Thursday, November 28, 2013

Board games for the whole world

The holiday season is upon us. I grew up enjoying board games during vacations and have made many memories at home and abroad around some good fun with a game. But which games truly transend culture? I'd love to hear your ideas, but here some at the top of my list.

Uno. Classic card game.

Qwirkle. My newest favorite. Kinda like dominoes but much more interesting which six shapes and six colors.

Six. Takes 10 seconds to learn and involves hexagonal tiles in two colors...and quite a bit of strategy.

Othello. Like checkers on steriods.

Gobblet. Like checkers but in 3D.

Pass the Pigs. This could be offensive in certain religious cultures, but I've seen it produce many laughs from dozens of onlookers in a crowded train heading through India...

Dominoes. Numbers on tiles....or you can just set them up and knock them over.

In general, anything that mostly involves numbers and colors is highly likely to be cross-cultural. Surprisingly, I've seen Settlers of Catan played in a few countries. But the ones above can be played with a person from any educational or societal background, in my opinion, and learned very quickly on a train or plane. What great games did I miss?

Monday, November 18, 2013

On my reading list: Autumn 2013

Enjoying too many books lately! Part-way through all of these. Still about 50-50 on Kindle vs. hard copy...

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and at Work, by Chip and Dan Heath. Builds on the Nobel-prize winning work of Kahneman as well as other behavioral economists like Ariely. However, while those books give insights into how human make flawed decisions (usually too logical, or too emotional), the authors give a 4-step process and tons of practical tips and tricks for making decisions more likely to be successful. Easy read and very helpful! Authors used to write for Fast Company magazine and have two other books that I've not read but heard good things about.

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, by Patrick Lencioni. I've been reading and re-reading this for several months. Most Lencioni books are fables. This summarizes his main management and leadership principles from the last decade. Very pragmatic and covers the basics: forming a great leadership team, communication with clarity, great meetings, and more. As with many classic books, the concepts aren't new but it gives us a solid checklist or process to follow so we don't have blind spots.

Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential, by Gordon T. Smith. I've always distrusted people who say they knew exactly what career or even what country or community they wanted to serve. I like the "vocational" approach to life which Smith advocates. The idea is that you may have several different careers in life but there is a thread of commonality between them. This thread combines your unique design, temperment, interests, and, eventually, experiences. It becomes a vocation or a "calling" that will provide consistency -- and freedom -- to your life.

The World Is Not Ours to Save: Finding the Freedom to Do Good, by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson. Just downloaded this one, but can't wait to read it. I've always worked with extremely visionary and idealistic organizations that are trying to do big things (i.e. reinvent computing, end caste-based discrimination, or stop poverty before it starts)! Looking forward to balancing this with a proper sense of my role in the world. As the book summary says, "...passionate enthusiasm can quickly give way to disillusionment, compassion fatigue or empty slacktivism. As we move from awareness to mobilization, we bump up against the complexities of global problems...Veteran activist Tyler Wigg-Stevenson identifies the...pitfalls that threaten much of today's cause-driven [approaches]."