on August 29, 2011
This book is a dense, yet highly approachable treatment of various topics around decision-making. However, instead of a dull, boring and academic book one might expect from a PhD, this is a thought-provoking and (at many points) entertaining book. Rao's approach of the subject is rather unorthodox by simply making his topics immediately applicable with "real-life" examples.
As Rao mentions in his book, much of the material is a synthesis of various authors and fields. The scope of "Tempo" is wide in the variety of fields that he draws upon, yet narrow enough in the distillation of the core concepts that he explains in clear language. Tongue-in-cheek, I would liken this book as a mix of 1/3-Taleb, 1/3-Gladwell and 1/3-self-help. Unlike many existing books on the idea of cognitive biases and how our brains can fool us, Tempo takes a more meta view that paradoxically allows one to literally view their life in a different light.
For me, many of the concepts Rao explains resonated with my subconscious understanding of the world at large, bringing into sharp focus certain aspects of life during moments of solitude and self-reflection that are now easily explained.
I personally felt that the book was a bit on the short side, but only because I happen to have found the book so immensely useful to me in my daily life. The less formal writing style of the author allows one to read the book in one sitting. However, upon further percolation, you would be well served to read through Tempo again to practice the exercises used in the book. Thankfully, such exercises are perfect to explore in moments of idleness or boredom; which I have found to be the best moments for self-reflection.
As a last comment, it should be noted that Rao's blog allows one to dig deeper into the wide-ranging topics contained in "Tempo". I would hesitate to call this a tour-de-force, but it certainly comes close as a brilliant exposé into the world of decision-making and tempo in our lives.
on August 18, 2011
It is probably the deepest book you will read this year. Rao is a meticulous thinker with original ideas.
In a sense, this book is illegible, as per the sense that this word takes in the book. That is, this book is difficult, or impossible, to summarize neatly. I am unsure where I would put it in a library. Military, business, philosophy or psychology?
There is practical, actionable advice in this book. The author tells us that we should become more aware of the rhythms around us. Wars are lost or won based on timing. I am reminded of how carefully a company like Apple times the release of its products. I am reminded of Glenn Gould's contrapuntal radio technique, where conversations are turned into music.
All in all, Rao is forcing us to rethink the world around us. If you are a creative, this book is for you.