alfonso medina

Jan 5, 2021

8 min read

Books I read in 2020

Well, by April of this year, I thought this was the year I was going to become so much smarter, I was going to read so much more than other years, but, as we now know, we humans don’t change that much.

Still, I think reading was very helpful this year, helped me drown out the noise, and there was a lot of that. This was a year that we needed to look back at history, we are not living anything new, what we are going through has happened multiple times. As Ivan Pavlov said: “If you want a new idea, read an old book.”

“As long as I have a book in my hand, I don’t feel like I’m wasting time.” — Charlie Munger

Here are some notes:

  1. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant

You will get rich by giving society what it wants but does not yet know how to get.

Maybe happiness is not something you inherit or even choose, but a highly personal skill that can be learned, like fitness or nutrition.

We think of ourselves as fixed and the world as malleable, but it’s really we who are malleable and the world is largely fixed.

Value your time. It is all you have. It’s more important than your money. It’s more important than your friends. It is more important than anything. Your time is all you have. Do not waste your time.

2. Post Corona: From crisis to opportunity, Scott Galloway

There is shocking data at the extremes: the top 0.1% now own more of the nation’s wealth than the bottom 80%. The three richest Americans hold more wealth than the bottom 50%.

We need to appeal to the human instinct: As humans, we are hardwired to share a set of biological needs. The most powerful firms have found ways to serve aand exploit these instincts.

I was, to put it mildly, a WeWork bear, but I’m actually bullish on the underlying concept. Flexible spaces where people can work alone or in teams, distributed throughout cities and beyond, sounds like the future.

3. West of Jesus: Surfing, Science, and the Origins of Belief, Steven Kotler

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live,”

He deduced that we are a species of mythologists because our myths contain the rules for our survival.

Evolutionary theory teaches us that the brain’s primary function is to keep an organism alive and reproducing, and, in turn, everything from love to hunger is fundamentally an expression of this primary function.

“Sometimes a person has to go a very long distance out of their way to come back a short distance correctly.”

He says that if you want to know God, learn to surf.

4. Think like a Monk, Jay Shetty

“If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. — Albert Einstein

“Fear does not prevent death, it prevents life” — Buddha

Pride of knowledge destroys knowledge

If you don’t break your ego, life will break it for you

“Every person is a world to explore” -Thich Nhat Hanh

“Live everything” -Rilke

5. Billion Dollar Loser, Reeves Wiedeman

What an adventure, what a story. From startup that rents desks, to trying to elevate the world’s consciousness to a valuation of $43b, to zero. Definitely worth a read fro everyone that’s interested in Real Estate and proptech.

6. Ethics for the City, Richard Sennett

Cité came to mean the character of life in the neighborhood, the feelings people harbored about neighbors and strangers and attachments to place.

Robert Venture declared: “I like complexity and contradiction in architecture… I am for richness of meaning rather than clarity of meaning”.

Stadtluft Macht Frei (“City air makes you free”)

7. All our waves are water, Jaimal Yogis

Rumi, the great Sufi poet, put it like this: “We are not a drop in the ocean. We are the ocean in a drop.”

Suzuki Roshi once said, “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

But at least we are in the same sinking boat, humans. Nobody gets a lifeboat until we all do.

8. Zeckendorf, William Zeckendorf

To understand what we did, one has to realize that New York City, where you can buy anything, is really a giant, Oriental bazaar in concrete disguise.

My observation has always been that after a certain key point you must move ahead as if a project were assured — in order to assure it — because if you wait around for all the pieces of the puzzle to fit before closing a deal, you can wait forever.

Financing and building a great project is a bit like building a road through mountain country; around every bend there is a surprise, and a great part of the excitement and interest in a development, aside from its conception, lies in the challenge of finding new ways around the many difficulties that crop up.

9. The future is faster than you think, Peter H. Diamandis

And, as we described in Abundance, the goal here isn’t about creating a life of luxury, but rather a life of possibility.

Money might not make the world go round, but it certainly makes the future faster. So where is all this cash coming from? Digital technology.

When it comes to the mother lode of deployable capital, the real heavyweight title belongs to sovereign wealth funds (SWFs). These investment behemoths hold an estimated $8.5 trillion in assets. That’s trillion, with a “T.”

the neurological basis for innovation” — that is, creativity, learning, motivation, and the state of consciousness known as flow — have allowed us to amplify these critical skills like never before.

There is no doubt that the cost of an ever-increasing number of goods and services has all but disappeared. Nor is there much doubt about the positive downstream effects of demonetization. Abundant cheap energy leads to abundant clean water. Autonomous electric cars lead to cheaper, greener transportation options and lower-cost access to housing. The combination of AI, 5G and AR/VR will provide low-cost education, entertainment, and healthcare to nearly every human on Earth, independent of geography or socioeconomic status.

10. Code of the extraordinary mind, Vishen Lakhiani

Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never lived. -James J. Lachard, on what is most surprising about humanity.

Mindfulness is the energy that helps us to be there 100 percent

If you live in awareness it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being a multiplicity of miracles

Our minds create everything

11. Notes from a Young Black Chef, Kwame Onwuachi

What a beautiful story. Read this book in June, right as the Black Lives Matter protests were taking off around most cities in the US and many around the world. Even when you are a minority, it’s difficult to understand the challenges that many african american people face and how difficult it is to build a career.

12. Team Human, Douglas Rushkoff

Instead of determining the investment required to insulate oneself from the world, we can look instead at how much time, energy and money we need to invest in the world so that it doesn’t become a place we need to insulate ourselves from in the first place.

Money, once a means of exchange, is now a means of exploitation, education conceived as a way to elevate the working class, has become another assembly line.

Anything that brings us together, fosters our humanity

We’ve been conditioned to believe in the myth that evolution is about competition: the survival of the fittest. But evolution is every bit as much about cooperation as about competition

The closer people are to the core of a social network, the happier they are. Happiness is not a function of one’s individual experience or choice, but a property of groups of people

13. Disruptors Feast, Frits Van Paasschen

14. One Million Followers, Brendan Kane

15.Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff

16. Rethinking Real Estate, Dror Poleg

Value is shifting away from assets themselves, towards those who can understand the needs of specific end users and deliver comprehensive, on-demand solutions. Real Estate is an excuse to study how people live and behave.

R.E. Involves trillions of dollars in assets, it is highly fragmented, and it is rich with inefficiencies and utapped value.

As of Q1 2019, the world is awash with capital. Private equity managers are sitting on over $1 trillion of committed capital, of which $300 billion is allocated specifically to R.E.

Everything that can be automated, will be automated

17. A Gentleman in Moscow

Wow, hadn’t read a novel in such a long time. I’m so happy that it was this one. A count that lives his life under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow, what a life, what a time. This book transports you to a beautiful world, even in house arrest, or quarantine, there’s always still a way to look at life as the beauty it is.

18. Billion Dollar Brand Club, Lawrence Ingrassia

Bonding, not branding. A bond is something much more personal, where you feel an affinity to the seller

It’s not about distribution, it’s about connection

In the digital economy, your audience has an audience

A good goal should scare you a little and excite you a lot

19. Create the Future, Tactics for Disruptive Thinking, Jeremy Gutsche

Your life is determined by a surprisingly small number of powerful decisions- and we tend to make those decisions in a simplified manner.

20. Limitless, Jim Kwik

“One of my core beliefs is that human potential is one of the only infinite resources we have in the world. Most everything else is finite, but the human mind is the ultimate superpower — there is no limit to our creativity, imagination, determination, or ability to think, reason, or learn”.

“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that if we never let our mind wander or be bored for a moment, we pay a price — poor memory, mental fog, and fatigue”.

“The incremental mindset focuses on making something better, while the exponential mindset is focused on making something different,”

21. Just Kids, Patty Smith

What a story, what true love is, against everything and everyone. Really enjoyed reading about old NY.

22. Eat a Peach: a Memoir, David Chang

23. Checking out, Katherine Doggrell

24. Bright lights, Big City, Jay McInerney

25. Remote, office not required, Jason Fried

The new luxury is the luxury of freedom and time. Once you’ve had a taste of that life, no corner office or fancy chef will be able to drag you back.