Nona Blog

On the NONA Bookshelf | Vol 5

You could say people at NONA are rather obsessed with books… we read them, listen to them, talk about them, quote them, review them…

A monthly round up of what people at NONA are reading.

You could say people at NONA are rather obsessed with books… we read them, listen to them, talk about them, quote them, review them… This little collection is only a fraction of what passes NONA People’s eyes (or ears) each month. This time around “On the NONA Bookshelf’s” most frequent reviewer, Dominic Bauer, shares the lessons he learnt reading about what it’s like to live with a Navy Seal. Our resident ginger, Ed O’Reilly, read a Taleb book that’s had some mixed reviews and I read about not apologizing and living my life for me. Read on to find out what we thought about the things we read!

“Skin in the Game” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Reviewed by Ed

This is an incredibly divisive book, with a disproportionately high number of both 5 star and 1 or 2 star review and I can understand why — to quote the back of the book:

“The problem with Taleb is not that he’s an asshole. He is an asshole. The problem with Taleb is that he is right.”

He holds some of the most unusual, thought-provoking, and deeply profound ideas. When you find yourself disagreeing with him, he is still making you think and for that reason alone, this book (along with all of his others) is worth checking out.

Skin in the Game is shorter than some of his previous books in what he calls his Incerto but just as packed full of ideas. It is aggressive, condescending and direct — he’ll often attack people by name in paragraph-long rants that have almost nothing to do with the current subject matter. While I can understand how that is off-putting to some people, I absolutely love it.

The central themes of the book are:

  • The world is far more complex than most “sciences” give it credit for.
  • We don’t understand or consider 2nd order effects often enough and this makes most predictions wrong.
  • Do not trust anyone who doesn’t have “skin in the game”.
  • The fact that many important decisions at all levels of society are made by people with no skin in the game is a huge problem and is causing great harm.
  • This will eventually lead to complete ruin.
  • How can this be shown throughout history, religion, culture.
  • How do we avoid this and structure our relationships, societies and deals in such a way that they are moral and less likely to lead to complete ruin.

Taleb writes in an incredibly entertaining way about complex and difficult subjects, he’s hilarious (if you get his anti-modern sense of humour) and he’s among the smartest people on the planet.

Definitely give this book a read — perhaps you’ll love it, and even if you hate it you’ll be smarter for having done so.

“Living with a Seal” by Jesse Itzler

Reviewed by Dom

I came across this book serendipitously at a friends AirBnb — yes I did relocate it. It’s a book I’d wanted to read for quite some time after I had heard the Joe Rogan podcast with Jesse Itzler. The book is about an average joe (well, not so average since Jesse does 100km runs — but a working man whose sole purpose is not exercise or fitness) who pays a Navy Seal to come and stay with him for a month. Although at the time of the books writing the seal asked for his identity to be kept secret, it has come to light that it was in fact David Goggins. (If you don’t know who that is watch this, he’s a badass).

I feel that the best way to review this book is to explain the life lessons that I learned (or was reminded of) which I’ll summarize below:

  1. You can always do a lot more than you think. The seals have a 40% rule — if you think you’re done and can’t do anymore, you’re only 40% in
  2. You do not need to eat a lot of food if you exercise. There were times when they would do 2 workouts in a day and the seal would only eat one meal. This has completely altered my view of food and has started me on intermittent fasting as well as a 24 hour fast every Sunday — the results are amazing so far.
  3. Do not be repetitive.The seal tells Jesse’s wife to pick up her mail at different times because she is too predictable. Nefarious individuals can use your routine against you so always stay vigilant.
  4. Being cold is a state of mind. When you meet the seal for the first time he’s in shorts and a vest in winter wearing a pair of gloves. Jesse asks him about being cold (it was 10 degrees outside) and his response is that he feels like it’s 25 degrees. Jesse then asks about being hot and the seal says if it’s hot then its hot and you can’t do anything about it.
  5. There are many ways to exercise. I learned about nickels and dimes. Essentially you do 5 pull-ups and 10 pushups every minute for 10 minutes. This way of training over time completely blew my mind and since implementing it into my exercise routine I’ve seen massive gains.
  6. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.
  7. If you are attached to material things, your life’s happiness is dependent on those things. When the seal arrives at Jesse’s house all he has is a backpack, his military card and some cash — that’s it.
  8. Get out of your comfort zone or life will do it for you.
  9. When you commit to something see it all the way through.

This book was an adventure I thoroughly enjoyed and I truly hope more people manage to find the luck I did and get a hold of it!

“Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis

Reviewed by Laura

There were some things that really irritated me while I was listening to this book on my daily commutes to the office. But, saying that, I found some of it really valuable. So valuable that I went out and bought a hard copy so that I will easily be able to refer back to it whenever I need to (the one downside of audiobooks).

I’ll start with the things that irked me a little about the book

  1. I get that it’s a book for women but it does go a little too far to one side — I think a lot of the things said to be things that ‘women’ experience are experienced by people of all genders. I know many men who I want to recommend this book to, but the fact that it explicitly states, over and over again, that the reader (the ‘you’) is a woman, would probably put them off.
  2. She mentions in the book her issue with the ‘Girl Boss’ movement. Basically that there’s an issue with the use of the word ‘girl’ (because it is diminutive). But, girl, you used it for the title of your own book! But I see why, it’s become a cultural norm for women to talk to each other in this way (so many memes and gifs).

My key takeaways

The book really inspired me to get a hold of myself, my life and how I want to live it — Something I have struggled with, always being an indecisive person and struggling to commit to things. I’ve already adopted the following two exercises into my life in an attempt to live a healthier, more driven life.

Establish a morning routine

This book, together with an article written by Mike Scott, have motivated me to get going with a morning routine. I’m still ironing things out for myself and figuring out what works but Rachel gives some insight into how you can figure it out.

The 10–10–1 Exercise

Rachel believes you can only focus on one goal at a time. To pick your one goal to work on you start by imagining yourself in 10 years time — who are you, what do you wear, what do other people think of you, where do you go on holiday, what does your week look like, what do you earn, etc. — the point is to dream big and be specific. From this you identify 10 dreams to get you to that person (you’ll be surprised how many there are, but stick to 10). From there you pick 1 — yes, just 1 — that will get you closer to the you in 10 years and you get super specific about what that goal is and how you achieve it. The important thing is to then work on that thing and prioritise it in your calendar as if it’s a date with Chris Hemsworth.

Rachel’s ‘Five to Thrive’

This is all about being a healthy person (emotionally and physically) so that you can set yourself up for goal achieving greatness. I’ve already started adopting the following into my daily habits and it’s making a big difference:

  1. Hydrate. It’s a foundation for success but you will be running to the bathroom more (a good thing).
  2. Wake up earlier. This goes with the morning routine thing and having tried it, it really is worth it.
  3. Give up one category of food for the month. So I’m not giving up an entire category… but I am doing no cookies for October. She says that giving up an unhealthy food for a month will make it a habit and is part of promising yourself that you will achieve a goal. (It’s day 21 of no cookies and it’s finally starting to get easier to walk away from the cookie jar).
  4. Move your body every day. Instead of scrolling Instagram for an hour, get up and go for a walk — this is not about pushing yourself until you’re drenched, but rather about getting the blood flowing and your butt off a chair.
  5. Practice gratitude daily. To her the most important, although I haven’t started this one yet. She recommends keeping a gratitude journal to do this which seems to be a common recommendation these days.

As I said before, I had a love hate relationship with this book but it has really helped me to start forming habits and living towards setting and achieving goals. I actually think everyone who wants to get into goal setting and achieving should read this — but a warning to the men, you might not relate to some of the little nuances that are mentioned.

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Laura Flint

Designer - Nona