I like to read.

One of my goals for this next year is to make more time for reading. Even though I didn’t feel like I took enough time for reading this last year, in looking back, I read quite a few books. 

I love the quote from Mark Twain that goes:

Those who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t read.

What I want to do in this post is to list some of the books I read in 2016 and to include my key take-aways from the book.

Here’s the non-fiction books I read in 2016 in reverse order of impact they had on me.

6) Delegation & Supervision – Brian TracyDelegation & Supervision - Brian Tracy

One of my biggest problems as a leader has been my inability or unwillingness to delegate. I often do things myself instead of delegating the task to one of the SherWare employees. I think it’s probably because I know I can do it faster, but I’ve come to learn that getting it done faster isn’t always best when you end up taking the time you could have been doing something else. It’s with this knowledge that I picked up this book and read it. On second thought, it was actually recommended to me by one of my employees. I guess that was a not so subtle hint. Thanks Mallory!

This book was an easy read and reinforced what I already knew, the biggest benefit of delegation is expanding your work scope from what you can do to what you can control and manage. 

Here are some of my key take-aways:

  • Your most valuable resource are the people who work with and under you. My job is to get the best return on investment from SherWare’s investment in people. Our biggest expense also happens to be our biggest asset, our human capital. I need to be doing a better job of delegating and managing it to get more done.
  • There are several myths that hold you back from delegating such as: There’s not enough time to delegate, The staff isn’t competent enough, If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself and When you’re good at something you should do it yourself. I had bought into at least a couple of these myths and Brian busted the myths pretty effectively.
  • If you’re going to delegate effectively you have to plan. You need to figure out exactly what needs to be done, communicate it well, and set the expectations of what is required.
  • You should delegate gradually and delegate the whole task. Don’t come back and try to take over if it’s not going the way you wanted. Teach and encourage to help them get the task done.
  • See yourself as a teacher.  Sometimes it’s hard to transistion out of doing everything yourself to teaching others to do it because teaching takes time and patience. You have to see it as an investment in your people instead of a time and energy drain.

I’ve been looking for a time machine so that I could get more done and what I learned in this book has given me my time machine.

5) As A Man Thinketh – James Allen

This is one of the classic mindset books having been published in 1903 by James Allen. As a man thinketh - James Allen

In it he covers how thoughts affect your circumstances. He says that just like a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free of weeds, we can cultivate our minds through our thoughts by weeding out impure and useless thoughts.

He also makes the case that thoughts and character are one. A person’s character will be a manifestation of their thoughts. It sort of goes along with the saying that character is seen by what a person will do when no one is watching. 

One of ideas that he espouses in the book is that the body is the servant of the mind. It obeys the mind whether deliberately or subconsiously. He says that disease and health are rooted in thought. This has been proven through the years by different studies such as how a placebo can be as effective as a drug when the person taking it believes it is the drug. 

I’m ashamed to say, but I proved this in my junior high years when having been moved from elementary school to junior high I became bullied. I hated going to school so much that I would gag myself to throw up every morning. I was eventually put into the hospital to have tests run on me. I had made myself sick by first pretending to be sick. Your body doesn’t know the difference between a truth and a lie and so it acts according to how the mind thinks. 

One of the most important points from the book is that all a person achieves and all they fail to achieve are the result of their own thoughts. We can control much of our circumstances by how we think and when things happen to us beyond our control we can control how we respond to it. This makes all the difference in the world .

4) #AskGaryVee – Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most influential leaders in the area of social media marketing. This book showcases the most interesting questions Gary has been asked on his podcast Ask Gary Vee.

I don’t know if there’s a particular takeaway I can highlight. It was a fun book to read because Gary is one of the most irreverant and bold people. He tells you exactly what he thinks. When he talks, people listen because he’s been so successful in the world of social media and marketing. His book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” is a classic when it comes to explaining content marketing. 

I liked this book because it contains much variety since the questions come from his audience.

I actually didn’t read this book, I listened to it from my Audible subscription which made it even more interesting. This is because Gary reads the book himself and branches off from the book in instances where he gets on his soapbox about something someone believes. 

3) Mans Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl

I can’t believe it took me this long to get to this classic. What a powerful book this is! It’s broken down into two parts. The first part he tells his story about being sent to the concentMan's Search for Meaning - Victor Franklration camp Auchwitz. He covers how some people survived the horrors of the concentration camps and how. 

The second part of the book goes over the branch of psychotherapy he founded named “Logotherapy”. This is derived from the the word Logo, which can be translated Meaning.

He identified three reactions he saw inmates experience in one way or another when they arrived at the concentration camp.  1 – the initial shock when arriving, 2 – the apathy that set in when they realized they weren’t going anywhere and 3 – the reactions of depersonalization, moral deformity and disillusionment if they survive.

He concluded that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living. He discovered that one could find meaning even in the intense suffering of the concentration camps. 

His therapeutic method involved identifying a purpose in life which will affect how you respond in life. According to Frankl, the way you imagine your future affects your longevity.

This was a deeply moving and interesting book and got me to thinking more about my purpose in life.  

2) Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Just about any successful person that I’ve read or heard give a talk has credited this book with changing their trajectory. Don’t let the title fool you. This book is about achieving your desires and it focuses on money, but it is all about a person’s mindset and how it affects their outcome.Think and Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill

This book was originally published in 1937 by Napoleon Hill who was inspired by a suggestion from the business magnate and philanthopist Andrew Carnegie. It consists of his twenty plus year study of many individuals who had amassed fortunes to determine what they all had in common. 

He lists 13 principles that need to be applied to achieve success. The principles listed in the book are 1. Desire,  2. Faith, 3. Autosuggestion, 4. Specialized Knowlege, 5. Imagination, 6. Organized Planning, 7. Decision, 8. Persistence, 9. Power of the Master Mind, 10. The mystery of sex transmutation, 11. The subconsious mind, 12. The brain and 13. The sixth sense. 

Of all the people I’ve read and studied and gotten to know over the last few years who are immensely successful, the most important of these principles that is common to most of them is the Power of the Mastermind. This is where you get together a group of like minded individuals to help each other with their businesses and mindsets.

This is definitely a book that will make you think about your thinking, which is a good thing. I’ll be coming back to this book many more times in the future.

1) The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz

This book was suggested to me by a friend I met at the Bacon Biz conference in Philadelphia this last year. It’s a book of Toltec wisdom taken from the ancient Toltec ways of the people of southern Mexico. The Toltecs were known as people of wisdom.The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz

The book provides a simple framework for life. 

He says that there are thousands of agreements you have made with yourself, with other people, with God and society but the most important agreements are the ones you make with yourself. The result of these agreements are what you believe. They are your personality. If you can see that it’s the agreements that rule your life and you don’t like the agreements, then change them. He concluded that the following are the most important agreements and if you adopt them they will create enough personal power to help you change all of your old agreements.

Agreement 1 – Be impeccable with your word.

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using your word to speak against yourself or gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

Agreement 2 – Don’t take anything personally.

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you wont’ be the victim of needless suffering.

Agreement 3 – Don’t make assumptions.

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

Agreement 4 – Always do your best.

Your best is going to change form moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret.

Very simple concepts but very powerful.  I highly recommend this book.

Those are my top 6 books from 2016. I also read several other books or started several others. Those will have to be finished this year and may end of in a recap of 2017. 

I’ve heard that many successful people try to read a book a week. That’s a little out of my reach for now, but this next year I plan to read at least one book a month. 

How about you? What were your best books from 2016?