Best of Books

Bill Gates thinks most leadership books aren’t worth recommending, but this one’s an exception

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Bill Gates thinks most leadership books aren’t realistic or practical enough to recommend, but The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger is a rare exception. (Or in his words, “Unlike most books on leadership, this one is worth your time.”) After reading it a few months ago, and in preparing to share it with my Best of Books newsletter, I wanted to share some of the parts I found most valuable here.

This one involves Robert Iger sharing the most valuable lessons — frameworks, in a sense — that he learned from his decades in the media business. Even…


When applied properly, this technique can help you get much more out of what you read and increase the amount of reading you do.

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Image: The Reading, Honoré Daumier, c. 1857/Rijiksstudio

If you’ve decided to read more, you’re not alone. According to Statista in 2018, 23% of respondents resolved to read more in the new year. Yet reading surged in the early days of the pandemic, with 41% of respondents reporting reading more books.

One of the challenges with books is making time to read them all. In their classic guide How to Read a Book, Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren propose a solution: Don’t try to read them all, because most of them aren’t worth it. …


A former ‘Lifehacker’ staff writer reveals his most important insight on productivity.

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Image: Seven Shooter/Unsplash

In 2007, Marc Andreessen advocated having no schedule. At the time, he thought that working on whatever is most important or interesting whenever he wanted would make him happier, save him time, and enable greater flow states.

Fast-forward to 2020, where Andreessen talks about having a very strict schedule — with the day of the week determining what his days look like. He flipped the rule he used before, in order to adapt to his new situation of starting a venture capital company.

Like Andreessen (and probably you as well), I can relate when he describes productivity as one of…


How I got published in Fast Company, Forge, and Marker

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I’m not a publicist, but I’m probably the closest thing most of my friends with businesses or side projects have to one. It makes sense — In 2012, I was a junior at business school and got myself into Hypebeast. I had blogged for years, but little professional writing experience prior. In 2013, I got myself into The Globe and Mail. Between 2014 and now, I have written for HuffPost, Quartz, and Fast Company. I worked as a staff writer for Lifehacker, and I’ve even helped a few friends pitch their businesses to publications. …


How the search for shortcuts costs you precious time.

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In 2018, Keanu Reeves performed a role as a diamond merchant in Siberia. “There’s a scene where he has to pick up a diamond with a set of tweezers,” director Matthew Ross said.

“He holds it up to his eye and looks at it. Now, I would challenge anyone to do that properly after a month. It’s one of these deceptively, unbelievably difficult things to do… People spend years perfecting that craft. Keanu had to figure it out in three weeks, but he doesn’t take shortcuts.”

Even though Reeves didn’t have to perfect the craft of diamond setting — he…


Why I hated writing about writing, and how I learned to like it again

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A chef starting a blog can show off their recipes and photos of the food. A visual artist can write about and show their work. But a writer writing about writing… it doesn’t read right.

I don’t know when I started hating writing about writing. If I were to guess, it would probably be somewhere in the quasi-ponzi scheme of writing workshops (“Pay me and I’ll show you how to pitch!”). I can’t be mad at writers trying to make an extra buck, but do you have to go after the aspiring writers?


“There are only two ways to make money in business: One is to bundle; the other is to unbundle.” — Jim Barksdale

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The State of Play: In mid-January 2021, WSJ covered Axios HQ, a $10,000 per month program to support internal corporate communications. Digiday reports that they’ve had about 100 customers signed up, including AT&T, Delta and GetUpside, beta testing the software for the past year and earning Axios approximately $1 million in revenue.

Details: That’s not insignificant for Axios, which was on track to make $58 million in 2020, and its most recent fundraise was in 2017 for $20 million. …


The Art of Asking Good Questions

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“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…”

I’ve professionally asked questions for years. Clients pay me thousands of dollars to ask the questions I do. I’ve also asked recording artists who I do interviews with. I got good enough that A$AP Ferg told me our interview was the best one he’d ever done.

Questions are, still, a tricky business. A lot of questions vary by context — so while these principles hold up generally, there are some specific situations in which it won’t apply. Trust your judgment! Here are some things I learned along the way:

1. A question doesn’t have to be a reflection of you.

This frees…


If a business strategist had a liquid lunch with a writer…

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Image: Fishing for Souls, Adriaen Pietersz. van de Venne, 1614/Rijikstudio

With my earlier piece, I talked about how I spent my time writing, accompanied by bubble tea and Jeezy. I realized, at the end of writing it, that I was trying to figure out how much value I was creating and extracting. Writing really is thinking.

Warning: This piece is about writing and money. If your eyes are sensitive to words like “value,” “extraction,” and “Stratechery” — especially “Stratechery” — you should press fast forward. This is business thinking for people who might consider themselves writers, authors, and content creators. …


How Automated Transcriptions Empower Authors and Everyone on the Internet

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Image: A Scribe and a Woman by Rudolf von Ems (about 1400–1410)/The J. Paul Getty Museum

This post started with me, on my balcony, in -7 degrees Celsius. (19 Fahrenheit.) I was talking to my scribe, the Otter app on my phone. Thousands of years ago, scribes were a luxury afforded only to royalty, although I suspect a Pharoah would not have tolerated such cold weather. I went back inside, exported the text, and put it into a document. Then, I wrote.

There’s plenty to be said of the overarching business opportunity here for transcriptions. Otter raised $10 million in January 2020. Over a decade ago, Rev.com raised millions too. I hope to write about that…

Herbert Lui

I write about personal and collective growth. Author ‘There Is No Right Way to Do This’ herbertlui.net/reps/

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