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10 Inspirational Books Recommended By Highly Successful People

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10 Inspirational Books Recommended By Highly Successful People

I am often inspired by the life stories of really successful people. Some, like Oprah Winfrey, have come from pretty terrible circumstances.

Others, like Bill Gates, come from rather ordinary white American upbringings. Others are the children of immigrants, like Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy. One part of these individuals’ lives I have never quite considered is what books they read – what are their favorites, and have those books influenced them, inspired them, or simply entertained them?

Here are 10 books that are recommended by some current icons:

 

1. Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics by Stephen Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Freakonomics booksThese two books provide new twists on the study of economics, pulling together seemingly unrelated phenomena and showing their relationships. In the first book, such chapters as “Why Drug Dealers Still Live with their Mothers,” describes the entire corporate structure of drug kingpins and the fact that the corner drug dealer would make more working at McDonald’s. The second book is just as “freaky,” with compelling chapter titles such as, “What do Prostitutes and Department Store Santa’s Have in Common?

I really liked Freakonomics and I think SuperFreakonomics is even better. I recommend this book to anyone who reads nonfiction…one of my favorite things in the book is the debunking of many of the studies economists have done that they use as the basis for claiming that people are irrational in their choices….” – Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft)

 

2. Gulliver’s Travels by Johnathan Swift

Gulliver’s Travels bookJohnathan Swift was a satirical writer of the 18th century who criticized England, the self-righteousness of governments that rule over others because they are somehow more enlightened or morally correct (referring to England’s ruling over its colonies), and the foibles of human nature in general.

To learn, among other satirical lessons, that most of the time humans are Yahoos (slaves in the book).” – Neil DeGrasse Tyson

 

3. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

The lean startup bookThis book proposes ways in which new startups can scientifically, more efficiently, and more rapidly test out their innovations, so that money and time are not wasted. As such, the methods proposed by Ries, are operational both in a college dorm room and in a corporate boardroom. Clearly, this is a book for today’s entrepreneur.

“If you want to read only one book on startups, you should choose The Lean Startup. It’s about one of the hottest startup theories today. Startup is all about testing your idea, hypotheses, and then finding their best combination. Like a science, not a casino.” – Dustin Moskovitz (Co-Founder of Facebook)

 

4. An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore

An Inconvenient Truth bookAccording to Branson, he began reading the book while in the bathtub and was so absorbed and disturbed at the same time that he could not stop. Gore has made the case about climate change and man’s guilt in its cause, with data that really cannot be interpreted any other way.

Branson was so shaken by the book, and, specifically, the contributions of the transportation industry to the problem that he subsequently has pledged all of the profits from Virgin Airlines to clean energy efforts and has made it his mission to pressure other “dirty” industries to contribute as well.

 

5. The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt

The_Happiness_Hypothesis bookThis book of lessons from the ancient has pearls of wisdom such as giving and serving are the way to happiness and that reaching toward a goal and not reaching it can be happiness too.

This is probably the book that’s made the biggest impact on my life over the past five years. The author examines the beliefs about happiness of different cultures, religions and philosophers from different periods, and then compares those beliefs with research that’s been done on the science of happiness. The book is thought-provoking and the concepts can be applied to business and to life.” – Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos)

 

6. Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Catcher in the Rye bookThis is the story of Holden Caulfield, a teen who has been expelled from school and is in search of himself. The events and encounters he has are typical of a teen in the 1960’s, but are just as relevant today as then. This is also on the favorite list of Bill Gates.

It’s very clever. It acknowledges that young people are a little confused but can be smart about things and see things that adults can’t. I’ve always loved it.” – Bill Gates (Founder of Microsoft)

 

7. Running on Empty by Peter Peterson

Running on Empty bookPeterson writes a scathing condemnation of all politicians who are too concerned about their own political futures than to do the right things – fix the tax code; stop huge cuts and subsidies to corporations that don’t need or deserve, pass laws that will harm future generations, and fail to fix critical programs like Social Security and Medicare.

Today, too many of our country’s key economic decisions are being made with an eye to the next election rather than to the next generation.” – Warren Buffet

 

8. The Power of Now by Eckert Tolle

The Power of Now BookPhilosopher and “new age” spiritualist Tolle posits that time is an illusion and that there really is only “now” for any of us. But living in the moment does not mean that we are to be superficial “carpe diem” actors – we need to engage in “mindfulness,” to become one with the Universe through that mindfulness, and that will take us to the action we are meant to pursue. There is a lot of Zen Buddhism in this book, and Oprah Winfrey recommended it many times on her iconic TV show, having Tolle on as a guest several times.

 

9. Competing Against Time by George Stalk

Competing Against Time BookThe thesis of this work is that time is now added to the other three critical factors of competitiveness – money, productivity, and quality. In fact, says the author, because changes and innovations are occurring so rapidly, that time may indeed come to be the single most important factor in remaining competitive.

Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) is so enamored with this book, that he passes it out everywhere and recommends its reading to all new hires at Apple.

 

10. Life is What You Make It by Peter Buffet (Warren Buffet’s son)

Life is What You Make It BookThis book is also on the favorites lists of Bill Clinton and Jamie Dimon. This book is autobiographical, of course, and through it, Buffett expounds on the wisdom he has accumulated from his family and his experiences. From his family, he learned that “everyone must find his own way in life.” He also challenges his readers – rather than take the way of least resistance, choose the path to greatest satisfaction.

With home-spun, heart-felt wisdom Peter Buffet ponders how to make a meaningful life, while making a living. Life is What You Make It is thought-provoking, worthwhile reading.” – Ted Turner (Media Icon and Founder of CNN)

 

I hope you enjoyed my article! Which book is your favorite from this list?

Jonathan Emmen is a student and a passionate blogger from Copenhagen and regular contributor for different educational and entertainment blogs such a ProCustomWriting writing service and others. You can follow him on @JonnyEmmen or you can also follow him on Kinja.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Mike

    Oct 3, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Good List, and I second “The Power Of Now” and “Life is What You Make It”. Although slightly redudant, Tolle really hammers home the point that the present is where your mind should be truly focused. It’s of course important to remember where you came from and what’s ahead, but the only moment that matters is the present.

    Also, was quite humbling reading about how Warrent Buffet came from a modest family but was driven to success (starting with small paper routes, all the way up to buying huge media companies).

    2 must reads!

  2. Dan K

    Sep 18, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing this list. If I may add one, Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning has been extremely influential in my life.

  3. Ethan Bridges

    Sep 12, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Thanks for this list, Jonathan! Interesting list, I must say. Good timing, too, as I’m already running out of books in the shelf!

  4. Steven

    Sep 11, 2015 at 10:19 am

    The Power of Now by Tolle is by far the most important book on the list. It’s gone pretty mainstream but the message is very powerful. It’s the kind of book that finds it’s way into your life as soon as your ready for it.

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Motivation

5 Bulletproof Ways Leaders Can Motivate Their Teams

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We all dream of a perfect, self-motivated team that is constantly putting their best foot forward and embracing each challenge they are given. In reality, as much as you’d like to encourage and motivate even more active contribution from your team members, it is often easier said than done.

Using external motivators, such as promotions or raises, is rarely a permanent solution for motivating your employees to do the very best for the company. Motivation simply cannot be forced on anyone but has to come from within, which is why it’s extremely important to understand the unique sources of employee motivation. There are, however, some solid ways for leaders to self-motivate and encourage active participation in a team.

Here are five bulletproof ways to help your employees find motivation and stay motivated:

1. Communicate purpose

Communicating purpose is the first step towards enhancing motivation and engagement within a team. Like Simon Sinek advises in his best-selling book, if you want your team to act with purpose, you should start with why. If your team isn’t aware of why they are doing what they’re supposed to do, they’re less likely to find their work meaningful and less likely to care.

This, however, doesn’t mean that you’re forced to have a motivational speech. In my opinion, motivational rants are like throwing boiled spaghetti on the wall – it’s not going to stick for long. Instead, to create a fulfilling and motivating work-environment, engage and encourage your team members to participate in clarifying your vision. Be open about where you’re heading and what’s your driving force.

Leaders who aim for providing direction and clarity, are the ones who are really able to take their businesses to the next level as well as to help their team members to pursue both their professional and personal hopes and dreams.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Reverend Theodore Hesburgh

2. Set clear goals

One of the most common de-motivating factors in a workplace is lack of focus. If you find your team constantly busy, but don’t quite know with what, it might be a sign of confusion due to unclear goals. Also, if your team is constantly underperforming, you might want to revisit your goals.

Without specific and transparent goals, your team may have a difficult time to know what to prioritize. This easily results in uncertainty, decreased motivation and a constant debate of whether they’re working enough or not.

Clear goals can help your team avoid unnecessary stress and make smarter decisions. To retrieve motivation, start by revisiting your goals to make sure they are ambitious enough to be meaningful. However, don’t make the mistake of stretching your workers too much outside of their comfort zone but aim for finding a good balance between these two.

A solid starting point is to define your “common grand goal” towards which you work as a team. When you have defined that, it’s much easier to start planning your journey there by setting smaller individual goals.

3. Encourage ownership

Sometimes, employees may feel they don’t have enough power to make decisions. This might be a sign of too strict processes or the fact that you’re micromanaging your employees.

To encourage your team to take ownership, set clear expectations and standards but give them enough freedom to come up with their own ideas. Enhance trust by asking for feedback to show that you really value their opinion.

Also, make sure your team members are aware of how their contribution links to the big picture. When your team feels that what they’re doing is important and they’re contributing to something with real value, they’re more likely to take ownership and be proud of their work.

4. Hold your team accountable

Accountability is one of the most overlooked aspects by leaders who want to create an effective and motivated team environment. In general, people are motivated by positive feedback and exceeding expectations. According to a study, nearly 78% of employees are highly engaged when they experience strong recognition, which is why positive feedback is encouraged.

However, there should also be consequences when things don’t go as planned. Accountability becomes sustainable with constant reinforcement, which is why continuity is the key. Holding your team accountable shows that you care and helps your team to maintain quality.

“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.” – Bob Proctor

5. Support self-development and provide opportunities for growth

One of the best ways to motivate your team is to encourage each individual to become better by finding ways to support their professional growth and encouraging personal leadership. In practice, this can mean for example training sessions, book clubs, mentoring or other tactics that support personal leadership.

Take a few self-development tactics as a part of your goal-setting process by aligning individual KPIs with your company goals. To get the best possible outcome, this should be done systematically.  

Another way to provide opportunities for growth while linking this with work is to launch a Growth Model, where you first define different areas of improvement. Start by evaluating where your team stands at the moment in each of the areas and plan the following steps according to your findings.

Choose one focus area at a time as well as clear action points and a timeline to improve that specific area. Make it tangible by keeping track of the progress – this helps motivating your employees as they can instantly see their level of improvement. If you want to take motivating your team to the next level, find out what their personal and career-related goals are and try to think of ways you can help them to pursue these goals.

How do you keep your team motivated? Comment below!

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Motivation

You Snooze, You Lose! 4 Hacks to Get Out of Bed When That Alarm Goes Off

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Did you know that more than 57% of Americans hit the snooze button? That adds up to 3.5 months of our lives just snoozing! Why would we waste time snoozing when the intention is to actually get up to get things done? Is it laziness, a lack of discipline, motivation, or commitment? It doesn’t actually matter.

The fact is, you can’t be as productive as you want when you are getting out of bed late!  That is the obvious part. The not so obvious part is how to actually get of bed, when every part of you is screaming to sleep a bit longer. Let’s create a bit of pain first, because I’m assuming you actually don’t see the downsides to snoozing, or you are being ignorant and ignorance will never get you the results you want.

Sabotaging Success

Did you know that every time you set yourself an intention to wake up early and you don’t follow through with it, you dramatically lower your confidence and belief in yourself? Your word to yourself start to mean less and less. You can say to yourself, I will do this, but you know you probably won’t.

Nothing will sabotage your success more than losing faith in your own word. You need confidence to get results in life! Are you somebody who follows through with their word or not? You either are or you aren’t.

The second consequence, is that you are losing income and awesome results you could be having sooner. Why choose the easier things now and have a harder life later on, when you can choose the harder things now and have an easier life later on?  Don’t settle in life, this will never ever fulfill you.

4 Hacks to get out of bed when that alarm goes off:

1. Don’t negotiate with your brain 

If you start negotiating with your brain, you will always lose. So don’t go there, don’t even start that conversation in your mind! If you have decided to get out of bed, then do it, follow through with your word. Why change your mind in the morning? 

The ‘pleasure seeking’ part of your brain is always on automatic and it’s so strong, your ‘pre-fontal’ cortex doesn’t have much chance of winning this battle when you are half asleep in bed. Once you are out of bed, habit stack. It’s the 5 second rule – you are up already – don’t you dare go back.  Do exactly what you would do habitually. Do you go straight for the shower or do you get a glass of lemon juice? Know what you are going to do already to take any thinking out of it!

“Lose an hour in the morning and you will spend all day looking for it.” – Richard Whately

2. Look at your identity 

You behave according to what you believe. You believe what you repeat. Look at your own language, what do you say to yourself about getting up? Do you say things like; “It’s so hard to get out of bed in the morning” or “I’ve never been a morning person.” What you say becomes your reality of yourself and either motivates or demotivates you.

What you want to be saying to yourself is: “Just get out of bed. It’s easy, just get up. I can do this because I want to, I decide and control my actions. I am in control.” I can almost guarantee, if you struggle to get up when your alarm goes off, there is a part of your identity that believes this is who you are. If you change how you talk to yourself, about who you are, and tell yourself you can do anything, because you said so, your actions will be completely different.

3. Leaping out of bed

Unless I have a very compelling reason, I know it would be hard to get out of bed. We need to use our minds to motivate us into action, and the best way to do this, is to get excited the day before. Write down at least 5 reasons on a piece of paper; list why you want to leap out of bed tomorrow. This can take 2 minutes! The next morning, when your alarm goes off, look at that piece of paper, immediately so you know what awaits you and get up.

4. Use accountability and peer pressure

Create a game with your friends, family members, coach, colleagues, or business partner, I don’t care who it is, as long as you know that person will hold you accountable. Have fun with it, take a picture fully dressed and showered and send to your accountability partner, or call a ‘penalty’ if you don’t, like taking your friend out for dinner or spouse every time you sleep in. Get creative and use your support system.  The point is, it doesn’t matter what system you set up, how crazy it might seem, what matters is if it works!

Remember, you don’t need to make big changes from the outset, if you feel like an hour or 30 minute change is too much, start with 5 minutes earlier each day or 10 minutes earlier each week. You must be getting enough sleep and not over sleeping either. You have one life and if you are a business owner, I know you are missing out on results and lowering your confidence indirectly too.

“Life is getting up an hour early to live an hour more.”

You can have the best intentions to get up earlier every day, but if you let that snooze button control you, you will never follow through with your intentions or get your results! It is the small changes that can give us the biggest results. Try one these hacks to finally get out of that bed in the morning and finally take back your time! Don’t allow it to be more powerful than you.

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Motivation

Why It’s a Great Thing for Adversity to Push You to Your Breaking Point

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If you are not finding challenges that knock you flat on your back then you are missing out. A darker side of success that some have touched on is that you need to fail more. In addition to this, we should consider finding the challenges that punch us in the mouth and knock us unconscious.

The easiest place to be in life is one of comfort and knowing what tomorrow will bring. This brings little growth and requires very little effort because it’s safe. However, if we look at our role models who have done great things, then we will surely see that they have failed spectacularly.

Michael Jordan locked himself in his room and cried after he didn’t make his varsity basketball team as a sophomore. Walt Disney’s second business that failed miserably was called Laugh-O-Gram. JK Rowling was rejected by 12 literary publishers before she found any success.

Most likely you can think of some challenges that you rose up to beat in your own life. I would venture to say that the most difficult challenges that meant the most to you knocked you on your back right before you conquered them.

“Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache, carries with it the Seed of an equivalent or greater Benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

These obstacles are there for a reason. They are an important part of the puzzle for you. So if you find yourself in a place where you feel stuck or overwhelmed by a burden that seems insurmountable then this is a very good thing.

Life gives you everything you need

Life will give us everything we need, including the message that you have to get back up and go back at it with more determination, more will, and more fight than what you had before. Sometimes the moment we are down and out is the moment we have to regroup, reorganize, and come up with a new strategy to overcome those impending obstacles.

The reason the challenge knocks us down is because we need it. Just like an ocean wave knocks down an inexperienced surfer, it’s just a sign that the young surfer has to grow and become better.

Just like a surfer, the same is true for you and wherever you are at now. You have faced many things in your life which force you to become stronger for what is now in front of you.

However, what is most important in all this is having a challenge that can move you. For the surfer, the thrill of riding that perfect wave is worth the cost of getting beaten down by ocean waves again and again. For the man creating a business and putting his heart and soul into it, the reward of being a success and changing lives is worth battling each and everyday to get his enterprise up and off the ground.

For the woman who runs a marathon, the thrill of running across the finish line and having that experience was worth all the training and the grueling exhaustion she had to endure so that she could get to that point.

These experiences are the ones that can move you, but if your goal can have such a positive affect on you, then it can also have a dramatically negative affect as well. This is why you need challenges that can break you.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” – J. K. Rowling

Why you need failure

The surfer is devastated after breaking his arm and having to spend time away from his passion, but after his recovery he is reinvigorated. The business fails and the man is crushed, but he comes back stronger and more experienced with another business. The runner fails at finishing her marathon, but trains harder and comes back even better.

For this reason, failure is only feedback and something to be used as a positive for getting to where you want to go. If you get knocked down you might just need to rest and try again. Or it could mean that you should go get some help and try again.

Remember, failure isn’t final and success within failure is having the opportunity to try again.

You should only be alarmed when you have failed challenges that aren’t breaking you. This means that you are playing it safe and need something more compelling to propel you forward.

If the challenge breaks you then you know it means something to you. Even more importantly, you have the opportunity to go again, harder and even more determined.

How do you handle failure? Let us know in the comments below!

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Motivation

What To Tell Yourself During A Tough Time.

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We all go through tough times.

A few examples of mine are:

  • Multiple consecutive breakups
  • Walking away from a business that could have made me a lot of money
  • Having my career come to a grinding halt
  • Dealing with mental illness

The list is very long and I’m sure yours is similar. It’s not about the tough times we go through though because they are guaranteed and you already knew that before you clicked this article.

What matters during tough times is what you tell yourself.

This is what I say to myself during tough times — well there’s actually four things I say to myself depending on the tough time I’m facing:


“This will pass”

No event in your life lasts forever. Today may be a really tough day, but that won’t last forever. We delude ourselves at times by saying in our head “I’m always going to be like this.”

“Why does this always happen to me?”

“Here we go again.”

These negative phrases tell our brain that things are never going to get better. When we say these phrases to ourselves enough, we start to believe them. During a difficult period in your life, in that moment, things will suck.

The way to get out of your head is to see the truth: this will pass. In one day, one month, or one year this tough situation will have passed and you’ll be onto the next part of your life.

Nothing lasts forever unless you allow your mind to trap you in the moment and believe a lie which is that this moment won’t pass. It will. You will come out the other side.


I’ll be stronger having dealt with this situation

When you reframe your tough times into strength building exercises, they take a whole new meaning.

All of a sudden, your current situation that may be wearing you down becomes like reps at the gym. The reps are a struggle and it hurts, but if you keep moving forward, you end up with mental toughness and strength.

“Exchange your tough times for mental toughness”

See this challenging situation for what it is. It’s the chance to come out the other end stronger.

Stack your tough times up like gold medals.

Have you dealt with cancer? Good, then you won’t take your health for granted ever again.

Have you lost a loved one? Then you’ll never take the rest of your family for granted and care for them more than you did before.

Did you lose your job? Amazing! Now you can work somewhere else and discover more of your hidden talents!

Without tough times, you won’t have the strategies you need to deal with the impossible. Your heroes are your heroes because they’ve used their tough times to become stronger.

Failure and rejection are the building blocks to whatever your definition of success is. Tough times make you hungryand that’s a good thing.


Keep taking baby steps forward

Tough times can feel like quicksand sometimes.

If you don’t keep moving forward though, you’ll eventually sink into the quicksand. The best thing you can do during the toughest of challenges is take baby steps.

When I battled severe anxiety, I took baby steps such as these:

  • Walked 15 minutes a day
  • Drank an extra glass of water each day to hydrate my body
  • Read one book a month on anxiety
  • Exposed myself to one small fear each day. It started with going two levels in a lift (something I couldn’t do before). Then I’d go three levels the next day and so on.

That last dot point is critical. Overcoming tough times requires you to take baby steps in the form of being uncomfortable. When you’re growing each day, you don’t have time to be too concerned about a particular tough time.

My battle with anxiety eventually led me to flying long distances (another thing I couldn’t do before) and then speaking on stages in front of a lot of people.

As you can see, the first few steps — like going two floors in a lift — are quite small. Then the steps get bigger and bigger until what used to seem impossible becomes a piece of cake.

Take baby steps.


“It only takes one person”

Tough times often require someone to believe in you. From my experience, you only need one person.

One person to believe in your idea.
One person to love you.
One person who has gone through the same tough times as you.

This one person exists. You have to go out there and find them. That one person for me was a team leader when I was working in a call center. He believed in me enough to take me aside and coach me one on one.

He believed I was going to go on and change the world through personal development. He was right and I did!

Don’t give up. Your one person exists as well.

<<<>>>

These four things are what I tell myself during a tough time. One of these phrases will always be the right one depending on the circumstance.

Believe that there is a way out and you’ll find one. It’s during the tough times that you’ll develop the skills and experience to help others.

What I’ve learned is that to get through the tough times, one of the best hacks is to focus on helping others. When you’re focusing on how you can serve, your own selfish problems become insignificant.

Seek out people who have even bigger problems than you do and listen to them. See if you can help them.

That’s how you deal with the tough times.

Tell yourself the truth. You deserve to hear it.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

A Must-Read Guide for Avoiding Burnout

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Burnout. We’ve all been there. It happens to all “workaholic” entrepreneurs like you and me. But please allow me to provide a reality check: You’re not a machine. And regardless of how much you think you’re like Gary Vaynerchuk, you need to take breaks in order to function at maximum capacity. Non-stop hustle without ever taking a break is dumb. That’s why it’s called a “break”. Because if you don’t eventually stop, that’s exactly what will happen. You will break! (more…)

Alex Edson is a 19-year-old entrepreneur from Phoenix Arizona who has scaled two multi-million dollar companies from nothing. Alex began his entrepreneurial journey during his sophomore year of high school, founding a YouTube talent management agency from his apartment that would later grow to over 10 billion annual views. Today, Alex is the Founder and CEO of MailTag.io, a startup that helps sales and business people track their emails in real-time, for free. You can connect with Alex on his company’s blog https://blog.mailtag.io or by email Alex@MailTag.io.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Mike

    Oct 3, 2015 at 12:23 am

    Good List, and I second “The Power Of Now” and “Life is What You Make It”. Although slightly redudant, Tolle really hammers home the point that the present is where your mind should be truly focused. It’s of course important to remember where you came from and what’s ahead, but the only moment that matters is the present.

    Also, was quite humbling reading about how Warrent Buffet came from a modest family but was driven to success (starting with small paper routes, all the way up to buying huge media companies).

    2 must reads!

  2. Dan K

    Sep 18, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing this list. If I may add one, Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning has been extremely influential in my life.

  3. Ethan Bridges

    Sep 12, 2015 at 2:33 am

    Thanks for this list, Jonathan! Interesting list, I must say. Good timing, too, as I’m already running out of books in the shelf!

  4. Steven

    Sep 11, 2015 at 10:19 am

    The Power of Now by Tolle is by far the most important book on the list. It’s gone pretty mainstream but the message is very powerful. It’s the kind of book that finds it’s way into your life as soon as your ready for it.

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Motivation

5 Bulletproof Ways Leaders Can Motivate Their Teams

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We all dream of a perfect, self-motivated team that is constantly putting their best foot forward and embracing each challenge they are given. In reality, as much as you’d like to encourage and motivate even more active contribution from your team members, it is often easier said than done.

Using external motivators, such as promotions or raises, is rarely a permanent solution for motivating your employees to do the very best for the company. Motivation simply cannot be forced on anyone but has to come from within, which is why it’s extremely important to understand the unique sources of employee motivation. There are, however, some solid ways for leaders to self-motivate and encourage active participation in a team.

Here are five bulletproof ways to help your employees find motivation and stay motivated:

1. Communicate purpose

Communicating purpose is the first step towards enhancing motivation and engagement within a team. Like Simon Sinek advises in his best-selling book, if you want your team to act with purpose, you should start with why. If your team isn’t aware of why they are doing what they’re supposed to do, they’re less likely to find their work meaningful and less likely to care.

This, however, doesn’t mean that you’re forced to have a motivational speech. In my opinion, motivational rants are like throwing boiled spaghetti on the wall – it’s not going to stick for long. Instead, to create a fulfilling and motivating work-environment, engage and encourage your team members to participate in clarifying your vision. Be open about where you’re heading and what’s your driving force.

Leaders who aim for providing direction and clarity, are the ones who are really able to take their businesses to the next level as well as to help their team members to pursue both their professional and personal hopes and dreams.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have a vision. It’s got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” – Reverend Theodore Hesburgh

2. Set clear goals

One of the most common de-motivating factors in a workplace is lack of focus. If you find your team constantly busy, but don’t quite know with what, it might be a sign of confusion due to unclear goals. Also, if your team is constantly underperforming, you might want to revisit your goals.

Without specific and transparent goals, your team may have a difficult time to know what to prioritize. This easily results in uncertainty, decreased motivation and a constant debate of whether they’re working enough or not.

Clear goals can help your team avoid unnecessary stress and make smarter decisions. To retrieve motivation, start by revisiting your goals to make sure they are ambitious enough to be meaningful. However, don’t make the mistake of stretching your workers too much outside of their comfort zone but aim for finding a good balance between these two.

A solid starting point is to define your “common grand goal” towards which you work as a team. When you have defined that, it’s much easier to start planning your journey there by setting smaller individual goals.

3. Encourage ownership

Sometimes, employees may feel they don’t have enough power to make decisions. This might be a sign of too strict processes or the fact that you’re micromanaging your employees.

To encourage your team to take ownership, set clear expectations and standards but give them enough freedom to come up with their own ideas. Enhance trust by asking for feedback to show that you really value their opinion.

Also, make sure your team members are aware of how their contribution links to the big picture. When your team feels that what they’re doing is important and they’re contributing to something with real value, they’re more likely to take ownership and be proud of their work.

4. Hold your team accountable

Accountability is one of the most overlooked aspects by leaders who want to create an effective and motivated team environment. In general, people are motivated by positive feedback and exceeding expectations. According to a study, nearly 78% of employees are highly engaged when they experience strong recognition, which is why positive feedback is encouraged.

However, there should also be consequences when things don’t go as planned. Accountability becomes sustainable with constant reinforcement, which is why continuity is the key. Holding your team accountable shows that you care and helps your team to maintain quality.

“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.” – Bob Proctor

5. Support self-development and provide opportunities for growth

One of the best ways to motivate your team is to encourage each individual to become better by finding ways to support their professional growth and encouraging personal leadership. In practice, this can mean for example training sessions, book clubs, mentoring or other tactics that support personal leadership.

Take a few self-development tactics as a part of your goal-setting process by aligning individual KPIs with your company goals. To get the best possible outcome, this should be done systematically.  

Another way to provide opportunities for growth while linking this with work is to launch a Growth Model, where you first define different areas of improvement. Start by evaluating where your team stands at the moment in each of the areas and plan the following steps according to your findings.

Choose one focus area at a time as well as clear action points and a timeline to improve that specific area. Make it tangible by keeping track of the progress – this helps motivating your employees as they can instantly see their level of improvement. If you want to take motivating your team to the next level, find out what their personal and career-related goals are and try to think of ways you can help them to pursue these goals.

How do you keep your team motivated? Comment below!

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Motivation

You Snooze, You Lose! 4 Hacks to Get Out of Bed When That Alarm Goes Off

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Did you know that more than 57% of Americans hit the snooze button? That adds up to 3.5 months of our lives just snoozing! Why would we waste time snoozing when the intention is to actually get up to get things done? Is it laziness, a lack of discipline, motivation, or commitment? It doesn’t actually matter.

The fact is, you can’t be as productive as you want when you are getting out of bed late!  That is the obvious part. The not so obvious part is how to actually get of bed, when every part of you is screaming to sleep a bit longer. Let’s create a bit of pain first, because I’m assuming you actually don’t see the downsides to snoozing, or you are being ignorant and ignorance will never get you the results you want.

Sabotaging Success

Did you know that every time you set yourself an intention to wake up early and you don’t follow through with it, you dramatically lower your confidence and belief in yourself? Your word to yourself start to mean less and less. You can say to yourself, I will do this, but you know you probably won’t.

Nothing will sabotage your success more than losing faith in your own word. You need confidence to get results in life! Are you somebody who follows through with their word or not? You either are or you aren’t.

The second consequence, is that you are losing income and awesome results you could be having sooner. Why choose the easier things now and have a harder life later on, when you can choose the harder things now and have an easier life later on?  Don’t settle in life, this will never ever fulfill you.

4 Hacks to get out of bed when that alarm goes off:

1. Don’t negotiate with your brain 

If you start negotiating with your brain, you will always lose. So don’t go there, don’t even start that conversation in your mind! If you have decided to get out of bed, then do it, follow through with your word. Why change your mind in the morning? 

The ‘pleasure seeking’ part of your brain is always on automatic and it’s so strong, your ‘pre-fontal’ cortex doesn’t have much chance of winning this battle when you are half asleep in bed. Once you are out of bed, habit stack. It’s the 5 second rule – you are up already – don’t you dare go back.  Do exactly what you would do habitually. Do you go straight for the shower or do you get a glass of lemon juice? Know what you are going to do already to take any thinking out of it!

“Lose an hour in the morning and you will spend all day looking for it.” – Richard Whately

2. Look at your identity 

You behave according to what you believe. You believe what you repeat. Look at your own language, what do you say to yourself about getting up? Do you say things like; “It’s so hard to get out of bed in the morning” or “I’ve never been a morning person.” What you say becomes your reality of yourself and either motivates or demotivates you.

What you want to be saying to yourself is: “Just get out of bed. It’s easy, just get up. I can do this because I want to, I decide and control my actions. I am in control.” I can almost guarantee, if you struggle to get up when your alarm goes off, there is a part of your identity that believes this is who you are. If you change how you talk to yourself, about who you are, and tell yourself you can do anything, because you said so, your actions will be completely different.

3. Leaping out of bed

Unless I have a very compelling reason, I know it would be hard to get out of bed. We need to use our minds to motivate us into action, and the best way to do this, is to get excited the day before. Write down at least 5 reasons on a piece of paper; list why you want to leap out of bed tomorrow. This can take 2 minutes! The next morning, when your alarm goes off, look at that piece of paper, immediately so you know what awaits you and get up.

4. Use accountability and peer pressure

Create a game with your friends, family members, coach, colleagues, or business partner, I don’t care who it is, as long as you know that person will hold you accountable. Have fun with it, take a picture fully dressed and showered and send to your accountability partner, or call a ‘penalty’ if you don’t, like taking your friend out for dinner or spouse every time you sleep in. Get creative and use your support system.  The point is, it doesn’t matter what system you set up, how crazy it might seem, what matters is if it works!

Remember, you don’t need to make big changes from the outset, if you feel like an hour or 30 minute change is too much, start with 5 minutes earlier each day or 10 minutes earlier each week. You must be getting enough sleep and not over sleeping either. You have one life and if you are a business owner, I know you are missing out on results and lowering your confidence indirectly too.

“Life is getting up an hour early to live an hour more.”

You can have the best intentions to get up earlier every day, but if you let that snooze button control you, you will never follow through with your intentions or get your results! It is the small changes that can give us the biggest results. Try one these hacks to finally get out of that bed in the morning and finally take back your time! Don’t allow it to be more powerful than you.

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Motivation

Why It’s a Great Thing for Adversity to Push You to Your Breaking Point

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If you are not finding challenges that knock you flat on your back then you are missing out. A darker side of success that some have touched on is that you need to fail more. In addition to this, we should consider finding the challenges that punch us in the mouth and knock us unconscious.

The easiest place to be in life is one of comfort and knowing what tomorrow will bring. This brings little growth and requires very little effort because it’s safe. However, if we look at our role models who have done great things, then we will surely see that they have failed spectacularly.

Michael Jordan locked himself in his room and cried after he didn’t make his varsity basketball team as a sophomore. Walt Disney’s second business that failed miserably was called Laugh-O-Gram. JK Rowling was rejected by 12 literary publishers before she found any success.

Most likely you can think of some challenges that you rose up to beat in your own life. I would venture to say that the most difficult challenges that meant the most to you knocked you on your back right before you conquered them.

“Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache, carries with it the Seed of an equivalent or greater Benefit.” – Napoleon Hill

These obstacles are there for a reason. They are an important part of the puzzle for you. So if you find yourself in a place where you feel stuck or overwhelmed by a burden that seems insurmountable then this is a very good thing.

Life gives you everything you need

Life will give us everything we need, including the message that you have to get back up and go back at it with more determination, more will, and more fight than what you had before. Sometimes the moment we are down and out is the moment we have to regroup, reorganize, and come up with a new strategy to overcome those impending obstacles.

The reason the challenge knocks us down is because we need it. Just like an ocean wave knocks down an inexperienced surfer, it’s just a sign that the young surfer has to grow and become better.

Just like a surfer, the same is true for you and wherever you are at now. You have faced many things in your life which force you to become stronger for what is now in front of you.

However, what is most important in all this is having a challenge that can move you. For the surfer, the thrill of riding that perfect wave is worth the cost of getting beaten down by ocean waves again and again. For the man creating a business and putting his heart and soul into it, the reward of being a success and changing lives is worth battling each and everyday to get his enterprise up and off the ground.

For the woman who runs a marathon, the thrill of running across the finish line and having that experience was worth all the training and the grueling exhaustion she had to endure so that she could get to that point.

These experiences are the ones that can move you, but if your goal can have such a positive affect on you, then it can also have a dramatically negative affect as well. This is why you need challenges that can break you.

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.” – J. K. Rowling

Why you need failure

The surfer is devastated after breaking his arm and having to spend time away from his passion, but after his recovery he is reinvigorated. The business fails and the man is crushed, but he comes back stronger and more experienced with another business. The runner fails at finishing her marathon, but trains harder and comes back even better.

For this reason, failure is only feedback and something to be used as a positive for getting to where you want to go. If you get knocked down you might just need to rest and try again. Or it could mean that you should go get some help and try again.

Remember, failure isn’t final and success within failure is having the opportunity to try again.

You should only be alarmed when you have failed challenges that aren’t breaking you. This means that you are playing it safe and need something more compelling to propel you forward.

If the challenge breaks you then you know it means something to you. Even more importantly, you have the opportunity to go again, harder and even more determined.

How do you handle failure? Let us know in the comments below!

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Motivation

What To Tell Yourself During A Tough Time.

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We all go through tough times.

A few examples of mine are:

  • Multiple consecutive breakups
  • Walking away from a business that could have made me a lot of money
  • Having my career come to a grinding halt
  • Dealing with mental illness

The list is very long and I’m sure yours is similar. It’s not about the tough times we go through though because they are guaranteed and you already knew that before you clicked this article.

What matters during tough times is what you tell yourself.

This is what I say to myself during tough times — well there’s actually four things I say to myself depending on the tough time I’m facing:


“This will pass”

No event in your life lasts forever. Today may be a really tough day, but that won’t last forever. We delude ourselves at times by saying in our head “I’m always going to be like this.”

“Why does this always happen to me?”

“Here we go again.”

These negative phrases tell our brain that things are never going to get better. When we say these phrases to ourselves enough, we start to believe them. During a difficult period in your life, in that moment, things will suck.

The way to get out of your head is to see the truth: this will pass. In one day, one month, or one year this tough situation will have passed and you’ll be onto the next part of your life.

Nothing lasts forever unless you allow your mind to trap you in the moment and believe a lie which is that this moment won’t pass. It will. You will come out the other side.


I’ll be stronger having dealt with this situation

When you reframe your tough times into strength building exercises, they take a whole new meaning.

All of a sudden, your current situation that may be wearing you down becomes like reps at the gym. The reps are a struggle and it hurts, but if you keep moving forward, you end up with mental toughness and strength.

“Exchange your tough times for mental toughness”

See this challenging situation for what it is. It’s the chance to come out the other end stronger.

Stack your tough times up like gold medals.

Have you dealt with cancer? Good, then you won’t take your health for granted ever again.

Have you lost a loved one? Then you’ll never take the rest of your family for granted and care for them more than you did before.

Did you lose your job? Amazing! Now you can work somewhere else and discover more of your hidden talents!

Without tough times, you won’t have the strategies you need to deal with the impossible. Your heroes are your heroes because they’ve used their tough times to become stronger.

Failure and rejection are the building blocks to whatever your definition of success is. Tough times make you hungryand that’s a good thing.


Keep taking baby steps forward

Tough times can feel like quicksand sometimes.

If you don’t keep moving forward though, you’ll eventually sink into the quicksand. The best thing you can do during the toughest of challenges is take baby steps.

When I battled severe anxiety, I took baby steps such as these:

  • Walked 15 minutes a day
  • Drank an extra glass of water each day to hydrate my body
  • Read one book a month on anxiety
  • Exposed myself to one small fear each day. It started with going two levels in a lift (something I couldn’t do before). Then I’d go three levels the next day and so on.

That last dot point is critical. Overcoming tough times requires you to take baby steps in the form of being uncomfortable. When you’re growing each day, you don’t have time to be too concerned about a particular tough time.

My battle with anxiety eventually led me to flying long distances (another thing I couldn’t do before) and then speaking on stages in front of a lot of people.

As you can see, the first few steps — like going two floors in a lift — are quite small. Then the steps get bigger and bigger until what used to seem impossible becomes a piece of cake.

Take baby steps.


“It only takes one person”

Tough times often require someone to believe in you. From my experience, you only need one person.

One person to believe in your idea.
One person to love you.
One person who has gone through the same tough times as you.

This one person exists. You have to go out there and find them. That one person for me was a team leader when I was working in a call center. He believed in me enough to take me aside and coach me one on one.

He believed I was going to go on and change the world through personal development. He was right and I did!

Don’t give up. Your one person exists as well.

<<<>>>

These four things are what I tell myself during a tough time. One of these phrases will always be the right one depending on the circumstance.

Believe that there is a way out and you’ll find one. It’s during the tough times that you’ll develop the skills and experience to help others.

What I’ve learned is that to get through the tough times, one of the best hacks is to focus on helping others. When you’re focusing on how you can serve, your own selfish problems become insignificant.

Seek out people who have even bigger problems than you do and listen to them. See if you can help them.

That’s how you deal with the tough times.

Tell yourself the truth. You deserve to hear it.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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