May and June featured seven books bring the 2019 total to twenty-two.  My favorite of the bunch was Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption, by Ben Mezrich.  It’s a fast, fun read focusing on the Winklevoss twins and some wild west aspects of Bitcoin as it continually marches from the chaotic towards inching its way into the mainstream.  In their ‘second act’ the Winklevoss twins receive a positive depiction, in stark contrast to their unflattering portrayal in the movie The Social Network, which was based on Ben Mezrich’s The Accidental Billionaires:  The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and BetrayalBitcoin Billionaires is written at the same pace of Bringing Down the House, Busting Vegas, Rigged and Ugly Americans(all enjoyable reads by the same author).

May & June Readings:

  1. Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, by Steven Johnson
  2. Triggers: 30 Sales Tools You Can Use to Control the Mind of Your Prospect to Motivate, Influence and Persuade, by Joseph Sugarman
  3. Bitcoin Billionaires: A True Story of Genius, Betrayal, and Redemption, by Ben Mezrich
  4. Overdeliver: Build a Business for a Lifetime Playing the Long Game in Direct Response Marketing, by Brian Kurtz
  5. How To Hire People Who Give A Sh*T: The Golden Rules, by Erika Weinstein
  6. Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life, by Rory Sutherland
  7. The Tangled Mind: Unraveling the Origin of Human Nature, by Nick Kolenda

There were thought provoking aspects to each book.  Triggers, written by Joseph Sugarman twenty years ago focuses on old style direct response, with many lessons still applicable today. Overdeliver discusses details of direct response that are often overlooked in the short-term oriented focus of some of today’s marketing.

Alchemy pushes you to question aggregate information (economists, big data etc).  Aggregately macro analysis is math based, but this does not necessarily hold in individual or smaller samples.  In math 1×10=10×1, however, in reality 10 people may be fooled once each, but it is unlikely to fool the same person 10 times.  Big data is fantastic, but you also need to question whether the data is depicting a false positive, versus actionable information.  It is important to potentially question the big data headline by examining the underlying data and how it was obtained.

The Tangled Mind is also an interesting read, although I would have preferred to dive deeper into a small number of areas, rather than continually stating results without digging deeper into the reasoning (beyond simply siting appropriate research).  The way data is presented and requested has a significant impact on the results received.  Researchers asked people to distribute financial aid to families and presented two different categorizations of income: survey 1 a) $15k or less, b) $15k-$30k, c) $30k-$45k, d) $46k-$60k, e) $60k-$75k; f) $75k+; survey 2 a) $75k or less, b) $75k-$85k, c) $85k-$100k, d) $100k-$120k, e) $120k-$145k, f) $145k or more. According to most economic theories, the results of both surveys should be the same, since participants are offered the same overall economic range on both surveys, but presentation can make a significant different.  In survey 1, participants allocated 96% of the money to families $75k or lower; however, in survey 2, only 48% was allocated to $75k or lower (due to the manner the options were depicted).  Thought provoking books are always worth reading, especially when they cause you to examine unexpected areas.

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