REMOTE: Office Not Required

This book is dear to me for a variety of reasons, not the least of which that it is perhaps the easiest way to identify someone’s “school of thought” with respect to business. I read this book years ago, but as I find it increasingly more relevant, and with my efforts to catalog what I read, I thought doing a retro-post on the book worthwhile.

In one of my previous lives, I offered this book as a guideline to our recruiting and staffing plans for a startup that was in the late-early stages of being funded, and the rest of the executive team was immediately defensive of the approach of David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried. Not surprising, he heralded from an era of business with secretaries and executive assistants, both of which were part of his plan; also the plan we eventually adopted, unfortunately.

Regardless, the quips and anecdotes found within this book should be taken seriously, because they are serious. That startup no longer exists, and recruiting top talent is incredibly difficult if you limit your talent pool to a very specific geographic region. We witnessed it first hand, and we swallowed the consequences as a result.

In the end, I agree with the authors; unless you operate your business in a talent hotbed like Silicon Valley or Seattle, operating a technology business without supporting remote staff is a suicide mission.

If you want to organically grow your business, reduce your turnover, increase the quality of your talent pool, reduce your recruitment costs, and be a diverse organization, read this book, or watch this video.

The Power of Habit

Books like this fascinate me because they answer dinner-party questions like “how did Febreze become so popular” and “have you ever driven to work but not remembered the drive?”

This book answers those questions and a lot more around how to identify your own bad habits and create new good habits in their place.

Perhaps most importantly it helps as a parent to teach your kids to develop great habits that will benefit them… forever.

I found this book particularly interesting when the author dug into real life examples and scenarios that came to life; from how Febreze became a household brand, to how someone with severe brain damage can still be taught to be pseudo-independent by repetition and habit forming.

This book is both instructive and insightful. If you’re looking for a self-help book this probably isn’t it, but if you’re interested in the science of habits, and understanding your own, this is a wonderful read (or listen).

The Power of Habit

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

I generally adhere to my machismo of being hard-pressed to be star-struck or enamored by anyone, let alone another man.

However, that essentially gets thrown out the window with respect to Elon Musk. I have long been an unabashed fan of Tesla and as a software and web addict have been aware of Elon since his paypal days and long fancied him an entrepreneur worth emulating, or at the very least understanding at a deeper level than CNN or Reddit.

That is where Ashlee Vance came to the rescue with his book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future.

There is an anecdote in the book that illustrates after how many radical successes do you have to finally admit that it was no longer luck? I think this best sums up the life of Elon; at least his professional one.

An undeniable workaholic, and with passion too thick to see through, Elon inspires any technologist in ways Michael Jordan used to for the aspiring athlete.

The author goes into gritty detail of the true demeanor and personality of Musk, which will not surprise many who have worked in software, or technology in general. Further, he goes on to give true and honest perspective from a variety of co-workers, colleagues, and even the occasional nemesis.

After reading this book I was left inspired and in awe of a man who has been willing to bet his entire fortune, his reputation and even his health to a mission he is truly passionate about; each time coming out wildly successful and leaving the detractors and naysayers left with draw dropping shock.

With (later PayPal), then SpaceX & Tesla, and most recently with OpenAI and The Boring Company, Elon each time been willing to prove “it’s OK to have your eggs in one basket as long as you control what happens to that basket.

Check out more works by Ashlee Vance.