March & April Combined Book Binge

Time for another recount of the content I’ve been consuming.  I missed my March post, so I figured it would be fine to do a combined effort.

First up:

The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin

In my last post I mentioned that I got a recommendation to tune in to Seth and got the opportunity to hear him firsthand on Design Matters.  Well, here’s the first full Seth book I’ve consumed and it didn’t disappoint.  If I had to describe what this book contains – I would say that it is a near manifesto for the modern artist.  The world is run by industrialists and the artist is trying to break through.

I appreciate how Seth frames the concept of an artist – he unpacks the term and invites or ENCOURAGES everyone to identify as such.  Being an artist means being emotionally invested, showing up, giving a shit.  That giving a shit, caring, connecting is ALL there is.  That you succeed in the world by connecting, by sharing your art.  These concepts and ideals resonate deeply with me.  He also explains how vulnerable and gutting it can be to live as an artist – something I’ve felt and experienced several times.

During the course of listening to this book I was on site with a client.  We got to a certain point, agreed on the direction and visualizations, then shared them with the broader team.  The broader team came heavy with design suggestions – most notable the green/red discussion came in to play.  I welcome these challenges and as an artist and communicator it is my responsibility to share my process, listen to feedback, and collaborate to find a solution.  That definitely occurred throughout the process, but honestly caused me to lose my balance for a moment.

As I reflected on what happened – I was drawn to this idea that as a designer I try to have ultimate empathy for the end user.  And furthermore the amount of care given to the end user is never fully realized by the casual interactor.  A melancholy realization, but one that should not be neglected or forgotten.

Moving on to the next book:

Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

This one landed in my lap because it was available while perusing through library books.

A quick read that talks about how to succeed in business.  It takes an extreme focus on being married to a vision and committing to it.  The authors focus on getting work done.  Sticking to a position and seeing it through.  I very much appreciated that they were PROUD of decisions they made for their products and company.  Active decisions NOT to do something can be more liberating and make someone more successful than being everything to everyone.

Last up was this guy:

Envisioning Information by Edward Tufte

A continuation of reading through all the Tufte books.  I am being lazy by saying “more of the same.”  Or “what I’ve come to expect.”  These are lazy terms, but they encapsulate what Tufte writes about: understanding visual displays of information.  Analyzing at a deep level the good, bad, and ugly of displays to get to the heart of how we can communicate through visuals.

I particularly loved some of the amazing train time tables displayed.  This concept of using lines to represent timing of different routes was amazing to see.  And the way color is explored and leveraged is on another level.  I highly recommend this one if the thought of verbalizing your witnessing of Tufte’s strong tongue-in-cheek style sounds entertaining.  I know for me it was.

Book Binge – December Edition

I typically spend the end of my year self reflecting on how things have gone – both the good and the bad.  Usually that leads me to this thoughtful place of “I need more books.”  For some reason to me books are instant inspiration and a great alternative to binge streaming.  They remind me of the people I want to be, the challenges I want to battle and conquer, and seamlessly entangle themselves into whatever it is I am currently experiencing.

Here are 3 of my binges this month:

First up: You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living Your Life by Jen Sincero

This is a really great read.  Despite the title being a little melodramatic (I don’t really believe that I’m not already a super badass, or that my greatness isn’t already infiltrating the world), Jen writes in a style that is very easy to understand.  She breaks down several “self help” concepts in an analytical fashion that reveals itself through words that actually make sense.  There’s a fair amount of brash language as well, something I appreciate in writing.

Backstory on this purchase:  I actually bought a copy of this book for me and 2 fellow data warriors.  I wanted it to serve as a reminder that we are badasses and can persevere in a world where we’re sometimes misunderstood.

To contradict all the positiveness I learned from Jen Sincero, I then purchased this guy: The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.  (Maybe there’s a theme here: I like books with profanity on the cover?)

Despite the title, it isn’t about how you can be indifferent to everything in the world – definitely not a guide on how to detach from everything going on.  Instead it’s a book designed to help you prioritize the important things, see suffering as a growth opportunity, and figure out what suffering you like to do on a repeated basis.  I’m still working my way through this one, but I appreciate some of the basic principles that we all need to hear.  Namely that the human condition IS to be in a constant state of solving problems and suffering and fixing, improving, overcoming.  That there is no finish line, and when you reach your goal you don’t achieve confetti and prizes (maybe you do), but instead you get a whole slew of new problems to battle.

Last book of the month is more data related.  It’s good old Tableau Your Data by Dan Murray + Interworks team.

I was inspired to buy this after I met Dan (way back in March of 2016).  I’ve had the book for several months, but wanted to give it a shout out for being my friend.  I’ve had some sticky challenges regarding Tableau Server this month and the language, organized layout, and approach to deployment have been the reinforcement (read as: validation) I’ve needed at times in an otherwise turbulent sea.

More realistically – I try to buy at least 1 book a month.  So I’m hoping to break in some good 2017 habits of doing small recaps on what I’ve read and the imprint new (or revisited) reads leave behind.