Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore

Crossing the Chasm resonated with me as I work at a tech startup. Although I am not in a marketing role, the book gave me an appreciation for things I’d always taken for granted, such as the whole product, since, as an early majority consumer (yup, let’s be real—I’m not an early adopter), I’d never been able to pinpoint what exactly I look for in tech products. This was an easy and entertaining read on tech marketing. There was no or minimal jargon tossed around, and I found the industry-specific examples helpful.

However, if you’d taken even a basic marketing class in college, the first half of the book will be very familiar to you. There were some extra notes on each stage of the technology life cycle, but nothing major major, that I worried for a bit that the rest of the book would be the same. Thankfully, the second half took a more interesting turn—Moore set the stage during the first half and drilled down basic concepts. Of course, if you’d taken up marketing as your college major, which I didn’t, the second half would have probably been very familiar to you still.

Overall, the book is well crafted. Every chapter made sense—none wasted—and all of the concepts tied in seamlessly. The writing is approachable, which made for easy reading. I’d recommend this book for non-marketing specialists interested in high tech and go-to-market strategies. Otherwise, this book is a little too specific to be appreciated by the general public and might be too simple to be appreciated by professional marketers.

Educated by Tara Westover

As it turns out, I still know how to read, but I have been reading at an (exceptionally) slower pace. Case in point Educated by Tara Westover: I loved the book, but it took me more than a month to finish reading it. To be fair, it was not the lightest read. At first, I thought it was a little similar to Hillbilly Elegy, but it is very different—the Westovers were completely different.

As I read through the first half of the book, I found myself frequently putting the book down and thinking “I can’t believe this really happened to her.” But believe it. People be crazy at times.

Here’s what I’m talking about: In Educated, Tara Westover wrote about the domestic abuse she received from her own older brother. I don’t know about you, but my brothers are protective of me. As a fellow woman, I couldn’t stand reading what Tara Westover experienced, and I’m enraged that most men get away with abusive behavior. And people have the gall to blame victim blame women as if they had it coming. For your reference, Tara Westover was raised a conservative woman, so please, she clearly did not ask for the abuse.

These were also hard to swallow: the mental health issues that were never truly addressed. Sudden mood swings, extreme violence, animal cruelty—these are clear signs of low mental health. But no one ever wants to seek help—even Tara Westover herself was in denial about her own well-being for a while. I’m glad she eventually got counseling, but mental health is so taboo, we need to change things up especially since most of us are down in the dumps because of the quarantine situation.

Of course, the book wouldn’t be called Educated if it didn’t actually talk about Tara Westover’s education. I’m so glad people saw her potential and pushed her to believe in herself. It’s interesting to see how perspectives change once you get to know more about the world. Clichéd, I know, but education opened new doors (and closed old dilapidated ones) for Tara Westover, and I hope this woman is doing well for herself right now because she has gone through so much.

As I was writing this entry, Taylor Swift’s The Man came to mind. One reason why Tara Westover had a particularly difficult experience was because she was a woman. From childhood, she was taught that women were meant to submit to men’s will. It was particularly hard for her to get past that brainwash. Taylor Swift’s rings very true, and I hope to God that people stop trying to put women in their place because they are intimidated by strong women.

Verdict: I wholeheartedly recommend this book. Although some parts were disturbing, the book was, overall, quite inspiring.

Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg

There’s nothing like a nonfiction book to bring you back to reality after having read fantasy. I’ve just finished Smarter Faster Better, and I found it just alright. A little background here: Duhigg’s previous book, The Power of Habit, was the book that got me interested in nonfiction, so I was a little disappointed in how Smarter Faster Better turned out.

Since I’ve been reading psychology books here and there, I found the first two chapters a little lackluster. I thought to myself: I’ve read this somewhere before… I hope the rest of the book isn’t like this. Well, I’m glad that it takes a lot for me to decide not to finish a book because the middle chapters of Smarter Faster Better had some interesting concepts on using mental images and stretch and SMART goals. I even enjoyed reading some of the stories that gave context to Duhigg’s overarching ideas. (I particularly enjoyed the backstory to Frozen and the corporate culture of General Motors.)

Overall, there were maybe only two or three chapters that I liked. Most of the book fell flat to me. I found that the ideas did not flow well from chapter to chapter—each chapter could stand independently; I didn’t see the point of the book since none of the chapters built upon each other. I really wanted to like the book because I still think The Power of Habit is a good book to learn about habits, but Smarter Better Faster simply isn’t for me.