Friday, July 27, 2018

Review: Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting

Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Bringing Up Bébé is full of the collective parenting wisdom of the French, not just from luminaries such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Walter Mischel and Françoise Dolto (who was also covered extensively in the book), but also from Druckerman’s interview subjects who offered many interesting anecdotes.

However, this is not a recommendation to ditch your parenting approach in favour of the French way of parenting, which might sound a tad too laissez-faire, if everything in her memoir is accurate. There are also some things that you might not readily agree because of what you’ve read elsewhere (e.g. the part about praising your kids). Read this book less to be inspired, more to be entertained. One annoying thing, though, is the author’s tendency to use transitional words like “au contrariaire”, “to the contrary” almost ad nauseam.

This edition also comes with “Bébé Day by Day: 100 Keys to French Parenting”. If you’re too lazy to read the entire book, you can skip to this section, which provides a gist of practically everything you would have read.

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Saturday, July 07, 2018

Review: Unscalable

Unscalable Unscalable by Charlie Guo
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Quite a number of the interview responses were not particularly insightful and most of the case studies were boring as hell to read. If you're curious about startups and their journeys, I would recommended checking out the StartUp podcast by Gimlet Media instead.

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Review: The Good Dad: Becoming the Father You Were Meant to Be

The Good Dad: Becoming the Father You Were Meant to Be The Good Dad: Becoming the Father You Were Meant to Be by Jim Daly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As someone who grew up under similar circumstances (i.e. without a father), I can totally relate to what Jim Daly, President and CEO of Focus on the Family, wrote in his book. The religious overtones may turn you off, but don’t let it.

Some people may also find it ironic that a guy who has had a dysfunctional childhood would go on to become president of Focus on the Family. Like Steve Jobs, Daly didn’t simply connect the dots when he joined the organisation. Instead, his turbulent childhood convinced him the critical importance of fathers, if only they’d shown up.

While one of the traditional duties of a father that hasn’t changed too much is that of primary disciplinarian, the author argues that disciplinary methods need to be supportive, rather than punitive. To do so, he suggests that we should cut down on the number of rules because the more rules children have to follow, the more opportunities they have to break one.

At the end of each chapter, there are several thought-provoking questions to think about. These are useful for self-reflection and for charting the direction you would like to take in your fathering role.

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Saturday, June 09, 2018

Review: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like Carol Dweck in her book "Mindset", Greg McKeown separates people into two camps - the essentialists and the non-essentialists. Sadly, the real world is not as black and white.

Unlike Dweck, McKeown explains his "theory" with well-supported reasoning so the examples used by him to illustrate his points do not seem as forced. However, the constant repetition of the difference between essentialists and non-essentialists does make him sound like he's flogging the same horse over and over again. In other words, the author could have walked the talk by focusing on the essential stuff.

Love the corollary to the 10,000-hour rule made popular by Malcolm Gladwell though.

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Friday, June 08, 2018

Review: Grit

Grit Grit by Angela Duckworth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So apart from delayed gratification being a predictor of future success, as documented in Walter Mischel’s book The Marshmallow Test, “grit” – a special blend of passion and perseverance, does the same thing too. Well, at least that’s what Angela Duckworth seems to imply in her book.

Drawing from her studies, Duckworth found that grittier adults were more likely to get further in their formal schooling. Does that mean people like Steve jobs and Bill Gates were not gritty enough?

I doubt so. High achievers not only have determination, they have direction. Duckworth explains that grit isn’t just about working incredibly hard. Although half of grit is perseverance, “nobody works doggedly on something they don’t find intrinsically interesting”.

One gripe I have about books of this nature is that there are lots of cross-referencing to other researches, e.g. Carol Dweck’s study on fixed/growth mindset. Unfortunately, the relevance of some examples to her own study on grit was lost on me.

Duckworth’s research may be less technical and less conclusive compared to Mischel’s decades of marshmallow tests, but her book is an entertaining read and you probably don’t need a lot grit to pull through the 300+ pages.

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