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I’ve managed to read 34 books during 2020 and wanted to share some of the fantastic books I’ve come across.

Without further ado, here are my 10 favorite books for 2020:

Mastery — Robert Greene

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

This book describes what it takes to achieve mastery by analyzing the life of dozens of masters from the past and today.

Inclinations: You will be rewarded by following the things that are calling for you. It’s natural and will never be fake to you.

Apprenticeship: We go through several phases of apprenticeship in our lives. It’s totally worth it, to develop your learning skills, working with mentors, acquiring social intelligence.

”Your strategy must be twofold: first, to realize as early as possible that you have chosen your career for the wrong reasons before your confidence takes a hit. And second, to actively rebel against those forces that have pushed you away from your true path.”

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant — Eric Jorgenson

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

This book was such a joy to read. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant contains the essence of Naval’s philosophy.

If you haven’t brushed up on Naval before, each page in this book will enlighten you with new insights, whether on wealth, business, meditation, or philosophy. Your mind will be left in awe at the amount of wisdom that Naval has.

My favorite quote from Naval, at this moment in 2020: “Following your genuine intellectual curiosity is a better foundation for a career than following whatever is making money right now.”

The Psychology of Money — Morgan Housel

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

The book contains 19 short stories that’ll help you better understand how to think about money, how to invest it, the difference between being rich and being wealthy, how not to get greedy, and so much more.

Early in the book, Housel lays out the premise of the book: “Financial success is not hard science. It’s a soft skill, where how you behave is more important than what you know. I call this soft skill the psychology of money.”

The Practice — Seth Godin

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

This book is about the practice of creative work. As Seth says in the book, “Creativity is a choice, it’s not a bolt of lightning from somewhere else.” We need to put in the work to be creative.

My favorite quote from the book: “For the important work, the instructions are always insufficient. For the work we’d like to do, the reward comes from the fact that there is no guarantee, that the path isn’t well lit, that we cannot possibly be sure it’s going to work. Starting, not finishing. Improving, not being perfect.”

The War of Art — Steven Pressfield

Here is the Goodreads link to the book.

Author Steven Pressfield struggled through his 20es, 30es and 40es, and finally figured out that there was an invisible force, which he calls the resistance, which was blocking him from sitting down every day, and persisting through the days.

In this book, Pressfield explains what this resistance is trying to do to us. How it’s preventing us from creating our works of art. The message of the book is that your creations won’t manifest unless you work, work and work. Put in some hours every day into your project, and over time, you will get over the resistance.

Thinking, Fast and Slow — Daniel Kahneman

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow goes through all the ways that humans make decisions. For making these decisions, you have your system one, which works on instinct, in the blink of an eye, the fast thinking brain. Then you have your system two, which is the slow thinking brain, which activates when humans can’t rely on their instincts to make a decision.

After reading the book, which is not a small book, I’ve been enjoying this video, since it summarizes all the thoughts that come out of the book. Making sure that these get into my system one and two 😉

Culture Code — Daniel Coyle

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

Danny Coyle’s books does an in-depth examination into cultures in organizations. How you end up with a dysfunctional culture, versus a thriving culture?

The important aspects covered are psychological safety, belonging cues, messages going up and down the organization. He talks about team performance and why the right cultures can build successful companies.

“Google was a hothouse of belonging cues; its people worked shoulder to shoulder and safely connected, immersed in their projects. Overture, despite its head start and their billion-dollar war chest, was handicapped by bureaucracy. Decision making involved innumerable meetings and discussions about technical, tactical, and strategic matters; everything had to be approved by multiple committees. Google didn’t win because it was smarter. It won because it was safer.

Watch this video for an introduction to the book.

15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership — Jim Dethmer

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

This book really surprised me. Feels like I picked up so much about leadership from this book. Here are some of the topics it covers:

  • The responsible leader: What taking responsibility should look like? Getting out of victim-hood and into a state of learning.
  • Being reserved and not sharing bad news: We don’t share because we fear of Losing approval, control or security
  • Office politics: Comes to life through the Victim, Villain and Hero triangle
  • Integrity: leaders need to create a field of integrity
  • By me / for me: ”for me” team members who are just there to pick up a paycheck

Man’s Search For Meaning — Viktor Frankl

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

This book was written by Viktor E. Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust, including time spent at Aushwich. After WWII, he wrote this book, to describe how in the worst circumstances, one can choose their attitude to a situation. If one can find meaning in life, one can bear almost any situation.

What has changed for me when building Elite Game Developers as a company?

My mindset has been changing. Previously my mindset was all-around success defined by the financial outcome, or even being famous. Being successful from a superficial standpoint. I learned over the years that these kinds of mental models lead you to make suboptimal decisions. When I shifted my mindset to really focus on thriving in the journey in finding meaning in every single day, focusing on delivering value to my audience, regardless of what happens in the short term. It really liberated me to make better decisions.

Reading books like Man’s Search For Meaning just reinforce my beliefs. This book will help you start the journey to discover your why.

Stillness Is The Key — Ryan Holiday

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

I really love Ryan Holiday’s books. Here has an over arching theme to his books, which revolves around the Stoic philosophy. The main question that comes up is: what is enough?

In this book, Holiday covers stories from history. Leonardo da Vinci, Tiger Woods, Winston Churchill, Michael Jordan, John Kennedy. The stories of solitude, creativity, freedom, slavery, escapism. The stillness of the mind helps us, but why is it so hard to rest.

Read the book, and make sure that you watch this summary before or after reading. Preferably before and after reading it 😀

Extra: Four additional ones

I wanted to include four other books that just didn’t make it to the top ten, but were extremely great reads.

The Infinite Game — Simon Sinek

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

Some ten years after Start With Why came out, Simon Sinek’s latest book The Infinite Game talks about organizations that are in the business of staying in the game, versus the ones who want to win the game.

There are great examples of this in the book, i.e. Apple with iPod versus Microsoft with Zune, North Vietnam versus United States, etc.

The infinite game is a big part in building a healthy culture. The finite game is about “winning at all cost”, versus the infinite game is about “keeping us in the business”.

Love Yourself Like Your Life Depended On It (2020 edition) — Kamal Ravikant

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

Kamal Ravikant wrote the first version of the book in 2012. He had figured out a way to come back from misery and had learned that loving oneself is the way to a better life.

Kamal explains that ”I once heard someone explain thoughts like this: we, as human beings, think that we’re thinking. That’s not true. Most of the time, we’re remembering. We’re reliving memories. We’re running familiar patterns and loops in our heads. For happiness, for procrastination, for sadness. Fears, hopes, dreams, desires. We have loops for everything.”

Learn more about the book by watching this video.

Ego Is The Enemy — Ryan Holiday

Here’s the Goodreads link to the book.

In this book, Ryan Holiday talks about ego as an unhealthy belief in our own importance. The ego seeks external approval, like “What are other people thinking about me?”

Watch this video to learn more, narrated by Ryan Holiday.

The Daily Stoic — Ryan Holiday

Here’s the Goodreads link for the book.

The Daily Stoic was the first Ryan Holiday book that I ever read. I had listened to a podcast with Ryan, and was inspired to learn more. The topic that Ryan is known for is Stoicism, as he often quotes Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius in his material.

The cool thing about stoicism is that it can equally be applied from a Roman Emperor who lived centuries ago, to an entrepreneur of the digital age.

I’d say that the Daily Stoic is a great way to get into the topic. Ryan Holiday has a bunch of books on the topic, which I’ll get to later in this post.

Watch this video for more on Stoicism.

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