I recently finished reading this book by Rajesh Setty (blog), who is a longtime entrepreneur and writer. Beyond Code is a rather unique book, in my view, because it’s a fascinating mix of solid business and career advice interspersed with insight into Setty’s background and childhood. I came away feeling like I had a good understanding of some new ideas, but also clear insight into the genesis of those ideas. Most business books simply give you the advice and leave it up to you to determine if it comes from a worthwhile source. Setty puts those wonderings to rest with his anecdotes about his past and how that has helped shape his current outlook on life and business. Just to set expectations appropriately, this isn’t a ‘how to be a better manager’ kind of book. The content is almost purely in what I’d call the ‘personal mastery’ genre. Lots of good info and tips about how to be a better colleague, project co-worker; how to de-commodify yourself and build your personal brand.
The book is interspersed with mindmaps, which appear (and were confirmed in the Acknowledgements) to have been made by my favorite app, MindManager. You gotta love a book that uses mindmaps to increase understanding and readability. Also, Setty wins my favor by including an annotated bibliography, though he just calls it Recommended Reading. I love it when authors do this. It allows me to get exposure to other writers that I might not have found, and it also helps confirm patterns that I notice in the writing, when I see that the author and I share an appreciation of similar books.
The book is a fairly quick read. It’s broken into just two parts: The Inner Game and The Outer Game. Part I, The Inner Game, contains five chapters entitled Learn, Laugh, Look, Leave a Lasting Impression and Love. Part II, The Outer Game, contains four chapters entitled Leverage, Likeability, Listen and Lead. (Setty does not fear aliteration) The two parts are bisected by a brief biographic detour of Setty’s early years.
Early on, Setty walks the reader through an ROI exercise intended to demonstrate to the reader that there is much to be gained from a relatively minor investment in reading the book. Setty also includes exercises at the conclusion of each chapter which are intended to cement the concepts learned in the chapter, and to help provide additional accountability in executing those concepts. I admit that I didn’t do them, but can see how they’d be useful to some readers.
Overall, this is a great book. Setty covers topics that, for me at least, ranged from the very basic stuff (simplicity tip: reduce clutter!), to tips that make good sense, but are less common (care about projects as if they are your own), all the way to ideas that are more complex and difficult to quantify (connecting likeability to success on a project). The insights in the book ought to satisfy even the most well-read consumers of business books, though there may not be much truly new info for those folks. Some of the tips really seem hard-won through experience, while others seem like personal applications of concepts that others have also written about (Tim Sanders’ “likeability” ideas, for example).
I’m a little late to point it out, but it’s worth noting that Beyond Code was a recent feature over at InBubbleWrap. Though you’re late for that offer, you can still score pretty big on the current promotion at 800CEOREAD by buying the book there and getting two audio interviews with Raj and two ebooks. Can’t lose on that deal… Additionally, you’ll probably want to check out Raj’s ChangeThis essay which is titled “25 Ways To Distinguish Yourself“, and it’s also free.