The Self-Evolved Leader Book Cover The Self-Evolved Leader
Dave McKeown
Business & Economics
January 28, 2020

Bad habits die hard, even in fast-growth industries. In The Self-Evolved Leader, leadership expert Dave McKeown unpacks the most prevalent myths about running a business in fast-growth industries, carefully debunking the usefulness of longstanding tactics such as stepping in to save the day for your team--every day. Self-driven leadership evolution. Instead of offering the same tired, ineffective tips that just drain the mental resources of business leaders, McKeown outlines real skills, mindset shifts, and management rituals that you can implement every day to empower your people to perform at their highest level, no tedious oversight required. The book includes a comprehensive 15-week program designed to help you evolve your leadership style with the kind of flexible, adaptable best practices that work to deliver results, company-wide. The leadership practices outlined in this book can help you: * Break bad managerial habits and replace them with ones that work * Increase your company's agility in fast-growth industries ​* Create a culture of high performance in your workplace


Dave McKeown does a great job of promoting practical action by explaining how our ideas of leadership have evolved and making a case for what resonates now and where we may need to adjust—or perhaps even start over in how we lead.

McKeown takes a stepwise approach–laying out the principles of leadership which would be helpful to staffers with high potential as well as experienced leaders who want to hone their skills. He doesn’t sugar coat the challenges that exist in our current environment. However, he makes such good sense that tackling management challenges feels completely doable. It’s a must read.

Beyond the content, he does a great job working with all types of learning styles. It is clearly written, set up almost as a manual, and there are video summaries, additional resources, and even a Spotify playlist. If you’re not getting what you need from this book, don’t blame Dave!

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Make Your Bed Book Cover Make Your Bed
William McRaven
Grand Central Publishing
April 4, 2017

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. On May 21, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day. Taking inspiration from the university's slogan, "What starts here changes the world," he shared the ten principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career, but also throughout his life; and he explained how anyone can use these basic lessons to change themselves-and the world-for the better. Admiral McRaven's original speech went viral with over 10 million views. Building on the core tenets laid out in his speech, McRaven now recounts tales from his own life and from those of people he encountered during his military service who dealt with hardship and made tough decisions with determination, compassion, honor, and courage. Told with great humility and optimism, this timeless book provides simple wisdom, practical advice, and words of encouragement that will inspire readers to achieve more, even in life's darkest moments.


Retired Four-Star Admiral William H. McRaven shares life lessons learned during his storied naval career. He led at every level starting as a Navy SEAL and ending his career as Commander of all U.S. Special Operations Forces. The anecdotes he uses to illustrate his points are compelling—where else would you hear about how Saddam Hussein maintained control over his subordinates even when he was in U.S. custody?  

This isn’t a military book—it’s an elaboration of the commencement address McRaven gave at the University of Texas focusing on the key components of creating a successful life. Life is tough and those that flourish will meet challenges with a positive attitude, discipline, determination, and a strong support system. He doesn’t sugar-coat his advice, nor does he glorify himself or the military. He joined the military to make a positive difference in the world and that mindset permeates the lessons of this book.

His inspiring wisdom is worth an hour or so of your time.




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Rejection Proof Book Cover Rejection Proof
Jia Jiang

Review: Jia Jiang fears rejection and instead of just living with it like most of us do, he decides to deal with it head on. He asks favors from strangers for 100 days in order to overcome his fear and in the process learns how to put rejection in perspective and not let it control him. He’s willing to be uncomfortable and embarrassed which is inspiring in and of itself. He describes several of the crazy ideas he came up with in his quest to get rejected--get donuts made in the shape of the Olympic Rings, ask a security guard for $100, ask a homeowner if he could plant in their yard, ask for a burger refill at a burger joint—you get the idea. The tone is similar to his TED Talk, humorous, sincere, and full of humility. He recorded each rejection and forced himself to watch each experience in order to learn from it. Not surprisingly it got easier to be rejected the more often he did it. He also learned important techniques. For instance, always ask why. Why are they rejecting you? Once you know why, you have a chance to address whatever their objection is. Don’t take rejection personally—often it’s just an immediate reaction with nothing to do with you. Most importantly rejection happens much less often than you fear.

Shoe Dog Book Cover Shoe Dog
Phil Knight
Biography & Autobiography
Simon and Schuster
April 26, 2016

In Shoe Dog, Phil Knight shares the unbelievable saga behind the creation of Nike. It is a riveting read and a flat out miracle that Nike exists at all. Knight never envisioned creating an industry, he just wanted to solve a problem he was intimately familiar with from running track at the University of Oregon. He had a dream. This, as most innovators will tell you, is the most important reason for starting a company.

As you follow all the twists and turns Knight experienced as he built his business, it’s amazing to realize how easily it could all have fallen apart. It’s a good reminder that a “failed” business could have had a great idea but didn’t have the right circumstances or collection of people to champion it. So many things have to go right for a business to succeed.

The most interesting aspect for me was the cast of characters that Knight assembled and their willingness to do what it took to get their products to market. I’d venture to guess that not many people—and Knight had at least two--would be willing to pick up and move across country, create and staff an office, and all while taking on a new role in the company—then do it all over again once it was a success because the company had a need.

This is a story of someone who refused to give up on his dream no matter what obstacles he faced. The writing is engaging--you feel like you’re listening to a friend. It is the best memoir I’ve read in a long time.

Triggers Book Cover Triggers
Marshall Goldsmith & Mark Reiter
Decision-Making & Problem Solving
Crown Business
May 19, 2015

Triggers is a good reminder that we are a product of our environments (mental, physical, spiritual, social, etc.) and that we have the ability to tweak them to improve our chances of success. Goldsmith focuses on helping you identify “triggers” to problematic behaviors and creating an action plan. The goal is to give you a choice--respond or react.

What was different about this take on behavior change was the addition of mindfulness to the equation. In practice, this shows up as creating a series of questions in order to measure the effort you’re putting in around achieving your change in behavior and having an accountability partner ask them of you daily (versus checking to see whether you’ve achieved the goal itself which focuses only on the outcome.) For instance, “have I done my best to eat healthy today?” versus “did I lose weight today?” It puts attention on the variable you have complete control over and is very empowering.

There are some useful nuggets to help you live with more intention in order to be the person you want to be. It was worth the read.

Steal the Show Book Cover Steal the Show
Michael Port
Business & Economics
Mariner Books
October 18, 2016

If you’re expecting a straightforward “how to present” book, you’ll be disappointed. Instead you’ll walk away with really solid information on all aspects of good communication. A former actor, author Michael Port argues that presentations/speeches/interviews are all performances and as such start much, much earlier than when you walk on stage.

Thinking of interactions as performances is a useful construct because it helps keep you focused on how to communicate the points you need to make in the most powerful way. He gives practical techniques for creating stories, improvising, opening and closing presentations, and how to “crush your fears.” Because he was an actor he reminds you to use your body and get (and keep) your mind in the game.

Unlike many self-help tomes, he emphasizes that you need to find your own voice/style (vs following his “formula”) and he gives you help in discovering it. Because this book is jam packed with information you’ll probably want to refer back to specific sections once you’re ready to apply them after you’ve had a chance to digest the book.

If you want to be a more effective communicator, this book is a must read.

Big Magic Book Cover Big Magic
Elizabeth Gilbert
Body, Mind & Spirit
Riverhead Books
September 22, 2015

This is an easy-to-digest book about the nature of inspiration. Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love uses her own experiences to show how she chose to face her fears in order to live a creative life. Her belief is that all of us are creative in some way—it’s up to us to figure out how to express it. She believes the best way is to stay curious and avoid needless suffering. In fact, she flat out rejects the idea of the “tortured artist” saying that it’s just an excuse for bad behavior—and I couldn’t agree more!

Her story about how Dr. Brene Brown, who gave one of the most viewed TED Talks in the world, was able to make the writing process work for her was fascinating. As an academician, Dr. Brown had written papers for years with little enjoyment. However she loved public speaking. Using Gilbert’s advice, she rounded up 3 friends and decamped to a beach house where she proceeded to speak her book to them while they took notes. After each “chapter” she’d take their notes, transcribe, and then read it back to the team. They would then probe and capture her answers. By using her preferred way of tapping into her creativity, she was able to more easily and powerfully express her ideas. And she and her friends had fun at the beach—and yes, she did pay her friends!

She doesn’t pussyfoot around the inevitable fear that shows up when you try to do anything creative. Her advice is to not worry about the outcome. It’s the “done is better than perfect” school of thought. She says that there’s beauty in just completing something. Her examples of when she chose to let stories out into the world that weren’t perfect because fixing them weren’t worth it were really instructive. It’s the process of creativity that is so rewarding, not the cash and prizes that few achieve.

This book will inspire you, give you “how to” ideas, and encourage you to live a more creative life.

Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just 5 Days Book Cover Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just 5 Days
Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Brad Kowitz,
Bantam Press
March 10, 2016

This book gives you a field-tested, step-by-step, process for taking any idea from its infancy to a go/no go decision—in just five days. It probably sounds too good to be true—I sure was skeptical. However, author Jake Knapp, created the Google Ventures sprint process and has led sprints for everything from Gmail to Google X which gives him some pretty serious credibility.

Sprint is an interesting and entertaining read filled with great real-world examples of how different companies used a sprint to answer critical business questions. The format follows the framework of an actual sprint so you understand what happens each day along the way. While each sprint is an exercise in speed and urgency it’s not at the expense of good thinking. It really drove home how much can be accomplished when there is a very tight, shared deadline against a focused objective—and meeting-a-rama is not part of the equation.

You’ll want to go and immediately run a sprint when you get back to work after reading this book. It’s so logical to focus your best thinkers for five days in order to save hundreds of meeting hours, time going down blind alleys, and the politicking that comes along with any change. But the resistance to trying a new way of problem solving is anything but rational. In fact, just convincing management and team members to take 5 consecutive days to dedicate to solving one specific business problem—no matter how critical—seems daunting. The authors are very clear about what can (and has) gone wrong in previous sprints--most specifically not having the decision maker there for the entirety of the session.

It certainly seems worth the effort to pilot a sprint (assuming your problem is appropriate) within your span of control in order to help make a business case to management. With the pace of business ever increasing, anything that can help make better decisions faster is worth trying.

Scrum Book Cover Scrum
Jeff Sutherland
Business & Economics
Crown Business
Tue Sep 30 2014 00:00:00 GMT-0400 (Eastern Standard Time)


Scrum is a well-written and interesting book for those looking to be more productive in any area of their lives. The author (and his peers at Easel Corporation) was the first to refer to the holistic product development approach pioneered in software development and introduced by Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka as “scrum.”

In The Knowledge Creating Company, Takeuchi and Nonaka described their approach as a form of "organizational knowledge creation, [...] especially good at bringing about innovation continuously, incrementally and spirally". Essentially one cross-functional team across multiple overlapping phases tries to go the distance together, “passing the ball back and forth.” (Scrum refers to the rugby play in which the two teams pack tightly together and try to gain possession of the ball which is tossed in among them working together as a unit.) Scrum is the antithesis of the traditional linear, sequential approach typically illustrated in a Gantt chart.

Sutherland’s experiences provide a practical reminder of how to manage your time whether or not your company uses Scrum. He reminds us to allocate our mental energies and resources appropriately, immediately address issues, prioritize to avoid overwork, and the dangers of becoming complacent. He also covers teams—characteristics of great ones, perspective on optimal group size, and the need for zero tolerance for disrespect, incivility, or abuse at work. Scrum is a good reminder that we have more control over our time than we think.

FIFA“I know many people hold me ultimately responsible … (but) I cannot monitor everyone all the time. If people want to do wrong, they will also try to hide it,” so says Sepp Blatter, FIFA President since 1988. This is exactly what allowed corruption to thrive within FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) is the international governing body of association football (known as soccer in the US!), futsal (modified soccer), and beach soccer.

As you’re probably aware, the US Justice Department unsealed a 47-count indictment against 14 defendants—including FIFA bigwigs, sports marketing executives, and the owner of a broadcasting corporation—with charges of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering. The corruption charges came as no surprise to those in the industry. In fact, the most common reaction was “why did it take so long?”

The culture of a company/association comes from the top. The behavior and cues the leader gives teaches others what is/is not acceptable. It’s exactly why so many people believe that NJ Governor Chris Christie had a hand in Bridgegate, even though no evidence has been found to link him to it. The reasoning is that he created a culture of bullying and retribution so his lieutenants figured closing the George Washington Bridge to punish the Fort Lee mayor who refused to support Governor Christie was a good idea.

Sepp Blatter joined FIFA 40 years ago as the 12th employee of the organization. The US indictment charges that kickbacks totaling more than $150 million have occurred over the past 20 years—all on his watch. As a consummate politician who has survived 17 years of scandal, accusations of corruption and the rise and fall of internal political challengers it is hard to believe that he had no knowledge of the actions of his senior level staff. It’s true he “can’t monitor everyone all the time.” He didn’t need to. As the leader he could and should have monitored his direct reports and investigated any hint of wrongdoing. While he has not personally been accused of misdeeds he did not hold his senior level staff accountable for ethical behavior thereby implicitly condoning corruption. For all intents and purposes Blatter is FIFA and therefore should be held accountable for the egregious behavior of his staff.

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Taking Control of Your Career® Bootcamp Content Overview

Our Bootcamp is designed to get you back to feeling like yourself fast. To avoid overwhelm, we cover critical topics sequentially so you can make small changes quickly and experience immediate results.

1. New Beginnings

We start by creating a clear picture of your desired outcome and showing how feeling stuck can benefit you. You’ll also learn how to increase your physical and mental energy and a quick (less than 5 minutes!), easy way to improve your mood.

2. Setting Yourself Up For Success

It’s easier to succeed when your environment completely supports you. You’ll learn how to easily analyze yours and bring it into alignment. We’ll also cover techniques for viewing your work situation in a neutral, productive way–allowing you to move within it effortlessly.

3. Values & Standards

Values impact your behaviors, decisions, relationships and direction in life. Yet your values are often not aligned with your workplace. Standards are what we honor because we believe they will lead us to our goals. Logically you’d think high standards would result in a superior result but just the opposite often occurs. In this session we’ll cover how to maintain your standards when they’re not shared and how to stay true to yourself without making it an issue for others.

4. How Your Best Intentions Work Against You

If you’re like most achievers, you welcome and thrive on responsibility. Sometimes, however, your life can feel like one long “to do” list leaving little time to figure out what is working – or not – in your life. We’ll cover how to retrain your teammates, how to redefine your role and the concept of “responsibility without authority” – having one without the other makes success impossible.

5. Core Beliefs

Understanding how personal beliefs drive behavior is critical to freeing you from feeling trapped. This is a deeply personal and important aspect necessary to move into action. You’ll learn how to uncover the core belief that is out of alignment and the 5 step process you can use to replace it.

6. Who is in Control of Your Life?

Control is like catnip to high achievers – we all want it. But surprisingly few exercise control in the one area where they actually have it. This cycle of relentlessly trying to get control over an uncontrollable situation is exhausting and self–defeating. Resetting expectations so you can focus on fulfilling activities will provide the energy you need to regain your perspective and take action.

7. Setting Boundaries

If you’re surrounded by those who constantly violate your boundaries it will create conflict, drama and drain your energy. When you set and maintain appropriate boundaries you will experience an almost immediate reduction of stress. We will review the 5–step boundary setting process; discuss how to hold the line without alienating others or compromising your standards, and the implications of not being able to say “no”.

8. The Path Forward

Your work each session will have helped you uncover your personal traps and provided strategies for overcoming them. We’ll do a quick review and focus on how to use your strategic plan so you’ll never get in this situation again. We’ll also review how to appropriately take responsibility, how to manage workplace expectations and perceptions and the best habits for self–management when “overwhelm” strikes again – as it inevitably will.