Ragnar putting in some shoulder work.
Stay hard, Brother.
See you in January…
I read a brief story earlier today about a vulture and hummingbird flying over a desert together. The vulture was looking for death, the hummingbird, for life. Soon enough, the vulture descended on a carcass and feasted. Shortly thereafter, the hummingbird touched down on a cactus, enjoying the nectar from its flower. This story was a great reminder that we almost always find exactly what we are looking for. It also made me recognize how negative I've been of late. So this question is as much fo me as it is for anyone: What are you looking for at the moment?
“And that’s the person I listen to. That’s the person who gained knowledge through suffering. And on the other end of suffering there is a world that very few, very few, have ever seen. It’s a beautiful world, cause that’s where you find yourself. “ – David Goggins
What I’m Reading: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee and The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Morgan and Michael Lennington …
What I’m Listening To: Afford Anything (by Paula Pant) podcasts …
What I’m Working On: The Countdown ...
Where I’m Succeeding: My Duolingo (Spanish) lessons – 176 days straight …
Song Stuck in My Head: “Whoomp (There It Is)” – by Tag Team … (Thanks, Geico…)
Where I’m Struggling: Relaxing …
What I’m Grateful For: A friend I admire and aspire to be more like saying that I had changed his life….
Quote That Has Me Thinking: "Some things are better off ignored than attacked. Attention is the oxygen of conflict. When you fight a problem, you breathe life into it. When you starve a problem of your attention, you suffocate it. In a surprising number of cases, the way to solve a problem is to ignore it." – James Clear
What I’m Excited About: Suffocating some things …
What I’ve Been Pondering: Truth ….
"Improvement is a battle that must be fought anew each day.
Your next workout doesn't care how strong your last one was.
Your next essay doesn't care how popular your last one was.
Your next investment doesn't care how smart your last one was.
Your best effort, again." – James Clear
1. Startup Your Life by Anna Akbari: Great book to start the New Year off with. This talented author challenges readers to evaluate and plan their life like they would a new business. This entrepreneurial approach requires planning, ownership and the ability to ‘pivot,’ when necessary, just like any successful startup.
2. Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy: Recommended by a friend (thanks, Kelvin!), another exceptional book on looking inward for the answers to life you want. The importance of planning, looking to God for His guidance and then taking the time and effort to TRULY create a plan for your life is detailed in precise terms for anyone looking to live a better, more intentional life.
3. The Seasons of Life by Jim Rohn: Wow! This just became one of those books I will read over and over this year. Rohn communicates the basics of life in a manner that is both nurturing and challenging. The metaphor he uses to describe our lifecycle is spot on and should really help us to understand how in control and responsible we are for our behaviors and, more important, outcomes.
4. The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea: Phenomenal story about a Mexican-American border family whose patriarch assembles 4 generations of his clan together for a funeral/birthday party celebration in an attempt to unite, seek forgiveness and share final words of wisdom.
5. The 10 Minute Millionaire by D.R. Barton, JR.: I bought this book less for the dramatic title and more to start learning investment formulas. I enjoyed the technical insight, common sense approach and disciplined, by-the-numbers rubric the author has designed and look forward to trying out this method.
6. Mud, Sweat And Tears: A Survival Guide For Life by Bear Grylls: Excellent list of ‘best practices’ and quotes from a man who has lived a successful and exciting life, ranging from a career in British Special Forces, to climbing Mt. Everest to hosting one of television’s most-watched survival shows.
7. The Silverado Squatters by Robert Louis Stevenson: The Scottish author’s very brief essay on his stay in an abandoned mining camp on Mount Saint Helena near Napa Valley. Unique writing style with lots of hyperbole.
8. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari: Excellent study of the evolution of homo sapiens. While I was initially turned off by the author’s anti-God angle, I pushed through it and am glad that I did. Very thought-provoking view on where we come from and where we are potentially headed as a race: the human race.
9. Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin: Trend-setting book that was the forerunner of the F.I.R.E. (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement. The authors focus not only on good money habits (eliminating debt, living below your means, investing early and often) but also on being stewards of natural resources and good citizenship.
10. A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov: This author was a trailblazer for some of the greatest Russian authors (Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and Chekhov). This tale is likely somewhat of an autobiography, though the author denied it. Excellent psychological study narrated from different perspectives of a charismatic playboy of the Caucuses.
11. Recession-Proof Real Estate Investing by J. Scott: Good read about the different business cycles and how to profit and avoid problems in each one while dealing with real estate.
12. The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra: Instructional book on the importance of understanding one’s own self and the laws of nature and then using that knowledge to create a harmonious balance with the universe to pursue your dreams.
13. The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli: Written for the then governor of Florence by the young political hopeful, Machiavelli provides his insight on the values and processes a ruler should develop and follow in his rise to, and maintenance of, long-term power.
14. The Design of Business by Roger Martin: Good book that details the importance of evolving a company’s thought process beyond ‘reliability’ thinking to include more ‘validity’ reasoning in project management and planning as leaders look to solve more complex problems in the modern age.
15. Keys to a Successful Retirement by Fritz Gilbert: Must-read for anyone approaching or just starting out in retirement. Great tips on often overlooked topics that can quickly derail post-work life, along with pointers on how to use all that new free time productively and with purpose.
16. Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy: Solid advice for those of us struggling to focus, finish and win at both work and life. An easy read with end-of-chapter checklist summaries to help readers quickly apply practical tips for quick wins.
17. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho: Excellent story about a young man pursuing his ‘Personal Legend’ while meeting several interesting characters along the way.
18. Stoicism (Ancient Philosophies) by John Sellars: Solid overview of the development, history and timeline of the Stoic philosophies, to include the many authors who paved the way.
19. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: The life philosophy of one of the great stoics, covering birth, life, death and everything in between. Some exceptional quotes to draw on for every area of life.
20. On the Shortness of Life by Seneca (The Younger): Quick read on the importance of living and actually enjoying life, with several reminders of how quickly it passes us by when we do not focus on what’s important.
21. The Silence: What it is and How to Use it: by David V. Bush: Biblically based book on the importance of silencing our minds and being in tune with nature, our community and God.
22. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss: Encyclopedia of best practices for shortening your workday/week or even ending your current career so that you can pursue your real passions.
23. The Art of Getting Money by P.T. Barnum: Nice reminder of some of the basics of accumulating and, more importantly, holding onto, a fortune. It’s amazing how these principles withhold the test of time, regardless of changes to political parties or economies.
24. Escape by Paula Pant: Fast read about the basic principles, including actionable specifics required, to retire early and live the life you want.
25. Common Sense by Thomas Paine: Moral and political arguments presented in 1775-76 for independence from England and the establishment of a democratic republic.
26. The Smartest Investment Book You’ll Ever Read by Daniel R. Solin: Solid investment advice on how to use indexing to build a nice nest egg for retirement, including arguments against stock-picking and high-fee advisors.
27. It’s Your Ship by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff: Exactly what you would expect from a leadership book from a career military officer who turned the USS Benfold from one of the worst to the Best Damn Ship in the Navy within 2 years, while also inspiring his crew to take ownership of their performance and futures.
28. The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss: Another life hack book from the life hack master. Ferriss lays out the secrets (hard work and discipline for the most part…surprise!) for building your best body. My son and I followed his 28-day replicate of the infamous Colorado Experiment, with my son gaining – pounds of muscle and me putting a ½ inch on my arms at my age….
29. The History of Money in America by Alexander del Mar: Excellent book that details not just the evolution of paper, coin and other forms of money in America, but the motivations behind its coming to be and the long-term impact of those decisions.
30. Man Up by Bedros Keuilian: Leadership book from the founder and CEO of Fit Body Boot Camp. The ‘Immigrant Edge’ as he is known, cuts to the chase and provides direct, practical, and sometimes in-your-face advice about taking charge of your life in order to drive success in both your business ad personal life.
31. Theodore Roosevelt by Theodore Roosevelt: Autobiography of a man’s man that should be required reading for any American. Too many great quotes and principles to live by to list, so continue to check my blog. I love this guy and his kind is a thing of the past. It’s sad that we don’t have someone of his ilk around today on either side of the aisle to lead this country through the multiple crises we are dealing with. I’ve said before that I cannot stand our two party system and I find it interesting to know that two men ranked at the top of the ‘All-Time Favorite Presidents’ list (Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt) were both ideologically opposed to the parties they ran and served under as president. Theodore, as a Republican broke up major trusts, created national parks and won the Noble Peace Prize for ending the war between Russia and Japan as a Republican, and FDR knew that the majority of his policies as a Democrat were decimating his wealth (his biography was titled ‘A Traitor to His Class’) and was actually disappointed when he won a 4th term in office.
32. Future Shock by Alvin Toffler: Written 50 years ago (1970), this books speaks to the trauma brought on by fast-paced change and suggested actions to get ahead of this issue before transience, diversity and novelty overwhelm our ability to cope with day-to-day life in the age of technology.
33. The Willie Lynch Letter and The Making of a Slave: Recommended by a friend, this ‘manifesto’ of sorts, written by a slave owner in 1712, speaks to the methodology employed by slave owners to divide and keep slaves submissive. What is amazing is how often I’ve observed the practices employed in social, business and other relationships for all people.
34. What Motivates Me by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton: Excellent book that not only helps one understand his or herself, but also those on your team. Very thought-provoking read that I will attempt to use to help motivate those around me based on their personality types.
35. Mastering Creativity by James Clear: Short, insightful read on some best practices to increase your throughput in all areas by getting started, having a plan and not being afraid to fail.
36. The Way of Liberation by Adyashanti: A great reminder that we create the vast majority of our problems, and, our thoughts on reality aren’t reality. We should accept life (and people) for what it/they are and not be so judgmental of everything, including ourselves. Then, and only then, can we make progress. Deal with each challenge honesty and look at life as it is, not as we wish it to be.
37. Making Work Visible by Dominica DeGrandis: Solid advice on using lean Kanban flow principles to identify operational time thieves to maximize throughput in any operation.
38. The Encore Career Handbook by Marci Alboher: Comprehensive guidebook for anyone looking for ideas on work for the next phase of life. Contains detailed perspectives and insight from those who have already been successful in determining how to use previous experiences to add value to both your personal life and community.
39. Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday: Insightful advice on how to be fully present in our busy day-to-day lives from a true modern-day stoic.
40. The Handbook of Epictetus: Concise advice on how to live a life of temperance, courage, wisdom and justice from one of the OGs of Stoicism.
41. Atomic Habits by James Clear: Exceptional direction on making small, incremental improvements and gaining the compound interest over time that lead to massive improvements in all areas of your life.
42. How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pigliucci: Rumination of the core tenants of Stoicism, with some nice sidebar ‘conversations’ with one of my favorites: Epictetus.
43. The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber: Entrepreneurial guide on how to use a ‘turn-key’ (franchise) approach to build and expand your small business.
44. The Autobiography of Malcolm X with Alex Haley: A very honest self-portrait from the well-known legend and prophet (no doubt as to whether his vision of the future was true or not). My personal take-aways include the need to constantly seek truth and to be willing to change when that truth conflicts with my current thoughts/approach.
45. Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda: Fictional account of a warrior apprentice and the lessons he learns in the Mexican desert. Personal takeaways include never forgetting my ‘code’ and the need to silence that inner dialogue that is always attempting to subvert my better self. Also a great reminder that, although we cannot avoid pain and grief, we can chose not to indulge in them.
46. Work Less, Make More by James Schramko: Some excellent business and leadership hacks to help small business owners grow their ventures to allow them to spend more time doing the things they love.
47. Million Dollar Networking by Andrea Nierenberg: A detailed guide on how to create, maintain and nurture relationships and the fringe benefits they create in all areas of life.
48. Demosthenes by W.J. Brodribb: Biography of the great orator and statesman of Greece, which includes much of the history around the Macedonian conquests of Phillip and Alexander.
49. Wise as #@% by Gary John Bishop: Some excellent wisdom on the topics of love, fear, loss and success. My personal takeaway is that being successful isn’t something I’m working towards; it’s what I already am. And I mean that with complete humility. However, I continue to let past mistakes reverberate in my head. I have way more to offer the world when I play from a position of strength, not weakness.
50. The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway: I chose this (previously read) book for my last read of the year because of the symbols and metaphors that so represent 2020. And Hemingway, like always, lived up to the task. Good riddance to the sharks and the loneliness, but despite the anguish endured, we will be stronger for it. And welcome, Dry Land, as it represents hope and a better tomorrow. Like Santiago, we end this season somewhat ‘defeated, but not destroyed’ and look forward to our next great excursion.
1. The E Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber: Entrepreneurial guide on how to use a ‘turn-key’ (franchise) approach to build and expand your small business.
2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X with Alex Haley: A very honest self-portrait from the well-known legend and prophet (no doubt as to whether his vision of the future was true or not). My personal take-aways include the need to constantly seek truth and to be willing to change when that truth conflicts with my current thoughts/approach.
3. Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda: Fictional account of a warrior apprentice and the lessons he learns in the Mexican desert. Personal takeaways include never forgetting my ‘code’ and the need to silence that inner dialogue that is always attempting to subvert my better self. Also a great reminder that, although we cannot avoid pain and grief, we can chose not to indulge in them.
4. Work Less, Make More by James Schramko: Some excellent business and leadership hacks to help small business owners grow their ventures to allow them to spend more time doing the things they love.
What I’m Reading: Tales of Power by Carlos Castaneda and The Autobiography of Malcolm X…
What I’m Listening To: Optimal Living Daily podcasts …
What I’m Working On: Relaxing ...
Where I’m Succeeding: My Duolingo (Spanish) lessons – 51 days straight …
Song Stuck in My Head: “Zombie” – by The Cranberries …
Where I’m Struggling: Starting …
What I’m Grateful For: The ‘problems’ in my life …
Quote That Has Me Thinking: “Comfort makes cowards of us all.” – Michael E. Gerber
What I’m Excited About: Getting uncomfortable …
What I’ve Been Pondering: A better foundation ….
What I’m Reading: The E Myth by Michael E. Gerber and The Autobiography of Malcolm X…
What I’m Working On: A better version of me ...
Where I’m Succeeding: My Duolingo (Spanish) lessons – 44 days straight …
Song Stuck in My Head: “Until it Sleeps” – by Metallica …
Where I’m Struggling: Patience …
What I’m Grateful For: A great Saturday and new friendships …
Quote That Has Me Thinking: “Drastic change creates an estrangement from the self and generates a need for a new birth of a new identity. And it perhaps depends on the way this need is satisfied whether the process of changes runs smoothly or is attended with convulsions and explosions.” – Eric Hoffer
What I’m Excited About: A plan …
What I’ve Been Pondering: Getting there more quickly while still enjoying the journey ….