Compassionomics ~ book review

How a little compassion can transform a whole industry and lift the lives of millions in the process.

It is fair to say that I would never have picked up this book had it not been for the executive leadership at one of our portfolios who spoke highly of it. Transformative they said, wait until Chapter 8 they said. They were not wrong.

The premise of the book is simple – if the patient truly believes the provider has their best interests at heart, genuinely caring about the outcome, then the patient will have a measured improvement, including taking the providers advice as well as maintaining any prescriptions.

Sounds easy doesn’t it? Yet anyone that has been through the healthcare system, will know only too well, which providers treated you like a number, and which ones treated you like a human.

The book is packed full of stories (both patient and provider) and research data illustrating how a little compassion can make a huge difference all around. This includes the provider. Forget the stereotype of grumpy old doctor, research has shown that compassion both given and received has a net improvement all around, including aiding with reducing burnout in providers.

As for Chapter 8 – was it worth it? You bet. The authors outline, through a series of independent studies, that the extra time required by a provider to show the patient some compassion was only 40 seconds on average. Yes, that is all it took, to change the dynamic between doctor and patience.

One of the interesting observations that came out a number of times throughout the book, is how the perception of the doctor, caring, has changed through the years. We used to have the image of the doctor, intently caring, listening to everything we say and do, while they come up with their diagnosis.

Nowadays however, that perception has changed, to where we the patient only see the Doctors back, as they type furiously into their EHR software, or searching up symptoms, with the continued feeling that the patient is intruding or getting in the way. This is not showing compassion.

The authors show, again through many different studies, how the lack of compassion is costing us all much extra cost – misdiagnosis and wasted prescriptions that are ignored are some of the reasons. There is so many eye-popping statistics scattered throughout, that to repeat them here, would only spoil it.

While the book is solely focused on the healthcare industry, there is no doubt, the findings from it, can be applied to any industry. How compassion can come in many different forms and be applied in many different ways, with no real formulae or set of rules to simply follow.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable book, easily paced with lots of relatable stories, especially if you have been (or had a family member) recently go through the healthcare system.

If you prefer to listen to a podcast episode, with the authors themselves, they were on Freakonomics a couple of years back.

Adrift America in 100 Charts ~ book review

Prof G’s latest book details the state of the country through 100 charts, each one powerfully presented and creating a lot of stroky-chin moments.

Scott Galloway’s latest book, “Adrift”, is not really a book in the traditional sense – its longest run of prose is maybe 3 pages. Instead the book is a collection of 100 thought provoking charts, with only the minimal of commentary preceding each one. The reason for this I can imagine is that the charts speak and deliver more of a punch any words could ever muster.

Due to this rather unique format, the book lends itself to being opened up and be instantly consumable no matter what page you land on. Though, for maximum impact, one should really read the charts in each section sequentially as they build the narrative, even though the sections can be read out of order.

The charts themselves are not difficult to digest, presenting data, in a variety of styles and formats to illustrate the growth or decline of the American economy.

Any frequent listener/reader of Prof G’s output will know he doesn’t pull any punches and is not scared to say the things we’re all no doubt thinking, but this time, backed with historical data. Statements such as “social media are enragement platforms” noting then in a number of charts, how our young are getting further isolated from one another, and how this is creating future societal problems. Or how major universities are hedge funds masquerading as educational intuitions, but being taxed as the former.

The book isn’t all doom and gloom, there is much hope and cause for celebration. As he noted “nothing is that wrong in American that can’t be fixed with what is right in America” (quote attributed to President Clinton) but to start the correction, one has to first acknowledge where the system is failing, where the inequalities lay, and how small changes can start to make a difference.

Well worth the read, and given its unique format, makes ideal toilet room material.

The Cold Start Problem ~ book review

Andrew Chen charts the rise of the some of the larger Internet companies whose value only increases through an increased number of users – the network effect.

The inside track on how the likes of uber, Tinder, eBay and YouTube gained traction to break free of the network effect; where the usefulness of the service grows only by the number of users using the system. Former uber executive and VC investor, Andrew Chen, charts through his first hand experience of the efforts that uber underwent to build up networks of drivers to service an ever growing userbase.

Chen had some interesting insights with respect to mobile deployments noting that “1 in 4 people abandon mobiles apps after only one use” and “Of the users who install an app, 70% of them aren’t active the next day, and by the first three months, 96% of users are no longer active“. This goes to highlight just how hard it is to capture a userbase, and how you have only a few moments to truly capture that first impression into a lasting user inaction.

Given my recent experience with Clubhouse (another Chen is invested in), I can confirm I am one of the 70% who couldn’t quite grasp the user interface to make sense of it. It was canned quickly.

Chen goes into detail on a number of sites, the classic cornerstones of the modern Internet, including eBay and YouTube. I knew the basic history, but I was surprised to learn YouTube started off as a dating site, and when that bombed, the founders, opened their platform to offer any content. Similar eBay, had a crisis of growth, and stepped away from its pure auction style when it introduced the controversial “Buy-It-Now” button, which now accounts for 62% of their total.

One recurring nugget that kept coming over as he went through the backstory of each company, was how often the original goal of what the founders were trying to solve, wasn’t what they ended up building and delivering. Many times, the product they are known and famed for, was an offshoot (Slack for example after a failed photo sharing site; Instagram after a failed online photo editing suite).

The book is packed full of these little anecdotes and ah-ha moments and written in a very accessible manner. As is common with books that attempt to sell a framework “the cold start problem“, it becomes repetitive in places, which allows you to skip over it. Instead if you read the book as an insiders guide to how some of the big players grew their network, then it sits very well as a high-level historical read.

Overall, well worth the read.

Movies/TV of 2021

Reviewing the Top 8 movies and TV series that made it to the top of my list during 2021.

Every year, I keep track of everything I watch and then give it a rating. I have been doing this for years on IMDB. 2021 was a slow year for me, only achieving 184 titles compared to my record year previous of 405 titles. While I keep track of my repeat watching, my top movies and tv will only be the ones that were released in 2021.

Top 8 Movies

Nothing this year knocked it out of the park and achieved a 10 out of 10. This was a little unexpected as there was a number of movies I was really looking forward to.

My top 8 movies of 2021 are as follows, with only Belfast (came out of no where), Red Notice (huge surprise) and No Time To Die (could have been better) getting 9/10.

Top 8 TV Series

There was a lot of binging this year of TV series, which does take time away from watching movies. The top one here, that had the whole family roaring with laughter was of course Jeremy Clarkson’s Farm, maybe even better than his Grand Tour series (which had some weak outings of recent). The second surprise hit was Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown, which didn’t pull any punches. Naturally the BBC had a strong outing this year, with 3 hitting shows making it, each of them as good as the other.

2022 has started, and I have the “classic” Dwayne Johnson Doom playing in the background as I write this – bet you don’t realize just how much top talent there is in this big screen adaptation of the game.

If you don’t track what you are watching, then I advise you give it a whirl. You quickly forget what you watch, and when, and how good it was. I make a rule to never repeat a movie in the same year – unless its really good and I want to enjoy it in the company of others – and keeping track makes it easy to do that.

What is nice, about tracking your viewing habits, is the surprise you get when doing things like this reviewing the year, and what caught your attention.

My Top 2018 TV

My top 2018 list of TV drama’s.

And after looking at my 2018 movie list, here is the TV counterpart. Again, these are all new TV drama’s that have been given a 2018 release. The standout surprise (discovered by complete accident) was Kevin Costner in Yellowstone (basically Dallas with cows).

Notable continued series top output includes Outlander and Chicago Fire/PD. Sadly Counterpart has lost its way as it starts season 2. The big disappointment of the year is Dr Who – don’t really know where to begin with that postmortem.

Overall a good year for quality TV drama.

My Top 2018 Movies

This year, I kept track via an IMDB list of all my viewing output, rating each one out of 10, as and when I watched it.  While I tagged over 240 items, here are only the movies that, according to their IMDB rating was released in 2018.

I confess to being surprised by some of my end-of-year results, but as they say, data doesn’t lie.   The stand out movie, that I was hoping beyond hope would not be dire, did not disappoint, which was of course Bohemian Rhapsody.  The other movie I was pinning hope on was the sequel to Mamma Mia – and that did fail miserably, to live up to anywhere near the sheer joy the first one gave.  Finally, the most overrated movie was Black Panther – so many political undertones weaved into what was basically Avatar in Africa.

Overall, a great year for movies, lots of surprises, some great quirky comedies and mindless blockbusters (thanks Jason!).