52 Books in a Year – Goal Update!

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, I’m attempting to read 52 books this year. When I accomplish this goal, I will have read more books in 2017 than I probably have in the previous 10. A sad fact, but indicative of how little importance I’ve placed on reading prior to this year.

In the 8 books that I’ve read so far, I’ve traversed the streets of India, Toronto and L.A. I’ve learned how two industry leading companies operate and succeed in the ever-changing global business environment. And I’ve finally finished reading a self-published book, The Elephant on Fire, that my close friend Jake Caldera authored (I highly recommend that you take the time to read it).

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I’m slowly falling asleep at my keyboard, but if you’d like to know what I have read so far, here’s the full list:

  1. How Google Works
  2. Playing to Win
  3. My Year of Yes
  4. A Long Way Home
  5. Why me?
  6. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  7. The Elephant on Fire
  8. Fifteen Dogs

I’ve enjoyed each book, some more than others, and for varying reasons. I’ll eventually get to reviewing some of these, but for now, let me know if you’ve also read some of these!

 

 

 

Spanx for the Business Lesson, Sara!

Podcasts are my lifeblood. I listen to them when I’m commuting, when I’m at the gym and when I’m cleaning. If there’s an unenjoyable, monotonous task that requires tending to, I’m probably listening to a podcast while I’m doing it. Recently, I’ve been listening to the following:

  • FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast
  • NPR Politics
  • The Run Up by the NYT
  • Serial
  • How I Made This
  • Revisionist History
  • Keepin’ it 1600

I recommend them all. You’ll probably notice that a lot of these are political, but one of them is about entrepreneurs and how they started their massively successful companies. While listening to How I Made This (HIMT), I heard the story about how Spanx undergarments came to exist. Now, as a guy, I’ve never worn Spanx and I know next to nothing about them. If you were to ask me what their value proposition is, I probably wouldn’t be able to explain it to you. Even after listening to the podcast, I still don’t fully understand what makes Spanx so great. But, as Sara Blakely‘s bank account can attest, women love them.

I’ve listened to one other episode of How I Made This, and what stood out to me about Sara in particular, is how passionately she talks about her product and her journey as an entrepreneur. She clearly believed in her idea from the get-go, and she dedicated all of her energy, time and money to ensuring her product’s success. She didn’t let the challenges of starting her own business discourage her, and she put the time, effort and money into her product development to maximize the likelihood that the product would gain traction.

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As someone who is starting to accumulate some savings of my own, I tried to imagine myself in her position. Like most people, I have an emotional connection to the money that I’ve saved, because a lot of my time and effort has gone into earning it. So, when I tried picturing myself doing what she did – pouring her savings into the development of her product – I realized how crazy and inspiring she was. Not many people are willing to spend $10,000 on a business idea, let alone $50,000 or more.

But that’s the point of business, and entrepreneurship – you have to take risks, otherwise you won’t ever gain anything. I hope that when I have an idea that I think can be a success, that I have the guts to take the risks that people like Sara have. Until that time comes, I’m trying to learn as much as I can about entrepreneurship and business as I can.

If you have any resources, or books that you would recommend, please share them with me in the comments section below!

 

My Year Of Yes

I recently finished reading Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes, and as the title suggests, it’s about stepping out of your comfort zone, and doing things that you would normally say no to. For Shonda Rhimes, it means accepting invitations to attend awards shows, talk shows and other celebrity galas. For me, it means saying yes to myself, saying yes to self improvement and saying yes to the commitment it takes to achieve my goals.

Like previous years, I’ve committed myself to some resolutions for 2017. But this year, I’m doing things differently. I’m taking the time to think through what I’d like to achieve, and then I’m writing down my goals and tracking them. I’m using the SMART goal framework, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Based. I’ve used this for work, but never in my personal life, so I figured, why not see what it can do for me personally?

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One of my goals this year is to read fifty-two books, or one per week. Actually reading one book per week requires daily reading (obviously). To make sure that I actually do this, I’m using iCloud’s Numbers. It’s a basic, dumbed down version of Microsoft Excel that is accessible online from all of my devices for free! I’ve set up a spreadsheet that allows me to track the progress I’ve made on each book and how far I should be so that I don’t get behind. We’re only two weeks into January and I’ve already finished three books! That means that I’m one week ahead of my goal. So far, the spreadsheet is working!

Reading fifty-two books per week isn’t my only goal, but it’s the one that I’ve been able to focus on and track quite easily. I’m not going to share my other goals quite yet, but I’m optimistic about how this new plan will work out, based off of the results already. Three down, forty-nine more to go!

If you’d like to see what the excel sheet looks like, comment below or send me a message. I’d be happy to share.