Andre Siregar

bookreviews

The Mind Illuminated: A Complete Meditation Guide Integrating Buddhist Wisdom and Brain Science by Culadasa (John Yates)
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I found this book, I had been meditating for four years, mostly by using (subscribing to) the Headspace app. Like other meditation apps, Headspace guides you aurally as you meditate. It also offers many “types” of meditation, such as stress relief meditation and getting to sleep.

I always had a nagging question on how to get better at meditating. I think meditation is a skill that you learn and practice to get better. While I liked Headspace when I began meditating, it didn't help me get better.

The Mind Illuminated is an amazing book if you're serious about meditating. It is a tome of more than 500 pages — I didn't know there was that much to talk about meditation! Usually, when you ask someone about how to meditate, they will tell you to just sit down, stay still, and breathe.

Well, it turns out there are many layers to peel in meditation. While the book is thick, it is full of substance and easy to read. It breaks down how the mind works so that we know what to “control” when meditating. The book is fully accurate in describing what's going on in my head as I meditate. I feel that the authors have deep expertise in meditation and neuroscience.

The book offers ten levels of meditation, and for each level, there are different areas to focus on. I find these levels extremely helpful for me to track my progress as I build up my skills. For once in my meditation journey, I know where I stand, and I know what to do to get better.

Headspace, Calm, and other meditation apps are fine for beginners. They are subscription-based and therefore focused on generating new content to keep subscribers paying. They also want their content to be generic and appeal to the masses. If your goal is to get better at meditating and leave the generic masses, you can't do it by subscribing to meditation apps. Also, apps subscriptions are expensive in the long term. This book, on the other hand, is a one-time purchase that keeps on giving. It is a comprehensive reference that you can go back to again and again.

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Gig Mindset: Reclaim Your Time, Reinvent Your Career, and Ride the Next Wave of Disruption by Paul Estes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Gig Mindset is a good book to introduce you to the gig economy. When I picked up the book, I had already heard about virtual assistants and websites like Fiverr and TaskRabbit, but I had never used them. This book gave me the motivation to try gig workers and it provides easy guidance on how to start. Beyond the “how-to,” I also like how the book emphasizes a mindset change.

The book introduces the T.I.D.E framework for engaging with gig workers. T.I.D.E. stands for Taskify, Identify, Delegate, and Evolve. Coming from an IT project management background, the framework is very familiar to me. For most readers, however, I imagine the framework will be useful for breaking down your tasks and clarifying explicitly what you want to get done.

The simplicity of the T.I.D.E. framework is also its weakness. The book tries to bite more than it can chew. It gives sufficient guidance if you want to engage gig workers for your personal tasks and maybe for your own tasks at the office. When giving guidance for businesses, however, the book fails miserably.

In the business world, a company may engage different types of external help. They are not just crowdsourced help and gig workers (which the book talks about), but also consultants and vendors. Hiring expert consultants is nothing new. Companies have also been hiring vendors by issuing RFP (Request For Proposal) that is open for any interested suppliers. The book ignores these “old school” types of engagements and only touts gig workers and crowdsourcing as the best way forward.

Engaging freelance workers for your company's tasks (i.e. outsourcing) probably requires a few chapters. There are so many layers to peel, for example, how do you assess the risk of outsourcing to freelancers? How do you vet them? How do you ensure they can deliver the same quality as you promise to your customers?

Besides the big gap in the world of business, I also wish that the book talks more about Virtual Assistants. I imagine getting a VA is low-hanging fruit for most people and deserves a special chapter.

Also, while the book gives a few examples of websites to find gig workers, it would be useful to list them in an appendix with reviews and explanations. There are so many options today and it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your particular task.

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