Essentia Blog

7 thought-provoking reads for the summer

At Essentia, our sphere of interest spans behavioral science, neuroscience, and high performance coaching – all viewed through the lens of investment decision-making.

It’s a fascinating place to be: just as machine learning and AI come of age, we’re also seeing rapid advances in our scientific understanding of the human brain and the best ways to improve its performance.

With that in mind, here are our latest favorite reads for your summer holiday consideration. (All titles are also available on Audible as audiobooks).

Humility is the New Smart

The robots are coming, but what can we do now to ensure that we, our human organizations, and even our children are best prepared to survive and prosper in this new environment? Hess & Ludwig make a compelling argument for us to focus on excelling in areas such as critical thinking, innovation and creativity that are still out of the reach of machine intelligence. Recognising our weakness, but playing our strengths in this way (i.e. being “skilled but humble”) is our best long term strategy in a ‘Smart Machine Age’.

The Confidence Game

Konnikova is a keynote speaker at Behavioral Alpha 2018, and for good reason: her book is a fascinating foray into how con artists operate and why we are all prone to be their victims – no matter how savvy we think we are. She shows just how fine a line exists between good salesmanship and outright crime, explaining that the path we ultimately take is narrowly determined by our individual tussles of nature and nurture.  

Principles

The internet is overflowing with blog posts and synopses about Ray Dalio. However, we strongly recommend that you check any preconceived notions at the door and give this book a proper read (or listen). It’s no coincidence Dalio has done so well; his ideas are spot-on, and the curiosity and persistence with which he has applied them to his business over the course of a tumultuous 50 years are pretty amazing. Don’t be put off by the title – there’s nothing preachy about this book. At the end of the day, Dalio offers a practical philosophy and method that’s entirely applicable to your own life and business – whatever your principles.  

The Confidence Code

Exploring a less malignant side to confidence than Konnikova, Kay & Shipman traverse genetics, neuroscience and psychology to identify what makes some people more confident than others, and why overconfidence coupled with competence is a winning proposition. The Confidence Code has been marketed to women and examines the differences between male and female behavior as it relates to confidence. But it’s relevant to everyone, and if you have a daughter and/or care about gender diversity in the workplace, it really is a must-read.

We reviewed this book in detail a few months ago, and the team at Essentia has already reaped the benefits of some of Pink’s findings. When is chock full of useful science about timing – including the fascinating insight that as much of 20% of the variance in performance at work comes down to the time of day at which certain tasks are done. Pink’s book is an engaging window on to the variability of human performance – based on science but entirely applicable to daily life.

Why We Sleep

Something in our culture’s attitude toward sleep is definitely shifting. Walker’s book (reviewed by us here) lifts the lid on recent developments in sleep science, revealing the vital role that sleep plays in helping our brains to process vast amounts of information, reduce unconscious bias and build memory. It also turns out that, despite what many believe, only a tiny number of us can get by with less sleep without it impairing performance. So, if you find yourself dozing on the beach as you read this, Walker is one author who definitely won’t be offended.

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future

You may not have heard of him, but Kelly is one of the most well-respected tech thinkers out there today (as well as co-founder of Wired). In a work of glorious technological futurism, The Inevitable forecasts the 12 technological forces that will shape the next 30 years. From virtual reality in the home to a world increasingly powered by AI, Kelly argues that we need to engage fully with what’s coming – so we can maximise its benefits, but also minimise any risks. Compelling food for thought for those of us who need to plan for a changing world (or invest in it).

Want some more ideas? Try our popular guide to behavioral literature, The Essentia Recommended Reading List