The Innovator’s Cookbook

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innovationcookbook.jpgThe Innovator’s Cookbook : Essentials for Inventor’s What is Next (2011)
By Steven Johnson

Its unbelievable that this book was published in 2011. The contents of it are still very relevant as of today in year 2017. The author gives many real life examples to state what he thinks are essential for innovation.

He talks about old buildings and innovation. What kinds of old buildings are most freeing? These buildings are usually shabby and spacious. Any change is likely to be an improvement. They are discarded buildings, fairly free of concern from landlord or authorities : “Do what you want. The place can’t get much worse anyway. It’s just too much trouble to tear down.

Example in MIT, there is a temporary building called Building 20. Its a 250,000 square foot three storey wood structure. Because its an old building, it puts on the personality of the people in it. The alumni of the building got feedback of the building “Windows that open and shut at will of the owner! The ability to personalize your space and shape it to various purposes.”

Only operations that are well established, high-turnover, standardized or highly subsidized can afford to carry the cost of new construction. Chain stores, chain restaurants, and banks go into new construction. But neighbourhood bars, foreign restaurants and pawn shops go into older buildings. Supermarkets and shoe stores often go into new buildings; good bookstores and antique dealers seldom do. The unformalized feeders of the art – studios, galleries, stores for musical instruments and art supplies, backrooms where the low earning power of a seat and table can absorb uneconomic discussions – these go into old buildings.

Old ideas can sometimes use New buildings. New ideas must come from old buildings.

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Cities and regions that attract lots of creative talent are also those with greater diversity and higher levels of quality of place. That’s because location choices of creative class are based to a large degree on their lifestyle interests, and these go well beyond the standard “quality of life” amenities that most experts think are important.

Talented people seek an environment open to differences. Many highly creative people, regardless of ethnic background or sexual orientation, grew up feeling like outsiders, different in some way from most of their schoolmates. They want a place that reads “Nonstandard People welcome here”

Creative-minded people enjoy a mix of influences. They want to hear different kinds of music and try different kinds of food. They want to meet and socialize with people unlike themselves, trade views and spar over issues. Creative-class people value active outdoor recreation very highly.

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Do not go after the affluent segments, wage cost differentials, but to serve the mass market. Only there will you be forced to innovate in the ways required to succeed in future.

Over the years, consumer packaged-goods companies have reduced their products’ unit size in emerging markets to unlock demand among consumers who can’t afford bigger portions. Coco-cola for example began selling 200ml bottles of coke in india in 2003, Britannia launched Tiger Biscuits in 20-gram packages in 1999.

 

 

 

 

 

Breakthrough

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breakthrough.pngHow one teen innovator is changing the world (2015)

I think it is pretty impressive for a teenage at 15 years old in his high school years to win on several science competitions and garnered international attention for his fast and easy way to detect pancreatic, ovarian and lung cancers using a 4 cent strip of paper.

Although he is openly gay, but I guess with lesser distraction, that’s why he is able to focus on science and creativity matters.

He even wrote his own book, which I find that at a young age, he has achieved much more things than many people in their lives.

After reading this book, it occurred to me that going forward, science and creativity will be more important than ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total Money Makeover

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daveramsey.jpgA Proven plan for financial fitness (2009)

By Dave Ramsey

The author supports the debt snowball method, where debtors pay off the lowest balance debt first before paying off for the highest interest rate debt. Small victories give the debtors motivation.

He has certain myths and truths in his book.

Myth : Debt is a tool and should be used to create prosperity.

Truth : Debt adds considerable risk, most often doesn’t bring prosperity, and isn’t used by wealthy people nearly as much as we are led to believe.

Myth : If I loan money to friends or relatives, I am helping them.

Truth : If I loan money to a friend or relative, the relationship will be strained or destroyed. The only relationship that would be enhanced is the kind resulting from one party being the master and the other party being a servant.

Myth : Car payments are a way of life, you’ll always have one.

Truth : Staying away from car payments by driving reliable used cars is what the average millionaire does; that is how he or she becomes a millionaire.

 

 

 

Buckets of Money

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bucketsofmoney.pngBuckets of Money: How to Retire in Comfort and Safety (2004)
By Raymond J.Lucia

Most of what the author say is in American context. In 2012, he was accused by Securities and Exchange Commission for spreading misleading information.

Regardless of this, he has an interesting idea of putting your retirement planning in a few buckets of money. Or what to do when you are going to retire.

 

You have 3 buckets. In bucket number 1 you put your money for the next 5-7 years (for very safe and secure investments or those generating income – REITS) . Bucket number 2 is for the next 5-7 year period after that (can take some risk) . And finally, bucket number 3 is for the money you will not need for 10-14 years (can take more risk).

He has a few interesting Lucia’s Law that he talks about.

  1. The government isn’t going to take care of you.
  2. Don’t count on your employer to take care of you, either.
  3. It’s not what you make.. but what you keep that counts.
  4. If you don’t invest in stocks, you won’t be financially prepared for retirement.
  5. Too much trading can be hazardous to your wealth.
  6. Trying to pick the best mutual fund is an exercise in futility.

 

American Girls

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americangirlsSocial Media and the secret lives of teenagers
By Nancy Jo Sales (2016)

The author writes very authentically on the idea of how social media affects American girls nowadays. It is very painful to read this book. It gives you a very sad picture of what is happening in America and the future generation.

If I ever have a child whether boy or girl (especially if its a girl), I will not want to raise him or her up in America.

The young teenage girls are crazy over Kim Kardashian and wants to be like her. Kim launches her book “Selfish”, a collection of selfies and nudes. It was Kim naked in a bathroom mirror, clutching her naked breast, leaning naked over a bathroom sink…

Kim had become social media’s biggest star. In 2006, she had just 856 friends on Myspace, now she had over 31 million followers on Instagram. Kim’s fame actually started due to a leaked sex tape with her boyfriend then. Kim successfully used the technological tools now available to almost everyone to get what everyone wanted. I find it very sad that the book even mentioned one line “You are a role model for my daughters,” said someone’s mother.

In a 2014 survey, YouTube Stars are more popular than mainstream celebs among U.S Teens.Beauty gurus are popular with American girls. Girls are more hookup on social media than guys. In a 2015 study at University College London found a possible link between anxiety in girls ages 11-13 and seeing images of women being sexually objectified on social media. Girls this age were more likely to feel nervous or show lack of confidence than they were 5 years ago. There is also a sharp spike in emotional problems among girls.

The problem of cyber bullying was prevalent too. Girls are more often the victims of cyberbullying than boys. Even on social media example Instagram pictures, if you don’t like or comment on them, someone can get offended and it can cause some drama.

I think America is a great country, but to read it in more details, it is very depressing. In fact, I only finished 3/4 of the book, and couldn’t continue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

High Income Guide

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highincomeguideBy Andrew Packer (2013)

This book is a very hands-on guide that really tells you specifically which are the things to buy in the context of America.

There are 3 financial sources in America to secure “golden years” – Social Security, retirement account and value of home.

Today’s retirees face significant headwinds especially in inflation. Albert Einstein calls “compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe. Inflation is also a compounding force. A dollar invested today, with interest re-invested, performs substantially better than if you don’t re-invest.

In a 1994 book “Stocks for long run”, Siegel’s research showed that over a long enough time period, returns on stocks with the dividends reinvested beat every other asset class hands-down.

These are some of the guides that the author provides. However, it may not be latest and things may change. Hence, take it with a pinch of salt.

  1. 3 Dividend giants safe for income : – Johnson & Johnson, Wal-mart and Cisco.
  2. 3 REIT : – Realty Income, Long term care type of REIT (skilled nursing properties), Annaly Mortgage (NLY)  etc.
  3. 3 Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) : – Kinder Morgan, Buckeye Partners, Boardwalk Pipeline Partners.
  4. 3 Trust Preferred Payout : = Nuveen Quality Preferred Income Fund (JTP), Goldman Sachs Preferred Series D, ING Perpetual Hybrid Trust.
  5. 3 Covered Call Opportunity : – ING Global Equity Dividend and Premium Opportunity Portfolio Fund (fund writes covered calls), Madison/Claymore Covered Call and equity Strategy fund, Blackrock Enhanced Dividend Achiever Trust.
  6. 3 Business Development Companies (BDC) : = Hercules Technologies Growth Capital, Ares Capital, Apollo Investment Corp.
  7. Currency Plays : – Aberdeen Asia Pacific Income Fund (FAX) – bond fund which is low risk and income oriented, some currencies trade in opposite direction of US$ :
    1. Currency Shares Australian Dollar Trust (FXA)
    2. Currency Shares Swedish Krona Trust (FXS)
    3. Currency Shares Mexican Peso Trust (FXM)

 

The Achievement Habit

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achievementhabit.pngBy Bernard Roth (2015)

This book gives ideas in area of design thinking to control our intentions to create habits that make our lives better.

Idea of design thinking principle :
1. Empathize : Whether you design, you are not primarily doing it for yourself. You are doing it with other people’s needs and desires in mind. Figure out the user’s experience and how to help.

2. Define the problem. Narrow down which problem you are going to solve or question you want to answer.

3. Ideate. Generate possible solutions using any means you like – brainstorming, mind mapping, sketching on napkins… however you work best.

4. Prototype. Without going crazy to make anything perfect (or even close to it), build your project in physical form, or develop the plans for what you’re going to enact.

5. Test and feedback.

Some other areas of thinking :
1. Nothing is what you think it is . You give everything its meaning.

2. Reasons are bullshit. You need to have bias towards action.

3. Getting unstuck. If you get stuck, try putting it aside for a while. Or take the time to explain exactly why you can’t solve the problem. The author’s friend created a handout, listing 22 things to try if you find yourself hitting the lamp post.

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4. Find assistance. If you want people to assist you, you should ask them and be a decent human being.

5. Doing is everything. Notice the difference between intention and attention, between trying to do something and actually building it.

 

6. Watch your language. Successful communication takes both intention and attention. It requires the explicit intention that the meaning be shared and also it takes the explicit attention to be sure it has been shared. Acknowledge other people’s issues. People want to know you heard them.

 

7. Group Habits. An effective group icebreaker is to divide class into pairs in which each tells the other what type of person she is; this provides good experience in both talking and listening. The more you reveal about yourself, the more people like you. It is ironic that we hide aspects of ourselves because we fear rejection. It is the hiding, not the revealing, that leads to rejection.

Apply these same ideas in a private conversation. Next time you are having a leisurely conversation, tell your acquaintance what type of person you think you are and then ask her to tell you about herself. Then go on to share the last time you could not sleep all night and ask your partner when that happened to her. From there start trading stories about the last time you had a good laugh, the last time you made a bad mistake, and so on. At the end notice how your relationship with the other person has been altered by the details you shared.

8. Self image by design. Make a list of your attributes. Ask yourself “Who are you”
Who am I in terms of what I have?
Who am I in terms of what I do?
Who am I in terms of my being?

You can use guided fantasy to assist you in examining who you are really are. Imagine getting off the plane and making your way to a bus. Take a short bus ride, and then imagine getting off the bus. Now, imagine a house in the distance, and walk towards that house. When you get to the house, explore the outside and then the inside, examining the details carefully. In speaking for the house and its possessions, you are describing yourself. This is an excellent way to look at yourself, because it is nonthreatening. It produces candid insights that might otherwise not be available from examination of one’s own self image.

 

9. Big picture – Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs it is the rule.

 

10. Make achievement your habit – The next time you are asked to do something, don’t spend too much time thinking. Simply charge ahead. Do this by taking the first idea that comes into your head and make a quick prototype.