My “Book-A-Day” holiday challenge
Sometime back, I shared an article from Business Insider titled, “7 books you can finish in a long weekend that will make you a more well-rounded person”
So, knowing I had a decadent chance to escape mid-term, without anyone else in tow, I purchased them all and packed six of them to take with me to Port Douglas, and challenged myself to read one each day. I have always been an avid reader but over the years I have struggled to find the time, all while the piles of books grow unsteadily high on the bedside table and I’ve taken to listening to most books via Audible, so I could make some headway on the short ride to and from work.
In this post, I intend to briefly reflect on each of them:
- Payoff: the hidden logic that shapes our motivations by Dan Ariely It’s a brief, relatable and easy read. I felt Payoff would be a useful book for anyone leading/managing or coaching others. It was a brief introduction to motivation, how the mind works and how to leverage that in your own environment. I think understanding what motivates others can only help us all become better communicators.
- Never split the difference: negotiating as if your life depended on it by Chris Voss I learnt so much in this book and I was madly taking notes throughout. Now I look forward to testing out some of what I learnt in real life situations. Skills like Mirroring & Labelling (It seems like, It sounds like, It looks like) and the response of asking How? How do you expect me to do that? To label ‘nervousness’ as ‘excitement’ for yourself and others and how just the shift in language can affect your mindset. I got tips on how to temper radicalism and I thought the idea of offering entry interviews, instead of exit interviews, a valuable way to gain insight when someone first joins your organisation. Life is a series of negotiations: whether buying a car, renegotiating the rent, setting bed times for your kids or deadlines for your students, this book will provide you strategies that will give you the competitive advantage in any discussion. Can’t wait to buy my next car, as that salesman is not going to know what’s hit him!
- 3. Originals: how non-conformists move the world by Adam M Grant As a non-conformist, early Chrome adopter (in-joke, you have to read the book!) and a first-mover entrepreneur I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am one of those people that always has a head full of entrepreneurial and enterprising ideas, but as in the launch of my first business, Australia’s first etail business in 1998, my business was about 8 years too early for the market. So, I enjoyed reading about the pitfalls of being a first mover, and in a similar vein to being a first leader, 2nd place is often the better place to be! I also enjoyed the chapter on Creativity as I consider myself to be fairly creative which traditionally was incongruous with my passion for technology, but now I know how the creative side of me has benefitted me hugely in my career and I agree with Adam Grant that for our young people to be successful they will need to be creative and will require the ability to think outside the box.
- 4. The happiness project by Gretchen Rubin This is the only book I struggled with the list. I take issue with people who believe us humans should be “Happy” all the time. The quest for happiness is called life, and the older I get the more joy I take in discovering those things along my journey that makes me happy. I don’t understand this need for people (generally younger than me!) to control everything in their lives? I think the key to happiness is more likely to be by enjoying life’s up and downs (treating the downs as learning opportunities), going with the flow and picking your battles. If you try to control life you are going to always be unhappy, frustrated, and quite rightly depressed. I found the book self-indulgent to the extreme and think Gretchen may have been better served to find enlightenment and happiness had she spent a year in the Kibera slums of Kenya rather than seeking happiness from the safety of her extremely privileged life in NYC. The other five books could all fall under the self-help category, but this was simply self-indulgent and wasn’t for me, I won’t be recommending it to anyone.
- 5. The new rules of work by Alexandra Cavoulacos & Kathryn Minshew Our young people today cannot rely on their parents for career advice as in one generation the rules have changed and there is no linear approach anymore. I must admit that I’ve done a lot of reading around the future of work, particularly leading up to last week’s Enterprising Minds Conference, run by the Centre for Educational Enterprise and also being an avid follower of the regular research reports coming from the Foundation for Young Australians I was confident that I was across this, so I did skim read much of it. This book is a very practical guide (a playbook full of templates, scripts and worksheets) and would well serve Year 12 students, or anyone looking to change jobs or careers. I’d be highly recommending it to senior school staff, parents & careers advisors, as it offers advice on nailing a job interview, how to network, negotiating job offers and will really set them up with a great game plan for the future.
- 6. Ted Talks: The official Ted guide to public speaking by Chris Anderson This was a book I knew I had to read. Like most people, I hate public speaking and only in recent years have I really pushed myself to be uncomfortable and face my fears. Whilst it does get a little easier each time, it’s one of those skills I wish I could conquer. There’s some great advice much of which is outlined on this blog post: http://blog.ted.com/a-ted-speaker-coach-shares-11-tips-for-right-before-you-go-on-stage/ However this little powerhouse of a guide is not just about public speaking, but how to empower and engage in any conversation. It also discusses how to best present information and provides tips on using slide packs such as PowerPoint & Prezi. There were even a few paragraphs on fundraising and how to do an “ask”. My key takeaways were: the importance of a through-line, what links the images and each slide to your key message? And just like in marketing and branding, two other areas of passion for me, it’s about the “story”. Chris Anderson also mentions the importance of a narrative in every presentation in order to take your listeners on a journey.
As an aside, whilst away I also listened to Series 3 of the Serial podcast each morning as I walked Four Mile Beach and I was tempted to keep on walking just to get to the next chapter. I have loved every chapter in each of these brilliant series, and if you haven’t heard of ‘Serial’ yet I highly recommend you give it a go:
S1. https://serialpodcast.org/season-one It’s Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a popular high-school senior, disappears after school one day. Six weeks later detectives arrest her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. He says he’s innocent – though he can’t exactly remember what he was doing on that January afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School says she knows where Adnan was. The trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found.
S2. https://serialpodcast.org/season-two In the middle of the night, Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl grabs a notebook, snacks, water, some cash. Then he quietly slips off a remote U.S. Army outpost in eastern Afghanistan and into the dark, open desert. About 20 minutes later, it occurs to him: he’s in over his head
S3. S-Town https://stownpodcast.org/ John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life.