Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Probably a must-read for every tech startup. Boring but useful. Kinda like a textbook I guess. 

The most interesting thing I learnt from it was to develop a MVP, a minimum viable product, before launching anything big. You have to ascertain the fact that people are willing to pay for something small before developing a more complex product. This is very important. People tend to want only to release a perfect version but you may end up having a white elephant on your hands. Counterintuitive as it may seem, it makes more sense to put out an imperfect product to gauge consumer demand instead. 

I also learnt the importance of doing A/B testing. This refers to experiments where you change only one variable to determine what customers prefer. Very simple and very effective, yet seldom practiced. The author repeatedly emphasises the importance of doing A/B testing and I am a convert. I guess this is most applicable to tech startups where they have access to competent programmers. Probably harder for mom and pop stores or retail outlets that depend more on human traffic rather than online traffic. Though I must say that the concepts can be tweaked and applied to a certain extent. 

There were several other things the author mentioned which were either not memorable or were concepts too difficult for me to grasp. 

This is a very dry book to go through so you'll probably do best to pace yourself. A valuable tool for the tech entrepreneur out there although certain concepts can also be applied to those in other fields. 

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

This was a random book I picked up at Kinokuniya because I'm recently into Japanese authors. I bought it because when I flipped open the book there were some maths equations and being the math geek that I am, I was hooked!

In any case, it did not disappoint. The novel is about a housekeeper who got sent by her agency to clean a new client's place. The widow who interviewed told her to clean the house of her brother-in-law and make meals for him twice a day. The housekeeper was warned that he had been in a car accident and only had an 80-minute memory.

We journey with the housekeeper and her quirky interactions with the professor, who used to be one before the accident. He has a fascination with numbers and upon their first meeting, asked her about her shoe size and remarked that it was a factorial of 4. That begins the foray with the strange and wonderful world that is the professor's.

Soon, the housekeeper's son is brought into the picture when the professor insisted that he come over as he could not bear the thought of a latchkey kid (the housekeeper single-handedly brought up her son).

The 10-year-old boy and the professor struck up a strong friendship and eventually went to a baseball game together with the housekeeper, being the baseball fans that both the boy and professor were.

This is a beautiful and touching story and I would encourage all to get a copy. It's a simple and easy read and the Mathematical concepts are expertly weaved into the story and is easily understood when explained in layman terms through the eyes of the housekeeper.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Transparently: Behind the scenes of a good life by Lisa Salazar

I just finished reading this book and I don't believe I've ever cried so much. 

I was looking for an easy read after conquering a very dry business book and so picked this off my shelf after buying it at the GCN Conference in Houston earlier in January this year. 

It was a gripping read and I finished it within a few hours. 

What a heartbreaking story it was. If you believe that transgender people deliberately choose their gender, I appeal to you to please read this book. 

Despite endless bouts of prayer, God never took away Salazar's dysphoria. A faithful believer, she was finally able to reconcile her faith and gender identity through two separate Bible passages that I'll leave you to discover for yourself. 

A most touching memoir, it made me fully aware of the pain my trans brothers and sisters have to go through and gave me an insight as to why 41% of them eventually choose to take their lives to rid themselves of the pain of living. 

I have no words to describe how truly moved I was by this authentic delivery by the author and would highly encourage every single person I know to get a copy of the book and read it.

It will certainly transform you life as it has did mine.