Book Reviews - TED Speakers

Some of the TED talks that have really connected with me have resulted in me buying a book, or tracking down the website that was mentioned or even subscribing to a blog. Below are the reviews of these books.

Philip Zimbardo's book The Time Paradox: Using the new psychology of time to your advantage will change the way that you think about time and how you understand the way you and others act because of it. It is very practical, with a number of activities about who I was, who I am and who will I be, as well as the Zimbardo Time Perspective Inventory and a definition of what the best mix is. A really interesting read.


Karen Armstrong's book Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life was a hard book to get through. I purchased this early on in the project, but only finished it during 30 days of compassion. Don't get me wrong, it is an interesting book but I found Step 1 - Learn about compassion a dry read. It could've been about half the length and achieved the same impact, in my opinion. The rest is quite easy to get through, and makes some very logical but important points.


Kathryn Schulz's book Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error is not an easy read, mainly because it is such a challenging concept. We do not like to admit failure, and we certainly do not like to acknowledge that our deeply held truths may in fact be wrong. The message that I took from this book was that re-framing how you define 'wrong' is an extremely important thing to do if you hope to be able to be kinder to yourself and others when it occurs. A hard topic, but a worthwhile one to examine.


For a short book John Maeda's The Laws of Simplicity (Simplicity: Design, Technology, Business, Life), has a lot of great concepts. The book outlines the 10 laws of simplicity and the three keys that anybody who has a career designing in any capacity (particularly technology) should be applying to their work. These laws and keys are also very applicable to daily life, and there have been a few of these that have become important parts of mine. It is an extremely simple book which can be very influential.


Susan Cain's talk on introversion is very powerful, but not nearly as powerful as her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Her book has helped me understand that a number of actions and personality traits that I have, that have been negatively commented on throughout my life, are very normal - for an introvert. I think that this is one of those topics that all parents and teachers should be made to understand, it would have made my life a little simpler, or maybe even a lot simpler to know that these traits were not things that were wrong with me.


David Logan and Steve Zaffron's book, The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting the Future of Your Organization and Your Life, helps to explain the concepts in David's talk about tribal leadership. The concept of this is that there are five levels that tribes operate at, and it is the leaders job to move them to the more effective levels for performance. Their book outlines the three laws: First - How people perform correlates to how situations occur to them; Second - How a situation occurs arises in language; and Third - Future-based language transforms how situations occur to people. It sounds very logical in theory, trying to apply it is more difficult, but that true of most things, particularly relating to people and leadership.


Simon Sinek's Start with Why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action is a very interesting read, especially the part about the limbic brain and how hard it is to explain my WHY because of how it works. I found it extremely helpful in pointing me towards particular questions and activities that helped me define my Why. It is well worth reading, although the majority of the best material is available in different formats on his website it is good to have it structured in a neater and easier to follow way in the book.


Richard St John's 8 secrets of success talk is expanded in his book The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common: 8 To Be Great I have recently finished reading this one and there are some great points in it. It's one of those things where nothing in the book is a huge revelation, but seeing it all written down with examples and comments from successful people just helps to reinforce it all.
At times, particularly early on, there seemed to be too many quotes from people rather than analysis of what this might mean, but it settles into a rhythm as it continues and it has some very insightful yet simple wisdom. There are certainly a few pointers that I am taking and applying to this project, a very good expansion on one of my concept talks.


Brené Brown's vulnerability talk is a summary of her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. As mentioned in a post, I purchased this book a few days into the whole Project, after I realised how much I was going to have to work on vulnerability. I still plan to do something more focused with this content and Brené's talk, but for now it is just helping me get to grips with just how extensive that might have to be.
At only 130 pages it is a nice, easy read on a very difficult and important topic. I think that I need to re-read after I've absorbed it a little more, but I would recommend this book to anyone who has vulnerability issues (so nearly everyone).


A.J. Jacob's year of living biblically talk was based on his book The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. I had actually found the book before I heard the talk, it just jumped out at me when I was trawling bookstores in Melbourne a couple of years ago. Being an atheist I thought it would be quite interesting to see how this ended up, and just reading a little of it in the store I knew that it was a style I would enjoy.
It was a very easy read, and some of the experiences that he endured were extremely amusing - how his wife suffered through the whole thing I will never know! The talk covers some of these stories, but for me it really reinforced the concept that immersion can really lead to changes in mindset.