I had a goal of reading fifty books in 2020. I don’t see any reason to stop. Here are three more reviews for you.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff, Richard Carlson
Somehow I forgot to write a book review for #51 so here it is a bit late.
We all have shit of which we need to let go. As I sit here today I’m obsessing over a US Senate candidate who won his primary last night. If you go to his website today you’ll see our work. We were his digital team and we were absolutely crushing it. Then we got canned when the candidate hired a new consultant who recently purchased himself a shiny little digital agency. We did everything right. Our work was solid. We worked around the clock. Hell, we got fired the day after working through a holiday weekend. It didn’t matter. That’s business. And politics. Still it burns.
But what can I do about it? I cannot reverse time. I cannot fix the nature of business or politics. I can sit here stewing. I can get anxious and angry. I can waste my energy and as Carlson writes “completely lose touch with the magic and beauty of life.”
Or I can get over it, learn and adapt. In the end, this isn’t a big deal. I have plenty more clients and our team is absolutely crushing everything it touches this year. We are about to have the best year in our ten year history. That’s what I should be focused on. In fact, that IS what I am focused on starting right now. Carlson asks “will this matter a year from now?” The answer is absolutely not. So why the hell should I even care? I don’t.
This is a great book to get your mind right, especially during this insane year of anxiety. It’s broken down into 100 short chapters, typically about two pages, that is easily digestible. I decided to read two chapters per day so that I can meditate on them, much like a devotional. Just some of my favorite lessons:
Make peace with imperfection.
Be aware of the snowball effect of your thinking.
Create ‘Patience Practice Periods.’
Allow yourself to be bored.
Imagine yourself at your own funeral.
Repeat to yourself, “life isn’t an emergency.”
Set aside quiet time, every day.
Become a better listener.
Choose your battles wisely.
Breathe before you speak.
Just for fun, agree with criticism directed toward you.
Think of what you have rather than what you want.
The next time you find yourself in an argument, rather than defend your position, see if you can see the other point of view first.
And my favorite – Ask yourself if this will matter a year from now?
Carlson wrote a short book that can change many lives. I recommend this one to everyone, especially those feeling down during the 2020 shitstorm.
Moneyball, Michael Lewis
I don’t have family members working for the big committees in DC.
I don’t have staff taking Hill staffers to fancy dinners and Nationals baseball games.
We may be the only GOP digital agency that hasn’t sold to a larger holding company.
I choose not to be part of the Washington, DC bullshit. I choose to raise my family in America’s best city. I choose to remain independently owned.
My company has stood strong for ten years and we are poised to expand even more in the coming years. It’s been tough, mostly because I haven’t followed the path of my competitors. I’ve had to play a different game all together. I’ve had to go the other way.
You’ve probably seen this movie. It’s one of my favorites and I think about it every single day. I’m constantly asking myself – how I can play the game completely different than my competitors? How can I recruit clients and staff differently, or in the case of this story, how can a team recruit players differently? Once that stable of clients, or players, is complete, how do we do the work differently?
In so many ways Push Digital is the Oakland A’s of political, advocacy and reputation agencies. We aren’t part of the cool kids club in DC. We don’t have all the money of big financial backers. We have to be scrappy. That forces us to be more creative, more strategic and in most ways, more stable as a company. We haven’t had the big boom and busts we see with our competitors. We’ve slowly grown as a solid agency that has stood the test of time.
This book is about baseball, but more so, it’s the story of a business that was forced to go the other way. They played by a completely different set of rules and through a lot of experimentation they found a formula for success, one that has been replicated by nearly every other baseball team.
I love this book even more than I love the movie. The added detail is exactly what I needed to hear right now. If you’re the David facing a Goliath, this book is for you. It’s for the underdogs willing to play a different game and willing to go the other way.
What It Takes, Stephen Schwarzman
This one will be a short book review. I’m traveling with the family and it’s damn near impossible to write with my three little monkeys jumping all over everything.
Anytime a self-made man who has built $17 Billion in personal wealth gives advice, we should listen. Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump have called on him for financial, strategic and political advice. That alone is enough for me to pick up his book.
Stephen Schwarzman is one of the most influential men in the world that you’ve probably never heard of. Schwarzman founded investment firm, The Blackstone Group, with just $400,000 in seed funding. The company went public in 2007 with a $ Billion IPO. Today Blackstone manages about $550 Billion in assets.
This book is memoir also full of great advice. Honestly, a lot of the advice is high level. This guy is a straight up baller. I wouldn’t say his advice is necessarily for small business folks. Maybe even not for medium sized business folks. Those who run large businesses should definitely read this book. Or, perhaps anyone just looking for some motivation. Schwarzman was a nobody who became one of the richest men in the world who is sought after for advice from the most powerful men on the planet. I sure wouldn’t mind being like him.