2023 was a beautiful year. I changed jobs, started an MBA programme, got married, and moved into a bigger house.
On the flip side, I got laid off from a new job after five months – part of general company downsizing. I spent months looking for a new house, which was super stressful. After finding the new house and a few months before my wedding, I had a terrible bout of illness – malaria and food poisoning at the same time.
But I’m glad about how things turned out. I built more resilience and enjoyed the journey of life despite uncertainty. I used the time in between jobs to rest and explore new interests. Sometimes it felt like I wasn’t doing enough and other times, I realised I was doing my best.
In 2023, I didn’t travel to any new country to my delight. I was exhausted from travelling to six countries in 2022. I’ve had my fair share of rest and am ready to hit the road again this year.
Sometime during the year, I stopped learning German, after almost three years. It was a good avenue to learn something new but after a while I realised there was no bigger picture or grander purpose for learning it.
As I have done in the past six years (2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022), I put together a list of some of the most helpful content I came across during the year. I hope you find a thing or two that’s helpful.
This list is a stripped-down version of a now quarterly newsletter on the highlights of my months and the most helpful/interesting things I come across every month.
Keeping this list helps me reflect on what I came across during the year and how it helped me, whilst also making it easier for me to revisit it when I need to.
“Every interesting thing I’ve ever done, every important thing I’ve ever done, every beneficial thing I’ve ever done, has been through a cascade of experiments and mistakes and failures”
The most fascinating thing I learned from this book is how Jeff Bezos grew his empire by introducing new products and expanding to new markets. The beauty of understanding how things came about or failed is that you realise it’s not rocket science.
- Key Person of Influence: The Five-Step Method to Become One of the Most Highly Valued and Highly Paid People in Your Industry – Daniel Priestley
“I am already standing on a mountain of value. My story is valuable, my experience is unique, and I am highly valuable as I am. All of my future learning will come from the process of creative output.”
I can’t say I’ve implemented what I learned from this book but I’m looking forward to doing that this year.
- Why Greatness Cannot Be Planned: The Myth of the Objective – Kenneth Stanley and Joel Lehman
“Sometimes the best way to achieve something great is to stop trying to achieve a particular great thing. In other words, greatness is possible if you are willing to stop demanding what that greatness should be. While it seems like discussing objectives leads to one paradox after another, this idea really should make sense. Aren’t the greatest moments and epiphanies in life so often unexpected and unplanned? ”
The book could have been way shorter but I’ll give it to the authors who through multiple examples proved that you can’t always plan your way to greatness.
- Bloomberg by Bloomberg – Michael Bloomberg
An exciting fast-paced read. I learnt that Michael Bloomberg started Bloomberg off a $10 million severance package from Salomon Brothers. In 1981, $10 million was enough money for him to retire but instead, he took about half and invested it into a new idea. I salute the entrepreneurial spirit while recognising the financial cushion he had.
- The Spotify Play: How CEO and Founder Daniel Ek Beat Apple, Google, and Amazon in the Race for Audio Dominance – Sven Carlsson and Jonas Leijonhufvud
“During Spotify’s first few years of operation, the payments to the music industry would exceed the company’s total earnings. This meant that Spotify was turning a loss before they even started counting the expense of running the actual business.”
A deep dive behind the scenes of how Spotify moved from ideation to success. I learnt a lot about the compromises Spotify had to make with the record companies to gain access to larger markets.
“Emotion drives action. Information drives analysis. We want our reader to act.”
Goldmine. This is a book I’ll re-read multiple times.
- Several Short Sentences About Writing – Verily Klinkenborg
“You’re holding an audition.
Many sentences will try out.
One gets the part.
You’ll recognize it less from the character of the sentence itself than from the promise it contains—promise for the sentences to come.”
One of the best books on writing I’ve read. I’ll have to read it over and over again.
- Point Man: How a Man Can Lead His Family – Steve Farrar
“Gentlemen, this is no imaginary situation. It is reality. If you are a husband/father, then you are in a war”
A classic for husbands.
- Don’t Limit God: Imagine Yourself Successful – Andrew Wommack
It’s very easy to cower and lower your expectations from life. This book reminded me that there’s more and God wants me to experience that.
- Over the long term, the future is decided by optimists – Kevin Kelly
- Consistently boring days make for extraordinary decades – Shane Parrish
- No one grows up saying I want to do the same thing everyone else is doing. And yet, there is a comfort to surrounding yourself with people who agree with you – Shane Parrish