Read David Sedaris, Watch Mark Rober, Stop Meetings

Here’s what I’m reading, watching, and stopping:

  • Read Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris.  Sedaris is my favorite non-fiction writer.  From his stories where his frugal dad eats part of his hat thinking it was an old banana to him walking into a bathroom at a dinner party with a clogged toilet, he is hilarious.
  • If you like science, have kids, or both, follow and watch Mark Rober on YouTube.  He does an excellent job explaining scientific concepts fun and engagingly.  I’ve enjoyed watching and discussing the videos with my kids.
  • Stop taking unnecessary meetings.  Today, when it comes to meetings, interviews, or meetups, I say no more than yes and don’t feel guilty about it.  I prioritize my priorities, goals, and relationships over prospective ones.  When starting, I’d take a meeting anytime or anywhere on partnerships, networking, or potential business opportunities.  I realize this may limit me, but I believe in the maxim of time’s preciousness.

Read The Strangest Secret, Watch Yellowjackets, Stop Unwanted Email

Here’s what I’m reading, watching, and stopping:

  • Read The Strangest Secret by Earl Nightingale.  I first read this book a couple of decades ago.  Every year or so, I reread it.  It’s the foundation for many of today’s “self-help” authors and speakers.  If you want to save time reading the book, the “secret” is we become what we think about.
  • Watch Yellowjackets on Showtime.  It follows a girl’s soccer team that gets stranded with a storyline that flips from when it happened as teenagers to where they are as adults.
  • Stop getting unwanted emails.  Because I get more spam than legit emails, I’ve found that the native Outlook and Gmail apps provide an easy way to block and report spammers instead of using my iPhone’s built-in email app.  Note that I typically preview my emails on my phone before reading them on my laptop.

Read Adam Grant, Watch Genius, Quit Spam Phone Calls

I’m changing the format of my blog posts to read, watch, and stop.  I’ll share what I’m currently reading, watching, and, to help declutter life, something I’m stopping. 

Here’s this post’s read, watch, stop:

  • Watch:  Genius by Stephen Hawking has everyday people perform experiments and solve problems to understand scientific concepts from evolution to time travel.  I’ve enjoyed watching and discussing episodes with my kids.
  • Stop:  Stop unwanted calls.  I use an iPhone app called RoboKiller.  RoboKiller stops known spammers and makes it easy to block callers. 

Outliers: The Story of Success

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers shares multiple factors behind success, and that success isn’t just a combination of talent and hard work.  Here are the key takeaways:

  • The self-made man is a myth.  We have a bias to attribute success to ability and hard work.  Yet, other factors are at play.  Read on!
  • For most professions, there’s a base threshold for success.  Once you move beyond that threshold, having a better ability doesn’t increase success.  For example, if you’re a Mike Tyson, you reached 71 inches.  The average boxer has a reach of 76.” It’s related skills and abilities that matter.  For an attorney, those additional items could be the ability to connect with others.
  • While this point is debated, to be world-class in anything, you must spend about 10K hours developing your craft.
  • On this one, you don’t have much control.  The month you’re born impacts what you can achieve.  For example, my kiddos play hockey.  Teams are based on birth year.  So, someone born in January of a year could compete with someone of December of the same year… a year difference.  Please do it for those of you considering holding your kid back from school.  Research shows it gives them a head start in life.  Holding back would not be valid if all families practiced this approach.
  • Use practical intelligence.  Know who, when, and how to connect with people up and down the food chain.  The reality is kids of more affluent parents have entitlement, making them practice practical intelligence.  On the flip side, sadly, poorer parents are less likely to teach valuable intelligence.
  • Like the month you were born, when you are born matters.  Consider Bill Gates; he was born to be a young adult when the PC was almost of age and had enough technology to make it a reality.  For tech, it was best to be born around 1955.
  • Being born in different parts of the world matters.
  • Where you rank shouldn’t matter regarding important decisions or stating your objections.  Yet, this isn’t always so.  The book cites Korean Air, which had a crash rate 17X higher than the industry average.  Why?  Younger pilots did not express their concerns difference from older pilots.  Korean Air hired a firm to help correct this behavior.

As leaders or influencers, we should look for ways to level the playing field for all. 

Peak Mind

In Peak Mind by Amishi Jha, Dr. Jha shares three systems of attention for our brains:
Flashlight:  With the flashlight, we focus on the now.  If we are too focused, we can miss the bigger picture.

Floodlight:  With floodlight, our attention is on high alert.  What could be happening at the moment that may propose risk or, in some cases, opportunity? 

Juggler:  The juggler is the CEO of the mind.  Whatever the challenge, the juggler is on top of tackling everything.
Three things zap the ability to pay attention.  They are stress, threats, and mood.  When stressed, whether in business or home, it blocks our ability to focus.  When there are threats, we focus on personal safety instead of thoughts.  The final item that eliminates our ability to pay attention is mood.  From depression to the blues, it dramatically reduces our ability to focus.
When it comes to making memories, there are three steps:
1.      Rehearsal:  Rehearsal is repeating something over in mind.  It could be a PIN or a person’s name.
2.     Elaboration:  Elaboration is tying something new to an existing memory.
3.     Consolidation:  Consolidation creates new neural connections. 
The author shares that meditation helps with all three brain systems and creates memories.  She recommends 12 minutes a day for five days a week, and a technique is known as breath awareness.  In breath awareness, start with a quiet place.  Sit, close your eyes, and breathe.  Follow your breath and nothing else.  If your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath.  If you’re new to mediation and want guidance, try an app like Headspace.