As usual, I’ve listened to all of them as audiobooks while running. My Strava stats show 71 hours of total activity (and reading) time in 127 active days in 2019. As it’s hard to write notes and make highlights in audio format, I usually have ebook .epub versions too, for exactly that purpose. To learn more about my audiobooks + running technique, watch this video about How running helps me manage my day and read 10 books a year. Also, check out my profile on Strava.

In general, I believe, books are the most valuable knowledge sharing medium, compared to blogs, podcasts and videos. Authors spend at least couple of months, sometimes years to write a book. And often, it’s only a tip of the iceberg, because they start their profession many years earlier. Example: Richard P. Rumelt first started to study the field of business strategies in 1966 and his book “Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters” was published in 2011. That means roughly 45 years of his knowledge is condensed in a book, that you can read in less than 12 hours. Insane!

But this year I stumbled upon exceptional podcasts with deep thinker Naval Ravikant. His ability to compile huge amounts on wisdom on a podcast that’s about 2 hours long, is truly amazing. I’ve re-listened them several times to capture all details.

Here’s the list, highly recommended:

The Knowledge Project Ep. #18

Joe Rogan Experience #1309 – Naval Ravikant

The Tim Ferriss Show #136: Naval Ravikant on Happiness Hacks…

The Tim Ferriss Show #97: The Evolutionary Angel, Naval Ravikant

Naval’s own podcast

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

Elon Musk is one of the greatest visionaries of our times, just after Steve Jobs, on my personal list. Therefore I had to read this book and I’m not disappointed. He was an average kid, born in Africa and his journey to Silicon Valley was a tough one. There’s a lot to learn from it.


Man’s search for meaning by Viktor Frankl

Viktor Frankl survived Auschwitz and other concentration camps, created logotherapy. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you shouldn’t ask life, but rather, life asks you: “What’s your meaning?”. Is there a better person to learn about the meaning of life from?


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

I had this intuition that intrinsic motivation is something I need to learn more about, then I’ve found this book. It will teach you a lot about motivation. The biggest one for me, was that short-term rewards e.g. money, narrow your focus and can ruin your intrinsic motivation together with long term-vision and term-vision rewards. That’s why turning your hobby into a job that would pay your bills isn’t always the best idea. Author provides many scientific research results to back up his statements. Fruitful read!


Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

David Goggins is a living example of showing how hard work pays off, overcoming depression and overweigh, and that overnight success doesn’t exist. Don’t be mislead by thinking that it only applies to sports and physical work, because it’s all about mastering your mind.


Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters by Richard P. Rumelt

Strategy is crucial to any business success, even personal success – to achieve any goal actually. Yet, so many leaders think they have a strategy, when they only have goals, which they think are strategy. If you have a goal in your business or personal life, which I hope you have – read this book.


Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success by Sean Ellis and Morgan Brown

Today, when capital is no longer a bottleneck for creating great products, it’s the iterative and constant process of learning, that may lead to product success of failure. This book provides effective techniques/hacks for startup’s growth. Have you heard about must-have score, key data metrics, growth teams or high-tempo testing? No? If you work with startups, have one or plan to have, this is a must-read.


The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

Published in 2011, can easily be called a startup bible. I was familiar with most of ideas from this book, before reading it, just because of working with startups on a daily basis. However I decided to read it to pick up even those tiny bits of knowledge that I might have missed. Concept of MVP, large batches vs small batches, individual efficiency vs organisation efficiency, validated learning, vanity metrics – you’ll learn about all these and more from this book.

Wrap up

This year’s books selection is clearly affected by my entrepreneur life, the early stage of AUTOM and relaunch of AMOWF.COM as well as my daily work as a product designer. All these have one in common: creating great products for people and being better and better at it. Different books just take it on from different perspectives.

I wish you all to create better products in 2020!


As a bonus here’s my book selections from past years

2018:

Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change) by Clayton M. Christensen

Scatterbrain: How the Mind’s Mistakes Make Humans Creative, Innovative, and Successful by Henning Beck

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli

Return to the Little Kingdom: Steve Jobs and the Creation of Apple by Michael Moritz

The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

Storyteller’s Secret by Carmine Gallo

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience by Carmine Gallo

2017:

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio