Archives For book review

You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.

C. S. Lewis

My wife and kids will tell you that I’m a bit of a book hoarder.  I love getting books in the mail, and I love supporting other authors.  I especially love to promote these books when they have an impact on my life.

This week, Andi Cumbo-Floyd released her latest book, Love Letters to Writers.  And it’s just what I needed!

Despite the fact that I am getting ready to release my own book (December 5th – Rooftop Reflections – go to rooftopreflections.com to find out more information), I have felt disappointment and discouragement regarding my own writing consistency.  I’ve allowed the busyness of life and other activities to take me away from my passion for day-to-day writing.

Andi’s new book provided the right encouragement and reminders I needed to take a new look at my writing and my approach to writing.

In Love Letters to Writers, you’ll find 52 chapters or letters designed to challenge and encourage your writing.  I love the way each letter spoke to me and brought me back to a place in my writing experience where I thrived.  If you are a writer who needs a little (or a lot) encouragement, this book is for you.

If you are not a writer but you are someone who is trying to develop a daily discipline in your life, I think you’ll find Love Letters to Writers helpful.

Pickup a copy of Love Letters to Writers today!

What daily discipline are you trying to develop in your life?  How will your life be different by developing this discipline?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

I don’t know about you, but I want to make the best use of my time.  Unfortunately, I sometimes struggle with procrastination.  Today, Brian Tracy is releasing the third edition of Eat That Frog.  The book is all about overcoming procrastination.  As part of the launch team for the release of the book, I have the privilege of sharing part of the book with you today.  I have absolutely enjoyed this book!

Don’t wait another minute, read Brian’s thoughts below:

The following post is an excerpt from chapter 4 of Eat That Frog.

A word about frogs… It has been said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.

Make Better Decisions about Time

In your work, having a clear idea of what is really important to you in the long term makes it much easier for you to make better decisions about your priorities in the short term.

By definition, something that is important has long-term potential consequences. Something that is unimportant has few or no long-term potential consequences. Before starting on anything, you should always ask yourself, “What are the potential consequences of doing or not doing this task?”

Rule: Future intent influences and often determines present actions.

The clearer you are about your future intentions, the greater influence that clarity will have on what you do in the moment. With a clear long-term vision, you are much more capable of evaluating an activity in the present to ensure that it is consistent with where you truly want to end up.

Successful people are those who are willing to delay gratification and make sacrifices in the short term so that they can enjoy far greater rewards in the long term. Unsuccessful people, on the other hand, think more about short-term pleasure and immediate gratification while giving little thought to the long-term future.

Denis Waitley, a motivational speaker, says, “Losers try to escape from their fears and drudgery with activities that are tension-relieving. Winners are motivated by their desires toward activities that are goal-achieving.”

For example, coming into work earlier, reading regularly in your field, taking courses to improve your skills, and focusing on high-value tasks in your work will all combine to have an enormous positive impact on your future. On the other hand, coming into work at the last moment, reading the newspaper, drinking coffee, and socializing with your coworkers may seem fun and enjoyable in the short term but inevitably leads to lack of promotion, underachievement, and frustration in the long term.

If a task or activity has large potential positive consequences, make it a top priority and get started on it immediately. If something can have large potential negative consequences if it is not done quickly and well, that becomes a top priority as well. Whatever your frog is, resolve to gulp it down first thing.

Motivation requires motive. The greater the potential positive impact that an action or behavior of yours can have on your life, once you define it clearly, the more motivated you will be to overcome procrastination and get it done quickly.

Keep yourself focused and forward moving by continually starting and completing those tasks that can make a major difference to your company and to your future.

The time is going to pass anyway. The only question is how you use it and where you are going to end up at the end of the weeks and months that pass. And where you end up is largely a matter of the amount of consideration you give to the likely consequences of your actions in the short term.

Thinking continually about the potential consequences of your choices, decisions, and behaviors is one of the very best ways to determine your true priorities in your work and personal life.

Brian Tracy is one of the top business speakers in the world today. He has designed and presented seminars for more than 1,000 large companies and more than 10,000 small and medium sized enterprises in 75 countries on the subjects of Leadership, Management, Professional Selling, Business Model Reinvention, and Profit Improvement. He has addressed more than 5,000,000 people in more than 5,000 talks and presentations worldwide. He currently speaks to 250,000 people per year. His fast-moving, entertaining video-based training programs are taught in 38 countries.

 

Brian is a bestselling author. In addition to Eat That Frog, Brian has written more than 80 books that have been translated into 42 languages, including Kiss That Frog!, Find Your Balance Point, Goals!, Flight Plan, Maximum Achievement, No Excuses!, Advanced Selling Strategies, and How the Best Leaders Lead. He is happily married, with four children and five grandchildren. He is the president of Brian Tracy International and lives in Solana Beach, California. He can be reached at briantracy@briantracy.com.

EXIT STRATEGY

Begin with the end in mind.

Stephen Covey

I don’t want to get to the end of my life with gas left in my tank.  I also don’t want to make it to the end of my life with the feeling that I wasted my life.

I want my life to matter.  I want to make a difference.  And I want to give my all to my purposes and passions.

With this in mind, I am developing an exit strategy for life.  My goal isn’t to exit this world early.  Instead, I want to have lived my life to the fullest when I do exit this world.

When I received my copy of Ellory Wells‘ new book, Exit Strategy, I was excited to see how it related to my own thoughts on exit strategy.  I was intrigued by the sub-title, “The Exact Tactics to Transition from Where You Have to Be to Where You Want to Be.”

In Exit Strategy, Ellory tells his story of leaving corporate America and starting up his own business.  As I read his story, I got the clear picture that Ellory (like me) wants to do something amazing with his life, and he’s not content to simply exist.  I liked this part of the book!

Exit Strategy then maps out  process for launching your own business – for doing your own thing.  Ellory provides a step-by-step process for starting a business in today’s web-driven world.  This isn’t just theory.  Ellory’s instructions are based on his own experience and on the experience of his clients.

I know the instructions work, because I have been following much of this material over the past year as I have been working with Ellory with some of my own pursuits.

If you are thinking about stretching into a new business pursuit, I’d recommend you pick up a copy of Exit Strategy.  Then I’d recommend you send Ellory an email (his email is in the book).  I know he’d love to help you!

Whether you are thinking about starting a new business or not, I’d challenge you to think about your own exit strategy.

What are you doing TODAY to make sure you live your life to the fullest?  What is your exit strategy?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

THE LITTLE BOOK OF PERSONAL GROWTH (BY DAN BLACK)

Growth is the great separator between those who succeed and those who do not. When I see a person beginning to separate themselves from the pack, it’s almost always due to personal growth.

John C. Maxwell

When I was a child, my parents measured my growth by marking my height on the door frame of one of the rooms in our house.  I could see growth happening, because my mark kept getting higher on the wall.  I eventually passed my mother.  Then I passed my father.  And eventually, my mark on the wall was over 6’5″ above the floor.

When it comes to my height, I stopped growing many years ago.  But this doesn’t mean I stopped growing.  I still pride myself on my appetite for personal growth.  I read books.  I listen to podcasts.  I watch educational videos.  And I hang out with smart people.  I participate in these activities to make sure I keep growing.

Personal growth doesn’t happen by accident.  If you want to grow (or STRETCH as I like to say), you have to be intentional.

Today, I’m excited to announce the release of Dan Black’s new eBook, The Little Book of Personal Growth.

In the short book, Dan unpacks the meaning of personal growth, and he provides a road map for helping readers create their own plan for personal growth.  The book outlines the five stages of personal growth.  Then Dan unveils the ten core benefits of engaging in regular personal growth.  He discusses the components necessary for personal growth.

Dan does a great job recognizing that we have different learning styles.  He describes nine methods readers can use for their own personal growth.  And finally, he walks readers through a simple step-by-step process for developing a personal growth plan that will take you to higher heights on your personal growth chart.

If you are looking for a power-packed, concise read that will push you higher on your personal height chart, you should check out The Little Book of Personal Growth.  Click here to get your copy.

How tall are you?  What are you doing to help yourself grow?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

(Please note:  I received a preview copy of The Little Book of Personal Growth for free as a gift from Dan Black in exchange for my pre-purchase of his new eBook and for my agreement to participate on his launch team for this book.  I was not required to provide a favorable review.  I believe this book can be a helpful tool for being more intentional with your life and your personal growth.

Also to note:  There are affiliate links in this post.  Should you purchase The Little Book of Personal Growth by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase.  These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala.  Thank you!)

management
When I received a copy of Under New Management:  How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual by David Burkus, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.  I work for a large company.  In fact, I am an operations manager for a large company.  The prospect of changing or upending business as usual seems a little scary and perhaps a little interesting.

“The purpose of this book is to challenge you and your company to ask whether the time has come for you to reexamine some of the most fundamental concepts in management today.”  David Burkus

When I opened up the book and scanned through the contents and the pages, I honestly questioned if this book was worth my time.  Here are some of the chapter titles:  Outlaw Email, Put Customers Second, Lose the Standard Vacation Policy, Pay People to Quit, Make Salaries Transparent, Ban Noncompetes, Ditch Performance Appraisals, Hire as a Team, and Close Open Offices.  Many of these chapter titles seemed to go against what I have come to know in my 20+ years at my company.  I was a little concerned about what would be in the pages I was about to read.  As I started to read though, I began to understand Under New Management was actually a book I needed to read.  And I’m not the only one who needs to read it.  Managers across the country and around the world should consider picking up a copy of this brand new book.

Change is not easy.

If we really want to grow, we need to learn to adapt, and Under New Management:  How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual encourages managers to consider how they might adapt to the changing world that we now find ourselves.  This work by David Burkus is an important text for any manager to read, and I would highly recommend it.  I think it will encourage managers took to consider how they might change the way they’re doing business.  They may not implement every single thing suggested in this book, but I think managers will find ways to do business differently and better as they read the pages of this book.

“Business isn’t usual anymore.”  David Burkus

Under New Management:  How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual by David Burkus releases this week, and I would encourage any manager who is serious about making a difference where they are in their workplace to pick this up and to at least ponder whether or not they are on the right track in their business.  I’m sure that this text will stretch the readers and that’s why I’m recommending Under New Management.

What changes would you like to see at your place of employment?  What action do you think you could take to make that one of those changes a reality?

Please note:  I received a copy of Under New Management:  How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual by David Burkus for free from Weaving Influence in exchange for a review.  I was not required to provide a positive review.  I truly believe that this new book is a worthwhile read for anybody serious about taking their leadership to the next level.

Also to note:  There are affiliate links in this post.  Should you purchase Under New Management:  How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase.  These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala.  Thank you!)

BOOK REVIEW_THE 3 GAPSARE YOU MAKINGA DIFFERENCE_BY Hyrum W. Smith

Gaps in our lives drain the power needed to make a positive difference in the world.

Hyrum W. Smith

The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? by Hyrum W. Smith officially releases today (January 11, 2016).  I received a preview copy of this book courtesy of Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence.

I took time to read this book between Christmas and New Years, and it provided a few great insights and ideas for me to pursue as I seek to clarify my beliefs, values, and priorities.

While I’m still wrestling with Smith’s assertion that the pursuit of personal inner peace is the ultimate goal of man.  I deeply agree with the thought that we can make a big difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us by clarifying our beliefs, by confirming our governing values, and by intentionally managing our time.

The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference?is a quick read that will challenge readers to fill the gaps they may have in their beliefs, values, and time.  Personally, I was challenged after reading The 3 Gaps to write my own personal constitution, to define my governing values, and to practice the discipline of daily planning.  If you are looking for a book with practical advice to help you stretch, you should consider picking up a copy of this book.

What are the biggest challenges you are currently facing when it comes to your beliefs, your values, and your time?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

(Please note:  I received a copy of The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? for free as a gift from Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence.  I was not required to provide a favorable review.  I believe this book can be a helpful tool for being more intentional with your life.

Also to note:  There are affiliate links in this post.  Should you purchase The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase.  These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala.  Thank you!)

CYBER MONDAY

The Monday after Thanksgiving has become a big day for shoppers.  Last year, shoppers purchased nearly $2.7 Billion on-line on Cyber Monday.  Cyber Monday was created by marketers to lure shoppers like you and me into purchasing on-line.  Shoppers are enticed with “deals”, discounts, and the allure of avoiding the chaos of in-store shopping.

I don’t know about you, but my family has found it much easier to shop on-line.  We get the things we want and need for the holidays without the pressure of the in-store experience.

Since it’s Cyber Monday and I know you are looking for that perfect gift for that special someone, I thought I should remind you of a gift that everyone wants and needs:

My book, On Track: Life Lessons from the Track & Field is available on-line at Amazon.com for less than $3.00.  This is the perfect stocking-stuffer or gift for anyone.

Here’s what several reviewers had to say about On Track:

It would be very easy for someone to read the title of this short book and think, “I only watch track every four years during the Olympics…this book isn’t for me.” The author does indeed talk about track and field, mostly at the high school level and in a very light and approachable way. But what this book really does is remind the reader that we all are surrounded in our everyday lives with little things that can help us grow, comfort us, or even kick us in the pants. We just need to be paying attention.

The beauty in this book is the way in which the author sees lessons in the little things, like the way sprinters set up their starting blocks. You do not need to be a fan of track and field to appreciate these observations. I believe that the author is more hoping to arm the reader with a few tools to look for lessons in their own everyday events that are relevant to their lives. Intentional or not, the book certainly did this for me. “On Track” then ties these observations back to recognizable verses of scripture. Much as the author hopes we’ll draw on our own memorable stories in our lives, he provides these memorable scripture passages for us to draw on as well.

I wouldn’t read this book expecting to learn much about track and field. That’s not really the point. This is a great little book to have on hand for those times that you find life getting off track (pun very much intended). It is a quick read that I will be returning to from time to time to get back On Track.  Brian S. Willem

This book is an easy read and well thought out. Jon writes life lessons in parallel with track and field events, he leads us from the starting blocks to the finish line. Whether you know track and field or not, this book is an inspiring work and leaves me wanting to read more and more of Jon’s writing. Bravo for leading the pack on your first book Jon!! Chris Vonada

Such a great read! Jon does a great job relating track and field concepts to our lives in this book. Whether coming out of the starting blocks, overcoming obstacles, or finishing strong, he incorporates stories from his own life and his kids’ lives and connects those with things that we face every day.

As a former hurdler and runner, I could especially identify with his stories and challenges and it took me back to my track days. On Track is a great book for anyone who wants to grow, be stretched, and be encouraged in their role at home, work, and in daily life. I highly recommend it. Great job Jon!  Shawn Washburn

Love that Jon incorporates his faith into his passions in life – into his family, his running, his job. On Track demonstrates how learning good, strong habits and practices are a life learning not just compartmentalized into a sport. Great read for the whole family, and would be great as a small group discussion guide. Good job, Jon! Looking forward to lots more from this new author.  Diane Karchner

Jon takes us on a journey with his love of God and his love of running. There are many lessons of life molding these two loves together. You really get a sense of Jon’s dedication to living life to the fullest and enjoying the gifts God has equipped each of us.  S. Young

Jon offers a tidy little book, a parable if you will, comparing life to running at a track meet. Readers will enjoy sharing the author’s personal experiences and will find the extra boost they are looking for to get their life back on track. An easy, enjoyable and worthwhile read.  Matt Appling

In this book, Jon does a fantastic job of teaching both about track and field (for those who are too familiar) and about life. Several key factors from the starting blocks to the finish line help to show you how to keep your life “On Track”.  Joshua Rivers

Go on-line and order your copy of On Track TODAY.

(If you’d like an autographed copy, reach out to me to discuss details.)

Do you shop on-line?  What’s the best deal you have ever found on-line?

When Becky Robinson reached out to me to ask if I’d read and review the newest book by John Manning.  I couldn’t say no.  I’ve been writing about disciplines that stretch people like you and me, and I write about leadership here on my blog from time to time.  Manning’s book is all about becoming a leader who focuses on what really matters.  In The Disciplined Leader: Keeping the Focus on What Really Matters, John Manning details 52 disciplines or practices that every leader should follow.

In the first section of the book, Manning focuses on disciplines designed to help leaders lead themselves.  In the second section of the book, he focuses on disciplines that help leaders lead their teams.  And in the third and final section, Manning details disciplines for leaders to lead their organizations more effectively.

Each chapter is laid out in a simple and concise format with action steps which will help readers to practice what they have just read.  You can read the book all at once, or you may decide to go through the book in a year taking one discipline each week of the year.

As I read through this book, I was challenged to step up my leadership game in the various arenas where I lead – at home, at work, at church, and elsewhere.

I’m excited to add The Disciplined Leader to my leadership library, and I look forward to referencing it in the days, weeks, and years ahead as I seek to lead by focusing on the right things – on what really matters.

What disciplines have made you a better leader?   When you think of a great leader in your life, what disciplines come to mind?  Tell me about it in the comments.

(Please note:  I received a copy of The Disciplined Leader for free as a gift from Becky Robinson of Weaving Influence in exchange for a review.  I was not required to provide a favorable review.  I truly believe this book can be a helpful tool for taking your leadership to the next level.

Also to note:  There are affiliate links in this post.  Should you purchase The Disciplined Leader by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase.  These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala.  Thank you!)

This book wasn’t even on my radar until I received a package from my friend Ellory Wells.  In the package, Ellory included Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo with a note inside:

Jon,

I’ve never read this book, but I’ve heard wonderful things!  I know you want to be a speaker.  You ARE a speaker!  If you want to read this book together, let me know; I got myself a copy too. 🙂

See you on stage!

Ellory Wells

I’m glad Ellory sent me the book, and I’m thankful for the note in the front of the book as well.

Talk Like TED is an inspiring and educational read for anyone who does presentations or who wants to present to others.  In Talk Like TED, Carmine Gallo unpacks the research he compiled by studying the most successful TEDTalk speakers.  He shares stories and statistics in a way that will help speakers take their craft to the next level.

This was the perfect book for me as I consider future speaking opportunities.  Talk Like TED gave me nine “secrets” to improving my speaking, and it gave me hours of TEDTalk presentations to review to help me refine my skills.

If you are a pastor, a teacher, a manager, or a presenter of any kind, I’d recommend picking up a copy of Talk Like TED.  If you are a writer, I’d also recommend this book as I believe it will improve your blogs, books, and other writing endeavors.  If you have a message that needs to be heard, this book will help you package your message in a way that will get people to listen.

Here are a few of the quotes I highlighted as I read the book:

  • “Ideas, effectively packaged and delivered, can change the world.”
  • “Great communicators reach your head and touch your heart.”
  • “People cannot inspire others unless and until they are inspired themselves.”
  • “If you want to help someone, shut up and listen.”
  • “Our brains are more active when we hear stories.”
  • “An authentic presentation requires hours of work – digging deeper into your soul than you ever have, choosing the right words that best represent the way you feel about your topic, delivering those words for maximum impact, and making sure that your nonverbal communication – your gestures, facial expressions, and body language – are consistent with your message.”
  • “Don’t take yourself (or your topic) too seriously.  The brain loves humor.  Give your audience something to smile about.”
  • “You don’t need luck to be an inspiring speaker.  You need examples, techniques, passion, and practice.  You also need courage – the courage to follow your passion, articulate your ideas simply, and express what makes your heart sing.”

 

How do you feel about public-speaking?   When was the last time you spoke in public?  How did it go?  Tell me about it in the comments.

(Please note:  I received a copy of Talk Like TED for free as a gift from my friend, Ellory Wells.  I was not required to provide a favorable review.  I truly believe this book can be a helpful tool for taking your speaking opportunities to the next level.

Also to note:  There are affiliate links in this post.  Should you purchase Talk Like TED by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase.  These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala.  Thank you!)

We all have big dreams.

We all fantasize about the way we’d like to see life turn out.  Call it utopia.  Call it the perfect world.  Call it paradise.  Call it whatever you want.

We want to live in castles with ivory towers.  We want to be rich and or famous.  We want to come up with some amazing invention, discovery, or cure.  We want to see people getting along.  We want perfect health to go with perfect bodies.  We want the perfect spouse which will certainly mean we’ll end up with perfect children.

What happens when life doesn’t quite work out the way you expected?

If your like me, it be pretty challenging to put on a smiling face when life doesn’t work out the way I planned it.

Undone-Stack-400

In Undone: A Story of Making Peace With an Unexpected Life, Michele Cushatt tells her story in a way that will get you thinking differently about the unmet expectations in your own life.  Michele had many of the same fairy tale dreams we all had before divorce and marriage threw her fantasies into a tail spin.  In Undone, Michele opens up about her own struggles to embrace the unexpected twists and turns of life.

As she comes to terms with a different life than she had planned, she begins to see God’s greater good in the midst of personal challenge and tragedy.

If you want to be challenged to look at life’s valleys and turns from a new perspective, I’d recommend you pick up a copy of Undone.

The book releases to the world today (March 10, 2014).  Pick up your copy by clicking here.

How have you made peace with the unexpected in your life? 

(Please note:  I received a copy of Undone for free in exchange for being part of the launch of this book.  I was not required to provide a favorable review.  I truly believe this book can be a helpful reminder to any reader in helping us come to terms with the obstacles that come our way on our life journeys.

Also to note:  There are affiliate links in this post.  Should you purchase Undone by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase.  These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala.  Thank you!)