Wow! This has been a long journey to get through a review of the books I read in 2017. I’ve probably gone overboard in the review process, but it has been a good exercise for me.

I don’t know about you, but often times after I read a book, I tend to forget most of what I’ve read. I’m working to get better at recalling the key points and something that I’ve found that helps quite a bit is to either jot down some notes while I’m reading or to highlight a passage that stuck out to me. 

I’m not one of those folks that can recite poetry from my high school days or quote lines from my favorite movies. My memory doesn’t work that way. I have to work harder at getting things locked into my memory so reviewing the books and going over the key points of each has been really helpful.

Now on to the last two books.

#2 – Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Start with Why by Simon Sinek“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

That’s one quote from the book that has stuck with me and I’ve pondered it a bunch. He gives the example of Apple. They are a company that has created a persona of who their customers are when they are using their products. Their customers are the hero, for sure. They are also the cool kids. Remember the Mac vs PC commercials? 



I have to admit, I’m an Apple fanboy. They’ve sold me not only on their products but also their company.

He makes the point that Apple knows its Why. 

The Wright Brothers

In the book, he tells the story of the Wright brothers who were the first to fly. 

Samuel Pierpont Langley set out in the early 1900’s to be the first man to fly. He worked at the Smithsonian and got a grant from the War Department of the Federal government to build a flying machine. There was a lot of hype around Langley. 

In contrast, the Orrville and Wilbur Wright worked out of a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. They didn’t have a lot of money or prestigious degrees. They had one thing that the Langley didn’t. They had a passion for flight. They new their why. They believed if they could figure out this flying machine that it would change the world.

Langley was instead focused on WHAT he was doing and WHAT he would get out of it. The proof of this is that after the Wright brothers flew first, Langley quit. 

The Golden Circle

He says that great leaders choose to inspire rather than manipulate in order to motivate people.  He says that they do it, consciously or not, by following a natural pattern he calls the Golden Circle.

The Golden Circle - Simon Sinek

The Golden Circle is based on the mathematical formula known as the golden ratio.

Here’s how he defines it:

What – Every single company and organization on the planet knows WHAT they do.

How: – Some companies and people know HOW they do WHAT they do.

Why –  Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. 

Why is your purpose, cause or belief. Why does your company exist?

Most organizations act or communicate from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. It’s easier to do it this way because you’re going from the clearest to the fuzziest thing.

WHAT companies do are external factors, but WHY they do it is something deeper.

He says that if you start with the WHY of your business it will be easier to adapt as the world changes. WHAT you do and HOW you do it can change and your company will keep on ticking.


Businesses and individuals should always start with WHY or their reason for doing something. This WHY should be the basis for every decision its leaders make and every message they communicate. By doing so they will attract loyal customers and have long-term success.

If you haven’t watched Sinek’s Tedx talk, watch the video below. It will give you a better sense of the whole book.


#1 – The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan


This was my favorite book of 2017. In fact, I didn’t just read it once, I read it three times.

The reason the message of this book resonated so well with me probably has to do with my ADHD. I have trouble focusing on a task for very long. I’m easily distracted and most of my days end up like this:


Focusing on the One Thing has helped me with this tremendously this past year and I’ve accomplished much more than I thought I would normally have been able to do.

Don’t Be Afraid To Think Big

Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on the building he used to set up his first brewery. Similarly, when J.K. Rowling conceived the idea of Harry Potter, she envisioned seven books about life at Hogwarts before she even wrote the first chapter.

They weren’t afraid of thinking big and both went on to great success. Most people get overwhelmed and intimidated by the thought of big ideas. They say that when we fail to think big and we allow negative associations dominate us, our thinking shrinks and we lower our trajectories. We actively limit our potential achievement and condemn ourselves to mediocrity.

Success requires action and action requires thought. Most of science and much of its progress would have stalled if someone hadn’t dared to think of previously unimagined possibilities.

Failing to think big can limit our opportunities.

Not All Your To-Dos Are Equally Important

When you make a to-do list, how do you decide which task to work on first?

Do you start with the time-consuming ones or do you do the easier ones first so that you can get some momentum? Both of these approaches fail to address a key point: not all tasks are equally important.

They tell the story of Joseph M. Juran, who worked at General Motors in quality control management. He discovered that the majority of defects in their cars came from only a handful of production flaws. It was clear that fixing these flaws should be the highest priority.

He named his finding the Pareto Principle after an Italian economist, Vilfedo Pareto, who wrote a model for wealth and income distribution in nineteenth century Italy. Pareto showed that 80 percent of the land was owned by 20 percent of the people. Juran noticed that these proportions matched his own. 80 percent of the defects came from 20 percent of the flaws.

He realized that this 80/20 principle may, in fact, be a universal law: 80 percent of your results are delivered by 20 percent of your work.

The implications of the principle are clear. Completing just a small number of the tasks on your to-do list will give you the greatest proportion of results.

The Focusing Question

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks and starting on the first one. – Mark Twain

Figuring out what task will make the biggest impact is often times hard. That’s where the focusing question, a question specifically designed to help you identify what to and how to get started.

What’s the ONE thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else will become easier or unnecessary?

Ask this question on two levels. First, the macro level to help you see the big picture and identify your overall goal. The ONE thing you want to do and achieve in life.

Secondly, ask it on the micro level. This is a more practical, short-term level that helps you focus in on what your immediate priorities and options are. It also helps you select the most effective task to start with. At this level, you are looking for the ONE thing you can do right now.

Don’t just ask the question once. Ask it repeatedly to break a task down into smaller actionable tasks.

The focusing question can be used in other areas of your life besides just work. 

Finances: What’s the ONE thing I can do that will get me closer to my goal on finances?

Relationships: What’s the ONE thing I can do that will make my marriage better?

Health: What’s the ONE thing I can do that will make me healthier?

Asking the “focusing question” will help you prioritize and create actionable tasks to achieve your goals.


Multitasking Sucks

These days people are praised for their ability to multi-task, which means to do two or more things at the same time. 

The term was originally coined to describe a computer using a single processor to work on multiple tasks, alternating back and forth between them in rapid succession. 

What this means for us is when we think we are multitasking, we are working just like a computer: we have to take our focus off of one thing to switch to another. We’re not really “multitasking” in the sense that we think we are. We’re just juggling two or more tasks. It is impossible to focus on more than one thing at a time.

Research has shown that task switching exacts a time penalty as it takes time to move from one task and then refocus on another. This time cost may be small in the case of simple tasks, but it increases greatly when the tasks you are returning to are more complex.

Much of our days are spent by trying to recover our focus when we switch from task to task.

Multitasking is horribly inefficient. Pick ONE thing and give it your undivided attention.


There’s so much more I could say about this book and there is so much more to it than what I’ve highlighted here.

The main message is that success comes from focusing on ONE thing. Use the focusing question to find out what the one thing is and then drill down until you have the most important task that you can do right now to help you achieve your ONE thing.


Seven posts for thirteen books is a lot of words. 

If you haven’t read the books on my list, grab a copy and start reading. Here’s my list again. Click on a title to be taken to Amazon by my affiliate link to purchase the book or go to your local library to pick them up. Whatever you do, start reading!

  1. The One Thing – Gary Keller & Jay Papasan
  2. Start with Why – Simon Sinek
  3. Shoe Dog – Phil Knight
  4. Building a Story Brand – Donald Miller
  5. Rest – Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
  6. Unshakeable – Tony Robbins
  7. The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg
  8. The Coaching Habit – Michael Bungay Stanier
  9. Smarter, Faster Better – Charles Duhigg
  10. DOTCOM Secrets – Russell Brunson
  11. The Code of the Extraordinary Mind – Vishen Lakhiani
  12. Finish – Jon Acuff
  13. The Millionaire Booklet – Grant Cardone