Category Archives: Books, Music, Movies

Good Reads 2013

Books

Photo credit: Henry on Flickr

I’ve been reading as much as possible the past few months, simply because I’ve missed making time for learning about bigger topics and exploring themes from new angles. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve had Essay Club and also quite a few plane rides, i.e. excuses to turn off the webernets.

Things I’ve been thinking, reading and writing about:
• Rapid cognition, i.e. snap judgements and the science behind them. What makes someone great at sizing up situations and people quickly and correctly? Is it possible to train myself to be better at this?
• Mentorship
• Vulnerability
• How and why do women and men behave and think differently in the workplace, and how can we better equip both sexes for success?
• Meditation

I’m sure we could have a fascinating chat over coffee about how these themes are all interrelated in my head; this is a work in progress. Maybe I’ll write about it here again as I tie things together and unravel them again. In the meantime, here are some excerpts from some really good books I’ve read in the past six months.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

In my favorite chapter, which revolves around the decision-making process of USMC Lieutenant General Paul Van Riper, Gladwell quotes Riper as saying: “You disaggregate everything and tear it apart, but you are never able to synthesize the whole. It’s like the weather. A commander does not need to know the barometric pressure or the winds or even the temperature. He needs to know the forecast. If you get too caught up in the production of information, you drown in the data.”

The crux of the entire book for me is here: “The key to good decision making is not knowledge. On straightforward choices, deliberate analysis is best. When questions of analysis and personal choice start to get complicated—when we have to juggle many different variables—then our unconscious thought processes may be superior.

It seems that the father of the unconscious [Sigmund Freud] agreed: ‘When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves.'”

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

On Mentorship: “We need to stop telling them, ‘Get a mentor and you will excel.’ Instead, we need to tell them, ‘Excel and you will get a mentor.’”

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Giving Myself a D: Seth Godin’s “Linchpin” Book Launch

I’m taking a mentor’s advice and giving myself a D on life.

Last Friday, he told me a story about a teacher who, on the first day of class, told the students that he was giving them all an A. All they had to do was to write a paper on how they would work to earn the A that semester. By doing so, he believed the students would be freed of worrying about the grade and focus on the actual learning.

But my mentor rebutted that and said I should give myself a D. “A D never killed anybody,” he said. “Expect that people are going to laugh at you. Expect that you’re going to fail. And, once you give yourself a D, you can create your art.”

Seth Godin and me at the launch of his new book, "Linchpin." 1.15.2010

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The Art of Loafing

If you’re on the friends list, then you get my (usually) daily mini-blog via bulletin called “The Happy Five.” [NOTE: This blog was originally published on MySpace.] It’s just a list of five things that made me happy on that particular day. They range from the mundane (like the enduring mystery of the “knork” aisle in my little bodega of a grocery store) to the “that-could-only-happen-to-Emily-in-NYC” type things (like my once or twice a month run-ins with champagne, cupcakes and Google engineers). I’m re-posting today’s list here as an homage to all my friends who opted to stay in today, away from the rain or snow, just veggin’ out. Continue reading

Ok GO! (free write no. 1)

This is a free write, which means I’m not caring about the literary value of this entry or whether I use a dash where I should use a semi-colon. I just need to write and remember where I heard this song that’s stuck in my head.

I’ve been running all over creation, living from ticket to ticket and out of pink suitcases, briefcases, sneakers, iPods and mittens. I think I have issues with pink addiction.

I’ve been thinking a lot about soundtracks for a future entry I’m writing. Have you ever noticed that a couple of days will go by, and all these previously meaningful or presently pertinent or just plain great songs keep playing wherever you go? Continue reading

Music Coursing Through My Veins: What I Love

It’s funny, because I was going to post a blog last night listing some of my favorite workout songs that have motivated me at the gym over the years, but I was so tired when I got home, I decided to save it. In the meantime, browse the answers to this survey. I’ll get to the “iPod Workout Walk Down Memory Lane” another day.

List 10 musical artists you like, in no specific order (do this before reading the questions below). Continue reading

The Book List

There’s that section over there on people’s [MySpace] profiles, that “Books” section. All mine says is “Yes, please.” That’s what I say when I want all of something. I’d rather be be tossed around to the point of shaken baby syndrome than reveal my personal beliefs regarding the greatest books of all time.

I’m built of books, man. Telling you what I read is like revealing a state secret, and ya’ll know how I feel about secrets. I like ’em in the box, where they belong.

But I’m giddy. I’m sitting here with a wedge of Fontina cheese, a Wusthof paring knife and $116 worth of booty from Barnes & Noble. So, I’ll share some of the books I bought. Not all, but some: Continue reading