I started listening to more audiobooks now that I have more chores as a stay-at-home dad. Starting to read again changed how I see the world for inspirations, how I see the good in people and things, what it means to create for the world, and what it means to live for other people. I’d agree as Gandhi once said, “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.” How we present ourselves is really a direct reflection of our mind, our subconscious. Our life is the message to the world. Make sure it’s inspiring.


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1. The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. by Daniel Coyle

Coyle reveals in this book the secrets for developing autonomy and mastery which rely on a substance called myelin in our brain: The more we execute/practice a skill, our brain will create more myelin associating with the certain part of our physical body. Coyle studied top soccer players, violinists, fighter pilots, artists, and bank robbers to support his hypothesis. Coyle also discusses the concept of “deep practice” for achieving mastery — it is the idea of 10,000 hours of deliberate training focusing on techniques, constant critical feedbacks, and overcoming weaknesses. The book explores the potential of human growth for greatness. Coyle’s core finding believes that a genius is not born but made.


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2. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Ackor

Ackor brilliantly captures the spiritual essence of “success”. “Happiness comes before success” is a concept that never had occurred to most; we live in a society where we believe success brings alone happiness, and such culture in fact blinds us from the very motivation that cultivates our intellectual and spiritual capacities. The author goes beyond empirical arguments and presents thought-provoking experiments that proves we indeed first must learn how to be happy before we can “excel in a world of increasing workloads, stress, and negativity.” Ackor is on a mission to building a better future for the next generation. Catch one of his TED talk for a more inspired introduction.


3. Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Kahnerman is on a crusade to unravel the secrets of the human mind. He studied the brain as two distinct entities: One is the intuition, and the second, reasoning. He looks into the danger of fast bias thinking that bases on lack of information and offers practical insights into how we can make better choices in business and our personal lives. The book is 30 years of research, experiments and observations; this book is many books in one that inspires quite a few recent works on the subject such as Predictably Irrational, Decisive, Blink, and many other behavior economy books. What you will get out of this book is a brand new way of thinking about thinking applicable to almost all areas of life.


4. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

This biography of Steve Jobs covers almost every details about Jobs’ life while focusing primarily on his journey as a product developer. As an entrepreneur, it is such a humble experience to witness and learn his process through each project cycle. One of the most innovative trait I picked up was how he focuses on the process more than the end result: He believes innovation is hidden in places where people can’t see, and that a product’s shell is merely the reflection of the creators’ attitude and beliefs. Being one of the most inspiring tech role models, he’s serving quite a distasteful exemplary for future entrepreneurs regretfully on the style of management: Jobs inspires through confrontations. He’s a genius who protects not the status quo but his ego and throne should he feel his visions deserve light. Since his passing, I started to hear more and more corporate managers start following Jobs’ footstep. There are a lot of influential figures who didn’t impose Steve’s tyrannical management style and still achieved greatness. For example, Gandhi, Lincoln, or Confucius. I think the personality works for Steve and Apple in a specific way. I love both Steve Jobs and the book just be sure to draw the light not shadows.


5. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Publisher’s description: At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society—from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Cain’s message to all introverts declares that you’re not different nor are you less competent. She investigates and discusses traits shared by successful introverts throughout history to inspire us to harness our internal innovation rather than trying so hard to be an extrovert. As an introvert myself, this book inspires great confidence in me for living a better life and to change the world. Watch her empowering TED talk to get a more thorough understanding of her quest to restore the introverted ideals. Here’s a RSA Youtube short that illustrates a briefer and more entertaining version of her work.