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Back from the Dead
Back from the Dead
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars It was a good one and does a great job of capturing a ..., May 1, 2016
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I read Bill Walton's autobiography Back from the Dead on Saturday after my long run. It was a good one and does a great job of capturing a complicated life filled with super high peaks and extremely low valleys.

I was into basketball as a pre-teen. I played forward for a little while but really settled into my role as a guard. I played until junior high school when I stopped playing soccer and basketball and focused entirely on tennis, which lasted until high school when I smashed my last wood racquet on the court. After that, I ran track and cross country and really began my love of long distance running.

I dug Bill Walton when he played for the Trail Blazers. My team as a little kid was the Dallas Chaparrals until the ABA blew up. I didn't really have a team again until I moved to Boston to go to college, so I just liked individual players. When I eventually stopped paying attention to basketball in high school, even though the Dallas Mavericks were now my home town team (and I won a Dallas Mavericks college scholarship for $1,000 for some reason I can't remember), I lost touch with pretty much all the players. So it was fun to see Walton re-appear in my junior and senior years at MIT on the Boston Celtics, which re-energized my interest in basketball a tiny bit (it didn't hurt that the Celtics were completely dominant in that time period.)

In Back from the Dead Walton covers his years playing at UCLA, Phoenix, and Boston in great detail. He also talks about his time on the San Diego - and then LA Clippers - which includes some scathing commentary on the craziness and misery that was the team under Donald Sterling in its early years.

The basketball stories, especially some of the detailed history, is fun to read. I've always enjoyed sports history from a first person point of view of a player, and Walton doesn't disappoint. But that's simply the foundation for the book.

Walton's basketball brilliance is interspersed with endless injuries. He talks about them in detail - initially the physical struggles, but then the mental struggles as the pain as well as the time recovering and rebuilding grows. He doesn't complain, but shows a vulnerable side in his description of his struggles. For a period of time, he's at the top and bottom of the game at almost the same time, fighting through the injuries until they overwhelm his ability to recover and he finally retires.

He then goes through his career as a sportscaster. Mixed throughout is his love for and journeys with the Grateful Dead. And then his spine breaks, ESPN fires him gratuitously (they eventually rehire him under new management, but he skims over this), and a very long recovery begins.

At this point, you can feel Walton's pain. Sure - the physical pain is there, but the emotional pain is profound. And his writing about it is powerful. And clean. And clear.

He gets through it and ends the book filled with love and joy and the energy that bubbles throughout his early playing days. Overall, the book is a powerful reminder of this complicated thing we call life and how hard it can be, even when you are at the top.


The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future
The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur's Vision of the Future
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $12.99

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal Book on the Future of Entrepreneurship, April 5, 2016
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Every entrepreneur out there should grab a copy of The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future by Steve Case and read it.

If you don’t know Steve, you’ve probably heard of him. He’s had a remarkably entrepreneurial journey starting with co-founding AOL in the 1980s. While AOL has now been absorbed into Verizon (after having been bought, spun out, and bought again) at its peak around 2000 nearly half of all Internet users in the US accessed the internet via AOL and everyone over the age of 40 knows how to say “You have mail.”

I’ve gotten to know Steve over the past six years through the Startup America Partnership (where he was Chairman) and then UP Global (where he was also Chairman). I’ve learned a lot from him both from reflecting on the past and talking about the future.

I was excited when he told me he was finally writing a book. I loved the title, as I’m a big Alvin Toffler fan as I describe in my post from nine months ago titled What Is The “Third Wave” Of This Generation? I didn’t have an answer for this question got an email a few days later from Steve.

“Hi Brad. I saw your tweet and blog. I too was inspired by Toffler’s Third Wave. I’m now working on a book (my first!) with some of my recollections of the past, but mostly my perspectives on the future. And, in part to honor Toffler, I’m calling it The Third Wave. I’m finalizing the manuscript now. It builds off the article I wrote for the Washington Post a few months ago. Happy to send the current draft to you to critique, if you have time to read it in the next week. (I have told Simon & Schuster they’d get a final manuscript at the end of the month.) Let me know if you’d like to see it. Thanks.”

A week later I’d read it and got some specific suggestions back to Steve with the punch line:

“Overall I think the book is excellent. I love the thesis about The Third Wave as applied to entrepreneurship.”

This is an important book that I think will stimulate a lot of thinking about the future for any entrepreneur. It also helps understand the potential futures better by reflecting on the past through Steve’s own journey, especially around AOL.
If you are an entrepreneur, make time to read The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future. Steve – thanks for taking the time to write it.


When Breath Becomes Air
When Breath Becomes Air
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $12.99

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ... book When Breath Becomes Air is one of the best books I’ve ever read, February 11, 2016
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Paul Kalanithi’s book When Breath Becomes Air is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I stayed up late the past two nights reading it while in bed. As I put my Kindle on the bedside table last night I had tears in my eyes.
Paul passed away on March 9, 2015 at age 37. He was a Stanford-trained neurosurgeon and writer. He was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer in 2013, though he never smoked. He was married to Lucy (Goddard) Kalanithi who sounds like an amazing woman. When he died he had an infant daughter Cady. His family was extremely close to him.
I know Paul’s brother Jeevan Kalanithi. Jeevan co-founded Sifteo, which we invested in with True Ventures. Sifteo’s products were critically acclaimed but not commercially successful and was acquired by 3D Robotics, which we are also investors in with True Ventures. Jeevan is Chief Product Officer at 3D Robotics and has done an awesome job. And, more importantly, is an amazing person.
So, as I read Paul’s book, while I didn’t know him, I felt like I had a sense of him through knowing Jeevan. I read Paul’s New Yorker Essay My Last Day as a Surgeon which was published after he died. Read it you want a taste of Paul’s writing, genius, empathy, beauty, and authenticity. Now, imagine an entire book like this. Read his essay Before I Go for another taste. Or try How Long Have I Got Left? which was published in the New York Times a year before he died.
If you haven’t yet bought When Breath Becomes Air, please go do it now. It’s #1 on the New York Times bestseller list for a reason. It might be the most powerful book about being human, being mortal, learning about, confronting, dealing with, and ultimately accepting one’s own mortality. It’s beautifully written – almost poetic in its rhythm – and aggressively real. There is no prognosticating, no rationalizing, no baloney – just real, raw feelings throughout the book.
And it ends suddenly. Paul dies. Unlike so many things that we hear about that are tied up nicely in a bow, life – and death – doesn’t really work this way. And Paul helps us understand this by taking us through his journey.
When I was in my mid 20s, struggling with depression and having paranoid fears about being deathly ill, my therapist recommended I read Norman Cousins book Anatomy of an Illness: As Perceived by the Patient. It changed me fundamentally and shifted my relationship with my own mortality. It didn’t eliminate my depression, but it helped me understand how my viewpoint impacted my physiology, and how important this was in healing.
Paul’s book takes this to a new level. Like Cousins, it’s deeply personal, but by being current, it’s more accessible. And for me, more powerful.
Thank you Paul for writing this book. And thank you to Paul’s family for bringing it into the world.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 12, 2016 12:28 PM PST


The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $14.49

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Every CEO of a VC backed startup should read this book, March 10, 2014
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This is one of the best books you’ll ever read on entrepreneurship and being a CEO.

If you are a CEO, read this book.

If you aspire to be a CEO read this book.

If you are on a management team and want to understand what a CEO goes through, read this book.

If you are interested in entrepreneurship and want to understand it better, read this book.

On Friday, I spent the entire day with about 50 of the CEOs of companies we are investors in. Rand Fishkin of Moz put together a full day Foundry Group CEO Summit. It used a format Rand has used before. We broke up into five different groups and has sessions on about ten total topics throughout the day. The groups were fluid – people were organized by category (alpha and beta) but then went to the topic they were interested in. There was a moderator for each session – the first five minutes was each CEO putting up one “top of mind” issue in the topic, and the then balance of the session (75 minutes) was the entire group spending between 5 and 15 minutes on each topic.

It was awesome. We finished with a fun dinner at Pizzeria Locale. I drove home with my mind buzzing and arrived around 8pm to see Amy laying on the coach reading a book. So I grabbed by iPad and looked to see what was new on it.

I’d pre-ordered Ben’s book so it was in slot number one. It felt fitting to start reading it.

At 10:30 I was finished with it. The Hard Thing About Hard Things was the perfect way to cap off a day with the CEOs of the companies we invest in.

Trust me on this one. Go buy The Hard Thing About Hard Things right now.

Ben – thanks for writing this and putting 100% of your heart into it.


Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day
Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $9.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Solid Addition to the Headspace Online Program, Which is Awesome, March 2, 2014
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My exploration into meditation continues. I started on February 5th when I wrote the post Learning To Meditate. Since then, I've been practicing every day, read a few books on meditation, talked to a lot of people about it, and explored several iPhone / web apps.

The impact on me has been awesome.

After talking to Jerry Colonna for a few hours about meditation on the snowy Sunday after I started, he recommended I take a look at Headspace. I signed up that night and started doing the Take10 meditations. For the first few days, I did it once a day, but then quickly starting practicing twice a day, once in the morning and once before I went to bed. Occasionally I'd toss in another session at lunch time, although sometimes I just did a silent meditation instead for 10 to 15 minutes.

After about a week I was deeply hooked. I grabbed the iPhone GetSomeHeadspace app and untethered myself from my desk. We've got a meditation room in our new house and even though it's very sparse right now (just one sitting pillow), it's a magnificent sanctuary for my meditation.

I noticed that Andy Puddicombe, the founder of Headspace, had written a book called Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day. I downloaded it and read it last night and this morning. Since I'm deep into the Headspace program, a lot of it was familiar to me. But Andy's description of his own meditation journey is fascinating, and reinforces a lot of things he guides you through in the Headspace program.

Near the end, he has a great chapter on different forms of meditation beyond sitting. He covers walking, sleeping, eating, and running. These are forms that intrigue me, especially since I run a lot, eat too fast, and am exploring different sleep patterns.

Overall, the book is a nice addition to the Headspace program. If you are intrigued about meditation, it's a fast, easy, helpful read. But there's nothing like just practicing. For that, I recommend you hop on line and try the free Headspace Take10 program.


The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work
The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work
Price: $14.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Solid insights, December 15, 2013
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I'm a huge WordPress fan and user. I also was an early investor in Intense Debate before WordPress acquired them. The stories in the book were great and Scott did a nice job of both telling stories and then generalizing insights from them. It dragged in a few places, but overall painted an interesting picture of a fascinating company.


Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture
Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $11.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible origin story of id Software, December 14, 2013
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I love origin stories. Many are shallow or overly dramatic in an effort to tell a story rather than capture the essence of what happened and why it was so important. This one totally nailed it.


The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Complex but very useful, December 7, 2013
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Like other contemporary books about the rise of currently dominant tech companies, a book like this one is hard to write, but generally fascinating to read. if you the filter of "this is not an authorized history or biography" Stone did a really good job of capturing a lot of the Amazon story - and style of the company.


The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune
The Billionaire Who Wasn't: How Chuck Feeney Secretly Made and Gave Away a Fortune

5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly fascinating and inspiring, December 5, 2013
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If it was just an entrepreneurial success story, it would still be a great book. The philanthropic story was powerful. Best of all was the complex relationship between the founders of DFS both before and after their huge success. While a business history and biography, it read as well as a novel.


What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20
What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $7.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid advice for anyone in college, December 3, 2013
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The title matches the book nicely. if you are 18 - early 20s and interested in a solid dose of Silicon Valley life philosophy then this book is perfect for you. some of the stories are well known and others are very valley centric, but Tina Seelig does a good job of weaving her own personal experience, stories, and friendships into a good philosophy of life book aimed at someone just discovering themselves as an adult.


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