7 books you should be reading
I’m a firm believer that you have to keep refining your current skill set and learning new tricks of the trade skills in order to evolve, stay at the top of your game, and forge ahead of your competition. Reading, listening to audiobooks and podcasts can help you keep up with the most recent research and industry trends. These are the books that I have read recently and think you should to. They will change the way you think of the future and will prepare you to adopt an exponential mindset.
1. The Singularity is near: When Humans Transcend Biology (2005) by Ray Kurzweil
This book by innovator, inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil encompasses three decades of knowledge that culminated in him establishing Singularity University in 2008 alongside Peter Diamandis. The singularity is a reference to the theoretical limitlessness of exponential development that will see our bodies and biology merge with exponential technologies and advancements in biology, medicine, nanotechnology and robotics to create a super human species that is not as susceptible to ageing, genetic disorders and disease. Kurzweil is a steadfast advocate for the role of technology in our future and human evolution.
While this book may be hard reading for those unfamiliar with the concepts of Singularity University, it’s worth reading as an introduction to the exponential mindset. The Los Angeles Times said it “Artfully envisions a breathtakingly better world”.
2. Get Abundance: Why your future is brighter than you think (2012) by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
Peter Diamandis, co-founder of Singularity University, believes that the widespread adoption of exponential technologies – in our everyday lives and businesses – will help humans make more technological progress in the next two decades than we have witnessed in the last two centuries.
In this New York Times bestseller he outlines how exponential technologies, such as artificial intelligence, nanomedicine, renewable energy, robotics, automation and mechanisation will help to solve some of the world’s grand challenges, such as poverty, water and food security, poor education, disaster relief, and will ensure our future progress in space travel and longevity.
Diamandis explains how exponential technologies can help us move from an era of scarcity to live abundant lives. In this book, he and co-author Steven Kotler introduce countless scientists, innovators, changemakers and industry leaders, such as Steven Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Joy and Ray Kurzweil, among others, to give the reader an idea of what they can expect in the coming decades.
3. Principles: Life and Work (2017) by Ray Dalio
“Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life,” says author, inventor and entrepreneur Ray Dalio. This #1 New York Times bestseller explores key principles that any individual or business should adopt to better achieve their goals. These principles are based on his establishment of investment firm, Bridgewater Associates, which landed him on Time magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
I love his concept of an idea meritocracy, which inspires meaningful work as well as radical truth and transparency in the work environment. Though some find his approach quite brash, it gets results and ensures employee accountability and productive outputs. The book outlines hundreds of practical lessons that he learned in his four-decade-long career and explains how to tackle tough decisions, approach controversial challenges, and build a strong network of team members. No wonder Dalio has been called the Steve Jobs of investing.
4. So good they can’t ignore you: Why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love (2012) by Cal Newport
Cal Newport believes that the cliché “follow your passion” is very bad advice. Instead his mission is to explore how people end up loving their jobs, but for reasons other than passion. In the book he explains the time he spent with freelance computer programmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters and organic farmers to discover that passion is a by-product of hard work and dedication once someone becomes a master in their field of expertise. It’s all about how you do it, not what you do, according to Newport.
This is the perfect book for anyone who is troubled by the trajectory of their career path, often job hops and is restless about their future. Newport will help you realise that not everyone can or should be scientist, doctor or engineer, instead he will help you appreciate your profession and create work that you love and can be proud of.
5. Algorithms to live by: The computer science of human decisions (2016) by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
This book is all about algorithms and how they can be applied to our everyday lives to save us time, energy and unnecessary headaches, as well as to optimise our decision-making processes. Cognitive scientist Tom Griffiths discovers the optimal ways in which to go about mundane yet important daily decisions, such as finding a life partner, organising your inbox or cupboard, finding a parking space at the mall, as well as untangling complex challenges and the best way to deal with tricky situations.
This book lies at the intersection of computational models as well as human psychology and philosophy. It aims to help the reader refine their decision-making processes, find balance, and learn when to leave certain things to chance.
6. Stealing Fire (2017) by Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler
Everyone wants to know the shortcut to being a high performer, wealthy, more productive and successful. But authors Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler discover that it is not just about hard work, long hours, or mastering as Malcom Gladwell put it the 10 000-hour rule in your area of expertise. Four years of intensive research has led them to discover that tapping into altered states of consciousness can help you outpace your competitors, as has been proven by some of the world’s most successful individuals and organisations. It’s that silver bullet that everyone is searching for.
This book is a gamechanger. It utilises psychology, neurobiology, pharmacology and technology to provide insight into how to hack the neurobiological science of key performance, creativity and output by shifting your consciousness at will.
7. Homo Deus (2015) by Yuval Noah Harari
Penned by professor Yuval Noah Harari, this book is a sequel to Sapiens: A brief history of Humankind. It considers how humans have evolved to become the dominant species on Earth, the skills we have acquired and refined over millennia, as well as our quest to become super human and almost invincible in the future.
He suggests what the future will look like based on our present and past, and hints at certain future possibilities whether they be idyllic or dystopian. He delves into the question of the next step in our evolution – how we can overcome death and create artificial life.
Harari concludes the book with the following question, “What will happen to society, politics and daily life when non-conscious but highly intelligent algorithms know us better than we know ourselves?”