Sunday Book Review – Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown

Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts. by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brene always brings her “A” game. Dare to Lead is no different. Taking all her previous work and putting a spin on it for what it means to bring her principles to the leadership table. Empathy just isn’t talked about enough in the context of leadership. Let’s hope that this has a cascading effect, where it raises the bar for leaders.

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Sunday Book Review – The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone

The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the WorldThe Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you want a deep dive into Uber and AirBnB this does a reasonable job. It highlights how they fight against the status quo and regulation in general. The brash attitude of the founders pushing against the norm (sometimes to everyone’s detriment) to push collaborative consumption models circumventing decades of regulation is highlighted. There is a lot to learn if you are in a position to take on the normative behavior at scale.

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Sunday Book Review – Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being RemarkablePurple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Godin helps highlight what it is to be remarkable. The need to zig when others are zagging. Quick read with all the right stuff. If you are trying to market something, you should read this book. If you are managing products, you should read this book!

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Sunday Book Review – Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartupBad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a wild ride. This is a tale of good people, gone bad. Great investigative reporting turned into a book. If you want to understand what it looks like when someone becomes obsessed with winning and puts people that hurt them more than help them as mentors. Theranos is about as toxic as it comes. This is the down side to Silicon Valley that isn’t talked about enough.

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Sunday Book Review : The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John C. Maxwell

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to FollowThe 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow by John C. Maxwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great companion to Maxwell’s 21 Laws of Leadership. You can read this in one sitting, but it will take a lifetime to grasp it’s content fully. A chapter a week might be a better approach. The 21 Qualities:

1. CHARACTER: Be a Piece of the Rock
2. CHARISMA: The First Impression Can Seal the Deal
3. COMMITMENT: It Separates Doers from Dreamers
4. COMMUNICATION: Without It You Travel Alone
5. COMPETENCE: If you Build It, They Will Come
6. COURAGE: One Person with Courage Is a Majority
7. DISCERNMENT: Put an End to Unsolved Mysteries
8. FOCUS: The Sharper It Is, the Sharper You Are
9. GENEROSITY: Your Candle Loses Nothing When It Lights Another
10. INITIATIVE: You Won’t Leave Home Without It
11. LISTENING: To Connect with Their Hearts, Use Your Ears
12. PASSION: Take This Life and Love It
13. POSITIVE ATTITUDE: If You Believe You Can, You Can
14. PROBLEM SOLVING: You Can’t Let Your Problems Be a Problem
15. RELATIONSHIPS: If You Get Along, They’ll Go Along
16. RESPONSIBILITY: If You Won’t Carry the Ball, You Can’t Lead the Team
17. SECURITY: Competence Never Compensates for Insecurity
18. SELF- DISCIPLINE: The First Person You Lead Is You
19. SERVANTHOOD: To Get Ahead, Put Others First
20. TEACHABILITY: To Keep Leading, Keep Learning
21. VISION: You Can Seize Only What You Can See

If you could grow in any of these areas this book is for you!

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Sunday Book Review : The Power of Kindness by Piero Ferrucci

The Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate LifeThe Power of Kindness: The Unexpected Benefits of Leading a Compassionate Life by Piero Ferrucci

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ferrucci distinguishes this pure kindness from self-interested politeness, calculated generosity, superficial etiquette, and kindness against one’s will. He gets into honesty, warmth, forgiveness, contact, sense of belonging, trust, mindfulness, empathy, humility, patience, generosity, respect, flexibility, memory, loyalty, gratitude, service and joy as aspects powering kindness.

From his experience as a psychiatrist he posits kind people are healthier and live longer, are more popular and productive, have greater success in business, and are happier than others…they are destined to live a much more interesting and fulfilling life than those who lack this quality. They are much better equipped to face life in all its savage unpredictability and frightening precariousness.

If you are seeking compassion and want to grow in this arena, this one is for you.

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Sunday Book Review : The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of LeadershipThe 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What makes a great leader? Maxwell sums it up in 21 laws. Quick read that will take a lifetime to absorb. The 21 laws:

1. The Law of the lid.
Your leadership is like a lid or a ceiling on your organisation. Your church or business will not rise beyond the level your leadership allows. That’s why when a corporation or team needs to be fixed, they fire the leader.

2. The Law of Influence.
Leadership is simply about influencing people. Nothing more, nothing less. The true test of a leader is to ask him to create positive change in an organisation. If you cannot create change, you cannot lead. Being a leader is not about being first, or being an entrepreneur, or being the most knowledgeable, or being a manager. Being a leader is not just holding a leadership position. (“It’s not the position that makes a leader, but the leader who makes a position.”) Positional leadership especially does not work in volunteer organisations. The very essence of all power to influence lies in getting the other person to participate. “He who thinks he leads , but has no followers, is only taking a walk.”

3. The Law of Process.
Leadership is learned over time. And it can be learned. People skills, emotional strength, vision, momentum, and timing are all areas that can and should be learned. Leaders are always learners.

4. The Law of Navigation.
Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. Vision is defined as the ability to see the whole trip before leaving the dock. A leader will also see obstacles before others do. A leader sees more, sees farther, and sees before others. A navigator (leader) listens – he finds out about grassroots level reactions. Navigators balance optimism with realism. Preparation is the key to good navigation. “It’s not the size of the project, it’s the size of the leader that counts.”

5. The Law of E.F. Hutton.
Hutton was America’s most influential stock market analyst. When he spoke, everyone listened. When real leaders speak, people automatically listen. Conversely, in any group or church, you can identify the real leaders by looking for those who people listen to. According to Margaret Thatcher, “being in power is like being a lady – if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” (p45) Tips for a Positional leader – like a newly appointed minister – who wants to become a REAL leader… look for the existing real leaders and work to have influence there. Factors involved in being accepted as a new real leader include character, building key relationships, information, intuition, experience, past success. and ability.

6. The Law of Solid Ground.
Trust is the foundation for all effective leadership. When it comes to leadership, there are no shortcuts. Building trust requires competence, connection and character.

7. The Law of Respect.
People naturally follow people stronger than themselves. Even natural leaders tend to fall in behind those who they sense have a higher “leadership quotient” than themselves.

8. The Law of Intuition.
Leaders evaluate everything with a Leadership bias. Leaders see trends, resources and problems, and can read people.

9. The Law of Magnetism.
Leaders attract people like themselves. Who you are is who you attract. (Mmmm… I thought like poles were meant to repel!) Handy hint: “Staff” your weaknesses. If you only attract followers, your organisation will be weak. Work to attract leaders rather than followers if you want to build a truly strong organisation.

10. The Law of Connection.
You must touch the heart before you ask people to follow. Communicate on the level of emotion first to make a personal connection.

11. The Law of the Inner Circle.
A leader’s potential is determined by those closest to him. “The leader finds greatness in the group, and helps the members find it in themselves.” (p113)

12. The Law of Empowerment.
Only secure leaders give power to others. Mark Twain said, “Great things can happen when you don’t care who gets the credit.” (p127). Another point to ponder… “Great leaders gain authority by giving it away.”

13. The Law of Reproduction.
It takes a leader to raise up a leader. Followers can’t do it, and neither can institutional programs “It takes one to know one, to show one, to grow one.” The potential of an organisation depends on the growth of its leadership.

14. The Law of Buy-In.
People buy in to the leader first, then the vision. If they don’t like the leader but like the vision, they get a new leader. If they don’t like the leader or the vision, they get a new leader. If they don’t like the vison but like the leader, they get a new vision.

15. The Law of Victory.
Leaders find a way for the team to win. “You can’t win WITHOUT good athletes, but you CAN lose with them.” p162). Unity of vision, diversity of skills plus a leader are needed for a win.

16. The Law of Momentum.
You can’t steer a ship that isn’t moving forward. It takes a leader to create forward motion.

17. The Law of Priorities.
Activity is not necessarily accomplishment. We need to learn the difference. “A leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells “Wrong Jungle!”” (p176) If you are a leader, you must learn the three “Rs”… a) what’s Required b) what gives the greatest Return c) what brings the greatest Reward.

18. The Law of Sacrifice.
A leader must give up to go up. Successful leaders must maintain an attitude of sacrifice to turn around an organisation. One sacrifice seldom brings success. As he worked to turn around the Chrysler Corporation, Lee Iacocca slashed his own salary to $1 per year.”When you beome a leader, you lose the right to think about yourself.”

19. The Law of Timing.
When to lead is as important as what to do and where to go. Only the right action at the right time will bring success.

20. The Law of Explosive Growth.
To add growth, lead followers. To multiply growth, lead leaders. “It is my job to build the people who are going to build the company.”

21. The Law of Legacy.
A leader’s lasting value is measured by succession. “Leadership is the one thing you can’t delegate. You either exercise it – or abdicate it.”

If you need to improve any of these, pick up the book. Basically if you want to be a leader, this one is for you.

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Sunday Book Review : Free to Choose by Milton Friedman

Free to Choose: A Personal StatementFree to Choose: A Personal Statement by Milton Friedman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The say, “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” Friedman’s 1980 work is able to do just that. Milton won the Noble Memorial Prize in Economics in 1978. Free to Choose highlights free market economics and the forces that destroy them. So much good and relevant data in here that it is hard to believe it was written almost 40 years ago.

The part that rings true is that almost every instance of “free market” being cited as the reason for some decline (think great depression, mortgage crisis, looming student debt) can actually be traced back to government intervention setting the ball in motion for the collapse.

His take on public schooling, welfare, social security, legalizing drugs, the FDA, unions and other topics is well worth the listen regardless of what side of the political spectrum you fall. If you plan on voting for a candidate in the upcoming election it would be worth your time to read this book to have a broader understanding on economics before checking a box at the ballot.

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