Best of Sources of Insight 2009

Photo by Vince Alongi

“The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.” — Benjamin Disraeli

It was a powerful year for Sources of Insight.  I’ve added 190 posts on topics ranging from improving your productivity to sharpening your thinking skills.  My quest is simple – find and share the best of the best insight and action for work and life.  From quotes to featured guests to lessons learned — it’s all about improving your effectiveness and leading a better life from the inside out.

Here’s a tour of the best of Sources of Insight for 2009 …

Top 10 Posts of 2009
I cherry picked the ones that either had the most traffic, or a ripple effect on the Web or that I heard the most about in the hallways at work.  Some of these surprised me.  For example, # 8 below is simply a response to a friend who challenged me to write a quick post of insights I’ve learned from movies.  Here are my top 10 posts of 2009:

  1. 3 Thinking Techniques to Improve Your Intellectual Horsepower – Solve tough problems, win friends, and rise above conflict, simply by learning three techniques for thinking and getting curious.
  2. Don’t Always Go for the Long Shot – You’ll miss all the beautiful middle along the way.
  3. How To Think Like Bill Gates – Yes, thinking is a skill and who better to learn from than the guy that’s applied deliberate practice to the power of thinking over a life time.
  4. Living Your Process – Tired? Listless? Rundown? … Do you poop out at parties? …. what you need is an approach to get your groove on and life life on your terms.  It’s the power of your personal process.
  5. PM Skills for Life – Project Management is both an art and a science, but you can use the power of project management to make things happen in your life.
  6. Productivity Personas – Are you a “starter” or a “finisher”?  … “maximizer or simplifier”? … “achiever or day dreamer?” … Use the productivity personas to improve your self-awareness and get a new lens on productivity.
  7. The Power of the Pause – OMG, Vered’s Peanut Butter Cookie’s look so good!  But wait … let me use the power of the pause and to *choose* my best response … OK, so peanut butter cookies turns out to be my best choice after all, but now it’s a mindful choice and I’m responding over reacting.
  8. What 16 Movies Teach Us About Life and Leadership – Just when you thought you had safely escaped reality, low and behold, there are insights everywhere.  From 300 to Raiders of the Lost Ark, there’s something to bring back to the real world and take your game up a notch.
  9. What’s Your One-Liner Super Hero Power – Everybody has one. Whether it’s “making others great” or “powerful connector” or “writing weird songs,” find your super hero power and make it your differentiator to make your unique contribution to the world, play to your strengths, and stand out in the marketplace.
  10. You 2.0 – This is arguably my most important post for the year.  It’s a very simple way to find your purpose, live your values, and play to your strengths.  It’s your core.  It’s your firm foundation.  It’s also a way to reinvent yourself by dropping what’s not working for you, and carrying the good forward.  It really is, You 2.0.

Ultimately, my top posts are whatever ones helped you find a new way to kick some arse, get your inner-mojo going, or wrinkle your brain with a new “ah-ha.”  So tell me, what was your favorite post?

Featured Guests
DrRichardKirschnerWho better to learn insights and action from than some of the world’s best selling authors and some experts at the top of their game?   This past year I had some amazing people share some of their best lessons learned:

Lessons Learned“Stand on the shoulders of Giants”
LessonsLearnedFromOprahWinfreyD“If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants” … great words from Isaac Newton.

I’m a fan of standing on the shoulders of giants over starting from scratch.  With the power of the Web, we can learn from everybody around the world, from the unsung hero, to the every Joe, to heroes of the past and present.  We can all stand on the shoulders of giants:

  • Lessons Learned from Bruce Lee – He was more than a martial arts master and movie star.  Bruce was also a personal development master and a philosopher with amazing words of wisdom who taught us to be our best, push the envelope, and live life on your own terms.
  • Lessons Learned from Colin Powell –Colin cuts right to the chase on what it means to be a great leader and he gives us 18 powerful lessons we can use for leading our self and leading others.
  • Lessons Learned from Guy Kowasaki – Guy teaches us to make meaning and “don’t worry be crappy.”  He also teaches us it’s about the experience and to align your interests.
  • Lessons Learned from John deVadoss – John teaches us “if you’re explaining, you’re losing” and  “everybody has flaws.”   He has a way with words and a great way of boiling things down to their essence.
  • Lessons Learned from the “Last Lecture” – Randy Pausch teaches us to choose between Tigger or Eeyore and to live our childhood dreams.  He also teaches us leadership skills from Captain Kirk, how to apologize properly, and that if you lead your life the right way, your dreams will come to you.
  • Lessons Learned from Oprah Winfrey – Oprah teaches us to live your best life, declutter your life, and surround yourself with an A-team.  Oprah is a master of her own destiny and helps lift others up.
  • Lessons Learned from Peter Drucker – Drucker is the man when it comes to management and effectiveness.  He was ahead of his time and he paved a beautiful trail of wisdom and insight for time management, productivity, and knowledge work.



Quotes are a great way to share the wisdom of the ages and modern day sages.  This last year, I put together some quotes collections for important topics.   If you study the collections, some of the words might just sing to your heart or give you the just insight you’ve been looking for:


  1. Yes, it was a great 2009 for this blog, with more great stuff for 2010, and beyond I’m sure. You’ve done a ton of work and imparted so much value.

    And I like how you added “Action” to your tagline up there, that’s your blog to a tee. Will there be a J.D. action figure out this year? Sign me up for one of those!

  2. Hehe they ARE good. Thank you for the link, and for adding value to my life via your ideas and your writing. I’m learning a lot from you. You are one of the most focused people I have ever met, online or in person.

  3. What a great summary of 2009…it kind of takes my breath away…I have my tagline posted on my computer monitor so I can see it daily.

    You have added so much to my learning and I would just throw in the recommendation you gave me to Dr. Furhman’s book Eat to Live….Thank you too for being a guest writer for the Biking Architect – I keep forwarding your articles on to the office and they always lift up the spirits in these tough times. Thank you

    Using you model for chunking down a whole book (although it took me 3 posts) brought me a great deal of attention from new and wonder full places – thank you

    I just read an interesting book called Born to Run….it was about running long distances but one of the brain research studies in the book talked about how we are programed to run and programed to be efficient….

    Thank you for being yourself and sharing your wisdom so delightfully.

    …and least I forget your comments on other blogs are inspiring also – a good read all over the internet…:)

  4. I have to pick just one? That’s hard, but I think I’d take the “You 2.0” as I’m still working my way through that book as some of the questions aren’t necessarily the easiest to answer or can be answered simply for everyone. Perhaps there could be a follow-up with a few people that would share how they’ve used the e-book?

    The “8 Ways to be Heroic” would be a close second that I really enjoyed and I’d hope Noah gets to do a future post or two. Have you ever thought about doing a follow-up on some of your previous posts? I’m just wondering as sometimes it can be interesting to look back and see how far I’ve come from where I was to where I am and wonder, “Gee, at that rate of change I wonder where I’ll be in another x years,” kind of thing.

    While the web puts a lot of knowledge at our fingertips, there is still some work on our own end to interpret the data and make various inferences of what is there. Another idea for a column would be to see what TV shows can tell us about how we see the world and what changes will eventually come? Like could someone who wrote for “The Cosby Show” in the ’80s have predicted that so soon after that show ended, there would be an African-American president in the US? Or could one wonder if shows like “Teen Mom” could cause an increase in teen pregnancy or not? Just some ideas currently bouncing around in my head that I thought I’d pop out here and see what others think.

  5. @ Jannie

    I’ll have to see if I can get one with a “kung fu grip”!

    @ Vered

    Concentrated effort is my friend, and helps me find more time to day dream 😉

    @ Patricia

    You’re a fast learner and I like how you regularly test and experiment and share your results.

    @ JB

    Great point and I was actually thinking of a follow up today — There’s a lot more I can share on You 2.0.

    I’ll check w/Noah.

    I’m a fan of sitcoms — they’ve been a key part of my life. I don’t get to watch much now except for Two and 1/2 Men and Family Guy, but sitcoms have a way of sparking my imagination.

    It’s funny how the original Star Trek foreshadowed some of today’s gizmos and gadgets.

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