My Favorite Book Reads of 2019

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I went through my Amazon book purchases and here are the books that made the most impact on my life and business. By the way, these are great gift ideas too!

Become a Better Leader 3-Pack

I put these together because I kept writing “must read for any leader” on all three.

OK, that rounds out the best of the best books I read in 2019. Most of these I go back to frequently.

The Book I Would Buy ANY Young Person for Christmas

I was talking to my second cousin over the Thanksgiving break. He’s 18 and going into college next year. He’s got big dreams, big thoughts. And I love it. We need that from the next generation!

The book I told him to read is: Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis.

I joke that it ruined my summer a couple of years ago but in such a good way.

And I believe in it so much that I bought it for my cousin.

So if you have a young big thinker …. rock their world with a great book like this.

By the way …. if you want ideas for another book, make a comment below and tell me some details about who you’re trying to buy for and I’ll try to help out!


Three Books I’m Devouring This Month And Better For It

Here are three books I’ve been absolutely devouring and that have made some really great mindset changes in me that I want to share with you:

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain

I read this because exercise has become an increasingly important part of my life. At first, I didn’t want to read 200 pages to convince me of what I already know: I need to exercise more.

But the chapters on Learning, Depression and Addiction have now refocused me on incorporating DAILY exercise into my life. For for the past couple of years I’ve written here about my physical health journey, now more than ever I see it as absolutely vital to my mental health — in fact, over and over and over it is scientifically proven to be THE wonder drug.

The case study on Zero Hour PE created and pioneered at Naperville District 203 is incredibly inspiring and humbling. I was floored. I wish I’d had a PE class like this.

For my own intense exercise, I do what I called rualks. It’s a run-walk. I run some, I walk some. But I try to focus on intensity minutes.

But the idea behind Zero Hour PE made me think about my rualks. I do what I can do. I don’t try to kill myself, or finish that last mile.

I’m doing this because:

  1. I want to feel better, first and foremost, and
  2. to get my weekly intensity minutes, which focuses on heart rate.

One thing I have incorporated into my rualks though as a result of reading this book is sprinting for sections of my rualks as the author mentions.

This is a desktop reference book I’ll return to and will be going on my all-time reading list.

What To Say When You Talk To Your Self

For the last 8 months or so I’ve been really working on my self-talk. Frankly it sucks. If I said what I say to myself to my friends … I wouldn’t have friends.

The author describes Five Levels of Self Talk:

  • Level 1 is “negative acceptance” characterized by “I can’t” sentences.
  • Level 2 is “recognition a need to change” characterized by “I should” and “I need to” sentences.
  • Level 3 is “decision to change” characterized by “I never” and “I no longer” sentences.
  • Level 4 is the “better you” characterized by “I am” sentences.
  • Level 5 is the “universal affirmation” characterized by “It is” sentences.

He suggests to unlearn Level 1 and 2 fast and start learning Levels 3 and 4, which I’ve been doing.

Particularly I’ve been doing Level 3 for some bad habits or ways I react in my life to situation that “I no longer” want and don’t benefit me or my relationships.

I’ve specifically used this sentence a lot: “I don’t have to react that way any longer.”

It’s also loaded with OUTSTANDING affirmations that I copied to my journal and am repeating.

The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level

I bought this one originally as an audiobook for a business road trip I had a couple weeks ago and loved it so much, I also bought the Kindle version.

The author talks about the Upper Limit Problem we all have, which is essentially our subconscious sabotaging moments of time when we experience greater success than we are accustomed to.

This resonated deeply with me, particularly the four most common barriers people run into with their own Upper Limit Problem:

  • Feeling fundamentally flawed (mine)
  • Disloyalty or abandonment, leaving people behind in our past
  • Believing that more success brings a bigger burden on the world
  • The crime of outshining others in our lives so that we dim our own brilliance

One of my favorite parts of the book is the Ultimate Success Mantra (another affirmation):

“I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same.”


If you’ve read these, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them and what resonated with you. 




How To Be (More) Creative

As I’ve started my new chapter which I’m calling Starting Again, I’ve been focusing on the basics and essentials. I’ve said over and over, I want to be lucky again. And that also means being creative.

Last week I had the opportunity to interview Allen Gannett, author of one of my favorite books — The Creative Curve: How to Develop the Right Idea, at the Right Time.

It’s one of the most practical books I’ve read on the subject and now one of my all-time favorite books. 

Allen shatters the myth that some are just born creative. In the book he write:

“Creativity is accessible to all, but most people just don’t have the right tools.”

The Four Laws of Creativity

In The Creative Curve and this interview, he shares the Four Laws of Creativity he’s unearthed from extensive research and interviews, which are:

  • Consumption — he says we need to be spending 20% of our waking hours consuming information and knowledge in your field, in order to develop mental models, particularly exemplars, and be able to see patterns and opportunities.
  • Imitation — he calls this the Franklin Method, after Ben Franklin, who learned to write better by observing and recreating the structure of the best writing of his time.
  • Creative Communities — I’ve been thinking more and more about this, but Allen shares there are four key members/groups in Creative Communities: Master Teacher, Conflicting Collaborator (i.e. my partner Jeff has been fantastic in this role for me), Modern Muse, and the Prominent Promoter.
  • Iteration — particularly with the use of data to refine your work, the four steps are: Conceptualization, Reduction, Curation and Feedback.

Allen’s Advice for Me

In fact, I asked Allen on the interview for advice specifically for me.

  • Dive into Primary Research – he suggested getting as niche-y and technical as you can in a field of interest; go meet and interview the researchers.
  • Marry the Fringe and Establishment — he said the best teams, particularly when starting new businesses, consist of people on the Fringe (who bring a fresh perspective) and Establishment (embedded in industry or field who bring credibility). Been thinking about this with areas of interest I have for potential businesses but in fields I’m not embedded in and finding a partner/collaborator who is embedded.

OK … go get The Creative Curve and be sure to tweet out to Allen hearty thanks for unlocking the mystery of creativity!

Hat tip: Michael Moore for sharing the book with me originally!




How to Read Strategically

For most of my life I’ve been a voracious reader. I’m naturally curious. And found books to be the easiest, fastest, most affordable way for me to better understand the world, get a different or even bigger perspective on life and then very honestly … to get ahead and stay ahead, especially in business.

Books have been one of my key superweapons of success over the past decade of business and beyond.

And frequently I get asked about new book recommendations. So for the past couple of months I’ve been cataloging all the best books I’ve read into a spreadsheet as well as writing down my specific approach to reading books (not what you might think) into a shareable format, namely an ebook.

I’m excited today to share both of those works today!

You can download them by subscribing to my new site on great business books at

Additionally, I’ll be emailing new books I’m reading and oldies worth a read or reread via email list so be sure you sign up today!


Three New Books I’m Desperately Trying To Eat At Once

Here are three books I can’t wait to read ALL at once and wanted to share. I’ll likely have some notes, tweets and reviews later as they all are packed with great information:

You can see my all-time reading list here for books I’ve read and love.