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Review of The Algebra of Happiness

I finished The Algebra of Happiness by Scott Galloway last week. I was introduced to Scott through the magic of YouTube’s algorithms several years ago. I don’t remember the topic but my interest was captured by his confidence and delivery about whatever businesses or companies he was talking about. Last year he joined Kara Swisher on a new podcast, Pivot. I was introduced to this podcast by another podcast on the same network. I love Pivot and last year Scott released a new book and discussed it briefly on the show.

I’m a sucker for consuming information on being a better person but I may not be the best at instituting that advice. This is a book that I’d like to read again but I probably won’t at least not for some time due to my desire to read other things. The book is clearly written and direct with good advice and strong story telling, but I felt like I was reading two different books.

The first half of the book jumped from topic to topic very quickly but the broad theme was finding your way in the world. When I say quickly I mean it was a new subject every page or two. If I could go back in time I’d approach the first half of this book differently. Instead of sitting down for 15-20 minutes at a time and blowing through multiple sections, I recommend reading just one or two sections and stopping. Instead of reading further, take some time to think about what you read and how it applies to your life. By reading as fast as I was, I wasn't taking things in. When I finished a reading session, there were too many different topics that I had breezed through and it wasn’t possible to do the self reflection that this book deserves to create. As in a lot of things in life, by slowing down I could have left my experience more inspired and better able to leverage what I read.

Unfortunately by the time I figured this out, I was on to the second half of the book. Maybe it’s because of where I am in my life but this half of the book was much more focused about being a better overall person than figuring out what to do with your life. This part of the book was still well written but I don’t think it requires the self reflection which the first half of the book deserves. Therefore what I consider a normal reading pattern worked just fine.

I’m now consuming Scott Galloway in too many formats. He’s created his own podcast in the last couple of weeks, The Prof G Show. I also subscribed to his weekly newsletter, No Mercy / No Malice. I’m obviously a fan as I’m willing to listen to and read through so many different things he's producing. The one downside is that he says the same things or tells the same stories in more than one of these venues.

It makes sense. As someone who presented for a living for a couple of years, I know how easy and important it is to have a few key stories that impart life lessons. These are crafted over time to have the greatest impact in a meaningful and often funny or poignant way. But like a comedian, if the audience sees your stand up routine more than once it can get stale. But is that the presenter's fault or the audience's?

Bottom line, thumbs up.

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