Glory Days

Rerouted-Stream I sat in the back of the room as the keynote speaker talked about his experience as a war veteran. It was a good story for the first five minutes, filled with close calls, bonding with peers, and learning about the outside world.

Then he kept going. He talked for 10, 15, nearly 20 minutes about the war before moving on to the subject he was supposed to speak about.

The war in question (Vietnam) took place more than 30 years ago. Yet to hear him talk, it was as if he had just returned from a tour in Iraq. He told the story as if it had all happened yesterday, and anyone listening could appreciate how the time in the war had made him into the person he was that day.

But it also made me wonder… what has he been doing for the past 30 years?

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Expanding the Pie


It’s time for a confession: lately I’ve been stuck in a mindset of scarcity. Instead of focusing on abundance, I’ve been thinking about petty things. Naturally, I don’t like this, but I’m not sure how to fix it.

One of my heroes is Dean Karnazes, the Ultramarathon Man who runs 200-mile relay races as a solo competitor, runs 24-hours straight on treadmills in Times Square, and generally just runs a lot. Like anything else like this, some people “get it” and some people don’t.

I recently listened to a podcast interview with Dean where he was asked about some recent criticism. Apparently some people are upset that other people think he is awesome. Instead of responding with “WTF?” – a response I would have found suitable -- Dean gave a very cordial and thoughtful answer:

I’m not trying to take more of the pie for myself. I’m trying to make the pie larger for everyone.

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16 Great Books to Change the World

Bookshelf Spectrum by Chotda

I did a book list for Flashlight Worthy recently, all about my choices for books related to Unconventional Living. You can see the original list here, but in this post I'll expand it a bit to feature books that can help you change the world.

If you've never read these books, I recommend you hop over to Amazon or to your local library. Barring that, you can always do what I do and spend two afternoons a week reading at Barnes & Noble. (I buy coffee and consider it "rent.")

Meaning of Life

It's hard to start with anything other than Man’s Search for Meaning. That pretty much has it covered. But after that, my favorite book in the world is probably Mountains Beyond Mountains, which tells the story of Dr. Paul Farmer and the organization he founded. And although it’s not a true autobiography (it’s compiled from various articles, sermons, and letters), The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. is as good as you’d expect it to be.

its-not-how-good-you-arePersonal Development

Wishcraft is one of the best “lifestyle design” books, published years before the industry was popular and still providing some great food for thought. I also like Finding Your Own North Star. Of course, Getting Things Done is the productivity classic, and well worth owning a copy. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be is all about not letting the bad guys get you down, in advertising or in life.

Finally, if you want to create something (anything), check out The War of Art. Someone much wiser than me once said, “We are all artists, even if we don’t know how to draw.” This book will help you overcome the enemy of resistance and win the war of art – no matter which art form you work in.

ayn-rand-atlas-shruggedWhy Capitalism Is Good

I read three of Ayn Rand’s major books earlier this year, but I read them in backwards chronological order – Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and Anthem. Each contains similar ideas, but the writing was less polished in the beginning. If you can only read one, then Atlas Shrugged is the rightful masterpiece.

The book is 900+ pages, 60 pages of which is a single speech by one of the characters towards the end. In a nice application of abridgment, this guy has condensed it to 964 words.

endurance bookTravel

I don’t read a lot of travel books, but once in a while I find an especially good one that I really enjoy. I read Pico Iyer’s Video Night in Kathmandu after getting back from many of the same places he visited.

If you’re ever stranded off the coast of Antarctica without a ship or means of communication, Endurance will help you see through the situation. Even if that’s not your exact situation, the lessons of Shackleton may help you anyway.


I find that reading literary fiction helps me relax. Whenever I go on a trip, I try to take two novels and two non-fiction books with me. On the last trip, I read Harbor and Then We Came to the End for the novels.

As mentioned before (a few times, probably), I love most of Haruki Murakami’s work. If you want to blend fantasy and reality and head off into the underworld of Japan, Murakami is the master. Someone asked a while back if I had read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which is one of his longest books. At the time I hadn’t, but since then I’ve finished it. It is suitably great.


By the Way

I read a lot of books, but those have stood out to me more than many of the others. If you're looking for a good gift for someone this month, consider giving one of these books instead of a gift card.

Also, the last time we did this, I heard a lot of great recommendations from many of you. What books would you add now?


Stumble-thisRSS Feed | Email Updates A Brief Guide To World Domination

Unconventional Guides:

Working for Yourself: Creating Personal Freedom
Discount Airfare: Surviving Stress and Maximizing Fun

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Beware of Potential

I’ve known a lot of artists, writers, and musicians. Without fail, they all had some degree of talent and skill. There is no shortage of talent in the world. But I’ve noticed that something happens along the way with a lot of these talented people.

With a few notable exceptions, most of them give up on their goals at some point.

As a fellow creative, this really troubles me. Why do talented people stop working on what other people say they are good at?

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