Saturday mornings were a special treat for me when I was growing up. That’s because they meant two things: no school and cartoons. Today’s youth can’t relate in this age of always-on self-serve entertainment. But back in the day we didn’t have instant access to everything. If there was a show we liked, we had […]
I accepted the Goodreads reading challenge in 2017. I discovered a reading hack in 2016 that allowed me to read more books than I ever had before. I really wanted to put this hack to the test, so I challenged myself to read 150 books.
Well, with 2017 behind me, I am happy to announce that I not only met my challenge, but exceeded it with a total of 167 books.
Out of all those books, there were some not worth mentioning, but a lot of them were helpful and a few really stood out. I have chosen 20 that I consider to be must-reads. These books are going to stay in my library and I will refer to them in the future. Some will undoubtedly provide inspiration for upcoming blog posts.
So, without further adieu, here are my top 20 must-read picks from my 2017 reading challenge.
Like you, I’ve heard people talk about the dangers of stress and stress-related illnesses. This is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone (let alone a physician) say that stress is good for you. If you think there is a chance you will encounter stress in your life, I recommend you pick this book up.
I believe that entrepreneurs are superheroes. Their superpower? The ability to force ideas into reality regardless of their current resources. This book highlights that fact by telling the stories of entrepreneurs in third world countries who often start with nothing. The book opens with the story of Patrick, who started with only the earth beneath his feet—so he started a business making bricks out of clay. If you have even the slightest entrepreneurial inclination, this book will inspire you.
What are your goals? Can you accomplish all of them by yourself? Chances are at some point you will need someone or some group of people to comply with your wishes in order for it to happen. People will need to buy your products, or join your cause. This book teaches you the science and practice of how to get people to comply. This power can be used for good or evil. So if you’re a good person, go ahead and get this book. If you’re evil, just move along…nothing to see here.
Getting and staying organized has always been a challenge for me. This book breaks it down into a simple habit that you can do just 10 minutes a day. I’m really looking forward to implementing this strategy to tidy up my home in 2018.
If you’ve got big goals, you’ve got to make big decisions. You can’t do it all. Knowing what to say “no” to is just as important as knowing what to say “yes” to. This book shows you how to decide what the “one thing” is you really should be focused on to get really big results.
If you’re interested in starting a side business but don’t know where to start, this is a good book for you. Nick Loper lists hundreds of marketplaces that already exist where all you have to do is add your “buy button” to market your assets, time, or expertise. With 300+ platforms featured, you’re guaranteed to find at least one place to hang your “buy button”.
If you’ve ever heard anyone make a reference to “flow” or a “flow state”, then they were referencing the work in this book. It’s that state where you get so engrossed in what you’re doing that time disappears. Experiencing flow is not just enjoyable—it actually shapes who we are. It’s important to understand how to experience it and how to use it to your benefit.
Before I read this book, I wondered if I should include my phone number in emails to my list subscribers. Then I saw Kevin Kruse put his number on the cover of his book! I learned that when it comes to building a personal brand, you can’t exclude the personal part. It’s really an old-fashioned book about building relationships in a digital world. Oh, by the way, I now include my phone number in my emails.
I thought this book would be more about storytelling than it turned out to be. It was actually about building systems and processes to make it easier for one person to run a content creation business. I’ll be going back to this one often and there are tons of extras in the form of templates to get you started.
I liked this book because it delivered it’s points in the form of a story. It’s a really engaging read and memorable. I hope to see more from this series.
This book flies in the face of everything you’ve been taught about healthy eating. But with so much obesity and degenerative diseases, maybe it’s time we question what we think we know.
The most empowering lesson I learned from this book is: no one can make me get into debt. It’s 100% a choice that I make. It is both liberating and sobering. I cannot be forced into debt, but I am 100% responsible for making the debt I have. I like how this book addresses the psychological and emotional side of debt as well as the tactics and strategies for getting out of it.
The description I read that got me to buy this book said it was “revolutionary”. I wondered how it could be revolutionary. After all, isn’t profit the goal of every business? As I read, I realized that while profit may be a stated goal, it often gets lost among other things like “revenue” and “growth” that sound really good but they aren’t the same thing as profit. And profit is how you can tell if your business is healthy or not. Great book to read to keep your business on the track to health (or get it back on track).
Positive Psychology came along at a time when there was an over-emphasis on the study and treatment of mental and emotional disorder. This book comes along at a time where perhaps we’ve gone too far in the opposite direction. What we may think of as “negative” emotions, are just emotions—neither negative nor positive. Each emotion has something to reveal and it’s better we learn how to listen to them.
You’ve probably heard that you don’t learn from success—you learn from failure. While it may be true, it feels like something people tell you just to make you feel better about your screw-ups. This book goes beyond the “warm fuzzies” and dives into how you get the most out of the wealth of those experiences you may not otherwise want to talk about.
I have to admit, I am a fan of the Heath brothers. As soon as I heard they had a new book coming out, I reserved my pre-release copy and as soon as it came out, I devoured it. As usual, I was not disappointed. Want to have an impact? Then it would help you to know how to create the kinds of experiences that people remember for a lifetime.
When it comes to working with people in a group, the whole is not always equal to the sum of its parts. In other words, a group of really smart individuals can produce some stupid results if they don’t know how to work together. This book teaches you how to take control of the group dynamics that make the difference between a high-performing group and a flop.
This book is kind of like a driver’s manual for your brain. It approaches peak performance from an angle I’ve never seen before. I came away with a better understanding of how I work best, and better insight into the styles of the people around me. Do you think some people are just “born” top-performers? You might change your mind after reading Peak.
The number one rule when giving any presentation is: don’t be boring. I was relieved to find this book guides you through the steps to “punch up” any presentation with a little humor—and you don’t have to be a stand-up comedian to do it.
Did you know Michelangelo was rich? I mean, like really rich? Kinda blows the whole “starving artist” myth out of the water. And guess what? You don’t have to be a painter, sculptor, or musician to be an artist. You just have to use your creativity to bring ideas into reality. That’s what entrepreneurship is all about—you harness the power of creation to force ideas into reality. That’s art. Read this book and learn the principles behind turning your art into profit.
So that’s it for my top 20 picks from my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenge. Each of these books inspired me in some way and I intend to refer back to all of them as I move forward in my business.
What’s next for me in 2018? Well, I don’t plan to read quite so many books this year. I’m going to focus more on producing content of my own. In 2017, I sporadically produced content for my blog and that will change in 2018. I intend to post at least four times per month and the books I listed above will provide inspiration for some of that content.
Finally, there’s one more book I’d like to add to the list. During my year of reading 167 books, I also published a book of my own. How could I possibly get all that done in one year? Well, if you read my book you will find out. In it, I show you how to tap into your inner source of motivation so you can accomplish whatever you want.
So grab a copy for yourself and then go to http://UnlockYourBeast.com and find out how to get free bonuses (like how to use my reading hack to power through your reading list) plus my money back guarantee.
As I sat in his office, he instructed me to write down a number equal to my ideal annual income. I wrote down a number roughly 50% higher than I had ever earned.
After I showed him the number I wrote he leaned toward me and began to paint a scenario.
“What if I showed you step-by-step how to build a business? After about a year, you would be making the amount of money you just wrote down. Now, suppose you hated every second of the time you put into making that money, but in the end it paid off. Would you do it?”
His eyes and his smile widened as he awaited my answer.
His expression turned to shock when I told him “no”.
Apparently, that pitch normally worked for him. He was running a pretty successful business.
If he had given me that pitch years earlier, I might have said yes. We’ve probably all given some thought to what we’d be willing to do if the reward were big enough.
It’s the old “carrot-on-a-stick” type of motivation. And it works. You can certainly get through unpleasant activity if there’s a prize waiting for you on the other side.
But the “dirty little secret” is: building your business doesn’t have to be that way.
A business mentor of mine revealed this secret during a live training seminar. Whether he meant to reveal this secret or not I don’t know. But he revealed it in five little words that I might have missed if I hadn’t been paying attention.
He described what he did during a 1000 day period to take his business to record-breaking levels within his industry. He confessed that the level of effort he put in was so challenging that there was no way he could have sustained it for even a day longer than 1000 days.
He was spent. But he reached his goal. After reaching his goal, he had to take a break from his business to relax and recuperate.
It was impressive. Hard work always is.
But the next five words he said caught me by surprise.
“It was fun for me.”
I realized that was his secret. That was how he was able to put in such a heroic effort over a sustained period of time. He was having fun!
The fancy term for fun is “intrinsic motivation”. You engage in an activity for the sheer enjoyment of the activity itself. The “carrot-on-the-stick” is called extrinsic motivation. You engage in an activity in order to get a prize or reward.
The “dirty little secret” that not many high achievers will tell you is: you can have both. You can set a goal for your business, and enjoy the hard work you put in to reach it.
The reason this is such a “dirty little secret” is because people like to brag about how hard they work. They brag about how early they get up, and how late they burn the midnight oil. Hard work is like a badge of honor for successful people. They rarely admit how much they enjoy their hard work because they don’t want people to mistake their work for leisure.
But the belief that work and play have to be separate is a myth. If you don’t believe me, look at professional sports. Pro athletes make millions, yet they’re still called players. They aren’t called workers. There’s no doubt the top players work hard, but do you think they hate every second of it, or do you think they love the game?
That’s why I’ve committed to building my business by doing what I love to do. I’ve rejected the notion that hard work has to be a grind.
I learned that building a business by having fun happens in three steps:
- Get to know yourself so you understand what you enjoy doing.
- Find examples of people having success doing what you enjoy.
- Follow their example.
The first thing I knew about myself was I love to read and learn. So I started reading and learning. Then, I noticed that I often shared what I learned with people—and they were listening. I enjoyed that.
Then, I started noticing how some entrepreneurs were attracting customers by creating helpful content online and then selling products to their audience. It looked like fun to me, so I dove into it.
Now, if I wanted to impress you with how hard I work, I’d tell you how I’ve read 167 books this year and how I get up at 6 AM every morning to produce content (like this blog post).
But I’m not trying to impress you with how hard I work.
If I could impress you with anything, it would be that I’m building my business by doing something that’s fun for me. Just because you have to work hard to reach your goals doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.
So, don’t let me be the only one having fun. Take my 3-day video challenge to find your unique superpower. It’ll help you get to know yourself better so you can find your fun. Just follow the link, enter your email address, and each day for three days I’ll send you a video to walk you step-by-step through the process of identifying your unique superpower.
Ok ,so a tiger is in a zoo, and everything within this tiger—all his instincts—tell him he’s a Beast. He knows when he roars, things are supposed to happen.
So every day he steps into his cubicle…er…cage…and he roars and nothing happens. People just take pictures of him with their camera phones and smile.
After awhile he gets down and depressed, and wonders “am I really a tiger?”
The truth is…he’s a tiger…a real tiger…in a fake habitat.
Everything inside him tells him he belongs somewhere else, but the longer he stays in that cube…er…cage, the more he loses touch with who he is.
The same thing can happen to us.
You could have a job that pays the bills but it doesn’t feel 100% authentic. It doesn’t feel like you’re creating everything you’re meant to create, or contributing to the highest and best of your capability. You roar…and nothing happens.
You belong somewhere else. And the longer you stay in that environment, the more you’ll doubt that yearning is real. “Maybe I’m not really meant for anything more than this”, you think.
You’ve heard people say “follow your passion”. But does that really work? You’re passionate about a lot of things. If you followed your passion you’d end up pulled in different directions and ultimately go nowhere.
Better advice would be “follow your purpose”.
Your purpose is like a compass that will guide you to your magnetic north. Your passions are the fuel that will energize you for the journey.
Finding your purpose can seem daunting. Although it may take some time, it’s easier than you think.
Finding your purpose is like a reminding a tiger in a zoo that he’s really a Beast. Get him out of his cage—into his natural habitat around other tigers and he’ll be back to his old self in no time.
It all starts with getting in touch with who you are—the kind of Beast you really are.
This is where your passions come into play. Your passions tell you what you care about. What you care about tells you who you are. Who you are determines where you belong. Getting into that space where you belong and making an authentic contribution is your purpose.
A great way to notice your passions and what you care about is to pay attention to what makes you cry. Exclude times of loss or grief. Pay attention to things that move you.
For me, I noticed I always cry when I watch The Lion King—either animated or live. The part that gets me is the conversation between Mufasa in the clouds and Simba:
Mufasa: “Simba, you have forgotten me.”
Simba: “No! How could I?”
Mufasa: “You have forgotten who you are, and so forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.”
Simba: “How can I go back? I’m not who I used to be.”
Mufasa: “Remember who you are. You are my son, and the one true king. Remember who you are…”
I’ve come to realize that my purpose is to bring this “Mufasa moment” to as many people as possible—to remind people of who they are.
You have greatness in you and the world is depending on you to take your place. We need what you have to offer.
Remember who you are…
To help you take the first step toward remembering what kind of Beast you are and finding your purpose, I have a 3-day video challenge. Follow the link, enter your email address, and each day for three days I’ll send you a video to walk you step-by-step through the process of identifying your unique superpower.
P.S. Katt Williams told the tiger-in-the-cage story first. I paraphrased parts of it. Watch it if you’re not offended by explicit language, you’re not at work, and your kids are asleep.