The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, by Gary Chapman and Paul White

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace is a book by Gary Chapman and Paul White about the five different ways people experience appreciation. It's a re-write of "The Five Love Languages" also by Gary Chapman adapted for the work setting.  While the concept is powerful, the book is very repetitive and tends to provide very obvious examples. Nevertheless, there are a few interesting lessons.

  1. The five languages of appreciation are: 1) Words of Affirmation. 2) Acts of Service. 3) Quality Time. 4) Physical Gifts. 5) Physical Touch.
  2. Each person has a primary and secondary form of appreciation. You can saturate someone's primary form.  In that case their secondary form may be more highly valued.  For example, someone who doles out compliments freely may find their words of affirmation be discounted by those receiving them. In this case, quality time may be more highly valued from this person.
  3. Primary and secondary forms of affirmation tends to be constant over time.  
  4. Primary and secondary forms of affirmation differs depending on context.  Appreciation languages for personal relationships may differ from work relationships. 
  5. Words of Affirmation can include affirmation of acts (a task well done), personality (cheerfulness) and character (honesty). 

Change Your Brain, Change Your Body

Change Your Brain, Change Your Body is book by Dr. Daniel G. Amen about the mind-body connection.  He advocates using holistic healing and supplements to boost brain function in order to heal the body. It's a long and sometimes repetitive read since diet, exercise and adequate sleep are pretty much standard for many ailments. However, he does back up his statements with research studies, which may compel the less-disciplined reader to actually start following a habit of good diet, exercise and sleep. His book is also comprehensive, and will likely touch on some subjects that are less familiar to the reader. For me, the topics of hormones and heart health were new. The book also includes supplement guides for specific areas of the brain and body, which maybe useful to reference. Some key lessons I learned:
  1. Get your beauty sleep.  Getting adequate sleep is the best way to improve skin.  That is because skin cells regenerate during sleep.  "Seniors need less sleep" is a myth too.  Since skin regeneration slows down as we age, seniors need just as much if not more sleep to keep skin looking young. Adequate sleep also helps you lose weight. In one study, women who sleep 7 hours instead of 5 per night lost an average of 6 pounds over 3 weeks without any intentional change in diet or exercise.
  2. Exercise increases the generation of new brain cells.
  3. Eating less sodium is good, but more importantly, potassium and sodium needs to balance. We are often high on sodium and low on potassium.  Therefore, eat high potassium foods such as bananas. At the same time, eat no more than 1 teaspoon of added salt each day.
  4. High Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is good.  Individuals who exercise regularly have a lower resting heart rate and high HRV. In fact, physicians track the HRV of the birthing infant during childbirth. 
  5. Before getting a divorce, get hormone checks for both partners. Hormone levels change as we age and can cause serious disruption in our moods and personalities.

Rework

Rework is a book by 37signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.  This book has a very unique format. Every other page contains a graphic summarizing one big business idea, then the following page provides a short story to support the idea. In essence, the book is one big stack of flash cards with business lessons. It's possible to read this book out of order and it's a useful reference guide to have on the shelf.

  1. Embrace Constraints.  Throw Less at the Problem.  Limited resources forces you to be creative what you have.
  2. Ignore the Details Early On.  During the early stage of a business, it is important to focus on the key strengths and not try to do too much.
  3. Focus on what Won't change.  Rather than chasing the next big thing, focus on the characteristics of business that will always be in high demand. For example, Amazon.com focuses on fast shipping, great selection, friendly return policies and affordable prices.  Japanese automakers focus on reliability and practicality, and 37signals focus on speed, simplicity and ease of use.  These characteristics are timeless.
  4. Make Tiny Decisions. Big decisions are hard to make and hard to change. So make many choices that are small enough that they're effectively temporary. This way you won't make big mistakes, and you have the chance to adjust as you go.
  5. Underdo your Competition. Instead of adding ever more features, try adding less and aim for simplicity. Examples include single-gear bicycles, the Flip camera, and the iPod shuffle.