“One you learn to read, you will be forever free.” — Frederick Douglass
I read a lot of books. I’m always amazed by how much of the world’s great wisdom is sitting on shelves in bookstores or available on the Web.
For just about any problem, it seems, if you can find the right book, you can find the right answer. Part of the challenge is defining your problem in a way that leads you to the right books. The other part of the challenge is finding the books written by people that have really solved the problem or have the answers you seek.
I read books all over the board, so that I can allow for more serendipity in my life. That said, I also put a special focus on books that help with health, career, relationships, finance, productivity, emotional intelligence, and intellectual horsepower.
These kinds of books help me build a strong foundation for life, and they play off each other.
I also spend a great deal of time turning books into action and applying them in tough situations. Not just for myself, but for others as well. I can almost always find the right books that will help somebody find their breakthrough or fix a health issue or get ahead at work.
I live and breathe the relentless pursuit of profound insight.
Life’s short, and the price we pay for the school of hard knocks is expensive. Ignorance is not bliss when we’re fighting a health issue or stay trapped in money problems or seem stuck at work, or can’t find the right relationships. So I find the strategies that lead to breakthroughs. So much of success in life comes down to burning desire, the right strategies, and continuous learning.
The 12 Best Books I Read in 2014
Here are some of the best books I read in 2014, where I learned something new and was able to add new strategies to my toolbox:
- All in Startup: Launching a New Idea When Everything is On the Line, by Diana Kander. Kander uses a story to show us why startups fail. It’s easy to say startups fail because entrepreneurs don’t test their ideas, before going all in. But this story really shows you how seductive the pitfalls really are.
- Blind Ambition: How to Envision Your Limitless Potential and Achieve the Success You Want, Patricia Walsh. Walsh is a blind champion Para-triathlete going for the gold in 2016. She shares her story of losing her eyesight, growing up blind, becoming a successful engineer at Microsoft, setting a new world record, and leaving the corporate world to become a professional speaker and athlete.
- Eat for Health, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D.. This just might be the ultimate self-help guide for health. Dr. Furhman shares his best program and best knowledge on how to use food as medicine to deal with everything from heart disease to cancer. What I especially like in this book, aside from Dr. Furhman’s track record, is story after story of how people with serious health issues were able to reverse and cure things that other doctors had given up on.
- How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life, Scott Adams. If you like Dilbert, this is an especially entertaining look behind the scenes of how Adams has mastered his life. Adams takes you on a journey of his ups and downs as he’s found his way in this world, and how surprising insights can give you an unfair advantage and help you make the most of what you’ve got.
- Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee. This book is full of stories and insights on how business leaders are using Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data technologies to transform business and thrive in the new digital economy. It includes stories from companies such as Starbucks, Nike, Burberry, etc.
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success: How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential, Carol Dweck. I’ve read this before, but listening to the audiobook helped some ideas sink in deeper. If you think you can learn and get better at things, you have a growth mindset. It’s this growth mindset that helps many people success in school, music, sports, on the job, and in relationships.
- MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom, Tony Robbins. This is probably the deepest self-help book on personal finance I’ve read. It’s 600 pages of hard-core insights to help you build your financial intelligence. Robbins uses bunches of examples to help you put a price on your dreams, and then build a money machine to help you realize your dreams. Perhaps the most important thing he does is help you go from a consumer to an investor and leverage the power of compounding.
- Never Work Again: Work Less, Earn More and Live Your Freedom, by Erlend Bakke. Interestingly, Bakke owns three businesses: Mr. Outsource, YouSpin, and 3sixtyfactory. What Bakke really helps you do is figure out your true needs and desires, so you can spend time doing work you love. He also helps you figure out how to start and run your own freedom business the smart way. He also shares how to outsource and automate work so you can spend your time on high-value activities and avoid becoming a slave to your business.
- The Charisma Myth: How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism, by Olivia Fox Cabane. Cabane shatters the idea that charisma is something you either have or you don’t. She shows how charisma comes down to power, presence, and warmth, and how you can develop these attributes to be more influential at work and in your relationships. One of the key surprises is how charisma can be turned on or off, and that people we might assume are always charismatic, actually have to turn it on.
- The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership, by Joelle K. Jay. This is one of the most pragmatic books I’ve read on personal leadership. Jay shares proven practices for helping you get clarity, find your focus, and make things happen, while balancing work and life, and living your values.
- The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self, by Alex Lickerman. This books help you build the skills that help you bounce back no matter what happens. Lickerman shares a wealth of practices that help you create your own shatter-proof happiness. What I especially like in this book is how Lickerman applies self-help practices to building a more resilient mind, through inspirational stories with his patients, as well as his own experiences.
- Use Your Brain to Change Your Age: Secrets to Look, Feel, and Think Younger Every Day, by Daniel G. Amen, M.D. Dr. Amen tackles depression, obesity, and a host of age-related problems by another angle. Through his study of thousands of brain scans, Dr. Amen has found patterns that show what healthy, fully functional brains look like versus unhealthy brains. On the scans, unhealthy brains show a much smaller active region, while healthy brains show a much larger active region. Dr. Amen shares great stories, insights, and inspiration, and how we can improve our physical and mental health, and avoid “Dinosaur Syndrome”, where our brains get smaller and our bodies get bigger.