The Books I Read in 2018

When it comes to reading, 2018 was a banner year for me. I think I read nearly one book per month. This is a big change for me. Up until recent years, I had not read too many non-fiction books. I was teaching quite a bit at the University of Calgary and that soaked up a bunch of my free time and energy.

As you start the new year, you may want to have a look at a few of the books that I read in 2018. Here is a list of the books that I remember reading and still have in my possession. I have included a quick summary and a review.

Profit First, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Profit First, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Profit First

By Mike Michalowicz, 2014, 2017

Every company has its up and downs. One of the things I have wanted to do for the last few years is reign in expenses. This book, Profit First by Mike Michalowicz, was the spark to getting our company started. The basic premise is the formula Revenue minus Expenses equals Profit. The author changes this formula to be Revenue minus Profit equals Expenses and this is a key difference. The emphasis is on Profit as opposed to spending money and then whatever is left over is Profit.

We didn't follow all the principles outlined in the book but we did Implement if you bank accounts to collect specific expenses like GST and an account for Profit. Now we are looking at all our expenses and ruthlessly cutting back on anything that is not absolutely necessary.

Lean In, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Lean In, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Lean In: Women, Work, and The Will to Lead

By Sheryl Sandberg with Nell Scovell, 2013

I'm johnny-comes-lately when it came to reading this book but it was definitely worth reading. As most of you know, Sheryl Sandberg is the CEO of Facebook. This is her first book. I haven't read her second book which is called Plan B.

In this book, Sandberg tells many interesting stories about her experiences as an employee of Google and Facebook. I like your style of writing and I like her perspective. I valued her open approach.

The Four Agreements, Photo by Jeff Nelson

The Four Agreements, Photo by Jeff Nelson

The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book

By Don Miguel Ruiz with Janet Mills, 1997

Dan Frederick recommended this book to me. Dan and I have weekly conversations where we talk about what's going on with our business lives. I enjoy and value my conversations with Dan. During one of our conversations he recommended that I read this book by Don Miguel Ruiz.

The Four Agreements are:

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don't take anything personally.
3. Don't make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

The specific agreement that Dan suggested I look at was the second agreement: Don't take things personally. I picked up a used copy of the book at Fair’s Fair Books in Calgary. The book is excellent. To be honest, I struggle with putting into practice all four agreements. But as a result of reading this book I have found that I am taking less things personally than I was previously.

Here is a helpful quote from the book specifically related to the second agreement:

“Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world.”

Start with Why, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Start with Why, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By Simon Sinek, 2009

Believe it or not, this book by Simon Sinek is now 10 years old. His TED Talk of the same name has over 42 million views. Sinek’s concept of The Golden Circle, comprised of What, How and Why, is a fundamental business concept nowadays - I read about it everywhere.

Go-Giver, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Go-Giver, Photo by Jeff Nelson

The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea

By Bob Burg and John David Mann, 2007, 2015

I had high hopes before reading this book. Structuring a book as a story with characters, sort of like “The Little Prince” or The Alchemist, is often a helpful way to present a topic or a concept. That is what is used in this book. It should work but it wasn’t life-changing for me.

The main character in the book, Joe, visits a variety of people in business and learns that there are five laws called The Five Stratospheric Laws of Success. These are:

  1. The Law of Value.

  2. The Law of Compensation.

  3. The Law of Influence.

  4. The Law of Authenticity.

  5. The Law of Receptivity.

Call me a skeptic but I didn't find these laws to be all that profound - useful maybe, but not profound.

Mastering Fear, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Mastering Fear, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Mastering Fear: A Navy Seal’s Guide

By Brandon Webb and John David Mann, 2018

This is the latest collaboration by John David Mann. In this book, Mann teams up with Brandon Webb. Webb generated quite a bit of controversy even before writing this book but I really liked the concept and the stories. It is well written. I really liked the story of Mann teaching his friend who is successful in business but scared stiff of water, to swim. There are excellent principles in the techniques that Mann uses.

His 5 step process (or points) are (note: the same number as in The Go-Giver book which Mann co-authored):

  1. Make a Decision

  2. Rehearse

  3. Let Go

  4. Jump Off

  5. Focus on What Matters

I probably would start with “focus on what matters” but that’s just me. Regardless, I loved this book. It is a valuable read.

Way of the Wolf, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Way of the Wolf, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling: Master the Art of Persuasion, Influence, and Success

By Jordan Belfort, 2017

Did you see the movie The Wolf of Wall Street? Well, Jordon Belfort is the guy. This is his book with his “secrets”. The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Margot Robbie, Matthew McConaughey, and Rob Reiner. The music in the movie is excellent. The scripts, the story and the scenes are hilarious.

One would hope that the book would be as good as the movie - it isn’t. In Way of the Wolf, Belfort outlines his concept of Straight Line Selling - all of which I have forgotten. It’s good but not repeatable outside of the business of selling penny stock to the top 1% of American investors.

I bought the audiobook as well so that I could listen to Belfort's style. I left every chapter thinking he was swindling me - and he did - I bought the book twice. Maybe his techniques work better than I thought.

Mastery, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Mastery, Photo by Jeff Nelson

Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long-Term Fulfilment

By George Leonard, 1992

My good friend Joanne O’Connell recommended this book to me. This is a small book - about 6 inches high, 5 inches wide and 3/4 of an inch thick but it packs a wallop. The basic idea is that master a skill, any skill, isn’t easy - it takes time and effort - lots of time and lots of effort. Of course, everyone knows this but what makes this book valuable is that Leonard outlines Five Master Keys:

  1. Instruction

  2. Practice

  3. Surrender

  4. Intentionality

  5. The Edge

Even though Leonard is a black belt Aikido instructor he stresses that he is still a student. I respect that. This is a good book.

The Banting Pocket Guide, Photo by Jeff Nelson

The Banting Pocket Guide, Photo by Jeff Nelson

The Banting Pocket Guide

By Prof. Tim Noakes, Bernadine Douglas and Bridgette Allan, 2017

As some of you may know I lost over 30 lbs in 2017. This was a huge achievement for me. Losing weight was a long-standing goal of mine for far too many years. But after losing weight my next goal was to keep the weight off and maybe even lose a bit more. This book was key in helping me stabilize and maintain my weight.

The concept of high fat low carbs was new and foreign to me. I grew up in the era of low fat high carbs. It took me a while to adjust. Now I focus on eating bacon, fish, some red meet, and above-ground-vegetables. Once in a while I have some bread, fruit and yogurt but I have been able to reduce my cravings for these food groups considerably. I have almost totally eliminated sugars, desserts, and starchy vegetables. I’m enjoying the new flavors and the new lifestyle.