Book Reviews

The American Experiment by David M. Rubenstein

The American Experiment is for all those who dream and wish to make it big and actually live the American Dream! The author touches upon topics of democracy, voting, equality( though he admits that it’s a work in progress), freedom of speech, peaceful transfer of power, rule of law, separation of powers, capitalism & entrepreneurship, immigration, diversity and a culture that allows everyone to pursue their dreams based on their ambitions, goals, skills, talent and hard work without much interference from the central or the state governments. Rubenstein uses “America’s 13 Key Genes” ( listed above) that he says have made the “American Experiment work” albeit with challenges and something with which the Country continues to fall short. The Civil War & Slavery, Reconstruction and its Jim Crowe Aftermath, Women’s Suffrage, Great Depression, WW-II, Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, The Watergate Scandal, 9/11 attacks, Iraq War, Gay Rights movement, Black Lives Matter Movement, to the ongoing COVID situation- warm, engaging conversations are used to bring forward perspectives of notable people from all occupations.

Actor Rita Moreno, a Puerto Rican immigrant, upon being asked about her legacy replies, “I would like people to think of me only in one way: she never gave up. Perseverance.” Judge Sotomayor continues to revoke the feelings of passion, commitment, dedication and hard work via her conversations.

All you dreamers-if you believe in yourself, if you love to listen to other people’s perspectives and that you know that you have the ability to create that dent- read the book! But remember that the American Experiment is clearly ongoing….

The book is a revelation, will debunk most of your B**LSH*T rules or as the author calls them BRULES and breaks the myth of hard work. The title sounds quite oxymoronic but the book tells you how to embrace the two archetypes- that of the Buddha and the other of the Badass. The Buddha is defined as “The person who can live in this world but move around with grace, ease and flow that come from inner awareness and alignment” and is certainly not being referred to as the literal Buddha, the enlightened one. On the contrary, the archetype of the Badass is someone who is out there “creating change, building, coding, writing, investing, leading. The Badass represents the benevolent disruptor.” In order to lead the life of your dreams, you need to blend the two. Be ready with a pen and paper as there are exercises at the end of each chapter that will force you to literally write, brood, re-write and finalize your mission on earth. Find your Soul-Print, Attract your Allies, Spark Deep Connections, Become an Unf***withable Masterpiece and Lead, says Lakhiani. He inspires readers by quoting one of his influencers, Roy Bennett- “Good Leaders have vision and inspire others to help them turn vision into reality. Great leaders create more leaders, not followers….” The book is a must read for people who want to succeed at work. You will be equipped with spiritual warfare and armory just so that you can uncover your purpose. Go break all rules, become Extraordinary!

The Buddha and the Badass by Vishen Lakhiani

The Hard Thing about Hard Things- Building a Business when there are no easy answers by Ben Horowitz

A book review after a long time. It does not mean that I was not reading all this while. Just felt that I needed to pause on this one and review. Start a business, own your freedom, be the boss. All sounds good but no one tells the amount of hard work that comes with it. Ben Horowitz does. He does not sugarcoat from beginning to end. No romanticization of running a business. Just plain simple truth. There is no formula or a recipe for running a successful business, no rule book, no guidelines. “As a CEO, there will be times when you feel like quitting,” Horowitz says. He quotes his former boss from Netscape, who said, “ We take care of the People, the Products, and the Profits- in that order.” Majority of the book focusses on working with people- how to hire them, how to train them and whether to poach them from friends’ companies. He lays emphasis on how hard it is to fire employees- friends or not.

The book is meant for budding entrepreneurs, startups and aspiring founders who wish to be CEOs one day. The author uses humor and tons of swear words to keep the interest going.

All in all, things don’t get easy once the venture’s all set up- Be prepared for things to become harder and the task uphill!

The book talks about a psychological paradigm of happiness and the author says that it is not pure relaxation in the form of sipping a glass of wine on a beach or a fancy holiday or that expensive house or a gift or a diamond or a ferrari or a partner or a boyfriend or a six figure salary or a CEO job role or having children that would help peak your human experience. As Flow says “The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something that we make happen.” Flow is “the zone” –that almost magical state of mind where you become completely absorbed in something very challenging, but possible. Because you are at the edge of your ability, it takes all of your mental energy to make progress.” So how do we get to this amazing state of mind? By focus, intense focus. In this world of distractions and social garbage, how do you focus and get those levels of attention so that you are in that continuous state of ‘flow’ or magic, I would say? The book is a good read if not a compulsive one.

“Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

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