five people meet in heaven

Throughout your life, have there been any situations where you have no idea why a certain result occurred?

Do you think there are any events from your past that didn’t have a big impact on your life, that potentially had a big impact on another person’s life? Why do we as humans view the world primarily from our own perspective and not consider other people’s views?

In The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom writes a fantastic story that will change everything you’ve ever thought about life after death and the meaning of our lives here on earth.

Everything you do and every interaction you have has an impact on someone else. We should be purposeful in our interactions with others to make the world a better place.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a novel which follows the life and death of a man named Eddie. In the novel, Eddie is killed and sent to heaven, and when arriving in heaven, he meets with the five people who had the most significant impact on his life when he was alive.

The rest of this post includes a summary of The Five People You Meet in Heaven, my takeaways, and my recommendation for you. Enjoy!

Summary of The Five People You Meet In Heaven

The beginning of The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a little bit sad. Eddie is an 83 year old man working at Ruby Pier. Ruby Pier is a fantastic attraction and amusement park for all ages and Eddie has been a ride operator and mechanic for many years.

Today is the last day of his life. Eddie doesn’t know it, but one of the rides will fail and he will be crushed by a passenger cart while trying to save a young girl.

After death, Eddie goes to heaven and meets 5 people. Instead of experiencing a lush garden of paradise, Eddie finds Heaven to be a place where your earthly life is explained to you by a number of people. Each person helps Eddie understand different parts and the unseen connections of his life. In addition to helping Eddie, I found that the lessons those people leave can apply in our lives.

The First Person Eddie Meets in Heaven

The first person Eddie meets in Heaven is the Blue Man. The Blue Man was part of the freakshow attractions at Ruby Pier, where people could stare at others who were not normal. The Blue Man became blue because he drank silver nitrate (poison) in an attempt to help him with stomach problems. Over time, the poison changed the color of his skin!

The Blue Man tells the story of his death. One day, The Blue Man borrowed a car to practice his driving. Eddie was a young boy and was playing baseball in the yard. Eddie missed a ball and went to chase after it in the street. The Blue Man nearly hits Eddie, but swerves and keeps driving. The Blue Man is bothered by the event and stressed out. He has a heart attack and crashes in a nearby alley while Eddie is safe.

The Blue Man goes on to tell Eddie the lesson to be learned from this event. “…there are no random acts. That we are all connected. That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.”

We are all connected – every act we perform will have a direct impact on someone else. We may not realize it, but someone will be affected. You never quite know what the impact of a simple good deed will do for someone else! 🙂

“…there are no random acts. That we are all connected. That you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.”

The Second Person Eddie Meets in Heaven

The second person Eddie meets is his captain from the Vietnam War. While in Vietnam, Eddie and his fellow soldiers were captured. For months, they were held in captivity and forced to work in a coal mine. Finally one night, Eddie was able to distract the guards with his juggling skills and the rest of the men took out the guards.

After the escape, the soldiers burned down the village with gas and fire. As the village was burning, Eddie thought he saw a shadow in one of the burning huts. He screamed out to it but couldn’t hear anything. He was very worried he was burning someone, and wouldn’t move. To get him out of there, the captain shot Eddie in the leg and they got out of their safely.

The captain then shares his story. Once Eddie was discharged due to his leg injury, he returned home. The captain kept going with the team and one day, he was driving down a path and came to a gate. He went to open the gate and walked around. On accident, he stepped on a land mine and was blown up.

Eddie was distraught at this point and didn’t understand why the captain had shot him or why the captain died in war and he didn’t. The captain said, “Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.” The captain sacrificed his life for the rest of his team. Sacrifice isn’t bad if it’s helping others.

“Sometimes when you sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it. You’re just passing it on to someone else.”

The Third Person Eddie Meets in Heaven

The third person meets is Ruby – the Ruby of Ruby Pier. Ruby explains to Eddie his relationship with his father. Eddie and his father’s relationship was far from great – actually, they didn’t speak for years on end!

Eddie had been so angry with his father because he thinks his father has ruined his life. He blames his father for all the bad things that has happened to him.

While Ruby admits that Eddie’s father had been absent during his life, she says, “Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside.” Ruby shows Eddie how his father died – attempting to save a man’s life. At this point, Eddie realized how great a man his dad was, even with his quirks and felt sad he showed anger towards him.

“Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside.”

The Fourth Person Eddie Meets in Heaven

The fourth person Eddie meets in Heaven is Marguerite, his wife. Marguerite was the only woman Eddie ever loved.

Eddie and Marguerite’s marriage was not great – Marguerite put up with a lot of Eddie’s bad behaviors and emotional distance. Eddie still loved Marguerite with all his heart.

Upon seeing her in Heaven, he was overwhelmed with emotion. He missed her so much and was happy to see her. They talked about their past and how things ended. She became sick at 47 years old and passed away. Eddie wishes he could have spent more time with her on Earth. Marguerite explains, “Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different from, that’s all.” If you love someone, even from afar, even if they are gone, it’s still love.

“Lost love is still love, Eddie. It takes a different from, that’s all.”

The Fifth Person Eddie Meets in Heaven

The fifth person Eddie meets in Heaven is Tala. Tala is the girl who was in the fire and was the shadow that Eddie saw. Tala is a young girl and badly burned. She was told by her mom to hide in the hut when the soldiers were burning the village.

The events in Vietnam are certainly sad, but Tala has a different view on it. Throughout his entire life, Eddie had been influencing and helping kids stay safe through his work. He walked around Ruby Pier and made sure all the rides would not break down. Tala explained that Eddie’s salvation lies in the work he did: keeping children safe.

We are all right where we’re supposed to be. We shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. Focus on our own work and let the world take you where it needs you most.

“We’re all right where we’re supposed to be.”

Takeaways from The Five People You Meet in Heaven

With all books I read, I look to have a few takeaways and action steps.

I’ve been studying emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills for a few years now, and I’m realizing more and more that to be successful with people, it is crucial to view situations from the other person’s point of view.

To interact effectively with others, I don’t need to be a smooth talker or someone who knows everything.

Rather, I will look to be a person who asks good, penetrating, and thoughtful questions and who is a good listener. Also, I will focus on reading body language and adjusting my actions accordingly to make the other person feel comfortable.

When I die, I want to look back and say I had a strong and lasting impact on people. I’m still working on myself and trying to get better so I can fulfill my goals.

Our Recommendation for The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Mitch Albom is an outstanding author and The Five People You Meet in Heaven had a significant impact on me. I’d recommend any of his books and believe they will have an impact on you as well.

The Five People You Meet in Heaven is an easy read and appropriate for all ages. Everyone is born, lives, and dies – the takeaways you might potentially have are endless.

As I mentioned above, my main takeaway is every event and every situation is connected. What happens through your eyes can be completely different than what happens through someone else’s eyes. People have different perspectives, different experiences, and come from different places; it is our duty to realize this to lead our interactions to  see the world through other people’s eyes.

A book review of The Five People You'll Meet In Heaven
A book review of The Five People You'll Meet In Heaven
good to great book review

What differentiates good companies from great companies? Why do some companies grow over time, while others seem to stay stagnant? How can a good company become great?

In today’s world, there are many solid companies.

Each quarter and each year, they are profitable, but they aren’t amazing. They are good, but aren’t going to be your portfolio’s all stars.

What is stopping companies like these from becoming the media’s darlings? Maybe, asked a better way, what is keeping these companies from going from good to great?

Good to Great, by Jim Collins, presents the conclusions after studying a certain subset of publicly traded companies to identify key attributes of how companies go from good to great.

Collins wanted to answer the question, “How can good companies, or even bad companies, achieve enduring greatness?”

The rest of this post includes a summary of Good to Great, takeaways from Good to Great, and a reading recommendation for you.

Book Summary of Good to Great

For many years, Jim Collins wondered if there were any companies that went from mediocre to great, and what made this transition possible.

He started forming the following research question:

If these companies existed, what were the defining attributes which allowed these companies to outperform their competitors and the general market?

In the late nineties, Collins and his team of researchers set out to answer this question.

First, they had to define what exactly mediocrity looked like, and what greatness looked like. They didn’t want to study companies that were always great – he did that in his book Built to Last.

Instead, he wanted to look at a set of companies that made a leap from average or below average results in the stock market, to great results which needed to be sustained at least 15 years.

What was surprising, was these good to great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than the results delivered by an index of the world’s greatest companies (Coca-Cola, GE, Intel, etc.)

Next, the research team contrasted the good-to-great companies with a carefully selected set of comparison companies that failed to make the leap from good to great.

Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study.

After sifting through an absurd amount of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness.

How can Companies go from Good to Great?

After the study was completed, the research team found 7 main conclusions:

  • Good to Great companies have level 5 leaders in their organization
  • Good to Great companies get the right people on board, and then act
  • Good to Great companies confront the brutal facts
  • Good to Great companies apply the “hedgehog concept”
  • Good to Great companies build a culture of discipline
  • Good to Great companies employ technology effectively
  • Going from good to great can take a long time

Let’s dive into the key findings in  more detail.

Good to Great Companies have Level 5 Leaders in their Organization

The first finding in Good to Great is how Good to Great companies employ level 5 leaders in their organization.

Level 5 refers to a five level hierarchy of executive capabilities, with level 5 at the top. Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will. These leaders are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company, not themselves.

Level 5 leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves. When things go poorly, however, they look in the mirror and blame themselves, taking full responsibility.

The comparison CEOs often did just the opposite – they looked in the mirror to take credit for success, but out the window to assign blame for disappointing results.

Another finding in the study was how larger than life celebrity leaders who ride in from the outside are negatively correlated with going from good to great.

Ten of eleven good to great CEOs came from inside the company, whereas the comparison companies tried outside CEOs 6 times more often.

Good to Great Companies get the Right People on Board, and then Act

The second finding in Good to Great is how Good to Great companies get the right people employed, and then act.

The good-to-great leaders began the transformation by first getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus), and then figured out where to drive it.

The comparison companies frequently followed the “genius with a thousand helpers” model – a genius leader who sets a vision and then enlists a crew of highly capable “helpers” to make the vision happen. This model fails when the genius departs.

The study uncovered three practical disciplines for being rigorous in people decisions:

  • When in doubt, don’t hire – keep looking. (A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people)
  • When you know you need to make a people change, act. (First be sure you don’t simply have someone in the wrong seat.)
  • Put your best people on your biggest opportunities, not your biggest problems. (If you sell off your problems, don’t sell off your best people.)

By having the right people on your team, you can accomplish so much.

Good to Great Companies Confront the Brutal Facts

The third finding in Good to Great is how Good to Great companies confront the brutal facts of their situation.

All good-to-great companies began the process of finding a path to greatness by confronting the brutal facts of their current reality.

When you start with an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth of your situation, the right decisions often become self-evident. It is impossible to make good decisions without infusing the entire process with an honest confrontation of the brutal facts.

Creating a climate where the truth is heard involves four basic practices:

  • Lead with questions, not answers
  • Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion
  • Conduct autopsies, without blame.
  • Build red flag mechanisms that turn information into information that cannot be ignored.

Leadership does not begin just with vision. It begins with people willing to confront the brutal facts and to act to make things better.

Good to Great Companies Apply the Hedgehog Concept

The fourth finding in Good to Great is how Good to Great companies apply the Hedgehog Concept.

Going from good to great requires a deep understanding of three intersecting circles:

  • What you are deeply passionate about
  • What you can be the best in the world at
  • What drives your economic engine

The key is to understand what your organization can be the best in the world at, and equally important what it cannot be the best at – not what it “wants” to be the best at.

The Hedgehog concept is not a goal, strategy, or intention, it is an understanding.

The good to great companies are like hedgehogs – simple, dowdy creatures that know “one big thing” and stick to it.

The comparison companies are more like foxes – crafty, cunning creatures that know many things yet lack consistency.

By sticking to doing what the good companies know how to do, they set themselves up for greatness.

Good to Great Companies have Built a Culture of Discipline

The fifth finding in Good to Great is how Good to Great companies have built a culture of discipline.

To continually succeed and have sustained great results, companies depend on building and maintaining a culture full of self-disciplined people who take disciplined actions.

These disciplined actions need to also be consistent with the three circles of the Hedgehog Concept.

Bureaucratic cultures arise to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline. Typically, cultures which lack discipline arise from having the wrong people on the bus in the first place.

If you get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off, you won’t need to worry about bureaucracy.

Good to Great Companies Employ Technology Effectively

The sixth finding in Good to Great is how Good to Great companies employ technology effectively.

Good to Great organizations think differently about technological change when compared to mediocre ones. How a company reacts to technological change is a good indicator of its inner drive for greatness versus mediocrity.

Great companies respond with thoughtfulness and creativity, driven to turn unrealized potential into results. On the other hand, mediocre companies react and jump around, motivated by fear of being left behind.

Good to Great organizations avoid technology fads and bandwagons, yet they become pioneers in the application of carefully selected technologies. The idea that technological change is the principal cause in the decline of once-great companies (or the perpetual mediocrity of others) is not supported by the results from the study.

Certainly, a company can’t ignore new technologies and hope to be great, but technology by itself is never a primary root cause of either greatness or decline.

Going from Good to Great can take a long time

The last finding in Good to Great is how going from good to great can take a long time.

Good to great transformations often look like dramatic, revolutionary events to those observing from the outside, but they feel like organic, cumulative processes to people on the inside.

The confusion of end outcomes (dramatic results) with process (organic and cumulative) skews our perception of what really works over the long haul.

No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop.

There was no single defining action, no grand program, no one killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, no miracle moment.

This just shows and proves once again how overnight success is 10 years in the making.

“You can accomplish anything in life, provided that you do not mind who gets the credit.” – Harry Truman

Takeaways from Good to Great

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

I really enjoyed Good to Great. As someone who is looking to work his way up in Corporate America, but also looking to pursue different entrepreneurial interests, Good to Great had a lot of fantastic points that I want to incorporate in my career going forward.

One of the most important things I’ve noticed in my career so far, both in my entrepreneurial efforts and at my day job, is having the right people in your organization.

Good to Great confirmed my assumption that having the right people is most important. Once you have the right people, then you can start to build towards your end result. Without the right people, you aren’t going to be able to do it.

It’s critical to find people who are going to be there for you and who are going to grind each and every day. People who don’t carry egos and want to be a part of something great.

Another takeaway for me was applying the Hedgehog Concept.

Essentially, I need to do what I know how to do, and do it well. Everything else is not important.

So many times I have a great idea, but need to stop and ask myself if I should be the one to take action on it.

Our Recommendation for Good to Great

Good to Great is a fantastic book for entrepreneurs and people interested in business.

If you are a business person or a manager in a corporation, Good to Great is a must read. Good to Great gives you a road map to building a great company.

If you are interested in business and history, Good to Great is a great history lesson of many public companies. If you are someone who is an investor, or manages others and is looking to build and grow your organization, Good to Great is a book worth reading.

There are so many amazing great tips and points Jim Collins makes which can be applied across a number of industries.

Check out Good to Great for more details on this book.

The Richest Man in Babylon

The Richest Man in Babylon, by George S. Clason is a timeless classic. The Richest Man in Babylon teaches the value of saving, overcoming poor habits, such as procrastination and getting into a mindset to take advantage of opportunities.

I was drawn to read The Richest Man in Babylon because many people and bloggers recommended it as one of the top 10 personal finance books. I finally got around to it and I’m glad I read it! It was a quick and enjoyable read.

The rest of this post includes a summary of the book, my takeaways, and my recommendation for you. Enjoy!

Summary of The Richest Man in Babylon

The Richest Man in Babylon is a series of parables about personal finance. The parables take place in Ancient Babylon. The main story is about how an average man became the richest man in Babylon. He accumulated wealth by being disciplined with his spending, investing his savings, and working to increase his income.

Each story has a lesson and a moral. The lessons and principles in The Richest Man in Babylon are simple and easy to understand.

In addition to the many principles and lessons in The Richest Man in Babylon, The Five Laws of Gold are presented. The Five Laws of Gold form the foundation for your relationship and mindset with personal finance. Everyone should follow these laws:

The Five Laws of Gold

  1. Gold cometh gladly and in increasing quantity to any man who will put by not less than one-tenth of his earnings to create an estate for his future and that of his family.
  2. Gold laboreth diligently and contentedly for the wise owner who finds for it profitable employment, multiplying even as the flocks in the field.
  3. Gold clingeth to the protection of the cautious owner who invests it under the advice of men wise in its handling.
  4. Gold slippeth away from the man who invests it in businesses or purposes with which he is not familiar or which are not approved by those skilled in its keep.
  5. Gold flees the man who would force it to impossible earnings or who followeth the alluring advice of tricksters and schemers or who trusts it to his own inexperience and romantic desires in investment.

These laws of gold are more important than gold itself. By following each of the laws, you will become wealthy. Translating into layman’s terms:

  1. Save a minimum of 10% of your income
  2. Your investments will grow and the returns will compound over time.
  3. Always have insurance (FDIC insurance for a bank, for example) for your money
  4. Don’t invest in things you don’t know about
  5. Understand the balance between risk and reward. If you try for 50% returns, you won’t last long.

Takeaways from The Richest Man in Babylon

Personal finance is about being disciplined in your approach to your finances. If you want to have money, learn to discipline yourself now and not later. Most lottery winners are bankrupt within a few years and mostly because they lacked self discipline. Therefore, the problem is not the lack of money, but how it is managed.

Currently, I track my income, expenses, and net worth over time. I’m saving roughly 45% of my income – I’m doing well on the saving and investing front.

One area of improvement I could work on is being properly insured. I chatted with my insurance agent last week and she suggested I get an umbrella policy and more life insurance. While I understood what she was selling me on, but I didn’t feel it warranted the monthly expense. I will check into this some more.

Our Recommendation for The Richest Man in Babylon

Yes, please read The Richest Man in Babylon. If you like storybooks, books written in old time language, or personal finance books, The Richest Man in Babylon is the book for you.  The Richest Man in Babylon teaches the values of saving, overcoming poor habits, such as procrastination, and getting into a mindset to take advantage of opportunities! Give it a shot. The lessons in The Richest Man in Babylon will change your financial life!

Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad I could share my thoughts with you.

Do you like story books or instruction manuals? Are you saving at least 10% of your income? What are your thoughts on umbrella policies?

the art of asking

Amanda Palmer is not your average person by any means. Incredibly polarizing, some love her crazy theater girl ways. Others despise her and call her a sell-out, a poser, and a scammer.

The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help is an expansion of the popular TED talk Amanda Palmer gave in 2013.

Asking for help can be one of the hardest things to do in today’s world.

I think I can accomplish anything I want in my life, and I’m guessing you might share the same mindset.

What we don’t realize is how it is perfectly okay to ask for help and rely on others if we can’t do everything by ourselves.

The Art of Asking is a fascinating read into the life of Amanda Palmer, and was very inspiring and motivating.

The rest of this post includes a summary of The Art of Asking, takeaways from The Art of Asking, and a reading recommendation for you.

Book Summary of The Art of Asking

The Art of Asking is the story of Amanda Palmer. The Art of Asking goes through her early days working as The Bride, her music career, her interactions with her fans, and her thoughts on help and asking.

Amanda Palmer as The Bride

After graduating college, Amanda Palmer didn’t want a real job. A 9-5 desk job would not be for her.

Instead of going to school, Amanda decided to dress up as a bride – she wore a wedding dress and give flowers to people on the street.

She would stand on the side of a street, up on top of a milk crate, and perform for the people on the street. Over time, she was making more money by being The Bride than she was at her various other gigs, so she kept doing it.

People loved her!

Amanda palmer the bride
The Bride

At this time, Amanda was thinking about the concept of being “seen” vs. being “looked at”. Being “seen” is having someone look into your eyes and trusting your gaze – trusting you are there with them.

Too many of us go through each day only “looking at” others. “Seeing” others involves a level of compassion and empathy.

Amanda Palmer with The Dresden Dolls

After a few years of Bride-ing, Amanda started a band, The Dresden Dolls, with her friend, Brian Viglione.

Amanda was seeking “salvation through volume” with their pounding, screaming Victorian punk rock style.

After each show, Amanda insisted on meeting fans after the show for drinks, autographs, and fun times. She increased her audience through her mailing list, parties, and social media. She would organize “ninja events” by sending out a tweet saying something like “I’m going to be in this city and at this bar at 9 PM – come see me play some music!”

By interacting with her fans on a daily basis through in-person events and social media, she built a fantastic community of fans.

When touring, The Dresden Dolls regularly asked for volunteers, food, couch space, and for local musicians to get up on stage and open for them. Amanda found that asking for help almost always resulted in success. She had created a vibrant artistic community of people who were joyously looking out for each other.

Unfortunately, relations with their record label went south – the label didn’t like the way Amanda was going about promoting her music. They wanted Palmer to stop talking to her current fans to go court new ones – this wasn’t her style.

“The whole point of being an artist, I thought, was to be connected to people, to make a family. A family you were with all the time, like it or not. That was the way we’d been doing it for years, whether or not we had an album or a tour to ‘promote’.”

After many years, she broke away from the label company and tried something completely new.

Crowdfunding a Kickstarter Album

“I think people have been obsessed with the wrong question, which is ‘How do we make people pay for music?’ What if we started asking, ‘How do we let people pay for music?’”

After Amanda Palmer’s falling out with the record label, she wanted to make a solo album.

Without too much money in the bank, she decided to do something unheard of: a Kickstarter for her album.

Amanda took asking to a whole new level with a Kickstarter campaign for her new album, “Theater of Evil”.

With this Kickstarter, she broke the site’s record at the time ($1.2 million in funding), and went on to launch the tour for the new album.

As she had for the past decade, she asked for local musicians to join her on tour and play. This time, the request was coming from someone who recently became famous for getting over 1 million dollars.

Unfortunately again, she was targeted by many haters for ripping off musicians.

Even when she posted a breakdown of her expenses to prove it wasn’t all profit, the damage was done and her reputation took a hit. That being said, she still had her loyal fans and many social media followers.

Other Interesting Stories Of The Art of Asking

It would be disrespectful of me not to mention some interesting perspectives and stories told about Amanda’s relationships with her husband, Neil Gaiman, and best friend, Anthony.

When Amanda was very young, she became friends with a man in the neighborhood named Anthony. Throughout her story, she references many stories Anthony told her as a young girl, a college student, and a young adult. When Amanda is touring, Anthony became sick with cancer.

In The Art of Asking, Amanda details her struggles with Anthony’s cancer and how much she loves him.

Amanda also discusses her relationship with her husband, Neil, throughout the book. Naturally a very independent woman, Amanda doesn’t like commitment. Being married isn’t natural to her and there are numerous passages discussing her struggles with marriage.

These stories about her relationships truly highlight how Amanda is human and normal. A perfect life doesn’t exist, there will always be improvements, struggles, and tweaks to make over time if you want success.

Great Quotes from The Art of Asking

Here are three quotes from The Art of Asking which resonated with me:

  • “It isn’t what you say to people, it’s more important what you do with them. It’s less important what you do with them than the way you’re with them.” – Anthony (Amanda’s best friend)
  • If you love people enough, they’ll give you everything.
  • It’s hard enough to give fearlessly, and it’s even harder to receive fearlessly. But within that exchange lies the hardest thing of all: to ask. Without shame. And to accept the help that people offer. Not to force then. Just to let them.

Takeaways from The Art of Asking

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

The two main takeaways from The Art of Asking are the following:

  • It’s important to SEE people, not just look at them.
  • It’s okay to ask for help, people want to help you! 

Let’s dig a little deeper into these main takeaways of The Art of Asking.

Don’t Just Look at People, SEE People

The first main takeaway of The Art of Asking is people want to be seen, not just looked at.

When you walk on the streets, people generally will have darting eyes and don’t want to look at you. This situation would fall into being looked at; your presence was acknowledged, but the other person doesn’t care to keep you in their view.

To be “seen” is to truly be looked in the eye. To “see” someone is to realize that person is unique, that person has feelings, and that person is special. After reading this book, I look people in the eye with compassion.

Where I live, in Downtown Minneapolis, there are a number of homeless people. Most walkers just pass by and don’t try to interact. I don’t always give them money, but I do acknowledge them and say hi.

A smile goes a long way 🙂

People Want to Help, Just Ask!

The second main takeaway is to ask people for help when you need help.

Guess what? People want to help, why should we stress ourselves out and try to do it all?

It comes down to trust. I love the following passage I found in The Art of Asking:

When you accept somebody’s offer for help, whether it’s in the form of food, crash space, money, or love, you have to trust the help offered. You can’t accept things halfway and walk through the door with your guard up. When you openly, radically trust people, they not only take care of you, they become your allies, your family.

If you trust people, they will take care of you and be your friend. You can’t be isolated and try to trust others; it’s not possible.

You can be open to others help and trust they can get it done.

Our Recommendation for The Art of Asking

The Art of Asking was a fantastic read. The Art of Asking gave me insight into the intimate artist-fan relationship and the music industry, and also opened my eyes to being open to asking for help.

Growth as an individual comes through challenge and growing your perspective over time. Living in an echo chamber will not lead to success.

Reading and learning about other people’s success in different areas and careers can provide you a truly strong worldview and perspective.

You should definitely read The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer. For me, it was a completely difference perspective on the world, but it was completely worth the read.

Are you afraid to ask for things? What’s holding you back? Have you ever been a street performer?

click millionaires internet entrepeneur book

The rules of traditional business and entrepreneurship have changed.

The American Dream is no longer confined to the corner office or a cubicle.

People are legitimately making good incomes using the internet to run a business completely online.

Not only that, but it’s allowing them to live the lifestyle they want, on their own terms.

Think about it, no more:

  • long commutes in traffic
  • getting up early just to try to make it to work on time
  • getting dressed in clothes you hate, just so you can look presentable.

No, the new American Dream is a business that can be run from wherever you desire – and Click Millionaires wants to help you do just that.

Click Millionaires is an idea book and provides a broad overview of the different businesses you can pursue online.

Is Click Millionaires just another “get rich quick” scheme?  Absolutely not!  This is why Scott Fox encourages the reader to start slowly, part-time, and spend as little money as possible.  What’s great about this book is that he shows you how starting an online lifestyle business is easier and cheaper than ever!

In the rest of this post, I give you a summary of the book, my takeaways, and my recommendation for you.

“The trouble with the rat race is that, even if you win, you’re still a rat.” – Lily Tomlin

Book Summary of Click Millionaires

Click Millionaires about creating a lifestyle business online.

The whole point of creating something yourself is to be your own boss – that way you have complete control over your life, including what you do during the day, your compensation and benefits, etc.

A Click Millionaires lifestyle business adheres to the following principles:

  • Helps People
    • People want help with their problems.  You will provide a solution.
  • Possess Credibility
    • To provide solutions, you have to be knowledgeable in your niche.
  • Automation
    • There are many tools available to automate the delivery and processes of a lifestyle business
  • Outsourcing
    • Are there tasks you don’t like doing? Social media management? Website design? Contract it out!
  • Audience Content Creation
    • Comments, forum posts, and guest posts are all forms of audience content creation.
  • Scalability
    • Scalability is the ability of a technology or business system to adapt easily to increased volume and to maintain or improve profitability without requiring significant additional resources.
  • Recurring Revenues
    • It’s fine to have one-time sales and clicks, but you want to have guaranteed revenue month in and month out. Ads or subscription products are great examples of recurring revenues.

What are some of the lifestyle business types which satisfy these principles when done correctly?

The Best Click Millionaire Lifestyle Businesses

As described in Click Millionaires, there are numerous examples of online lifestyle businesses you can pursue:

Digital Publishing

  • “Noozles” (Email Newsletters)
    • Do you like writing but don’t really want to have a blog?  Consider a “noozle”.
  • Blogging
    • Do you like writing? Consider starting a blog!
  • Podcast
    • Do you like speaking?  Do people tell you they like hearing you talk, or like your voice?  Consider making a podcast!
  • Video Broadcast/Online Television Show
    • Do you like making videos?  Make a YouTube Channel!
  • Social network community
    • Building a vibrant forum is a great way to get a lot of people in one spot on the internet

All of these businesses are content related and have the potential to scale over time.

Digital Download and Product Sales

Selling your own digital product, whether that’s a book, a piece of software, a game, etc.

Affiliate Marketing

Marketing other people’s products through your website or marketing channel and collecting a fee on every sale which comes from your site.

Network Marketing

Also known as Multi Level Marketing – a way to sell other people’s products via your website.

Freelancing

Utilizing sites such as Upwork, Fiverr, or Elance, you can perform data entry, graphic design, virtual assisting and content creation for various small businesses over the web for a fee.

Copying Existing Products

Do you think you could improve upon an existing digital product? There is no need to reinvent the wheel!

The best part about Click Millionaires is these examples are talked about in depth. In addition, you are given multiple concrete examples on what and why someone would do pursue one versus another.

Find Your Niche for Online Business Success

The most important thing from Click Millionaires was to consider in creating your business is finding something you are passionate about.

If you aren’t passionate about a topic, you probably won’t be excited to work on your business each and every day.

An example from Click Millionaires was a person who lived in the United States, but wanted to learn French and travel to France. She started a french vocabulary blog to start learning French and over time, built a strong following and made friends in France!  What a story!

“There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.” – Christopher Morley

Takeaways from Click Millionaires

With every book I read, I’m always looking to implement actionable steps and provide takeaways. Reading Click Millionaires confirmed my belief that what I’m doing with my business and my blog is the right thing to do.

This website is certainly aligned for success and we have set up the business satisfies all of the principles above.

Going forward, maybe we will get into leveraging the internet through information products, digital products, and with different automation strategies.

Our Recommendation for Click Millionaires

Click Millionaires is a fantastic idea book with actionable advice. Scott Fox does a great job of bringing in concrete examples to help explain each of the business models he discusses.

While this isn’t a complete “how to” book, it does provide a broad overview of the different businesses you can pursue online.

If you are interested in entrepreneurship and looking for something with a low barrier of entry, I definitely recommend you check out Click Millionaires.

Do you have a side hustle? What’s stopping you from getting out there and working online for your income? Are you looking to leverage power of the internet?

Sam Walton: Made in America

Sam Walton built Walmart from the ground up – starting from 1 variety store in the 40’s to thousands today. When he passed in 1992, he had a net worth of $8.6 billion.

Sam Walton: Made in America, is Sam Walton’s autobiography of his life and work.

Starting in the 30’s, he talks about growing up during the Great Depression, and the impact it had on his life. After discussing his childhood, he takes you on a 50 year retailing journey, from his days running his first store, to owning a national brand and a company bringing in billions of dollars a year.

Sam Walton was a nobody living in the Midwest, and became one of the richest individuals in the United States by the time he grew old.

This autobiography sheds light on his thoughts while creating the massive retail empire of Walmart, and gives insight into how to create an amazing business through serving.

The rest of the post includes a summary of Sam Walton: Made in America, takeaways from this autobiography, and a reading recommendation for you.

Book Summary of Sam Walton: Made in America

Like many autobiographies, Walton starts with a discussion of childhood.

Sam Walton grew up in the Great Depression and this time left a lasting impression on him: EVERY DOLLAR MATTERS. When money is scarce, you can’t afford to be wasteful. Whether it was food, clothing, transportation or fun, there was an opportunity to be efficient and not to waste your hard earned cash. 

Having this thought and philosophy instilled at an early age had a great impact on his life in later years when he started in business.

Sam Walton: The Retailer and Merchant

After graduating college, Sam went to work at a retail store and quickly realized he really enjoyed the role. He was born to be a merchant, he writes, but the issue was, his handwriting was horrible and the management group at the time didn’t like how he played by his own rules.

After leaving this role, he bought his first store in Arkansas – a Benjamin Franklin store.

He was quite successful for 5 years, bringing in a solid profit through his hard work and constant need for improvement.

However, due to inexperience and a lack of legal know-how, he had to sell this store and start from scratch.

While it was a great learning experience, he wasn’t going to make that legal mistake again.

How Sam Walton Built Walmart

After his legal mishap with the Benjamin Franklin store, where he wasn’t able to renew his lease, he set off to start buying more stores.

It was at this point he realized there was an opportunity for him to persuade customers from other variety stores. If he could profitable make sales by offering lower prices and passing on the savings to the customer, then he could be successful.

He didn’t understand why a retailer needed to get 30-50% margins on every single product in the store. A margin of 5-10% would suffice, and after implementing these changes, his stores took off in sales.

Learning how to stretch every dollar, working from dusk until dawn, and being efficient and customer focused allowed him to create a lean and successful business.

The customers were incredibly happy and loyal, and his shareholders were satisfied as well.

He was always pushing to become a little better, and it showed.

Over 30 years, his retail empire grew and grew and grew. There were many tough times, but all of the hard work paid off. Here are his store numbers over time:

Year 1960 1970 1980 1990
Yearly Revenue $1.4 Million $31 Million $1.2 Billion $26.0 Billion
Yearly Profit $112 Thousand $1.2 Million $41 Million $1.0 Billion
Stores 9 32 276 1528

In 40 years, he built Walmart from the ground up. 9 stores to 1528 stores in 40 years is absolutely amazing growth – especially for someone from the Midwest who Wall Street thought was nutty and unconventional!

Sam Walton’s Ten Rules of Business

At the end of the book, Sam provides us a list of 10 rules for his success in business. He had never done this before, and decided to do it for the book for the first time in his life.

Here are his ten rules of business:

  1. Commit to your business
    • Be tenacious and always look to improve your service or product.
  2. Share your profits with all of your associates, and treat them as partners
    • Be generous and pay your people appropriately.
  3. Motivate your partners
    • Ensure your people are listened to and motivated so they give their best.
  4. Communicate everything you possibly can to your partners
    • Information is power, and the more information your people can utilize, the better they can do their job.
  5. Appreciate everything your associates do for your business
    • Everyone in your business is doing their best and deserves thanks.
  6. Celebrate your successes
    • Stop being so serious, it’s okay to be happy for your successes and give yourself a break.
  7. Listen to everyone in your company
    • Everyone is unique and has great ideas.
  8. Exceed your customers’ expectations
    • Providing immense value to your customers will give them no choice but to choose you as their store of choice.
  9. Control your expenses better than your competition
    • The leaner your organization, the easier it is to manage tough times.
  10. Swim upstream
    • Don’t be afraid to go against the grain.

Unfortunately, Sam passed away in the 1990’s, and cannot pass on his wisdom anymore. These tips are incredibly beneficial for someone in business, looking to start a business, or interested in creating an empire like Walmart.

Takeaways from Sam Walton: Made in America

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

The main takeaways from Sam Walton: Made in America were Sam’s focus on the customer, Sam’s focus on frugality and efficiency, and Sam’s tenacious approach to self-improvement.

The customer comes first in business (and life). Adopting a philosophy in which the work, service or product you put out should be geared to satisfy your customer at the highest level.

By focusing on making the customer experience the best it can be will bring you great success.

Putting tougher a piece of crap product won’t bring you pleasure or success – and it certainly won’t make the people giving you money happy.

Second, frugality and expense management is crucial in business and life.

Sam, worth billions, flew coach and drove his truck until his passing days. He didn’t feel the need to live lavishly because it didn’t make him happy.

Being able to save and make strategic moves when necessary allowed him to live comfortably and build his brand.

Finally, Sam’s tenacious approach to self-improvement, and the daily improvement of his business spoke volumes to me.

Consistent efforts WILL lead to massive results. 

He flew around the globe looking at other stores, figuring out what was working and what wasn’t working, and implementing the great ideas in his stores to ensure future success.

Daily disciplines added up over time will help you reach your goals. Sam Walton knew this intimately and his results showed.

Our Recommendation for Sam Walton’s Autobiography

Sam’s story was incredibly inspiring, and shed light on a true American entrepreneur. This businessperson autobiography motivated me to become better as an individual, and as a business owner.

Sam constantly was looking to improve a little bit each and every day. He studied the competition ruthlessly, and wanted to ensure the customer was experiencing the maximum benefit from Walmart’s service.

It wasn’t enough to do something right once, and then have an amazing finished product. No, you have to do it each and every day.

You must look to make an impact on your customers, readers, clients, or whoever you are serving. 

If you are an entrepreneur, or a student of business or American history, I would recommend giving Sam Walton: Made in America a read. Walmart and Sam’s Club are 2 iconic storefronts still prevalent today after many years. There is always something to learn from successful people and companies.

Readers: do you focus on providing your customer a great experience in your work? Are you inspired reading about incredibly successful people?

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stealing the corner office

Are you someone who is looking to climb the corporate ladder, but struggling? Why does it seem like others magically can get promotions, and you aren’t having the same luck?

You put in long hours, you get things done on time, you show passion in your work, and you are emotionally invested in the company. Why haven’t you been promoted yet?

Why does your co-worker who seemingly does less work get the promotion? What skills and strategies are they using which are helping progress their careers?

In Stealing the Corner Office: The Winning Career Strategies They’ll Never Teach You in Business School, by Brendan Reid, explores the dynamics of career advancement in Corporate America.

Stealing the Corner Office is a fantastic guide for advancing through the ranks in Corporate America. Reid, a seasoned executive, offers a collection of controversial yet effective tactics and strategies for people who want to learn the real secrets for moving up the corporate ladder.

The rest of the post includes a summary of Stealing the Corner Office, takeaways from Stealing the Corner Office, and a reading recommendation for you.

Why does it seem your manager is so incompetent? What did they do to get them to where they are? What strategies are they using that we can replicate and employ to take control of our career?

Book Summary of Stealing the Corner Office

Stealing the Corner Office is a playbook and how-to guide for advancing through the ranks in Corporate America.

Reid spent 15 years of his working career in middle management. During his time, he became frustrated with his lack of progression. Why was it that people who seemingly were less smart, less “hard-working”, and less reliable moving up the corporate ladder and not him?

He was practicing all of the conventional career tactics:

  • Being passionate about his work and ideas
  • Working to the point of exhaustion
  • Vocal and anxious to debate topics vigorously
  • Driven to deliver quarterly results
  • Emotionally invested int he company
  • Demanding of his employees and co-workers

He started to wonder, why wasn’t he the one being promoted and advancing in his career?

It turns out, conventional wisdom is not what will get you to the top of the corporate ladder – we must be tactical and smarter about your career goals and the strategy to achieve those goals.

In Corporate America, there are three players:

  • Incompetent Executives
  • Smart-but-Stationary Managers
  • Poor Souls

The Incompetent Executives are the people we loathe, but seemingly can’t crack the code of how they got to where they got.

Stealing the Corner Office uncovers the strategies of the Incompetent Executives, and how we as Smart-but-Stationary Managers or Poor Souls can change our daily actions at work to set ourselves up for advancement.

The 7 Tactics of Stealing the Corner Office

The majority of Stealing the Corner Office are the 7 tactics which can help you advance in your corporate career.

The 7 tactics of stealing the corner office are:

  • Never be passionate about your ideas
    • Your managers have other plans than to entertain your ideas.
  • Embrace the change everyone else hates
    • Your managers have a plan, and to be promoted, you’ll need to implement their plans successfully.
  • Learn to promote your products
    • Sales and marketing techniques can be used to sell yourself!
  • Avoid the farce of results orientation
    • Quality is usually more important than quantity.
  • Don’t be part of the herd
    • Be unique! Standing out will allow you to get noticed by upper management.
  • Find big problems to solve
    • If you can solve a $1,000 inefficiency, or $50,000 inefficiency, which help more to convince your manager you are able to take on more responsibility?
  • Don’t hold people accountable
    • Your work is your work. If others aren’t helping enough, this is their problem

These tactics are unconventional, and this is exactly the point. The traditional methods aren’t working today, and so it’s important to try alternative methods.

Reid walks you through different scenarios and stories which touch on all of the tactics listed above. While going through these scenarios and stories, you can relate and put yourself into the shoes of the managers and employees he describes.

Stealing the Corner Office is a great learning tool and guide to understanding the principles of advancing your career.

Takeaways from Stealing the Corner Office

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

The main takeaway from Stealing the Corner Office is how advancing in today’s corporate world is possible by working smarter, and not necessarily harder.

Trying to solve big problems, and falling in line will result in bigger and better responsibilities and promotions.

A secondary takeaway is how important it is to have a positive attitude, and look to be unique in your interactions and work. If you don’t try to stick out, someone else will pass you up for the next level role.

Our Recommendation for Stealing the Corner Office

Corporate and career success will not happen over night, but over time you can improve your situation and reach your goals. By staying consistent with your learning and reading, you will be able to achieve success.

You are in control of your destiny. You can cultivate a winning mindset which will lead to achievement and getting what you want.

If you are struggling to advance your career in Corporate America, I’d recommend you pick up a copy of Stealing the Corner Office.

Stealing the Corner Office will help correct your actions which are holding you back and get you on the path to management. I truly believe the strategies in Stealing the Corner Office will help you get to the next level.

Readers: are you looking to advance your career at work? Are you a natural leader or follower? Do you get frustrated by incompetent managers?

presuasion book review

Why do some messages persuade and other don’t persuade? What makes sales and advertising organizations successful? When are the principles of persuasion and influence most successful, and when do these principles not work?

Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, by Dr. Robert Cialdini, is an incredible book about how you can create situations which will increase the chances of persuading your audience.

In Dr. Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, we learned about the 6 key principles of persuasion, and how to salespeople use these tactics to try to get you to buy their product or service.

In contrast to Influence, Pre-suasion looks to discuss the scenarios and situations where the odds of persuasion can increase.

Pre-suasion looks to answer the question, “What can someone who wants to persuade do before they start to present their message, product, argument, etc.”, whereas Influence talks about ways to connect during a discussion or sales pitch.

When making a decision, who we are can affected by where we are emotionally, physically, etc.

Through extensive research, Dr. Cialdini has found a number of factors which can be used to sway an audience to become more receptive to your ideas and goals.

For anyone interested in psychology, sales and marketing, and leadership, Pre-suasion is a fantastic book to read.

The rest of this post includes a summary of Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, takeaways from Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, and a reading recommendation for you.

Book Summary of Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

For many years, social psychologists focused on what strategies could be employed to persuade in the moment.

In Dr. Cialdini’s other book, Influence, he lays out the 6 principles of persuasion in detail:

  1. reciprocity
  2. scarcity
  3. liking
  4. authority
  5. social proof
  6. commitment/consistency

While these are very important and beneficial to understand, what else can affect a message and interaction? How can we improve the odds of our message being received in a positive light?

Are there any other things to consider in addition to these principles of persuasion?

In Pre-suasion, Dr. Cialdini looks to answer the question, “what can communicators do before they speak to get their message accepted?”

Through research and investigation, Dr. Cialdini shares with us his discoveries and a number of tips to apply in life when trying to persuade others.

attention and persuasion

The Importance of Attention in Pre-suasion and Influence

When looking to communicate, the first thing that should be considered is framing your argument and the attention of your audience on a specific perspective.

If something is readily able to be thought of, then it will be easier later on for those thoughts to come out.

One example in the book talks about how in the 2000s, the media focused more on the troops and army who were fighting in the Iraq War vs. the strategy and politics surrounding the war.

Because of the elevated attention and focus on how great the troops were and everything they were doing, there was less focus on some of the shortcomings of the campaign.

In terms of public perception of the war, since the media wasn’t producing as much content on these shortcomings, the public thought the war efforts were worthy of support.

Along these same lines, if you can connect with your audience and help them imagine and feel the benefits (or consequences) of a certain situation, you can get buy in.

This has happened many times with false accusations during investigative interviews.

Over time, the interviewers will slowly guide the interviewee into constructing a story of being guilty of the crime.

By making assertions like, “do you recall doing X to the victim?” and then if the interviewee answers, “well I don’t remember, but I can imagine doing this”, following up with “Yes, well you can imagine, maybe you did end up doing this act”, this can be very potent in getting a confession of guilt.

How to Gain and Hold Attention

Now that we have established the importance, how can you gain and hold attraction when communicating?

First, there are a few things which will always gain a person’s attention:

  • sex,
  • violence,
  • and the unique

However, these things need to be aligned with both what your audience’s needs are, and what your message is.

For example, it wouldn’t make sense to show a violent clip and then ask for someone to buy diapers. This is not congruent and definitely would not be a way to persuade someone to want to buy diapers.

Instead, there are certain types of information which will hold an audience’s attention:

  • the mysterious,
  • the unfinished,
  • and the self-relevant

Cliffhangers work because humans will naturally be curious and want to know more. If you are given everything in one go, then you won’t want more.

By employing these thoughts, you can gain the attention of your audience, keep it, and then work to deliver your message using techniques described in the next sections.

The Effect of Association on Pre-suasion and Influence

When looking to persuade and influence, association is incredibly powerful. Both language and imagery can be used to affect our thinking positively, or negatively.

Similar to using affirmations to change your internal thought processes, association is very powerful when used to connect ideas and feelings to guide a conversation.

However, it’s important to note that using the right associations are how you can bring about change.

One of my most favorite examples from the book was how a health care organization does not use any language related to violence.

Instead of using the word “target”, they use the word “goal”. Instead of using the phrase “beat their competition”, they use the phrase “outpace their competition”.

Since they are a health care company that looks to help others, violence should not be a thought on any employee’s mind.

In addition to language, geography and someone’s physical location can affect their thinking.

If you are trying to work on a project which requires a lot of creativity, being in a room which is very boring could be a negative.

Likewise, if you are trying to do something problem solving intensive, then it might not be optimal to be distracted with many colors and noises.

Using Pre-suasion to the Fullest

As I mentioned in an earlier paragraph, pre-suasion is all about how to connect with your audience before going into presentation.

Once you have drawn attention to the appropriate pieces of information, and used association to further guide your audience, then Dr. Cialdini says you should then use the six principles of persuasion to further guide your audience.

Again, these six principles of persuasion are as follows:

  1. reciprocity
  2. scarcity
  3. liking
  4. authority
  5. social proof
  6. commitment/consistency

These principles are so powerful that they generate substantial change in a wide range of circumstances.

One last point which is discussed in the book however is the importance of unity.

Embracing unity when looking to persuade involves tapping into the fundamental behavior of human beings.

There are two ways in which unity can be achieved: in being together, and in acting together (and these can happen at the same time).

One example is when dealing with family members vs. strangers – I’m guessing you would rather help your family member because they are “one of us” and of the same bloodline.

You also can see this in fans cheering for their favorite sport teams; total strangers can become best friends for a few hours at a game.

Unity and the want to feel together with others is fundamental to humans, and is another way we influence an outcome.

Depending on the context, suggesting you are on the same team, by experiencing similar experiences, and connecting through a past living situation, birthplace or birthday, can influence and attract others to your message.

Is Pre-suasion Ethical?

Using the strategies of persuasion and influence to gain an advantage in communication can be used for good or bad.

In the context of this book, Dr. Cialdini devotes an entire chapter to discussing the ethics of pre-suasion.

His argument is that pre-suasion should only be used for good, and if used for bad, at least in the area of business, then there will be negative consequences for those bad acting businesses.

Dr. Cialdini hypothesized and proved that through experiments that if a business is unethical, then these businesses will suffer from:

  • Poor employee performance
  • Employee Turnover
  • Employee Fraud

At the end of the day, pre-suasion can be used for good or evil, and we need to be aware of this fact.

As consumers, we need to be aware of these tactics when looking for products and services, and as communicators, we can be aware of some of the strategies we can use to attract others to our message.

Takeaways from Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

The main takeaway from Pre-suasion is how you can change the frame and narrative of a situation by using different language or imagery.

By changing the way you approach a situation with certain statements, actions and questions, you can guide a situation towards a result you want.

Funnily enough, I experienced pre-suasion first hand the other week at the bar.

I was talking with a girl about finances, how she is a Dave Ramsey enthusiast, and how she was paying off debt.

One area of personal finance, which is more on the travel and lifestyle side of things, is credit card hacking. With credit card hacking, you look to hit a certain level of spending ($2,000 in the first 3 months for example), and after hitting this “minimum spend”, you will get cash back or airline miles.

At the bar, there was a “minimum spend” for using your card to pay.

When she said she needed to get another drink to meet the “minimum spend”, I got excited because I thought she was talking about credit card hacking!

Instead, she told me she uses a debit card and she just needed to get to a $10 purchase to use her card.

What a face palm moment for me, ha!

This situation proved and showed to me it’s entirely possible to be susceptible to prior discussion when thinking and making decisions in the future!

My takeaway is pre-suasion is not only possible, but very potent.

Pre-suasion should be used for good. By reading this book, I now know some more ways to get buy in from others.

Our Recommendation for Pre-suasion

Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade will help you gain a better understanding of the human mind and human behavior.

If you are in sales, deal with clients on a regular basis, or are involved in presentations towards people you need to get approval from, Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade is a must read!

Even as a consumer, or as someone interested in psychology, Influence is a fantastic book. Influence will open your eyes to some of the tricks and techniques of big corporations and sales companies.

By reading Pre-suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, you will learn how to set yourself and your message up for greater reception, and discover ways to align your audience the right way before you start your pitch.

After reading, you’ll learn how to become a skilled pre-suader, and know how to gain attention in the right way.

In my pursuit to improve my thought process when encountering new situations, I decided reading Think Like a Freak, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, would be beneficial. What I’m finding, as I read more, the same concepts come up over and over. Think Like a Freak has many of the same concepts and stories I encountered when reading Decisive (book review) and Originals (book review).

For example, in Think Like a Freak, they discuss the story of Zappos, a shoe company, where during the training program for new employees, they offer everyone the chance to leave the program for $2,000 cash. If a person wants to leave, they will get $2,000. If not, they will continue to be trained in and be an employee of the company. Zappos offers this chance to take the money and leave because they want to weed out anyone who is looking to make a quick buck. By weeding out potentially bad employees, they save money in the long run. This story was also shared in Decisive as a way for a company to “ooch”.

Takeaways from Think Like a Freak

While there is some overlap with other books, there was some new information that I took away from Think Like a Freak about how to improve my critical thinking. One of the major keys to critical thinking is allowing yourself to say “I don’t know” and then searching for the answer.

I’ve started to apply this in my day job, and I believe it makes a person look better when asked a difficult question. Obviously, you don’t want to say “I don’t know” to every question. When you say, “oh, I didn’t consider that”, or “okay, I was overlooking that point and will go and search for the answer”, your manager will be much more receptive and open to any shortcomings. If you try and fib and beat around the bush, your manager may not appreciate that.

Never Stop Experimenting

Another key takeaway I have from Think Like a Freak is the need to experiment and try new things to gain experience. I’m at a very interesting point in my life. Currently, I’m in a great financial situation for my age group. I’m trying to build on that, but in the mean time, experiences are extremely important as well.

One thing I want to keep working on in the coming months is striking up conversations with strangers and trying to connect with them as fast as possible. I will try to take them out of their normal daily routine and try to inject life into their lives through my easy going-ness and ability to make people feel comfortable.

Remarkable Quotes and Passages from Think Like a Freak

Some other notes, quotes, and takeaways from Think Like a Freak:

  • First and foremost, always try to be aware of your knowledge and what limitations you have. It is perfectly acceptable to say “I don’t know.”
    • We really don’t know ourselves all too well. We make false assumptions about our abilities and we fail to acknowledge what we don’t know.
    • “Making grandiose assumptions about your abilities and failing to acknowledge what you don’t know can lead unsurprisingly, to disaster.
  • When solving problems, it might be best to put away our moral compass.
  • The key to learning is feedback. Use experiments to get feedback.
    • “Knowledge is not mastery. Execution is mastery.” – Tony Robbins
  • Ask the right questions to get a full view of the problem. It is important to not just focus on your own issues.
    • Redefine the problem. Ask a question like: how can we simplify this?
    • Seek to view problems from a new angle. Try to figure out how the world works.
  • “It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ.” – Roger Bannister
    • Artificial barriers are made-up. Ignore them and break through them.
  • Have fun, think small, don’t fear the obvious.
    • Find the root cause of the problem. By finding the root cause, we can understand the problem at the lowest level and build from there.
      • Think small, think detailed. By examining the smaller issues, we can start to understand the big issues.
    • As long as you can tell the difference between a good idea and a bad one, generating a boatload of ideas, even outlandish ones, can only be a good thing.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask about the “obvious”.
  • Understanding incentives of all players in a given scenario is a fundamental step in solving any problem.
    • Figure out what really matters to other people, not what they say they care about.
      • Don’t listen to what people say they want; watch what they do.
    • Try to shift the frame and mindset of the other person from adversarial to cooperative.
    • Never ever think that people will do something just because it is the “right” thing to do.
  • Our behavior is enormously influenced by our environment, mindset, and circumstances.
  • If you want your argument to be truly persuasive, it’s a good idea to acknowledge not only the known flaws, but the potential for unintended consequences.
    • Consider the other side’s argument to gain credibility.
    • Tell a story; stories capture our attention and therefore are good for teaching.
  • “Let go of conventional wisdoms that torment us. Let go of the artificial limits that hold us back – and the fear of admitting what we don’t know.”
  • Our resources are not infinite; you cannot solve tomorrow’s problems if you aren’t willing to abandon today’s dud.

“Let go of conventional wisdoms that torment us. Let go of the artificial limits that hold us back – and the fear of admitting what we don’t know.”

Our Recommendation for Think Like a Freak

Overall, I would give Think Like a Freak 3/5 stars. My major takeaways from this books are that it is okay to say “I don’t know”, to try different things and experiment, and the fact people are driven by various incentives.  Think Like a Freak is a quick read with some interesting stories and good thinking points.

If you are looking for a book on how to change your thinking, I would recommend Decisive (book review) and Originals (book review). Both of these books are more comprehensive and will help you change your thinking, decision making, and outlook on various situations.

Have you read any of the books by Levitt and Dubner, such as Freakonomics or Super Freakonomics? What do you think of books like these? Do you try to improve your decision making process?

With Winning in Mind

Many elite competitors believe success in their sport is 90% mental. Having a strong mental game is equally as important as being technically strong (if not more).

How can we work on our mental abilities for success?

In With Winning in Mind, Lanny Bassham, Olympic Gold Medalist in Rifle Shooting, provide us a framework for improve our mental strength.

Early in his career, Lanny Bassham realized all the practice in the world wouldn’t matter if he didn’t have the right mental management system in place during competitions.

Once he started focusing on his mental game, he won multiple gold medals and proved his strategy of mental strength worked.

Over the years, Bassham has trained multiple athletes and professionals. Through his methods, he has produced many winners. I was interested in With Winning in Mind because I’m consistently looking for an edge in life, and also want to develop a strong mental game to complement my other skills.

In this post, I’ll share with you a book summary of With Winning in Mind, some takeaways from With Winning in Mind, and my book recommendation for you.

Mental management is the process of improving the probability of having a consistent mental performance, under pressure, on demand.

Book Summary of With Winning in Mind

In With Winning in Mind, Lanny Bassham starts by describing the three parts crucial for mental performance.

The three parts critical for a successful mental game are the following:

  • Conscious Mind
    • The Conscious Mind is what you use when you visualize or think during a competition.
  • Subconscious Mind
    • The Subconscious Mind is utilized when you become proficient, the concept of “not having to think about a task”.
  • Self-Image
    •  A person’s Self-Image is how you think about yourself. If you believe in yourself, you have a positive Self-Image and are able to succeed at a high level.

By working on these three areas, you will be able to become stronger mentally and perform better.

Lanny Bassham’s Mental Management System

Over the years, Bassham reformed his methodologies and strategies and has came up with a system, The Mental Management System.

The Mental Management System looks to grow each of the 3 parts of Mental Performance.

When the Conscious Mind, the Subconscious Mind, and the Self-Image are in balance, you will have your best performances. If any one of those are out of balance, your performance will suffer.

In With Winning in Mind, Bassham gives you concrete steps to get you to the next level of mental performance.

The Nine Principles of Mental Management

With the framework of the Conscious Mind, Subconscious Mind, and the Self-Image in place, Bassham talks about the Nine Principles of Mental Management:

  1. Your Conscious Mind can only concentrate on one thing at a time.
  2. What you say is not important. What you cause yourself or others to picture is crucial.
  3. The Subconscious Mind is the source of all mental power.
  4. The Self-Image moves you to do what the Conscious Mind is picturing.
  5. Self-Image and performance are always equal.
    • To change your performance, you must first change your Self-Image.
  6. You can replace the Self-Image you have with the Self-Image you want, thereby permanently changing performance.
  7. The Principle of Reinforcement: The more we think about, talk about and write about something happening, we improve the probability of that thing happening.
  8. The Self-Image cannot tell the difference between what actually happens and what is vividly imagined.
  9. The Principle of Value: We appreciate things in direct proportion to the price we pay for them.

The most important principle is #5: your Self-Image and performance are always equal.

If you don’t believe you can do a task, then you won’t be able to do it. If you have a positive Self-Image and know it is “like you” to be able to do something, then you will do it with ease.

Tap into the Power of Affirmations

Many people lack in the Self-Image component of the three mental components.

With this said, it’s possible to grow your Self-Image. Through affirmations and visualization, you can grow your Self-Image. You can improve your situation and replace your current Self-Image with the one you want.

If you want to become a world class athlete, tell yourself you are one. Tell yourself you can lift heavy weights, run fast, and are agile.

It is important to reinforce the positives vs. focusing on the negatives. If you focus on the errors, you reinforce that it is “like you” to make errors.

Focusing on the positives and saying, “It’s like me to be successful and it’s like me to be able to do it”, you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to.

Mental management comes down to focusing on the task at hand consciously, having and trusting your ability to perform the task subconsciously, and knowing it is “like you” to do the task.

By having a balance between your conscious and subconscious minds, and your self-image, you can succeed in anything you do.

Takeaways from With Winning in Mind

With every book you read, it is a must to have takeaways and actionable items to implement in life.

The main takeaway from With Winning in Mind for me is the power of affirmations and the importance of a strong Self-Image.

If you don’t believe in yourself, then you won’t reach your goals. If you believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything you want in life.

Another takeaway is the power of visualization. The brain cannot tell the difference between what is occurring in reality and what is occurring in your imagination.

If you visualize yourself acing an interview, crushing the competition, or negotiating a raise, you can trick your brain into actually believing you did these things successfully.

Having a strong mental game is as important as having any other skill. It’s important to work on your mental abilities and tap into your full potential.

Our Recommendation for With Winning in Mind

With Winning in Mind is a must read for you if you want to improve your mental game.

You will be presented a strategy for mental performance which is concrete and attainable. With Winning in Mind is not your typical self-help book, and will help you complement your existing self improvement practices.

If you are struggling with the mental side of competition and are looking to improve your current mental game, I’d highly recommend picking up With Winning in Mind.

Do you ever struggle in competitions with your mental game? What do you do to re-focus? What are some of your goals for this year?