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My Favorite Books of 2017

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A list of the top 15 books I read in 2017: Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson.  This is the same biographer that wrote wonderful biographies of Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein.  The power of Da Vinci’s intellect and the insatiable nature of his curiosity is well detailed in this volume.  Isaacson focuses on Da Vinci’s ability to master multiple disciplines (painting, sculpture, science, engineering, writing, anatomy, biology and so much more).  Da Vinci was a...

Leadership Lessons from Lewis & Clark

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Charles M. Russell: Lewis and Clark on the Lower Columbia From May 1804 to September 1806, two men led an expedition from St. Louis, Missouri to the Pacific Ocean and back again. The group covered over 7,000 miles, crossed the Rocky Mountains in harsh conditions, and encountered numerous Native American tribes, both friendly and hostile. They were the first people of European descent to explore this territory.  Only one man died on the journey, and that was likely from acute appendicitis. All...

Management vs. Leadership

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I’m often asked, “what is the difference between management and leadership?”  The best answer I’ve ever heard, and the one I usually give is: Management is about doing things right.  Leadership is about doing the right thing. Like any great aphorism, it is short and memorable.  It does a decent job communicating the big concept, but it can be a little dissatisfying.  The natural follow up question is always, “yes, but how does it really work in practice?”...

When Your Wave Comes, Ride It

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Laird Hamilton surfing Teahupoo on August 17, 2000.  Photo: Tim McKenna   On August 17, 2000, Laird Hamilton was surfing a famous break off Tahiti called Teahupoo. The break at Teahupoo already had a fierce reputation, but on this day, Laird and his friend Darrick Doerner saw a wave approaching unlike anything they had ever seen before or since.  Doerner was on a jet ski, towing Laird into the wave when the magnitude of the wave hit him: “I towed him onto this wave and it was to the...

Deep, Long-Lasting, Meaningful Work

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How do some athletes and artists stay dedicated to their craft over many years, even decades? And throughout that time, how do they continue to improve, and turn in game-changing performances and create break-through works of art? In their book, Peak Performance, Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness explore how some individuals are able to find another gear, and develop the focus and dedication to achieve mastery. What is their secret? Well, it’s not really a secret because almost everyone who...

The Ancient Wisdom of Teams

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For a team to be successful, team members must put the interests of the team above their own. It’s necessary for team members, at times, to sacrifice their ego, play a supporting role, and in some deep sense, care more for the success of the team than for individual achievement and glory. These are timeless truths with roots extending far back to the very dawn of human culture. Cooperation has been reinforced, generation after generation, through the evolution of human culture. Agriculture...

It’s Not Who’s On Your Team, It’s How You Work Together

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If your boss came up to you today and asked you to form a team for a high-profile strategic project, what would be your first task? If you’re like most people, your thoughts would immediately turn toward whom to select to join your team. After all, we’ve been conditioned to believe that the most important factor for any team is the quality of the players. If you want a super team, fill it with superstars. Just look at the Golden State Warriors. Now suppose your boss gave you a further...

How My First Boss Saved Me From Failing

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I was 23 years old, in my first professional job and I was failing big-time. My boss had recently handed me a list of five-hundred names and phone numbers and instructed me to cold call them. I picked up the phone and started dialing. I felt a palpable sense of fear and anxiety as I reached for the phone to make each call. I experienced a wave of rejection the likes of which I had never before seen. I was demoralized. My boss could see I was floundering and ready to quit. After a few days, he...

What We Can Learn from Jeff Bezos about Decision Making

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For the past few years Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has shared his approach to decision making in his annual letter to shareholders. Given Amazon’s ability to innovate, and its meteoric rise to retail dominance, there is much we can learn from Bezos and his tips for better decision making. Type 1 vs. Type 2 Decisions Bezos categorizes all decisions into two types. Type 1 decisions are big, strategic and consequential. These decisions must be made very carefully and methodically. They are irreversible...

The Man Who Beat Vegas & Wall Street

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Edward O. Thorp is not well-known outside of finance, but within the investment community he is revered like a rock star. Over two decades, Thorp recorded average annual returns of 19.1%, an incredible achievement. In his recent memoir, A Man for All Markets, Thorp tells his amazing life story, from a child of the depression through an early career as an academic and finally as a successful investor. Independent Thinking Early on Thorp developed a fiercely independent mind that guided his...

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