Personal


So, I just finished reading The Black Swan (the economics book, not the ballet ;) While it is a dense book, it should not have taken me nearly a year to read it (started in August of 2012)! My 2012 reading list was a paltry 7 books. Way, way down from my usual personal goal of 2 books per month.

For me personally, no other “metric” better demonstrates the intensity and all-consuming nature of starting a startup. Never mind the fact that at Execution Labs, we’re a startup helping other startups to start up!

Anyway, here are the few books I managed to read in 2012:

Hmm, nothing too noteworthy, sadly. I most enjoyed Startup Communities since it is directly related to my current efforts. Ten Faces is a nice high quality book, but nothing super new if you’ve read a few other books on innovation process. Good to Great is a Jim Collins classic that I was long overdue to read, but feels a bit dated now…

Sadly, I’ll be lucky if I finish 1 book per quarter in 2013 :(

Ugh, my reading this past year was way down. Despite all the long flights (hmm, I think I was mostly catching up on sleep), I was nowhere close to my preferred pace of two books per month, barely managing to get in one read per month.

Here’s what I did manage to read:

Given my efforts to start up an indie game incubator and raise some venture capital, you can notice the startup/VC trend in the reading list. The classic Art of the Start is an especially good book to, uh, start with. And, Lean Startup is amazingly good, and not just about starting a company but really much more broadly about “validated learning” in an iterative process under conditions of uncertainty. Nice to see it is already catching on in game dev circles.

Maverick was oddly inspiring: a much older book on a democratic workplace in Brazil, where factory workers decide on their own hours and pay. And, Where Good Ideas Come From was especially informative and fun to read. I’m just finishing up Adapt, which plays in nice to my usual “fail to succeed” lectures, but it is much more real-world (eg, Iraq war, banking crash, etc) than management process type stuff I was expecting.

Of the bunch, Democratic Enterprise was pretty meh. Some good info, but just too densely written and super boring. Conversely, was very happy with Element after being inspired by Ken Robinson’s beautiful (and funny!) TED Talk on the need to nurture creativity. And, thanks to Susan Gold for Poke the Box, a fun little book that I now need to hand off to someone else…

I finally signed up for a Twitter account: @JasonDellaRocca

For whatever reason, I snapped and couldn’t resist any longer. Of course, I got thoroughly teased for being so late to the party. The very next day, I got an email from the chairman of LinkedIn thanking me for being an early adopter (profile #6028) and helping them reach the 100million user milestone.

Guess you can’t be a pioneer/early-adopter for everything…

BTW, still figuring out Twitter posting, etc. Anyone have pointers to good Facebook/Twitter dual posting tools, both desktop and Android?

As is tradition, here is my list of books I read over the past year. Shame on me as I came way under my self-imposed two books per month “quota”. I blame video games!

Business/Economics

Leadership/Management

Culture/Etc

Self-Help

Of the bunch, I found Drive and Switch to be particularly good books with lots of applicability to my day-to-day efforts. It was also great to finally read The Innovator’s Solution, as I have often lectured about the dilemma side of the equation… On cultural front, I thoroughly enjoyed both American Nerd and The Fighter’s Mind, as oddly enough I belong both to the nerd/geek and fighter tribes.

In the self-help department, I was mainly looking for marketing and promotion related guidance to help with my consulting efforts. Of the bunch, the only one that fell flat for me was The Language of New Media. Despite being a significant book on media theory, I found it too academically opaque to get much out of it. Oh, and I read a book on ethics since I taught a university communications course on media ethics last fall.

When I visited IO Interactive back in September, Thomas Howalt was kind enough to give me some swag, including a copy of mini ninjas. For a kids oriented game, it is surprisingly well designed, with polish and depth. I finished the game, playing alongside and swapping the controller with my kids… Fun times.

For Christmas my 8-year-old son gave me the below interpretation of Futo, Hiro and an evil samurai from the game.

This piece joins my ongoing collection of video game inspired artworks by my son: Assassin’s Creed, Castle Crashers, Borderlands. Though he’s since done a much better Castle Crashers scene, and I need to dig an old Far Cry 2 piece…

I got a brief glimpse of Limbo at GDC, but didn’t get a chance to try it out. Similarly, at the Nordic Game Conference, I had the pleasure of hanging out with ever-dapper Dino Patti (Playdead’s CEO) and others from the Limbo team, but still, no hands on time with the game.

Finally, over the weekend, I downloaded and played through Limbo to much delight. Despite a 1000+ deaths, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The satisfaction and sense of accomplishment in solving some of those dastardly difficult puzzles was real brain candy. And, the aesthetics were quite engaging/enthralling, despite their simplicity.

Great to see the universal acclaim for the game, and the commercial success (300k downloads and counting).

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