Susan Cane – Quiet

Why did I choose to read the book?

I really liked Susan Canes TED conference, which I watched some time ago and made me decide to read her book. Also, I have a negative bias on introversion, which I hope this book will prove wrong.

What is it about?

Susan Cane is an introvert in the USA, the most extraverted culture in the world. Her book describes, how extraversion became the american social norm and how a lack of this personality trait can thwart your professional success. She describes the history of extro- and introversion and how today most US leaders specifically those, which graduated Harvard are extroverts. For the most part though, she centers on the virtues of introversion, of how being shy, non-impulsive, creative thinkers have shaped our world and how a focus on one specific trait can but simply be wrong.

How did I like the book?

It certainly did the trick. I too am subject to the negative bias on introversion, as I too believe only those which are loud and possess a powerful outgoing presence can be successful. The insight and historical background given by this book are amazing, especially the comparison between the US (culturally extraverted) and China (culturally introverted) was quite fascinating. Which was great as well were the insights given on how to recharge energy in your comfort zone, while still being bold and outgoing when necessity arrives. Overall, this book gives quite some food for thought, as to how important introverted people are to our society as a whole, though I found it slipping in the last third, when it focused on how to treat introverts properly, which I felt was mostly unnecessary.

Seth Godin – We Are All Weird

Why did I choose to read the book?

After having read All Marketeers are Liars, which I liked quite a bit, another of Godin’s books was in order.

What is it about?

Godin proclaims the end of mass marketing. Mass marketing is no more, the times when buying TV ads and billboards was enough, is over. The internet has splintered consumer groups into tribes, each with their own interests and abundance of living necessities has made the developed world rich, which means, people have all they need and now buy stuff they want, which is often quite weird. This has led to individualistic interests and thereby products, not covered my mass production and catered to fans / fanatics / individualists / the weird may it be old-school iPad compatible typewriters or audio cable covered in gold. Godin explains his concept of weird marketing and how to turn these tribes into customers.

How did I like the book?

Quite fun. Godin is again proving to be a master storyteller, which made the book an easy and quick read. While the books content in my opinion, holds true and was presented clever enough, I also felt it to be a bit esoteric. I wholeheartedly agree on his assessment, that the internet has splintered interest groups into tribes (some small, some big) I am not sure whether businesses focusing on these (often volatile) tribes can be profitable for long, then again, I have seen some strive in their respective niches. Quite interesting food for thought for sure.

Learning Japanese

I have been learning Japanese for a whole year now and have to say, what might have looked as a easily doable task in the beginning (its but a language, how hard could it be) has resulted into an enormous project.

First off, why did I start in the first place?

This one is quite easy, every time I read something from japan, may it be novels, comics or other stuff, I always felt (and still feel) I should be able to read this in its original form, not in this (often) badly done translation. Also, I have wanted to learn it for a very long time, but always found it to be the wrong time or not to be a priority. When I passed 30 I thought I might as well just do it, otherwise it won’t ever work out.

What am I learning exactly?

All of the following things need to be learned in order to reach proficiency and to be able to read most anything Japanese:

Three Writing Systems, need to be learned. Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji

The so called Kana, Hiragana and Katakana are “easy”. Each compiled of about 50 characters, representing the sounds of the Japanese language. Both cover the same sounds, but are used in different ways.

Kanji are hard. Punishingly hard. Each Kanji can represent different sounds. Which sounds to use, depends on context / its combination with other Kanji or Kana.

What else must be learned?

Vocab and Grammar (as with every other language as well).

What have I done up to now?

  • Reached proficiency of both Kana (Hiragana and Katakana)
  • Learned about 300 Kanji (of approx. 3.000 – 10% – yay!) with their respective readings and meanings.
  • Vocabulary of about 1.000.
  • Teensy bit of grammar.

What am I using?

     Grammar:
          Genki books
     Vocab:
         Memrise (for Genki and Additional vocab)
     Kanji:
         WaniKani
 

What is next?

Straight to the point, my grammar is bad. Without it, I have no hopes of reading or understanding anything. I have a fair vocab and kanji knowledge, but this does not help with text. Its always “yay I know these words and they somewhat make sense” but that’s it, no context, quite frustrating.
Therefore, strictly books and their respective vocab only, until both Genki books have been finished, then back to learning more Kanji.

PRINCE2 Foundation Certification

 

Thanks to my employer DKV Euroservice, I was able to make my PRINCE2 Foundation certification. Thank you very much for the opportunity!

The certification test itself was scheduled at the end of a three day training, which included all the basics and then some, of the PRINCE2 project management methodology. The training was held by Mr. Armbruster who is a trainer and consultant at Copargo GmbH and thanks to him and his teaching materials, the test was a breeze.

Before the training, we were given two books (you always get bonus point for free books from me), to prepare for the course and the test. Those were Mr Armbruster’s very own “Grünes Gold” and Ms Friedrich’s “PRINCE2 Kurz und bündig”.

“Grünes Gold” especially was a blast to read, as it was very informative and a business novel (if you followed my blog for some time, you will know my fondness of business novels and edutainment), a very entertaining one at that. All thumbs up here, as it transported all the basics in a very well presented manner. The other book is a good summary of the PRINCE2 methodology, and great for looking up details on the fly, but nothing to write home about.

Overall, passed the exam, got my certificate, the course and materials were a blast, therefor, once again, thanks to everyone involved!!

prince2-kundbgrunes-gold

Martin Ford – Rise of the robots

Why did I choose to read the book?

This book has been the winner of the 2015 Financial Times & McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award and I wanted to know what the fuss is all about. Also, the books subtitle “Technology and the threat of a jobless future” sounded interesting enough to warrant a read.

What is it about?

Ford shows with this book, how technological advances, specifically those in software and robotics, will render a lot of jobs, currently considered safe (paralegal, nurse, truck driver…) obsolete. He starts with an historical analysis, how automation has changed the world and availability of jobs, then introduces technologies which are partially available today and are expected to upend whole industries.

How did I like the book?

I really like the book. I like the way it has been written and I really like the theme and content. Also, I find this book scary, terrifying even. At the same time, a lot of the content should be taken with a grain of salt. Yes, a lot of jobs are even today subject to automation, but I doubt all of the impending changes described will come to pass as predicted. Still, the realistic descriptions on what jobs will likely be automated, on how politics and the whole economic system is not far off an paradigm shift is simply terrifying and too realistic and close to home. Everyone interested in the possible ramifications on oneself, one’s family and job should certainly take a look.