Best Books of 2017

It’s that time of the year where I list my favourite books for your reading enjoyment.

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

A mind-opening account of how big tech became the modern empires of the digital world. Scott Galloway in his irreverent style describes how these Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook, with access to cheap capital, ability to retain outstanding talent, and mastery over storytelling have managed to dominate their -increasingly overlapping- industries. He argues that it’s time for regulators to break them up and why this is actually good for capitalism. Highly recommended.

How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know

There are very few marketing books who have completely challenged my pre-existing notions about how marketing works and this book is one of them. Byron Sharp rejects the concepts of brand loyalty, differentiation, segmentation and targeted media, and builds a strong case for why growth comes from market penetration, achieved with a distinctive brand that’s always-on  through exploiting sophisticated mass marketing and establishing strong memory structures. This should be mandatory reading for anyone in marketing.

Good strategy Bad Strategy

Possibly one of the best books on strategy. Richard Rumelt systematically lays out how good strategy involves a clear and coherent set of actions and policies around a key pivotal outcome expectation, how bad strategies usually are usually vague wish lists on where to go with no idea on how to get there, and how to tell the difference between the two. This book will improve your ability to detect bullshit, including your own.

Management of the Absurd

In this 1996 classic, Richard Farson offers entertaining yet counter-intuitive management lessons such as how every act is a political act, why morale is unrelated to productivity and why organisations change most after surviving calamities. Great read for anyone trying to find their way in a big company.

The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters

Internet with its free access to information was supposed to make us all more open-minded and smarter. Instead, it turned us into narcissistic, intolerant mobs that reject science and rationality. Tim Nicholas in this excellent book explains how the transformation of “news” into a 24 hour source of entertainment, commercialisation of higher education, and the emergence of politically correct egalitarianism that threatens the foundations of democratic institutions. A fascinating and terrifying account of our modern times.

What I Learned Losing A Million Dollars

Investment books are generally quite boring. This book, however, is an exception. In first part of the book, Jim Paul tells his own story of building a fortune and the series of decisions leading up to losing it along with his reputation. In the second part, he argues that there are countless ways to make money but only few predictable ways to lose it, and examines the biases and logical fallacies that lead people to making stupid decisions.

God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment

A thought-provoking, persuasive exploration of concepts such as time, gravity and probability from Scott Adams, told by “the smartest person on earth” sitting in a rocking chair. Unlike his other books, this is a non-humorous philosophy book, best enjoyed with an open-mind.

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