The good good reads of my 2021

2021 has been raw. I am almost halfway through the Masters of Professional Studies in Real Estate (RE) program at Georgetown University (GU). It is true what they say, working and going to school is a BEAR of a task. While in the throws of an RE accounting course, what has kept me sane is a combination of Transcendental Meditation (TM), good reads, and working for an excellent and growing organization, JLL Technologies (JLLT). Before you dive into this list, you should know that there is no rhyme or reason to what I read. Most good authors recommend others to read, and one continues down the rabbit hole of in-the-know. The Head of my current team (Global Alliances – partnerships + technology) recommended at least two (2) of these titles. I am so grateful to have leadership around me who read and understand what contributes to healthy lives and teams. Because they are willing to pass it forward, I can pass this on to you in the good good reads of my 2021.

1. On Mental Toughness by HBR 10 Must Reads On Mental Toughness

Just so you know, I am also reading the same by HBR on Strategy. On this read, if you don’t push yourself, you will never achieve. Life is what you make of it. We all have choices. The writing clearly defines what your options are for a response when things go sideways (and they eventually do). Those responses are – active constructive, passive constructive, passive destructive, actively destructive. When you read this, you may take a walk down memory lane of situations that you handled well and poorly. In addition, you will understand and have a better idea of where others are in their journey based on the responses you receive. The writing has moments that may remind you of Simon Sinek’s the Infinite Game in relation to the fact that mental toughness is the practice of not being deterred, brushing yourself off, and evolving to play the game a little better until you reach mastery. As a former tennis player, I can tell you that a former coach gave me some sage advice and told me NEVER to miss in the same place twice. If I hit it in the net in error, the next should be to the fence until I stopped missing at all and that’s how you stay in the game. A few years ago, that same coach experienced a life-shattering event ( like 15/10 bad). Without a doubt, he may be the most mentally tough individual I have known. He identified the new path and turned the loss into an epic win in a matter of a few years. This was a decades kind of challenge. He increased his capacity, focused his energy towards the goal and put the ball between the posts. His wife is now free from a fifteen (15) year jail sentence in around six (6) years because of his grit. Did I mention that they have four (4) kids?

Learning the lesson and being consistent in your new response practice will get you further. I say practice because that’s what the takeaway is. Transforming your response to adversity takes time and practice, just like everything else. This is a good guide. If you have not or never experienced adversity via some sort of mechanism of denial, delusion, or privilege 

2. My Story by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – Visionary of Dubai

Dubai holds a special place in my many lives having grown up spending summers in Dubai among other places. Even as a child, I could see his vision for the uncapped development of the UAE, and oh yes, he has delivered. The writing is personalized. It feels as if he is sitting there telling you stories about his life and legend as a grandfather would. He will forever be immortalized in his writings and on every grain of sand in that desert. It is especially interesting to read about how he kept a peaceful and safe space throughout history while managing to remove the hand of the Empire from Dubai’s ports and land so that it can be what it is today whilst keeping peace among the tribes. I appreciated his affinity for Arabian horses, sport in general, and family above all. 

“Countries succeed when political power is used as a means to cement the people’s desires, and not simply as an end unto itself.”

Could be a lesson for corporates… just saying.

3. Measure What Matters by John Doerr

Now that I just wrote on “My Story” by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, I think that he may have been the OG of OKRs for succeeding in the UAE as he did. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) don’t just stand on their own. Continuous performance management is supported by Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition (CFRS). IMO CFRs are the key ingredients to this practice of setting proper goals and measurement that leads/managers often forget. It’s like buying bagels but no butter or cream cheese (hmm). If your organization uses OKRs and your leadership and practitioners hasn’t read this book, you can wave a long goodbye to the full potential of your initiative. This author gives you example after example of how to perform optimally, what that translates to in written format and in practice. It describes the result as the break down of those wicked corporate silos so that healthy networks can percolate. It also further involves each and every stakeholder so that folks have skin in the game.  That’s by helping employees better understand how their actions and projects impact the success of the organization at large with the freedom to pick their passions. 

“People who choose their destination will own a deeper awareness of what it takes to get there. When our how is defined by others, the goal won’t engage us to the same degree. “

4. The Moral Case of Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein

I did not purchase this piece. It was passed on to me from a network of O&G/Energy folks that I met at the North American Prospecting Expo (NAPE) this August (2021). I am grateful to have read this. So, many horrible far stretched items of vague and mismanaged points in this. But, it proves a great point about how anyone can publish just about anything as I am doing at this very moment. Strangely enough, the author does bring up a FEW good food for thought moments. The main takeaway is that there aren’t really that many other reliable AND cheap energy sources and so we shouldn’t just throw out fossil fuels as they have moved our society so far forward from where it would have been. If we have innovated our way out of many other issues, we can innovate and tech our way out of this so-called environmental/energy “crisis” as well. He argues that fossil fuels are not poorly affecting the environment but improving it among other things (unless I read that wrong – doubtful). On another note, I saw this guy on a dating app recently and after swiping through his photos in disbelief, it dawned on me that he is local to Houston, TX and that I eventually will be able to discuss my gripes face to face and should reserve my harshest criticisms for then. This might be a waste of your time to read, but it is entertaining. The version I had was filled with notes of disbelieve and counterarguments (good ones because it’s just so easy to point out how the author’s arguments are weak) from someone who eventually gave up counter arguing because it was just not worth the effort… he also drones on a bit hashing over the same point with the same weakness in argument throughout the book. I am not really sure why I am not mad that I read this. In either case, if anyone brings it up, I will be ready for both sides of the argument and not just my own views.

The Top Ten (10): Must Reads for 20 and 30 Somethings

If you are like me, you know how exciting good reading can be. Not just exciting, but it can alter the course your life takes. If you are like me in other ways, you find it the most awful thing to read stories or books that aren’t well written. Below you will find books that made me think, wow, I am glad I read this. So much so that I thought it would be nice to pay it forward with this list of must-reads. I can’t guarantee that any of these will be your cup of tea, but they certainly helped satiate some existential need of mine to help support purpose and direction.  

1. The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton

This story gives us a front-row seat into the world of professional cyclists, what pressures they face, and what lengths they are willing to go as a collective to win. This particular journey details the life of a former associate of Lance Armstrong. It is a compelling anecdote of why people do what they do and that eventually, almost everyone gets caught.

2. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha is about a quest. It doesn’t feel like a short read. However, it is. Just when you think the main character is truly living their life, the direction changes. It brings out the ultimate question in the reader. What does your quest include, and are you reaching your potential?

3. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison crafts one of the greatest stories that will have you wondering, is this truly fiction? Between the narrative on politics and culture, it will be hard to put this down let alone not vicariously learn a lesson or two.

4. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

You may want to purchase two (2) copies. That is one (1) for you and one (1) to pay it forward. Gladwell is most likely best known for this work of fact and fun. It addresses at what point and why things trend and go viral.

5. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

Settle in because this is a long journey. It’s one that you must take when you are ready. Therefore, you may have a few starts and stops. First and foremost, it is about finding both peace and meaning. The final points will blow your mind.

6. People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck

It will confirm what we already know. There are bad (evil) people in this world. The question is, how do they affect others. Explore that vein in People of the Lie.

7. Comfy Slippers & a Cup of  Tea by Julie Lomas

A touch of wisdom propels you through this experience. The technique best used to reap the riches of this literature is to pick it up and start reading at whatever point you open the book. That’s correct; any page can offer something significant. Again, the goal here is to explore the fundamentals of life which, includes self-love and forgiveness.

8. The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol 

It is the type of book that appears in your life at just the right time. It seems a bit cheesy, but you can’t help but get sucked into the narrative until you, too, start to believe. It highlights what you can do outside of working super hard towards a goal to be successful. Its theme revolves around how beliefs make things happen.

9. Connected by James H. Fowler

Could you have imagined that science proves that your friend’s friend’s friend can influence your life? It even explores the political influence and the blogosphere in the United States and Iran. You will be shocked at the research.

10. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle 

Enlightenment is the keyword here. Have you ever asked yourself what you could accomplish if you could move out of your own way? The Power of Now can serve as a guide to removing obstacles from your path to greatness even if an obstacle is you and how you identify yourself.