Sunday, 24 April 2011

Review: What I wish I knew when I was Twenty by Tina Seelig

Tina Seelig runs the Entrepreneurial Thought Leadership at Stanford, a very impressive programme with guest speakers from all the top companies sharing their experiences of past failures and successes - invaluable insights freely available for download.  If you're seeking out knowledge to be a successful entrepreneur, then I highly recommend you visit Stanford E-Corner website.

Back to the book: Very well written, easy language in direct conversation-style, brings out the message in clear and simple terms. Although this book could be seen as yet-another-self-improvement-book-on-leadership-innovation, in that it provides stories and insight's into other people's experiences & resultant lessons learnt; it is unique in the following aspects:
  • References to real classroom exercises being taught at Stanford. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a student text, the example challenges can be given to any company team and will be equally, if not, more challenging than the classroom experience
  • Tina touches upon subjects that are generally considered taboo
  • There is an element of realism, practical advice that is good food for thought
  • Topics are light-enough to leave the reader time to analyse his/her own personal situation (For example: the bit on "Failure Resume" (FR) really got me thinking, so much so that I exposed version 1 of my draft FR here)
Another topic that got me going was from the chapter "Turn Lemonade into Helicopters", Pages 129-130, which I'll quote below [I am still working on my own similes :-)]:
...In my course on creativity I focus a great deal on the value of recombining ideas in unusual ways. The more you practice this skill, the more natural it becomes. For example, using similes or metaphors, to describe concepts that on the surface seem completely unrelated offers tools for revealing fresh solutions to familiar problems.....Teams are asked to come up with as many answers as possible to the following statement:
Ideas are like ______________________________________
because __________________________________________
therefore __________________________________________
  • Ideas are like babies because everyone think theirs is cute, therefore be objective when judging your own ideas ideas 
  • Ideas are like shoes because you need to break them in, therefore take time to evaluate new ideas
  • Ideas are like mirrors because they reflect the local environment, therefore consider changing contexts to get more diverse collections of ideas
  • Ideas are like bubbles because they easily burst, therefore be gentle with them
  • Ideas are like the measles because they are contagious, therefore hang out with other people with ideas if you want to get them yourself
  • Ideas are like spider webs because they are stronger than they appear, therefore don't underestimate them
All-in-all, this is a useful addition to my book collection. It will no doubt be used time and again as a reference.  Don't be fooled by the title, the lessons taught are relevant to anyone throughout their personal/professional life, 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond...

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