Even when the theory left me scratching my head, Ellenberg kept my attention. Seeking to redeem mathematics from its too often bland or negative reputation, the title’s promise is part of a larger goal: Demonstrate the hidden mathematical thinking we often… Read How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

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Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Part history, part memoir, part management guide, Creativity Inc. is an engrossing read filled with behind the scenes tours and sage advice. The authors (Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace) mix detailed examples of Ed Catmull’s management philosophy with background on Catmull’s path to Pixar, Pixar’s development, and their transition to working within Disney. This book isn’t just for Pixar people, entertainment executives, or animators. It is for anyone who wants to work in an environment that fosters creativity and problem solving. My belief is that good leadership can help creative people stay on the path to excellence no matter what… Read Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

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Blockchain Revolution

The big question facing technology following the huge changes brought by the expansion of the internet is what will be the “Next Big Thing”? The Blockchain Revolution seemed like a good juxtaposition to the open hardware revolution detailed in Makers: The New Industrial Revolution (My Review Here). The Tapscotts make the problem the Blockchain Revolution will address clear: there are too many middle men collecting and exposing our personal data. Why expose all our data when only some is needed? Why have a middle man determine our credibility when we can work one-on-one with another person? Blockchains (Bitcoin being the… Read Blockchain Revolution

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Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in just Five Days

I was excited to read Sprint. It promised “How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days.” It wasn’t a big problem, but we recently got a big slobbery dog who makes us change the water frequently. I wanted a better solution on how to save some of this water. It might not be a big problem but I thought I’d use this as a way to follow along. My assumptions were wrong. Really wrong. However, the book still turned out to be good. Really good. The target isn’t a lone inventor (though anyone can learn… Read Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in just Five Days

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Fish!

We were in line at Half-Priced Books and I couldn’t find the generically titled “Fish” on my phone at the library. We’ll call it an impulse buy. Only two dollars and it was Wall Street Journal Business Bestseller. A one-day read, Fish! was a cheesy but interesting read – worth the two dollars for a corporate mixture of mindfulness and customer service. The book is a “parable” that demonstrates the authors’ training philosophy based on the Pike Place Fish Market. The fictional story is cheesy, but the format made the book quite digestible. It recounts the four principles behind the… Read Fish!

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