Stretch goal: Read 20 books this year, and write 20 reviews. Note: not a resolution. Nope. Not that. 

But, a stretch goal. I say stretch goal because let’s be honest…20 reviews? The 20 books themselves are easy as pie (well, kind of, because I’ve actually owned some of these for awhile now).

Some have already been traded out – Sorry, Winning the Long Game!

But, here’s the first three:

1. Louder Than Words, Todd Henry

I bought this book within 48 hours of hearing a podcast he did with Chris Brogan. You can grab a direct download of the podcast here, or listen on Stitcher or iTunes.

I’m about exactly halfway through this book, so its inclusion on my list for 2016 is to finish it – on my own terms.

It’d be one thing to just read a book like this and go “yeah, all good, great advice, yada yada,” but I actually found myself writing down every single question he asks you to answer for yourself within the text (either to go back and answer later, or actually scribbling down my thoughts while reading). About halfway through the book, and after checking, there’s over 100 in-text questions left for me to write down. Wow.

But you know what? It’s been so worth it so far – even in the first two chapters as I’m ready back on my notes and scribbles, I truly heard this podcast in the right place, at the right time, especially given the work I was doing at the time.

2. Resilience: Hard Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life, Eric Greitens

Another podcast purchase from Chris Brogan land. I have a special place in my heart for veterans, and tend to be slightly biased towards advice and musings from them (given my family’s background, this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to anyone). Around the same time I heard this podcast, I was also reflecting on Memorial Day. I ended up telling my mom that she had to buy this book – especially given the hard times she was finally starting to come out on the other side of.

I’ve already made multiple desktop calendars out of quotes from this book, and written down lines from every other paragraph. I didn’t fully start it until later last year, but like book #1, it’s one of the ones I want to finish this year, for sure.

3. Bill Walsh – The Score Takes Care of Itself

So, admittedly, I had no idea who Bill Walsh was until I saw this book recommended in one of the blogs I subscribe to in my Feedly. I was on a sports kick at the time for motivation (maybe it had to do with Nate’s deconstruction of the Eye of the Tiger speech and the subsequent hand drawing I did for its followup post?)

Living in the San Francisco Bay Area though and not knowing who Bill Walsh was is apparently a huge sin. Oops.

This book already has taught me a lot about the kind of culture I want to be a part of in a team sense, particularly when it comes to not just “talking the talk,” but “walking the walk” –

“Victory is produced by and belongs to all. Winning a Super Bowl (or becoming number one in the marketplace, or reaching a significant quarterly production quota, or landing a big account) results from your whole team not only doing their individual jobs but perceiving that those jobs contributed to overall success. The trophy doesn’t just belong to a superstar quarterback or CEO, head coach or top salesperson. And this organizational perception that “success belongs to everyone” is taught by the leader.”

The book so far has made me much more aware of how the struggle for consistency, bringing your best, and holding everyone to a higher set of standards isn’t unusual, but still vital to the success of an organization. Cheesy, I know, but it was comforting. I hold myself to incredibly high standards, and thus far, I’ve actually gotten a lot of clarification from this book. If I could only find it, I’d keep reading it…

More to come 🙂