Ask Vinni

Longer, well researched posts primarily focused on philosophy, psychology and self improvement. Topics I've mulled over for weeks. Irregularly updated.

 

Essays and other writings

Shorter, weekly articles on principles and thoughts that have been in my mind for a couple of days. Contradictory and rough, evolving as I do.

Mastery by Robert Greene

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Having started this book right after finishing So Good They Can’t Ignore You, I thought this book would be a wonderful way to put that knowledge to use. Oh how I was wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, this book is very good in its own right, but while Newport’s book focuses on the everyday guy like me and you, Greene writes about the outliers. He starts off by explaining that we should find our “life’s task,” that which we were born to do. Instead of thinking that it stands at odds with the principles outlined in Newport’s book, I chose to see it as if one book complemented the other. It’s not realistic to expect that everyone of us will find that one thing that we were meant to do our whole lives (as “nice” as that might sound), but it’s always worth studying the lives of those who do.

And that this book does. It’s nothing but case studies and (very short) biographies of people like Goethe, da Vinci, and Mozart. Greene does a majestic job at showing the reader how they went about living their lives and pursuing their passions to become the people they did. Lessons that the reader can easily apply to his life, even without necessarily following his “life’s task.” By living like one of the “Masters,” we can surely achieve this mastery the book talks about.

So Good they Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport

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This is an important book and I can’t think of one person who wouldn’t gain something from reading it.

I first got introduced to Cal’s work when I read his most recent book called “Deep Work” where he makes a case for going deep into the work we do, outlining the best ways to go about that and the benefits. This book both provides the background for “Deep Work,” as well as expands its importance.

I’ve already come across tons of people who want to pursue their passion. Who have a slight idea of what that passion is and they’re convinced that ultimately, this is what’s gonna bring them happiness. Once they can align the work they do with the thing they’re passionate about, their lives will be complete. That same group of people usually scoffs when I say that I’m not really sure if I have one of those passions they love to talk about. There are things I like to do, but I don’t have the same inclination they do to drop everything and dedicate myself full time to my website, or whatever other thing.

Instead, I want to keep improving, to keep learning. I want to hone my skills to the point where they’re invaluable and if I feel like dropping everything after that, I’ll have enough experience to know what I’m doing.

Little did I know this book would simply reaffirm those beliefs.

I’m always a little skeptical to review books that align so well with what I think, it feels unfair in a way. In this case, though, it gets hard to argue with the case studies shown.

To Sell is Human by Daniel H. Pink

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I was meaning to read this book for quite some time now and after finishing I’m quite sure I’ll be going back to it every so often.

The concept of sales fascinates me. Both the regular one and the “non-sales selling” Pink mentions. It wasn’t hard for him to convince me of his thesis that just about everyone nowadays works on sales because that is something I myself believed in already.

Much like his previous book, “Drive,” I was delighted to see that Pink didn’t hold back from naming his sources and backing his arguments with scientific studies. If that wasn’t enough, he finishes all chapters with very practical advice condensed into the last few pages.

Suffice to say I can’t wait to use a few of the ideas I got from this book in the workshops I’ll be facilitating over the rest of this year.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

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There are times when the simple experience of reading a book proves its points. I started this book about halfway through a train trip on the way to an orientation camp I was leading and before I got back home at the end of the weekend, I was done reading.

Such orientation camps take up a lot of time, I joke saying I “have no weekend” whenever I have to lead one, even though it’s volunteer work, just because I don’t have time for anything else and never really “turn off” from all the tasks involved–making sure the program is running smoothly, taking care of the team and getting us in the same page, organizing the activities and debriefing them, socializing with the participants, etc–except for late at night when I go to sleep. I usually fall off track on my reading whenever I travel but this time, I got ahead.

I started reading and saw the value in it, so I immediately started applying, figured there was no better opportunity than that. I decided to dedicate all of my attention to whatever was happening at the moment, to whatever was most important at the moment. Turned off my cellphone and left it in my room, even though I’m supposed to have it with me at all times to be “reachable.” Nobody ever had to call me during these weekends, so I didn’t think it would be different during those times.

When I had to write the protocol, I was in my room, free from distractions, no internet connection, just me and evernote. When having a team meeting it was me, my notes and the other volunteers. In the early mornings and late evenings before going to bed, me and the book. During the train trips, me and the book.

It’s not hard to see the value of going deep when you find yourself in a situation like that one. If the book were only 1/3 of its length, I would have already given it the best rating just for getting me to experience it first hand. But it even goes deeper (heh) than that and shows us how to apply the concepts to our lives with more ease.

All I can say is, I can’t wait to get myself a nice old cabin in the Norwegian fjords and spend a few weeks there undisturbed. Soon.

Top 5 Books 2015

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I read a lot of books in 2015. Some weeks had me finishing one every two or so days and others took me closer to an entire month to finish. I was fortunate to have only read very good books throughout this time (in fact there are very few that I rated with less than 3 stars on goodreads) but a few always stand out from the rest. Here are the top 5 books I read in 2015.
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