Food for the business brain

Books and podcasts that captured the minds of industry captains this month


THE BUSINESS TIMES | 8 January 2022 | HOWIE LAU, ELISA MALLIS, IVAN NG, SANDEEP BHALLA, RYAN LIM


Howie Lau

Managing director, corporate development & partnerships, NCS


It's increasingly hard to find time to read with intent as the pace of the tech world continues to accelerate. Thank goodness for the wide range of podcasts and video summaries for bite-size, on-the-go information, learning, and entertainment.


The best book for me in 2021 was China's Leaders: From Mao to Now by David Shambaugh. It's a chronological, in-depth coverage of 5 key leaders (Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, and Xi Jinping), and how their backgrounds, personalities, and leadership styles moulded the China we see today.


One book I plan to read in 2022 is Writing Euro-America-centric, it provides the Modern: Selected Texts on Art & Art His- good coverage of financial markets. tory in Singapore, Malaysia & Southeast Asia by T K Sabapathy. Let's see what else we can learn from history.


CNBC's Halftime Report is my go-to podcast when I exercise. Although rather EuroAmerica-centric, it provides good coverage of financial markets.



Elisa Mallis

Managing director and vice president, APAC, Centre for Creative Leadership


I'm currently reading Enlightenment Now, where Stephen Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom and instead follow the data. With all the challenges we've faced over the last 2 years, this book is an important reminder of how reason and science can enhance human flourishing.


I've also been listening to the Inside Asia Podcast during my morning runs. It provides weekly episodes with Asia's leading movers and shakers on topics and trends that show how corporate purpose, sustainability and 21st century thinking are guiding Asia's future.



Ivan Ng

Chief technology officer, City Developments Ltd


A book I read recently is Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know by Adam Grant. In this rapidly changing world, the ability to unlearn and rethink is perhaps most critical. Yet, it takes courage and humility to let go of views that no longer serve us. Indeed, as a quote from the book goes: "If knowledge is power, knowing what we don't know is wisdom".


I'm planning to read Play Nice But Win: A CEO's Journey from Founder to Leader by Michael Dell and James Kaplan. I like memoirs, especially by founders as it's the closest we can get to walk in their shoes. Over the last 30 years, Michael Dell has navigated his company through multiple waves of disruptions, so his insights will be interesting.


I like the podcast No Stupid Questions, where author Stephen Dubner and psychologist Angela Duckworth ask each other interesting questions such as "If everyone hates meetings, why do we have so many of them?". The discussion goes deep into the science of things we may have wondered about and challenges our perspectives.



Sandeep Bhalla

Senior Advisor, Boston Consulting Group


From Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin, the biggest takeaway would be that it is imperative to understand the impact of artificial intelligence capabilities on race, gender and income quality measures, as they develop and get used to making everyday decisions. The data may already be biased, multiplying the societal impact that is already prevalent across the world.


I am planning to read The Eternal Decline and Fall of Rome: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Edward J Watts. The ancient societies were so sophisticated in some aspects of their lives and laid much of the foundation of our modern society today, yet they completely vanished from the world. What makes societies and systems exist for centuries, and what makes cultures and societies fail, has implications even today. Good learning can come from our past.


One podcast I recently enjoyed is Hidden Brain, on how our brains are influenced by or influence certain aspects of our everyday interactions.



Ryan Lim

Founding partner & principal consultant, QED Consulting


I enjoy a good cerebral read that brings a fresh perspective to a good life than a good feeling.


Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson is a sequel and update to the Canadian clinical psychologist and psychology professor's 2018 book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos. In both books, Peterson articulates some of life's most complex issues into words that help us better tackle and understand them, which is fascinating to me.


I plan to read Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio. I'm curious about him and his supposed unconventional principles to both life and business that were developed, refined, and used by him over the past 40 years to help achieve his goals.


One podcast I really like is The Prof G Pod with Scott Galloway. I always enjoy listening to him as he entertains (colourfully) while answering questions on who's winning and losing in the world of business, and how you can get ahead with alternative opinions, ideas and insights to thrive at work.


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