Most Impactful Reads of 2023
Leonardo.Ai illustration

I want to share selected articles that I read in 2023 that had the most impact on my life. These articles helped me in taking important career decisions and taught me things that were “eye-opening.” I wish I had come across them sooner. I have included snippets from each to give you a teaser of what you can expect to learn from them.

Moxie - Career Advice

Jobs at software companies are typically advertised in terms of the difficult problems that need solving, the impact the project will have, the benefits the company provides, the playful color of the bean bag chairs. Likewise, jobs in other fields have their own set of metrics that they use to position themselves within their domains.

As a young person, though, I think the best thing you can do is to ignore all of that and simply observe the older people working there.

They are the future you. Do not think that you will be substantially different. Look carefully at how they spend their time at work and outside of work, because this is also almost certainly how your life will look. It sounds obvious, but it’s amazing how often young people imagine a different projection for themselves.

Look at the real people, and you’ll see the honest future for yourself.

HBR - Managing Oneself

One should waste as little effort as possible on improving areas of low competence. It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. And yet most people—especially most teachers and most organizations—concentrate on making incompetent performers into mediocre ones.

Am I a reader or a listener?

Even people who understand the importance of taking responsibility for relationships often do not communicate sufficiently with their associates. They are afraid of being thought presumptuous or inquisitive or stupid. They are wrong. Whenever someone goes to his or her associates and says, “This is what I am good at. This is how I work. These are my values. This is the contribution I plan to concentrate on and the results I should be expected to deliver,” the response is always, “This is most helpful. But why didn’t you tell me earlier?”

Klazumeus software - Salary Negotiation

Virtually any amount of money available to you personally is mouse droppings to your prospective employer.

Companies are not sensitive to small differences in employee wages because employees are so darned expensive anyhow. You see $5,000 and think “Holy cow, even after taxes that’s a whole new vacation. Five thousand dollars. Five thousand dollars. It would be so very, very greedy of me to ask for five thousand whole dollars.” The HR department sees $5,000 and thinks “Meh, even after we kick in the extra taxes, that is only about 3% of their fully-loaded cost for this year anyhow, or seven hundredths of one percent of that team’s hiring budget. I wonder if the cafeteria has carrot cake today?”

You might think that desirable jobs at well-managed companies (Google, Microsoft, hot startup, etc) have layers and layers of bureaucratic scar tissue (a great image from 37Signals) to ensure that their hiring will conform to established processes and that offers will not be given to candidates sourced by using informal networks and interpersonal connections. If you believe this, you have a dangerously incomplete mental model of how the world operates. I have a specific recommendation for you to make that model more complete: start talking to people who actually work for those companies and who have hiring authority. Virtually no company has a hiring process which is accurately explained by blog posts about the company. No company anywhere has a hiring process which is accurately explained by their own documents about how the hiring process works.

Bonus: Books of 2023

Cuckold by Kiran Nagarkar (Fiction)

This is the finest writing I have read so far. The beauty of the language, the emotional depth of the story, the characters, the locations; my God, what a book. If you end up reading it, please do send me a message. I would love to know what you thought about it. PS. Don’t let the name of the book fool you. It is so much more than what the name lets on.

The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi, Fumitake Koga (Non-Fiction)

A book that explains Adlerian psychology in the form of a conversation between a young man and an older philosopher. I found Adlerian psychology encouraging and motivating. It tells you to stop complaining and take matters into your own hands, to put it crudely. I plan on rereading it as a motivation booster for whenever I need one.