The 3 Books To Start 2019 With

James “JP “ Poulter
Jan 3 · 5 min read

Whether you’re starting 2019 in a new role, a new business or just with a new outlook, here are my 3 recommended reads for kicking off the year.

1. Principles, Ray Dalio

Last year I took it upon myself to try and read a book a week and one of the key reasons I failed on that little goal pretty early on was this book. Not because it was bad — but quite the opposite.

Ray’s documentation of his Life and Work Principles is so densely packed with wisdom from a man who literally has had it all, lost it and built it back up again to run the largest hedge fund in the world,

I found myself re-reading and making notes on so many passages of these beautifully illustrated 500+ pages that I failed to move onto another work quickly enough.

One of the biggest takeaways for me was Ray’s take on decision making — which is particularly helpful when settings out goals, as so many of us do in January — Ray advocates “believability based decision making”.

Ray Dalio says, seek out the smartest people who disagree with you.

This is simply about starting out with a position of humility, remembering that 9/10 you won’t be the expert on a subject — therefore go to the most believable person you know for advice.

So many of us go into our own heads when we start out the year planning all we want to achieve — but resist that urge and get some wise counsel on those goals of yours.

Buy Principles here

2. Radical Candor, Kim Scott

As we start the year here at Vixen Labs, Jen Heape and I have been making lists of the things we want to bake into the year — including time with family, what we need for our own wellness like holidays and exercise.

Kim Scott advocated a model of challenging directly whilst caring deeply to achieve radical candor.

One of the key things we’ve identified early on when founding a startup is about how we give one another feedback. Co-founding is in many ways like becoming parents or getting married — you have to work out how to communicate with someone about not just the good, but the difficult and sometimes challenging. You’re going to have different communications styles, preferences for how to receive feedback and react differently to being challenged.

The best book I’ve ever read on this topic, and now a methodology we are trying to bring to bear at Vixen, not only with one another and with clients and partners, is Radical Candor. The model popularised by Kim Scott in her book is all about giving feedback and the practice she now teaches at Candor Inc.

Kim’s feedback principles are based on two axis:

She explains that if you get the balance of these right you achieve “Radical Candor” — a practice of being open with one another, giving direct and specific feedback with deep empathy and true care for the people involved.

If you’re starting the year thinking about the people in your organisation, if you’re a manager, leader or simply want better client and partners relationships this year — this should be on your list.

Buy Radical Candor here.

3. Bullshit Jobs, David Graeber

We all spend far more time in meetings that should have been emails, far more time answering emails that should have been texts and far more time answering texts, Slacks, and WhatsApps that should have been automated by a bot or Voice Assistant (ok admitting the bias here, but still…).

This is one of the key tenants of this final suggestion to start the year off with — Bullshit Jobs by David Graeber is a fascinating examination of the modern workforce and in particular professional class jobs with people sitting in offices reading things on Medium, like this.

If you’re reading this there’s a high likelihood you either now, or have at some point, worked in an office or business culture that has a lot of redundancy built in. People doing “busy work” or BS tasks like filling in time and expense reports, risk assessment forms and re-ordering post-it notes for a brainstorm no one wanted to attend.

In the book one of the big points David touches on is our Meeting Culture — which for many is the biggest time suck and wasted potential productivity we face today in the modern workplace.

By my rough calculations, the impact of bulls**t meetings to the UK economy based upon 10% of the time spent by the City of London office workers is over £2 Billion per year.

That’s a huge waste not only to the wider economy — but to your business and personal life.

So perhaps one of the resolutions for 2019 would be simply to have better meetings?

Well, that would be a good start — but perhaps more over is to look at what you plan to do in 2019 holistically and start the year with an intention (Jen’s current favorite word) to minimize the busy work and focus on outcomes, not just output.

Get Bullshit Jobs Here

So let’s put it into practice.

Let’s make 2019 the year we plan better, stick to our principles, look out for our people and be more productive. Happy 2019 to you.

If you found this useful or mildly entertaining I’d love it if you would comment below with your suggested reads, work principles or other intentions for 2019 so we can all share together. Accountability helps us all stick to our guns.

Vixen Labs

News and perspectives from the Vixen Labs team. Voice First Strategy, Experience and Marketing specialists.

James “JP “ Poulter

Written by

CEO and Co-Founder of Vixen Labs, Innovation and Marketing through voice and conversational technology. Professional Podcast Host & Speaker.

Vixen Labs

News and perspectives from the Vixen Labs team. Voice First Strategy, Experience and Marketing specialists.

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