Category Archives: reading

Tales From Beyond The Tap by Randy Bachman

Many of you who know me know that I am a huge Neil Young fan. To this day, he is one of Canada’s most successful and well-regarded songwriters and musicians. However, when it comes to Canadian rock royalty there is probably no one else who has penned and produced as many hits than Randy Bachman. He has fronted two of the biggest names is Canadian rock: The Guess Who and BTO (Bachman Turner Overdrive).

I have had the opportunity to both hear him play as well as listen to him speak. Both live. And here in Toronto. Along with Canadian indie band, The Sadies, he opened for Neil Young a couple of years ago at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. This past year, he published a book and was part of a speaker series at the Reference Library in Toronto.

#tbt with Randy Bachman. Canadian music icon and amazing storyteller.

A photo posted by @karimkanji on

Tales From Beyond The Tap takes an inside look at Bachman’s life. Everything from his songwriting process, his relationship with Burton Cummings and siblings, his popular CBC show Randy’s Vinyl Tap, and his thoughts on the future of the music business and everything in between are covered in this book.

Randy has penned some of rock’s most beloved anthems. Tales From Beyond The Tap is Bachman at his best. A must read for any rock and roll fan.

the everything store by Brad Stone: my book review

the everything store
the everything store

“the everything store” by Brad Stone is a very in-depth analysis of the beginning of the Amazon story. And, of course, the main actor in this story is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

The story begins in the East Coast with Bezos working for an investment house. Starting here, Stone takes us on a journey inside Bezos entrepreneurial mind throughout the humble beginnings of Amazon as it grew into the behemoth that it is today.

I’ve read Accidental Billionaires as well as Hatching Twitter. I’ve even read the Steve Jobs book. “the everything store” is different. This is no soap opera story; although many former employees might tell you that they felt they were in one when they worked there.

Stone’s book is a serious business look at what makes Bezos tick and what makes Amazon as feared by competitors while being admired by entrepreneurs; both at the same time.


Book Review: Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story

Robyn Doolittle
Robyn Doolittle

To say that I was glued to this Robyn Doolittle’s book until I was finished reading it would be an understatement. It’s taken me longer to start (and finish) blogging about the book than it took me to actually read it.

Crazy Town us the perfect title for this book. It’s not so much as Toronto being a crazy town as it is a play on the bubble that the Ford family has created for itself over a generation.

Everything that you would expect to be in this book is there. Everything. Including the research process and behind the scenes meetings and conversations between Doolittle and her superiors at the Toronto Star.

What struck me the most about this book were two things that have nothing to do with Ford.

The first is the amount of research and discussions that occur before a word is even typed and subsequently printed. For every piece that Doolittle has written there is literally a team of editors, (sometimes) publishers and even lawyers (especially when reporting on Rob Ford) that need to go over her research and submission. Nothing is left to chance and all sides of the story are discussed and dissected. Reading her book gave me a new found appreciation for the news reporting process that the Toronto Star follows.

The second, and most disturbing, revelation has to do with the seemingly archaic laws in Canada surrounding access to information. Our public institutions (government and public services such as police) gather so much information in the name of the greater public good. However, accessing that information is next to impossible for ordinary citizens such as me. And the media? Well, they have the resources and the knowledge on how to ask and what to ask. Yet even they have the hardest time getting access to information.

As a book, Crazy Town has it all. And by all, I mean everything you could ever want to know about Rob Ford. His parents (enterprising), upbringing (silver spoon), siblings (crazy people usually influenced by drugs it seems), career before politics (nada), his brushes with the law (international and usually involving booze) and his current political life (unbelievable).

This October, Toronto will go to the polls to vote for who they want as their Mayor. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for or not vote for. Unless you ask me. However, I do have one suggestion: READ. THE. BOOK.

Book Review: An Astronaut’s Guide To Life On Earth

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth - Chris Hadfield
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth – Chris Hadfield

Every once in a while a person has a dream as a child. That same person grows up focusing on that same goal. Finally that person goes on to experience that dream.

Yes, Chris Hadfield did dream of becoming an astronaut and visiting space. However, this book is not so much about the culmination of a decades long dream. It is about experiencing and living that journey. And that journey is what An Astronaut’s Guide is all about.

Hadfield was an astronaut for 20+ years. Less than a year of that was actually spent in space. The journey and Hadfield’s constant preparation is the basis of this wonderful book.

This is not a feel good book. Nor is it a self-help book. At least it wasn’t for me. An Astronaut’s Guide was an opportunity to get as close as possible to Hadfield as he illustrates his success and failures over his preparation and career as an astronaut.

A pleasure to read. Get it.

Book Review: Hatching Twitter

Back in 2010 in the initial iteration of this blog I did a short book review of Accidental Billionaires which was the book that inspired the movie, Social Network which were both inspired by Facebook.

hatching twitter
hatching twitter

Hatching Twitter is the story about how 4 friends came up with the idea for the 140-character “status” updater/social networking site/global phenomenon, who then became co-founders and then became sworn enemies.

Ev told Jack he had to “chill out” with the deluge of media he was doing. “It’s bad for the company,” Ev said. “It’s sending the wrong message.” Biz sat between them, watching like a spectator at a tennis match.
“But I invented Twitter,” Jack said.
“No, you didn’t invent Twitter,” Ev replied. “I didn’t invent Twitter either. Neither did Biz. People don’t invent things on the Internet. They simply expand on an idea that already exists.”

Like Accidental Billionaires (which is a better book than movie) Hatching Twitter (which has just been optioned as a TV series) is about friendship, betrayal, success, business, love, hatred, loyalty, and almost any other emotion you can think of.

Although media and recent history tells a different story, I would like to thank Ev, Jack, Biz and Noah for creating a tool that has changed and continues to change the way people communicate and brands market.

Twitter has become the place where everyone from private citizens, brands and celebrities continue to compete for the attention and adoration of their friends, family members, consumers and marketers. Reading about how this successful company was hatched is a must for everyone. Especially if you’re an avid fan and user like myself.

Book Review: The funniest and most honest book ever was written by Rob Delaney

I was given Rob Delaney’s book by good friends of mine for my last birthday. I was putting it off as I tried to finish the book I was then reading. don’t ask me what it was.

Delaney has been described as the funniest man on Twitter. He just might be that if you are to believe what “they” say. However, he is undoubtedly one of the funniest writers as well. Delaney has written a book that is honest, funny, sad, reflective, challenging and thought provoking. Most of the time, I felt multiple emotions in one chapter.

This is one of those books that leaves you begging for more when you’re done. It is a quick read. not because of the length but because it’s a book you will never want to put down.

It is also a book that will make you reflect on what you’re doing in life. You may not change careers or start to believe in a God. But you may start to live a little out on the edge.

Pick this up as a gift. for yourself. you deserve it.

rob delaney
rob delaney

six pixels of separation: book review

I could not have picked a better book to read on my travels to East Africa than Mitch Joel’s Six Pixels of Separation

Although it was published in 2009 (which probably means it was written much earlier) there is still a ton of great points and nuggets that are applicable even today.  Here is who I would recommend this book to: EVERYONE.

That’s right everyone.  Why?  Because the web is now social and as the subtitle of the book says, Everyone is connected, connect your business to everyone.  Business owners, marketing professionals, students, employees and even self-employed individuals can benefit from reading Mitch Joel’s bestseller.

Here are some points that I jotted down in my notebook as I read this book in Dar Es Salaam, Zanzibar, Nairobi, Arusha, and Kampala:

  • consumers will market our product if we let them review our product (even if it’s a negative review)
  • you can’t have a strong business without a strong community
  • being connected is not the same as being engaged
  • consumers are always willing to pay a premium online if what they are getting has added value
  • the point of mobile marketing is…Sorry, you have to read the book like I did to finish this sentence

As you read this book you will understand that being involved, engaged and relevant online can and will enable you (your company, your business, business partners) to be not only a trusted online source but also a profitable one.

Here’s one reason why I’m so excited to have read this book at this moment in time:  At no other time in history have people been able to more easily start their own business.  The internet and the social tools that seem to be dominating the conversation have helped many people make the leap to business ownership.

And this is a leap I’m looking forward to making as well as helping other’s make.

Have you read Mitch Joel’s book?  Do you read his blog or listen to his podcast?  If not, I highly recommend you do.  If you do, I’d love to hear your opinion on his work and content.

what the dog saw [book report]

I love Malcolm Gladwell.

Really.  I heard his voice in an interview before I ever read his book.  And I was hooked.  It wasn’t just his voice. (If you’ve ever listened to any of his audiobooks you know what I’m speaking is true.)

It’s his arguments.  They just seem to make sense to me.  And they are also very entertaining.

His latest book, What The Dog Saw, is actually a collection of his essays from The New Yorker.  The topics he covers a range from spaghetti sauce to dog whisperers to the Enron fiasco to football quarterbacks.  No topic is too popular or too off beat for Gladwell to cover.

I enjoyed this collection of essays.  However, I do hope that his next book is another original work rather than a collection.

So, if you’re a fan of Gladwell and you have yet to read What The Dog Saw, shame on you.  If you are sceptical of this popular author, I understand.  However, if you are the type of person who likes to get under the surface and truly find the answer to the question, “why?”, then you owe it to yourself to give at least a few of the stories in this collection a chance.

Have you read any of Malcolm Gladwell’s books?  What do you think?

not available

Last weekend I was offline.  I didn’t tweet.  I didn’t even check my twitter stream.  I did not even go on Facebook or check any email.  The closest thing I came to using the computer was seeing how the weather was going to be.

In today’s age of  “always being available” I found this past weekend to be refreshing.  And busy.

Now I was anxious.  But only a little.  I have an event that happens in less that one month and there are people who are counting on me.  But they all have my phone number.

So what did I do that kept me busy?

  1. I watched almost every Thomas The Tank Engine and Bob The Builder dvd and vhs we have with my son.  And we do have alot of videos/dvds.
  2. I read a few stories from Malcolm Gladwell’s “What The Dog Saw”.
  3. I took afternoon naps.
  4. We fed ducks at Harbourfront.
  5. We celebrated my sister’s birthday at her cool downtown condo.  (She cooks a great green curry something or the other. Really.)

So, I know it’s only Tuesday afternoon.  But why not “schedule” to be offline this weekend.  It doesn’t have to be this weekend.  I’m just suggesting to keep the smartphone in your desk (or at least data free) and your laptop powered down.

You’ll be amazed to see how much you can accomplish and how free you can be when you’re “not available.”

I would love to hear your thoughts on unplugging yourself.  Has anyone ever tried it recently?