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.
When I was putting together my reading list for last year, the movie The Big Short was just hitting the theaters. It had a great cast which included Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Steve Carrell, and Ryan Gosling. I had heard about the book and knew it was written by Michael Lewis. I had been wanting to read another one of his books ever since I read The Blind Side, which, by the way, is much, much better than the movie. Anyway, I wasn’t sold on adding it to my 2016 reading list until I read a post from Brad Feld where he raved about how well the movie portrayed the events of the book. It was a done deal after that, and it finally bubbled to the top of my list within the last month or so.
The college football bowl season, or what I like to call the “football silly season”, is underway. How silly are the games? Even star, NFL-caliber players are realizing that risking a future career in the NFL and their earning potential is not worth playing one more meaningless game.
What college football needs is more games with meaning. When I see NCAA president Mark Emmert say that he would like to see the college football playoff expand to eight teams, my quick response is, “So do I!” I’m so serious about my desire for an expanded playoff that I put together my proposed bracket based upon the final CFP rankings.
Let’s look at all the reasons why an 8-team playoff makes sense.
Despite being my book recommendation nemesis, Amazon can come in quite handy sometimes. I was trying to figure out how I found out about the James S.A. Corey novel Leviathan Wakes. Luckily, Amazon archives all of your orders, so I was able to trace the purchase to May of last year. My best guess tells me that it came from either an Amazon Daily Deal or one of their email book list recommendations. Either way, being a science fiction novel, it fit neatly into one of my reading genres and, since I had already purchased it, I had it on my 2016 reading list.
I launched my first Amazon instance in the middle of 2014. At the time, I installed the latest web server technology – PHP 5.3 and Apache 2.2. Since technology never stops moving forward, especially software, I figured it was time to move to newer PHP and Apache versions. In my case, I chose PHP 5.6 and Apache 2.4. Here are the steps I followed for the upgrade.
Between my recreational, science fiction reads, I like reading books to brush up on product and business development, software development techniques, management and leadership skills, and business strategy. Strangely enough (tongue in cheek), the emails I get from Amazon are either full of sci-fi books or business books. Therefore, I was not surprised when UX Strategy: How to Devise Innovative Digital Products that People Want by Jamie Levy showed up in my Amazon recommendations. Since I work with clients on product development strategies, as well as potential product ideas for my business, UX Strategy looked like it had a lot of potential. The strong reviews on Amazon certainly didn’t hurt its cause, so I added it to my short list of books for 2016.