Completing the 15 books challenge
Updated: Jan 22, 2021
Motivation behind the challenge
In 2019. I started my dream - followed my entrepreneurial spirit and made my very own company. The stars aligned and I pushed off into a new adventure. As it was a big step, partly into unknown, I wanted to commemorate it in a grand way. And I spent some time thinking what would be a meaningful gesture, a good yearly project to commemorate the opening of a company and to be useful at the same time.
I gave it some thought and by New Years time or as it could be known the resolutions time, it hit me - get in shape - NO! too much of a cliche. Read a certain amount of business and improvement books - That could work.
The secret behind 15
Alright, reading specialized books would help me as an individual, benefit my company and would be a grand yearly project worth taking in my new adventure. But what number of books should it be? At least one book a month, I could totally do one book a month, I thought to myself. But is 12 a big enough number that would radiate the seriousness of my endeavor? Lets round it up to 15 so my slight OCD is in check and see how it goes.
And then the first step, which book would I read? Google was my friend....googling top 20 business books....ok I have my book titles, that´s a start.
I started the year strong, reading books left and right, hardcover, digital even audio books. In the first 5 months I have read 10 books, most of them audio books so "read" might not be technically correct as listened would.
Walk and read - and occasionally mow the lawn
Getting back to the new years resolution of get in shape idea that at first didn't sound right for my endeavor. I had a little brainstorming with my wife of the optimal way to read books while doing some other thing that is useful. Reading a hard copy book or even a digital version requires time and you cannot do anything else while you are reading. On the other hand, listening to an audio book sets you free to do something else. I must say I had some aversion for audio books as some other people do have too.
Lots of ideas were thrown what the other activity would be: ironing, diy projects, cooking etc. In the end we landed on walking while listening to a book. So you can work on your bod and your brain. My wife liked our idea so much that even she started it with me. We decided to brand it Walk and read (trademarked =) ) Every other day one of us would go on a 10 km walk while listening to audio books while the other one would take care of our son. In addition I found it great to listen to audio books while mowing lawn, but instead of walking by myself I'm walking with my lawnmower.
The books I have read in 2020
Here is the the complete list of the books I´ve read in 2020. I have ranked them more or less in order I liked the book, even though its not a clean cut ranking and every book has worthy lessons. Some of the books on the list are not strictly business books, some are personal improvement books, memoirs etc. With every book I paired a quote that I liked from the book.
📖 Gary V - Crushing it! - “Patience is for the long term; speed is for the short term. The pressure that builds between the two produces the diamond.”
📖 Seth Godin - Purple cow: Transform your business by being remarkable. - “In your career, even more than for a brand, being safe is risky. The path to lifetime job security is to be remarkable.”
📖 Simon Sinek - The infinite game - “No matter how successful we are in life, when we die, none of us will be declared the winner of life.”
📖 Charles Duhigg - The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business - “Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking, too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”
📖 Dale Carnegie - How to Win Friends and Influence People - “It isn't what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.”
📖 Stephen R. Covey - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change. - “To change ourselves effectively, we first had to change our perceptions.”
📖 Roger Fisher, William L. Ury and Bruce Patton - Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In . - “By disentangling the people from the problem, you can be ‘soft on the people’ and ‘hard on the problem.'”
📖 Jordan Peterson - 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos- “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today.”
📖 Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling, and Ola Rosling - Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think - "There’s no room for facts when our minds are occupied by fear.”
📖 James C. Collins - Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't . - “Expending energy trying to motivate people is largely a waste of time… if you have the right people on the bus, they will be self-motivated.”
📖 Phil Knight: Shoe Dog 👟 - "You are remember for the rules you break. General MacArthur"
📖 Chris Guillebeau - The $100 Startup 💵 - “In the future, marketing will be like sex: Only the losers pay for it.”
📖 Napoleon Hill - Think and Grow Rich - “You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”
📖 Marcus Buckingham - First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently. - “Talent is the multiplier. The more energy and attention you invest in it, the greater the yield. The time you spend with your best is, quite simply, your most productive time.”
📖 Clayton Christensen - The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail. - “Disruptive technologies typically enable new markets to emerge.”
What have I learned
Of course it is extremely hard to memorize all the good advice and lectures of 15 books in a relatively short period, but one thing I can say is that my overall perspective on business and life in general changed more times that I can count while reading those books. I will definitively be returning to most of the books for a second read sometime in the future and the (at least) 15 books a year will be my permanent yearly goal from now on. Since the end of the year is still 3 months away there is still room for more reading and I will gladly cram more books in. I would recommend the 15 ( or more) books challenge to everyone and if you want to step it up a notch try Walk and read (trademarked) =)