Learn or Die: What DSers Have Been Reading Lately

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Written by Inessa Yusupov,
• 9 min read
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A common saying around these parts is that if you’re not learning, you’re dying, so we make it a point to have continuous and shared education happening on the regular. From industry-related educational topics to just plain interesting reads, we have a lot to share. Here’s a peek into what we’re digging our noses into these past months.


Free to Focus: A Total Productivity System to Achieve More by Doing Less by Michael Hyatt

“Focusing on everything means focusing on nothing. It’s almost impossible to accomplish anything significant when you’re racing through an endless litany of tasks and emergencies.” This book is a game-changer for those who get stuck in the cycle of “busy” without realizing that they are unfocused. If you need to recalibrate your approach to work and life, give it a read!

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

From the creators of Basecamp. This book points out the diseases plaguing modern workplace and work methods. It calls out false cures and pushes back against ritualistic time-sucks that have infected the way people work these days.

The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo

We’re all familiar with the dilemma of going from managed to manager. Worry not! Most good managers are made, not born, so if you have no idea what you’re doing, don’t feel like you’re alone.

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt

This book is humbling and has to power to truly shift the way you may think about leading yourself and others. Eric Schmidt, former CEO/Chairman of Google, shares the untold story of football coach turned billionaire, Bill Campbell. The TLDR? Leadership is hard. There are plenty of ways to learn to code, design, and many of the things we do as marketers but learning to lead is one of the super skills that separate the good from the extraordinary. “Your title makes you a manager. Your people make you a leader.”

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What The Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That The Poor And Middle Class Do Not! by Robert T. Kiyosaki

Some of us love this book, while others find its guidance a bit controversial. So, read it and let us know where you stand. Either way, you’ll come out of it with a potentially new perspective that you may have not had before.

I Am a Strange Loop by Douglas Hofstadter

The “self” is an illusion. A useful, and interesting one, but an illusion. We exist as a sort of “strange loop,” not unlike the feedback effect you get if you point a live video camera at the screen it’s projecting on. The effect of a mind trying to create a mental model of itself.

Progressive Web Apps by Jason Grigsby

Progressive web apps represent the next big digital opportunity: they look and feel like native apps, they work offline, and they’re available to anyone—no app store required. But with that freedom and flexibility come challenging questions about how to create the most value for your users (and your bottom line). Jason Grigsby answers the what, why, and how of progressive web apps, from making the case in your organization to reaching your users in bold, new ways. Build your audience, increase revenue, and widen the web’s reach—all with the power of progressive web apps.

Howard Stern Comes Again by Howard Stern

It’s been over a decade since his last book – something with an air of leering chauvinism. But Howard Stern Comes Again was almost apologetic. This book is essentially a collection of interviews that are handpicked by Howard himself to represent his best work and show his personal evolution. What’s more intriguing is, gathered together like this, they show the evolution of popular culture over the past quarter century as well.

Ruined by Design by Mike Monterio

The world is working exactly as designed. And it’s not working very well. Which means we need to do a better job of designing it.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

How often do you read about survivalist societies? Born in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education. Tara decided to try a new kind of life – her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Some of us connected to this book because we had a history of formal education, but when immigrating to the US, we essentially started anew. Our old school years did not matter because they were foreign, and yet today, we find ourselves in extreme success and with so much more to explore. What will you discover about yourself after reading this book?

The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure by Greg Lukianoff

A great book to bring up if you’re looking to have a heated debate about the trickle effect of societal changes. Some say it’s a scary read while others believe it’s taken away their hope for humanity. The rest wholeheartedly agree with it. How will it impact you?

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

We highly recommend the audiobook version narrated by Steven Fry. The little voice in your head can’t top his ability to tell this story in the same way. It’s a great listen for anyone with a long commute.

The Eye of the World By Robert Jordan

This fantasy series starts off a bit reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, but quickly turns into a world and feel all its own. Unlike GoT, the author had a clear goal and ending in mind, and all of the intricate storylines add up, make sense, and satisfy. Coming soon to a screen near you! This first book in a 20 part series has officially been greenlit by Amazon Studios. Read it before it goes mainstream, you hipsters ;).

Meddling Kids: A Novel by Edgar Cantero

Will it make you a better conversationalist? No. Will it teach you anything? No. Is it a good book? Also no. But hey, people still love watching bad movies, now you can feel slightly better though because you’re reading this one.

Iron, Fire and Ice: The Real History that Inspired Game of Thrones by Ed West

Still addicted to GoT? This book combines real history and geography with Game of Thrones and somehow makes it all the more interesting along the way.

Write Dumb: Writing Better By Thinking Less by James Dowd

Written by our very own Creative Director of Story! It’s a series of concepts, methods, and tips for being a faster, more efficient and effective writer by helping you stop overthinking everything.

⚡️ Lunch ‘n’ Learns & Lightning Talks

Getting Down & Dirty with Adobe Illustrator

Lightning Talk by Inessa Yusupov, Senior Art Director
If you’re into sexual metaphors for learning how to get started with Illustrator, this lightning talk is for you!

SVG Animations

Lunch ‘n’ Learn by Adam Chambers, Head of Technology
An overview of SVG code structure, building simple and complex shapes by hand, and awesome animations.

CSS Grid

Lunch ‘n’ Learn by Adam Chambers, Head of Technology
An overview of the CSS Grid specification and how to build native grid based layouts.

APIs, Schemas, iFrames, AJAX, and Other Tech Things Explained

Lunch ‘n’ Learn by Cory Zibell, Technology Lead
A presentation to explain some common bits of dev knowledge that we frequently use.

Machine Learning

Lunch ‘n’ Learn by Cory Zibell, Technology Lead
They say the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone else. Cory has been working on learning Machine Learning, and this is his attempt to teach what he learned.

Photography From an Expert!

Lunch ‘n’ Learn by Steve Walter, Professional Photographer
Formatted as a mini hands-on workshop, we went through a 2-part lunch and learn and covered some photography basics and escalated to more complex methods of photography and how we can use them in a simple way. It made us all better equipped to shoot pro-level content whether we’re using our phones or professional cameras.

Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn to learn with us and share your favorite reads with us at thinkfwd!