All posts by tsimop

How do I educate myself?

Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I’ve ever known.
– Chuck Palahniuk (the author of Fight Club & more)

Where do I find the time?

My work is a 45 minute drive from home. That’s 1.5 hours per day (7.5 hours per week) that I spend in the car traveling to and from work. After working at this place for a year, I was sick of the radio playing the same songs and the radio show hosts boring me. So I found that I could use this time to listen to audiobooks, lectures and seminars. These audiobooks are usually between 3 and 15 hours – so on average, I can listen to a book per week. That’s about 50 books per year. All this, in time which I would have achieved nothing (other than driving to work, which I still do anyway).

So I’d get through about 50 books per year in the time I drive to and from work, plus I’d be listening whenever I do laborious work which doesn’t require me to think much, especially during some of the house renovation work (painting, filling gaps, sanding floorboards, jackhammering, digging etc.). Some weekends, I’d listen to more than 20 hours of content.

The Slight Edge audiobook by Jeff Olson was one of the first books I listened to, which catalyzed my efforts; although audiobooks allow me to get through a lot more than the 10 pages per night that they recommend!

Where do I find the content?

TED talks are a great starting point to find out which topics interest you and what you’d like to learn more about. If you find a talk interesting, look into the speaker and see if they have released a book relating to their talk. I downloaded a bunch of TED talks using the programs Miro and TED Downloader – I then put these video files on my phone so I could listen to them while I was in the car.


  • Overdrive app: Sign up to your local library for free & then you get free access to content on Overdrive
  • Audible: I signed up to this deal – 4 months (1 book per month) for $4. It then reverts to $14.99 per month, so I cancelled it and was offered $7.99 per month (but I refused). The Audible app & range is good, but I find that I can get sufficient content through the other (free) options.
  • Some local libraries have a good range of audiobooks on CD


Contact me if you’re having trouble finding something – I usually manage to get access to most things for free and I might be able to lend you some of the ones I have. I believe that education should be free to those who are willing to put the effort in to learning!


  • IICA – The Institute of Instrumentation Control and Automation
  • Engineers Australia
  • I get a lot of people emailing me about upcoming events in Adelaide – contact me if you want me to forward these to you!

See also:

Courses, Events & Books

The pursuit of a better mind

Resources I recommend

Resources I Recommend

This page will list some of the books and recordings which I’ve been through and would recommend to others.

I’ve been through hundreds of books and courses – below are some resources which I’d recommend. Read the blurb, watch the sample and decide whether you’re interested. I encourage you to contact me if you have any recommendations for me!


The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

This book started my motivation to read and learn more. I listened to the audiobook version which is less than 4 hours. The main message of this book is that the small, seemingly irrelevant decisions you make each day compound over time to make a big difference. Below is a review of the book.

The Element by Ken Robinson

How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk convinced me that his book might be worth reading. The book broadened my perspective with regard to creativity being a different kind of intelligence and that creative skills and people are important. The TED talk is below.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

I first read this book when I was in primary school and some of the ideas undoubtedly molded my life. I recently listened to an audio seminar version of the book and a sequel, ‘Living the 7 Habits’. Wikipedia has a good short breakdown of the 7 habits. Below is a review of the book.

Drive by Daniel Pink

The surprising truth about what motivates us

Switch, Made to Stick and Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath

How to Change Things When Change Is Hard / Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die / How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

How to Get Things Right

Outliers, Blink and Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

The Story of Success, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Losing my Virginity (autobiography) by Richard Branson

How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

Below is a review of the book.

Psycho Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

A New Way to Get More Living Out of Life

Blurb from Wikipedia: Motivational and self-help experts in personal development, including Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy have based their techniques on Maxwell Maltz. Many of the psychological methods of training elite athletes are based on the concepts in Psycho-Cybernetics as well.

Below is a review of the book.


Your Deceptive Mind

A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills

By Professor Steven Novella, M.D. (Yale School of Medicine)

Available on The Great Courses, Amazon and Audible

Introduction to Psychology (9.00) from MIT

By Prof. Jeremy Wolfe. From Fall 2014.

Available on MIT OpenCourseWare or download the MP3s from

Also available: OCW Scholar course by Prof. John Gabrieli on MIT OpenCourseWare.

Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 110) from Yale

By Professor Paul Bloom.

Available on Open Yale courses and YouTube.

TED Talks


Art of Public Speaking

Lessons from the Greatest Speeches in History By Professor John R. Hale, Ph.D., University of Cambridge, University of Louisville

Available from The Great Courses.

Neuroscience of Everyday Life

By Professor Sam Wang, Ph.D. Princeton University

Available from The Great Courses.

The Art of Storytelling: From Parents to Professionals

Professor Hannah B. Harvey, Ph.D. Professional Storyteller.

Available from The Great Courses.

Effective Communication Skills

Professor Dalton Kehoe, Ph.D. York University.

Available from The Great Courses.

The Art of Travel Photography: Six Expert Lessons

Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photographer.

Available from The Great Courses.

Mind-Body Medicine: The New Science of Optimal Health

Professor Jason M. Satterfield, Ph.D. University of California, San Francisco.

Available from The Great Courses and YouTube.

Seminar Speakers

Anthony Robbins

Zig Ziglar

Look him up on YouTube – especially his stuff on Goals and Sales.

Dale Carnegie

See his books How To Win Friends And Influence People (review below) and The Art of Public Speaking


See my other pages:

Courses, Events & Books

The pursuit of a better mind

How do I educate myself?


Other people’s recommendations

Bill Gates

General Assembly: 10 best business books

Malcolm Gladwell





USSOCOM Commander’s Reading List 2016 (see links on left for other lists)

Washington Post

The 2015 summer reading list for innovation junkies

A great leadership reading list — without any business books on it

A unique summer reading list — from college admissions deans and counselors

Headstands around the world

I like to think that I see the world from a different perspective.

I was inspired in 2014 by the Travel Photography course by Joel Sartore.

Also see my handstands around the world.

Mouse-over images for captions, click to enlarge.

Also see my handstands around the world.

International travel money and currency conversion

This section is most relevant to Australians, but there’s likely an equivalent for your country – look around! These are the best I know of, as at December 2015.

This is what I use and recommend

I shopped around extensively and there are two cards which I found to be the best value and I have used them for more than 4 years – they’re very similar; one is a credit card and the other is a savings account with a debit card. I use both – the credit card where it’s accepted and the debit card to get cash out of ATMs worldwide. Both cost $0 to set up, charge no annual fee, have an excellent currency conversion rate and none of the fees mentioned below.

  • 28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard credit card for purchases
  • CitiBank Plus savings account with VISA debit card for cash machine withdrawals

When using these cards, you should always select to use the local currency when paying (this way the currency conversion is performed by your card instead of their machine, giving you a much better rate).

Using these cards could save you up to $365 per 5000 euros (example below) – that’s not even taking the fees into account. Using my recommended cards is better value than OzForex, Travelex and any other bank, travel money or credit card I’ve seen. Contact me if you think you know of a better deal!

The BankWest Zero Platinum MasterCard appears to offer similar benefits to the 28 degrees card, with the addition of complimentary international travel insurance for trips up to 6 months in duration. I use my Suncorp Platinum card for this, but the “$0 annual fee for life” offer wasn’t available when I was looking for my parents, so I’ve put them on the BankWest card.

Here’s why

Continue reading International travel money and currency conversion