Well, well, well. I thought that this would be the year that I would retire the beard. I was wrong. Again.
For whatever reason, I just can’t help myself when it comes to growing out the beard. This past year, I started even earlier than normal. Instead of waiting for Mo’vemeber, I started the process in early October. I decided to experiment a little this year with different looks.
For the most part, it was good. Here’s what I learned in the process.
There 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.
2017 was the fifth year I blogged. Given how many blogs don’t make it past five weeks, I’m pretty happy I’ve made it this far. At this point, I don’t see myself stopping. As I’ve mentioned in the past, you need a reason other than traffic, fame, or money to keep you motivated to blog. I do it for other reasons, which you can read about here. You can also see my prior blog reviews by clicking on the years – 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013.
Overall, 2017 wasn’t my best effort. I fell way behind on my book reviews and have 14 pending at the time of this writing. I had two months this past year, April and May, with zero posts. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it’s not a lack of ideas holding me back. I have almost 90 post ideas in my queue, not to mention a whole category of posts on startups that pushes the total to somewhere between 110 and 120.
With all that said, I intend to soldier on. My goal remains to hit the elusive 100 posts for the year, which will once again be my goal for 2018. Before we look too far into the future, let’s start by taking look at the past.
Would 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.
I have a problem with my reading list – a big problem.
I organized my reading list over this past week for 2018. I was happy to learn that I read 28 books last year. Unfortunately, it didn’t even make a dent in my master wish list of books since I added 48 new books to my list during 2017. My wish list of books to read is sitting at over 200. Last year, I had 7 years of books on my list. This year it’s grown to 8.
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 .
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.
I 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.
Just like years past, I had three primary fitness goals for 2017 around working out, activity, and diet. 2017 didn’t go quite as I would have liked due to a number of planned and unplanned circumstances. There was travel for work, an extended vacation, and the gym I frequent closed 3 weeks for remodeling. The loss of my furry companion in November didn’t help either.
I’m not suggesting or saying that 2017 was a disaster, it just wasn’t as good as 2016. For 2018, I’m going to make a few minor adjustments, set a couple of stretch goals, and make it happen!
Let’s take a look at 2017, and then set the goals for this year.
When 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.