Title: Atomic Habits – An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
Author: James Clear
Publication Date: 2018
Recommendation Score: 4.5 / 5
Very interesting book that deals with the science of habits. It can be considered an extension to the book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, with more examples and a kind of user manual guidelines for building and breaking habits (see the tables below).
The author presents the ideas very clearly, inspired by many real-life cases and based on recent results of academic research. He provides useful chapters’ summaries and other insightful resources that you may check on the author’s website jamesclear.com.
The main guidelines that the author suggests to build a new habit or break an old one are presented below (source: jamesclear.com).
Title: The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do, and How to Change.
Author: Charles Duhigg
Publication Date: 2012
Recommendation Score: 4.5 / 5
The book deals with habit aspects, at individual level, in organizations and in societies. It is quite enjoyable to read. It helps you understand how habits work, how to create them and how to replace them (unfortunately they cannot be removed).
What I really liked about the book is the examples and how they are meshed with the results of academic research. Examples of ordinary people, organizations (Alcoa, Starbucks, etc.), sports teams, social and political movements (the civil rights movement, Saddleback church), etc. show how habits shape our everyday life, and how they are able to create dramatic changes if changed carefully.
Here are some takeaways
The habit loop: Cue –> Routine –> Reward. Once the cue appears, the loop is triggered.
The craving brain: the cue, in addition to triggering the routine, must elicit a craving for the reward. The brain starts to anticipate (crave) the reward as soon as the cue shows up.
The golden rule of habit change: keep the same cue, the same reward, change the routine by inserting a new one. It is not easy, and it needs a Belief that the (permanent) change is possible.
Keystone habits: some habits are more powerful than the others, they are called “keystone habits”. They have an impact on other habits and have the power to change them. A very interesting example of Paul O’Neill, when CEO of Alcoa company, is presented to highlight how a keystone habit can transform an organization.
Small wins convert cumulative successes into routines.
Willpower: it is a very important keystone habit, it is a “muscle” that needs to be trained. It helps individuals to build self-discipline and to develop self-control.
Crisis are opportunities for good leaders to remake organizational habits.
Title: Everybody Lies – Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are
Author: Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Publication Date: 2017
Recommendation Score: 3.5/5
The key idea of the book is the following: people lie to everyone, but when they are alone in front of Google, they confess their deepest secrets. Therefore, using Google (anonymous) research data is very helpful in several domains, including social sciences, medicine, marketing, political campaigns, etc.
The book is divided into 3 parts. The first two parts emphasize the importance of data, and the fact that almost ‘anything’ can be data; pictures, words, any real-world measurements, etc. The author gives interesting insights about the potential uses of Big Data. However, in some paragraphs, the importance and usefulness of Big Data seems to be exaggerated. In other paragraphs, some evident facts (in 2017) about data are presented as new discoveries.
The last part of the book is the most important part to me. It deals with questions such as: how do we handle Big Data? Can we trust all data? What data? Data correlation vs. causality, how much is data relevant? Big Data and the empowerment of corporations and governments?