I read an average of one book a week this year, far short of my goal of reading 100 books this year. My goal for 2017 is taking a page from Warren Buffett’s book (ha, pun alert) and striving to read “500 pages a day.”
Below I’ve listed the 5 best books I read this year, with some excerpts from each:
The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh
I’m not usually a fan of sports-centric motivational or leadership books, but this book was in a class of its own.
Walsh took the 49ers from the worst team in the NFL to the Super Bowl in less than 3 years. What was fascinating was his systematic (known as the Standard of Performance) way of doing so. His courage and emphasis on the fundamentals is an amazing lesson to all people trying to tackle greatness. He emphasizes that with upholding these standards and the fundamentals of the craft—whatever they are for any chosen craft—success will take care of itself.
My favorite quotes:
“Flying by the seat of your pants precedes crashing by the seat of your pants.”
“When you worked with Joe, you were treated as an equal. There were no stars in the Montana system, including Joe Montana. That corny old cliché, ‘One for all and all for one,’ could have been written with him in mind.”
Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
Until reading this book I didn’t realize that most of the traditional education on Genghis Khan is quite inaccurate.
Genghis Khan abolished torture, granted universal religious freedom, and smashed systems of aristocratic privilege. The Mongol culture and empire extended generations, across many continents, and had a huge influence on the modern world.
The book also spends adequate time dispelling a lot of misinformation and notions of Genghis Khan as a “brute,” which was very different from what I remembered learning about him in the past.
My favorite quotes:
“‘To you, God has given the scriptures, and you Christians do not observe them.’ He gave examples of how [Christians] loved money ahead of justice.”
“He warned against the pursuit of a colorful life with material items and wasteful pleasures, [saying] ‘you will be no better than a slave.’”
Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is one of my favorite modern authors. His recent books have been influenced by stoic philosophy, and are written in similar veins as books like “The 48 Laws of Power,” where many stories are told to express philosophical and cerebral subjects.
In the day and age of the “me” generations and an era that glorifies self-promotion, this book does an excellent job of showing how it’s often one’s own ego that is the biggest hurdle in great accomplishment and living a fulfilled life.
My favorite quotes:
“Our own path, whatever we aspire to, will in some ways be defined by the amount of nonsense we are willing to deal with.”
“‘Each fighter, to become great,’ he said, ‘needs to have someone better that they can learn from, someone lesser who they can teach, and someone equal that they can challenge themselves against.’”
High-Profit Selling by Mark Hunter
This is my new “favorite” sales book.
The thesis of the book is that sales professionals rely one cutting price to close the sale, leaving massive amounts of profit on the table. This book has a ton of excellent sales philosophies in it, and is a great all around sales book.
In sales, especially in entrepreneurial based roles, it’s easy to cut price to close a deal, resulting in lost profits and generally, a poorer experience for the customer. The purpose of this book is to help sales people realize that, generally, price cutting is a cop out for not doing a better job in the selling process. Further, Hunter spends time explaining how this provides a more dishonest and lower level of service for the customer, creating a lose-lose situation for everyone.
My favorite quotes from the book:
“Value is what the customer believes it is, not what the salesperson thinks it is.”
“A salesperson needs to have at least three needs to discuss with the customer to keep the discussion from defaulting back to price. By uncovering three or more needs or benefits that the customer desires, you gain enough flexibility to not only craft a profitable sales proposal for the customer, but also to start laying the framework for your next sale.”
“High-profit selling is not about doing business with everybody; it’s about doing business with those customers who have needs and opportunities that align with your business model, and you want to win the confidence of those customers.”
The Stranger beside Me by Ann Rule
Since I was a child I have been fascinated with notorious serial killers.
Not because of some morbid fascination with death or violence, but because I have grown to think that every serial killer was created by their circumstances, not by some “off” gene that created these monsters. In reading and understanding these people, I feel, we get a better insight into how we create (and can prevent creating) people that do these ghastly crimes.
This year I re-read “The Stranger beside Me,” which is one of my favorite biographies on serial killers. The story is written by a woman who worked with and was friends with Ted Bundy before, during, and after his violent rapes and murders that spanned across several states.
The realness of this book comes from all the people who knew him, and were shocked to discover how this “normal guy” was a monster. He took advantage of loopholes in policing, escaped several times, and (as described by all who knew him) was extremely handsome and charismatic.
My favorite quotes:
“I had always prided myself on my ability to detect aberrance in other humans… I have berated myself silently for a long time because I saw nothing threatening or disturbing in Ted.
The only clue I had was that my dog (who liked everyone) didn’t like Ted at all. Whenever he bent over my desk at the Crisis Clinic, she growled and the hackles on her neck stood up.”
“Dr. Hoshall was sitting next to one of Raiford Prison’s psychologist.
‘I asked him if there was any effective treatment for people like Bundy.’
He paused for a moment and said, ‘Only a sledgehammer between the eyes.’”