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To Sell is Human
by Daniel H. Pink

I really liked this book, it had a lot of pragmatic tools!

They talk about the move from "buyer beware" to "seller beware." The market is more global and competitive than ever before in human history. With the advent of online shopping and reviews, sellers must work harder than ever to rise above the rest.

We are always selling, even when we're not directly exchanging something for money. The concept is known as "non-sales selling." In a study of over 9,000 people, the average person was spending 40% of their work day in non-sales selling activities - that's 24 min/hour. We sell when we try to convince someone to date us. We sell when we try to get a friend to do something with us. We sell when we try to persuade anyone for any reason.

They show some tools that can help in managing meetings/conversations among multiple people - discussion maps, mood maps, and the power of "uncommon commonalities." People are immediately more connected to those they have something in common with, so don't write off "small talk" as useless. Find something you have in common with everyone you interact with. It will strengthen your connections.

Remember to use subtle mirroring to make people feel comfortable.

Ambiverts are the most successful salespeople, which is good news - as most people are ambiverted! (A mixture of introvert and extrovert)

They've found that interrogative self-talk can be more useful than declarative. For instance, rather than the commonly suggested affirmations, such as "I will succeed," you would think instead "Will I succeed?" By phrasing it as a question, you cause yourself to think more deeply about the matter at hand. Do you have the necessary skills and preparation? Why do you want to do it?

He talks about the 3:1 Positivity Ratio discussed in one of my all-time favorite books, Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson. You can check out my live Youtube review on that book at (it's just over a minute) The basic concept is that you want to have 3 positive experiences to every 1 negative.

Optimists have better outcomes than pessimists, partially due to the difference in the way they view hardship. Pessimists view negative experiences as permanent, pervasive, and personal. Optimists view these same experiences as temporary, specific, and external.

My favorite part of the book was the 6 different types of pitches: The one word pitch, the question pitch, the rhyming pitch, the subject line pitch, the Twitter pitch, and the Pixar pitch (my personal favorite). The Pixar pitch goes like this: "Once upon a time _____. Every day _____. One day, _____. Because of that, _____. Because of that, _____. Finally, _____." People would be well served by figuring out each of their 6 pitches.

Check out my live review of this book on Youtube at
Be Obsessed or Be Average
by Grant Cardone

This book is about how culture kind of stamps out "obsession" - which is a word he uses pretty interchangeably with "passion" - and instead promotes "average" lives and outcomes. His major claim is that if you want to be successful and above average, it will benefit you to be obsessed - with the right things. He shares times in his life when he was obsessed with the wrong things - like drugs. Being obsessed with success has served him far better, as you can imagine!

One thing I really resonated with in this book was the idea of looking out for the people who tell you to "slow down" or to "take it easy." Examine the quality of life of the people you take advice from. Would you take advice from someone who had a terrible relationship history about how to have a strong relationship? Why would you? Why take advice from people who live above their means and struggle financially about "taking it easy" and "not working so hard"? Look up to the people who have achieved what you want to, and emulate them (as much as you want to).

One great way of doing this is to read books by people who have achieved what you want to achieve, considering that many of them may not be able to advise you directly. Think of books, podcasts, etc as your mentors, too! It doesn't have to always be a human in the flesh that imparts invaluable wisdom into your life.

Better advice for many people is not "slow down," but rather "wake up!" Get clear on the direction you want to move, and then reorient your entire world toward that goal. Be sure you're focusing on (or obsessing over) the right things. Then, feed the beast! Get really hungry and then feed that desire with as much as you can. Learning is a powerful way to feed the beast inside you.

While feeding the beast, be sure you're also starving doubt. Your own internal doubt, and also the doubts that are cast on you by naysayers and haters. Grant refers to naysayers as people who genuinely have your best interest at heart and cast doubt on your dreams and ambitions out of love and concern for you and your future. They fear your failure (and probably their own), so it's important to be clear in your communication with these people to keep their doubts out of your own head. Boundaries are healthy and vital - tell people directly that you will not tolerate their casting of doubt and will remove yourself from any conversation in which they start it up. Tell people the best way they can support you, and stand firm.

Haters, on the other hand, are people who want to see you fail. They do not have your best interest at heart and have no issue with publicly stating their dislike of you. These people are actually more valuable to you than the naysayers, because you're less likely to care what they think of you than the naysayers, but also because they sometimes tend to provide free advertisement. I experience this myself with internet trolls. They talk about me all the time in various different communities, and it helps to boost my exposure - completely free of charge. Don't be afraid of haters - they actually help you out! They can also bring to your attention opportunities for improvement. Even the most negative Nancies can teach us something. Be open-minded to all criticism in the interest of improving and growing as a person.

Stay dangerous, dominate your industry, focus on winning.

Check out my live review and summary on YouTube here:
Top Dog: The Science of Winning & Losing
by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This book talks about the nature of competition.

They talk about three different kinds of people - those who benefit from competition (performance improves), those who suffer from competition (performance worsens), and those whose performance is not affected by the presence of a competitor. It's important to understand which of the 3 you are, so you can best position yourself for maximum success. If you're the type of person who does worse when competing, you can be empowered by this knowledge! Make modifications in your life to remove the idea of competition to maximize your results. If you're one who benefits from competition, you can establish friendly (or not) competitions with friends, colleagues, etc to maximize YOUR results. If you're unaffected, then that's hugely empowering, as you can market yourself as being versatile and consistent.

They spent some time talking about the general differences between the way men and women handle competition. Women are generally less likely to enter into competitions than men, they seem to be more risk averse. Women also seem to have a more logical understanding and internalization of the odds of winning any particular competition. They are much less likely to enter when the odds are against them, whereas men more often seem to assume they'll be a winner regardless of how small the odds are. They also found that women's performance seems to be negatively impacted by socializing with the competition beforehand. It's as if they have a more difficult time competing against someone they like or feel connected to in some way - in a way that does not seem to impact their male counterparts.

They also found that the level of testosterone produced in a male before a competition had a very strong correlation with who the winners would be. This is one proposed explanation for the "underdog effect" - when someone wins a competition against all odds. They found that the more seriously someone is taking the competition and how hard they'll have to work, they release testosterone. Those who expect to win do not experience the same pressures, and they can be overly "lax."

They point out the difference in mindset between a focus on winning and a focus on not losing - which are you focusing on?

Check out my book review on Youtube!
Give and Take
by Adam Grant

According to this book, there are three types of people: givers, takers, and matchers. Givers give more than they get, takers get more than they give, and matchers try to give and take a roughly equal amount. Interestingly, givers are both at the bottom of the success ladder AND they're at the top, too! So, it's important to realize that you can give more than you get and still be massively successful. You need to be discerning with what you're giving, how much you're giving, when you're giving, and to whom. Beware of takers! Many of you may be familiar with the idea of "energy vampires" - they are the epitome of takers. They will drain you for as much as they can get from you.

Givers have the most powerful networks, as most people have a positive attitude toward them. Takers have the worst network outcomes, as people will often not wish to work with them after getting burned once. In the modern world of information being so easily accessible and shareable via the Internet and social media, takers are at a massive disadvantage. Be discerning about who you do business with - check reviews and testimonials thoroughly when needed.

Check out my live Youtube review and summary at
How Successful People Lead
by John C. Maxwell

In this book, he identifies 5 levels of leadership:

1) Position - This is the most basic of the forms of leadership. It is based on position alone. You are a leader by title, and people only listen to you because they have to.
2) Permission - This is the level of leadership where people listen to you because they WANT to. They respect you and feel valued and heard in the group.
3) Production - Morale among the team is important, but the team can only exist as long as it is effective. This is the level of leadership where the group is accomplishing its purpose and having positive results.
4) People Development  - At this stage, the leader is identifying and elevating new leaders among the group, to take their place.
5) Pinnacle - The pinnacle of leadership, according to Maxwell, is when you have brought up a new leader that has moved through all four previous stages.

Check out my live book review and summary on Youtube here:
101 Essays That will Change the Way you Think
by Brianna Wiest

This book had a lot of information in it that I was already familiar with, so I didn't have too many profound "aha" moments, as I like to have with non-fiction books, but there was a lot of good stuff!

She talks about the importance of changing your experience if you want to change your mindset. Our mindset is basically the result of our beliefs based on our previous experience. If we want to change our mindset, we need to change our experiences. So, get out of your comfort zone, try something new, and watch your perspective shift. The problem is not the problem. The problem is the way you think about the problem.

This was the first time I've heard of the concept of an "upper limit" or happiness "threshold." She talks about the human tendency to self-sabotage when we reach this peak of happiness we allow ourselves to experience. We start to "wait for the other shoe to drop" and look for reasons to bring our happiness back down to baseline. Why not fully experience the heights of your happiness while you have it? All emotions are temporary. You can increase this upper limit by doing the same thing as previously advised - get out of that comfort zone!

Your life is a book of stories, not a novel. Your past does not have to dictate your future.

Check out my live review of this book on Youtube at
The Checklist Manifesto
by Atul Gawande

I read this book because it was suggested in Poor Charlie's Almanack by Charlie Munger, but I would not personally suggest reading it.

The entire book is about the importance of using checklists - which is a valuable concept, but doesn't need an entire book full of anecdotes to convey. Most of the examples in the book were about surgery (the author is a surgeon) and flying airplanes. Most people's day to day tasks don't involve having other peoples' lives in your hands, so I'm not sure the pragmatic value of a book like this.

However, in the end appendix, he does break down a "checklist for your checklists" that is helpful. It takes you down how to design an effective, concise, useful checklist that covers all the most important components of a process. This is very helpful for those entrepreneurs (solopreneurs) struggling to systemize their processes.

Make your life easier and more efficient, use checklists!

Check out my live book review and summary on YouTube here:
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