Blog Posts of Books

Switch- How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Book title: Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

  1. Four main factors for a decision
  • This book teaches how make a change through the image of a rider, directing an elephant, on a path from A to B.
  • The rider is the rational (often problem-focused and over-researching) mind
  • The elephant is the emotional (sometimes out-of-control) side, and
  • the path is shaping the situation (badly done may freak the two previous parts and make things complicated).
  • your environment
  1. To direct the rider to do something, you can
    • 1) Find the bright spot; (go through your past experience and find instances in which something was working for you)
    • 2) script the critical moves; (have to give detailed instructions)
    • 3) point to the destination.
  2. To motivate the elephant, you can:
    • 1) find the feeling; (making people feel something - fear, compassion, indignity, absurdity, anything. )
    • 2) shrink the change; (break down the change into manageable size)
    • 3) grow the people. (by cultivating an identity; and the growth mindset.)
  3. To shape the path
    • 1) tweak the environment; (make easier to do one thing over another)
    • 2) build habits; ( “action triggers”, checklists)
    • 3) rally the herd. (behavior is contagious; social pressure effectively like stand-up meetings; Having spaces for people to talk and rally.)

Quiet- The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

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  • A must read and an eye-opener.
  • Being an introverted person, this book helps me understand many social phenomenas that have puzzled me for years!

  • Interesting concepts to take away:

  • Be true to yourself, and try to get into situations that play well with your personality, rather than forcing uncomfortable situations.
  • A list of positive characteristics are attributed to introverts, such as creativity, depth, focus, value-driven instead of reward-seeking and etc.
  • The biggest difference between introverts and extroverts is how they respond to stimuli!

  • The first part of the book “The Extrovert Ideal,” discussed the historical creation of the “Culture of Personality” and the author’s views that introverts are highly undervalued, particularly in leadership positions.

  • The second part of the book “Your Biology, Your Self?” used scientific evidence to explain a so-called “rubber band theory” of personality, meaning that we are elastic and can stretch ourselves beyond our innate traits, but only within certain limits.

  • The third part “Do All Cultures Have an Extrovert Ideal?” stated that many cultures do not emphasize traits, such as class participation, as a measure of success.

  • The fourth Part “How to Love, How to Work,” discussed the potential difficulties in communication between introverts and extroverts, how to foster traits such as depth and sensitivity, rather than trying to force introverted children to be extraverted.

Algorithms to Live By- The Computer Science of Human Decisions

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  • A must read for computer science graduates.
  • Not an easy read. But definitely worth to read for multiple times.
  • Lots of knowledge and insights compiled in an applicable manner.

  • Interesting principles/concepts to take away:
  1. Optimal Stopping: 37% rule of “optimal stopping” (when to stop looking and just commit);
  2. Explore/Exploit: The Latest vs. the Greatest (how to perform AB test: Explore/Exploit is better than random test; chance of finding a new gem vs. certainty of enjoying a known)
  3. Sorting: Making Order (last recently used-LRU sorting as an efficient strategy for searching; soccer tournament as robust sorting)
  4. Caching: Forget About It (layered caches as metaphor for human memory, like “cache miss”)
  5. Scheduling: First Things First
  6. Bayes’s Rule: Predicting the Future by considering priors (p. 128)
  7. Overfitting: When to Think Less (when interpreting data: prefer simple accuracy to complex precision)
  8. Relaxation: Let It Slide (constraint relaxation as a technique)
  9. Randomness: When to Leave It to Chance (cases of the importance and usage of sampling)
  10. Networking: How We Connect (buffer-bloat: when backlog bad, best to reject all incoming requests until it clears)
  11. Game Theory: The Minds of Others (e.g., exponential back-off, double your wait time before trying again); Computational Kindness p. 256 (by reducing the options on the table as a good strategy to help people communicate and collaborate)

Triggers-Creating Behavior That Lasts--Becoming the Person You Want to Be

  1. Our behaviors are usually the result of unappreciated triggers in our environment—the people and situations that lure us. These triggers are constant and relentless and omnipresent. But we have a choice in how we respond.

  2. Good things happen when we ask ourselves. Discovering what really matters is a gift, not a burden.

  3. When we have structure, we don’t have to make as many choices; we just follow the plan. And we’re not being depleted as quickly.

  4. People are visionary Planners but blurry-eyed Doers. Awareness and engagement: Trigger - Impulse – Awareness – Choice – Behavior Bridging the gap between the visionary Planner and the short-sighted Doer in us.
    • e.g., Meeting Questions: Where are we going? Where are you going? What is going well? Where can we improve? How can I help you? How can you help me?
  5. Forecasting the Environment: Anticipation. Avoid. Adjustments.

  6. Daily Questions – reinforce our commitment. They ignite our motivation where we need it, not where we don’t. They highlight the difference between self-discipline and self-control. They shrink our goals into manageable increments.
  • a simple “magic bullet” solution in the form of daily self-monitoring, hinging around what he calls “active” questions.
  • These are questions that measure our effort, not our results.
  • the six “engaging questions” that can help us take responsibility for our efforts to improve

  • Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  • Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
  • Did I do my best to find meaning today?
  • Did I do my best to be happy today?
  • Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  • Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

Outliers- The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Personal success depends on

  • Special Opportunities
  • Street smart, social Savvy about knowledge how to talk/communicate with people and authorities - general intelligence
  • Parents’ guidance: wealthy parents arranging more activities for children / signaling children’s talents / talk through reasoning with children/ not intimidated by authorities / give children entitlement to negotiate/ assert themselves/
  • Right timing / not too late not too early/ with the right opportunity available/
  • Family trajectory: e.g.,meaningful work with rewards/
  • culture where from / even many generations above / e.g. Culture of honor: / e.g., South Korean airline crushes- rule of culture / categorize cultures: how much individual expects to care themselves, expects to follow rules/
  • power distance index: how cultures expects to respect authorities/ expects to respect seniors. / low pdi, e.g. USA / high pdi, e.g. Brazil/ High PDI , up to listeners to understand the meanings, not effectively if from lower level to authority level ; up to the authorities to solve the issues / Low PDI , up to the speakers to deliver the message clearly
  • duration of learning: Kids from Wealthy and poor families differ academically because of summer. Summer should be used in studies. / enough study time is the key, e.g. Keep program. / e.g. China rice industry make Chinese long history to cherish hard meaningful work with rewards
  • In the end, the author provided an explanation of family/ the education history of the author’s mom / the explanation of comedians from outsiders/

The Coaching Habit- Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

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  • Seven essential questions: / less advises / more curiosity / ask one question at a time / get comfortable with silence for 3 seconds

  1. Q1. What’s on your mind? / coaching for performance: / coaching for development: rare, more powerful / silence is ok / 3P model: Project: People: Pattern
  2. Q2. And what else? (3 to 5 times)
  3. Q3. What is the real question or challenge here for you:/ focus question/ stop yourself to jumping to providing solutions, slow down to get the real problem /coaching is about the mentored, not other things
  4. Q4. What do you want? Really want? / Foundation question / the fundamental functions of brain: 5 times a second to scan situations as environmental safe or not / clear expectations? High Rank speaker ? Autonomy, some self choices?
  5. Q5: how can I help? / do not be a rescuer / overuse term: strategic plans only on top shelf/ be very clear what to fully committed to / yes is nothing without a clear definition of no /==> use 3P models to choose necessary NO: what projects to avoid / what people you do not need to manage / what patterns to avoid/ say YES MORE slowly after better understanding
  6. Q6: Stay curious and ask: ==> planning: 1. What is our winning aspirations?; 2. What and where impact? Where do we play? 3. How will we win? 4. What capabilities need to have? How to become and stay as strength : 5. What to measure? What management design? ==> strategic question: / say YES to work meaningful for you and important/
  7. Q7: what was the most useful to you? / what did you learn? / ==> the learning question: people only learn when in double-loop, in the second loop reflecting the thing in the first loop. This is because Brain has very low retention rate in learning/ neural model: AGES MODEL for longer term memory: attention, generation, emotion, and spacing! / use Generation strategy here: ask the mentored to generate questions from yours, to interrupt forgetting/
  • Formula How to trigger New habits:
    1. short and specific cue->ask questions in all possible channels, e.g. Ask talks or meetings (a strong and positive way to finish a conversation) /
    2. rewards->clear of the payoff /
    3. micro-habit that can finish in less than five seconds to do- / when habit breaks down- be resilient and return / nothing stronger than habits
    4. Five types of triggers: time, location, people, actions / starts from easy, small / Coaching, weekly checking, 3/months checking,
  • The end : author recommends a list of great books **

Option B, Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

Five things To build resilience when facing Adversity:

1. Personalization, Pervasiveness, Permanence

From the book: “We plant seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events. After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that three P’s can stunt recovery: (1) personalization-the belief that we are at fault; (2) pervasiveness-the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and (3) permanence-the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever,”

2. Kick The Elephant Out Of The Room

The book wrote: there is a lot of evidence that speaking about traumatic events improves mental and physical health, helps people understand their own emotions and feel understood by others.

3. Self-Confidence & Self-Compassion   From the book: “ I didn’t have to aim for perfection. I didn’t have to believe in myself all the time. I just had to believe I could contribute a little bit more…Over the years, this lesson has stuck with me whenever I feel overwhelmed.“

4 Suggest to write down three things did well every day. From the book: “gratitude is passive: it makes us feel thankful for what we receive. Contributions are active: they build our confidence by reminding us that we can make a difference”

5. Pay Attention To Joy From the book: “Rather than waiting until we’re happy to enjoy the small things, we should go and do the small things that make us happy. ” When you seize more and more moments of happiness, you find that they give you strength.

6 The rest of the book is about how to raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces.

The Happiness Hypothesis- Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

  1. great idea of thinking self as a logical rider + an elephant (hard to control)
  2. suggest three ways to change/guide the “elephant”-self
    • meditation
    • cognitive therapy, like using music
    • medication
  3. social Happiness: understanding the deep workings of reciprocity can help to solve problems
  4. confirmation bias, thinking about our own fault, do not treat self too seriously
  5. happiness: = set point + condition + voluntary activities
    • set point and life condition are mostly hard to change factors
    • external conditions bad for happiness: noise / lack of control / shame / …
    • key to finding your own gratification is to know your own strengths
    • doing challenging and achieving things make you happy!!!
  6. great summary of insightful nuggets from URL
    • e.g., Pleasure comes more from making progress toward goals than from achieving them.
    • e.g., Haidt’s belief that the chief causes of evil are moral idealism and high self-esteem.
    • e.g., Wisdom is the ability to adapt, to shape the environment, and to know when to move to new environments.
    • e.g., The three levels of work are a job, a career, and a calling. The more autonomy at work, the more happiness.
    • e.g., Vital engagement in the world leads to love made visible, which is a sign of deep happiness. Work that does good for others and that leads to income and recognition will enhance happiness.
    • e.g., Eastern views and conservative politics focus on the collective, while Western views and liberal politics tend to focus on the individual.

Zero to One- Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

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  • Inspiring
  • 0 to 1 vs. 1 to n

The Lean Startup- How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

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  • a great read, powerful, logical



Thinking Fast and Slow


The Power of Habit- Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

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  • a very powerful book to help you understand human behaviors.
  • Habit = cue + reward + craving
  • change of habit <=
    1. a replacement habit process that follows similar cue+reward
    2. the replaced process can create a sense of craving as well
    3. true belief

The 7 Habits of Effective People

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  • practical, Effective and easy to follow

1 - Be Proactive 2 - Begin with the End in Mind 3 - Put First Things First 4 - Think Win-Win 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood 6 - Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork 7 - Balance and renew energy and health for a long-term development


  • URL
  • practical, concrete
  1. Different types of goals
    • getting better goal works if you want to enjoy some tasks
    • what goal for difficult tasks
    • why goal for simple tasks
    • when speed matters, use promotion goal
    • when you want to do something flawlessly, use prevention goal
  2. prevention type vs promotion type

  3. three basic needs: relatedness / competence / autonomy (freedom of choices)
    • prevention mind — too much confidence not good
    • prevention goal to cure procrastination
    • whenever goal controlled by others, will suffers
    • when need creativity, promotion and self-chosen
    • when resist temptation, prevention goal / why goal
  4. to help others accomplish goals:
    • give choices -> joint decision
    • open written contracts -> clearly stating why value / give positive trigger cues , e.g. Positive words or poster of role models ,
    • framing the goals, promotion by listing a list of achievements OR preventing by providing a list of potential losses
    • framing the evaluations , e.g., be better goal /
  5. how to achieve goals:
    • constant self-monitoring
    • if-then derailed plans
    • self-control muscle need exercises !!!
    • not two goals at a time
    • maintain sugar level -protein
    • do not even start bad temptation
    • not too confident, aware difficulty
    • associating with rewards /
  6. how to praise :
    • focus on detailed facts/ on efforts on strategy, not on ability
    • do not compare / praise to keep antonym / praise using goals that are possible to achieve /
  7. habit: cue (when,where,who,action) / process / reward

So Good They Cannot Ignore You- Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

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  • Intuitive, light-read, Interesting
  1. Only following Passions is a bad idea
  2. The idea of Career capital - rare and valuable skills need deliberate practice
  3. A sense of control is important
  4. Do remarkable things like painting purple cow


  • URL
  • powerful, Effective
  1. a sense of in control, making choices improves motivation
  2. Team safety/ culture, making all team members possible to participate and make suggestions
  3. Mental models to increase focus/ Focus by envision/ imagination
  4. Stretching long-term goals + smart achievable goals
  5. Use forecasting/probability by considering outcomes/rewards to improve decision making
  6. Creativity: thinking carefully of own past, be humble to idea crisis, add diversity/ disturbance
  7. absorbing data through hard action / do something hard on the knowledge (because it makes you learn more);
  8. Use engineering design framework for any problem/decision making - think forward of possibilities


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  • A great read, eye opener
  • Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

Lean In- Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

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  • Inspiring, a life-changing book

How to Win Friends and Influence People

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  • Eye opener, a life-changing book
  • Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
    • Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
    • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
    • Arouse in the other person true interests.

Grit- The Power of Passion and Perseverance

  1. Goal hierarchy
  2. When being compared with the construct of persistence, grit adds a component of passion for the goal
  3. With hope / with purpose/ with calling
  4. Growth mindset

Crucial Conversations

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  • Powerful, A must-read, Interesting

A Brief History of Time

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  • Educational, Intuitive


On Writing well

Useful Books about Family

How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

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  • Mentoring has a close connection to raising up children. I like this book which gave me many insights about mentoring.

Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood


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  • A wonderful children book. Touching, moving and encouraging.


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  • Touching, powerful, and a must-read for the first-generation immigrant Family

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

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  • Funny, powerful and an eye opener.

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts

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  • By Dr. Gary Chapman, who five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

The 7 Habits of Effective Family

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  • Useful, practical, and Effective
  • Genius concept of “Emotional Bank”

Other Useful Books

The millionaire next door

Rich dad poor dad

Thinking and grow rich

48 Laws of Power

The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife” by James Hollis

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  • “In Projection and Re-Collection in Jungian Psychology, Marie-Louise von Franz notes five stages of projection. First, the person is convinced that the inner (that is, unconscious) experience is truly outer. Second, there is a gradual recognition of the discrepancy between the reality and the projected image (one falls out of love, for example). Third, one is required to acknowledge this discrepancy. Fourth, one is driven to conclude one was somehow in error originally. And, fifth, one must search for the origin of the projected energy within oneself. This last stage, the search for the meaning of the projection, always involves a search for a greater knowledge of oneself.”

  • “In asking more of ourselves, we forego disappointment in others for not delivering what they could never deliver; we acknowledge that their primary responsibility, just like ours, is their own journey. We become increasingly aware of the finitude of the body and fragility of all things human. If our courage holds, the Middle Passage brings us back to life after we have been cut off from it. Strangely, for all the anxiety, there is an awesome sense of freedom as well. We may even come to realize that it does not matter what happens outside as long as we have a vital connection with ourselves. The new-found relationship with the inner life more than balances losses in the outer. The richness of the soul’s journey proves at least as rewarding as worldly achievement.”