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My Top 6 Book Takeaways From 2016

I’ve always loved to read. As a small kid I was so eager to read more that I managed to read my school small library (took just 6 years!). By no coincidence I also got my first glasses in that period. You can read too much!

For the last few years I somehow started reading more blog posts and less books. I just had no time, being a father and all. Books required long uninterrupted time. So blog posts it was, until I discovered podcasts and got addicted to audio. I now can listen while in the car, working out or in public transport. It was a matter of time before I started listening to a few audiobooks. Results were astonishing – I managed to listen to 15 books since September!

Here are my top takeaways from the book I have read/listened this year.

The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone

This book made me realize how much I underestimate the activity that I need to do to achieve anything. Whatever the goal, if you want something, you need to take action, sometimes massive amounts of it. This massive amounts of action is what 10X means. And your amount of success is proportional to the amount of action you are willing to invest in it.

In one sentence, there is no “reasonable” amount of action. If you want something, why not go all in?

I love to write and I love feedback, but am embarrassed to ask for it… What if they do not like it? What if I am just losing their time? After reading this book I started asking more. It wasn’t that hard and many times people loved and shared what I wrote!

Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided by Tests

I have read this book a while ago, but did not own it until this year. As a TDD practitioner, I believe this one is a must read. I read parts of the book again this year, trying to focus more on some of the chapters.

My key takeaway from it is evolution. It shows you how to grow good software. How your programs and systems can evolve and grow just like living objects do. It is not a book you should read in one go, but one you will revisit later time and time again.

On Writing Well by William Zinsser

I love to write and this book is the handbook for non-fiction writers. If you love to write, get this book, it is short and packed with good advice.

Imagine my surprise when I got this book recommended in the completely different context of writing programming code? Writing words and writing source code, are they so similar? I shared much more on the topic in this post.

The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

This is a strange book and the one I enjoyed listening to the most. I just couldn’t stop. It is a book about DevOps, Kanban/Lean, but what makes it unique is it is also a novel.

I love a good story and enjoyed the way book authors decided to communicate their ideas. Their ideas stick better this way, compared to just explaining them right away.

Read it or listen to it – it is entertaining and there were many things you can relate to if you work in IT.
My main takeaway from it was that I started to look at the way I work from above, like zooming out. This lets me find ways to be more effective in my work and find ways to make an impact, not just do “my job”.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

After listening to “The Phoenix Project” I looked at more books that will try to introduce their ideas with a story and this is the first one I listened to.

Lencioni wrote a few books in the same style – they all start with a fictional story – a fable – of a team or an individual with a problem. It then tell a story of how he/she managed to overcome it. After the fable he will explain the model behind the solution.

I loved listening to this book and it helped me look back at the teams I was part of in the past. The things we got right and the ones we got wrong.

My key takeaway was about conflict. We are often disturbed when an issue comes again and again. At the same time we are reluctant to react on it, as we fear the amount of conflict it will create. Conflict can be a good thing. As long as people involved trust each other, it is a healthy way of communication, it will drive decisions and resolve issues. Now if the trust is not there, book has some recommendations on how to achieve that trust. There is quite a lot more I got from this book, but if I have to point a few – this is it.

The Three Big Questions for the Frantic Family: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

Another book by Lencioni, in the same format.

Ask anyone with a family – life can be quite frantic at times (all the time). I loved this book from the start, as it was easy to relate to the characters in it.

Here is my favorite quote:

“If my clients ran their companies the way we run this family, they’d be out of business.”

But what is it that you do at your job that would make a difference? I have been asking myself that for a while now, so devoured the book and tried to apply the ideas behind it at home. I am not sure how we are going with the implementation, but anything that tries to put some order into family chaos is welcome :)


Thanks to Christmas shopping, I have a long list of books waiting for me for the next year. Topics are diverse – software development, leadership, management, parenting, some fiction…. I wonder how many I’ll listen/read next year, but for sure it will be more than the last year. Can’t wait!

Thanks for reading!