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There’s still time to take a vacation this summer! Set up your lawn chair, kick off your shoes and open a great book. Here are my latest, favorite recommendations:
"The Miracle Morning" by Hal Elrod
As a 20-year-old, Hal had life by the tail. Good job prospects, a beautiful girlfriend and lots of blue sky. A head-on car crash almost ended it. He was literally dead for six minutes as his crushed body was transported to the hospital. Hal slowly recovered physically and began to reclaim his life and rebuild his career. Then, a financial crisis swept him into an even more devastating life situation.
Hal developed crippling depression. In an effort to help, a friend suggested that Hal get up earlier than he usually did so that he could fit in a run. Of course, Hal responded, “I hate to run. I’m not sure I can with the screws in my legs. And I don’t get enough sleep as it is.”
Blah blah blah. Hal was irritated by his own excuses. So, he got up the next morning and went for a run. And he went the next day. As he ran (rather painfully at first) he started to think of other positive things he could do to turn his life around. He committed to getting up at 5 a.m. so that he could spend a whole hour on personal development. He added meditation, journaling, affirmations, visualization and reading to his morning exercise routine. What happened next, well, Hal calls his book, “The Miracle Morning.” A fun, short read (or listen) with a workable method for increasing energy, motivation and productivity.
"The 7 Power Contractor" by Al Levi
Al is my best friend and partner at ZOOM DRAIN, the franchising adventure we are developing with our other best friends, Jim and Jason Criniti. In our partnership, Al is the foundation, rock and steady hand that makes sure we do the right things the right way. He is the best operations man in the industry. And his character and commitment make Al one uniquely wonderful guy.
Recently, he wrote this book about his seven principles for creating a rockin’ contracting company. Al lines up the must-dos for developing your planning, operating, financial, staffing, selling, marketing and sales coaching power. He includes lots of inspiring turnaround and dramatic growth testimonials. Al has built many empires with his meat-and-potatoes approach to business. You can, too! Bottom line: Do what Al tells you to do; don’t waste any more time. You’ll enjoy less stress and more success. Get Al’s book here:
"Stop Wishing. Stop Whining. Start Leading." by Cynthia Kay and Doreen Bolhuis
Of course, the title got my attention. I recently did a video training project for Bradford White — Ellen’s Corner Business Tips — on its For The Pro website portal. It was super fun, in no small part because of the wonderful producer/director for the video series. Cynthia is no nonsense and no whiner! She is engaging and supportive, and she gets a TON done in a short time. She gave me her book. After reading it, I’m happy to report she is exactly like she suggests a great leader should be: determined, creative, collaborative and undeterred by glass ceilings.
Also, I don’t brag on enough women authors. Cynthia and Doreen knocked this out of the park. This book is chock-full of practical advice for becoming a magnetic leader, one who gets things done by inspiring others. So, dear women in business, meet your newest mentors.
"Barkskins: A Novel" by Annie Proulx
Alas, most non-fiction, including my books, are not written exceptionally well. In other words, non-fiction writers are not necessarily great writers. I’ll put up with not-great writing, if the book offers a compelling life story, as told by the author. (Like Hal Elrod’s life-death-life-worse-than-death-mind-blowing-success story.)
Therefore, I also read a lot of novels because I love great writing. A well-crafted sentence moves me, like a stunning photograph or a stirring movement of music. Literature is important for how it makes you feel and think. Art matters.
Barkskins is beautifully written. Read it for the gorgeous landscapes, interesting descriptions of bygone technologies and depictions of intriguing woodsmen and timber barons. Also, Proulx vividly chronicles the history of the timber industry in North America. Every energy industry has a lifecycle. Some energy, like timber, is renewable. However, greed and corruption can eclipse what can and should be done, for the sake of short-term profits.
Proulx involves Native American characters, who illustrate the relationship people had with the land before the Europeans arrived. They embraced a mutually beneficial approach to life in the forest and saw no need to cut it down for farming and to raise animals. The forest, as they saw it, was already full of animals and fresh food.
We know the heartbreaking history. Still, Proulx’s humane look at the timber industry’s rise and inevitable change is a good study for today’s energy challenges, and the sticky yet essential role of international trade.
The Constitution of the United States of America, by the Delegates of the Constitutional Congress
Every day, our politicians and media professionals (as well as your crazy Uncle Howie on Facebook?) reference the Constitution as they lay out political reasoning and arguments. So, I decided to read it. I am embarrassed to admit how much I had forgotten since 5th grade civics class. It’s nice to be able to reference it on my phone and iPad. Become a better citizen by reacquainting yourself with our country’s foundational document. You can pick up a copy for free on amazon.
Here’s a reader’s tip!
Do you have a few favorite authors? Visit their websites and sign up for their blog or e-newsletters. When they launch a new book, they often alert their “tribe” beforehand, as part of a marketing program or to achieve bestseller status. Pre-order offers sometimes include some cool freebies, and at the very least you can enjoy their latest release right away.
Two new books will be launching soon, from two of my favorite people. Another best friend (I have lots of them) and mentor, Howard Partridge, is writing the definitive book on creating community. I am honored to be one of his “readers” as he edits and refines the book. Keep your eyes peeled for this book, it’s a world changer. Befriend Howard on Facebook and opt in at www.howardpartridge.com.
I’m also super excited for Mark Matteson’s upcoming book. It’s ostensibly about losing weight. However, the deeper message is about developing habits that support your very best and brightest life. I laughed and cried as I devoured a pre-release copy. I love Mark! Meet him at his site, and get yourself in his social media loop.