Sunday, November 22, 2020

Endurance by Alfred Lansing

 Endurance by Alfred Lansing from 1959 is a compelling book on the twenty-eight man Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, led by Sir Ernest Shackleton. Much of the material was from diaries written during the trip as well as interviews Lansing did with some of the men and it's great detail on an incredible story.

The goal of the expedition was to cross the Antarctic continent from east to west and it set out for the Pole from South Georgia Island, east of the Falkland Islands off the coast of Argentina, on board the Endurance in December 1914. The ship roughly a month into the expedition was locked in by ice in the Weddell Sea just outside the Antarctic Circle. Shackleton hoped that the ship would eventually break free and the Endurance and its crew drifted with the ice floes frozen around it. However, the ice began to crush the ship and the men abandoned ship in October 1915.

The crew took what provisions they could from the ship along with three small boats and drifted on the ice until April 1916. The ice pack they were on then began to break apart and the crew was forced onto the three boats and after several perilous days at sea landed on Elephant Island in the northern tip of Antarctica. 

Shackleton and several of his crew launched from Elephant Island April 24, 1916 for the 850-mile voyage back to South Georgia Island seeking rescue. The journey was exceedingly dangerous, both getting to the island and then safely landing on it, and they arrived on May 10, 522 days after leaving South Georgia. They then had to make a treacherous crossing over the top of the island, with Shackleton and two others walking into Stromness Whaling Station on May 21, 1916. The men there were familiar with the expedition and presumed all hands had been lost at sea, with it compelling reading in the book of Shackleton and his men walking from the center of South Georgia Island into the whaling encampment. The journey overland on South Georgia was the first recorded to have been done and Lansing notes that there wasn't another crossing of the island until almost 40 years later, and this done by expert climbers in proper gear.

Shackleton worked to secure a boat to return to Elephant Island to rescue the remaining crew and after several aborted attempts, picked them up on August 30, 1916. The book provides a great record of a remarkable battle to survive, with Shackleton and his men going from one almost impossible situation to another. 

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Eat a Peach by David Chang

 Eat a Peach by David Chang is a memoir from the chef and founder of Momfuku, now a series of restaurants on the east coast and in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Additionally, Chang wrote the cookbook Momofuku and has two Netflix series, Ugly Delicious, and Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner.

Eat a Peach is a very open and honest book and he starts with his Korean upbringing outside Washington D.C. and his relationship with his parents growing up. Later in the book he covers his battles with depression and experience with therapy and medication. He also notes that depression for him manifested as an addiction to work. He worked long hours and describes himself as someone who was a manic, difficult, and demanding person to work for. 

Chang details how he for a short period after college worked in a corporate job, and then went to culinary school after having worked in bars and restaurants while in college. Post-culinary school, he took a low-level restaurant job and worked hard for little money. He opened Momofuku Noodle Bar in a tiny space in New York in 2004 and hustled to keep it open. He next opened up Momofuku Ssam Bar and then Ko, a higher-end tasting menu restaurant. 

Later in the book there's mention of his friendships with Anthony Bourdain and Rene Redzepi, who has the restaurant Noma in Denmark, as well as Ferran and Albert Adria who ran elBulli in Spain. Eat a Peach is a solid read about someone who has been successful and has interesting life stories.

Thursday, November 05, 2020

Creating Signature Stories by David Aaker

 Creating Signature Stories by David Aaker is a solid business book with the subtitle Strategic Messaging that Energizes, Persuades and Inspires and below are the chapters, with ideas that stood out to me from each. 

Chapter one - What is a signature story? Aaker early on in the book notes that it to show how to apply the power of storytelling to strategic messaging. He also highlights that a signature story is an intriguing, authentic, involving narrative that delivers or supports a strategic message. It should clarify or enhance: the brand vision, the customer relationship, the organization and its values, and the present and future business strategy.

Chapter two - Sets of signature stories It's good to have a few stories with the same strategic message. It gives breadth and depth to the core story and message.  

Chapter three - Signature stories create brand visibility and energy When a speaker says "let me tell start with a story," your attention focuses.

Chapter 4 - Signature stories persuade Signature stories affect behavior. 

Chapter 5 - Higher-purpose signature stories inspire A firm having a higher purpose also enables stories.

Chapter 6 - Signature-story audiences Signature stories are for employees along with customers.

Chapter 7 - Sourcing signature stories Signature stories have a hero or set of heroes. Those heroes among other possible subjects can include the brand, offerings, employees, founders, programs, or customers.

Chapter 8 - What makes a signature story strong? Signature stories have an intriguing and absorbing plot.

Chapter 9 - Your professional signature stories - understanding yourself Your personal story should include all the elements of a brand story.

Aaker's book has good content in it on a topic that's important for anyone with a business and a message.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is the fourth novel I've read from the Swedish writer, with the first two Beartown and Us Against You about a youth hockey team, and the third A Man Called Ove, which is to be released in 2022 as an English-language movie (it already was made into a Swedish film) starring Tom Hanks.

While Anxious People may not have been as compelling to me as Backman's prior books, I still found it be a nice story and enjoyable read.