2019 Q4 Book Reviews

By Joce | Dec 27, 2019

Transforming Nokia: The Power of Paranoid Optimism to Lead Through Colossal Change

This book came as a recommendation from a colleague. Here's a summary of the book from

In 2008, Nokia was on top of the world, dominating the mobile phone universe. Four years later, the company was on verge of extinction, unable to compete against industry behemoths Apple and Android.

Today, Nokia is number two in the $100 billion-dollar global wireless market. In Transforming Nokia, Chairman of the Board Risto Siilasmaa offers his firsthand account of the company’s dramatic fall and astonishing turnaround. He reveals the reasons for its collapse and how other leaders can avoid the same fate. He shares the survival strategies and change-management methods he learned by leading people through crisis and steering the company through its wrenching reinvention. And he explains how the power of paranoid optimism and the precepts of what he calls “Entrepreneurial Leadership” enable leaders to build sustainable success.

My thoughts

I really like the introspective writing style of the author. Never once did I feel like the viewpoint presented in the book was judgmental or accusatory, even when mistakes were recounted.

Before picking up this book, my understanding of Nokia as a company was limited to the Nokia phones I used while growing up. Like most in SIngapore, I transitioned to using an iPhone around 2009/10 and did not give much thought to Nokia's fading presence in the mobile phone industry. This was a very enjoyable read, well paced and to the point.

The book presents a fascinating peek into the author's thoughts during the decades that Nokia went through multiple upheavals, and a glimpse into how big corporations operate, from the perspective of a board member/chairman.

Key takeaways

Board members play a significant role in setting the company's direction and vision. While they take on a largely advisory role, board members have a significant influence on a company and its people through their actions or non-actions.

A transparent culture is incredibly important and the best way to foster this is to create an open space that encourages constructive criticism.
"Questions must be encouraged and welcomed, not just on a superficial level, but as far down as it takes to divulge a realistic response"

Recommended for?

I would recommend this book to anyone really. It may be a long read but the twists and turns in Nokia's transformative journey make it an interesting read.

My rating for Transforming Nokia: 

Rich Dad, Poor Dad

This is probably one of the most read books related to investing. I've heard about it from many people and its also recommended by a number of local bloggers. Here's a summary of the book from Goodreads:

Rich Dad Poor Dad is Robert Kiyosaki's story of growing up with two dads — his real father and the father of his best friend, his "rich dad" — and the ways in which both men shaped his thoughts about money and investing. The book explodes the myth that you need to earn a high income to be rich and explains the difference between working for money and having your money work for you.

My thoughts

This was a quick read and I like how the concepts discussed were presented simply and to the point. The six lessons that Kiyosaki shared in his book are not life-changing secrets. Most of them are logical and won't surprise you unless you have never ever thought about money since the day you were born, like ever.

What I found most interesting, was the author's recounting of how he has applied the six lessons over the years to identify, evaluate and capitalize on opportunities to make money. If you're only interested to know what the six lessons are, you can easily find them on google without having to read the book. However, I recommend taking the time to read this book.

Do note that the book has an American focus and is largely based in the 1980-90s. That said, I find the lessons that the author tries to impart are still relevant in our modern context

Key takeaways

"Be proactive in finding opportunities. If you wait for them to fall into your lap, you've already missed the boat."

"Don't be afraid to make mistakes and take risks. But always do your due diligence before making any decision. Do not take risks with resources you cannot afford to lose. Never stop learning."

Recommended for?

I would recommend it to anyone who is keen to learn how to manage their finances. This book does not give you a plan for managing your finances. Rather, its primary value lies is the way the author presents precepts of financial management in simple, easy to understand terms, along with examples of into how money can be made outside of typical employment.

My rating for Rich Dad, Poor Dad: 


Don't bother, there are better books out there.
Not bad, but not great either. Skip this unless you have time to kill. 
Decent content with some useful takeaways.
Great content that is relevant and insightful.
Simply amazing Exploding Head on JoyPixels 5.0 Highly recommended and a must read!


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