Book Review: The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun – Gretchen Rubin

I enjoyed this book overall, though it was nothing great and I’m not on a huge tear to recommend it far and wide. Very similar to an AJ Jacobs or Tim Ferriss type lifestyle experiment. Just not quite as interesting or exciting.

Nevertheless I do like the idea of creating a monthly project list and working towards each goal and ideally creating a routine and habits that at the end of the time period help you to improve and grow. I did pick up a couple ideas, but not enough to make the time reading a full book worthwhile. Another great example of a book that I would have raved about had it been a 100 page ebook.

I guess I may be inclined to recommend this book to anyone that has never read a book of this sort, but if you are working towards constant improvement and are already on this sort of path of monthly and yearly goal setting, feel free to skip it.

Relaunch of, could something actually useful show up here??

Well its been said countless ways and countless times that “Real writers write.” You can’t get more simple then that. Since one of my goals going back to pre teen years has been to be a writer, its time I finally use this blog to progress towards that goal.

After numerous fits and starts with numerous platforms, domains and styles, I have proved what I already knew to be true. The tools and the method have absolutely nothing to do with the writing. You just have to put the butt in the chair and put the words on the page. Thinking and dwelling non stop about what to write about, and dicking around with different tools will only accomplish one thing, produce NO writing.

So dear reader, you and the one other person that most likely will visit this page get prepared to read a non stop daily dump of my thoughts. Ideally over time the quality will improve, I pity you poor fool who is here in the early days. But I know and have proven to myself through countless examples that I am a creature of routine and truly thrive through consistency. Whether it be business, fitness related, stock trading, productivity enhancement or writing. Another quote that has been said a million different ways is “What we do we become” or more specific to me, “What we consistently do we become.”

After writing to my journal EVERY day for close to 150 days, I have found the quality to have greatly improved and the great desire to never miss a day grow and grow as the streak gets longer.

So what should you expect to read? Basically my interpretation and experience of reading, using and analyzing the procedures and products I use every day. There are millions of them out there, and  more every  day, but in essence I foresee a “Lifestyle blog”. I am an active learner and goal setter. In the past year I have logged these accomplishments:

-Read at least one book per week

-Obtain a CCW

-Write consistently to a daily journal

-Trade stocks profitably and consistently and refine my processes.

-Weight train consistently

-Eat NO farm raised meat

-Write children’s short stories (collaborating with my kids to create the plot)

-Eat NO fast food (For the second year running)

-Minimize consumption of processed food

-Enhance productivity in everyday business and create a progressive workplace

-Became a proficient welder, specifically the GMAW process

-Consistently rise between 4-5AM (most days, this still is a little buggy)

More then anything I’m bummed I have not written or blogged or tracked these accomplishments outside of my own software and journal. So 2011 is the year I change that.

Some of the goals for the coming year that will be tracked here:

-Learn Ruby/ROR and develop a web app

-Step up my weight training to the next level (need to figure out the actual metrics still)

-Learn to play acoustic guitar

-Only drink one unique six pack of beer per week (good beer) and review it here

-Write something for public publication six days a week

-Speak publicly on a consistent basis  (monthly?)and improve my presentation skills

-Write something that can be sold (ebook, novel, magazine article?)

-Become a certified welder and proficient in the SMAW and GTAW processes

Wow, this was supposed to be a couple hundred word introduction, it really turned into a ramble.  I guess I will leave it at that for today, ideally through consistency this forum will become useful to anyone who shares my interests in improvement and skill building.

After rereading this entry I’m far from impressed, but I guess every journey begins with a single step. This first step may have been a little more like a stumble but I did move slightly forward this morning.

Book review: How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

Considering all the how to and personal improvement books I read I have no idea why it has taken me this long to read this classic! I almost wonder if I had heard the title so many times it had taken on an info-merical feel to me.

Overall a great book and a very fast read, while a little dated in parts I almost thought towards the end that added charm to the writing. The “old” style language while a little off putting at first, actually was interesting towards the latter parts of the book.

Only bummer is I certainly wish I would have read it twenty years ago instead of today! The majority of the information is very basic and very common sense based. While reading I said to myself multiple times, “I already do that on a routine basis.” But do not construe this as a knock against the material, I also think the fundamental aspects of it may be its best selling point. Great to be reminded of techniques, and also I think helpful to reinforce behavior that you may be already exhibiting.

I certainly think that this book is a good read for anyone and everyone and certainly worth the time, unless you spend 99% of your time on Facebook or playing World of Warcraft, in that case save your money for some Farmville cash or WOW credits.

But if you actually deal with REAL people, pick up a copy!

And ESPECIALLY if you are a younger person with limited real world business experience run, DON’T walk to get a copy!

Book Review: Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation – Steven Johnson

Exceptional book on the creation and cultivation of ideas and innovation. Really enjoyed the brevity more then anything! I frequently complain about the constant need to push the 300 page mark in business books. This concise book clocks in at a very efficient just over 200 pages. I was able to read it completely in a couple day span and frequently looked forward to picking it back up.

I seem to fall in love with most ideas I read in books and this is no departure. Not sure if I can find anything to disagree about, many of the concepts and techniques described are methods I have used myself. One of the best parts was discovering that I was using ideas that some of the greats had used for many years. Kind of a funny seque since this book is firmly centered on the idea of “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

Not sure if I will now cultivate some great idea, but this book was for sure motivating and exciting to think about both during and after the fact!

Book Review: Freedom, Inc.: Free Your Employees and Let Them Lead Your Business to Higher Productivity, Profits, and Growth – Carney, Getz

I enjoyed this book and there was tons of great content, but like so many business books it was just to damn long. I know there is some sort of unwritten rule that you have to hit 300 pages, or who knows maybe its not even an unwritten rule. But so many books like this have the feel that the writer is really just trying to stretch things out. Overall GREAT book, with tons of awesome case examples and research. But strip the filler and cut it done to 200 pages and it might be in the top 10 business improvement books I’ve ever read.

Lots of great ideas and examples on how to improve your business by creating more freedom in your enterprise. I have already implemented several of the ideas in my business. And I have plans to utilize more concepts found in this book. If you are a business owner or manager looking to enhance the productivity of your staff I highly recommend it. Just be prepared to get bored at times with the filler content.


“It is not the critic who counts. Not the man who points out how the strong
man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit
belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by
dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short
again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions;
who spends himself in a worthy cause. Who, at the best, knows in the end
the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, at least fails while
daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who
know neither victory nor defeat.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

Book Review: Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age – Clay Shirky

Very cool and SHORT book! Before I get to the review, I wish more book writers, especially business book writers would not stick to what I call the “300 Page” rule. Almost every book I read is almost exactly 300 pages and quite frequently its obvious the writer is just trying to write words to hit a certain page quota. This book was 200 pages of VERY solid content, very very little fluff.

One of the main ideas in this book is centered around is how technology has allowed humans to now replace wasting time with media consumption with spending time creating media and content. One of the greatest things I have always thought technology allowed us to do was replace TV watching and other mind numbing worthless tasks with learning and creating. This block of time that had in years past been spent watching TV or reading shitty newspapers is a huge untapped pool of “Cognitive Surplus”.

Also a lot of social network discussion, which I was a little bored by, but I’ve heard it all before. Very inspirational book when it somes to productivity, especially in the aspects of learning, reading and writing. And particularly making the best use of the time you have!

Book Review: The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master – Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

I decided to start with this book as a method to build a base towards my July goal of learning Ruby. While this book has no Ruby code in it, it is a great conceptual book about programming. And actually great book for business and personal productivity as well, obviously with a programming slant. If you have no interest in programming the business concepts would be useful, but not terribly effective.

Really an interesting and enjoyable read, hopefully learning a new programming language with a more structured method will be as exciting as the authors of this book make it sound. I think the techniques and concepts preached about and repeated will for sure be very useful, hopefully helping me become a kickass Ruby on Rails developer 🙂

Book Review: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose – Tony Hsieh

The very short book reviews continue.

VERY good book on building business’s and specifically startups. Lots of great ideas in the second half especially from a customer service perspective. The first half bored me to a certain extent mainly because of the more or less uninteresting beginnings of some of the author’s business’s and some of his life lessons. While not bad, I just couldn’t get into the history, also a little annoyed by his retelling of night life stories and how they were somehow instrumental in his success.

I think Hsieh has tons of great ideas and is truly innovative, but judging by this book all of those ideas were cultivated in the later part of his career. The initial stages were more about luck.

Not sure if the book deserves all the hype it has received but a quick read and i caught myself writing down several of the ideas in order to implement or tweak them in my own business.

Book Review: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us -Daniel H. Pink

Another GREAT business and personal productivity book! Had trouble putting it down at times. Tons of great ideas that I scribbled down, but since this is another book I read weeks ago I’ll keep the review brief. I have developed a new system of taking better notes so ideally these reviews will have more meat on the bones soon. But I have about six more books that I’m done reading that I need to review. So for the time being these reviews will be short.

Two solid thumbs up!

Below is a cool video of the author speaking over an animated presentation.