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What LightCastle has Read in 2021

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LightCastle Analytics Wing
January 30, 2022
What LightCastle has Read in 2021

2021 has been a year of resilience and patience. Amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic, Bangladesh and the rest of the world tried hard to bounce back. At LightCastle, consistent with our founding vision of boosting a knowledge-driven economy that inspires businesses and changes lives, we have continued to work on high-impact projects throughout the year with the support of 50+ world-class talents.

Our team hones their analytical minds to keep pace with the global megatrends that are shaping our world by harnessing the power of reading and reflecting on the learnings. Whether you’re a CEO, a business guru, or an ambitious college student, the following suggestions will hopefully spark interest and inspire you in learning, or just simply enjoy reading the reviews from our team.

The Cold Start Problem: How to Start and Scale Network Effects


Author: Andrew Chen

Reviewed by:

Bijon Islam, CEO & Co-Founder of LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

As a Startup executive at Uber and an investment professional Andreessen Horowitz – Andrew draws on his experiences to talk about how companies can leverage network effects to scale and overcome the “Cold Start” problem – named after the difficulty of starting a car engine in cold weather.

Personal feeling about the book:

I liked that the book overall. It is full of fun case studies whether on internal board meetings or examples of enterprises solving scale problems. It has a common framework that ties up the theory together, which makes it an interesting read. The actionable insights on how to scale a business such as, forming atomic networks and finding “hard” users who add the most value to personal networks is something every aspiring and hungry entrepreneur must learn.

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

The anecdotes like a look inside the Uber War Room and case studies for example, how credit cards started, were really fascinating. My favorite would be how Slack started as a gaming company – failed to scale – pivoted and became a successful enterprise software – what started as an internal communication engine finally scaled globally.

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

Although there are various sessions learned from this book. However, my top 3 would be: A. Start with a minimum number of users and a product that does one simple thing very well. This atomic network will later provide the bedrock for scaling e.g. for slack that was at least 2000 messages among 3 individuals before the product became sticky. B. Identify the “Hard” users who will contribute the most value to the network – like for Wikipedia – a select group of 10,000 editors of which 4000 are regular does the bulk of the uploads and edits which are then consumed by 27 million users. C. Solve a problem that’s close to your heart – like slack which started as a gaming company later became a unicorn once they commercialized the internal company-wide messaging application they built and used to manage a multi-country team.

A Promised Land


Author: Barack Obama

Reviewed by:

Ivdad Ahmed Khan Mojlish, Managing Director & Co-Founder of LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

On the surface, the book is a presidential memoir. However, if you dive deeper into it, you’ll find it to be a story of achieving dreams, overcoming struggles, finding love, making hard choices, creating history – and so much more! No matter what your politics or businesses are, this book offers deep personal insights of America’s first black president – from his early career life to the completion of his first term up until 2012 – that you can draw inspiration from to becoming successful in your own pursuit of happiness.

Personal feeling about the book:

First, the refreshingly candid approach Obama took to authoring. Often, I find memoirs to be self-laudatory and unnecessarily pompous; however, this one appeared to be written straight from the heart, offering glimpses into both the good and the bad decisions that he’s made along the journey. Being self-critical is a true hallmark of a great leader and the book shares many examples where Obama openly reflected on his shortcomings in hindsight.

Second, a Promised Land almost reads like a novel – Obama has this gifted knack of connecting individual events into one big narrative. The book — which is the first of a planned two volumes— talks about some of the important policies he was responsible for implementing, but the level of granularity that he goes into gives us a clearer picture of the behind-the-scenes debates and discussions, assessments, and evaluations, all the while turning seemingly complex discourses into compelling stories that keep you on the edge of the seat.

Third, I liked the way Obama would keep questioning his staff in an effort to analyze and understand all of the facts and every side of an argument. I loved how he describes seeking out different points of view and how they influenced the choices he made. In particular, the chapter about his disagreements with the generals over his decision to withdraw from Iraq is fascinating.

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

For me, it had to be the first two chapters — where Obama takes us through his early career life and the election campaigning period, leading up to the presidential election night. The thoughts that crossed his mind while doing community work, the decision to give up a could-have-been possible “good life” post-Harvard with all its promises of wealth and pleasure and rather take the less-trodden path of public life, striving for something greater — all in an effort to create a bigger impact that one can only dream of doing by virtue of holding the presidential position. The color of his skin made the journey more difficult, but the pages in the first two chapters serve as a testament to his sheer grit, persistence, and resilience in the face of all odds to eventually walk out the ramp on a winter evening amid the crazy fanfare, soaking up the appreciation from the crowd, celebrating the success of becoming the first-ever black president of the United States of America — arguably the most powerful nation in the world.

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

A. No matter what position we hold, how influential we become, or what we end up doing, at the end of the day, we are all humans — with all our flaws, irregularities, and misgivings. And to accept that and move forward in life in the hopes of becoming someone better from yesterday is what makes life more fulfilling.

B. Spending time with the family is an important part of everyday life. Even though Obama was having to carry out the most difficult job in the world, he made it a point to spend adequate time with his family — be it just even catching dinner or taking a walk with his dog around the White House. Having a supportive partner makes your job half the easier. Michelle, Obama’s wife, played an immensely supportive role, particularly during the pre-election times, raising two kids, while allowing Obama the flexibility and luxury to pursue his passion. In the end, the pains were all worth it.

C. Every decision you make has consequences. Analyzing the pros and cons of each thoroughly before proceeding is what will make you clear to your conscience, even if your decision leaves some undesirable residual impacts for some. It’s quite impossible to always make everyone happy — but that’s alright. Such is life! Just be clear in your heart and mind that your internal compass is guided by compassion, love, and fairness.

D. We need to write. The process helps to articulate complex thoughts brewing in our minds. Penning down reflections before capping off a day is a good way to prepare oneself better for the next day.

Innovation in Real Places: Strategies for Prosperity in an Unforgiving World


Author: Dan Breznitz

Reviewed by:

Zahedul Amin, Director (Finance, Strategy, and Consulting Services) & Co-Founder of LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

This book sheds light on ways to foster innovation across an ecosystem. An interesting read for policy buffs trying to make sense of reasons why the Silicon Valley model has been so hard to replicate.

Personal feeling about the book:

The author systematically explains how different innovation ecosystems have evolved over a certain time horizon. He adeptly explained the nuances of innovation and ways through which different ecosystem players interact to foster a culture of innovation.

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

The case of silicon valley is vividly explained in the book, which has been compared with other successful ecosystems like in Berlin, London, Seoul, and Taipei City. It gives such unique insights into different places but with similar ambitions.

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

Government has a critical role in fostering innovation and Inclusive policies can encourage entrepreneurship and sustained economic growth.

Learn Python the Hard Way


Author: Zed Shaw

Reviewed by:

Farah Hamud Khan, Senior Business Consultant & Project Manager at LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

This is an excellent book about the basics of coding in Python. The author breaks down basic to intermediate concepts in programming and data analyses with detailed examples/exercises.

Personal feeling about the book:

I liked the way how the author explains why he has designed the exercises the way he has. He does not make it verbose and makes it fun for the reader to enjoy while learning something important.

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

The annex at the end where he goes over using Command-Line Interface (CLI), was worth more than a double read!

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

Practice and Repetition are the keys to mastering coding.

Driving Digital Strategy: A Guide to Reimagining Your Business


Author: Sunil Gupta

Reviewed by:

Tamanna Shahnowaz Sohanee, Senior Business Consultant & Project Manager at LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

The book covers aspects of how companies can embrace digital transformation in redesigning their business models

Personal feeling about the book:

The book takes examples from leading companies and highlights the strategies followed by successful companies. Most interestingly, it redefines the known concepts by adding the touch of digitization.

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

I have absolutely loved the way how the book explores the smallest of details that led to the success of companies over decades. For me, the numerous real examples were the best parts of the book.

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

One of the key learnings was the concept of ‘Ecosystem’ in digital products/services. Digital strategies are no longer confined to apps or websites, instead, these strategies loop in all the relevant players in the ecosystem. For instance, the automobile industry now connects automobile manufacturers with technology players and even telecom operators to implement the concept of ‘connected cars’. There are many other such examples from companies across the world.

These learnings have helped me in structuring my thoughts differently while approaching a real-life case at work. Coming up with innovative solutions to client problems becomes slightly easier when we have a plethora of successful examples from reading.

The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness


Author: Eric Jorgenson

Reviewed by:

Abdullah Reza, Digital Product Manager at LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

The book collected and curated Twitter, Podcasts, and essays of Naval Ravikant, an Indian-American entrepreneur and investor. He is the co-founder, chairman, and former CEO of AngelList.

Personal feeling about the book:

The book talks about finding purpose, wealth, and happiness through a fundamental understanding of the world around us. It resonates with one of my guiding principles and favorite quote: “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

As an introvert and empath, I often struggle with assertiveness and saying no. The book suggested a rule on staying focused and avoiding chaos: “If you can’t decide, the answer is no.”

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

Run uphill: “If you’re evenly split on a difficult decision, take the path more painful in the short term.”

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience


Author: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Reviewed by:

Aminul Islam (Ihsaan), Digital Marketing Specialist at LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience teaches how, by ordering the information that enters our consciousness, we can discover true happiness, unlock our potential, and greatly improve the quality of our lives.

Personal feeling about the book:

This book is an exploration of happiness. What makes us happy? How can we live a fulfilling life? These are no simple questions, but author Csikszentmihalyi makes a compelling and clear argument as to how happiness can be obtained. In doing so, the author touches on a lot of principles from ancient philosophies and religions, such as Stoicism and Buddhism. Yet the approach for a happy life set out in Flow is based upon scientific research, as opposed to rules and guidelines obtained from ancient wisdom. Not that there’s anything wrong with ancient wisdom, but it’s all the more impressive to see modern guidelines to happiness based on scientific research.

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

While the Author clearly explained the difference between pleasure and enjoyment, and how enjoyment is characterized by 8 essential elements.

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

“Everything we experience – joy or pain, interest or boredom – is represented in the mind as information. If we are able to control this information, we can decide what our lives will be like.”

The Life of the Mind


Author: Christine Smallwood

Reviewed by:

Samiha Anwar, Business Analyst at LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

The Life of the Mind is a somberly intellectual and darkly humorous novel about endings: of youth, of professional ambition, of possibility, of the fantasy that our thoughts can ever set us free from the tyranny of our bodies.

Yet, the protagonist Dorothy’s mind knew she has to make sense of a world that is mostly beyond her control, one in which doom looms and is already near, where things happen but no storyline exists. However, as the story persists Dorothy discovers where to look for the answers to her miseries, and as the weeks pass and the bleeding subsides, she discovers it in the most unlikely places, from a Las Vegas poolside to a living room singing session.

Personal feeling about the book:

I enjoyed this book for illustrating how the stories, we tell ourselves are so similar to the smart falsehoods we live. I loved how she considers her desires and choices, particularly her aspirations as an academic whose reasonable goals then seemed farther from reach. I loved her journey and how the mysterious miscarriage leads to somewhat completing herself.

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

I loved the opening of the novel where Dorothy is on the toilet contemplating her life and her life decisions. She’s going through a miscarriage and has opted to have it outside of a medical environment. As the weeks pass, she keeps track of her bleeding, keeping this personal secret hidden while juggling her precarious career as a nontenured humanities Ph.D. Additionally, she kept her miscarriage a secret from her two therapists, one of whom she hired to assist her work on her relationship with the other.

The opening scene gives birth to a tight narrative about a succession of endings, following Dorothy as she analyzes her ambitions and opportunities, notably her dreams as an academic, which now appear to be farther out of reach. What follows is an insightful story about power, ambition, and freedom, portrayed in witty and often shocking terms.

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

In my opinion, a novel typically denotes a work of fiction, and the reality is that most fictional works, in some way or another, mirrors our actual life. The main character Dorothy might turn off many readers, but I became enthralled in her mind, which is where we spend a majority of our time.

It took me a while to go through this since there was so much to consider. This novel has no storyline and is more of an intriguing, thought-provoking excursion into existentialism. You get to sit in the mind of another person’s darkest insecurities and her private physical experience and contemplate your own life. At moments, it’s a sassy little book, but it’s also one of the most insightful representations of millennial despair. Furthermore, the book has a feminist viewpoint that emphasizes the importance of female bodies. I admire the vision’s wit and reluctance to be bashful about body processes in all their muckiness.

The Life of the Mind does not belittle Dorothy’s erudition, which she has earned through years of hard work, and it certainly does not elevate the emptiness of Las Vegas as a symbol of happiness. Instead, I learned how the story focuses on the type of reflexive critical thinking that never stops. Dorothy’s character over-analyzes everything from doorknobs to stuffed animal toys, making herself ill with thoughts. If she could just learn to laugh at least once in a while, as this wildly amusing novel of ideas urges us to do, her small universe may expand.

Atomic Habits


Author: James Clear

Reviewed by:

Mustafa Hamid, Business Analyst at LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

Building good habits and letting go of bad ones.

Personal feeling about the book:

Particularly, I loved how the book combines both theory and practice in an easy-to-understand manner, along with drawing information from a diverse range of fields (psychology, neurology, sports science, etc.)

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

How the writer started the book off with his personal story and described the book as a journey with his readers. It was a journey I took while reading that I often look back to.

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

A lot of valuable lessons are provided in the book but these are the main ones I am trying to implement in my own life: A. Every habit must have a cue i.e. something which reminds the brain to start the behavior leading to the habit. B. Every habit must be associated with a reward, otherwise, it fails to remain a habit over the long run. C. In order to form a habit, it’s important to start with the easiest step (the one which requires almost little to no effort) and continue it until it becomes habituated.

The Giver


Author: Lois Lowry

Reviewed by:

Lidia Gomes, Business Analyst at LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

The book is about the utopia created by humans.

Personal feeling about the book:

I loved how the author articulated the book in a free-flowing style, it kept me from being lost or bored!

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

The cliffhangers, oh so many of them!

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

This book starts from a perfect dystopian society where emotions are not hurtful and activities are only necessary. As the story progresses, you begin seeing disruptions in paradise. It evolves with the protagonist understanding that the utopia is something you can only have when you sacrifice another thing.

This book assembles its meanings only when you are more experienced with life. This book can be a light reading with a thought-provoking ending. Once again, you can understand the intensity of equivalent exchange or opportunity cost in our daily lives. History books are set with examples of it. Let’s hope we learn our lessons and rebuild.

Rich Dad’s Cashflow Quadrant: Guide to Financial Freedom


Author: Robert T. Kiyosaki

Reviewed by:

Fahmid Kaiser, Business Analyst at LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

The book is about helping people make financial decisions that are often not taught on an institutional level. It teaches an individual the ways to go beyond job security and ensure financial stability with the help of simple infographics that are easy to understand even for someone with no background in finance.

Personal feeling about the book:

It portrays scenarios that are relevant to the real-world experience that we encounter every day. A feature that helps the readers relate the situation so that they can better reflect the learnings from the book in any future circumstances.

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

There is a part that sets out steps for employees who are willing to shift their quadrant towards investment. This section not only focuses on forward-centric actions but also setbacks that are an integral part to be an investor, as the best learning comes from making mistakes.

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

As an individual who is at the beginning of his career, I believe that this book helped me sketch a pathway that I should follow while making investment decisions and refrain from stepping into a wormhole in the world of credit.

Good to Great


Author: Jim Collins

Reviewed by:

Md. Mubassir Rahman, Business Consultant at LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

“Good to Great” is a book about organizational and managerial practices that have made certain organizations and brands very successful in leaping towards greatness.

Personal feeling about the book:

There are plenty of books that provide management hacks and case studies that would inspire you and bring in practical examples. However rarely do you see a book that takes into account the performance of organizations and brands over four decades? The research that was done for the book comprised of known and unknown leaders and Pioneers across different industries (1,435 companies over 40 years).

Another thing that sets this book apart from other books in the same genre is the fluid style of writing that makes it feel like a storybook where some companies make the leap and some don’t through case studies.

However, the thing that most interested me was the concept of not being mediocre or just good but going for greatness. This ‘greatness’ is beyond efficiency, productivity, or even innovation. And this book would help you to redefine and capture the definition of greatness as many have achieved.

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

My favorite part of the book would be the chapter where the level five leadership is explained. The first four levels are very relatable. It starts with the ‘highly capable individual’, then a ‘contributing team member’, ‘competent manager’ and finally the ‘effective leader’. As I have said these are very relatable and self-explanatory. However, level 5 is a completely different story. As Jim Collins defined in his book “level 5 leaders” endure greatness through a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.

And this is a tricky concept. Because humility and professionalism can be contradictory when they are thought of superficially. In fact, this is one of the major learnings from the book, that is great leaders are not just professional but also have a stereotype based on humility and passion born out of a cause/purpose their organization or brand works to fulfill. And these enigmatic level 5 leaders have a dual nature as the author remarks, ”modest and willful and fearless”

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

The valuable lessons I have learned from this very interesting and soothing read revolve around my own understanding of greatness in professional life, the type of organizational culture that can create great brands.

From the common pattern of the personality of the great companies, it was evident that purpose and human elements of businesses derive success and that surpasses the possible mundane frivolities of the workplace.

The same management tools used over and over again can become powerful enough to beat competitions and conquered the globe as many companies have shown. And these management tools are embedded in the organizational culture of great brands. Finding out the key strengths that a company can outperform any other competition with, using technology only when it accelerates your growth, using the best resources in the best opportunities, etc. are some of the age-old tools only sharpened.

All Marketers are Liars


Author: Seth Godin

Reviewed by:

Priyo Pranto, Business Analyst at LightCastle Partners

What the book is about:

The book is about marketing products by telling a story instead of focusing on their utility or features in particular.

Personal feeling about the book:

I liked how it demonstrates the transition of the old form of marketing into what it is now, a complete eye-opener!

Tell us about your favorite part or incident of the book:

My favorite part was where the author explains how marketers identify common pain points from a seemingly diverse group of people to capitalize on.

Valuable lessons learned from this book:

I have learned that in modern consumerism, it is more important to focus on ‘wants’ than needs. A ‘Need’ is a dynamic term and great marketers can convert the public’s wants or ‘good-to-have’s into their needs.


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WRITTEN BY: LightCastle Analytics Wing

LightCastle Analytics Wing is the research division of LightCastle Partners. It is tasked with producing periodic reports on the different sectors of the economy, analyzing trends in markets and making methodical, thorough and intelligent analysis to improve strategy and drive business growth.

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