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Dear avid readers,

It's been a while since last time. 
A few reasons for the delay.

One is that we've been in Romania in early August. Since this is my home-country, I brought some fascinating stories. One is Andrada Fiscutean's article about one computer lab from Bucharest's Polytechnic University, that gave the world some of the most renowed hackers, as well as security researchers. Romania also gave to the world a rogue economist named Stefan Mandel that turned lotteries across the world into a very profitable business, by hacking their algorithm. Romania is a place of the extremes, and architecture is not exempt - some call the capital city's architecture a monolithic horrorshow. But the place has his charm - and my picture below proves it. 

A second reason is that this time of year, my brainpower is divested entirely towards the corporate strategic planning exercise I'm managing at my workplace. In other words, all the lessons I've learned through this strategy digest in the past 12 months (yes, September celebrates one year of this), I am applying in my work. Best return on investment for all this effort of reading together. 

I tend not to let myself distracted during this time of the year - so I can be properly haunted by this exercise - because, as Dorie Clark writes in HBR, if strategy is so important, people should actually make time for it. 

A third reason was that Strategy, Digested #17 was so interesting, we felt we had to capitalize more on it. So, my colleague Ben Robinson has built on top of it, and wrote a beautiful piece about how, in the age of personalized products and experiences, marketers then to confuse micro-targeting with strategic marketing. Ben argues that micro-targeting strategies still struggle to overcome the attention deficit and, even if it manages to do it, it doesn't have the power to engage. This makes it a very expensive customer acquisition channel, and worse than that, it fails to create the sort of emotional pull that sets off network effects (turning customers into your distributional channel). Today, marketing strategy and craft are more, not less, important.
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A fourth reason is that, from time to time, as humans, I believe we should leave our intellectual pretensions aside, and enjoy the good life, the way David Hume encouraged as to do. We read, write, and learn, but we must also take breaks. We must leave our obsessions about productivity aside.

So, if I haven't been around for the past 6 weeks, you now know why. But in case that's still not clear...  :)
As you are probably reading this email, I'm on my way to meet with Nicolas Colin, as he is visiting Geneva and Zurich where we will be discussing his latest book HEDGE with the local tech scene, over the next two days. 🇨🇭

Which brings me to the actual reason I am sending you this email. 
As I've taken a short break from reading for this digest, I have shifted towards more long form reading: books. If I may be permitted, I'd like to buy some time by using this edition to recommend you a few books I have read, am currently reading or planning to. I've crafted this list also with inspiration from my friends at The CEO Library - which is on a path to becoming your go-to-source for curated books about business and tech. It would be great if you could support them on Patreon, as they're building something valuable.

Now, to my humble, time-buying list of books.
Because I don't believe in "summer reading" - reading books should be whenever you feel like.

A curious list of books proposed by a corporate strategist

1. Rules for Radicals, by Saul D. Alinsky

✊ This pragmatic primer for realistic radicals written in the early 1970s by community organizer Saul Alinsky is more about strategic thinking than the name might suggest. This article from Beverly Gage will convince you

A side note, I remembered recently how the book ended with advice on how, as the world was entering the financialization stage, Alinsky envisioned that the next-gen activism will be done through the likes of shareholding activists. I remembered about the book's ending as I was reading Sheelah Kolhatkar's article about Paul Singer - a doomsday activist investor - and I was thinking that Alinsky's prediction got somehow hijacked. 

2. Machine, Platform, Crowd, by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson

I read this book last year, and it is a lengthy account of technology's implications over society and its business implications. Its last section, the crowd, certainly captures a critical strategic shift: crowdsourced activities are now turning the corporate value chain on its head, as end-users are now both consumers and suppliers (of labour, data, capital etc.)

3. HEDGE by Nicolas Colin

The above mentioned idea is then picked up by Nicolas in his book HEDGE, and he defines this crowd as the multitude. If you want a review of the book before reading it, I recommend Ben Robinson's review, as well as Stefano Zorzi's

But, like I mentioned in the opening section, if you are in Geneva on the 19th of Sep, or in Zurich on the 20th, come along and we'll discuss the book in a more intimate setup. We will also have with us Garrett Cassidy, CEO and co-founder of Trezeo, an Irish fintech startup that aims to redefine consumer finance for the Entrepreneurial Age.

4. What's the Future and Why It's Up To Us, by Tim O'Reilly

If you haven't read Tim O'Reilly yet, you definitely should. I promise this is a book where you will struggle not to underline ideas every single page. A convincing review is Nicolas Colin's here. As well as more of them on The CEO Library here.

5. Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy, by Bill Janeway

Incredibly demanding, yet equally satisfying read, from theorist-practitioner of financial economics, Bill Janeway, now Senior Advisor and Managing Partner at Warburg Pincus. A good summary I recommend comes from Laurène Tran, and she argues why this book is a "must-read for anyone interested in the dynamic interactions of market & politics as well as finance & innovation".

6. The Value of Everything, by Mariana Mazzucato

I have recently starting reading this, after going through numerous reviews and critics. As the FT summarises it, it is "a challenging analysis that forces us to reconsider how our economies work — and who it works for. An understanding of who creates, who extracts, who destroys value in today's economy." 

I believe this book, together with Nicolas Colin's work could be the foundation for a New Deal 2.0 -- and I can only feel encouraged to see that tomorrow's politicians are willing to pay attention.

7. Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of The Intangible Economy, by Jonathan Haskel and Stian Westlake

I have not yet started reading this, but it has been in my shortlist for a while. When we did Strategy, Digested #9, which was guest-curated by Ben Robinson, we covered this topic. A quick re-read of that edition of the digest might convince you also about the book. 

8. The Fixer!, by Bradley Tusk
9. Regulatory Hacking, by Evan Burfield

I haven't yet read much about these two books, but I did pick them up in another excellent post written by Laurène Tran. As technology, and hence entrepreneurship, is more intertwined with government, strategic re-positioning of startups towards policy-native will become an imperative as we're entering the regulatory period of the digital era. Definitely read Laurene's post and then you'll see why these books will put you ahead of the game.

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Share your thoughts

I hope you will enjoy this list which buys me this one-time only ticket to deviate from our normal routine - which is digesting interesting articles every two or three weeks. Going on holiday in Nice, France next week, but after that we're back to normal.

In the meantime, let me know what you think on Twitter @DanColceriu

Thank you for reading. Regards from Geneva!

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One more essay for the long commute

Martin Malý's account of the history of computers behind the Iron Curtain, in Czechoslovakia. 

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     My name is Dan Colceriu and I hope this reading was rewarding. Any opinions expressed here do not represent financial or investment advice. Also, they represent my personal view, and not my employer's, which is in no way associated with this email. 
      If you received this email by way of forward or online link, and would like to receive it regularly going forward, stay in touch by subscribing from button above.
2018 a p e r t u r e, 

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