Book Review: Genkhis Khan

Book Review: Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

When I visited Mongolia for the first time back in 2013, the main airport of the country still had was called Genghis Khan International airport. It was renamed in 2020, but not because the founder of Mongolian Empire lost his importance for Mongolian people.

23 July, 2013 – my first trip to Mongolia

I believe every European at least heard about Genghis Khan and Mongolia but has very vague understanding how many things in the modern world exist because of them.

Adoption of Arabic numerical system, Forbidden Palace in Beijing, Silk Route – the list is very long. However, in collective knowledge, Genghis Khan is primarily associated with cities destructions and war atrocities (that also had a place without a doubt).

I have recently finished a book – Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. It give truly fascinating and amazing story of a rise and fall of Mongolian Empire and its founder. The book provides very detailed overview of Genghis Khan life and path to power and gives insights how ideas and beliefs of a nomadic tribe leader influenced half of the planet population.

Roughly half of the book is telling a reader story how Mongolian empire lived after the great warrior passed away. And why Mongolian expansion stopped – apparently, it is more related to climate conditions than anything else.

The most interesting part of the book is how Mongolian innovations spread across national and religion boundaries. Connecting West and East, they were able to build global economy, proto-globalization, in some sense. It is amazing to see how many modern world features can be traced back to Genghis Khan and his followers.

Overall, it is a great book for anybody who is interested in history and Mongolian culture.

5 out of 5.


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Linkmeup podcast: Again about 5G

I had a great opportunity to join as a speaker at Linkmeup podcast. This time we are talking about 5G radio network, its architecture and what is happening on the 5G market around the globe.

https://linkmeup.ru/podcasts/2116/


The Invincible Company

Book Review: The Invincible Company

The Invincible company was a first book that I could not open with my Kindle Paperwhite. The reason is that it is written as a visual story with a lot of graphical elements, diagrams and tables. It is a new format for me, but I have enjoyed it.

Strategyzer is a company that develops Innovation Software Management products, runs trainings and writes books about strategy, innovation and business models. I came across their most well-known book The Invincible Company because I like core idea they convey:

“Innovation is not a magic that happens by itself. It is a craft that can be analyzed and taught”

The other question how you do this and what patterns you should adopt and avoid.

What is in the book?

The Invincible Company book consists of four major pieces:

  • Business Model Portfolio. A great tool that guides a reader how to analyze existing products portfolio and what actions to take for both Explore (aka Innovation) and Exploit (aka mature products) parts of the portfolio. This is an interesting exercise that I tried to apply for AWS Support products – the line of business I am currently managing myself.
  • Portfolio Management – how to manage Explore and Exploit portfolios. This part was very interesting for me because it provides a workflow to design, test, scale and retire business ideas and models. Here you will find also has number of case studies where companies were able to successfully manage innovation process or transform themselves to avoid disruption. For example, Fujifilm had the same business model as Kodak but it survived photo industry digitalization and re-invented itself. Why and how? The book explains it.
  • Invent Pattern Library. Collection of patterns from successful companies. How they explored new markets, how they created new value propositions, how they found new revenue streams or changed cost structure. Every pattern has associated case study, assessment and trigger questions for leaders. These questions help to build a scorecard for existing portfolio and be a conversation starter to initiate a change.
  • Improve Pattern Library. Also a collection of patterns but related to business model shifts – “From Product to Recurring Service”, “From Low Touch to High Touch” and etc. What different companies did to improve their business models and how did they do it. The most interesting case study for me was TED – TED transformed from an invite-only, niche conference to a mass, online destination for the intellectually curious. Again, for every pattern there is a conversation starter – “strategic reflection”.

A combination of appealing graphical design, a lot of case studies and trigger questions make this book an excellent source of insights. I highly recommend it for everybody who is doing portfolio management or involved in any innovation processes creation or management.

5 out of 5.


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Atomic Habits

Book Review: Atomic Habits by James Clear

Every company is trying to build processes with predictable outcomes. Every company is trying to automate as much as possible routine operations. Why? There are multiple reasons, for sure. But one of the most obvious ones is – to save time and resources for innovation and expanding a business.

Habits play the same role in human life as processes and mechanisms play in a life of a company. We have a limited amount of mental energy, our attention span is short and we are distracted easily. All of us need a system that will efficiently maintain daily routines and help us move forward without visible conscious effort. It is not possible to focus and progress in ten different things simultaneously.

The cornerstone of such system is habits. There are two types of habits – those that make us better and efficient every day and those that hurt and degrade us with time. Let’s call them efficient and inefficient for simplicity. Why does it matter? A simple mathematical equation below gives the answer.

0.99^365 = 0.0255

1.01^365 = 37.783

Do 1% less every day for a year and you will degrade significantly. Do 1% more every day for a year and you will thrive. Progressive overload is a great example.

However, it is difficult to adopt new efficient habits and get rid of inefficient ones. I believe everyone had experience this challenge in some point of time. This is where the book Atomic Habits by James Clear comes to help. It provides exceptionally clear recommendations how to implement habits and break them. The book gives The 4 Laws:

  • The 1st Law: Make It Obvious
  • The 2nd Law: Make It Attractive
  • The 3rd Law: Make It Easy
  • The 4th Law: Make It Satisfying

How to create a good habit

It looks very easy and straightforward but I know from my personal experience that it is way more difficult to implement in reality. A couple of years ago I have read another excellent book – Pragmatic Thinking by Andy Hunt. I have implemented some of them and they stuck with me while others were abandoned over time. Now I understand why and how to fix it.

Somebody may ask, well, I have my goals. Isn’t it enough? I would like to quote the view of the author:

The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. It’s not about any single accomplishment. It is about the cycle of endless refinement and continuous improvement. Ultimately, it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

Clear, James. Atomic Habits (p. 27). Random House. Kindle Edition.

Overall, I highly recommend Atomic Habits book to everyone.


Social Architecture

Book Review: Building On-line Communities by Pieter Hintjens

As of November 2021 there are 28 million public repositories at GitHub. Internet literally runs on open source software. After recent log4j drama there were a lot of debates (here is a very good example) about how critical parts of modern IT world are maintained by online communities and how it can be improved.

So, I asked myself a question – how exactly you can build a thriving open source project and create community around to support and maintain it? I came across the book Social Architecture by Pieter Hintjens (a founder of ZeroMQ project) gives his view on processes and guidelines how to successfully achieve such goal.

The book starts with definition and description of 20 key ideas or tools that online community should have to be successful in the long term. Transparency, decentralization, strong mission and non-tribalism are among others.

After that book moves to explaining the idea that innovation is not done by a small group of people but rather it comes from a well-defined process:

The innovative nature of the Internet comes not from a small, select band of Einsteins. It comes from RFCs anyone can use and improve, made by hundreds and thousands of smart, though not uniquely smart, individuals. It comes from open source software that anyone can use and improve. It comes from sharing, remixing, and scale of community. It comes from the continuous accretion of good solutions, and the disposal of bad ones.

Hintjens, Pieter. Social Architecture: Building On-line Communities (p. 38). Pieter Hintjens.

Basically, the book states that well-defined protocols how community members interact with each other is a mandatory pre-requisite for Collective Intelligence and, as outcome, successful open source product.

The author explains what types of licensing exist today and what are the pros and cons for each type. Other practical explanations about watermarks and how to register them are also in place.

The second half of the book describes how ZeroMQ community has been built and operates today. The most interesting part for me was dive deep into Collective Code Construction Contract (C4) that describes in RFC-like format how community should build, distribute and maintain open source software.

One more refreshing idea that I found in the book is that ZeroMQ community does not use roadmaps and do not release features. They use Simplicity Oriented Design and see a product as an endless chain of patches stack one on top of another. Every patch represents the most simple solution to a very specific problem. This idea, probably, not new but allows to look differently on traditional approach with long roadmaps and constant prioritization of engineering resources.

Overall, the book has number of interesting ideas and real life examples. 4.5 out of 5.


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Levers of Influence

Levers of Influence. Why do we comply?

Humanity social systems can exist because people can collaborate and align on common goals. Without our abilities to influence each other and comply to each others requests our civilization simply would not survive. It is not very important how exactly our ancestors evolved those abilities, probably, being social and collaborative gave significant advantage in Stone Age times. What is important – is to learn what exactly makes us comply. And why?

For sure, we are influenced by facts and rational explanations, but behavioral economics and great book Thinking Fast and Slow prove that people are irrational. There are other factors or levers that significantly impact our judgment and readiness to agree.

I have finished recently a book “Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion”. This book has detailed analysis of main behavioral models (we can call them biases as well) that force us to comply. These biases trigger embedded mechanisms in our brain – skip critical thinking part and jump directly to conclusions and actions. Click and run. Let’s dive deeper into them.

Reciprocation

If somebody gives us something, we feel urge to give something back. Favor, gift or our compliance with the next request. There is a deep psychological connection between reciprocity, gratitude and life satisfaction – we feel better when we are participating in exchange of goods and favors. We use this mechanism to influence others decisions and make others feel “much obliged”.

In Japan, normally people say “arigato gozaimasu,”  meaning “thank you”. However, people also say “sumimasen” when they want to express their appreciation or a feeling of regret, guilt, or another negative emotion. For example, when they receive unexpected gift or favor from others.

Practical implementations of reciprocation lever are everywhere. Free samples of products, small gifts after first purchase or a small concession made by one of the parties in negotiation process.

Liking

There is famous quote: “People buy from those who they like”. It is a golden rule for every salesperson – in the situation where competing products price and features are the same, people buy from whom they like more. Even if they know that it is just a compliance strategy.

But liking is a vague term. If we will try to decompose it, then we will see that we like people who:

  • Similar to us
  • Give us compliments
  • Easy to contact and ready to cooperate with us.

That is pretty simple to use in real life. Focus on commonalities rather than differences. Show others that you appreciate them and their actions. Be a “go-to-person” who is ready to work on a shared goal.

Liking is the reason why brands go to influencers for advertisements. Because thousands of people like them and inevitably extend their likeness to a brand too.

Social Proof

When I go to a new restaurant, I often ask for the most famous meal in the menu. Collective experience of other visitors cannot be wrong. The same logic applies to product reviews and ratings. We view an action as correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.

Social proof lever is especially efficient in ambiguous situations. The more unknown environment we are at, the more we rely on others behaviour. I think this is the reason why in a new city I trust reviews at Google Maps completely and blindly.

So, if you need help, don’t rely on others reaction unless it is clear for them that there is an emergency. A lot of us witnessed situation when a person lies on the ground and people demonstrate zero actions to help the person. Why? Situation is ambiguous and everybody rely on each other reaction. And nobody takes a first step.

Another tip I learned – if you are delivering a webinar and want audience to ask questions, you have to break the ice yourself first. Come up with a couple of artificial questions, read them loud and give an answer. Social proof will do the rest for you.

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State of Phygital

State of Phygital Report: thoughts and insights

During latest Christmas holidays I read State of Phygital Report that covers definition of “phygital”, use-cases and analysis of impact on existing industries and verticals. Below are some my thoughts around it.

I guess, many of us wait for more AR/VR features in our smartphones and consumer electronics. In fact, there are already dozens of features and apps are available today. So, what is the next step? The authors of the report believe that is is a Phygital revolution.

We see Phygital as the philosophy of a new world order, where Phygital essentially enables the close integration of the virtual environment (digital) into real human life (physical).

State of Phygital report, 2021
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Reading List 2022

Reading List 2022

Welcome to year 2022!

Last year the list had a decent mix of professional, fiction and non-ficton books. In 2022 I am going to concentrate to learn more about following topics:

  • Psychology of decision making and influence. How we make decisions? What can persuade us and why? Answers on these questions help to understand how to build inter-personal communication and inspire people.
  • Organizations’ efficiency. It is quite astonishing to see how different can be efficiency of organizations. This year I continue to study this area and learn about mechanisms that creates “1+1=3” effect.
  • Visual story telling. Even I work today in a company that heavily relies on writing texts instead of creating slide decks, visually compelling content is a king. Structure, composition, color, size of picture and text are key components to keep audience’s always reducing span of attention on the topic.
  • Personal efficiency. Last year I was trying to implement several useful habits to my daily routine and was only partially successful. I have realized that I need to learn how to create habits more efficiently. And, of course, continue to train ability to concentrate.
  • Plus, some non-fiction titles as an entertainment.

Hereby I present you the Reading List 2022!

Leadership and communication skills

  1. Influence. The Psychology of Persuasion
  2. Social Architecture: Building On-line Communities
  3. Slideology
  4. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences
  5. Atomic Habits
  6. Concentration: Maintain Laser Sharp Focus and Attention
  7. The Invincible Company: How to Constantly Reinvent Your Organization
  8. Crossing the Chasm, 3rd Edition: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers
  9. The Oz Principle: Getting Results Through Individual and Organizational Accountability
  10. Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter
  11. Nudge: The Final Edition
  12. Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

Non-fiction

  1. Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts
  2. New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World–and How to Make It Work for You
  3. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Fiction

  1. Project Hail Mary

State of AI Report: thoughts and insights

I have recently came across State of AI report and want to share some of my thoughts around it.

First of all, the report has a lot of data but most interesting for me was Industry part that talks about companies and their products in AI area. I believe it is obvious by now that almost every industry is or will be affected by infusion of AI/ML features into products, workflows and processes.

Some notable examples from the report:

  • Use of AI-based microscopy to find most effective cancer drug to improve survival
  • UK National Grid Electricity System Operator has implemented new electricity consumption forecast system that more than doubled precision of forecasting
  • More than 300 different apps are using OpenAI GPT-3 integrations that currently generate an average of 4.5 billion words per day

And it is not surprising. Almost every industry has to deal with capacity planning, future prediction and forecasting – areas where AI is superior than humans.

Among other apps that are using GPT-3 integrations is Github Copilot which is basically converts comments to the code, can create functions and suggests unit tests. How fast such systems will replace Software Engineers?

And it is not a rhetorical question – in a world-first, South Africa granted a patent to an AI system. The system, called Dabus, invented a method to better interlock food containers. Most countries, however, do not recognize a machine as an inventor.

The patent application was submitted to patent offices in the US, the EU, Australia and South Africa. It was rejected in the US and the EU, and a particular ruling on this patent is still in waiting in Australia. In the US, a judge ruled that only a human can hold a patent, not a machine. This is because according to American law, “a natural person” needs to take an oath that they are the inventor. A contradictory ruling came out in Australia, which stated that an AI can be named as an inventor in a patent application.

Now the question is will we have enough of Critical Raw Materials to meet demand of High Perfromance Computing systems for training and running AI/ML models.

Countries accounting for largest share of EU supply of CRMs

largest_share_of_eu_supply_of_crms.png

Candidate FAQ: Technical Account Manager and Enterprise Support

At September 2020 I have joined AWS as Senior Technical Account Manager in Nordics region. Our team is growing with amazing pace and we are hiring in all Nordics countries. One year later, already in a new role, I am writing this post to share insights about what Technical Account Manager (TAM) role is.

FAQ below will help candidates to understand better TAM role, Enterprise Support organization and Amazon culture. Feel free to post comments with your questions or reach out to me via Linkedin

Q: What Technical Account Manager role is at AWS?

A: A Technical Account Manager (TAM) is customer’s designated technical point of contact who helps customers onboard, provides advocacy and guidance to help plan and build solutions using best practices, coordinates access to subject matter experts, assists with case management, presents insights and recommendations on your AWS spend, workload optimization, and event management, and proactively keeps customers’ AWS environment healthy.

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