Category Archives: Book Reviews

Book review: Boys in the Boat

Book cover - Boys in the Boat by Daniel James BrownThere are book recommendations, and then, there are special book recommendations. When your mother says you should read a book, it qualifies as an extra special book recommendation. In other words, when mom says you should read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown, you don’t ask why, you just do it.

I must admit that I was a little perplexed as to why my mother would find a book about the 1936 US Olympic men’s crew team interesting. After reading it, I figured out why. While the book covers the sport of competitive rowing, that’s not it’s primary theme. The book is more focused on the struggles facing America during the late twenties and earlier thirties. There were the effects of The Great Depression. The drought that turned middle America into The Dust Bowl. The rise of Hitler and the imminent threat of a second World War. Truth be told, it was a turbulent time. The book is really about how a group of boys came together and persevered through dedication and hard work to reach their ultimate goal against all odds.

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Book review: Ninja Selling – Subtle Skills, Big Results

Ninja Selling: Subtle Skills, Big Results by Larry Kendall book cover imageWould you say if I told you a book that teaches skills for selling real estate can be applied in all areas of your life? As shocking as that may sound, it’s true.

Ninja Selling: Subtle Skills, Big Results by Larry Kendall is a blueprint for what has made Larry and his associates at The Group, Inc. in Fort Collins, CO, one of the most successful real estate companies in the country. In the book, he offers up the principles and techniques that he has used to build a successful and lasting career in real estate. What’s most interesting is that the information he presents is not specific to real estate. It can be applied by sales professionals in any industry. Furthermore, a lot of the teachings will help to one to become a better person and simply live a better, more fulfilling life.

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Book review: Disruptors, Discounters, and Doubters

Every so often, I like to read a business book on industry strategy. It’s even more interesting when the book is about an industry that I have a lot of contacts in and spend a lot of time working around – real estate. It made reading Disruptors, Discounters, and Doubters by Joe Rand an easy choice. For one, it was an excellent opportunity to gain valuable insight into the real estate industry and where it’s headed. Second, I know Joe personally and have on-going projects with him. I figured his book would provide a better, deeper understanding of the goals behind the projects we’re working on together.

What makes the book especially valuable for anyone working in and around real estate is that it is an insider’s view of the industry. More often than not, industry strategy books are written by outsiders who forecast or critique based on observation. Joe is writing his critiques while in the trenches. He has the foresight to see that disruption of the real estate industry is on the horizon. In fact, it’s inevitable. He’s raising the warning flag and suggesting that the disruption happen from within. Otherwise, those with little or no industry knowledge will force it on them from the outside .

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Books to read in 2018

Overall, 2017 was a very good year for book reading. My goal is to read 25 books during the course of a year, with a stretch goal of 30. My book count finished at 28 last year.

I changed things up a bit last year. In the past, I had only one book in progress at a time. In 2017, I almost always had two going at once. I would read a fun book during the evening, and a business or personal mindset book in the morning. I believe this strategy helped push me over the top with respect to my reading numbers. It also shaped my readings as the majority of the books I read last year were of a nonfiction variety. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I’d like to read a longer list of lighter, entertaining books in 2018.

I’m nearly finished compiling my 2018 reading list and plan to post in the next few days or so. In the meantime, here are the books I recommend that you include on your 2018 reading list.

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Book review: Cumulus

Cumulus by Eliot PeperI enjoy discovering and reading new authors, especially those that aren’t well known. I also find reading from a variety of authors important. Each has their own life experiences and philosophies that permeate their works.

One of the “undiscovered” authors I enjoyed reading during 2015 and 2016 was Eliot Peper. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the trilogy, I really enjoyed his Uncommon Stock series. I made it a point to put one of his more recent releases, Cumulus, on my 2017 reading list.

It took a while, but I finally got around to reading it over this past summer.

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Book review: Scrum – The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Scrum - The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland and J.J. SutherlandWhen it comes to work, there are a few principles that are important to me. One is to always be learning new things. A second, closely related principle, is to continuously improve. As part of living out these tenets, I like to read books that I can apply to my business. Because time is precious, I look to trusted sources and watch what other CEOs are reading and recommending to add to my reading list. I learned about the book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland and J.J. Sutherland through Matt Blumberg’s Return Path blog. He had great things to say about the book. Since I run a software development business, it was a no-brainer to make sure I read the book during 2017.

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Book review: Setting the Table

Setting the Table by Danny Meyer - Union Square Hospitality GroupWith most books, it’s pretty clear what you’re going to get when you read them. Others can surprise you. I’d have to put Setting the Table by Danny Meyer in the latter category.

I received the recommendation from a customer I started working with last year, who I would now consider a good friend. When we started working on a project together, he suggested that I read the book. My first thought was, “a book by a guy who runs restaurants, how could it possibly apply to my technology business?”

Turns out, the book is very applicable to my business. In fact, anyone running a business that deals with customers, meaning every business owner, can benefit from the lessons and experiences Danny Meyer’s shares.

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Book review: It Starts With Food

It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa HartwigOne of my reading themes is health and fitness. And why not? What we do and eat on a daily basis has a huge impact on our quality of life. It affects how we feel, energy levels, quality of sleep and more.

My latest read in this genre was recommended by my sister Tricia, who has become more aware of and interested in learning how food affects health. She suggested that I read It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig.

Given how much I got out of Wheat Belly and Grain Brain, adding It Starts With Food to my reading list was a no brainer. I was interested in seeing what other nutrition tips and ideas I could pick up from another source.

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Book review: The Hurricane

The Hurricane by Hugh HoweyI’m a fan of Hugh Howey. Ever since reading Wool, I’ve enjoyed picking up both his long form novels and short stories. He has a way of building an immersive world and making you feel a part of it. In addition to the Silo Series built off of Wool, Shift and Dust, he did the same in Sand and Beacon 23. To put it simply, he knows how to tell a story. Every year, I do my best to have at least one Howey book on my reading list. This year, it was The Hurricane.

The Hurricane is bit of a different book by Howey. It’s not steeped in science fiction, it’s not a series or trilogy, and it’s not a short story. It’s a stand alone novel that is targeted more towards the teen / young adult audience. Still, the story telling does not disappoint. It’s written in that typical Howey style where he immerses you in the environment and makes you feel like a part of the story.

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Book review: One Year After

One Year After by William R. ForstchenIt’s been over three years since I read One Second After by William Forstchen. In the book, the United States is struck by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated by a high altitude nuclear explosion. Forstchen details how such an event would cripple all the daily items we have come to depend on such as computers, phones, cars, and most importantly, the infrastructure that delivers electricity and clean, running water. Society rapidly devolves into chaos destroying the fabric of the United States from within. Sure, it’s a fictional book, but given today’s situation with North Korea, it’s not an outside the realm of possibility.

One Year After is the sequel that, as you can rightly guess from the title, picks up the story one year later. The small North Carolina towns of Black Mountain and Montreat are still in disarray but doing their best to return to some sense of normalcy. The United States as a whole is struggling to get back on its feet and slowly trying to rebuild itself, which leads to the main premise of the story – the conflict between the goals of the local communities and the federal government, both of which who are trying to rebuild.

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