The best books with people to learn successful invention and business methods from

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a self-taught guy, having started in my first job at IBM Oslo, when I was 18 years old, as punched card machine operator, and plug-board ‘programmer'. I did night studies in sociology/philosophy for 10 years at University of Oslo. I read about 30 books a year, and I’m 82 in 2023. I have spent most of my career as an independent international consultant to corporations and governments, while building up my ideas of useful methods to solve problems. In retirement, I love to spread my ideas, and learn more. I also write about 5 new books a year, when at my Oslofjord Summer cabin. They're all digital and free or free samples. 


I wrote...

Competitive Engineering: A Handbook For Systems Engineering, Requirements Engineering, and Software Engineering Using Planguage

By Tom Gilb,

Book cover of Competitive Engineering: A Handbook For Systems Engineering, Requirements Engineering, and Software Engineering Using Planguage

What is my book about?

CE defines ‘Planguage’ my planning language, as well as associated processes, including Evo (a value delivery process), and Spec QC, a process for quality control of specifications. It covers the process of engineering value increases into any system type. Requirements, designs, an incremental value delivery process (Evo), and a specification quality control process. I tried to write the book in a technology-independent, timeless, generic way, so it can be used for anything forever. Each of the 10 chapters is summarized by 10 generic principles, which I intend shall stand the test of time. 

The book, like all my works does not ‘wave arms’, and ‘exhort you to do good stuff’, like too many books I see. I specify the detailed rules, processes, principles. I give detailed examples and diagrams. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Invention: A Life

Tom Gilb Why did I love this book?

My father was an inventor. That is what is says on his tombstone. Over 100 patents.

His products today in building supply shops and in real buildings. And some crazy inventions that did not make him famous, but he had fun with.

So I guess I have a born sympathy for the lone inventor, who against many odds, manages to do interesting useful work and industrialise it successfully. This is not about Dyson, but written by himHopefully he will inspire the next generation of inventors.

By James Dyson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invention as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dyson has become a byword for great design, brilliant invention and global success. Now, James Dyson, the entrepreneur who made it all happen, tells his remarkable and inspirational story in Invention: A Life of Learning through Failure.

'By continually challenging ourselves, investing in the future and experimenting, we can continue to make the future. We must never stop. Never, for one second become comfortable.' James Dyson

In this spirited autobiography, James Dyson interweaves his own life story with a wider exploration of the importance of invention. On the way, the reader encounters challenging and inspirational characters, radical inventions, adventurous engineering,…


Book cover of Principles: Your Guided Journal (Create Your Own Principles to Get the Work and Life You Want)

Tom Gilb Why did I love this book?

I am structurally advised to admire a man who spouts almost as many ‘principles’ of his business methods as I do.

He, like the others here, is a person who has created a very successful business (in the financial industry, Bridgewater). So there is some proof that his ideas are worth listening to. 

He has a more recent book that I also admire, for its political analysis (but I am only allowed a small quota of suggestions). 

He not only shares his wisdom in a great book, but he campaigns, daily on social media for his ideas; typically with one new principle each post! He might seem to be promoting his books, but I know he is an idealist sharing his ideas. He does not need the book income (neither do I). He just wants you to read more of his ideas! 

He is in that last quarter of your life, Indians call it Seva, give-back time.

By Ray Dalio,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Principles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Ray Dalio, the legendary investor and #1 New York Times bestselling author of Principles—whose books have sold more than five million copies worldwide—comes a guided reflection journal that empowers readers everywhere to develop their own principles for success in work and life.

“Principles are fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you what you want out of life.” —Ray Dalio

In his #1 New York Times bestseller Principles, legendary investor Ray Dalio introduced millions of readers around the world to the unconventional approach he developed as the founder and builder of Bridgewater Associates, the largest…


Book cover of No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention

Tom Gilb Why did I love this book?

From my notes after I read it, “Great content and organization. Triggered me to write and plan a 2022 Book.”

There was specific practical content like removing vacation policy, removing travel and expenses policy. An opening the books, which showed the practices behind the no rules idea, and their consequent results in the business. As a consultant, these give me a tool for discussion with clients. What if you did the same?

Again a great leader, and successful businessperson, using persistence and imagination to deal with the forces against change.

By Reed Hastings, Erin Meyer,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked No Rules Rules as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hard work is irrelevant. Be radically honest. Adequate performance gets a generous severance. And never, ever try to please your boss.

These are some of the ground rules if you work at Netflix. They are part of a unique cultural experiment that explains how the company has transformed itself at lightning speed from a DVD mail order service into a streaming superpower - with 125 million fervent subscribers and a market capitalisation bigger than Disney.

Finally Reed Hastings, Netflix Chairman and CEO, is sharing the secrets that have revolutionised the entertainment and tech industries. With INSEAD business school professor Erin…


Book cover of Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos

Tom Gilb Why did I love this book?

No surprises. Self-made businessperson, with persistence and imagination.

This book is unusual. It is literally written by Bezos over decades of developing Amazon. It is mainly his annual reports to the shareholders! So it gives a continuous picture of the growth of the empire.

My favourite practical tip, is his executive meeting process. Meeting begins with a 6-page (with a 1-page summary) briefing, to reread for the first 20 minutes of as meeting in silence, then discussed. No presentation with slides and pretty pictures, and soothing ambiguous words.

The briefing is the result of hard work, in advance, crafting it to be useful. Wow! 

By Jeff Bezos,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Invent and Wander as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Jeff Bezos's own words, the core principles and philosophy that have guided him in creating, building, and leading Amazon and Blue Origin.

In this collection of Jeff Bezos's writings&#8212his unique and strikingly original annual shareholder letters, plus numerous speeches and interviews that provide insight into his background, his work, and the evolution of his ideas&#8212you'll gain an insider's view of the why and how of his success. Spanning a range of topics across business and public policy, from innovation and customer obsession to climate change and outer space, this book provides a rare glimpse into how Bezos thinks about…


Book cover of Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX

Tom Gilb Why did I love this book?

I have read many Musk books, and seen many Musk videos. So this is just one of many.

I have extracted the methods, Musk uses, in a collection. I have to admit, one reason I like them, is that they are essentially the same as my own, in Competitive Engineering! Just great engineering and management.

But, Musk, as yet, has not written his own methods book, or even articles or slides. So we have these biographical books, and videos, as the only evidence of his methods.

But his methods are clear enough in essence. “Fanatic on metrics” (source March 1, 2023 Investors video). Frequent, early, automated, measurement of results. Empowerment to increment towards a super-competitive product, service, and organizational results. Visions of the very best qualities, by far (example Safety).

Three Tesla models are top 3 of the 50 safest cars currently rated for safety! I value my family’s lives. Relentless eternal continuous incremental improvement, day by day (not model-year by model-year!). I drive my 3rd Tesla (3, Perfect!), and am in my 5th round of Tesla Investment (best ever winnings, better than lotteries). Of course, buy low, sell high!

And, if you did not know, Elon is not in it for the money! And not even for the exciting technology. No, he is an idealist. He really does live to work for the salvation of the human race! Technology and money are merely tools for that vision.

By Eric Berger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Liftoff as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The dramatic inside story of the first four historic flights that launched SpaceX-and Elon Musk-from a shaky startup into the world's leading edge rocket company.

In 2006, SpaceX-a brand-new venture with fewer than 200 employees-rolled its first, single-engine rocket onto a launch pad at Kwajalein Atoll. After a groundbreaking launch from the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the Falcon 1 rocket designed by Elon Musk's engineers rose in the air for approximately thirty seconds. Then, its engine flamed out, and the rocket crashed back into the ocean.

In 2007, SpaceX undertook a second launch. This time, the rocket rose far…


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Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

Book cover of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

Sam Baldwin Author Of Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm an Englishman who fell in love with a 300-year-old former sausage curing hut on the side of a Slovenian mountain in 2007. After years of visits spent renovating the place, I moved to Slovenia, where I lived and worked for many years, exploring the country, customs, and culture, learning some of the language, and visiting its most beautiful places. I continue to be enamored with Slovenia, and you will regularly find me at my cabin, making repairs and splitting firewood.

Sam's book list on books about Slovenia

What is my book about?

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house, but what was meant as a pitstop becomes life-changing when he decides to stay. Along the way, he meets a colourful cross-section of Slovene society: from dormouse hunters, moonshine makers, beekeepers, and bitcoin miners, to a man who swam the Amazon, and a hilltop matriarch who…

Dormice & Moonshine: Falling for Slovenia

By Sam Baldwin,

What is this book about?

'Charming, funny, insightful, and moving. The perfect book for any Slovenophile' - Noah Charney, BBC presenter

'A rollicking and very affectionate tour' - Steve Fallon, author of Lonely Planet Slovenia

'Delivers discovery and adventure...captivating!' - Bartosz Stefaniak, editor, 3 Seas Europe

When two brothers discover a 300-year-old sausage-curing cabin on the side of a Slovenian mountain, it's love at first sight. But 300-year-old cabins come with 300 problems.

Dormice & Moonshine is the true story of an Englishman seduced by Slovenia. In the wake of a breakup, he seeks temporary refuge in his hinterland house but what was meant as…


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