As we begin 2023, we thank you for supporting us over the past decade by reading our insights and publications. Whether we had the privilege to work with you as a partner or had the opportunity to connect with you through our network – we are incredibly grateful to have you as a part of our community.
We highly value the habit of reading at LightCastle since it is consistent with our founding vision of fostering a knowledge-driven economy that inspires businesses and changes lives. Whether you’re a CEO, an entrepreneur, a manager, or an ambitious college student, the following suggestions should pique your interest and inspire you to learn more.
Hope you enjoy reading the reviews of our Consultants’ favorite reads in 2022.
Author: Scott Macmillan
Reader: Zahedul Amin, Co-Founder & Director, LightCastle Partners
This authorized biography sheds light on the life’s work of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC: one of the largest non-profits in the world. Although this book is essentially a biography, it vividly portrays BRAC‘s birth, growth, and evolution over 40 years.
BRAC’s story is intricately involved with the advent and growth of Bangladesh. The author, who worked closely with Sir Abed before his demise, adeptly provided sufficient background on how BRAC has evolved to cater to the country’s evolving economic and societal needs.
BRAC’s innovative culture of periodic self-evaluation using a data-driven approach for determining future course corrections is one of my major takeaways from the book.
This book can be an inspiring read for both development practitioners and entrepreneurs. Bangladesh can be proud of BRAC’s achievements, and what stands out for me from the book was Sir Abed’s determination to build a sustainable and scalable model, which has the impetus to keep expanding beyond the founder’s lifetime.
Author: Tom Nicholas
Reader: Bijon Islam, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, LightCastle Partners
Exploration of how the current model of long-tail investing in tech enterprises by venture capital firms started. The recount traces back from how the practice started with an investment in Whaling Ventures to the modern-day Silicon Valley.
Nicholas paints a riveting picture. It claims venture capital to be an American innovation and portrays the journey to the faith of investing in low-probability, high-return innovation-led businesses. I liked how he traces back VC’s roots to whaling ventures and draws an analogy based not only on the return data of such ventures, but the investment would also depend on the track record of the captain and the crew, innovation in targeting whaling grounds and the ship along with time spent on the sea and modern-day tech-Startup investing. Finally, the book is fun to read, and a complex topic explained simply and beautifully.
My favorite part is the stories of ships that sailed the oceans and what happened. Additionally, the background of the early investors/sponsors funding these expeditions was also interesting. The historical data on returns from these “ventures” was a cherry on top.
History is important! The current VC investment model was not built out of a vacuum but experienced hundreds of years of fine-tuning and a track record.
Author: Erin Meyer
Reader: Sanjir Ali, Country Consultant, Western Europe, LightCastle Partners
This book tries to broadly generalize the common work cultures around different parts of the world and how tolerance and adaptability may lead to greater productivity if a person is mindful of the people and the surrounding. It’s an essential read for professionals working globally among multinational team members.
The world has never been more connected than today. Hence, the need and opportunity for cross-border collaborations among heterogeneous groups for productive outputs are at an all-time high. However, culture is shaped through years of norms and practices, and it isn’t uncommon to see a person struggling to interact and work effectively within different cultural settings. This book is a guide for those who belong to the latter group, and I think it shapes the right basics for an individual trying to build a career in a global team.
Elaboration on decision-making and feedback across cultures.
Importance of learning, respecting, and adopting heterogeneous culture in a global professional setting and utilizing soft skills for further productive outputs.
Author: Judy Batalion
Reader: Fariha Kabir, Senior Business Consultant & Project Manager, LightCastle Partners
The book spotlights the extraordinary chronicles of Jewish female resistance fighters from the ghettoes of Poland during World War II. It’s a powerful narrative of stories of female courage and its pivotal role in the Jewish resistance; which are often overlooked in the recounts of Holocaust history.
The author weaves in-depth research from the diaries and memoirs written in Yiddish, Polish, and Hebrew into this narrative. The book documents the Jewish resistance offering an alternate perspective to the mainstream tales of Jewish passivity during World War II.
The valor and role of men at war are frequently commemorated, however, the same is seldom done for central female figures. Perhaps, my favorite aspect of the book is how the author brings to light the understated role of women at war. Additionally, as a war history enthusiast, this book roped me in from the get-go due to its harrowing depiction of Nazi oppression, Gestapo prisons, and concentration camps.
Wars burn homes and destroy whole cities, but their most colossal blows are felt by the common people fleeing staggering odds in the hopes of survival. While war is defined by the heroic feats of the people on the frontlines, the acts of the ones in the background are just as pivotal.
Author: Steven Runciman
Reader: Omar Farhan Khan, Senior Business Consultant & Project Manager, LightCastle Partners
The book sheds light on the final inevitable catastrophe that Constantinople was heading toward its fall. There is no overwriting, no purple patch, but you are held to explore the incidents that led to the ultimate fate of Constantinople.
Sir Steven Runciman tells the fascinating story leading up to the fall of Constantinople, with the Greeks as the tragic hero. His sustained narrative power is shown in his analysis of every step in preparation for the siege of the city and its defense and his sketching of the background and subsidiary incident.
Lacking their sage hindsight, the Western powers failed to see how inevitable the Turkish conquest had become. Yet the tragedy in no way changed their policy, or rather, their lack of policy, towards the Eastern onslaught.
Only constant progress and dominance can ensure your survival. Complacency & hind sightedness will lead to your downfall, be it a Great Empire or a person. On the flip side, even if you are a 21-year-old Prince with good strategy and preparation, you can make an empire succumb to its knees.
Author: Tom Rath
Reader: Dipa Sultana, Business Consultant, LightCastle Partners
Through the CliftonStrengths assessment, this book encourages one to identify areas an individual is naturally good at and focus on developing those qualities rather than expend too much time and energy improving weaknesses or fixing things they are lacking.
While most self-help books focus on best practices to improve areas people consider deficient, the author argues that people should work on polishing their strengths instead. The book, with the help of the assessment, shows the readers ways to figure out the key talents that are an innate part of them and guides them through how to work towards turning these natural talents into strengths.
The CliftonStrengths assessment helps identify talents across 34 specified themes; subsequently, the book elaborates on these themes for the readers to have clarity in identifying their inherent characteristics. The book also provides multi-stepped ideas for actions that would help harness the talents and transition towards becoming strengths. Through this, readers can have a guideline on applying their strengths to best use and learn how to work with others with talents across similar and diverse themes.
In his attempt for readers to understand the importance of polishing their talents, the author mentioned that when people can invest most of their energy into developing their natural talents, they get access to an extraordinary room for growth. Summarizing this, he mentioned a revised maxim, “You cannot be anything you want to be – but you can be a lot more of who you already are.”
Author: Cal Newport
Reader: Mehad ul Haque, Senior Business Consultant & Project Manager, LightCastle Partners
“Deep Work” advocates for a new way of thinking about work and productivity, prioritizing depth and quality over superficial busyness.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Deep Work” by Cal Newport. The concept of deep work, or the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task, is something that I have struggled with in my professional and personal life. Newport’s practical and actionable tips for cultivating this skill have been invaluable.
One of the key takeaways was the importance of setting clear goals and creating a structure for deep work to be productive and successful. I also appreciated Newport’s emphasis on the value of boredom and the need to disconnect from technology to foster deep work.
Overall, “Deep Work” is a highly informative and thought-provoking read that has already positively impacted my productivity and focus. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to improve their focus and productivity in today’s fast-paced, distraction-filled world.
My favorite part was when the writer discussed “shallow work,” or tasks that do not require significant mental effort. The writer argues that shallow work is becoming more prevalent in the modern world and is a significant impediment to deep work, which requires complete focus and concentration and produces valuable results. He offers practical strategies for minimizing shallow work to make time and space for deep work, emphasizes the importance of discipline, and focuses on achieving success in any field. This concept resonated with me as I have often struggled with constant distractions and have found it challenging to focus on the most critical tasks.
In “Deep Work,” Cal Newport argues that the ability to focus without distraction on cognitively demanding tasks is becoming increasingly rare and valuable in the modern economy. He provides strategies for cultivating this ability and argues that it is essential for those who want to achieve meaningful success in their careers. Some key lessons that I have taken away from the book include:
Author: Charles Duhigg
Reader: Samiha Anwar, Business Consultant, LightCastle Partners
The book Power of Habit explains why habits are the foundation of everything we do, how we can alter them, and how doing so will affect our life, business, and society.
The author presents intriguing research on habit development and transformation from social psychology, clinical psychology, and neuroscience after analyzing hundreds of scholarly publications and speaking with many experts who published them.
I loved the author’s optimistic tone about applying science in real life. Through a skillful blending of scientific evidence, theories, and personal experiences, the author managed to portray that once we realize habits may change, we have the freedom and responsibility to remake them.
Additionally, he contends that by comprehending the nature of habits, we may shape social behavior, allowing businesses to become profitable and assuring the success of social movements.
I loved how he represented his case by sharing fascinating stories and case histories. I thoroughly enjoyed how and why Target can identify which of its female customers are expecting before they had informed their friends and family, how Rick Warren rose from a depressed minister of a small congregation to become the head of one of the largest megachurches in the world, why Rosa Parks‘ refusal to give up her seat started a movement when other similar refusals had not, and why a 1987 fire in a London Underground station failed to be put out, resulting in deaths of 31 people.
My three key takeaways from the book are:
Therefore, we can plan to change our good or bad habits with the right cue, routine, and reward.
Author: James Clear
Reader: Saud Khandaker Hussain, Business Consultant, LightCastle Partners
Atomic Habits is a self-help book by James Clear that discusses the importance of developing small, incremental habits to achieve long-term goals. It is a well-written and practical guide to building good habits and improving your life. It offers a variety of tips and strategies for building and maintaining habits and is suitable for people of all skill levels.
The book’s focus on small, incremental changes and the importance of habit stacking have resonated with me, and the strategies and tips provided in the book are relatable. They can be easily implemented in day-to-day life.
James Clear says our habits are actually neither GOOD nor BAD. Instead, they are either consistent or inconsistent with our desired identities. One of the key concepts in the book is the idea of “habit stacking,” which involves adding new habits onto existing ones to create a chain of good habits that becomes automatic over time. Clear also emphasizes the importance of setting clear goals and tracking progress and the role of the environment in shaping habits.
The book argues that it is easier to change your life by focusing on minor, incremental improvements rather than trying to make large, sweeping changes all at once. Clear has offered me an entirely new way to understand WHY I continue my bad habits when in my head, I know they’re bad and why I find it so challenging to start good habits. He focuses more on the state of being and the mindset of looking at habits from a micro level. Furthermore, he offers precise strategies to change those habits, so I can make myself into the person I know I should be. It’s not about “willpower,” “motivation,” “perseverance,” or any of those traits we so often attribute to people who kick bad habits and start good ones. Instead, it’s all about behaving in a way most consistent with the person we wish to be.
Author: Jheni Osma
Reader: Lidia Gomes, Business Analyst, LightCastle Partners
A book on how extraordinarily bold adventurers took a leap of faith into the unknown and opened up a box of curiosities. The book focuses on the scientific expeditions that fundamentally contributed to our understanding of the universe.
The Little Book of Big Explorations is both a look at what has already been discovered, as well as a look at what’s still to be discovered. It is a collection of history’s most enlightening journeys that have altered how we see the world.
The book has short chapters that focus on groundbreaking journeys. These fantastic voyages of discovery have traced the centuries of our unquenchable quest for knowledge, which has been the driving force behind our survival as a species.
The Great Northern Expedition and how it opened up the northern region to geopolitics and new trade routes, alongside endangering the local species. The foundation of the first Russian settlements in Alaska and the discovery and mapping of several new islands were both significant contributions made by the Great Northern Expedition. But it also came at a great cost. Storms and ice floes plagued Bering’s mission, which resulted in the loss of numerous ships and the deaths of a large number of crew members. After the expedition came the hunters, who forced several local wildlife to extinction, including Steller Manatee, the creature only the crew’s naturalist saw.
This also surmises the book to the point that great leaps also come with great costs in an expedition that cost can be too high to recover from. But that is how the universe and evolution work.
Interestingly enough, the Introduction gave me the most wonderful line.
“Through reading about great adventures that have changed our understanding of the world in which we live, maybe this book will inspire you to set off on your journey of discovery – a journey that could also one day change the face of science.”
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