Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Grit

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. What you will read below will not do this book justice. You must read it yourself. This is one of the most important books ever written, and it will change the way you think.

Brief Summary of Grit:

The author, Angela Duckworth, is a psychologist who has dedicated her career to studying the idea of grit. In her book, she discusses why grit is essential to achieving your potential and uses her research and interviews with people who she says are grit paragons (athletes, business leaders, etc.) to help solidify her findings.

She starts her psychology career while doing a study on West Point. She tries to understand why only 1,200 out of 14,000 are asked to enroll and how out of those 1,200 only 1 of 5 cadets make it to graduation. What she learned was that the scoring system that West Point uses does not accurately predict who the best candidates are. She finds that what predicts the best candidates is who is truly passionate and willing to persevere through the grueling task to become a cadet. Her research tells her that our potential is one thing, but what we do with it is another. She goes on to explain that what makes you successful is not about how “smart” you are, but how gritty. 

Things I learned from this book:

Effort Counts Twice

Duckworth shares an equation that is “Talent x Effort = Skill, and Skill x Effort = achievement which means effort counts twice. She shares a countless number of interviews and research studies of “Grit Paragons” who prove her equation. This equation tells you that while you can be the most skilled and talented person in the world at your craft, you can still fail because you did not put in the effort. A pretty simple concept right? How many people do you know who have all the talent, but fail? 

What is Grit and how is it measured?

Grit is not just as simple as working really hard. It is something you develop over time and actually grows with age. There are two parts to grit: Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth explains that grit is about working on something you care about so much that you are willing to stay loyal to it and strive for the same top level goal for a long period of time. 

How do you become Gritty?

You work to improve and develop the 4 physiological assets below:

Interest

The foundation for achieving your potential is rooted in what interests you. Duckworth explains that it takes time to find out what you are interested in, and most of us give up too quickly on things. She discusses the motto “Follow your passion,” and believes that we should rephrase it to “Foster your passion” because it takes time to find out what you are genuinely interested in. 

Practice

Most of us practice our craft and spend time working on our own personal or professional development, but why do we fail to achieve the highest standards in our fields? Well, Duckworth explains that the grit paragons she interviews didn’t just practice they deliberately practiced. To them, every day was a new day to improve from yesterday, and they were relentless with being better than yesterday.

Purpose

Duckworth describes purpose as a critical aspect of grittiness. To have a real passion for something you have to first be interested in what you are doing, but to deepen your passion you have to feel your work is important not to just you, but others.

Hope

To Grit paragons, hope means that if I give today all the effort I have, then I will be better off in the future. Duckworth shares a compelling statement that when I read it made me think differently:

Instead of “I have a feeling tomorrow will be better” you must say “I resolve to make tomorrow better.”

How to create a culture of Grit at work and for your kids?

1. Create your own life philosophy

This revolves around building out your core values, your vision, your purpose, your end result. Once you do you should talk about them, and live them every single day.  Every conversation you have with your kids or employees is centered around these items. 

2.  Duckworth developed a concept that she uses in her family called the “Hard Thing Rule”

  1. Everyone in the family has to do something hard
  2. You have to finish what you start
  3. No one gets to pick the hard rule for anyone else

How has this book impacted me?

This book changes the way I think about success and how I achieve it. If I make a career out of doing something I genuinely love, practice really hard every day, believe that this is my calling, and know that if I put in a full effort that I will be better off in the long run… I will achieve my own definition of success. Duckworth shared with me how simple achieving success in life can be and it has nothing to do with how smart you are.

As a parent, I have no greater responsibility than to teach and guide my son to his potential in life. I am going to use the ideas, stories, and concepts I learned in this book to be a better parent and that impact is extraordinary. As my son enters school, he will be taught that his effort is more important than getting an A, B or C on his test. Twenty to thirty years from now I believe this book will make the world a better place.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Are you ready to become a Grit Paragon? May the choice be with you. If you have decided YES, Buy the book here and also check out her non-profit Character Lab to find out how she is changing the way we educate kids.

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Today We Are Rich

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Monday’s I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Today We Are Rich: Harnessing the Power of Total Confidence by Tim Sanders.

Brief Summary:

Tim Sanders was an early stage member of Broadcast.com (think Mark Cuban), and he was a former executive at Yahoo! Today, he is an international speaker, consultant, and author. In his book, Tim shares with us his personal story of moving back home to live with his grandmother while he was going through some hardships. While back home, he learns from his grandmother the 7 principles of “confident living.” He shares personal stories about each principal and how they can be used step-by-step to overcome obstacles to become more confident and achieve your full potential.

Things I learned from this book:

Feed the mind

This is one of the easiest things to do but yet so difficult. Tim simply explains that we must reduce or eliminate the things in our lives like social media, news, and friends that gives you negative thoughts. No surprise here, but by doing this it will increase your overall happiness and positivity. Tim was way ahead of his time considering I read this book about 7 years ago which makes social media look like an infant. As we enter 2018, it is more vital than ever to try to eliminate the crap out of your mind. Here are some tips I learned from Tim:

  • Write down everything you read, listen to, and watch. You will be shocked at how much unnecessary crap you are wasting your time with.
  • Once you have seen all the crap, you can start reducing it one by one. For example, cut people out of your life who are negative, and delete friends on social media who are constantly creating drama and creating negative thoughts in your head.
  • Spend your time reading books, editorial pieces from credible authors, and watching credible shows which discuss solutions instead of problems. 
  • Avoid waking up and looking at your email or social media. The first thing you see every morning should be something positive.
  • Keep an ongoing journal in your mind or on paper of successful things that happen and use that as a way to combat negative or self-doubting thoughts.

Move the Conversation Forward

To me, this is an essential skill to have and the #1 principle you must be able to master. I personally took this principle as the idea of how to take a conversation with yourself or someone else and find the good in it. It reminds me of the many times, we get caught up in a conversation and drown ourselves in the problem instead of looking for a solution. I see so many people do this and it creates a downward spiral that leads to taking no action.  

Tips from Tim about how you can continue to move the conversation forward:

When processing the information it comes in four ways, and you should frame every bit of information:

  • Good – Either for you or for someone or something you have an interest in
  • Neutral – No direct effect on you or one of your interests
  • Get Busy – Adversity you need to respond to
  • Bad – A irrevocably negative effect on you or one of your interests

Use Willis Carrier’s (Founder of Carrier – Air Conditioning) advice to move the conversation forward:

  • Define the worst case scenario
  • Accept it as survivable
  • Make a good goal of beating it

Always be Prepared

  1. Become an expert in your craft:

A few easy ways to do this is to read books in your field, network with other individuals in your field and find a mentor or mentor an individual who works within the same industry. How many people do you know do any of those three things? To be honest, I know very few people.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice:

Run through the presentation as it actually will be. Every detail of the presentation should be precisely the same when you are practicing. From the setting to the running through the entire presentation it should all be done as if you were presenting live.

  1. Expect the unexpected:

Something I have learned time and time again is that nothing goes according to plan. We should always prepare for “objections” or potential challenges we will run into and assume the worst case scenario. It is very important especially for sales and business. I know personally that I have fallen into this trap thinking a call would go one way and I was not prepared for the objections that came up. Though my reps don’t like when I seem pessimistic on a deal, I am just trying to prepare for all scenarios so we can win the deal.

How has this book impacted me?

One of the particular ideas expressed in this book, “move the conversation forward”, really moved me. Ever since reading it as a young professional it made me rethink the way I communicate with others and the ways I talk to myself subconsciously. Over the years, I have been trying to understand and learn as much as possible about the human mind and how we can control our thoughts. It has led me to a philosophy called Stoicism that I now consider a big part of my life professionally and personally.  

I read this book twice in my life: once as an early professional, and again as a sales leader. I personally use three of the seven principles discussed in the book every single day and I credit them to a lot of the early success I’ve had in my career. The best part is that the principles can be implemented by anyone and when they are, they can change your life and your career.

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Buy “Today We Are Rich” here and check out Tim’s other books, all of which are great. If you are not a book reader but enjoy great content, follow Tim’s blog here: http://timsanders.com/blog/

How to live a better life: Read books from my book list 2017/2018

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally, and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  As Warren Buffett put it best, “If I could have one superhuman power it would be to: “Read Faster.”  

I think about it like this: If you could read every book ever written in one lifetime, you would acquire so much knowledge and perspective it would be like living a billion lifetimes. How valuable and powerful would that be?

Today, I am sharing with you my 2017 BookList along with my 2018 Booklist. The books I read in 2017 impacted me in so many ways, and I believe it can do the same for you. In 2018, I will be reading another 25 books, and at the bottom, I will give you a sneak-peak on my reading list for the new year. If you don’t have time to read, NO worries-just follow my blog! Throughout the year,  I will be posting a summary and my own takeaways on each of the books below on my site.

At the bottom, please feel free to write any book recommendations you have or simply share your thoughts on any of the books below!

2017 Book List:

GIVE AND TAKE by Adam Grant

Adam Grant walks us through research and real-life examples about how “givers” in the long run tend to be more successful than “takers.” He further explains, there are three types of people givers, matchers, and takers. No surprise here, but you want to be a “giver” if you truly want to be “successful.” He shares techniques and stories about how you can become one and continue to be one throughout your life.

MINDSET: The New Psychology of Success by  Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck states in her book a simple concept. The view you adopt of yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. According to her research, we have two mindsets: Fixed and Growth.

Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman

I was recommended this book that teaches you everything you will learn in an MBA program. An MBA costs A LOT of money, and arguably are only valuable because of “networking,” not the actual content you learn. If you can’t or don’t want to attend MBA school, this book is a great crash course on how to operate a business.

SHOE DOG by Phil Knight

This is one of my all-time favorites. It is a memoir written by Phil Knight(Founder of Nike) as he takes us on the journey from the days before starting Nike to becoming one of the most iconic brands in the world.

MIRACLE MORNING by Hal Elrod

Hal Elrod has become a keynote speaker, author, ultramarathon runner, and the creator of The Miracle Morning routine which thousands of people use every day.  He shares with you the Miracle Morning routine, and how this accident changed his life for the better, and how we can all persevere through the most desperate moments of our lives.

GRIT by Angela Duckworth

If I had the chance, Angela Duckworth is one of the top 3 people I would want to meet. She shows anyone striving to succeed—be it parents, students, educators, athletes, or business people—that the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but a unique blend of passion and persistence she calls “grit.” This is #2 on my top ten list, and I highly recommend you read this book. I believe, it is one of the most important books ever written.

ELON MUSK – TESLA, SPACE X AND THE QUEST FOR A FANTASTIC FUTURE by Ashlee Vance

This is a biography of Elon Musk, and the author shares with us his journey to accomplish his life goal: To Die on Mars.

POWER OF HABITS – Charles Duhigg

You want to achieve your goals. Weight Loss? Promotion? Addiction? In the book, Charles Duhigg talks about how it all starts with Habits. He does an incredible job of giving you real-life examples and actually action items you can take away to create habits that can change your life.

THE CHALLENGER SALE by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson

In my opinion, the most critical sales book to ever be written. I have read this book three times and will reread it in the future. If you are in sales, marketing, operations, or a business owner. Read this book. It will teach you how you should message to your prospects and customers in the new era of technology.

BEST TEAM WINS by Adam Robinson

My CEO Adam Robinson has built Hireology into a leading HR tech software company. He shares his knowledge on how to hire the best people for your organization. The book is fantastic because if you are a business owner, HR, or hiring manager, you can use his step-by-step guide to start hiring better people today.

RELENTLESS by Tim Grover

Tim Grover was the athletic trainer for Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade. Three of the greatest basketball players to ever play the game. He shares his techniques in this book, and after you read it. Damn, you will be FIRE UP, and ready to achieve anything. Trust me.

THE EVERYTHING STORE – JEFF BEZOS BIOGRAPHY by Brad Stone

This is the best biography on Jeff Bezos I have read to date. It is very in-depth look from his days before Amazon to his time now as the wealthiest person in the world.

NEW SALES SIMPLIFIED by Mike Weinberg

Easily one of my favorite sales book. Mike Weinberg was a very successful sales person selling B2C products (which is as tough as it gets) along with other unique sales jobs. He found a way to be successful at all of them, and in his book he shares his techniques.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE by Daniel Goleman

Everyone knows that high IQ is no guarantee of success, happiness, or virtue, but until Emotional Intelligence, we could only guess why. Daniel Goleman’s brilliant report from the frontiers of psychology and neuroscience offers startling new insight into our “two minds”—the rational and the emotional—and how they together shape our destiny.

GENERATIONS by William Strauss and Neil Howe

William Strauss and Neil Howe share with us the history of America as a succession of generational biographies, beginning in 1584 and encompassing every-one through the children of today. Their bold theory is that each generation belongs to one of four types and that these types repeat sequentially in a fixed pattern. The vision of Generations allows us to plot a recurring cycle in American history — a cycle of spiritual awakenings and secular crises — from the founding colonists through the present day and well into this millennium.

THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY by Ryan Holiday

#3 on my top 10 list. This book introduced me further into the idea of stoicism. It is absolutely incredible. It has also been very popular in the NFL, as coaches have tried to adopt a “stoic” philosophy for their team. If you want to improve yourself and accomplish anything in life, read this book.

PRESENTATION ZEN by Garr Reynolds

Best-selling author and popular speaker Garr Reynolds is back in this newly revised edition of his classic, best-selling book, Presentation Zen, in which he showed readers there is a better way to reach the audience through simplicity and storytelling, and gave them the tools to confidently design and deliver successful presentations.

EVERYBODY WRITES by Ann Handley

Everybody Writes is a go-to guide to attracting and retaining customers through stellar online communication, because in our content-driven world, every one of us is, in fact, a writer.

EGO IS THE ENEMY by Ryan Holiday

Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes a recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.

MANS SEARCH FOR MEANING by Viktor Frankel

Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival.

CREATIVITY INC. by Ed Catmull

Ed Catmull is the Co-Founder of Pixar, and in his book, he shares the story and lessons he learned while building Pixar.  More specifically, he explains Pixar’s unique leadership practices that made them one of the most innovative and successful companies the world has ever seen.

THE ART OF POSSIBILITY by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone

Benjamin Zander’s experience as conductor of the Boston Philharmonic and his talent as a teacher and communicator with psychotherapist Rosamund Stone Zander’s genius for designing innovative paradigms for personal and professional fulfillment. They give you 12 practices that can help you unlock your potential. This book is incredible, and I highly recommend.

THE ENERGY BUS by Jon Gordon

The Energy Bus, an international bestseller by Jon Gordon, takes readers on an enlightening and inspiring ride that reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment – at work and at home. Jon infuses this engaging story with keen insights as he provides a powerful roadmap to overcome adversity and bring out the best in yourself and your team. When you get on The Energy Bus, you’ll enjoy the ride of your life!

GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE by Giles Andreae

A children’s board book that has an incredible message that sadly we forget as we get older. The book is #5 most sold on Amazon. Highly recommend for you as an adult, and your kid.

WOODEN ON LEADERSHIP: How to Create a Winning Organization by John Wooden

John Wooden’s goal in 41 years of coaching never changed; namely, to get maximum effort and peak performance from each of his players in the manner that best served the team. Wooden on Leadership, explains step-by-step how he pursued and accomplished this goal. Focusing on Wooden’s 12 Lessons in Leadership and his acclaimed Pyramid of Success, it outlines the mental, emotional, and physical qualities essential to building a winning organization, and shows you how to develop the skill, confidence, and competitive fire to “be at your best when your best is needed”–and teach your organization to do the same.

2018 Book List:

Biographies:

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. by Ron Chernow
Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw
Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
Eisenhower War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith
FDR by Jean Edward Smith

Books on Leadership:

Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Tim Ferris
Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion by Pete Carrol
Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne
The Strategy Paradox: Why Committing to Success Leads to Failure (And What to do About It) by Michael Raynor
Who says elephants can’t dance by Louis. V. Gerstner
Education of a coach by David Halberstam
The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh
The Carpenter by Jon Gordon
True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill Sims
Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough
Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry
Power of moments by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
You are a badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero
Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen
The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed by Jessica Lahey
High-Performance Habits: How Extraordinary People Become That Way by Brendon Burchard
Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant
Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by John Wooden

Books on Sales:

The Ultimate Sales Machine: Turbocharge Your Business with Relentless Focus on 12 Key Strategies by Chet Holmes
Creating competitive advantage: Give Customers a Reason to Choose You Over Your Competitors by Jaynie Smith

Other:

Sapien by Yuval Harari
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. Vance
Wonder by RJ Palacio
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son by George Horace Lorimer
Courage Under Fire by James Stockdale
Everything has two handles by Ronald Pies
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Giraffe’s Can’t Dance

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Mondays, I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s Book is Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae. It is currently in the top 5 most sold fiction books on Amazon.com. 

Brief Summary:

A giraffe named Gerald is nervous because the annual Jungle Dance is today, and he is not confident in his ability to dance. He sees all the other animals do amazing dances, and when it’s his turn the animals all start to laugh at him because he is a giraffe and giraffes can’t dance. Quickly, he scampers off and believes that they are right, and he’s useless. While gazing at the moon, he runs into a cricket who tells him, “sometimes when you’re different you just need a different song.” With the help of the cricket, Gerald hears for the first time the music in the jungle surrounding him.

Before he knows it, he is dancing. All of the animals start to catch word of Gerald’s dance moves. They can’t believe it; Gerald is the best dancer they’ve ever seen! They ask Gerald how he got so good at dancing. He says, “We all can dance when we find music that we love”.

Things I learned from this book:

  • Less is more. This book is 30 pages, and it has a very powerful message. We tend to overthink when it comes to whether or not we can do something. The message of the book is to do what you love, and you can do anything.
  • When we were newborns and toddlers we were fearless; thinking positively was the only option, and curiosity flowed through our veins. We spent hours reading books like Giraffes Can’t Dance but somewhere along the way, we forget the messages that were the foundation of our existence. It’s hard, but we need to get back to that beginner’s mindset: be curious, think positively, have fun, and don’t be afraid to fail.  
  • “We all can dance” is similar to “we all are unique”. We just need to start to focus on what we love and find passion in.
  • It is OK to be different. It does not mean that you “can’t” do something. It means you just have to find your own way to do it.

Other things I learned from this book:

Find your Music:

We are all unique. It is the best part of being human. If we were all the same, the world would be a strange place. Imagine if we all danced the same way, how strange would that be? Gerald sees all the other animals dancing in certain ways, and feels like he can’t dance. What he does not realize until the end of the book is that he can dance, he just has not found music that “interests” him.

A great way to start to find your “purpose” is thinking about what interests you. You will spend hours, days, years learning and exploring these interests. This repetition and practice will lead you to find out precisely what you are most passionate about. If someone asked me how to find their purpose I would ask them what they are most passionate about.  Let’s start there.

Be Yourself:

We tend to want to go with what is “cool” or “popular” instead of doing what you really want to do. We fear that others will think we are  “lame” or “dumb” or “not cool”. Gerald feels this way in the book when he goes to the Jungle Dance. He feels like he has to be able to dance like the other animals or he won’t fit in. In due time, he realizes that he can dance however he wants.

If we live our lives living by someone else’s standards, we will ultimately regret the life we lived. As I have discussed in my previous posts, if you feel different that’s OK. We are all different. Don’t waste time worrying about the opinions of others.  It is similar to what the cricket told Gerald when he said, “sometimes when you’re different you just need a different song.” To me, this means to be you. Do what you love and create your own path.

How has this book impacted me?

If you want to reach your potential, start with doing something you love. For some people, they fail to do this and they wake up one day realizing that most of their life has been wasted in things they don’t truly enjoy. As juvenile as this may sound, don’t follow others because it seems like the cool thing to do or because everyone is doing it. Believe in yourself and your own unique story. I love sales, leadership, and seeing others achieve things they thought were not possible. I have always been interested in these things, so I started to read about topics in these three areas. Soon enough, I began to become incredibly passionate about it and launched a blog.

It seems like it can’t be that easy, but it is. Think about this, you just learned something from a CHILDREN’S BOARD BOOK. So, just like Gerald taught me, anything is possible. Giraffes CAN dance.  

Now, WAKE UP! It’s Day One. Time to find your music. Buy the book here!

 

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Creativity, Inc

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Mondays, I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull. If you are a leader of a team or company you should definitely read this book, but anyone can benefit from reading it. In many ways, we are all leaders.

Brief Summary:

Ed Catmull is the Co-Founder of Pixar and in his book, he shares the story and lessons he learned while building Pixar.  More specifically, he explains Pixar’s unique leadership practices that made them one of the most innovative and successful companies the world has ever seen (he also got to work side by side with Steve Jobs, so he shares very insightful conversations and things he learned from Steve. I outline one of the things I took away from their time together below).

Things I learned from the book:

  • We are all creative. As an employee (or simply a human) you have the ability to be creative. You just need to be in the right environment with the right mentorship and believe in your abilities.
  • As a leader, you must manage your employees and yourself to the unknown. Loosen the control, take risks, accept the fact that you as a leader can be wrong.
  • Ed states in the book, “The view of our past is hardly clearer than our view of the future.The past should be our teacher, not our master.” Love this quote.
  • Some of the first questions Steve Jobs ever asked Ed Catmull included: “What do you want?” and “What are your long-term goals?” As a leader, you need to find out what is important to those you are leading.
  • You must create a “safe environment” which allows employees to feel comfortable to speak up and talk to anyone regardless of title. This is extremely important for all leaders because most tend to just manage up and forget about managing down. Ed realized quickly that the latter was possibly even more important.  
  • Every company has problems and the cost of not finding the problem is much more than the cost of fixing them once they happen.
  • Hire people who you believe you could work for one day and that you believe are smarter than you. So many people do not follow this advice. I truly believe most leaders are intimidated or scared to hire someone who threatens their intelligence or job because they may have a higher ceiling.
  • As Ed learned from George Lucas, you must follow the process, but do not lose sight of the end goal. Employees will come and go, but keep moving forward even if you do not know where you are headed.
  • All teams and employees matter. If one team or one employee fails to achieve their goal, then we all fail. You must have a mentality and culture that lets everyone know that what they do is vital to the company’s success.
  • As a leader, you must learn to see problems before they happen, which is very difficult. Your employees typically know or see the problems before you. It’s simple. Just ask them, because typically they are too afraid to tell you.
  • A culture that is innovative and achieves their end goal is able to meet “unexpected problems with unexpected responses”.

Other things I learned:

Ask the right questions, and focus on what you value as a company

Ed explains how he got advice from Silicon Valley experts about how to price Pixar’s first imaging computer. Their advice was to price high to start, and if necessary you can always lower it. He quickly learned that was a mistake. He took advice without asking questions.

Pixar gained the reputation of being powerful but too expensive. Because of this, their sales got off to a slow start. He realized he failed to ask the right questions, and should have been focused on what he and the company valued. Meeting the expectations of customers and investing in software development so customers could get more value in their product were their priorities.

Focus more on the end result than the actual process

Making the process cheaper and trying to perfect it is OK, but that cannot be the goal. The goal is to get to your end result. Ed explains that he sees so many companies focused on fixing and streamlining the “process” which leads to groups thinking they are doing the right things. But it ultimately limits communications between teams and blinds you from what the real problem is. This leads to teams becoming distracted from the end goal.  This is a mindset I believe everyone should possess. A team or company needs to have one specific end goal, and everyone then needs to be aligned with that goal. You must set the end goal prior to setting short-term goals. This is so simple, yet so many companies and teams fail to understand this. The process will look like a roller coaster and that is ok. Hitting the end goal is all that matters.

Change is Good

Successful companies and people tend to view any change as a threat to the company culture or way things work. It is easier for people to hold onto processes and things that work and just stick to what they know. The ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ model to some is the winning model, and shockingly most companies fall into this trap. Most people don’t want to hear that no matter what you do things change. The key to a successful company or even an individual reaching the end goal is by changing and evolving. If we try to tighten our control over what we already know and choose not to change, then we impede our creativeness. And just a side note, Ed discusses the person who changed his mind the most of out of anyone he knew… Steve Jobs.

Trust your employees at all levels to find solutions

Big and small problems should be treated the same, and you should create a response structure that matches the problem structure. In a creative and innovative environment, people are allowed to solve problems with no permissions and we are OK with people making mistakes. The person or team can then solve the problem, and it allows the company to catch a problem early on. Don’t wait to get approval or the problem could destroy your business.

Leadership and life lesson from someone who worked side by side with Steve Jobs

As I mentioned, Ed had the unique experience to work with Steve Jobs. After working so closely with Steve, he shares his definition of the world people believe Steve Jobs lived in which they call the “Reality Distortion Field”. Here is Ed’s definition after his time with Steve:

“It stems from my belief that our decisions and actions have consequences and that those consequences shape our future. Our actions change our reality. Our intentions matter. Most people believe that their actions have consequences but don’t think through the implications of that belief. But Steve did. He believed, as I do, that it is precisely by acting on our intentions and staying true to our values that we change the world.”

To me, it seems as if Steve Jobs was just human, and he lived in the same world we lived in. He just did something really well and he believed in his abilities. He didn’t stop. He kept going and he reached his end result. He changed the world.

How has this book impacted me?

From a leadership standpoint, my number 1 goal is to strive to help my reps become not just better salespeople but better individuals. The idea of focusing on the unknown is exactly how you can do that, and Ed lays out very simple practices that you can follow to help create this environment where people can reach their full potential.  

As an Individual, one of my core values is to learn every day and learning from other people on how they achieved their potential is easily the best way to learn. This book specifically was helpful because it solidified some of the leadership ideas and personal values that I am so passionate about. After reading a book like this, it shows me how simple life is at its core and how people like Ed Catmull became successful doing things that you and I can do. As long as I focus on trying to learn every day and have a laser focus on my end goal, nothing can stop me.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Time to lead your team and yourself into the unknown. And purchase the book here: Creativity, Inc: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

 

Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Mondays, I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? by Seth Godin.

In my last post, I discussed the idea of how you can reinvent your life and the idea of success. This book has helped me solidify these thoughts and has become one of my top ten favorites. It can help further explain my thought process and help paint a clearer picture of how important it is that you write your own rules.

“My goal is to persuade you that there is an opportunity available to you, a chance to significantly change your life for the better. Not by doing something that is easy or that you have been trained to do, but by understanding how the rules of our world have fundamentally changed and by taking advantage of this moment to become someone the world believes is indispensable.” – Seth Godin

Brief summary of LinchPin: Are you Indispensable?

Seth Godin discusses the idea of how the world has significantly changed, and how in the past it paid to follow the rules. He explains that there have always been two teams: Management and Labor, but now there is a third team: Linchpins. Linchpins are the type of people who make their own map and don’t follow the guidelines of corporate America that have been set in stone for hundreds of years. He shares ideas and stories about how you too can do this and once you do, reaching your potential will never be easier. And Seth makes it clear that it starts with YOU and YOUR CHOICES.

Things I learned from the book:

  • The world has evolved, and it will only continue to evolve. If you keep complying with the system, you will fail to achieve your potential. If you want to reach your goals, you must create your own map.
  • The world is changing because of innovation. The first people to fail are the map-followers, non-risk takers, the fearful and scared to be different. Those type of people gets lost in the fast pace world we live in. It is unfortunate because they were told to “follow the system” and over time it has failed them.
  • Innovative employees are typically the most successful. As a manager, at times I feel like I need to control every situation, and that is unnecessary. Let your employees think for themselves.
  • We have a choice every single day. You can choose to be great, learn, and contribute or you can follow the process and do what others tell you to do. I will take the former.
  • People don’t take a risk because they are afraid. Schools (not all, but most) created a fear like environment. Pass or Fail. We were rarely taught “It’s ok to fail. Get back up. Just give maximum effort.”
  • It’s OK to be unique. You have a purpose. You have your own thoughts and views. Share them with the world. Don’t be scared. If you don’t it will be challenging to reach your goals.
  • Life is about choice: Are you going to choose to be part of the machine or are you going to pave your own way?

Other things I learned from this book:

Seth explains that when you become a linchpin, you strengthen your abilities in these 7 areas:

  1. Provide a unique interface between members of the organization
  2. Deliver unique creativity
  3. Manage a situation or organization of great complexity
  4. Lead customers
  5. Inspire staff
  6. Provide deep domain knowledge
  7. Possess a unique talent

Where does average come from?

  1. You were brainwashed by a school (not all, but a majority) and by the system into believing that your job is to do your job. You have to follow the rules and instructions.
  2. We all have a little voice inside our heads that’s angry and scared. That voice is what Seth refers to as the “resistance” (your lizard brain) and it wants you to play it safe and be average.

The law of linchpin leverage

People who we view as “ultra-successful” or “brilliant” are only truly this way for short bursts. The rest of the time they are doing work that anyone could do. The difference is that for 1 minute or 5 minutes they think differently about how they can contribute and create value in this world. At your job, take a second to think about how you could do it better or create more value because that is what Linchpins do. The ones who do not choose to think this way become replaceable.

We live in a fear driven culture

The “system” prohibits you from being innovative and standing out. We have created a sense of fear in the world that employees cannot share their thoughts and opinions because they must follow the rules. We must break down the walls and barriers to innovation. We all have ideas. Whether they are right or not shouldn’t prohibit someone from speaking up about it. Because we are afraid to take a risk and create our own map, we tend to say things like this:

    • “I don’t have any good ideas”
    • “I don’t know what to do”
    • “I didn’t graduate from (insert brand of some prestigious educational institution here)” –  I LOVE WHEN I HEAR THIS. WHO CARES WHERE YOU WENT TO SCHOOL. IT’S NOT WHERE YOU WENT, IT’S WHAT YOU DO.
    • “My boss won’t let me”
    • “Well, that’s fine for you, but my gender, race, health, religion, nationality, shoe size, handicap, or DNA don’t make it easy”

There is NO map

This is simple. As I mentioned in my last post, everything is invented. We are all human. We all have a purpose. We all have a voice. We are all powerful. If you believe in something, go DO IT. Nobody is in control of you except for yourself.

How has this book impacted me?

As a young kid, I always remember thinking and asking myself “why this”, “why that”. I have always been a curious person, and I have always wanted to be unique and different. This book reassured me that it is OK to want to be that way. It is what makes me a human and not a cog in a machine.

Seth also opened my mind up to the ideas of “choice” and “innovation”. He made it OK and furthermore necessary to challenge the status quo if you are going to reach your potential. He also shares two stories that I actually printed out and laminated for my sales team. I have all my new hires read it, and if you have or still do work for me, you know the story of “Richard and Steve”. I will shortly be sharing a post with those stories. But for now, I can say that we are always given a choice and the people who choose to create their own map end up finding their potential.

Now, Wake Up! It’s Day One. Time to create your own map, and become indispensable. Purchase Seth’s book here: Buy the book here! and I highly recommend you subscribe to his blog: Click here to view his blog and subscribe!

 

WAKEUP! It’s Book Review Monday – The Miracle Morning

Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Mondays, I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me.

Today’s book is The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life Before 8 a.m. by Hal Elrod.

“Life isn’t about wishing you were somewhere or someone that you’re not. Life is about enjoying where you are, loving who you are, and consistently improving both” –

Brief Summary of The Miracle Morning: 

Hal Elrod was no different than any other professional trying to make a living. At age 20, he was the #1 sales rep at his marketing company breaking every single record there was. But then that year he had a horrific accident where a drunk driver hit him head-on. He was pronounced dead for 6 minutes. Miraculously, he came back to life, though he spent 6 days in a coma and woke up to the news he would NEVER walk again.

After 11 fractured bones, permanent brain damage, and necessary rehab to walk again he used these challenges to motivate and inspire himself. He did not back down or give up. A few years later, he is walking, talking, and sharing his story with the world. He has become a keynote speaker, author, ultramarathon runner, and the creator of The Miracle Morning routine which thousands of people use every day.  He shares with you the Miracle Morning routine, and how this accident changed his life for the better, and how we can all persevere through the toughest moments of our lives.

Things I learned from this book:

  • New Ideas and methods to add to my morning ritual

  • A good morning routine can be 6 minutes or 60 minutes. Both are very powerful.

  • A morning routine can change your life and be the #1 reason for being happy and successful.

  • Everything happens for a reason. You must find the deeper meaning of a situation good or bad because you can learn from every moment.

  • Be grateful for what you have in life. Reading this book re-confirmed one of my beliefs, “give it all you have every day.”

  • If you are going to try to change a habit, you must have a well thought out plan prior to trying to improve.

  • Morning rituals or routines should fit your lifestyle. It is not a one size fit all.

  • Waking up tired has nothing to do with how many hours you get to sleep. It is actually your belief of how many hours YOU NEED to feel rested. So before you go to bed, think about how many hours you truly need to be rested. The average person at age 30 needs about 6 to 7 hours.

Other learnings I took away:

The 95% Reality Check:

Step 1: Acknowledge that 95% of society will never create and live the life they really want

The challenge for most people is that they don’t want to take ownership of anything. They do not realize that to accomplish anything in life, it starts with themselves. Instead of looking at people you admire and saying, “I can’t be like them”, you need to start realizing that you can. And you need to realize YOU are in control. No one is responsible for your success, only YOU.

Step 2: Identify the Causes of Mediocrity

  1. Rearview Mirror Syndrome:

Staying present and moving the conversation forward is one of the hardest things for people to do, especially in the world we are in today. The way we were raised in school was all about pass or fail, which gives us a false perception of what success truly is. It is not always about winning or losing, it is about effort.

To review the past is ok as long as you take something away from it- regardless of success or failure. However, you must continue to look forward and not stop moving. Like I mentioned in my last post, wake up today and think different or you will never move forward towards your goals.

2. Lack of Purpose:

We all have a purpose. You need to ask yourself, “Why do I wake up every day?” Trust me, there is a reason, and that is your purpose.

3. Isolated Incidents:

We tend to believe that each choice we make only impacts us at that specific moment, but unfortunately, it all adds up. As you know, I believe every day it is day one so I am 50/50 on this point he makes here. I believe sometimes you just need to move on rather than spending unproductive time worrying about if a choice you made yesterday was wrong.

4. Lack of Accountability:

This is extremely difficult for most people, and where a lot of us fail. It starts though with you. If you can follow my methods of building a day one mindset you will start to hold yourself accountable.  I do agree with Hal that the best and easiest way to hold yourself accountable is finding an “Accountability Partner”. For me, my wife and son are my accountability partners. I can’t and won’t let them down.

5. Mediocre Circle of Influence:

This is simple. Hang out with people who share your interests and inspire you. You are who you hang out with. Look around at your friends. If they are not motivated to do anything, you most likely will be the same way.

6. Lack of Personal Development:

When I interview people for my team, I always hear the standard phrases “I love learning and I want to grow”.  My response to that? “Wow. That is great. So, tell me what have YOU done in the past year personally or professionally to grow your skills and develop yourself?” Easy answer here: READ BOOKS.

7. Lack of Urgency:

One of the best pieces of advice my dad has ever given me was this: “Jeff, as a salesperson all you got is time”. I have taken that and applied it not just to sales, but life. You cannot waste time doing things that will not move you towards your goal.

Step 3: Draw your line in the sand

Today is your day. It is your moment. No more BS. We are going to change who we are today. It’s that simple.

5 Step Snooze Proof Wakeup Strategy

Step 1: Set your intentions before bed

Step 2: Move your alarm across the room

Step 3: Brush your teeth

Step 4: Drink a full glass of water

Step 5: Get dressed in your workout clothes

Life S.A.V.E.R.S a morning routine for anyone to use:

  1. S – Silence
    • Meditate
  2. A – Affirmations
    • Write down how you want to live each day. Check out my affirmations here: www.wakeupitsdayone.com/day-one-ritual/
  3. V – Visualize
    • See your day ahead and visualize the success you’re going to have
  4. E – Exercise
    • Run, do sit-ups, do push-ups, running in place, lifting weights, treadmill, running outside, lifting a 5-pound dumbbell. Just do something to get your body moving.
  5. R – Reading
    • Read a book, article, blog, or anything that interests you.
  6. S – Scribing
    • Write your thoughts about anything. It is an excellent way to see your progress, capture ideas, gain clarity

How has this book impacted me?

I have been getting up early for work since I started my first job. For me, this book cemented what I had been doing for quite some time but also taught me how valuable a morning routine is. I used to get up early just because I didn’t like to work out at night. Now, I have a purpose to get up. I built out my own routine based on the strategies in this book which includes reading, reflection, and a motivational video. The result has been amazing. My colleagues have wondered why I seem to have so much energy, and I owe a lot of that to Hal’s book. I am so grateful I read it because as I get older it is harder and harder to get up which makes my morning ritual more important than ever.

Check out my step-by-step morning ritual on www.wakeupitsdayone.com/day-one-ritual/

Now, WAKEUP! It’s Day One. It’s time for you to build your morning routine! Purchase the book here!


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