Books Read in 2018

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Another year into the books. Boy, was this year nuts. I’ll lay more of that out in a separate post but 2018 was by far the most intense year of my life.

For books, I didn’t get to sit down and physically read that many books but definitely got to spend time listening to them. 15 books in total; a mixture of sci-fi with philosophy and business. Here’s what I was able to plow through this year.

  • 33 Strategies of War – Very interesting book and highly recommended not only for the interesting strategic content but the amazing historical lessons I learned.
  • Machine, Platform, Crowd: Harnessing our Digital Future – Really average book if you’re in the field. I don’t think I learned a single interesting thing from this book and probably should have tossed it aside after 1/3 way through.
  • Principle: Life and Work – This was an interesting read that had some thought-provoking content. My biggest take away was to let ego take the back seat and focus on meritocracy.
  • Shoe Dog – Awesome and inspiring book about the creation of Nike. Especially interesting if you’re a founder building a business. It has helped me come closer to comfort as a bootstrapped business to how difficult it can be to pay the bills sometimes.
  • Iron Gold – Another book in the action-packed series. It was a little slower with more plot creation but leads up to some exciting future plots in the next set of books.
  • Never Split the Difference – This is a must read. Period. This book literally changed my life. I was able to negotiate $8k off a car purchase and $80k off a housing purchase after listening to this book. It has extremely practical examples and will help shape your mind around deal negotiating.
  • The Millionaire Next Door – Good book but nothing riveting. Most of the financial content in here I already knew about, so it read more like a reminder rather than revelation. Worth reading if you desire more financial mastering.
  • The Collapsing Empire: The Interdependency Book 1 – Action packed sci-fi book. It was pretty good but I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest in the series. It was more military focused rather than deep sci-fi with multiple interesting thoughts.
  • Children of Time – I loved this book. It took a while to really get the plot going but it was extraordinarily thought-provoking. I found myself rethinking evolution and the exploration of these fields. It also gave a cool perspective as to how lucky we are that we, homo sapiens, have and experience what we do on a daily basis.
  • Columbus Day: Expeditionary Force – Another military sci-fi battle book. It was fun and exciting. Definitely helped ease the morning commute. That said, it wasn’t a super high caliber sci-fi so I won’t be reading the rest in the series.
  • The Republic – Dry read but highly philosophical and shed light on some extraordinary societal concepts that I hadn’t previously thought of. If there’s an abridged version of this, I would recommend it.
  • Excelsior – Another military-esque sci-fi book. This one had more of a plot with deeper character development. I enjoyed it while I went out running and would probably read further into the series if there was one. It’s short and fun so I’d recommend it.
  • Constitution – Yes, another military sci-fi. This one was fun and focused primarily around a large battle with detailed sequences. I liked it a lot but it was a typical “underdog” plot.
  • Extreme Ownership – Great book with exceptional principles worth learning. While I’m still putting into practice what I learned, I’ve seen early results that make me a believer. This is a great book for those who are looking to take a step upward.
  • Bad Blood – Holy smokes… this read like a fictional novel. This was an amazing book to read and even more fascinating if you’re in the field (much like we are). The rise and fall of Theranos definitely eclipsed the silicon valley bullshit that frustrates me to no end. This book capture why you should focus on funding reality and diving to make sure that really is true.

In 2019, I plan on being much more open to throwing away books that don’t grip me within the first 1/3 of their writings. There’s only so many books that I can read in my lifetime and, for the most part, most books are pretty average. I plan on focusing on reading more industrialized books that dive into specifics around building rather than just concepts.

New Areas of Focus in 2017

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I’ve done a poor job at many things this past year however I didn’t necessarily prioritize them. For example, I didn’t blog nearly as much as I wanted to, read as many books as I wanted to, and probably spent too much time on things that don’t matter. Hindsight 20/20.

The things that I’m glad I spent time on:

  • Me – I spent a lot of time doing what I call “getting to know myself”. I don’t think people do this enough and it’s been a valuable exercise. There are things I like about myself that I want to amplify and things I very much dislike that I want to make a conscious effort to change. Being reflective on myself was a tremendous help in growing.
  • Writing – I completely blew off this blog (not that many people read it anyways!) in favor of laying down some ground work for a story that’s been floating around in my head. I spent a few weeks investing a ton of time into getting the idea onto paper and ended up writing 88 full pages of the story. I’ll be making an effort to invest more time into this.
  • Co-workers, friends, family – I didn’t do this nearly enough in 2015 so I made an effort to get out more, call home more often, etc. I’ve developed some great relationships from it so I’m putting it in the win category.
  • Genetics – In the second half of the year I probably spent the same amount of time learning and working on genetics related stuff as I did my full time job. It felt great to cultivate knowledge in this area and ultimately enable me to help my dad start to build out his company. This field is unbelievably fascinating and is an area I plan on continuing to invest significant more time in this year.

Now, there were plenty of things I did poorly that I’m planning on doing better in the new year:

  • Reading – I did not read nearly enough and slacked heavily here. More to come here soon enough.
  • Networking – This was somewhat a good and bad thing. I did some networking but not as much as I’d like to.
  • Patience – My biggest weakness is patience. Need to practice the art of just being ok moving slower at times.
  • International Travel – I went to Costa Rica and London this year which is the most I’ve done, however I think I could do much better here.
  • Workout Consistency – Can’t accomplish anything if you’re not healthy. I slacked here a bit unfortunately. I’ve now set up more parameters around making sure I do this consistently.
  • Writing – A good way to free the mind up is by writing down thoughts (which is why I built this blog). I’ve done a poor job of getting all of my thoughts, ideas, and rants out of my mind so I’ll be making a bigger effort to do this.

I’m sure there is more but these seemed to be the items that stood out most to me. The end of the year is always a nice time to reflect and give a gut check on how I feel I’m doing. I think I’ll be trying to do more of a “self review” each quarter to get a higher frequency of checking. Going 1 year at a time to make sure things are going well seems too long. Hopefully by switching to quarterly I can counteract poorly performing areas more frequently and “manage” myself better.

Anyway, cheers to the new year! Lots of fun to come.

My 2016 Year Review

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What a turbulent year! This year has had a lot of trials and tribulations on many fronts. Where to start?

For me, the year started out very rough. In the beginning of February, it started out with a large round of layoffs at the company I worked for – Localytics. This wasn’t necessarily unexpected as I had already started to interview at other companies knowing that the revenue and burn rate of the company couldn’t sustain. I didn’t have a job though so it was still pretty rough. I started interviewing at a ton of different companies around the country and ended up getting the list down to two companies in Boston. Meanwhile, my girlfriend and I did an amazing 7 day trip down to Costa Rica for a much needed vacation. In fact, this was my first true vacation in over 3 years.

Once we got back, I received offers from two companies on the same day making it a fairly tough decision. I chose to go with Crimson Hexagon for various reasons that I stated in another blog and couldn’t be happier with my decision. Just 4 hours after I sent in the paper work to accept the position, my girlfriend was offered and accepted a residency position to study Emergency and Critical Care for her veterinarian specialty. This was quite a shock given that she didn’t apply to the match which is how you get offered a position. The unfortunate news was that this position was back in Colorado, forcing us to do distance yet again.

We celebrated our 3 year relationship March 31st.

I started my new job in April, moved apartments in July 1st, and my girlfriend moved to Colorado July 4th. The residency was an unbelievably toxic environment with ivory tower faculty spearheading the hazing. In the first 4 weeks, she worked an average of 110 hours a week with a peak at around 120 while other critical care residents were capped at 80. We’re still not sure why there was special treatment. I spent countless nights on the phone with her helping build out her first paper to be published on a topic that, in total, had a sample set of 4 patients for data points. 4 data points total on a specific weight and breed of dog to argue for a new “golden standard” on how to handle arterial blood pressure in critical patients. Unfortunately, the faculty mentor needed to retain her grant money so she had pawned off the paper to my girlfriend to write. While I had heard of similar experiences, it was a whole different experience seeing it fairly first hand. The emails, texts, conversations, etc. were beyond unprofessional and the hazing dangerous. It unearthed a new found fear of our doctors, healthcare, and general medical field with the lack of adequate data backing “golden standard” claims and treatment plans.

After 5 weeks of being in the academic bullshit, she quit. There are some things in life that are worth fighting for and dedicating yourself to. Being known by a group of 400 ivory tower medical faculty is not one of those things. She proceeded to take 3 months off and moved into a full time critical care position.

Meanwhile, I spent my time working on helping my Dad create his new company – The Sequencing Center. It’s a vertically integrated center that provides Next Generation Sequencing, Bioinformatics, and Data Management all under one roof with a boost of modern software automation. We spend the next 4 months working on building a prototype data platform, incredibly extensive reporting template, and pitch deck in which he is pitching his first client in January. I hope to help him grow the company into something huge that is widely beneficial for the medical community to be more biology-based and data driven about drug development (when applicable).

I fly once a month to Colorado to visit my girlfriend for a week at a time and am working with my company to split my time between the two locations. My girlfriend and I will be moving to Denver come April to May so hit me up if you’d like to network!

In 2016, I increased my savings by 75% (yay!) but missed my target goal by ~$1,000. I only read 10 books compared to my previous year of 21 (boo!). Here is a list of the books I read:

  • Life at the Speed of Light
  • The Martian
  • As a Man Thinketh
  • Red Rising
  • Golden Son
  • Morning Star
  • Blue Ocean Strategy
  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • Dark Matter
  • When Breath Becomes Air

I accomplished my goal of not drinking beer for a year and plan on drinking a shitty, cold Coors Banquet Beer as a celebration. Additionally, I ended being a vegetarian of 2 years for various reasons. The TL;DR is that I was probably anemic, iron deficient, and needed more protein. I won’t be eating meat nearly as much but probably once a week. Next years goals are adding things instead of removing. My goals are to meditate 10 minutes each day (morning or night) and to stretch for 10 minutes. There may be others that I add in but those are TBD. I’d also like to get back into reading more and help making a significant impact for my Dads company.

Overall, I’d rate 2016 a solid 8/10. New job that is way better, healthy relationship, hit my yearly goal, barely missed some financial goals, and still in good health. The last 2 months has already shown me that 2017 will be likely a turbulent but exciting year. I’m expecting lots of dramatic changes, some loft trials, but incredible tribulations.

Cheers to the New Year!