Books and Courses I am Doing in 2018

Below are the books, moocs, audiobooks, online and offline courses I finished in 2018, along with my top recommendations and short reviews. My goal is to complete 50 of these before the end of year and try to apply something from each one. This list is a way for me to be accountable and share my findings.

Last updated: Jan 19, 2019 – last count at 47 books+courses. Favorite in 2018: The Kevin Rose show  

Conclusion: close enough that I can feel accomplished! However, that was definitely a lot, and I’m going to cut it down to more manageable numbers to be able to focus on some things more in depth in 2019.

Oversubscribed – Very useful guide to VC, startups and raising capital. Lots of valuable info and detailed, in depth explanations, with personal examples of authors, on how funding rounds and VC companies work.

Voice lessons – I’ve taken about 20 English speech/voice lessons to work on improving pronunciation, accent and annunciation to be better at public speaking, presenting, and podcasts.

Podcasts – I haven’t listed all here, but I’ve subscribed and listen to around 20 of them. Most notable ones: Kevin Rose show, Tim Ferriss, Philosophize this, Human Proof , How I built this, Freakonomics, Freedom Flipping, DomainSherpa.

Coaching – worked with several coaches to learn and improve at business management, hiring, corporate strategy.

Spanish – I’ve taken 24 Spanish lessons through iTalki. As well some homework, grammar exercises and reading. Still far from my goal of being fluent, but I can now understand most and speak some.

Conferences – Spoke at several conferences in 2018, including in India and Namescon in Spain. Also attended multiple conferences, meetups and events, many through DC.

What I learned Losing a Million and Making Money is Killing Your Business are two more books I haven’t finished, both were interesting, but got a bit obvious, and less engaging by the end. First talks about lessons from a financial meltdown and how to protect your downside, while the second outlines a more systematic framework for scaling and better managing your business, however it was quite similar to the other books I read recently like e-Myth.

Extreme Ownership – Lessons learned from Navy SEALs operations in Iraq and how military experience can benefit business. The author makes a very strong case about ownership, accepting full responsibility for everything that happens in your business, especially as CEO/owner, to the point that if employees make mistakes it’s because the manager didn’t explain things clearly enough. It also made me rethink business plans and relationships.

The active Side of Infinity – Mysterious and engaging. The book delves into a different, hidden side of life. Many of the unexplainable feats described there are hard to believe, so I’m undecided on that, but I think that having strong control over your mood and emotional state can definitely have a strong influence, and possibly be compared to sorcery when developed to such a high degree that it affects the people around. Reading this book made me curious about the whole thing, so I researched more about Carlos Castaneda and it seems that nowadays most experts agree that it’s a work of fiction.

War Aeternus 12, 3, 4 – Modern fantasy, really loved it, listened to/read all 4 books. Entertaining and thought provoking, good hero’s journey there. Looking forward to the next books in the series! Made me think about life and the world in a different perspective for a time and see how that fantasy world is so similar to our own, just with fewer gods and less magic!

The Forever War – A popular science fiction book from the 70s, an interesting take on militarism, society and possible predictions for the future. Was my light read (listen) during travel or waiting times.

Black Holes course – I’ve always been fascinated by learning about black holes and current theories on how they work. The course does a great job explaining the modern scientific theories, predictions and observations of black holes and other peculiar objects in space. It gives a clear picture of what we currently believe a black hole looks like, as well as what happens inside the event horizon and whether  some form of instantaneous travel in time and space via a wormhole  is theoretically possible (spoiler: science says maybe).

Never Split the Difference – The best book on negotiating!

Nanotechnology course – An introduction course to nanotechnology, gave me a good idea of where the science and technology is currently at and what’s ahead. Nanotech is progressing at full speed and can solve many of our current problems in medicine, health, and various areas of advanced technology. It’s fascinating that we already can produce simple tiny nanobots to manipulate matter with high  precision  at the molecular levels!

Radical Self-Acceptance – A book about.. well, acceptance. The modern world of social media, instagram models and reality tv made us pay close attention to our flaws and Tara Brach helps us come to terms with who we truly are to live a more fulfilling life. I definitely agree with the message, but find it as more of a long and tedious process, rather a simple switch.

A Thousand Splendid Suns – A very popular and highly rated modern novel, that provides an interesting insight into a different life, made me appreciate the things we have and take for granted. The story starts slow, but the heroes are very sympathetic and there is a happy ending, sortof. A very touching story that would leave even the most hardened man in tears!

Love Yourself like Your Life Depends on it – nice, inspiring, short book by Kamal Ravikant and it’s great to have the narration by the author. I tried the practice for a bit and noticed some positive results, have since tried to include a variation of it in my daily morning routine.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and Life, the Universe and Everything – not as iconic as the first book of the series, but still many funny moments and provoking thoughts, fun short books to listen to. Also made me realize how many of the jokes would now, unfortunately, be considered totally unacceptable and discriminatory.

Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less – One of the most insightful books I’ve read this year, it introduces a whole new way of thinking about the world, through the systems that surround us and govern our lives. It’s also applicable to all areas of personal life and business and provides a solid structure to build upon.

Web Equity Show with Justin Cooke and Ace Chapman – A series of podcasts episodes on buying and selling online businesses. I often get asked about recommendations on how to learn about the industry, so lately I picked up a few books and podcasts to “check the competition”, this will be one of my main recommendations from now on: it’s detailed, newbie friendly and done by two people who know what they are talking about.

The Shield: a novel – What happens if modern day Israel is magically transported to 1941?  At first it was interesting and engaging, but as things progressed events started to unfold in an expected manner, the writer’s style is not very polished also and the dialog seems forced. But this book helped me satisfy my curiosity into an alternative history scenario. I also read the second half of the novel, there it goes a little over the top and gets somewhat racist.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and  Life, the Universe, and Everything: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Book 3 – This series became my guilty pleasure, while trying to incorporate more fiction into my reading/listening, I enjoyed the quirky humor, great sci-fi classic.

Scale – this book took the longest for me to complete, it’s quite long and the delivery wasn’t the best on audible, however the content is fascinating! I was initially amazed by the idea that there are universal laws of scaling for all complex organisms, like mammals (from a tiny mouse to an elephant), cities and corporations. They provide a simple explanation to why an ant can  lift  objects 1000 times its weight, while an elephant can hardly lift half his weight, or why companies have lower profits when they grow big, while bigger cities offer higher salaries and better services. Expanded my horizons and learned the 3/4 law.

Rhodium Podcast – great podcast about the industry, with interviews of many website buyers, sellers, brokers. Was especially interesting for me due to industry focus, learning more about what my competitors are doing!

Manager Tools podcast –  a little old, but good advice on the basics of managing employees. Learned about the feedback model and the important of weekly calls/meetings.

Life 3.0 – the most thought provoking and inspiring book I’ve read in a while! It focuses on AI super intelligence and discusses a wide range of topics from the basics of intelligence, how it developed and evolved, the next steps, to the most far fetched concepts, like what technology will our descendants,  10100 years from now, use to delay, the inevitable onset of entropy and the heat death of the universe. Another interesting take out is how misplaced our fear of “evil” robot uprising is, based on movies like Terminator, Matrix etc. In reality the biggest risks come from Superintelligent AI being very competent and having goals that are misaligned with ours, so it decides to destroy humanity, in a similar way to how we won’t think twice about destroying an anthill to build a highway.

Sapiens – A fascinating book on the history of humanity, technology, progress. One interesting point that stuck with me: a hunter gatherer from 10K-50K years ago, before the agricultural revolution, likely lived a better, happier, more fulfilled life than we do now, all around. His diet was very diversified: various meats, wild fruits, vegetables, nuts, honey.. He “worked” less than we do now, likely only 4-6 hours a day, spent most of the time outside, in beautiful nature. He lived in a small group of like 50 people among relatives, everything was shared and everyone was cared for. He was in great physical shape due to constant exercise and a lot of natural movement. He cognitive abilities and memory were likely even higher than ours due to having to remember so many different facts about his surroundings. He spent a lot of time socializing and occasionally met and traded with neighbouring tribes. I now have a new default  time period I’d want to visit if I get access to a time machine!

Lying – How often do we lie? Small white lies, deceptions, half truths? What would life be like if we were just 100% honest, always, with everyone? Possibly not the best advice when negotiating an important deal, but the book made me think about some things and aim to be more direct.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future – Short, but very inspiring. Peter Thiel shares some valuable insights on startups and the future of technology and investing. Big scale, strategy stuff, but has some rather practical advice as well, that is applicable for non-billionaires. I listened to it twice as it was short, fast and good.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Great British humor, quite funny and iconic book, I’m definitely looking forward to picking up the other books in the series.

Presentation skills: Effective Presentation Delivery – Lots of good tips on how make great presentations, covers pretty much everything. I’m going to come back to this one later on when preparing for a presentation. One of the main takeaways: engage with your audience, make it interactive. Lot of technical tips.

Journey to Ixtlan I’ve been meaning to read something by Carlos Castaneda for many years and finally did. The story is strange and confusing at first, but quite engaging and the author/hero is quite relatable.  As it goes on you start to understand some of the deeper meaning behind all the different seeming unrealistic concepts in the story. I’m still puzzled though..

Presentations: Speaking so that People Listen – Good, concise course on presenting, I did it while preparing for a Toastmasters speech contest, and picked up many useful and advanced tips. The amount of quizzes, questions  and student tasks is excessive, so I skipped most and listened to it on 1.75x, it took a couple hours in total. Many important takeaways on building an engaging speech or presentation: hooks, proper greetings, conclusion structure, body language, LEAPS, recording practice.. highly recommended for improving your public speaking.

Morning Ritual Mastery Some good tips for waking up earlier and having a more productive morning. It’s also helpful that they are introduced slowly over 7 days. Definitely helped me improve my morning routine!

Built to Sell Similar to E-Myth, it shows how to build a business that can thrive without you, and through an example shows a process of systemizing and refocusing a company and building a business that investors would want to buy. The example it uses makes it a bit difficult to follow, because that specific industry has changed so much over a decade, but the principles are still solid and can be adapted to online businesses.
Main findings: pick a niche that your business can be the best at, plan and systemize the process, hire structure oriented employees.

Waking Up Interesting insight about spirituality, meditation, religion and the nature of consciousness. The book has a good mix between author’s personal experiences and the recent  scientific discoveries and research on the matter. It also shines some light on how some commonly held beliefs seem utterly ridiculous when explored in more detail.
The book made me better understand and appreciate more the benefits and purpose of meditation, as well as rethink some of my views on organized religions and psychedelics, also plan to try a silent meditation retreat.

E-Myth Revisited Still one of the greatest business books ever written! it was first published before the internet era and the “E” refers to entrepreneur (instead of the seeming connection to the online world), and it discusses the difference, and the steps any small business must take in order to grow and transform into a real company. This is the second or third I read it (or rather listened to it), and it always gives some new insights!
The important lesson here is to create systems for my business that are well documented and teachable. Work on my business and not in it.

Learning How to Learn  the most popular online course and for a good reason! I expected it to be rather basic and superficial, considering how it’s geared toward a broad audience, like high school and college students. However, it had a good combination of very practical advice and some interesting explanations and interpretations based on the recent scientific research into memory.
The main thing I learned from it: recall is the most efficient method to remember things. Simply trying to recollect the information immediately after you’ve learned it and it’s best to space your repetitions in order to retain the information long term.

The Butterfly Garden  one of the most popular books on Amazon and highly reviewed, so I decided to read it in order to mix up my long list of non-fiction books with some fiction. Started it on kindle, but later finished by listening to it on audible. It was a rather depressing read, I had no idea what I was getting into at first, but as the story develops it’s rather captivating and you only realize what’s happening there when you’re already too deep into it to give up. I probably wouldn’t read it again, but it also gives you a unique perspective on things, and makes you appreciate things a little more..
My main conclusion from this one was to read some reviews and description next time before plunging into a new book.

Toastmasters great for improving public speaking and general communication skills, I’ve been a member for close to a year, and try to attend and participate in meetings regularly. It allowed me to become a more confident public speaker, and learn how to present in a more engaging and better organized manner.

Kinobody – Kinobody provides a simple, well optimized, workout and diet program. It turned me from a lazy occasional gym goer to an enthusiastic gym rat, this year I’ve learned a lot about fitness and have made some major progress on losing fat, building muscles, setting up a healthy fitness and eating routine, also intermittent fasting. The kinobody programs are efficient and effective and are built to make them easy to follow and stick with over the long term, which is what nearly all other workout routines lack! That was definitely one of my best investments this year.

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