All posts tagged: book-lessons

Highlights from What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence by Stephen A. Schwarzman

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Blackstone co-founder and CEO Stephen A. Schwarzman’s memoir What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence is what you might expect from a successful billionaire who exudes self-confidence and knows he has achieved most anything he’s set his sights on. Unlike, say, Disney CEO Bob Iger’s memoir The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, Schwarzman doesn’t linger on internal struggles, moral crises, or any vulnerable moments. Instead, […]

Lessons from Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen

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I benefited greatly from reading Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. My only regret is that I didn’t read it years earlier when I first heard about it. My initial reaction to a book about a framework/methodology for getting things done was: “I’m pretty organized, I have To Do lists, and I get stuff done every day. No need.” Such arrogance, such missed opportunities to get better. But better late […]

Lessons from Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday

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Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday is a book about inner peace and how this “stillness” is the key to “unlocking all that we are capable of in this life.” Holiday references ancient philosophers, religions, historical figures, and other successful people throughout the book to lay out his framework for achieving stillness: mastering the mind, spirit, and body. I’ve been a long-time subscriber to Holiday’s monthly newsletter where he recommends books he’s read. It’s […]

Lessons from Orphan X and His Ten Commandments

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Orphan X is a entertaining fiction series from author Gregg Hurwitz. The hero, Evan Smoak a.k.a. Orphan X, is a product of a government black ops program that turned wayward children into deadly assassins. Smoak is out of the program and has turned into the “Nowhere Man”, an invisible force who saves the helpless, dishing out punishment to sex traffickers, rapists, domestic abusers, gangs, and other nefarious characters. Think Jason Bourne meets the Equalizer. I’ve listened […]

Lessons from The E-Myth Chief Financial Officer

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The E-Myth Chief Financial Officer: Why Most Small Businesses Run Out of Money and What to Do about It by Michael E. Gerber and Fred G. Parrish focuses on the importance of the chief financial officer role in a small business and how, in the absence of a full-time CFO, the entrepreneur must be willing to play the role. It’s taken me well over a decade to truly appreciate the importance of how financial thinking […]

Reflecting on The 11 Laws of The Fifth Discipline (from Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline)

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It’s been a year since I read Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline and yet, I’ve been reminded almost every single day of the lessons from the book. My company Barrel recently celebrated 13 years of being in business. My co-founder Sei-Wook and I have been there for all 13 years, and I feel like it’s only been in the past year that the two of us started to take a less reactive approach to running […]

Being Short and Embracing Setbacks from Astroball by Ben Reiter

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Sig had developed a theory—a hypothesis, to be exact—about undersized ballplayers, after so many years of watching Jed Lowrie and José Altuve, and now Alex Bregman. Most players with their skills but traditional pro bodies had lived their entire lives without having ever been told no and often without suffering any setbacks. So, when faced with the prospect of failing at a critical moment, they didn’t know how to handle it, because they’d never had […]

The Discipline of Joy & More Thoughts on Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam

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I’ve compiled some additional thoughts on Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam. You can read about my time diary experiment here. Progress is motivational, and makes time feel expansive. In the time-perception survey, people who strongly agreed with the statement “Yesterday, I made progress toward my personal or professional goals” were 20 percent more likely than the average survey respondent to believe that they generally had enough time for the […]

Thoughts on Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam and My Time Diary Experiment

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In Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done by Laura Vanderkam, the author writes about her study of over 900 participants in which she surveys them on how they spent a Monday in March hour by hour and how they felt both about that day and about time in general. She writes: First, people who feel like they have enough time are exceedingly mindful of their time. They know where the time […]

The Importance of Marketing to Existing Clients from Managing the Professional Service Firm

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Managing the Professional Service Firm by David H. Maister is a must-read book for anyone running a professional services business. For too long, I thought that a digital creative firm like Barrel was somehow special and played by different rules than consulting, legal, accounting, or architecture/design businesses. Wrong. It became quickly apparent in the first few pages of the book that Barrel operates in the same way as any other professional service firm and that […]

Systems Archetypes from The Fifth Discipline and How They Apply to a Digital Agency

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One of my favorite parts of The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge is the topic of systems thinking and how so many of the problems inherent in organizations (and even personal behaviors) stem from being unaware of the various systems at play and how these systems, when undetected and untouched, can control and determine outcomes, often in ways contrary to what you may have intended. In such situations, we’re likely to blame external forces for our […]

Personal Mastery from The Fifth Discipline

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Organizations learn only through individuals who learn. Individual learning does not guarantee organizational learning. But without it no organizational learning occurs. In Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, one of the five disciplines is personal mastery (the others being systems thinking, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning). Senge equates personal mastery with personal growth and learning, espoused by those who “are continually expanding their ability to create the results in life they truly seek.” As […]

The Seven Learning Disabilities from The Fifth Discipline

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In Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, he introduces seven learning disabilities that largely go undetected in organizations. Only by identifying these, he writes, can an organization take the necessary steps to cure them and become a learning organization. The Seven Learning Disabilities It is no accident that most organizations learn poorly. The way they are designed and managed, the way people’s jobs are defined, and, most importantly, the way we have all been taught to think […]

Lessons from Pricing Creativity by Blair Enns

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Lessons from Pricing Creativity by Blair Enns

Pricing Creativity: A Guide to Profit Beyond the Billable Hour is a book that provides rules and tactics to help creative professionals charge more for new work and run a more profitable business. It’s by Blair Enns, the founder of Win Without Pitching, a training program that helps creative professionals win more business. I’ve been a follower of Enns for some years, having paid for access to his materials, enrolling in his online course, signing up for his webinars, and listening […]

The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence Josh Waitzkin (Quotes & Thoughts)

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The real art in learning takes place as we move beyond proficiency, when our work becomes an expression of our essence. Josh Waitzkin grew up as a chess prodigy and competed at the highest levels of competition. In his early twenties, he left the chess world to pursue a career as a martial artist, specifically in Push hands, which is rooted in tai chi and a very popular competitive sport in Taiwan. His book, The […]

The Spiritual Journey

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I read Homo Deus by Yuval Harari back in March and one passage that stuck with me was his take on spirituality and why religions are anything but spiritual. Harari defines religion as such: Religion is any all-encompassing story that confers superhuman legitimacy on human laws, norms and values. It legitimises human social structures by arguing that they reflect superhuman laws. Religion asserts that we humans are subject to a system of moral laws that […]

Favorite Quotes from The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

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I recently finished reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen, a novel about a double spy agent during and after the Vietnam War. It was one of the more memorable fiction reads I’ve had in a while. I really enjoyed Nguyen’s style of writing and found myself highlighting a number of passages. I’ve been trying to get better in general about revisiting books I’ve read and re-reading my highlights. With The Sympathizer, I found it a very […]

Level, Listen, and Leave Yourself Out

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“Preparing and delivering a performance assessment is one of the hardest tasks you’ll have to perform as a manager.” – Andy S. Grove, High Output Management I’ve been re-reading sections of High Output Management by Andy Grove of Intel fame (he was president and then CEO at Intel during its years of incredible growth; Grove passed away in March 2016). There are a lot of valuable nuggets throughout the book. I wanted to highlight a section […]

Thoughts on “Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact” by Phil M. Jones

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Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact by Phil M Jones is a very quick read. As in, you can probably finish it in under 1 hour if not less than 40 minutes. But its value was in making me think about the words I use in my day-to-day conversations and what kinds of adjustments I can make to shape conversations in favorable ways. I’m not going to give a detailed summary of […]

Personal Accountability and the Pursuit of a Boring Culture

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In QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life, author John Miller offers a simple framework for handling ourselves day-to-day, both at work and in our personal lives. The Question Behind the Question is built on the observation that our first reactions are often negative, bringing to mind Incorrect Questions (IQs). But if in each moment of decision we can instead discipline ourselves to look behind those initial Incorrect […]