With a title like Rocket Fuel, you would think my latest read was an epic science fiction adventure. Turns out, it was a business read, but I knew that going in. The full title of Gino Wickman and Mark C. Winters book is Rocket Fuel: The One Essential Combination That Will Get You More of What You Want From Your Business. Yes, it’s a mouthful. But it also provides an accurate description of the book.
I grabbed the book through an Amazon Daily Deal back in September 2015. The book was somewhere on my reading wish list, and Amazon had a deal on business books where they were literally giving it away. I snatched the book for no charge and added it into my 2016 reading list. Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make it to Book #22 last year, so Rocket Fuel rolled over to the top of my reading list for 2017.
The internal conversation went a little like this:
January 2016 – “OK, so I wasn’t going to grow it again this year, but I did. This time let’s retire the beard for a few years, for real.”
October 2016 – “I guess I should grow it out again. This time I’ll start earlier and keep it trimmed much shorter.”
November 2016 – “Short is good, but I should let it grow out over the end of year holidays.”
December 2016 – “Letting it grow out wasn’t such a good idea. Let’s cut it back for the beginning of the new year.”
January 2017 – “I don’t know why I did this again. This time around, I’m serious about retiring it.”
So yeah, I was a little all over the place this year. The lead-in photo was the longest and thickest it got. That photo was taken around the end of 2016. To be honest, I’m not sure why I let it go, but I did. After that, I cut it back and wore the look below for the first two weeks of this year.
Our society has become obsessed with the overnight sensation. We are entranced by the performer who sings with perfection, the star athlete who makes all the right moves at the right time, and the businessman who comes out of nowhere to build a massively successful business. We focus on the outcome. We attribute them to being gifted with special talents. It makes one pause. Are successful people simply lucky, or is there a path or formula that anyone can follow in order to succeed?
While luck may play a role in one’s success, I’ve come to believe that there is more to it. For example, in order to take advantage of luck, one has to be ready and prepared when the opportunity presents itself. In many cases, a person creates their own luck. So what is it a person does to reach such high levels of achievement, success and happiness? The Slight Edge: Turning Simple Disciplines Into Massive Success & Happiness by Jeff Olson sets out to provide answers to this question.
I just finished organizing my book wish list. It’s grown to nearly 180 books. if you look at my reading pace, around 25 books a year over the last three years, I have seven years worth of books in my queue. Given the pace at which I add books to my list, there are books I will never get to. Therefore, I have to have a system for creating and prioritizing my annual reading list.
Every project we do won’t be our best. We all have off days. Just look at professional athletes. Jordan Speith doesn’t win every golf tournament. Novak Djokivic doesn’t win every tennis match. Even someone as unstoppable as Serena Williams doesn’t win every major.
I’m a huge fan of Hugh Howey. I was introduced to his work through Wool, Shift and Dust (aka The Silo Series). I really enjoyed Sand, Beacon 23, and his short stories. One of my reading themes for the last year was to read more Hugh Howey. I was looking forward to Half Way Home when I saw it reach the top of my 2016 reading list.
Unfortunately, I walked away let down. Let me explain why.
After coming up woefully short of my reading goal of 36 books in 2015, I set a goal of 30 for last year. I managed to get in 25. It’s the same number I completed in 2015, and just shy of the 27 I read in 2014. Out of the 25 books I read last year, the good news is that 21 of them came from my 2016 reading list. It’s good sign that I managed to stay true to my plan for the year. I attribute it to having goals, reading themes, and trusted sources that I use to populate the list. I’m going to use the same process for my 2017 reading list, which I will be publishing in the next few days.
Even though the number of books read in 2016 were the same as 2015, it felt like 2016 was a more productive year for reading. I read quite a few good books. Here’s the best of the bunch that I would recommend you add to your reading list for the upcoming year. As in the past, I’ve broken the list into General Recommendations, Business Books, and Fun Reads.
I got a lot out of the book Same Side Selling by Jack Quarles and Ian Altman. It was one of my Must Reads in 2015 and one of my top business books to read for 2016. What I liked most about their approach was that, unlike most sales books, they don’t focus on driving the client to ‘yes’. They encourage you to examine your business model’s strengths and weaknesses, understand what customer problem(s) your solution or product solves, and identify your target clients. As I wrote back in July 2015, they don’t teach closing techniques:
Instead, they take a long-term view to the sales process and drive the delivery of value to the customer as the basis for a long-term relationship.
In other words, they propose an approach where the seller offers value by working together with the buyer to build a solution, or offer a product, that solves a buyer’s specific problem.
Given how much I liked the book, I decided to grab a copy of Altman’s Upside Down Selling.
For 2016 I had three main fitness goals around working out, walking and diet. I’m pretty pleased at how I did for the year, but there is always room for improvement. For 2017, I’m not planning any major changes in my routine, just some refinements. I’m also going to put a stretch goal or two in place to challenge myself a bit more.
Here’s a more detailed look at the results of 2016 and my goals for the next year.
The internet is a fascinating place. It can be both scary and amazing at the same time. Scary because it can be an echo chamber where one’s views, no matter how extreme and radical, can be validated and amplified. But it’s also amazing because put to the right uses, it is a fountain of knowledge. I prefer to take the latter approach to the internet rather than the former.
Here is a case in point. Last year, I chose to search out inspirational readings and motivational stories on the web. As part of my search, I landed on a blog started by Chiao Kee Lim called the The Dirty 30’s Club. While the blog has gone a bit stale (no new posts since May 2013), there are many great readings and stories there.
In one of the readings, The Creatures at the Bottom of the River, the book Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by Richard Bach was mentioned. I found the reading very interesting and thought it might be worthwhile to investigate the book. When I saw the overwhelmingly positive reviews the book received on Amazon, I decided to let it jump the queue in my 2016 reading list. By the way, if the name Richard Bach sounds familiar, his more famous book is Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
2016 completes my fourth year of blogging. As I’ve done in 2013, 2014, and 2015, here’s a look back on 2016 and what’s in store for 2017.
Overall, I’m fairly pleased. Just the fact that I’ve kept it at for longer than a month or two is more than can be said of 95% of the blogs that are started. I would like to post more, but I’m still working at becoming a more prolific writer. Believe me, it’s not a lack of topics that’s holding me back. I have a backlog of approximately 75 items. In other words, having something to write about it isn’t a problem. As those who know me can attest, I have (too) many opinions on way too many diverse topics.
Anyway, let’s get on with the 2016 state of the blog.