Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy

Image result for JD Vance Hillbilly Elegy.
Always a fan of friends giving me their favorite books to read once I am finished with the RA Favorites.  So I ventured into the life of the hillbilly and finished JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy.  I had great reviews from people on the book, so high expectations.  Note to self in the future, this is dangerous as you may not get what you hoped for….  Enter Hillbilly Elegy.  OK, compelling story of a young man who grew up in rural Appalachia.  No money, no father (well, you’ll see that he did have fathers, but no real father), a mother who has an addict, and too many family issues to go over.  JD shares many of the barriers he faced from youth to finishing law school at Yale, where being in “the network” changed the outcome.  Did I learn anything, sure, but I had the feeling that every millennial has a story to tell, but few have the platform to share it.  This hillbilly did, so congrats.  He should be commended for the great accomplishments….. paying for school through his military service, (and graduating in two years from college!!) and then enter Yale for his JD (same as his initials).  It’s a nice tale, but not sure how much I walked away from the hillbilly culture, outside of this one person’s perspective.  Reminded me of the book Running with Scissors.  Tough and crazy family life.  I wanted more and didn’t get it.  So goes expectations.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Settle for More

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Megyn Kelly’s book Settle for More is an autobiography of her life, from youth through fall of 2016.  Kelly was a Fox News anchor, jumping to NBC in January.  Kelly and I have a few things in common, spending her early life in the Albany, NY area, and going to college at Syracuse University (where I worked).  Her stories included: the death of her father while in college; her failed marriage; and then re-marriage a few years later.  She also discussed becoming a mother, but the bulk of her book was her very public battles with President Trump during his process of running for the Republican nomination.  One last topic covered in her book was her decision to come forward against Fox News President Roger Ailes for his sexual advances to her during her first year on the staff.  Kelly’s book moved from personal lessons learned and her professional career.  I don’t watch the ‘political pundits’ and tv anchors on news channels, so much of this was new to me.  As a book…. Lightweight.  Actually surprised this was a book that someone thought so highly to recommend.  Onward and upward with better books….

Friday, February 3, 2017

Creativity Inc.

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It must be a trend for very successful business people from all industries to write their “tell-all” story on how they how to be successful through the context of a quality they embody.  So enter the world of Ed Catmull.  Not a name that rang in my memory, but a famous guy for the work he does… the President of Pixar Animation Studios.  Catmull’s book, Creativity Inc., is a road map for his success as a CEO in the art industry.  Like most leadership books, Catmull draws upon the tenets he believes created the success for the company.  Catmull provides an in-depth history of his humble beginnings through college life and how he worked to help the movie industry realize the importance of animation and special effects for movies.  He worked with Speilberg, Lucas and the company was first funded by Steve Jobs of Apple fame.  If you are a fan on animated movies, you’ll love the inside stories of Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and Up (to name a few).  Catmull shared the characteristics for a successful company: honesty and candor; not having fear of failing; Change and randomness are important; broadening one’s view, and not staying status quo, to name a few.  Each tenet was woven into the history of a particular movie.  Movie buffs will love it, leadership guru’s might say, another one-word leadership book…  There was no “wow” moments for me and I felt it was rather short on innovation or new ideas related to leadership.  I was hoping for a bit more on why curiosity?  How is it further developed, and it is important for success (with some data points to prove it).  An ok book, I wouldn’t run out to get it though.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

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Only a few more books left from friend’s favorites, many are second choice books form RAs.  Finished listening to Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.  Clay Jannon has lost his job in the San Francisco area after the tech bubble has burst in the 1990s.  Silicon Valley is reeling and Jannon needs a job.  As a former techie who helped write ads for a bagel store, finally has his luck change when he finds a job at a bookstore, or so he thinks it is a bookstore…  Jannon works the night shift of the 24-hour store owned by Mr. Penumbra, a strange old man, and realizes that there is something strange about this place, which has very few customers, and those who are regulars come in to borrow books that he is told “not to open”…  but Jannon’s curiosity is raised, and with the goading of his friends, realizes the books are written in code!  Uncovering the code will involve his techie friends and bring them to NYC on a search for the secret society of customers, or as he calls them: “a cult.”  It becomes a raise to solve the mystery between the “secret society” and Jannon’s friends and the battle between old technology and new technology within the battle.  There’s a lot in this fantasy / futuristic technology read.  Who will get the answer to the question regarding life?  A few twists and turns in this well-written mystery which I highly recommend.  Jannon’s a great character which represents that “down on your luck” and finding his way out in work and love.