Book Review: Out of Place: A Memoir by Edward Said

Out Of Place Book Cover

I got to know Edward Said through a documentary that was produced by Thmanyah company a couple of months ago. The short documentary led me to watch a series of interviews with Edward, and I was astonished by Edward’s language use and expression. I was excited when I found out Edward wrote his memoir before he died, and I decided to read it in English, as it was written, to study his writing style carefully.


I feel like people who are not interested in Edward’s intellectual personality might find the book boring. The reason why I read Edward’s memoir was to understand the circumstances that produced a scholar like Edward. I wanted to know how a person could be so eloquent and what kind of education he received.

After I finished reading the memoir, I understood the circumstances that produced Edward, but it wasn’t as detailed as I was hoping.

Edward wrote mostly about his childhood and the years that preceded his time in the university. In the last quarter of the book, he talked briefly about his life in undergrad and grad school. There was no definite style in the storytelling, as he would occasionally narrate in boring detail and other times, quite briefly. For example, he wrote a couple of pages about a girl he used to date and then would proceed to summarize his first marriage experience in a single sentence.

However, when I think about the time period within which he wrote the memoir, it starts to make sense. Edward, God bless his soul, died in 2003. He wrote the memoir between 1994 and 1999 while fighting cancer. I think writing the memoir was a way of recalling good memories that brought life and joy to him, rather than retelling facts in a sequential manner.

I plan to read Edward’s other books in order to explore his work carefully, and I am at a loss as to whether to read the Arabic translation or read it in its original English.

What You Imagine When Hearing “Thought Experiment”?

Favorite drawings when searching “Thought Experiment” on Google Images

I have a strange relationship with the phrase “Thought Experiment.” It’s cool, but perhaps because I tend to think it was overused?

If you are unfamiliar with Thought Experiment, here’s a video I like on the subject:


I tried to draw what it goes into my mind when hearing the phrase, but first, I searched Google images and found pretty cool stuff.

Let’s start with what I visualize when hearing the phrase

By Frits Ahlefeldt

I love it. The idea is excellent, and the drawing is clean and straightforward.

Also, I find the following comic is funny:

Since you conduct only thought-experiments, we were hoping you would, from time to time, come up with some thought-results.

The drawing style is fantastic. I never heard of Sidney Harris, but I plan to check one of his books.

What phrase you like/dislike, or you think it’s overused?

The Only Business Book That I Want To Read

Every time I read a business book, I tend to dislike case studies from famous brands like Apple, Uber, etc. The reason being a lot of people from the outside shed light on some success factors and ignore many.

Not until I stumbled upon Indie Hackers podcast. Where Courtland Allen interview founders, who made a product that generates revenue and there we able to fund it in an unconventional way. What I love about is having the founder talking about the idea from the early stage until implementation and later growth.

What would be fantastic if the content of the podcast is transcribed and reworked to a book where we can skim through examples, and study them the interviews closely.

Transfer Of Power: Thank You Guido Van Rossum

Sketch for python announcement
Am I missing any dependencies?

Back in college, I majored in computer science. Between 2004 and 2007, I was passionate about graphic design, and somehow I concluded that computer science must teach graphic design in a way or another. ( Hey! don’t laugh at my thought process 😅)

In the first semester, we had a course named CS 152.  It meant to teach us the basics of programming using C. It was overwhelming understanding the logic and dealing with the technicalities of C at the same time. So I remember, and I could be wrong, that every time you want to write a simple program that prints a “Hello World,” you need to write something like this:

#include <stdio.h>
int main()
printf(“Hello, World!”);
return 0;

At the time, I didn’t understand why I should write “#include” and (int main), and it wasn’t a great intro to programming for me.

Nowadays, I believe if the instructor decided to teach us an intuitive programming language like Python, I think my experience will be different.

Why do I include this long introduction?

I was browsing my twitter feed the other day and saw Guido van Rossum, the creator of Python, decided to step down. After 29 years of development, he decided to be less active on the core development.

When I read the article, the following questions came to mind :

  • Looking back, how does he feel spending all of this time on creating the language? Was it worth it?
  • How it does it feel working on one thing for your whole life? (not sure if he has other things going on at the same time)
  • How does it feel seeing the stuff you created goes unfavorable paths?

In my current mindset, I can’t work on one thing for this long. However,  In this history of open source, a few people come to mind who still maintain what they created like Linus Torvalds, Linux creator, Daniel Stenberg, Curl creator, and many others. I admire their dedication and commitment.

While writing this post, I stumbled upon Guido van Rossum proposal to DARBA to create computer programming for everybody, which later became Python.

How Much Time Should You Allocate To Wild Bets?

I was listening to Eric Schmidt interview with Tim Ferris when Tim asked him on how Google manages its resources:


Tim Ferriss: Could you describe or explain what the 70-20-10 model is? If that’s the right term to use.

Eric Schmidt: That’s correct. So this was Sergey’s idea. And the question was: how do we organize our resources in terms of core things, new things, and experimental things? So Sergey — and we had an offsite with the whole management team, I still remember. And Sergey got up on the board and he did some math. He’s a brilliant mathematician, and at the end of the math he said, “The right answer is 70-20-10. 70% on your core business, 20% on adjacent or nearby things, and 10% on wild bets.” And he said that, “All of these numbers are right, you need the 70% because you need the revenue, the revenue growth. You need the 20% because you need to extend your franchise, and you need the 10%, which is crucially important for the things that you will want to do five or 10 years from now.”


And then a question popped in my head. Can we apply this concept to personal resources (i.e., time)? For example, we spend 70% on the stuff we know that makes us an income, 20% on nearby things and 10% on the field you like to get into or stuff you are doing for the future? (Getting a master/Nanodegree/side hustle)


Not sure if this can be applied on a personal level. One of the challenges would be how to focus. Also, I think on a personal level the percentage would be 70 – 80% on core business (typically your day job) and 10-20%  on side projects (wild bets).

Polymath vs Jack of All Trades

Failed attempt to show the difference between polymath and jack of all trades (inspired by this sketch)

Disclaimer: I am trying to wrap my unfocused self in some cool terms like “polymath” – also when someone asks you in a job interview how you know such and such, don’t mention the word polymath.

I had breakfast today with my friend Ahmed, and the question around Polymath vs. jack of all trades came up. After googling for 2 minutes, it looks like:


Jack of all trades: Understand the basics in a lot of stuff ( > 5 stuff ) no source of this number, I making this up.


Polymath: Knows 2-4 stuff very well and he/she expert in those fields.


My question: is polymath a jack of all trades + mental models?


The value of multidisciplinary is tremendous if it was dedicated to the right efforts. I believe a person with such capabilities and horizon will find a hard time finding the right opportunity and perhaps need to create it themselves.

When You Don’t Get Better with Repetition

Remember how they always say that you get better with reputation? Do you think this is true all the time? What about if you keep repeating something wrong over and over and you get 10% improvement instead of 30%?

This how all started. I was reading Great at Work the other day, and the following paragraph caught my attention:

Top performers did less and more: less volume of activities, more concentrated effort. This insight overturns much conventional thinking about focusing that urges you to choose a few tasks to prioritize. Choice is only half of the equation—you also need to obsess. This finding led us to reformulate the “work scope” practice and call it “do less, then obsess.”

Hansen, Morten T. Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More (pp. 5-6). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition

And then this …


Power of One: Pick one and only one skill at a time to develop. It’s hard to master a skill if you’re also working on ten others.

Hansen, Morten T. Great at Work: How Top Performers Do Less, Work Better, and Achieve More (p. 75). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

Let me try to digest that with something I am trying to excel at which is writing and drawing (you would figure this out by reading this blog 😅)

If I want to be a better writer, should I read more books or take two paragraphs that I like and study them word by word? (Got this tip from Safi Bahcall)

If I want to better at drawing, do I entirely focus on how small details make a difference or should I keep copying tons of illustrations without being fully in the moment?

What’s this process even called? Exploration? Awareness? Attention? Focus? And when this process should be applied? In the beginning or half-way through the learning process?


I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s something I am trying to figure out.

Acronyms And Safi Bahcall

Acronym to remember stuff. Who does that? Well, looks like Safi Bahcall does it. He uses this method mainly to remember stuff as per his interview with Tim Ferris . Let’s look to the following  examples:


  • FBR: This refers to a writing process. You write fast, bad and wrong. The process helps you to get in the flow. Do not stop to fact check an information , lookup the right name or correct a misspelled word .
  • BLC: bankers, lawyers, or consultants. He used this acronym in an invite to gatherings he used to set up in NYC where he explicitly wrote no BLC 😂


I like the approach. I am going to to do that with new concepts that I want to remember and practice.


What an acronym you like to use or recently invented?

Good Things Happens When You Not Concerned About Sounding Smart

Image Source

One day I was listening to an interview on Indie Hackers podcast where Courtland Allen hosts Josh Kaufman of The Personal MBA book. Josh said the following phrase and it stuck with me:

“Not being too concerned about sounding smart”

he said it while telling his story while writing The Personal MBA book. What he just did in the book is simplifying a lot of business jargons in layman terms that can be understood by anybody.


I thought about the following questions when I thought about the phrase:


  • What would I do differently If not being too concerned about sounding smart?
  • Will that allows me to ask better questions?


There were multiple times where I didn’t ask a  question because I was afraid of how I am going to be perceived.

So tell me, what are you going to do differently if you not being too concerned about sounding smart?



Should I Get a Coach or a Mentor?

Should you get a coach or a mentor?

Today I had the opportunity to listen to Tim Ferris interview with Eric Schmidt (@ericschmidt) Technical Advisor and Board Member to Alphabet Inc. The discussion was a bit on Eric experience before joining Google on Eric and more about the legendary coach and business executive Bill Campbell.

Eric spoke highly of Bill Campbell and how he helped him in his personal and professional life. Recently Eric and a few others wrote about Bill Campbell that called Trillion Dollar Coach
the book should be available in the market on April 16th.


I didn’t think much of coaching in my life until recently when I joined AltMBA. One of the standard practices in AltMBA that you get coached by colleagues through questions were all of us had to read a beautiful book called the Coaching Habit. Then I realized that  I am being coached at Udacity by my manager without me being aware of it. Coaching for me helped to understand my strength and identify areas of improvements.

Also, there’s been situations where I was coaching someone, and I enjoy it. But one of the challenges that I am facing is switching to advise mode half-way through the coaching.

Should you get a coach? I don’t know – can coaches help you in business or personal life?

What’s the difference between a coach and a mentor? This what Forbes says:

Mentors are successful people who share their hard-won wisdom to provide insight and guidance as an entrepreneur encounters challenges along her journey. They typically function in a reactive capacity, responding to issues as they arise. Mentors may not have expertise in the mentee’s field, but they understand how to navigate business in general.
Coaches, on the other hand, often have expertise in the same field as the people they’re helping. They’re usually trained and certified as coaches, possessing strong process management skills

Finally, I thought about searching the word coaching in the famous comics Dilbert, and the results were just funny! Here’s one that I liked:

Coaching as per Dilbert. Source