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Top Posts and Book Recommendations of 2023

Hsu Ken Ooi
Hsu Ken Ooi
2 min read

It's the end of the year and everyone's doing it so I thought I'd share my top 10 posts of 2023 and my top 5 book recommendations.

Top 10 Posts

I wrote roughly 15 posts in 2023. Mostly on Linkedin and a few made it to my blog. In an attempt to write more, I'm going to be less precious about writing on Linkedin and use my blog for more substantive thoughtful posts.

Below are the top 10 posts by views. Collectively they've been viewed around 500K times, mainly on Linkedin, which came as quite a surprise to me.

  1. The Problem with Accelerators Charging Program Fees
  2. The Difference Between Bad, Good and Great Startup Engineers
  3. Convincing People to Work at Your Startup
  4. How Iterative is Different From Other Programs in Southeast Asia
  5. The Problem with Product Market Fit as a Term
  6. Should You Continue Working on Your Startup?
  7. How to Engineer Investor FOMO
  8. Is Your Startup Solving an Important Problem?
  9. Debugging Your Startup
  10. Agency and Control

What's interesting about this list, at least to me, is it's roughly in reverse order in terms of effort required to write. I primarily write for 2 reasons, (1) to help me better understand something and (2) when I find myself saying the same thing to many founders. The most popular posts were all related to (2) and the least popular tended to be related to (1).

Top 5 Books

I bought 34 books this year (see the full list). Of those, these are the 5 that I recommend.

Klara and the Sun Kazuo Ishiguro
It might be a little silly to recommend a book that won a Nobel Prize but it's not like everyone (including me) reads everything that wins awards. You should read this one.

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
One of those books you read in a weekend. The books description of making games sounded very much like starting a startup.

The Creative Act: A Way of Being by Rick Rubin
I've re-read random chapters of this book consistently. To me, startups are about creation and therefore creativity. He has a way of talking about creativity that is deep, insightful and feels right.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford
Provides a very different narrative about world history, who played what role and what happened. Turns out most of what people today think of Genghis Khan is because Europe and the Middle East were terrified of him. Not as horrible, brutal, etc. as people think. At least not compared to any other conquerer.

What's Our Problem?: A Self-Help Book for Societies by Tim Urban
Turns out it's more of a book on how to think than anything else. He makes the case that people's inability to think objectively, rationally, etc. is the problem with society. I tend to agree but even if you don't, this is was one of the best books on how I think (or would like to think). For me, the experience of reading it was like having someone put into words the things you think or feel but (1) don't have the skill to communicate and (2) don't understand it well enough to connect all the dots. Any time a book can do that for you, you're much better off.

As an aside, a few years ago, I made 2 changes to how I read. First, I stopped forcing myself to finish books. If I lose interest, I lose interest. There's too many great things to read to waste time forcing myself to read something. Second, I started reading multiple books at the same time. Basically, I now only read what I want read in that moment.

As a result, I read way more now. Not just in terms of the number of books but the amount of time I spend reading. Turns out if you only read what you're actually interested in reading in that moment, you like it more. Go figure.

Hsu Ken Ooi