Books Culture Principles

The marks of a rational person

Over the past 6 months I’ve been in the luxury position to take time to further center myself and better live my equilibrium.

Among other things I’ve continued to dive into stoicism (a journey that will never end). Meanwhile the Daily Stoic iBooks meditation is the first and last thing I read in bed every night and morning.

Over the last few days I’ve been thinking a log about this meditation:

These are the characteristics of the rational soul: self-awareness, self-examination, and self-determination. It reaps its own harvest. … It succeeds in its own purpose …

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 11.1-2

As Ryan Singer in the book mentioned above put’s it:

“First, we must look inward.

Next we must examine ourselves critically.

Finally we must make our own decisions – uninhibited or by bias”

I had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with trusted people and collect precious feedback. That resulted in positive affirmation for some things I had a gut feeling about.

And that helped me to be clearer in my thoughts and trust my gut feeling even more. So today, when I read the changes at Basecamp David and Jason at Basecamp announced, my heart was jumping to see how they have the guts to make decisions!

And my inner self was smiling because I’m generally strong in making decisions and much of what they decided on resonated with me (and I already had decided on). Partially out of rationale, partly out of gut feeling:

1. No more societal and political discussions … 

The work place I’m responsible for is a work place. It’s no family, and it’s no club. It’s as open and welcoming as possible. Regardless of sex, gender identity, nationality, color, race, religion, ancestry, national origin, citizenship, sexual orientation, age, marital status or disability.

Societal and political discussions are essential! And we should have more of them. But outside and disconnected from the workplace. Still we are one holistic individual, we’re not schizophrenic and turn off one character when we enter the work world. We should be authentic, but be very aware in which context / role we are acting every moment.

2. No more paternalistic benefits. 

I’ve tried to motivate / incentive employees to e.g. do more sports by paying fitness benefits. This felt good and at the time I was proud about it. But these things are highly individual choices and it isn’t the responsibility of the company to influence them.

However, in my personal feedback talks with employees I often referred to the “Wheel of Life” or “Wheel of happiness”. And that I like that concept and encourage people to assess their happiness state. However I made very clear that me and my business can only help in the areas “Business/Career” and partially “Personal Growth” and to some extend in “Finances”. The rest is happening outside work.

(found via google image search and copied from The Start of Happiness)

3. No more committees. 

There is a german saying: “Wenn du nicht mehr weiter weisst, gründe einen Arbeitskreis.”

A lot of committees take speed out of an organisation and discourage decision making. Decision making is vital. It’s up to a leader to take decisions that can’t be taken by individuals or a team. No need for additional overhead, just take a decision (or escalate it).

This is also slightly related to the non-politics or societal discussions at work. Not at my business. Google seems to have a strong culture for that (but also reaches it limits if the wine lovers group starts fighting the breast-feeding-moms or they disagree with the group of people bringing their dogs to work and the pastafarians). I believe in a world where all of these discussions are welcome, but outside the workplace.

4. No more lingering or dwelling on past decisions. 

Let me just quote and repeat what Jason wrote: “It’s time to get back to making calls, explaining why once, and moving on.”.

5. No more 360 reviews.

Yay! Finally. I’m happy I resisted to that trend for so many years. Constant manager/employee feedback it is. I promise, for the near future I’ll continue to stay away from them.

6. No forgetting what we do here. 

I believe in a world where each individual can make it’s own choices (as long it is in accordance with the law and not discriminating/hurting others – also see above). And it’s also everybody’s personal decision which movements to join and where to spend energy. But at my workplace we’re making mostly software and that’s a big enough problem to solve.


積ん読 – Tsundoku

Each language has some special words that can’t be translated to other languages. I think this expresses a lot the culture of these countries and people.

Japanese seems to be very powerful when it comes to describe things and situations. For example Haruki Murakami – one of my favorite authors – doesn‘t like to speak on stage in his mother tongue japanese. The reason? He needs to much brain power to think about the best/correct word among the different options to use in the sentences. This prevents him getting into the real flow of telling the story.

Long story short, I wanted to shares the books I‘m reading and even more plan to read. Then I remembered that there‘s a beautiful japanese word to describe books you‘ve bought, but not yet read:

Source: Open Culture

Books… written, condensed knowledge. We don’t read enough. We need to read more. Most of situations in life already happened once. And intelligent people focussed on describing these problems and solutions.

I plan to maintain the list and grow it – and as we move on also add more details/my review to the books.

If I’m linking to a book I’m not using affiliate links and I’ll link to my local books store or to the electronic version in the Apple ecosytem.

I’m reading/listening

  • What You Do Is Who You Are” by Ben Horowitz
    It’s a book about culture, using a couple successful examples from history and giving input on how to build your own company culture. So far I didn’t learn too many new things, but I’m only through by 1/4.

I (recently) read/listened to

  • Handbüchlein der stoischen Moral” by Epiktet (german e-book)
    After listening to “The Manual” (below) I wanted to have the written, german version of Epictetus (Epiktet). It’s a bit harder to read in the original translation, but I really like it.
  • The Manual” by Epictetus, Ancient Renewal and Sam Torode (Audiobook)
    Sam Torode did a great job to translate/transform the teachings of Epictetus into contemporary english. I out myself that like the concept of stoicism and try to live by it. Even if you say: “Oh, he’s now a philosopher” (Hint: read the book). I purchased the audio book – but I recommend the printed version as it’s really condensed information.
  • Never Split the Difference” by Chris Voss (Audiobook)
    I love negotiations and to learn more and more about it. For a long time I thought that the Harvard negotiation technique is the best way. But unfortunately not all negotiations are based on win-win situations. That’s where this book comes in. I know for sure I’ll enroll in Chris’ online class asap!
  • Playing To Win: How Strategy Really Works” by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin (Hardcover)
    After reading that book I decided to use the tools within as well. It totally makes sense. Highly recommended. You can also buy the tooling around it (video material, Powerpoint slides). We bought the whole package.
  • Verhandeln im Grenzbereich” by Matthias Schranner
    10 years ago I had the opportunity to be part of a negotiation training with Matthias. Unfortunately I had to cancel it in the last second. Since that time I wanted to learn more about his approach. Finally I saw Matthias Schranner on stage/in a workshop at bits&pretzels in Munich and decided to listen to his book afterwards.
  • Hit Refresh” by Satya Nadella
    Earlier this year I had the opportunity for a meeting with Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. And I wanted to be prepared and understand how he thinks. The book explains a lot about the “new” Microsoft.
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running“ by Haruki Murakami
    1.5 years ago I started to run. My sister gave me the book as she knew my love for Haruki Murakami. It’s really great to see how he’s connected to running.

I’ve purchased/got, but not yet read/listened to

My current Tsundoku – next to my bed.
  • The Most Important Point“ by Edward Espe Brown (Hardcover)
    Unfortunately I missed the cooking and meditation sessions with Edward at my sisters place so far. But his book is #1 on this list.
  • Die Spionin” by Paulo Coelho (german, Hardcover)
    Christmas present
  • A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoicism” by William B. Irvine (Audiobook)
    Nomen est omen.
  • Thanks For The Feedback“ by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
    I’m half way through – but other books took over. I should urgently finish it.
  • Growth“ by Vaclav Smil (Hardcover)
    present of Joe, advisor. seems like a pile of work 🙂
  • Hiring For Attitude” by Mark Murphy
  • “Reinventing Organizations” by Frederic Laloux
  • „Hippie“ by Paulo Coelho
  • „Der unbewußte Gott“ by Viktor Frankl
  • „Gewinnen um zu Siegen“ by Franz Vonier
  • „Together is better“ by Simon Sinek
  • „Tesla“ by Bernard Carlson

I consider to read/listen

Please let me know if you suggest a book by tweeting a reply!