“In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.”
So true. How about ‘You are what you read’ - which I just made up. Here at Fidel, we love our books and podcasts. As a fintech company, we exist in an industry that constantly twists and turns as new innovations arise and keeping up with those developments is essential.
Being able to actively learn new skills to grow as a professional in this changing industry is so important to us we ended up arranging subscriptions to Audible and Udemy for the whole Fidel team, too.
Therefore, when I asked everyone for some suggestions on what they’re reading and listening to, our #goodreads slack channel ‘blew up’ as the kids say. My post went viral.
From the science behind happiness to the quiet art of sleeping, here are ten of our favorite books and podcasts - and why we came to love them.
1 | Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
In a nutshell | Why the quality of your sleep could shape your entire life.
Why it’s great | If you’re curious about science and health, it's a very easy read that explains why we sleep, the health benefits that come with it, and what can happen if we don't prioritise it. Using real data, it also gives very realistic, practical advice on how to improve your sleep patterns. I personally loved that you’re taken on a journey of explanation about why certain cultures and systems are wrong in not prioritising something so important
2 | Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky
In a nutshell | How to make those 24 hours truly count.
Why it’s great | What I liked the most was that it gave me courage to try out some of their amazing tips, albeit not in the most radical ways recommended in the book.
Here are some of the things I actually did after reading this book:
- I bought a simple analogue wristwatch - to stop checking the time on my phone
- Turned off almost all push notifications
- Deleted ‘time-waster’ apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, BBC news and others
- Cleared the first 2 screens of my phone from any apps
- Started using a usage-timer
- Took more “silent” and “no-screen” walks
- Started scheduling time in my calendar for the most important priorities
3 | The Culture Map by Erin Meyer
In a nutshell | A Brazilian engineering team at a steel company tries to convince their US-based colleagues to adopt a new process created in their Latin American offices.
Why it’s great | As someone that has experienced many different cultures and has felt so-called "culture shock" many times, it was very entertaining and informative to read ‘The Culture Map.’ You can gain insights from someone that dedicates herself to informing companies about how to better navigate and manage people from different cultures. The book does not attempt to generalize and is also aware of the fact that people are different, even those from the same cultural sphere, but still captures the universal impact culture has on us all.
4 | Clean Code A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert Cecil Martin
In a nutshell | Even bad code can work sometimes. But when that code isn’t clean, it can weigh heavily on a developer companies’ ambitions.
Why it’s great | Regarding the book Clean Code, by Uncle Bob (as he’s known), for me, it’s a must read for any software developer that wants to improve their skill. As programming is both a creative and structured endeavour, Clean Code targets the latter by defining and explaining all the best practices you should follow to write "clean code". This means code that is well organized, easy to build, simple to understand and ultimately maintainable. It is proven that this so-called "clean code" is what allows software organizations to survive in the long-run as the software evolves and developers rotate. Individually, it also teaches you pragmatic skills that you can use to build better software.
5 | Creativity, inc. by Ed Catmull
In a nutshell | Fail as fast as you can.
Why it’s great | President of Walt Disney Animation Studios, Ed Catmull, advises on how to promote creativity based on Pixar’s own journey. It’s interesting to walk through the creative-thinking process behind the creation of famous movies like ToyStory, Up, Wall-E and Finding Nemo. One of my favourite excerpts was the following; “He [Ed] thinks of failure like learning to ride a bike; it isn’t conceivable that you would learn to do this without making mistakes—without toppling over a few times. If you apply this mindset to everything new you attempt, you can begin to subvert the negative connotations associated with making mistakes.”
6 | Atomic Habits by James Clear
In a nutshell | How to change your life, one tiny step at a time.
Why it’s great | This is easily one of my favourite books of all time. I feel like I already followed a lot of the principles, so it worked as inspiration, but also validation. It’s written in a very down-to-earth and realistic style that could really empower anyone, regardless of their context, to make better decisions and be more set up for success. For anyone who is a big fan of routine or is looking for more in their life, this is an excellent read.
7 | The Happiness Lab Podcast
In a nutshell | ‘The Happiness Lab’ was created by the same woman who created the ‘Science of Happiness’ course at Yale, helping showcase science-backed ways of becoming happier.
Why it’s great | I find it helpful, not only in my personal life, but also for making better product decisions for our customers. There is one episode on the burden of choice that tends to push me to constantly strive towards the simplest solution for our customers.
8 | Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Pérez
In a nutshell | How the world we live is designed with men in mind, in more ways than you might think.
Why it’s great | Invisible Women was an eye-opener to me. Data is one of our most powerful tools and it was quite scary to find out through the book how little data we have about women in many industries, from healthcare to public transportation. I liked to believe that in the developed world we're very close to closing the gap, and while it's true that we're getting closer, this book makes it clear that there's still much to be done.
9 | Factfulness by Hans Rosling
In a nutshell | Why we perceive a much poorer, scarier and unhealthy world - and why we’re pretty much all wrong.
Why it’s great | ‘Factfulness’ helps me think critically about how I build my opinions. While a product requires a bit of intuition, I find it helpful to ground myself in facts. Factfulness shows the ten instincts we have that steer us away from using information properly. I’ve found it helpful to know these ten human instincts so I can catch myself when I drift towards them.
10 | Indie Hackers Podcast
In a nutshell | Indie Hackers is a podcast featuring discussions on diverse online and tech-related business ideas and projects, but most importantly, as they are depicted and analyzed through their plans, strategies and processes.
Why it’s great | The show explores many different tech-related stories. For example, how certain companies go from zero to millions of subscribers, how certain services reinvented traditional processes, or even mistakes made that lead to failures of profitable businesses. Moreover, it’s hosted by the creators themselves in a laid-back style, which makes it fun and easy listening.
💡 You can view our full reading list here, covering a range of topics that inspired us and helped us become the team of unique individuals who, together, make Fidel. You can subscribe to our blog here to never miss a beat.