2015 Book and Podcasts list

Here are the books and podcasts that I’ve read and enjoyed in 2015. Surprisingly, the podcasts were a lot more entertaining.

Title Rating
Honest truth about dishonesty 9
Money: Mastering the game 8
Mastery 6
Influence 10
4 hour body 10
Small giants 10
HBR on Teams 8
Bad Science 10
Flash boys 8 – did not end well
Surely you are joking Mr. Feynman 7 – bit much to read
Mindless eating 10

I will add reviews for each of these books later.

More fun than the books were the following Podcasts:

The Tim Ferriss Show

  • Derek Sivers on The Tim Ferriss podcast
  • Navak Ravikant on The Tim Ferriss podcast
  • Chris Sacca on The Tim Ferriss podcast

WTF with Marc Maron

  • WTF: Neil Strauss
  • WTF: Brian Grazer
  • WTF: Steve Albini
  • WTF: Lorne Michaels
  • WTF: Aaron Draplin. Draplin’s a friend
  • WTF: Fred Armison
  • WTF: Vince Gilligan
  • WTF: Jason Bateman

The Fizzle Show – Early podcasts upto Ep20

Serial Season 1

Startup Podcast: Gimlet media

A16z Podcast

  • a16z Podcast: The Year Mobile Began to Truly Dominate Tech
  • a16z Podcast: The Tiger and the Dragon — On Tech and Startups in India and China
  • a16z Podcast: What Comes After the Smartphone
  • a16z Podcast: Wall Street’s Most Hated Man — A Conversation With Overstock.com’s Patrick Byrne
  • a16z Podcast: Apple Has Lock on Luxury Smartphones, But Not Business of TV
  • a16z Podcast: Messaging As the Interface to Everything

The Food Chain

  • Chicken: Too much of a good thing

This American Life

  • #560: Abdi and the Golden Ticket
  • #504: How I Got Into College

A 3 year plan

I had a great chat with a friend and mentor in Seattle this weekend and she reminded me of the power of creating a three year plan. Here is what it accomplished for her:

  • Focusing on the 3 year vision or the “Why” of her plan really helped provide focus to her actions at work
  • She ended up accomplishing everything she set out to do. This was no small feat. She got a masters, got a documentary made and became a director of product development in these 3 years.

I’ve never created such a plan. This is because I have been getting reasonable success at what I’ve wanted to do and things have been going well at work and home. However things can be better at the factory. This said, I now desire to write a plan for 2013-2016 and track progress on it.

As I work on this, I think it might be better to create a list of 40 things I want to do before 40, inspired by the 30 things before 30 blog. But it is still important for me to elicit “Why”. What is the vision behind the to do list?

And.. I think it might help to break down the plan into 3-4 key areas of focus. For example:

  • Job (Professional career plan for the next 3 years)
  • Business (our manufacturing business)
  • Personal (wife, kids, health, vacations)
  • Upskilling (what to learn)

And then try to break it down by year and quarter so it looks something like this:

Time Job Business Personal Upskilling
2013 Oct-Dec
2014 Jan-Mar
2015 Jan-Mar
2016 Jan-Mar

More as I think more about this..



An unfair world

It takes some living to realize how the world is unfair until you assert yourself. And.. asserting yourself is hard and does not come naturally to most. It does not come easily to me but comes very easily to my wife. I’m grateful for that. It balances things out. It prevents people from running over you and your ambitions just ’cause they can.

Always, the easier position for someone to take is to be “slightly” unfair to you rather than taking a stance against the majority to be fair to you and your interests.

For others to stand up for you, you need them to be able to empathise with you. Or, care for you. Why will they do that? They will do that only if they like you or if they know that you will fight back.

So.. assert yourself. Build this muscle. It helps a lot in life and in product management and in leadership.

Crowdfunding Students – Interesting concept

I heard the economist article on crowdfunding students this week and was inspired to write this post.

While government owned public colleges are still relatively cheap, education in India is getting really expensive. When I graduated in 2000, I paid INR 32000/year, which was USD 7,20/year for my engineering education. A similar private collage today costs around INR 500,000/year, which is around USD 8,800/year.

This is expensive and out of reach of most middle income Indian families. Medical colleges are even more expensive. Add to this the “capitation fee” or the backdoor admission “fees” and suddenly an average student in India, born to an middle income family earning INR 120,000/year (USD 2100) cannot pursue a professional course in India. Capitation fees or backdoor admission fees are normally paid in cash can be as high as USD 30,000 for good private colleges.

Compare this to in-state tuition in US universities and you may find that it a fair comparison.

All the companies mentioned in the article, Upstart and Pave seem to have the same idea. Get well paid and well connected individuals to fund education for upstarts/students. Since these individuals are personally invested in the career of the student, they help introduce this individual to promising opportunities. Its funny how a selfish interest is driving socially desirable goals.

Lumni seems more focussed on getting social welfare funds’ money instead of individuals’ or maybe they create a fund from money raised form individuals.

Cost of capital

Not sure how this works but students pay back 7-10% of their yearly income for the next 10 years to investors. Say you make 60,000 out of college and can get a 4% raise every year. Then this amounts to a payment of between $50,000-$72,000 over a 10 year period. I’m sure that a 3-4 year undergraduate course in the US will cost more that $100,000. So…really the play is if you, as an investor, can help make your “upstart” more successful than the cohort, then you can get a much better return on your money.. say around 7% or more.

So.. if you, as a student, expect to be successful irrespective of help from the individual investor, it might be cheaper for you to get money from the bank since the interest rates are so low in the US. Interesting conundrum as perhaps you may make even more money because of the guidance from the investor…

Use this calculator to see which loan turns out to be cheaper for you in the long run: