Lessons Learned – 2014

Time for the What-I-Learned-This-Year post. 2014 is going to go down in my personal history vaults as the Year of Awakening. It was a year in which I finally seized upon my inner ambitions, and committed myself to following my passions and achieving something greater in my life.

I started the year working at a job that I had no interest in, and am finishing it half-way through Grad school. In between, there were so many things that I learned and became aware of that I either was blind to before or was simply ignorant on. I finally realized that the life I wanted for myself was not going to simply come to me through wishes and good will, and in making that realization and acting upon it, I set in motion a chain of events that will hopefully change my life course permanently and for the better. The jury is still out, but here’s to my high hopes.

As my eyes became opened to more of the world around me and what it would take to actually accomplish my dreams, I became aware of how little I truly knew. And so the bulk of this year has been spent simply establishing a base of knowledge, work ethic, life principles, and habits that I hope to build the rest of my life on (at least for the foreseeable future, nothing lasts forever). Some of these nuggets include: Continue reading

5 Impact Reads of 2014

With 2014 winding to a close in the coming weeks, I wanted to take the time to list my top 5 books from this past year. As I’ve stated before, 2014 has been a big paradigm shift for me in how I view the world and my place in it. And books have been a key catalyst in enacting this change.

I started off the year with the goal of reading 10 books. While that may seem modest, and by most accounts, it is (check Ryan Holiday or Tim Ferriss. Its ridiculous), to me this was a big jump forward in making the effort to read regularly and often. I took stock of recommended book lists from seemingly every business or thought leader, and just dove in.

I ended up reaching 18 books this year, so paring this down to five is not as difficult a task as I initially thought, although I am looking to up the difficulty curve on myself next year by shooting for 40. Going to get a lot of run out of the Audible app on my phone, which is really great for long drives or any form of travel.

Last thing to note, at this point in my life I am more focused on breadth over depth, building a knowledge and philosophical base from which to build upon as I move throughout my life. These books are a snapshot of where I am in life right now, and what was most meaningful to me, not simply the best 5 books I read. In no particular order:

The Goal – Just wrote up a review on this one you can check out, but in summary, 1) Don’t take old assumptions at face value. The world is constantly evolving, our thinking should mirror that. 2) Identify your goal, and align everything you do to that goal. If something doesn’t help you achieve your ends, its a distraction.

4-Hour Workweek – Speaking of Tim and Mr. Holiday, both make an appearance here. This book, by Tim Ferriss, is a book that in my opinion needs to be taken in from a distance. Dig out the key concepts laid out, not all the shiny details and promises of easy money. The core of this book is to first go after what you really want, and effectiveness is the tool to get you there. Not efficiency, but effectiveness. Tim is a big proponent of the Pareto Principle, and the first half of the book is where this really shines. Very easy read, and again, seeing the big picture with this book is key.

Money: Master the Game – Same opening line as 4HWW: don’t take this book as a prescription. Take it as a vitamin. Money and investing is not a topic I am broadly familiar with, but something I know is critical to have a degree of familiarity with. Tony Robbins does a great job of laying out some of the basic principles of personal finance and investing, and definitely pumps his shine into the book. Just use your own judgement and take some of the finer details with a grain of salt. Times are always changing. But a great starting point, without having to take any of the mind-numbing Finance classes at school.

The Obstacle Is the Way – By Ryan Holiday, this is a quick, but highly effective read. Ryan does a great job in summarizing the Stoic viewpoint, which is essentially that life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it. People like Teddy Roosevelt aren’t born great, but they become great through their self discipline in making  lemonade from the proverbial lemon. A great primer on the practical philosophy of Stoicism, a topic I plan on really delving into in the coming year.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking – This one might go down as the best book I’ve ever read. Being a functioning introvert myself, this was a quake book for me, one that totally shattered any preconceived notions I held on introversion, and how I dealt with it. A more detailed review will be soon to come, but Susan Cain knocks this one out of the park. A must read for anyone who often finds themselves on the quieter side of life, and still highly recommended for the social butterflies, as Susan addresses not only the discrepancies between introversion/extroversion, but how to understand the other side and co-exist. Not everyone is meant to be highly vocal, and not everyone that is highly vocal is meant to be a leader. Can’t speak highly enough of this book.

But there you have it, my personal top 5 books of the year. Share your thoughts or any books that impacted you that I should look into for next year down below, or you can always reach me at pursueimpact@gmail.com.


Book Review: The Goal

Time for a book post. I view reading as being instrumental to the self-education process; who better to learn from than the great people and thinkers of the world? These book review posts are not going to be a regular occurrence, theoretically. They are just meant to discuss books that have been very influential for me and helped shape or alter my current way of thinking. Not every book you read is going to change your life, and so not every book read is going to be mentioned here. Just the heavy hitters.

For the first book review, I wanted to start with a book that is somewhat simple, yet had a pretty profound impact on my mind and thought process. The Goal was actually assigned reading for a class in my business program is one of the first books that I really read critically (I highly recommend it if you are new to this world). Since then I have come a long way in my note-taking abilities, and refined an indexing system for cataloging those notes. But that is for another time. Until then, ladies and gentlemen: The Goal.

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My Action

For no reason at all I am feeling this immense pressure to get my first post ever perfect. Even though I know that very few people will be reading this any time soon. Yet I have this gut desire to refine, and drag my feet until it’s perfect. But novel writer I am not, and so this seemed as appropriate a time as ever to talk about one of the most important but simple concepts I have really come to grasp in the past few months: the need for action.

This first post is simply about getting started, about forcing my hand and putting my first foot forward, whether it is my best foot or not. Fear cannot be a limiting factor if you wish to make an impact on the world, and this first post is about doing just that: conquering fear. If there is anything that I have learned since starting this journey of self-development, it is that to do anything worthwhile requires action. This post is my action.

For many people, this seems glaringly obvious. To get things done you have to act. But to a life-long student such as myself, the actual thought never crossed my mind. I was more focused on learning, being a perfectionist. There are several points that can be spun out of that mentality, but that is not the objective of this first post. This is simply about taking my first step, about putting pen to paper (I’m old school) and taking an action when I would prefer to sit and tinker and make this website perfect before I ever  make it public.

And that leads to the final point I want to discuss in this first creation. I heard somewhere the quote “if you’re not embarrassed by your first product, you did it wrong.” This ties hand in hand with action, and called the Minimal Viable Product. The hardest part of succeeding in anything is simply starting, so just get your prototype out there, and then revise and perfect. Getting started forces your hand, and takes the decision out of your control.

So that’s it. No groundbreaking insight, no Nobel winning thesis. Just a first step, in what will hopefully be a long journey ahead of me. If you somehow read this, I promise it will get better, and hope you stick around for the ride. For this is just the beginning; my action.