The Next Leap

2018: My year in books

Have you seen the Tai Lopez video on YouTube? You know the one: “Here’s my Lamborghini, and here are my bookshelves. And the books are more valuable than the Lambo!”

I’m not a big Tai Lopez fan — and I don’t have a Lambo — but it’s shocking to me how valuable books can be.  There are books that have stood the test of time — “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” the Bible, and more — and a never-ending stream of new titles. You can pick up a book for less than $20, read it in a few hours, and get the equivalent of thousands of dollars worth of consulting.

In fact, I have a few friends that charge big bucks for consulting. They also publish their “secret sauce” in a book. When potential clients come calling, my friends give them the book for free and say something like, “You can read the book and do it yourself, or I can implement it for you.”

Being cheap and stubborn. I usually buy the book instead of the consulting!

2018 was a big reading year for me. I have wanted to read more for the last few years. A friend challenged me to start logging my reading on Goodreads, the social site. I also joined a reading challenge on Goodreads.

My goal was to read 18 books in 2018. I ended up reading 21. A few books I had wanted to read for years. Others were new to me. A surprising number were transformational.

Here are a few of my favorites, with highlights of what I learned.

Manhood

In January 2018, I read “The Way of the Superior Man,” by David Deida. I read a few books in 2018 on manhood and what it means to be a man. This one was the best. It pairs well with “The Way of Men” by Jack Donovan, which I read a few years ago. My main takeaways from both books:

  • I am responsible for my life, and charting the direction of my family.
  • I must be decisive in all things.
  • I must go to the pain, “Unadorned suffering is the bedmate of masculine growth.” Only by becoming intimate with my pain will I grow.
  • If I lose my edge, austerity and challenge are tools to help bring it back.

“The Way of the Superior Man” has a bad reputation in some circles. The title is misleading. The book is about how to be a superior man, not that men are superior to women. There is much discussion of masculine and feminine energy, and that males and females have both.

It is not a business book. It is a book that helps me to be a better man, which makes me a better leader and CEO and, importantly, a better husband and father!

Leadership

Late in 2018, I read “Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box” by The Arbinger Institute, a training and consulting firm. The book is amazing. I wish I read it 10 years ago. It’s an easy, novel-like read. After I finished it, I bought five additional copies and distributed them to my team.

I always feel silly explaining my main takeaways from books. They sound obvious. But here they are for “Leadership and Self-Deception”:

  • See people as humans, not as objects, tools, or impediments to your goals.
  • Don’t betray yourself.

To see people as humans, you have to be “out of the box,” to use the book’s phrase. It means that people have thoughts, feelings, desires, and motivations. As a CEO — and maybe a jerk! — sometimes I have not attempted to understand why people won’t just do what I tell them. The book helped me realize that there is a reason. In most cases, people want to do a good job. But again, they have thoughts about a task. The better I can understand and empathize with them, the more I can help them be productive and do good for themselves and the greater team.

On the matter of not betraying yourself, the book says that if you think about doing something, do it. This is mainly applied to small things. The example in the book is of a man who hears his baby cry at night. The man pretends to sleep, so his wife gets up to comfort the child instead of him.

This has changed how I deal with many things, big and small. For example, I pick up a lot more trash that I see randomly on the ground than I did before. Usually when I see trash, I think about picking it up. Previously, I would often think, “That’s not my trash and not my job.” Now, I usually pick up the trash. It’s not my job, but it is helpful to the world. It makes me feels better about myself. I am not betraying what I should be doing.

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