VIDEO: Book Review: What Got You Here Won't Get You There, Turn the Ship Around!, When Breath Becomes Air


What the book is about

It's a book targeted to business leaders at a senior level: once you reach a certain level of seniority, will the skills & tools which got you there help you be successful at that senior level? Will they help you achieve a higher level of success? Or should you be seeking others? 

The root message of the book is very much valid: you've reached a certain level of success and seniority, and these things have happened certainly because of a certain set of skills you've acquired. HOWEVER: your success also happened DESPITE certain negative aspects of your character and methods, and those negative aspects will stop you from progressing further.

As you get into senior-level positions, the most important skill to acquire and develop is: building a relationship network and leaving a positive impression on people.

This means that you should become uber-self-aware of how you come across to everyone, from the most junior person to the most senior. You should be aware of how people feel about you and how you "make them feel".

Bottom line: focus on developing relationship-focused "soft skills" and combine them with a continuous sense of "self-awareness".


This is yet another book which can be summarized in 2 pages: I'm generally not a fan of books which drag on rehashing a point. 1 or 2 case studies to support your point do make sense, but continuously bringing up new examples to make the same point is somewhat of an overkill.

I don't disagree with the main message in the book (which I summarized above): in fact, I FULLY agree that mastering "relationship-building skills" as well as developing an acute sense of "self-awareness" are both key to success at a senior level.

All I'm saying is that you don't need an entire book to make that point across.

Also: the book doesn't really go deep enough on what those skills are and how to develop them.

In Conclusion

If you’re an avid reader and student of productivity, self-improvement, etc, then there are better books out there for you.

I would focus more on books which discuss social and behavioural psychology, building relationships, etc. 

Classics like "How to win friends and influence people" is a great starting point.

Another good one is Turn the Ship Around, which I review below.



What the book is about

L. David Marquet is a retired U.S. Navy Captain. He was the Captain of a nuclear submarine for a number of years.

Throughout this stellar career in arguably the most dangerous / high pressure environment in the navy (submarines), he develop cutting-edge management and leadership techniques which transformed him, his crew and his ship into the most efficient ship in the navy.

Those same techniques have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies at the senior-most levels of their leadership with great success.

Stephen Covey (legendary author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People") said: "I don't know of a finer model of this kind of empowering leadership than Captain Marquet. And in the pages that follow you will find a model for your pathway."


Hands down one of the BEST books on leadership I've read in a long time (and I've read many).

Marquet takes us through the journey of how he developed those leadership tools through trial and error, and how he was tempted to quit numerous times against pressure from the senior officers of the navy to go back to "standard military leadership".

When he took over the ship, it has a history of record-low job satisfaction: sailors did not want to renew their position on the ship after their year was over. 1 year after Marquet took over, the vast majority of the sailors voluntarily renewed. THAT is the power of leadership.

One of the most powerful yet simple tools: he stopped giving orders to his men - instead, he instructed his men to tell him what they "intended to do", and he would just say yes or no. This simple adjustment gave each man a sense of "empowerment and ownership". It gave them a strong sense of purpose and PRIDE in their work. This, in turn, elevated the overall quality of the work being done.

In Conclusion

If you have any serious interest in senior-level leadership, whether you're a CEO, entrepreneur, politician, parent, officer in the military, etc.: BUY THIS BOOK!



What the book is about

Paul Kalanithi: a rising star in the medical world. He started from humble beginnings, the son of an immigrant family. At age 36, he's a neurosurgeon with job offers from some of the top hospitals in the US.

He wrote this book last year (in 2015).

He died before the book was even published. 

He knew this was going to happen. In fact, he know it well before-hand: it was the reason he had decided to write this book.

At age 36, Dr. Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with a highly aggressive form of lung cancer. This high-flying and newly married doctor became a patient with a terminal disease, and it transformed his world.

This book is about his journey through this experience: day by day, struggle by struggle, the false hope, the struggle with attempting to go back to work, with deciding on freezing his sperm so that his wife can have his child, with deciding on what's truly important in life...


It is very rare for me to find a book I can't put down, this book is one of them. 

Dr. Kalanithi's writing style is captivating. His prose is beautiful, and the way he takes the reader through his journey of shock, acceptance, rationalisation, false hopes, despair, and final acceptance grips you from the first few pages until the last few words.

In Conclusion

Don't waste a second pondering whether you should get this book or not: buy it today. 

It will pull you deep and open your eyes to what is really important in life.