Interview with our GM: Finding treasures in books

Yves blog

Do you know that our GM, Yves is an avid book reader?

His passion for reading and hunger for knowledge is evident from the many books all around our office. Any Titaner is also free to borrow these books to learn, cultivate and be inspired from the different book genres.

Curious about how he finds the time and inspiration to read so often? Read on for our exclusive interview to hear from Yves about his reading habits!

1. I heard about your childhood story that helped you develop an interest in reading, would you like to share more about this?
When I was young we had no TV in our house but there were always lots of books to keep us occupied. Also, on weekends my mom would drop me and my brother in a bookstore. I remember my dad always supported my love of reading-  at the start of every semester we would receive a book ordering list from the school bookshop and he never stopped me from buying anything I had an interest in reading, I often had the highest pile on delivery day!

2. What motivates you to read?
I find joy in reading as I have more control over the progression compared to watching TV shows where I have to wait till the episode airs in order to find out the ending. With a book I can just flip to the ending if I want to know what happens.

When I was in school, I read things purely due to interest and now it’s more for problem solving. It started with buying tech books to read to solve issues I could not fix. I still think the quickest way to solve a problem is to ask experts directly but in the absence of people to consult I turned to books instead.

3. What book are you currently reading now?
I’m reading a book passed to me by our colleague, Liangzhu. It’s called “The Anatomy of Peace- Resolving the Heart of Conflict” The book helps people to understand why conflicts arise and how to transform them.


4. What kind of books do you like to read now?
Psychology books to understand how people think and react.  Also History books, especially those related to war, I think it’s interesting to see how people reacted to a certain situation within the context at the time.

5. What are the sources of your book list?
Most of the time I find new materials from recommendations by peers or people I follow on Facebook.

6. How would you describe your reading habits? Do you set aside time each day to read?
I don’t really set aside time each day to read as I am not that disciplined. As I need to travel quite frequently for work, I tend to do most of my reading on the plane. Most of the time I can finish 1-2 books in one trip. If there is something I need to read urgently when I am at home I will usually wait till my family has fallen asleep to minimize distractions.  

7. How would you compare your reading habits from maybe 10 years ago to now?
I used to put more effort into taking notes but now I just remember what sticks as those are likely to be the more important points.

8. If you had to recommend ONE book to anyone what would it be and why?
It would actually depend on the person based on what books that I think would benefit him/her. Though, one book that I found most difficult to understand but had great learning in recent years are the series of Quality Software management books by Gerald M Weinberg( Cover Picture). It has a total of 4 volumes and the 3rd volume is most helpful for understanding why Agile puts people first. It is not possible to write good software without good understanding of people and communication.  People write software, complex systems can only be created by a team, so it’s important to know and understand people first in order to build a good system.

9. How do you apply what you read to your life or work?
Reading is easy, practicing is usually harder. I find it’s important to implement what you learnt to get a feel of it and to remember for future use.

 At work, if the content is useful for discussions during meetings I will usually get the participants to read before the meeting as it helps to align the thinking and also good to have a common vocabulary to discuss.  

10. What are your tips/suggestions for people to develop reading habit?
Try to have an objective when choosing a book. Do you have any problems that you would like to resolve? Look for a book on that topic that can help you and finish it.

11. How do you encourage your kids to read?
Me and my wife chose a Kindergarten that focuses on reading, exercise and manners so they have good reading skills and habits since young. I suppose it also helps that we have no TV at home so they use books as a form of entertainment.

12. What are your tips or suggestions to us in terms of book reading (i.e. some people read by scanning or page by page)?
It isn’t necessary to read, remember and understand every single line word for word. Try to get the big idea and 3 key points out of every book you read.

13. What do you plan to read next?
Social Physics- How social networks can make us smarter”. It is about how we can use big data to analyse social behavior.

14. Do you have any words of encouragement for our Titaners or readers in terms of reading?
Not so much in terms of reading but just find whichever medium you enjoy gaining  knowledge from the best in order to learn more effectively.

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