Insightful books from Pixelgrade’s crew

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.

April 12, 2017
Reading time 5 – 7 minutes

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 introducing a check-in with this curiosity: “Share a story about a book that you love.

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