Sep 11, 2016

Book Review: Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Germany and Brazil Win


I didn't book Soccernomics to read, only because of soccer. I wanted to read it to understand the power of data analytics. It turned out to be interesting also from soccer point of view.

Book looked soccer from all the different angles. It explained the economics of soccer, how money does mean a lot in soccer. Also it explained why some team are better on their transfers. But it does talk also quite much about what's happening in the field.

The whole idea of the book is to analyze countries and their enthusiasm towards soccer. Then based on many different data select, which are countries that will in the future dominate soccer.

I liked the book very much. It was just the season of Leicester winning the Premier league, which kind of destroyed some of the thoughts of the book. Most probably Leicester was a one season wonder and can be explained as a statistical bias. Still for the sake of soccer, I wish the thoughts in the book don't happen exactly as they predict.

It was an interesting book and I recommend to read it. Statistics and statistical analysis is field that will grow all the time, when more and more data becomes available. This is a good start to understand it more.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jun 27, 2016

Book Review: Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design

I can't remember who recommended the book Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design to me, but I'm glad someone did. It's an excellent book about happiness and how our homes, neighborhoods and commuting affect to our lives.

Book introduces really many interesting facts about how other people and the neighborhood affect to our happiness. Happiness have always been interesting topic for me, so I was keen on reading more about the subject. I've always had a hunch about how important your neighbors and the contacts with them are, but this really gave some good statistics about it.

Happy City goes through data and experiments around the world on how cities and streets affect to us. For almost 100 years cities have been build to run by cars and with current population, it has actually made us less free. Many people spend enormous amount of times in cars and are unhappy because of that.

Book also discusses a lot about cars versus other ways to commute. Maybe on that end, book is bit US centric, but many of the things affect to everyone around the world. Commuting affects to us a lot, the way you commute, how long you commute and with whom you commute affect in numerous ways. Book introduces many interesting studies about the subject. One example was a study that said that commuting to work over 45 minutes raises a risk of divorce by 40%. Book is full on nice anecdotes and studies like this.

As with any other book, it's good to have critical eye on the studies and ideas, but those definitely will raise thoughts for everyone. It's an excellent book and quite easy to read. I recommend the book to everyone.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Jun 12, 2016

Book Review: Talk like Ted by Carmine Gallo


I've recently been more and more involved in public speaking events. Eventhough I've read other books about the subject, I wanted to give Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World's Top Minds a try.

As you could expect, book was made interesting to read. It covered variety of topics related to speaking via TED talks. Some of the TED talks were familiar to in advance, but some I had to watch right away to get more understanding about those.

The book is divided to three main categories: Emotional, Novel and Memorable. Under these topic book goes through all the important parts of creating a great speech. Book backs up the ideas with proper research and still keeps ideas easy and understandable.

Ideas as such were mainly familiar to me, but it still was interesting to read more about those. Storytelling and emotionally appealing to the audience is difficult, but works really well. Keeping audience focused is always difficult and this book introduced some good ideas for myself for that purpose.

As a Finn and European, I have to say that book is quite American. Having some experience on presenting in different countries, all the things don't work as well in different countries as they do in US. That's just a good to keep in mind, still the ideas are great and you need to find ways how to benefit those with your audience.

Overall I really liked the book. It's easy and enjoyable to read. It's full of great ideas and gives good tips for all presenters. I highly recommend to read this book,. Everyone will benefit from it.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

May 22, 2016

Book Review: The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

I recently read The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson. It'a a book about shipping containers, the big metallic boxes you see everywhere. The book tells the history of the containers and also discusses about how it changed the economical laws of the world.

The topic was really interesting at least to me. I've always been interested about the big economic systems and how those get changed. Shipping containers have seriously changed the world and could be seen as one of the latest industry revolutions before the internet.

The topics in the book vary from unions to ship buildings to urban development to the actual shipping containers. So it covers a lot of topics which belong together via the containers.

Unfortunately the book was bit longish to read, even thought it was interesting. There are quite a few people introduced and it was bit difficult to follow all of those. Also all the different parts covering union wars and strikes were bit boring. I believe the book could have been even 100 pages shorter with good editing.

I still recommend this book to everyone. These kind of books explaining the world and the big economic systems there are, are important. People usually are terrible at understanding these systems and this book explains those in quite an interesting way.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Feb 21, 2016

Book Review: Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall

I had high expectations to Christopher McDougall's new book Natural Born Heroes. His previous book was really enjoyable journey to endurance athletes and especially to ultrarunning world. I thought this book would be natural continuation to that one.

The book tells stories about human abilities that go beyond our thought of normal human abilities. So it tells stories about heroes. Heroes and especially endurance heroes looked like an interesting topic to read about.

Quite early in the book I noticed that it isn't as easy to read that I would have hoped to. The challenge with the book was that it was filled with so many stories, that it becomes almost impossible to follow all of those.

Main stories were about Greece, but even there the stories jumped from mythologies, to World War II to McDougall's own experience from there. In addition to these Greece stories, book jumped once in a while to stories from former China, UK and US. Many of the stories connected to each other, but there were so many characters in the book that it was laborious to keep track on whom was whom.

As such I liked the book and it thought some good things about humans and endurance overall. In that sense it was enjoyable. With better planning and organization the book would have been excellent. At least for my type of reading, I kept loosing track which story was being told at which time.

It is bit hard to give recommendations about the book. At least if World War II interests, then I recommend to read it. If you want something lighter about endurance once in a while, then it would be good option look into. If you expect clearly structured fact based book about endurance, then maybe there are other choices to consider.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen