8 Audiobooks I Listened to in 2018 (Part 2)

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Happy Resource Friday!

Recently, I wrote a post titled 8 Audiobooks I Listened to in 2018 (Part 1). This is a continuation of that post with 8 more books I listened to in 2018! It’s very similar to the one I made about the 21 impactful books I read last year. Because of my 45 minute drive to and from work, I have lots of time to learn in the car from audiobooks. I use Libby (which I have reviewed here on the blog), a library app that allows you to borrow audiobooks and ebooks for free.

Here are 8 of the books I listened to last year and the reasons I liked or disliked them.

Click on the title in order to find out more information on each book.

1. Crush it! by Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk is an incredibly intelligent marketer and an entertaining author. In his book Crush It!, he talks passionately about the new economy in which we live and how the markets change. It’s chock full of pointers for following your passion by working unbelievably hard and taking advantage of the tools we now have.

One thing I really like about his books is that he fills them with his own experiences selling wine online when no one else was. He speaks from experience and helps the reader (or listener for that matter) avoid the issues he faced.

2. One Nation by Dr. ben Carson

Ben Carson is an incredibly thoughtful individual and it’s made clear through his book One Nation. Carson tackles multiple aspects of American society and how we can all do little things to benefit the nation. Some of the topics include the government, health care, taxes, and the economy,

This was a particularly interesting book to listen to because of Dr. Carson’s presidential run back in 2016. It convinced me that Carson had a thoughtful and knowledgeable plan when he ran for president. From his book, I got to learn a bit more about his proposed strategies at the time.

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3. sprint by jake Knapp

I absolutely love business strategy. Jack Knapp’s book Sprint covers just that. Knapp argues that if companies complete a “sprint” for their new product or service before actually offering it, they’ll find out if the idea is actually viable or not very quickly.

Then time and resources won’t have to be wasted on a project. But the idea may move forward if the sprint reveals ways in which the product or service can be made better.

I got this book recommendation from my pastor who participates in a monthly book club. Right now, I’m using these principles with my sister to test some ideas for a business we want to run.

4. Onward by howard Schultz

I love coffee. I don’t think the caffeine does much for me because I can drink coffee in the evening and it doesn’t affect me. But I still love the coffee. That’s where my interest in this book came from.

Written by the founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, Onward is a captivating story about the difficult choices that had to be made to grow the brand, especially through the 2008 recession. I find books like this give me a special affinity to a particular brand because it connects me to their story. This book was no exception.

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5. Killing Kennedy by Bill O’reilly

I picked up this book partly due to my fascination with history and partly because of how much I’ve heard about the Killing ____ series by Bill O’Reilly. Whether you like O’Reilly or not, he’s an excellent historian who has a knack for telling historical narratives with as much accuracy as possible.

Killing Kennedy was a fascinating look at everything that was going on during Kennedy’s presidential term civil rights, the space race, etc. That’s what I like about books like this. It gives reasons for why certain events happened and how they connected to other events. I enjoyed this listen. I’m not a big fan of Kennedy’s character, but there’s no question that he was an incredibly dynamic and well-liked leader at the time.

6. killing Lincoln by Bill O’reilly

As I began this book (and consequently when I listened to many other O’Reilly books), I realized how bad it would look if the NSA was watching me.

“What the heck? Now he’s listening to a bunch of books about historical leaders being assassinated. We better keep a better eye on him.”

Having said that, I wasn’t so much interested in the fact that these leaders were assassinated as I was in the events leading up to these assassinations. What events caused the assassins to break and how do all the pieces fit together? Killing Lincoln certainly did not disappoint as O’Reilly gave much background about the end of the civil war and the effect on the presidency.

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7. The Aviators by Winston Groom

I’m guessing it’s obvious I got into a history funk. This book was highly recommended to me by my cousin. Since I like airplanes, I was easily convinced.

I absolutely LOVED The Aviators. I loved it so much I listened to it twice. Groom covers in great detail the major impact each of three pilots had on aviation — Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, and Charles Lindbergh.

The reason I loved this book so much is because it not only tells a story about each pilot as they flew through the world wars — it helps the reader understand the significance of each contribution and how it affected other industries and events. The Aviators is a MUST read.

8. Side Hustle by Chris Guillebeau

Chris Guillebeau has a podcast called The Side Hustle School where he talks about the side hustles of thousands of people and how these hustles transformed the lives of their owners. I like variety in my work, so I like talking side hustles.

This book is practical if you are working a normal job but want to get into another space — maybe one in which you have a lot more passion. As the subtitle suggests, Guillebeau will help you start up your side hustle and create income in 27 days. I recommend it if you want to spice up life and gather some small business ideas!

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Learn every day

I want you to make an effort to learn every day. It takes work, it really does. Unfortunately for me, I am not able to read the number of physical books this year that I did last year. So audiobooks have become a necessary supplement. Plus, on 1.5x speed, you can blow through books like never before!

Check out Libby today and listen to these books for free!

What is your favorite book you’ve read?

I want to hear from you in the comments below! And if you found any value in this post, give it a like and me a follow!

-Caleb

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8 Audiobooks I Listened to in 2018 (Part 1)

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Happy Resource Friday!

Today I thought I would give a short outline of some of the books I listened to in 2018 in a similar post to the one I made about the 21 impactful books I read last year. Because of my 45 minute drive to and from work, I have lots of time to learn in the car from audiobooks. I use Libby (which I have reviewed here on the blog), a library app that allows you to borrow audiobooks and ebooks for free.

Here are 8 of the books I listened to last year and the reasons I liked or disliked them.

Click on the title in order to find out more information on each book.

1. Living Forward by Michael Hyatt

I’ve talked about this book several times. I loved this book because it helped me and Bailey develop life plans that give direction for the future. It takes the reader through a process that helps them write their eulogy (really? yes) and create “Life Accounts” to make priorities.

You can read my full review here!

2. The 4-hour workweek by Tim Ferriss

Ferriss puts a ton of information in his book with some good tips for automation within business, allowing someone to make passive income and work very little. I found that it was interesting because it shows what is possible in today’s age of technology.

This is not one of my favorite books mainly because of how it’s written. Though Ferriss gives a lot of information about how to automate your own business, I just didn’t find the way the content was conveyed particularly engaging.

3. necessary endings by Dr. Henry Cloud

I’ve heard Dr. Henry Cloud talk on many occasions mostly through You Tube videos and podcasts. Cloud is a deep thinker when it comes to human psychology and really puts ideas into simple-to-understand writing.

Necessary Endings covers the ways we can end things in our lives. It focuses on how these endings can help us grow into healthier individuals. Any number of things can require necessary endings — chapters of life, careers, toxic relationships, etc. Cloud does an excellent job of covering these topics in great depth.

4. When by Daniel Pink

Staying in the vein of psychology, I have several books by Daniel Pink, a behavioral psychologist and proficient author. When is a book that tackles the idea that when we do things actually matters. He uses tons of examples to paint a clear picture of how most of us don’t do things at the right times, making our professional and personal lives far less efficient and enjoyable.

Something as simple as the kind of work we do at different times of the day. One example he used was talking about the natural highs and lows of concentration throughout someone’s day. Most people are going to be able to focus on analytical tasks better in the morning, then will have to tackle more menial tasks like email in the slump of the afternoon. I loved this book and I think you will too!

5. Permission to screw up by Kristen Hadeed

Some books are made up of information about how to do something (like the first four books in this blog post). Permission to Screw Up is not one, following more of a narrative through the author’s mistakes of growing a business. Books like this are easy to listen to because it’s made up almost entirely of stories.

Hadeed follows her business from the very beginning to the point she is now, emphasizing her mistakes in leadership, finances, scaling and many other topics. Books about experience, not just theory, are particularly memorable to me and this one was no exception.

6. economics in one lesson by henry hazlitt

I am fascinated by economics. Normally, I check reviews about books before reading or listening to them but I just tried this one for the heck of it. It’s more than 50 years old and it’s about economics so it definitely has a different type of language in it.

Having said that, if you want to learn more about economics and how even a minor change in government or society can affect the economy, read this book! Hazlitt does an excellent job of organizing this book so it makes sense. Thus, it’s an easy one to follow. And it gives some great points on economy that you can use to impress your friends at the next political discussion.

7. Never split the difference by chris voss

This is a mindblowingly simple book to follow and understand which is why I love it so much! We all understand the necessity of good negotiating skills and this book will make you far more confident in your ability to negotiate better pay, a car sale or even just day to day interactions.

Voss’s book is incredibly entertaining because, being an ex-FBI hostage negotiator, he has story after story of their team saving hostage lives, not through force but through psychological intelligence. I loved this book so much that I listened to it twice!

8. crucial conversations by various authors

I read another book by these same authors last year called Influencer and liked it a lot (can you tell I only read books I think I will like a lot? I have a limited amount of time so what can I say..). This book uses many examples to convey simple strategies for hitting the home run when communicating with people during awkward or tough conversations.

It’s a practical book that will give you more confidence about how to not avoid confrontation when confrontation is what will move a relationship forward (or create a necessary ending!).

Learn every day

I want you to make an effort to learn every day. It takes work, it really does. Unfortunately for me, I am not able to read the number of physical books this year that I did last year. So audiobooks have become a necessary supplement. Plus, on 1.5x speed, you can blow through books like never before!

Check out Libby today and listen to these books for free!

What is your favorite book you’ve read?

I want to hear from you in the comments below! And if you found any value in this post, give it a like and me a follow!

-Caleb

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How to be Great By Choice (Jim Collins’ Way)

Jim Collins is one of my all-time favorite authors. He wrote (with the help of a research team) the bestselling books Good to Great, Great by Choice, Built to Last, and How the Mighty Fall. He constructs his books in an easy-to-understand way and makes the topic of business incredibly interesting. For today’s Resource Friday, let’s look at Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos andLuck — Why Some Thrive Despite Them All.

Let’s jump in!

Collins starts by defining the kind of leader that is at the head of the successful companies researched — The 10X Leader.

The 10x leader: core behaviors

  1. Fantastic discipline: 10x leaders have an extreme focus on their goals and the consistent actions necessary to accomplish them.
  2. Empirical creativity: When faced with challenges, 10x leaders react using creative solutions based on observation, not theory.
  3. Productive paranoia: 10x leaders maintain a healthy level of pessimism. They are extremely aware of problems that may arise and how to combat them.

Each of these behaviors is carried into the company cultures of the successful companies researched. Let’s look!

Fantastic Discipline: The 20 Mile March

Collins uses the analogy of a long, seemingly monotonous march of 20 miles to communicate how these successful companies accomplished greatness. 10x companies don’t make rash decisions in order to gain a quick profit.

Through their research, Collins’ team regularly found that the companies being researched had long periods of consistency. They had clear performance goals and accomplished those goals with extreme regularity.

“A 20 Mile March needn’t be financial. You can have a creative march, a learning march, a service-improvement march, or any other type of march, as long as it has the primary characteristics of a good 20 Mile March” – Jim Collins, Great by Choice (p. 65)

Southwest Airlines was one example of this fantastic discipline. They remained profitable for 30 years straight, even through 9/11 and the uncertainty that followed. No other major airline has done this!

Empirical Creativity: Start with Bullets, End with Cannonballs

Collins uses the analogy of shooting bullets to communicate the idea of hitting a target before shooting cannonballs. The bullet is a test; the cannonball is a business venture.

According to Collins, here are characteristics of a bullet in business: Bullets are low cost, low risk, and low distraction. (p. 81)

Low cost: The bullet doesn’t take a lot of capital resources.

Low risk: There aren’t any significant consequences if the bullet doesn’t hit the target.

Low distraction: The bullet doesn’t take too much attention away from the main business needs.

Productive Paranoia: Prepare for the Worst

10x companies prepare for the worst in order to avoid risk. According to Collins, 10x companies keep about 3-10 times the amount of cash on hand as comparable companies.

Collins gives an example of Intel, one of their successful companies researched:

“By the late 1990s, Intel’s cash position had soared to more than $10 billion, reaching 40 percent of annual revenues (whereas AMD’s cash-to-revenue ratio hovered at less than 25 percent).” – Jim Collins, Great by Choice (p. 104)

Great Read for All Business Lovers

I loved this book because it got into the nitty gritty of business. I’m an engineer so I like numbers and quantifiable things. This book isn’t based on theory like a lot of business books. Collins uses research and numbers to back up his claims.

If you love learning about business, I’d highly recommend it!

What’s your favorite business book?

I want to hear from you in the comments down below! And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

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I love reading and I hope you can enjoy the process of learning through books as much as I do. If you want to support the blog, grab your next book from Thriftbooks! This is where I get almost every hard copy book I read (spent over $120 there in the last 1.5 years). You’ll get good deals on your favorite reads as well as free shipping on orders over $10!


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5 Negotiation Strategies from an FBI Negotiator

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Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

Happy Resource Friday! Last year, I listened to an interview with a former FBI hostage negotiator. I heard who the interview was with and my attention was immediately piqued. It proved to be one of those holy-crap-I-forgot-I-was-driving types of interviews. I was completely engrossed and got his book.

The book is Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it by Chris Voss (you can get it from Thriftbooks or even listen to it on the app called Libby as I did!).

First, I’m going to say this was an utterly fascinating read! I highly recommend it, not just for the practical advice in the area of negotiation but also for the sheer entertainment of it. Voss’s book is riddled with story after story of saving hostages from fanatic criminals.

Having said that, here are five unbelievably simple and practical negotiation strategies I took from this book. Take them into your next job interview or vehicle purchase!

1. Mirror, mirror, and mirror again

man and woman negotiate a deal
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

This is a technique used by negotiators to get the opponent to keep talking. Negotiators love this because the more their opponent talks, the more information they can glean from their opponent’s circumstances. Basically, it works like this: When your opponent says something, counter by repeating their last few words in the form of a question.

This causes the other individual to unconsciously continue to speak because it feels like there’s more that needs to be said, even when there isn’t. As Voss says on page 47, “Negotiation is not an act of battle; it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible.”

Mirroring is what this stage is about—discovering information in a way that doesn’t feel threatening. It allows you to move forward in the negotiation knowing more about the motivation of the other individual.

Mirroring, then, when practiced consciously, is the art of insinuating similarity. “Trust me,” a mirror signals to another’s unconscious, “You and I—we’re alike.”

Never Split the Difference (p. 36)

2. Use empathy to label emotions

woman talks emotionally to another woman while drinking coffee
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels

People want to be understood and when they do, that opens up a certain connection in relationships. Labeling emotions does just that. Voss says this on page 56,

Labels can be phrased as statements or questions. The only difference is whether you end the sentence with a downward or upward inflection. But no matter how they end, labels almost always begin with roughly the same words:

It seems like…

It sounds like…

It looks like…

He continues by telling a story about one of his students who worked as a fundraiser for the Girl Scouts. With one woman, she had a particularly difficult time landing a donation.

Sensing the potential donor’s growing frustration, and wanting to end on a positive note so they might be able to meet again, my student used another label. “It seems that you are really passionate about this gift and want to find the right project reflecting the opportunities and life-changing experiences the Girl Scouts gave you.”

And with that, this “difficult” woman signed a check without even picking a specific project. “You understand me,” she said as she got up to leave. “I trust you’ll find the right project.”

Never Split the Difference (p. 63)

3. Give them the feeling of control

man in control as he negotiates a deal
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

This is done in a couple of very specific ways.

  • Crafting questions so that they answer “No.”

People need to feel in control. When you preserve a person’s autonomy by clearly giving them the permission to say “No” to your ideas, the emotions calm, the effectiveness of the decisions go up, and the other party can really look at your proposal.

Never Split the Difference (p. 78-79)
  • Getting them to say “That’s right.”

Voss encourages his readers, when negotiating, to reiterate what their opponent says out loud. This helps their opponent understand that they are listened to. The goal of this is to get the opponent to say “That’s right.” This saying has similar effects on the brain as saying “No.”

Essentially, it makes the opponent feel that they are in control of the situation. Voss makes note that when someone says “You’re right” instead of “That’s right,” they are far more likely attempting to shut down the conversation quickly. Questions that bring this answer should be avoided at all cost.

4. Let them solve your problems for you

man stressed about a problem he's facing
Photo by Bruce Mars from Pexels

Voss firmly suggests that calibrated questions will make negotiations for you much easier because they shift your problems onto your opponent to solve themselves.

For example, Voss tells several stories about hostage situations where the hostile demands large sums of money in exchange for the hostage’s life. The author used calibrated questions to place all the work back on the hostile to solve the problem the hostile created. Questions like “How am I supposed to know you haven’t killed her?” or “We don’t have that kind of money. How do you expect me to pay that to you?” Frequently, this caused the hostile to slip up, give information not known before, or as was the case in countless situations, the hostile accepted far less money than they demanded in the first place. All because they didn’t know how to respond.

5. Set an extreme anchor

two people determine a contract to sign
Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Set an extreme anchor by going first in a negotiation and making an extreme offer.

This psychologically changes how your opponent will continue in the negotiation. When negotiating the price of a new car, for instance, setting an extreme anchor on the low side will give you the flexibility to work your negotiation to the price for which you are actually shooting. On page 206, Voss suggests starting at 65% of the price you are hoping to achieve. Then, move to 85%, 95% and 100% of the price you would like as the salesman continues to negotiate.

Then, to signify your final offer, make your offer a seemingly weird number.

When calculating the final amount, use precise, nonround numbers like, say, $37,893 rather than $38,000. It gives the number credibility and weight.

Never Split the Difference (p. 206)

The most important thing to remember when negotiating

The part of the book that rings out most clearly in my memory is when the author states that the goal of learning to become a good negotiator is not to be a manipulator.

As Voss puts it, your reputation precedes you.

If someone believes you have manipulated them or they are bitter of a negotiation they made with you, they will never work with you again and they will tell their friends about it. Yes, some of this sounds manipulative, I’ll admit. However, you must remember that the goal is not to manipulate because that is not good practice in areas of business, relationships, etc. Being a jerk won’t get you very far.

Read this book this year!

I highly recommend this book because of how practical the advice is. The stories that the author portrays really helps solidify the strategies he has used to literally save peoples’ lives! The thing is, his stories aren’t just about negotiating for hostages—he has stories that prove his strategies work in business as well. I could barely stop reading it (I call that an excellent book) and have read it twice to help the material soak in more fully. It’s that good!

What have you negotiated for and how did it go?

I want to hear from you in the comments! And as always, if you found value in this post, give it a like and give me a follow!

-Caleb

Thanks to rawpixel.com from Pexels for the main image!

How to Live Forward Everyday (Book Review)

Image result for living forward

This blog post contains affiliate links.

Happy Resource Friday! I’m excited to share a book with you all that I loved (and happens to be an easy read).

It’s called Living Forward: A Proven Plan to Stop Drifting and Get the Life You Want by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy.

I like Hyatt because of the genuine nature with which he communicates his ideas and experience. I’ve read a couple of his books, but this one is the most exciting because it tackles the future.

I love talking about the future.

The premise of his book Living Forward is that if we don’t make a plan for where we want to go in life, we will drift in whatever direction life takes us. I wrote about this topic in a recent post.

It’s very similar to an analogy I heard on Ken Coleman’s career plan podcast. Most everyone wants to climb the company ladder, however, if you don’t plan properly, you may reach the top of the ladder only to find it’s on the wrong building.

Living forward starts with a “life Plan”

This book is all about developing your “life plan”; a plan that outlines how you want people to remember you, what goals you want to accomplish, and how you want to spend your time and money.

Here are the main points in developing your own life plan because everyone’s is different. None look identical!

1. Write your eulogy (I know, kinda dark)

This is an understandably weird-feeling step in developing a life plan. However, in an attempt to engineer your life backward, you need to know what you want to be said when you’re dead (nice rhyme, huh?).

This means listing out all the people that you care about whether they are God, your spouse, your children, your friends or your colleagues. What do you want each group to remember most about you? Your personality? Your service? Preparing one’s own eulogy is rather sobering, however, it really jumpstarts the thinking in relation to the rest of the life plan.

2. determine your life accounts

This falls into the chapter titled “Determine Your Priorities” and compares each priority to a separate bank account in which you can make deposits and withdraws alike. Hyatt gives a list of 9 basic life accounts to get you started.

  1. Vocational
  2. Marital
  3. Spiritual
  4. Intellectual
  5. Social
  6. Financial
  7. Physical
  8. Parental
  9. Avocational

The biggest thing to remember is that, in Hyatt’s own words, “Your Life Accounts are unique to you.” In the examples Hyatt gives from real people’s life plans, Life Accounts vary drastically from his suggestions to accounts like Creating, Pets, Teaching, and Adventure.

What’s most important to you? No worries, your Life Accounts can change over time!

3. develop an action plan for each account

Thanks to picjumbo.com from Pexels for the photo!

The action plan is where specifics come in. It contains several sections to provide context for your account. Again, these may vary. However, these are the general sections of the action plan.

  1. Purpose Statement
  2. Envisioned Future
  3. Inspiring Quote
  4. Current Reality
  5. Specific Commitments

Your action plan is where the change really starts. It gives you everything you need to begin a new journey. The action plan provides you a reason for that journey (purpose statement). It gives you an idea of what it will be like to succeed (envisioned future). It provides inspiration from others ahead of you (inspiring quote). It helps you understand how far you are away from that goal (current reality). And it gives you a list of actions in order to make the desired change (specific commitments).

keep looking at the life plan after you make it

The important thing is to review the life plan regularly. At least once a year, however, the more often you review it, the more your goals will be at the front of your thinking.

I loved this book. Go figure. If you have read much of my writing, you probably could have guessed it. I recommend this book to anyone who is afraid that where they are going in life isn’t where they actually want to be. Bailey and I are working on finishing up our life plans. Let me tell you, it gave both of us something tangible to talk about relative to the future and it also produced a TON of excitement for our goals.

What is your biggest life goal that you want to accomplish?

I want to hear from you! As always, give this post a like and give me a follow if you found the information in it valuable!

-Caleb

If you want to snag a copy of Living Forward, I recommend getting it from Thriftbooks. I got my copy for $4 and it is still in near-new condition. And if you purchase more than $10 of books, you will score free shipping straight to your house! I LOVE FREE SHIPPING.


The Culture Code (Book Review)

Last August, my boss gave me a performance review where we went over professional goals for the coming year. One of my goals was to read two books on company culture and make four suggestions to my boss for ways we could improve our own company culture.

Based on a reading list from Entreleadership, this book, The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle, was added to my list. Here is a review of it!

Coyle begins by highlighting the foundation of “culture.” He says

We focus on what we can see — individual skills. But individual skills are not what matters. What matters is the interaction.

He then moves on to examples of company cultures and how those interactions make a difference on overall productivity.

The author lays it out into three skills that determine a company’s ability to develop a strong culture: build safety, share vulnerability, and establish purpose.

Build Safety

Coyle talks about how companies have good culture based on the fact that interactions are safe. This is not to say that people cannot give opinions. On the contrary, merely that feedback is actually welcomed by bosses and that opinions won’t be criticized in a demeaning way.

This is accomplished by members giving cues of belonging which can be split into three different qualities (p. 10 and 11).

1. Energy: They invest in the exchange that is occurring.

2. Individualization: They treat the person as unique and valued.

3. Future orientation: They signal the relationship will continue.

Coyle uses an example from a research study in which an individual was placed in a team to see how a toxic attitude would affect the culture of the team. Jonathan, the leader of the group (and unaware of the study) managed to maintain his team’s positive culture while engaging the individual doing the research. This made his team many times more effective in its projects compared to all other teams in the study.

Jonathan’s group succeeds not because its members are smarter but because they are safer. (p. 5).

Ensuring everyone has a voice is another way safety is developed in a company or a team. If a boss is known for forcing employees to do whatever he or she thinks is best without discussion, no employees will feel that it is an environment conducive to making suggestions. Which brings us to our second point of a strong culture.

Share Vulnerability

Anyone who is comfortable sharing vulnerability will increase the effectiveness of their culture. It means showing team members your lack of perfection. It means opening yourself to suggestions from your team.

In one example, Coyle talks about David Cooper, a man who helped develop the intricate and intensive training of Navy SEALs.

When Cooper gave his opinion, he was careful to attach phrases that provided a platform for someone to question him, like “Now let’s see if someone can poke holes in this” or Tell me what’s wrong with this idea.” He steered away from giving orders and instead asked a lot of questions. (p. 138)

The way Cooper shared his vulnerability was by letting his men know that his suggestions weren’t always right. And by doing that, he was building safety.

Establish Purpose

This is a constant reminder of what the shared goal is. People want to know what they are fighting for! Establishing purpose over and over is what keeps employees motivated to work with others to accomplish the end goal.

This is the way high-purpose environments work. They are about sending not so much one big signal as a handful of steady, ultra-clear signals that are aligned with a shared goal. They are less about being inspiring than about being consistent. They are found not within big speeches so much as within everyday moments when people can sense the message: This is why we work; this is what we are aiming for. (p.198)

Recommended for anyone who works with others

This is an excellent book for anyone to read who is involved in a team of any kind. You don’t have to be a leader in order to help build a productive culture!

And you can pick it up at Thriftbooks which is where I like to get all of my physical books. It’s a great way to get used books for a very reasonable price. Click the photo below to check it out!

The Culture Code

21 Impactful Books I Read This Year

This morning, I FINISHED the reading goal that I set back in January! This year I read 21 books. Here’s a short clip of my opinion of each one!

One quick thing. I liked almost all of the books I read for various reasons. I try not to pick up a book if I think I’ll hate it. Thus, most of my opinions are positive. Every book was impactful, however, some were certainly more than others.

The Treasure Principle – Randy Alcorn

This was the first book I read of 2018. It really got me into a generosity mindset. It drives home an eternal perspective of material wealth from a Biblical worldview. If you like books that will help you grow in your faith as a Christian, this is an excellent choice. It is the reason Bailey and I increased our giving this year.

Intentional Living – Dr. John Maxwell

I loved this book! Intentional Living works through questions in each chapter designed to prompt action in the personal development arena. I’ve read a couple other books by Maxwell and they always incite a sense of urgency for me. In fact, in one section, he encourages the reader to write the book he or she has always wanted to write. This encouraged me in my own book-writing endeavors and I finished mine in July!

Linchpin – Seth Godin

This book is about becoming indispensable in whatever field you find yourself. The author discusses the benefits of working in an area in which you are deeply passionate. He talks about how each and every person is an artist, not necessarily in what they do but in how they do it. For a more in-depth analysis, read my book review about Linchpin. Godin is a deep thinker and the books I’ve read by him are very conceptual in nature. If you prefer books that tell you exactly what to do (you know, like “15 Ways You Can Make Yourself Indispensable at Work”), you may not like his style of writing.

Capital Gains – Chip Gaines

This book is an entertaining read. I like Chip’s quirky humor because I have a very quirky sense of humor as well! Literally, I’ve been told that I am well prepared for the job of a dad when it comes to jokes. Chip gives an overview of what he’s learned from business to family since he was in college. Kind of a memoir of sorts. Rather heartwarming if you like an emotional read.

Retire Inspired – Chris Hogan

This is an excellent book for anyone who doesn’t understand finances. I know so many people my age who don’t know how to prepare for the future financially. Retire Inspired puts in laymen’s terms the process for reaching financial security and achieving the dreams that you have. It really got me fired up for ensuring Bailey and I are saving enough for the future. As Chris Hogan puts it, “It’s not an age. It’s a financial number.”

The Power of Who – Bob Beaudine

This was one of the top two most mind-blowing books I read this year. The Power of Who is such an unbelievably simple concept. Beaudine talks about the six levels of relationships that everyone has. He says that networking isn’t everything because those who you give your business cards to don’t have enough emotional connection with you to help just because they care. He focuses on Who Friends. These are the people who actually care about you and want to help you in whatever ways they can.

Beaudine encourages the reader to go to his or her circle of Who Friends and ask for help in whatever way. If you’re looking for a specific kind of job, ask your Who Friends and see what comes up. Each of your Who Friends has their own Who Friends which gives you opportunities that you may have never gotten otherwise.

The Gates of Hell – Concordia Publishing House

This book’s subtitle is “Confessing Christ in a Hostile World.” This was a deep read. It compiles writing from various pastors who tackle some challenging topics. Some include the world’s view on sex, the church’s work, and the effectiveness of international mission. This is one of those books that can be difficult to understand if you don’t have a background in theology (which I don’t!), however, I liked it because it gave me a different perspective on how we as Christians are to communicate with those of other worldviews.

Platform – Michael Hyatt

This is an excellent resource guide from Michael Hyatt who has a lot of experience developing a platform online. If you aren’t interested in developing a platform (blog, YouTube channel, reader base, podcast following, etc.) you likely won’t be interested in this book. But if you do, it’s an easy way to get a TON of information about how to get started in blogging or developing a following on Twitter, etc. It has quite a bit of practical advice for building a platform without spending an unbelievable amount of time on it every day.

Talk Like Ted – Carmine Gallo

Personally, I want to work on my presenting and public speaking skills in general, so I picked up this book based on a recommendation from a podcast. Gallo gives an in-depth look at the characteristics of killer speeches given at Ted Talks. He covers nine simple ways of boosting the effectiveness of your next speech based on the highest-rated Ted Talks in history. It is worth the read!

All Marketers Are Storytellers – Seth Godin

Like I mentioned in the snippet about Linchpin, Godin has a very conceptual way of writing. In this book, he gives a lot of good information about how we can improve our effectiveness in our marketing. There isn’t a list of steps though, so if you like lists of how to move forward, you may not like it. But if you are a marketer, you’ll likely glean some valuable insight into how you can set up an effective marketing plan to hit as many eligible customers as possible. Also, you MUST read Building a Storybrand by Donald Miller if you want some mindblowingly simple strategies for improving marketing.

The Pumpkin Plan – Mike Michalowicz

Honestly, I got this book because the Kindle version was on sale and I heard about the author from a podcast I frequent. Plus, it was focused on small business so I gave it a shot. I really like books that put things into practical terms and this one fits that category. In it, Michalowictz talks about his development of the “pumpkin plan” after a conversation with a pumpkin farmer. The plan, in essence, is killing off the small pumpkins in order to invest all energy into the fewer large pumpkins. In business, he says this is “firing” those clients that require a ton of energy to serve and focusing all your energy on your best clients so you can attract more clients who are alike. He gives practical strategies for implementing the “pumpkin plan” in small business. This book comes highly recommended by me for those working on a startup!

The Christian ATHEIST – Craig Groeschel

Groeschel tackles the issue many people find prevalent in their lives — being a Christian Athiest. That is, as the subtitle so clearly states, “Believing in God but living as if He doesn’t exist.” I like Craig Groeschel quite a bit. I think he has thoughtful sermons that are very applicable to modern struggles. Also, he is an entertaining author — more than most. However, I didn’t find that this book helped me grow in my faith much. He makes some good points as he covers topics that many Christians face (forgiveness, doubt, fear). But being a Christian from a very young age, I know a lot of what he said, so I didn’t learn much of anything new. What he does well is reminding Christians how we are to model our lives after that of Christ.

Influencer – Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan, Switzler

This is an excellent book for those who care about influencing others. The authors cover the ways people are influenced and give tons of examples and case studies to back up their claims. I liked the book and would recommend it. The challenging thing is that you and I encounter people every day that respond differently to influence. There is no cookie-cutter solution to the best way you can influence those around you and inspire them to do something specific. However, this books gives an great starting point.

A Winner’s Guide to Negotiating – Molly Fletcher

Molly Fletcher comes from the sports negotiating world and brings with her a lot of experience and advice. I read this after having listened to Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss (an ex-FBI hostage negotiator) and was a bit disappointed with the organization of the ideas and recommendations. Never Split the Difference was a book that I would HIGHLY recommend for anyone to read. It gives very specific advice that applies to any situation. Plus, it comes from an ex-FBI hostage negotiator who couldn’t take no for an answer or people would die. I thought Molly Fletcher’s book gave a lot of great advice with stories galore, however, I thought the application was a bit lacking.

Experiencing God – Henry Blackaby

I LOVED this book. I wrote a blog post about it recently in which I highly recommended it as a faith-building resource (after the Bible, of course). Blackaby gets deep into Scripture as he encourages the reader to pursue God more fully. He gives practical methods to seek God’s voice through His Word, through prayer, through circumstances, and through His church. It completely changed my perspective on faith in more ways than one. If you want a deeply challenging book, give this one a read.

Everybody Always – Bob Goff

Bob Goff is someone who I would consider rather eccentric. Eccentric but caring. It comes through his writing which makes this book an entertaining read. In it, he talks about how we as Christians are to love “everybody always” as Christ does. This is another book that is a great reminder of how we can put faith in action, but I didn’t think it was a very deep book. It’s really focused more on action than theology.

The Miracle Morning – Hal Elrod

I’ve been wanting to use my mornings more effectively. Elrod explains his S.A.V.E.R.S. method of spending time in the morning before his normal activities. This stands for Silence (essentially meditation), Affirmations (positively speaking to oneself), Visualization (mentally preparing oneself for the future), Exercise (getting the blood flowing), Reading (learning) and Scribing (writing and reflecting).

Some of these things seemed a little weird to me while reading them. But using the morning to positively start the day has helped a lot of people improve productivity so Bailey and I made a modification of “The Miracle Morning” for ourselves. For the last five weeks or so, on work days at least, we’ve been getting up early together to get our days kicked off right. This involves working out (or doing something active like pushups), reading the Bible together, praying, and reading a normal book. I’ve found that it has indeed helped improve my perspective and makes me feel somewhat productive before even starting my work.

How the Mighty Fall – Jim Collins

I love business books and Jim Collins as an author. I’ve read Good to Great and Great by Choice, both of which I would recommend to a business enthusiast. This book covers the consistent poor decisions made by great companies that fell into bankruptcy. Collins uses some excellent analogies in his books to paint a picture of the concepts he teaches. He continues the practice in this book which is why his writing never ceases to improve my understanding of good business strategies.

The 12 Week year – Brian Moran

In this book, Moran talks about how to improve productivity during the year by splitting it up into smaller chunks. This is because it produces urgency to get goals done instead of pushing them off till the end of the year. In his case, he recommends a “12 week year.” He also goes through steps to set up the reader’s 12 week year and to make the most of it.

I like the concept. We will see if I use it in the coming year to pursue my goals.

The $100 startup – Chris Guillebaeu

Ok, ok, I haven’t actually finished this book yet. But I have a week left before the start of the year! This is a motivating book for those interested in pursuing other passion-based streams of income. Guillebaue is an experienced side-hustler and gives practical steps for starting a business in this book.

I love it so far!

What’s next?

Wow! That was a long blog post! By writing it, I hope I motivated you (at least a little?) to get into reading more this coming year. The amount of information you can glean from experts is unbelievable and motivating. I can’t wait to hit the next set of books in 2019!

What books do you recommend I read?

I want to hear from you in the comments below!

-Caleb

Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? (Book Review)

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Since last August, I’ve been reading a lot. Like, way (yeah, italicized and underlined) more than I’ve ever read before. Given that I am a recent college grad, I chose to start reading a lot more in areas that interested me to help myself continue to learn and grow intentionally. Consequently, I have read 11 books since August of 2017. Welcome to a new series of blog posts dedicated to reviewing books.

The first I’m going to write about is Linchpin by Seth Godin. The premise is that if you are a linchpin, you hold important things together, specifically at work but applicable in other areas of life. If you are a linchpin, you are indispensable. He starts the book by discussing the current conditions of work. Work used to have more meaning to it. Everyone was an artist until factories were developed. At that point, people became “a cog in a machine,” doing meaningless and replaceable work. Since then, work has become increasingly automated.

“The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.” (p. 27)

How? Emotional labor. That is why working at a fast food restaurant is so replaceable. It doesn’t require emotional labor. You show up, make fries and leave.

“It’s called work because it’s difficult, and emotional labor is the work most of us are best suited to do. It may be exhausting, but it’s valuable.” (p. 63)

His first suggestions involve choosing something that requires emotional labor and is not asymptotic in nature. When something is “asymptotic,” it means that there is only so good you can get at it. Take bowling for instance. The best you can get is 300 points. That’s it. So by choosing something you can always get better at and in which you can grow more, it expands  your ability to become a linchpin.

This is where being an artist comes in. He doesn’t talk about artists in the sense of those who can paint, draw and sculpt. In fact, he has a section specifically labeled Artists Who Can’t Draw. Godin’s argument is that literally anyone can become an artist. The reason is because the word “art” is intrinsically deeper than what is conventionally understood. Because art is anything that require emotional labor.

What do you put your heart into? That is what require emotional labor.

And it doesn’t have to be “artistic” in nature. Recently, a coworker of mine told me that he isn’t a creative individual because he is an engineer. Having read this book, I countered.

“Don’t give me that. You are an engineer which means that you are creative. You have to develop creative ways to solve problems and make designs more efficient and effective!”

In the section titled, Do You Need to Be an Artist to Market Tofu?, Godin thinks you can. He says,

“I think art is the ability to change people with your work, to see things as they are and then create stories, images, and interactions that change the marketplace.” (p. 91)

However, it goes deeper than that. Godin argues that being a linchpin stems from generosity.

“Becoming a linchpin is not an act of selfishness. I see it as an act of generosity, because it gives you a platform for expending emotional labor and giving gifts.” (p. 153)

Essentially, you are an artist and a linchpin when you are giving what you put your heart into as a gift. That gift may come with monetary compensation, but it can still be a gift. He used the beginning of the Linux operating system as an example. When Linus Torvalds developed the system, he gave it as a gift to his friends. But when the popularity spread, he became a linchpin because his gift turned into something that helped people domestically and internationally. When you are generous, you become a linchpin. When you go an extra mile for a customer, you are a linchpin.

I liked this book. What it did for me was it expanded my view of art and creativity. It helped me understand more about the creativity of all individuals and how it isn’t confined to just those who are right-brained. He gives a very detailed perspective of how artistry creates indispensability. It helped me understand more about how I can apply those principles to my own work.

This book will help motivate you to change up things in your workplace, challenge the status quo and grow personally and professionally. You can find it on Amazon here.

-Caleb