Category Archives: Book Review

Tidying Up

I read a lot in 2015, but this one was an odd selection for me. The target audience is obviously women in small, city apartments . But my wife read it first and said it helped so I gave it a shot. Basic premise is the following:

  1. Discard what you don’t LOVE.
  2. Fold properly.
  3. Most importantly, have an EXACT location for everything you own.

Simple enough, until you go through your things and say “I might need this sometime in the future.” “I wore this in High School, I can’t get rid of it!” Sure enough the book goes through many of the inevitable (and surprisingly rigid) excuses you will come up with to keep things.

I think knowing EXACTLY where to put everything – like a pair of socks, instead of throwing them on the floor next to the bed or jamming a random t-shirt into any available drawer – had a big effect on me. Before, I liked things “put away” which means I’d gather everything on the ground and jam it behind the closet door or take everything off the desk and put it in any drawer. It would be out of sight but I would know, behind this door lies a huge mess! More importantly, after about a month, I am continuing with the process, putting everything away where it’s supposed to go. An effort I had failed in the past.

I found the process a bit difficult but extremely worthwhile task. I can’t explain EXACTLY what changed but something did, perhaps a greater sense of order and calm? Whatever it did, it worked on me and I consider myself a fairly pessimistic individual. Try it and see what happens!

End Result. #Zen



Book Reco: Simple Rules — How to Thrive in a Complex World

Simple Rules

It’s somewhat reminiscent of “The Checklist Manifesto“, the authors argue that simple rules can enhance process in complex systems such as medical care, sports nutrition, online dating, poker, and stock market investing. I don’t think there is anything groundbreaking but it’s an interesting read, especially the examples and stories.

Some highlights as it relates to trading/finance:

A simple 1/n rule in portfolio allocation outperforms traditional mean-variance optimization. Some light reading on the subject can be found here but let’s just say 1/n provides more robustness over optimal when the future is uncertain.

Raghu Shukla become a professional-level poker player in under 2 years and used the following simple rules:

1) Limit loss per game. He only had enough cash at the game he was comfortable losing.

2) FOCUS ON PROCESS OVER OUTCOME. I LOVE this rule, if he played hands well and even if he still lost money he would buy an Oreo Milk Shake. If he played poorly, even if he won money, he couldn’t eat fast food for two weeks. Process > Results.

3) He only wanted to play ‘easy’ games so he would bet small for about an hour at the table to find out if he was the shark or the fish. This is a bit tougher to do in investing but I could see some value when it comes to certain special situations, distressed, or merger arbitrage situations. If an insider or judge controls the fate of a situation, perhaps it’s best to pass…

There’s a lot more interesting examples of rules in the book from a wide variety of sources. I would recommend it for light reading.

Book Reco: “The Lessons of History” by Will & Ariel Durant

History Channel
History Channel

Nice quick read, about 120 pages, on well…the lessons of history. I read the 1970s version so Russia was prominent but the author seemed to call the rise of the BRICS (bit too early), income inequality, even rising acceptance of LGBT. It can be at times politically incorrect, but merely reporting on what has been written by philosophers, politicians, scientists of the past. Some highlights:

Income Inequality is the norm, not the exception. Most humans throughout time have lived in unequal times. And that is the way mother nature intended us to be. Darwin rules (see Winner Take All Economy)  This ultimate result is either revolution or income redistribution which ultimately leads back to wealth accumulation and income inequality. The circle of life.

Communism has been attempted many, many times throughout history. So has Democracy. It’s likely Democracy fails, especially with rising levels of income inequality. The poor will kick out the rich, redistribute the wealth, which will find it’s way BACK into “smarter” hands.

I love the part on art in a decaying society, calling it blotches of random paint that are not appreciated by the people, but a select minority [cough] hedge funds…

It’s short, sweet, and makes you think. Please comment if you read the 2010 version, interested in seeing the differences!

Book Reco: Winning by Intimidation

Winning Through Intimidation

Somewhat silly title, should have been Winning by NOT being intimated. Although the authors’ experience is in commercial real estate brokerage, a lot of good lessons can be applied to career and work in general. An important quote from the book: “results achieved are inversely proportionate to degree which one is intimidated”  

Certainly recommend to anyone in sales, freelancing, or otherwise work for themselves but a good read for just about everyone else too!

Free on Kindle Unlimited or…

Winning Through Intimidation