Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Go To Guide To Life

Tools of Titans: the Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World Class Performers – Tim Ferriss (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

To put things in the proper perspective; while I am familiar with Tim Ferriss based on articles and reviews regarding his prior books and his podcast, I have not read his previous books and have never listened to the podcast. So you can say that I bring a different perspective to the table than the average raving fan or Ferriss-head when it comes to my thoughts on this book.

That being said and knowing I put a premium on usefulness when it comes to business and personal development books; I found Tools of Titans: the Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World Class Performers to be a highly engaging and useful toolbox of tactics and a collection of ideas that caused me to learn more about the people Ferriss interacts with on the podcast.
Folks familiar with Ferriss’ work may find this to be kind of like a greatest hits CD from a favorite band; familiar territory repackaged and re-released. I found it a great entry point for delving into his thoughts and it allowed me to wade into the podcast for areas that I was most interested in, rather than having to go at it in stops and starts, I could cut to the chase.

This is a true reference book; if you think by reading these brief segments that you will have all of the answers, or even some of the answers, you will be sadly disappointed. If you are looking for a starting point for a massive array of topics, this is a book for you; perfect to whet your appetite and build upon.

A great example is, I had read Jocko Willink’s book Extreme Ownership, and garnered some knowledge and insight into his approach, but with a brief piece from Ferriss, I became engaged enough to seek out not on his podcast with Willink, but moved over to Jocko podcast to delve even deeper. This is very useful stuff.

Topping out at over 700 pages, some may find this book a bit overwhelming and the fluid approach to organization may throw some off, but I liked the ability to bounce around and be selective in what interested me most and then move on from there. Ferriss also does an nice job of trying to draw together similarities and ties between the thought processes of many of the folks profiled in the book. This one is HIGHLY useful and certainly can find a place on your go to shelf.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016


Leading the Unleadable: How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas, and Other Difficult People – Alan Willet (AMACOM)

Show of hands, how many of you can relate to this, from the preface of Leading the Unleadable: “Too often leaders ignore their people problems for too long because they’re afraid of conflict or, if they do act, handle the situations poorly because of inexperience or not knowing what to do.” And “Not acting can damage everyone around the difficult people, leading others to leave before the difficult people themselves quit.”

Not only could I relate to those thoughts, I have lived them recently. Alan Willet, a leadership development and organizational cultural change guru has penned a terrific new leadership development book, Leading the Unleadable: How to Manage Mavericks, Cynics, Divas, and Other Difficult People, which deserves a place in leaders toolbox, no matter what your level of experience.

For those starting out it offers workable solutions for problems that I can almost say with a level of certainty that you will be confronted with as you move through your career. For those veterans of leadership, the book will serve as a healthy reminder of the options available to you when t comes to dealing with the difficult members of your team.

All too often organizations don’t do a great job of developing the next generations of great leaders; instead elevating those good or great worker bees to the next level and allowing them to sink or swim on their own, without providing the tools of leadership. Willet puts out the rallying cry that those moving into leadership need to accept the clarion call of being exceptional leaders.

The exceptional leader understand that like all walks of life you will at times be confronted by folks who are difficult to deal with and that the answer is not always to involve HR and move those folks to the exit. Often times it is the difficult people that challenge leaders to play at a higher level because they bring skillsets to the table that are necessary to the success of the business. Willet loads up your tool belt with tips and ideas on how to manage and maximize these folks and to minimize any negative impact they may cause.