One of my goals for 2017 was to put more of a focus on reinvesting in myself through reading. The closest thing to a universal habit of successful people is reading. To that end I picked up an Audible Subscription (which has been fantastic) and filled up my phone with books of interest. My biggest tip if you have an Audible subscription is to have some means of note taking for those times you're on the go. I personally take notes directly on the phone.
Below, you'll find what I read in January listed from my favorite to least favorite, and my comments and takeaways from them. I hope you'll commit to making the time to read, it can be one of the most powerful habits you can build.
The autobiography of Phil Knight who founded Nike was one of the best biographies I read in a long time. He has an artful way with words and really highlights the internal struggles of a Founder. The story goes into great chronological detail of the time from his initial idea for Nike all the way through their IPO in the early 80's including the seemingly dozens of times the company fought off bankruptcy, how they competed with entrenched competitors (like Adidas), and the machinations of growing a company from its infancy to it's position of market dominance. 90% of the book covers this pre-IPO period, with the remainder discussing some of the successes and changing landscape since. While you might be disappointed to not get the details behind the inception of Air Jordans and all of the advances in the 80's and 90's, I think you'll know why it was only summarized when you read the book. What I really appreciated was insight into the internal personal struggles of Mr. Knight himself, which I think will resonate with many of your own fears, weaknesses, and doubts. The other big takeaway is just how much failure and perseverance is needed to accomplish anything worthwhile. My favorite line echoes these takeaways, "If all you see are problems, you aren't seeing clearly." This book is the best I've read in months and definitely worth a read on your part.
My second favorite book of the month was Grant Cardone's latest. I really hadn't ever been exposed to Mr. Cardone before, but his book came out around the time of my most recent book, The Roadmap, and had a nasty habit of being higher up the best seller list. This was a kick in the pants, alpha male, motivation book, that while a little cheesy in parts, definitely had the intended effect on me. If you need a little motivation to really kick-butt and own your success, this could be a nice addition for you. Many of the chapter miss the mark for inspiration, but those that do provide some great reminders of what it takes to excel. Feeding yourself with positive messaging and reinforcement of goals, starving the doubt and getting past failures, as well as the call to "Stay Dangerous" and to keep pushing yourself into new areas and to new challenges. While it is a bit over the top in parts, it was a great one for me to read right at the beginning of the year to give myself a boost.
Like most people, I'm fascinated by what Mr. Musk has been able to accomplish and was very much looking forward to this book. It fell a little short for me, and I think the reason is I naturally compared it to Shoe Dog, and it suffers from what many biographies suffer from in comparison to autobiographies; the ability to get into the mind of the subject person. Yes, there were a lot of interviews with associates and with Musk himself, but there were huge swaths where it was basically reading down the timeline of events with only a little extra detail. Still interesting, but without the personal impact. The one big takeaway for me was, like Shoe Dog, just how many times Mr. Musk's companies were on the precipice of complete failure and how through dogged will he was able to get past it. While I have never been a fan of Mr. Musk's leadership style (and this book did little to change that), it did provide a window into the reason he's able to get away with it that I think we can all learn from. When your Mission and Purpose is big enough and important enough, you can drive a level of passion most organizations can only dream of. His three companies basically have Mission Statements tied to saving the human race; with a goal that big he's able to drive the performance that's allowed his companies to achieve things never done before. For those who have been fans of Tesla, SpaceX and Solar City, there will be some things you've heard before, but there are indeed new details.
This is the classic book recommended by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, and I was excited to dive into it. Let me say at the outset that the writer, Mr. Brooks, is exceptional at his craft. This was without a doubt the most well written book of the month with a wonderful engaging style. My issue isn't with that, my issue is that I had the least amount of takeaways, and that's what I was looking for. If I was interesting in entertaining non-fiction, this would likely have ranked higher. What was most interesting is that the stories (all roughly based in the 1960's) could almost as easily been cautionary tales from this decade. There are some hits in the book, some misses, and some with insight you don't usually have into big business or big government. With all that being said, there are better books out there in my opinion.
I encourage you to pick up a book of your own. I'm already halfway through the first book of February. I will say that the titles in months to come are likely to include random fiction and non-fiction books as well. I think it's important to keep up some variety and some entertainment. I love learning and improving, but it's always good to take a break and expose yourself to new things to round out your experience.