10 Things to read and listen to this summer

Summer’s here! That means reading! Or pretending you are while napping outside and unavoidably getting burned. To accompany either of those scenarios, here’s our top 5 things to read during your summer vacation. And because it’s 2020 and podcasts are just plain awesome, we top it off with our five favourite podcasts as well. Happy reading & listening, you staycation tourists!

5 Things you should read

1. Multipliers, revised and updated: how the best leaders make everyone smarter — Liz Wiseman

A favourite within our HR department - now revised and updated. Liz Wiseman believes there are two leaders in this world - the idea killers and the multipliers. Guess which one you’d like to be. She gives insights in how to let ideas flow within the company and how to solve problems by amplifying the smarts and capabilities of the people around you. In general - it teaches how to be a great leader. Which let’s face it, the world needs more of. (Extra reason to buy: it’s very hands-on with practical lessons you can directly apply in your professional life.)


2. Feitenkennis — Hans Rosling

People answer the following question wrong more often than chimpanzees.
In the last 20 years the percent of people living in extreme poverty has…?
A. Almost doubled
B. Remained the same
C. Almost halved

Did you answer A or B? Most people do. But in reality, the percentage has almost halved in the last two years. Why did you get it wrong? Because people have preconceived ideas - and chimpanzees don’t. We carry around outdated facts we got in school, generalize personal experiences (which are very biased) and hear “newsworthy” facts that exaggerate the unusual. The majority believes everything is getting worse, when in fact most things improve (and honestly… isn’t that the most positive thing you’ve read in a while?).

That’s why Hans Rosling wrote this book - to help make the world less ignorant (and more positive!). Sadly he passed away, but his legacy still remains - and his spiritual inheritor is keeping up his good fight against the world’s largest problems with data and research (check out https://ourworldindata.org/).

3. The Laws of Simplicity — John Maeda

We, the people of the world, are rebelling. Against many things - but also against technology that’s too complicated. DVD players with too many menus. Software accompanied by 75-megabyte "read me" manuals. Let’s face it, simplicity is hip. Apple has proven it time and again, and everyone else is slowly following. In The Laws of Simplicity, John Maeda offers ten laws for balancing simplicity and complexity in business, technology, and design—guidelines for needing less and actually getting more. Plus: it’s an easy read and a tiny book - so lay it next to your toilet and skip scrolling endlessly through Instagram next time.


4. Make time — Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky

Covid immediately changed how we were going to work together. Working from home may seem fun at times, but it’s far from easy. We found that in the beginning our productivity peaked, but after a few weeks it deteriorated considerably. That's why we started looking for ways to bring back focus into our way of working. This quickly resulted in books that we thought were written for super men and women. Get up at 6 am. Crush your to-do list. So on. (Side note: any book that feels like it’s written by a gym coach pushing you to do that one last push up is a no go for us). Basically: unreachable methods that result in... very few results. Make time from Jake Knapp presents a simple framework to make you feel good about what you're doing from day to day, at a realistic rhythm and teaches you to internalize some productivity tips in the long run. And hey, it worked for us.


5. The Pyramid Principle: Logic in writing and thinking — Barbara Minto

Barbara Minto reveals that the mind automatically sorts information into distinctive pyramidal groupings. Her book teaches you how to communicate your ideas clearly within this pyramid structure- making sure your ideas make as much sense explained as they do in your head. Go read this book, think of great ideas and be great, you. We’re sure you’ll do amazing. Good luck!


5 Things you should listen to

1. Verwondering

Harald Dunnink (founder of Momkai and De Correspondent) is bitten by change. In his podcast about design (and you can interpret this very widely) he invites designers and entrepreneurs to talk about the impact of their job. Featuring truly fascinating people - like Bas van de Poel (creative director of SPACE10), Michiel ten Horn (director of first Dutch Netflix Original) and Yuki Kho (Cultural journalist at VPRO).


2. 99% Invisible

Design is everywhere. Even in places where we’ve stopped looking. This podcast takes a deep dive look at design - and where it finds its inspiration. Vantablack for example - a form of nanotechnology created by and for the tech industry but that eventually turned the art world on its head. Or how kidney-shaped pools shook up skate culture. It makes you look differently at the world and rethink everything you once deemed true.


3. Wind of Change

We asked our design director to give us his thoughts on why he recommends Wind of Change. He responded (within 5 minutes): “Ozzy Osbourne is in it”. Well… sold.


4. De Bourgondiërs

Burning at the stakes. Banquets where people gift ostriches with fireworks. Knight’s tournaments. Schizophrenic Kings. De Bourgondiërs from Bart Van Loo has it all. It does what no previous school teacher of yours could: it makes you listen to Belgian history and actually think to yourself: wow, that’s interesting. For that reason alone, it’s a must-listen. It also has great sound design that pulls you right into the story. And (!) it gives you awesomely disturbing “did you know’s” to impress anyone at any get together.


5. El Tarangu

Vacation means cycling. We live in Belgium after all. What better podcast to listen to while you’re huffing and puffing on your bike, then one about… you guessed it, cycling! Be warned: it’s a rollercoaster. Every time you think you know where the story’s going, a twist occurs. It’s about the crazy world of cycling. It’s about faking your own death. It’s about compulsive liars. It’s about a dinner in Geraardsbergen with someone who’s been pronounced dead. Intrigued yet? AudioCollectief SCHIK (From Bob, also a great podcast!) searches the truth behind Jose Manuel Fuente - known as El Tarangu - who’s seen 7 years after he supposedly died. We can’t tell you much else, or you’ll hate us for spoiling it, but trust us - you’ll want to listen to this one.


BONUS — The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie

Full disclosure: we have not yet listened to this podcast. But we still wanted to include it because (1) it sounds incredibly interesting and (2) we want to trick ourselves into listening to it.

Yes, the title screams clickbait or even reeks of a full-blown scam. But giving its credentials, we don’t think it is. It’s the podcast of Dr. Laurie Santos, a professor at Yale who teaches the most popular class in the university’s 300-year history: a course about how to be happier. (At one point in time, one in four Yale students were taking this course). Impressive, Dr. Santos.

Just to give you a taste - here are some of the titles of her podcast: Choice overload (About a woman who threw away her wardrobe to improve her life. Marie Kondo? You’d think so, but no.), How to Kick Bad Habits (Features a former army doctor who went to Vietnam to fight a wave of heroin abuse in the military) and Psychopaths & Superheroes (Gives insight into super altruists who go to extreme lengths to help others - and who are (spoiler alert!) happier than the rest of us). And, according to all reviews, it actually gives you concrete tips - Happiness awaits!