The highlight of the book has been this insight:
Ironically, jobs are actually easier to enjoy than free time, because like flow activities they have built-in goals, feedback rules, and challenges, all of which encourage one to become involved in one’s work, to concentrate and lose oneself in it. Free time, on the other hand, is unstructured, and requires much greater effort to be shaped into something that can be enjoyed.
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
is Haruki Murakami’s memoir on running. You get to peek into his life and learn about how he used to run a bar, smoked 60 cigarettes a day, started running at age 33, runs 6 days a week and completed 26 marathons and an ultramarathon. A few tidbits from the book that I’d like to remember are:
- The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.
- Raymond Chandler once confessed that even if he didn’t write anything, he made sure he sad down at his desk every single day and concentrated.
Overall, I didn’t learn that much about Murakami, writing or running by reading this book. I would only recommend reading it if you’re a hardcore Murakami fan and interested in his running memoir.
Philip Su is the site lead for Facebook London and is known as an awesome, inspiring individual. His book “Wipeables
” is a collection of his posts from Quora and his blog. It’s a quick read and parts about work and career are very high signal. Here are the parts I found useful:
From his goodbye post when leaving Microsoft:
- I don’t listen too carefully when a poor performer tells me how awful their previous manager was. My ears perk up when a star performer constructively criticizes their management.
- For feedback to be useful, you must at least occasionally consider implementing feedback that you don’t initially agree with.
- Look towards the person you admire most at your level. What can you learn from them?
- Do you practice specific skills with repetition and intent? Athletes do drills. Musicians hone difficult passages. What do you do?
- How much soda can a personal steal? Our most interesting profits will come from capitalizing on huge opportunities, not from micromanaging costs.
On personal goals and metrics:
- When you break your status reports by goal area, you’ll quickly notice when you’re not making progress on one or more goals.
- Instead of “Be a good bootcamp mentor“, how would the world be different if, even in your own mind, your goal was “Be the best bootcamp mentor at Facebook?“
From his answer to increasing your income as an engineer:
- You’re paid your replacement cost.
- The better a job is, the less it has to pay to attract someone.
- If you’re as smart as everyone else, and you work just as hard as everyone else, you’re average (by definition).
- In most companies, there are generous overlaps in pay bands between levels. It often pays in such environments to consistently exceed expectations at a lower level rather than to barely meet expectations at the next level.
From his answer to keeping engineers motivated:
- Don’t try to find a person’s motivations by asking them directly. Instead, listen carefully to what questions they ask. A person’s interests are easily observed by listening to what they like talking about.
- Understand some common modes of motivation, and learn some techniques that cater to each. (Mastery, sense of purpose, challenge, financial compensation, public recognition, skill building, reduction of risk, comparative superiority, sense of achievement)
- I never try to “sell” someone into a job. Instead, I try to discern what motivates people, and match them into a role only if I believe there’s a great fit.
Overall, I enjoyed parts about work and career. Other parts of the book regarding interviews, family, cars and random musings were less relevant to me. I was hoping for more original content or at least some effort into unifying it as a book. You may be better off by reading his blog and Quora answers if you’re mostly interested in career and work advice. If you decide to buy the book, the good news is that all the proceeds go to International Justice Mission.