What I’ve read in 2014
I set a goal to read more last year and decided to post short summaries to keep myself accountable.
Lessons learned: I rediscovered how much I love to read/learn, I tend to read books in spurts (1–2 weeks), or I struggle through them slowly (5–7 weeks) and I tend to read more in the colder months.
Please find some brief notes about the books I read (and didn’t read) in the following imperfect categories: Purpose/Business, Business/Sales, Spirituality/Mindfulness, Other and Unfinished.
Goals for next year: Read more books in French, less business books, more politics and history, and a few more classics.
Nico and Ines, thanks for the idea and inspiration to do this.
Choose Yourself by James Altucher
This book proposes that economic and societal factors a leading us into a new era — one in which you must Choose Yourself to win (the middle class is dead, retirement plans are broken, most people are restrained in the contexts of their job, etc.) Entrepreneurship is proposed as the solution. Altucher suggests that we all develop a “daily practice” to achieve our potential. Practical advice peppered with the personal failures and successes of Altucher. Counterintuitive insights delivered through a unique writing style. Recommended for aspiring entrepreneurs and for those who need change in their professional lives.
The unique story of Richard Branson — how he built his Virgin businesses through risk taking, ambition and a healthy dose of luck. One important take away for me was the amount of risk that he took at several stages in his life. An inspirational read (or listen — I chose the audio book for this one).
What To do When it’s Your Turn By Seth Godin
I pre-ordered this book from Seth and received several copies. Seth has a unique style that I was prepared for. Key lessons: Recognize you fear of freedom, the person who fails the most wins, motivation is for amateurs.
Illustrated and provocative, sometimes hard to grasp. A book that needs to be re-read several times. A must for someone who is thinking of “taking the leap.”
Rework By Jason Fried
Essentially the story of 37signals’ success told as business lessons. May not apply to all, but interesting “break the rules” advice nonetheless: believe in something to fight for, sell your byproducts, good enough is fine, our estimates suck — so break things up in small chunks as much as possible, pick a fight with an industry, say no, do less, cherish obscurity, hire only to kill pain, out teach your competition, share your cookbooks, show your flaws, inspiration is perishable. (Recommended by Jennifer Itani)
Seeing the Big Picture By Kevin Cope
Business acumen is important skill in almost any field, and this resource serves as a great primer for those with non-financial backgrounds (ie. most people). I read this book and attended a three day training session delivered by the author’s company. Their model includes the 5 most important business drivers: cash, profit, people, growth and assets. This book will help you learn about communicating how your ideas impact your company’s key performance indicators, the basics of financial documents — most important metrics, how to read them, look for trends, find good questions to ask, etc. Recommended for anyone who is looking to sell big ideas that need to connect with the business drivers of their organization (I hope this is you!).
How to “dollarize” your solution, point system for tracking sales progress, questions to “onionize” the problem, tips for sales script, etc. Easy and fun read.
Killer sales questions, how to ask for the sale, researching your own sales activity, cold calling and preventing objections. Motivating read. (Recommended by Jeff McLeod)
This book inspired several new habits that are part of my goals for 2015. A great resource for people who feel stuck in a cycle of overwork and need to find a way out. Includes practical recommendations for physical, mental, relational and spiritual routines that can bring important benefits.
Short, restorative habits, inspired by mindfulness, to reconnect throughout the day. I chose my top 5 from the +70 and use them from time to time.
An introduction to Michel Foucault’s (philosopher) ideas on: how society uses definitions of normal and abnormal to enforce power and control of people; analysis of madness and treatment of the “mad” and incarcerated; dynamics of power in society; chronological walkthrough of Foucault’s major works. A light, illustrated read that introduces you to important ideas, but doesn’t permit you to truly understand their depth.
We still have a lot of work to do to help high school students. The author, Randall Hansen, is an accomplished author and career thought leader. However, through my work with SparkPath, I know that books like these are not the answer to help students. We need to engage them in a conversation about solving challenges, developing self-awareness and researching 21st century careers. Sounds like there is an opportunity here, doesn’t it?