Mastery audiobook cover

Mastery by Robert Greene

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I’m really torn on “Mastery” as to whether I loved it, hated it, or just liked it. The stories of everyone from Faraday to PG to Darwin and Franklin and dozens more are absolutely brilliant. I love the stories and kind of wish the book was just that: stories of great people who achieved mastery. 

What I hated was the cringe-worthy advice. There are whole sections with broad generalizations about how people supposedly behave (e.g., “arrogant people are insecure”) that are not backed up by a shred of research or evidence. For how well the rest of the book is researched, the lack of it in the parts that are supposed to help the reader better understand their fellow humans is awful. 

I appreciate that the author created a clear framework for mastery and turned it into a blueprint that others can follow. Even if not every master in the book fits precisely within that framework—who was Paul Graham’s overbearing master under whom he served as an apprentice?—it was still a decent framework. 

Pick up this book to listen to the stories and appreciate the lives of some of the greatest humans to ever walk the planet. And take the rest with a grain of salt.


Genre: Non-Fiction, Psychology, Self Improvement
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The Algebraist audiobook cover

The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks

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The Algebraist had been heartily recommended to me by a friend, and heartily recommended against by another. Naturally, I had to pick it up. My take: it’s not at the top of my reco list, but it’s not in my hall of shame. I enjoyed it, found it somewhat thought-provoking, and thought the plot twists were interesting. My opinion might be biased to the negative because I had just (finally) finished Iain M. Banks’ Matter, book 8 of the Culture series, and hated it. It’s fair to say I was a bit put off by Banks’ style in The Algebraist after forcing myself to finish Matter. Even with that negative bias,

I still enjoyed this one. It’s a very large stand-alone novel that takes a bit too long to develop for my liking—at least for a novel that really only follows one character in depth. I don’t mind a long read, but I want to dig deep on multiple characters like Peter F. Hamilton does. For this length, I wanted more than just one main character. 


Genre: Sci-Fi
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Measure What Matters audiobook cover

Measure What Matters by John Doerr

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I was all gung-ho on OKRs for a while and when this book came out, I picked it up right away. While the stories are great, I kind of wanted more out of it. Really what the book did for me was whet my appetite to read about Andy Grove. 

I’ve since backed off my initial excitement for OKRs after hearing some strong counter arguments from startup CEOs, including my partner at SpringTime, Jeff Gardner. Hearing how OKRs work against the direction of a company and its path to growth was enlightening. 

Regardless, if you want to learn about OKRs this has a number of interesting stories about how they’ve been implemented in successful companies, as well as clear guidelines and definitions. Dig in!


Genre: Business, Non-Fiction, Startups
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Startup CEO audiobook cover

Startup CEO by Matt Blumberg

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I really want to be able to strongly recommend this to most of the startups I work with on a daily basis, but it’s not for early stage startups. I have to keep in mind that this series of startup books originated with Brad Feld from Foundry Group, a venture firm that invests in Series A & B rounds. The vast majority of the startups I see and work with are at the angel and seed level of capital and growth. As such, advice such as annual 360 reviews is not the most critical advice I would offer early stage startups.

The title may have been better as “Scale-up CEO” and targeting companies that have found a scalable, repeatable business model. 

With the idea in mind that this is for “scale-up” executives, then I heartily recommend it. But for me and my audience, it’s something to aspire towards. 


Genre: Business, Non-Fiction, Startups
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Extinction book cover

Extinction by B.V. Larson

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Finding the first book in the series interesting, though not ground-breaking, I decided to continue on. The second book was neither bad nor good, and moved along fast enough to keep me interested. I love to read a new author’s take on aliens, space travel, and world building. Larson kept my attention enough to want to move on to the next book.


Genre: Sci-Fi
Series: Star Force |
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