Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.
As a teenager, I didn’t read much. In fact, I seldom read anything other than textbooks. I watched a lot of movies and TV series, but reading was something that I never took seriously. Fast forward 2016, I’m 26 now and I certainly wish that I had started reading earlier. Better late than never: I’ve read more than 15 books last year and reading has been the best treat to my brain and heart.
Being an introvert, by my very nature, I put in a lot of time in looking back and reflecting on what happened: how I perceived things, how I behaved and how I can improve. If anything that has helped me to do it better, it’s the books I read.
Here are the 5 best books from my reading list which I’d recommend to everyone:
This has to be the one of the best books I’ve read. Tangible and actionable advice. This book introduces 4 agreements that you should do with yourself to attain a happier state of living.
– Be impeccable with your word
– Don’t take anything personally
– Don’t make assumptions
– Always do your best
Out of all these four, the toughest one for me has been ‘Don’t take anything personally’.
“Don’t take anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.”
Although I’ve succeeded to bring it in practice quite some times (and stop the conflict with my inner self), I’ve failed a lot of times. Only after I looked back and reflected on what happened and what I perceived, I found that it wasn’t really about me. 🙂
The other three agreements also had a huge impact on my behaviour so far. I can feel that I’ve certainly improved and taken one more step towards becoming a better person.
This was my third read of the book and I’m sure I’d read it many more times. I feel I haven’t even applied 5% of Carnegie’s principles, although whatever I’ve applied have changed my relationships and my character for better.
The book doesn’t contain any out of the world advice, but principles in day-to-day life for you to follow to improve communication, interactions and relationships.
The principles that have served me really well so far are:
– Stop criticising and complaining
– Avoid an argument
– Never say ‘You’re wrong’
– Importance of name
(Far from achieved, but felt great whenever I could manage to apply)
The principles I’d love to bring in practice more (along with the ones above):
– Be a good listener
– Talk in terms of other’s interests
– Smile more! 🙂
If you find me breaching any of the principles, I’d love to be notified. 🙂
That’s how I’d summarise The Alchemist.
I’ve wanted to read this book since a long time, but could not read it because of some or the other reason. 2015 finally presented the opportunity to read this book and the book has fascinated me in many ways. The story of Santiago and his adventures take you on the ride to learn life and spiritual lessons he discovered on his journey.
Some of the beautiful quotes from the book:
“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
“One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.”
“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”
For the major part of my career, be it support or marketing, I have been involved in interactions with customers on almost daily basis. For everyinteraction I had with the customers, I strived to delight them i.e. in Zappos terms, I strived to create WOW experience.
Being honest, I failed to do it plenty of times; but there were instances when I achieved it which I distinctly remember. The way Zappos views Customer Service / Support / Happiness totally resonates with my views.
How do you define a WOW customer experience?
When a customer experiences WOW, you are giving them a pleasant surprise. You are exceeding their expectations. You are addressing their needs thoughtfully and in unexpected ways. It is an expression of your authentic interest in the person who seeks your services, not just in the transaction. It is about making enduring personal emotional connections with empathy, generosity, and gratitude. It is about awareness of common human concerns that make a difference to each customer. It is about truth, it is about meaning, it is about details that cannot be measured by KPIs.
Another fascinating take-away from the book is Zappos’ culture and their values. I started my career with an MNC, worked for Startups, worked in a team and worked alone. If there were one thing that I would want to change at the places I worked, it would be the culture.
Zappos’ culture and values are well thought, crafted and rightly applied. These are the ten core values:
Deliver WOW Through Service
Embrace and Drive Change
Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
Pursue Growth and Learning
Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More With Less
Be Passionate and Determined
Rework shows you a better, faster, easier way to succeed in business. Read it and you’ll know why plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses.
What you really need to do is stop talking and start working. This book shows you the way. You’ll learn how to be more productive, how to get exposure without breaking the bank, and tons more counterintuitive ideas that will inspire and provoke you.
Nothing in this book is earth-shattering or amazing. It’s the little things you know are true. It’s what you talk to your friends, maybe complain about it, but never take any action.
The thing that has resonated with me most is authors’ take on workaholism. I’m not really a fan of workaholism nor I see heroism in being busy. I believe in working smarter than harder.
“Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is home because she figured out a faster way”
I do agree that there are often instances where one needs to put sheer amount of work and hours, but if that’s the everyday story, I wouldn’t like to lead such a life.
Another solid advice is for (actually against) the meetings. Meetings are toxic. More often than not they work against your productivity than working for it. I couldn’t have agreed more.
Some of the interesting quotes from the book:
“What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.”
“Unless you are a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy”
“Small is not just a stepping-stone. Small is a great destination itself”
“There are four-letter words you should never use in business. They’re not fuck or shit. They’re need, must, can’t, easy, just, only and fast. These words gets in the way of healthy communication”
I’ve promised myself to read more and faster, process better, and apply what I read. Looking forward to a bookful of 2016. 🙂
Thank you so much if you’ve read so far. I really appreciate it. What books did you read that had major impact on your life? Intrigued to know. 🙂