Most Influential Books On My Thinking – Nick Korte

Welcome to Bonus Episode 09 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we have the second of two bonus episodes about the books that shaped our thinking. This week, Nick talks about his book list.

Original Recording Date: 12-21-2019

Topics – Books that shaped our thinking – Nick Korte

Most book links are Amazon affiliate links. If you’re going to purchase one of these to read along with us, please consider purchasing through the link to support the podcast!

1:33 – Hope and Help for Your Nerves by Dr. Claire Weekes

  • Go back and listen to Bonus Episode 08 for the books that shaped John’s thinking.
  • Sometimes Nick gets nervous and anxious about things. Someone he went to church with gave him a copy of this book after recognizing these qualities.
  • The book talks about the mind / body connection when it comes to nervous illness.
  • One specific idea is the temptation to choose the nearest confidant when you need advice, can’t make a decision, or are too overwhelmed.
    • Wait, and go to a close friend (someone who knows you need advice) who can listen and talk you through the situation.
    • John says this temptation is likely there for anyone who likes to work things out by talking through it.
  • This one is a short, easy read.

4:23 – The Real-Life MBA by Jack and Suzie Welch

  • This book was mentioned in Episode 20 to frame the area of destiny concept.
  • Nick got this book at a conference, and it has a career section. In that specific section is where the area of destiny concept was explained and explored. Here are some nuggets from that section:
    • Is it work-life balance or work-life choice? The distribution of work time vs. personal time is different based on the individual.
    • The book cites reasons that careers stall (attitude, nowhere to go within the company, etc.).
  • The book emphasizes retention of top talent even through times that require a reduction in force to the point of offering top talent more money.
    • Top performers have the ability to leave by way of the fact that they are top performers.
    • Loving people on the way out just as you loved them on the way in is important regardless of circumstance.

7:34 – Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein

  • The book starts with an interesting comparison between Tiger Woods and Roger Federer and how each became a specialist in their respective sports.
  • A late blooming generalist can eventually become an excellent specialist despite the lack of a head start.
  • Epstein compares kind learning environments vs. wicked learning environments.
    • There are multiple examples in the book about expertise from one domain being applied into a different domain.
    • This reminds Nick of previous episodes like the one with Jimmy T. (Episode 35) about experience from the Minecraft community.
    • John chimes in and mentions this is cross-disciplinary application is what was stated in something he recommended from last week’s episode.
  • John has read The Sports Gene by David Epstein as well.
  • This book came across as an Audible recommendation.
  • Is specializing too early a mistake?
  • Nick makes a reference to synthesis from the cognitive domain of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

13:03 – Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath

  • This book defines itself as a compliment to The Tipping Point, which John mentioned last week.
  • The characteristics of sticky ideas are
    • Simple
      • Take a story from Southwest Airlines as an example of commander’s intent.
    • Unexpected
    • Concrete
    • Credible
    • Emotional
    • Story
  • These principles can help others understand why a project needs funding.

15:48 – Switch – How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

  • The specific things that are required to encourage and support change are:
    • Direct the rider (logical / rational)
    • Motivate the elephant (emotional)
    • Shape the path (supporting the continued change)

17:54 – Nuggets from Adrian Cockcroft’s Reading List

  • A Seat at the Table by Mark Schwartz
    • This is geared more toward those in IT. Read this before the next book.
  • War, Peace, and IT by Mark Schwartz
    • This is written more for non-technology business leaders.
  • Both books discuss the contractor / control model of IT (projects dictated, budget dictated) and its shortcomings.
    • Are requirements actually requirements or just hypotheses?
    • Plan for a plan to change. Use agile methodologies instead of waterfall methodologies.
      • Do any of us know what technology will look like in 24 months, for example?
      • What if delivery takes so long that no feedback can be given to help keep the work on track to providing a valuable outcome? Get successes or failures quickly so you can adjust.
    • Only successful projects should have funding terminated.
  • Mark Schwartz also wrote The Art of Business Value, which Nick has not yet read.

25:08 – The Power of When by Michael Breus

  • The author is a sleep psychologist, and the book helps readers classify their normal sleep patterns and how these can affect many aspects of our lives.
  • Nick started moving his caffeine intake to later in the morning as a result of this book.

27:38 – Enneagram Wisdom

  • The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile
    • This book gives some questions to ask yourself that can assist you in determining your number on the Enneagram. It also highlights what each number is like when they are healthy, average, and under stress.
  • The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships
    • There are stories about people who fit into each number category but also tips for interacting with people who fall into each number category.
  • The map is not the territory.
  • Kelly Schroeder mentioned StrengthsFinder as an option in Episode 59.

30:41 – Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron

  • This book made Nick want to work out more often but did not make him want to do Crossfit. It is told through the story of the Crossfit Games.
  • The separators between world class athletes are those of character, which Ben Bergeron believes can be learned.
  • Making goals defined by results lead to disappointment. Create goals based on effort (i.e. being able to do 100 sit-ups instead of doing them faster than someone else).
  • Nick’s favorite part is The Process, which is not so different from our episode on process over outcomes.
    • Can you become hyper-focused on the “right now?”
    • This reminds John of the two modes of thought (experiential and storytelling).
  • The book talks about how many people visualize the ideal version of success. Visualizing failure helps you prepare for any scenario. Preparing for ultimate success does not mean you should plan for everything going perfectly.

36:02 – Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

  • The writer was a FBI negotiator who developed an entirely new curriculum for negotiations.
  • Labeling situations / emotions forces the other person to evaluate whether something applies to them.
  • The tactics described in the book are extremely practical and helpful.

38:42 – Books by Eliyahu Goldratt

  • Both books are written as narratives.

  • The Goal

    • This is about the theory of constraints and lean manufacturing. Read it before pursuing The Phoenix Project and The Unicorn Project.
  • Critical Chain

    • This is about the theory of constraints as it relates to project management.
  • John is looking to read two books per month in 2020 and wants to add some of these to his list.

41:08 Wrap Up

  • Nick’s favorite book was…Range by David Epstein!

  • 42:03 We are working on a Nerd Journey bookshelf with books both we and our guests have recommended (currently under construction).

    • We plan to setup an affiliate link for the bookshelf (due to the way WordPress plugins work). Money that comes in will likely be for hosting our site and potentially travel to user groups in different areas.
    • If you see affiliate links in descriptions on our site, you will know.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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