Insightful books from Pixelgrade’s crew

Oana Filip
books

At Pix­el­grade, we plan to have an inter­nal habit of reg­u­lar­ly build­ing up a list of books that we think they worth read­ing. We’re fans of a mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary approach, and we believe that hav­ing a wide under­stand­ing on dif­fer­ent top­ics help us become better.

This is the first episode of a short series of books’ rec­om­men­da­tions from our crew. We can choose from poet­ry to design, from cod­ing to cook­ing, from his­to­ry to finance, so there should be enough good­ness for every type of pas­sion­ate read­er inside our team. We’re start­ing tight, but more team­mates will join the next endeav­ors, so stay tuned!


The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni from Eugen

One of the main take­aways for me here were the impor­tance of being vul­ner­a­ble with­in a team and how that can improve trust on a gen­er­al lev­el. Although I know this cor­re­la­tion, I guess I nev­er put it into this spe­cif­ic context.

Anoth­er thing that lids a bulb while read­ing this book was the dam­age that can be done by an ego­cen­tric team mem­ber. While I real­ize that with­in a team there’s no room for a pro­nounced indi­vid­ual ego, I nev­er real­ly thought that the impact it can have on the rest of the team is so damaging.

I guess this helps become a per­son that is a bit more sen­si­tive to the peo­ple I work with and, at the same time, I can detect harm­ful behav­iors eas­i­er and can have a bet­ter approach to cor­rect­ing them.


How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul by Adrian Shaughnessy from Ilinca

How to be a graph­ic design­er with­out los­ing your soul is the kind of book you start read­ing and get mixed feel­ings on why did you even buy it. Then the author hits you with some great insight in one lit­tle phrase, and you can see the red thread com­ing out of the story.

I peri­od­i­cal­ly think of Shaughnessy’s book when anx­i­ety kicks in and feel like my ideas are worth­less. It gives me courage through­out the day, as a design­er, to work hard on my ideas, exper­i­ment and be true to myself and others.

Also, in my wildest dreams, I want to have my design stu­dio which would light up the local cul­tur­al scene. So it was a lit­tle sneak peak for me, but you don’t learn these things from books.


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman from George

I picked up this book while research­ing about User Expe­ri­ence design in cor­re­la­tion to human’s behav­ior. Daniel Kah­ne­man states that peo­ple employ two dif­fer­ent ways of think­ing while mak­ing all of their deci­sions. The first mode oper­ates fast and intu­itive, and it can’t be switched off, but it’s more prone to bias­es, while the oth­er one could take bet­ter deci­sions, being capa­ble of accu­rate rea­son­ing, but is slow­er, dif­fi­cult and costs more energy.

Being aware that we, as design­ers, are using the sec­ond sys­tem while cre­at­ing an inter­face, in con­trast to our users, that are most­ly employ­ing the first sys­tem when using the prod­uct — it might be a good rea­son to rely on our gut more often.

Find out what was your first esti­mat­ed answer for “How many ani­mals of each kind did Moses take into the ark?” and you will bad­ly want to read this book next.


Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City from Oana

The first time I’ve heard about Brad Feld’s name was after my men­tor was meet­ing him in per­son while trav­el­ing across South Amer­i­ca. She was so impressed by this guy’s per­spec­tive on com­mu­ni­ty build­ing so that I imme­di­ate­ly start­ed to dig deep­er. I was quite intrigued.

There are a bunch of insight­ful thoughts that shaped my under­stand­ing of what it takes to build and con­sol­i­date a tribe of cre­ative mak­ers. The red thread that stuck with me until today is linked to the idea that fos­ter­ing a tribe requires being able to fight a 20+ years bat­tle to get mean­ing­ful results.

Not that con­ve­nient, right? In a world where speed mat­ters, where we cher­ish the get-shit-done atti­tude you could eas­i­ly think that this is a mis­sion impos­si­ble or a naive dream.

I encour­age you to be brave and embrace the path of build­ing trust and con­nect­ing the dots. Start with the city you’re liv­ing in, and give it a real chance. You will be amazed.


And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe’s Crisis and America’s Economic Future by Yanis Varoufakis from Vlad

This was a book that rocked my under­stand­ing of the world to such an extent that few oth­er books man­aged to. Varo­ufakis does a superb job of offer­ing an enter­tain­ing his­to­ry les­son and at the same time pre­sent­ing his point of view. I enjoy this mix­ture of facts and per­son­al opin­ions because it’s much more sin­cere and allows for a clos­er rela­tion­ship with the author. This is not a dry his­to­ry book by any means — it reads more like a thriller.

I believe any Euro­pean cit­i­zen should read this book if he is inter­est­ed in under­stand­ing our place in this world, how glob­al deci­sions are made and how our lead­ers take respon­si­bil­i­ty for the con­se­quences of their actions. It’s a deep dive into who we are, why we have the cur­rent tur­moil in the EU, our Euro­pean val­ues, how these val­ues coex­ist with those of the rest of the world, how cul­ture and eco­nom­ics influ­ence one another.

The sin­gle most impor­tant argu­ment for read­ing this book is that each of us needs the under­stand­ing dis­tilled in this book so we can be bet­ter (glob­al) cit­i­zens, so we can ask the right things from our lead­ers and be able to use our vote in a mean­ing­ful way.


Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless by Jeffery Gitomer from Alin

The author promis­es to help you rebuild your entire sys­tem of val­ues based on cus­tomer ser­vice and by the end of the book man­ages to do this successfully.

If you only man­age to solve the customer’s issue, you don’t do some­thing spe­cial but just sat­is­fy their needs. That does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean they will return to you next time. They are like­ly to go to your com­peti­tor for the same ser­vice. If you want them to rec­om­mend you to oth­ers and thus become ambas­sadors of the ser­vices offered by your com­pa­ny, you have to go to the next lev­el and impress them.

Jef­fery shows dif­fer­ent ways you can do that, talk­ing about the WOW fac­tor which should be part of every sin­gle inter­ac­tion with your cus­tomers. Each client rep­re­sents a new oppor­tu­ni­ty to build trust. Jef­fery chal­lenges you to be cre­ative and always try to cre­ate mem­o­rable expe­ri­ences for your customers.


Cour­tesy of the awe­some folks at Base­camp because they inspired us to start this jour­ney. Since we quite love their prod­uct we even con­sid­er to intro­duce a check-in with this curios­i­ty: “Share a sto­ry about a book that you love.

Oana Filip
Oana Filip

Digital storyteller @Pixelgrade and community builder for creative industries. A true believer in the power of making the world a better place.