I read

I do not read fiction. Well, actually I just can’t remember the last time I read a fiction novel and blogs and tweets don’t count as fiction, do they?

I read an incredible amount of books, articles, blogs, tweets and emails. Obviously, if it ends up in my blog, I found what I have read interesting or simply so boring that I have to share the pain. I love reading and I remember one or two Christmases as a kid when the only gifts I received were books. As a kid, I was not thrilled of not getting any shiny toys but I guess part of the reason I read a lot is because I have always enjoyed it. (Thanks mom!)

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Reading a book is one of the best ways I know to learn new things. It’s a a gateway to new knowledge that is immediately applicable to life. I love learning and the possibility of learning from someone else’s experiences enthralls me. I’ve learned and I surely will learn enough through my own mistakes and successes that I can afford to learn from others as well. That is why I read: to learn, laugh and relax.

I tend to forget some of the great ideas in the books, articles and blog posts I read. That’s why I figured it would be a great idea to write about what I read, to remind myself and to share the fun with others. I might write review type of posts, a few rants here and there, and I will definitely post some cliff notes of interesting books.

What I need to learn is how to stop reading a book that is not interesting enough? I am the type who wants finish what they started and I find it hard to let go of a book I’m only halfway through but just can’t keep reading. Even when I know that somewhere out there is a book that I will dive into with passion and dedication to finish in three days. How to abandon a book that might have something left to tell me?

My favorite TED Talks

There are a lot of “if you are a [insert profession or aspiration here], you must watch these TED Talks” posts out there. Most recently I watched Mashable’s list of 15 inspiring TED Talks for college freshmen. As you can imagine, those videos inspired me to take action and write a post.

Below are my all-time favorite TED Talks that I could recommend to anyone. By the way, if you are interested in a complete list of all TED Talks, it’s provided as a comprehensive spreadsheet on TED Talks page. This list is not only for you, but acts as a nice collection of talks that I love returning to when I crave for inspiration.

Terry Moore: Why is ‘x’ the unknown?

This one I enjoyed recently through TED iPad app that let’s the user find a random talk based on how much time they have. This one takes less than five minutes, so it’s a great one to start with. Seriously, if you only watch one, make it this one.

[ted id=1469]

 

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

I believe Simon says it all (several times during the talk) with “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

[ted id=848]

 

Daniel Pink – The puzzle of motivation

Based on his book, Drive – Surprising truth about what motivates us, Daniel Pink delivers an interesting talk that made me buy and read the book. I find his thesis interesting and I have given a lot of thought to how mastery, autonomy and purpose will shape my career and my life.

[ted id=618]

Keepers of the inbox

I know, I understand. Your message, your email about the thing you are working on or will be launching soon is the most important thing in the world. For you. Months or years you have been waiting for this moment. You spent those late nights and kept up with the changing requirements of higher-ups.

But what is this again? A notification that an internal application that I have never heard of will be unavailable for two hours over the weekend. Thank you. Thanks especially for putting that ‘important’ tag on it. I’m diligent with my email. Inbox 0 anyone? And those big red exclamation marks, hold… the.. press.. Wait, it’s here is another email about cleaning the window blinds. I thought I already read one of these last week. What was I doing again?

One more email never hurt anyone

Wrong. I would love to have statistics to show about this and perhaps this is a topic for anyone considering doing research into internal communication practices. If the message has no applicability, it’s not only a wasted message. It’s information overload that dilutes the effectiveness of the important messages. If you are not yet in the office life, pay attention to what your Communications teacher is sharing about writing effective emails. I promise it will pay off.

Inbox anarchy

We all have our own personal experiences of inbox anarchy at the workplace. At first there is a range of emotions (from amusement to anger) when receiving these emails but over time there is only indifference, which is the worst state of affairs. It was not always like this. At minimum, people used to read the subject headers, and way back before that, some brave ones even read the whole email before judging the relevance of the message. We don’t have that luxury any more, simply because too many of our colleagues have figured out how convenient email is for mass communication.

The most clever people create a rule for incoming email where everything from a resource mailbox ends up automatically in a different folder. That’s great, it keeps things in order and allows the emails to be read on their terms. It also almost guarantees that time-critical, important information will be missed. Except that if it really is that important, I expect my boss to tell me about it.

Shouldn’t there be an internal spam filter that you can trust?

Keepers of the inbox

Most people never have to think about this, but there is a group of people, the keepers of the inbox. Their job is to say ‘no’, their job is to evaluate and prioritize important messages. They know that ‘everybody’ is not a valid list of stakeholders. Their secret is simple.

Start with zero and expand.

How to evaluate if the message is important to the audience? Begin with nobody in your target group not with everybody. That’s the only way. Otherwise you will drown in a river of questions such as “would an assistant in HR care about this”. Why would the person in a totally unrelated support function, in a different country care about this message? It’s a good measurement but these questions are endless and could be asked for each and every team in the company. Therefore, just start with zero and expand to those who really need to know and sometimes to those for who it is good to know.

If you don’t know who your stakeholders are, the solution you are looking for, is not an email to the lowest common denominator.

GTA V impressions (no spoilers)

I can easily write my first impressions without going into the plot of the game. It suffices to say that the story is very engaging and I would love to see more games with similar depth in the future.

I play the game on Xbox 360 and 40″ LCD TV. I’m not the kind of guy who would stand around and look at the scenery in a game but I recognize when my surroundings are beautifully detailed. 

Probably one of the most striking new aspects in the game is how the player needs to switch between characters during and between missions. It is brilliant. I recently finished GTA IV: The Lost and Damned where some characters appeared from the original GTA IV and Ballad of Gay Tony DLC but I was left wanting to interact more between the characters. Switching adds more perspectives to the story and the mission at hand. The ability to switch makes the gameplay more immerse when more things happen at the same time.

Some of the great things in GTA V

  • Driving small country roads up the hill or speeding in the city traffic is no longer possible without using breaks. Sounds annoying compared to previous games but the driving mechanics are actually very much improved and it’s a pleasure cruising around the state. Although, I do prefer using an airplane for longer distances.
  • The idea of switching characters is excellent and it works surprisingly well. I have not run into any trouble because of the switching. It’s been made easy enough to switch even when being shot at.
  • Mission system allows the missions to be replayed. Perhaps I will find perfecting the robberies fun after a while but first I will most likely finish the story.
  • Shooting range is actually fun even though I hate shooting with a controller.

I’ve loved the game so far and after 30% of the story finished, I can’t find anything negative to comment. I am driven by the story in the game and tend to spend most of my time advancing the story instead of doing side activities. I feel like missing a big chunk of the game by focusing on the story. The side activities are fun but there’s no bigger meaning behind them for me. I’m slightly afraid that there is only a very limited number of heists in the story and that there is no possibility of finding new heists after the story is done but that remains to be seen.

Enjoy the game by watching  streams at Twitch if you haven’t purchased a copy yet.