Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court

John Wooden is one of the most successful basketball coaches in history winning 10 national championships at UCLA including 8 consecutive. In Wooden, he details principles and lessons he’s learned throughout his 80 years of life.

The book format reminded me of Seth Godin – short chapters that piece together to form an overarching narrative. I came away with quite a few highlights. It’s a quick read, but it won’t hit my all-time best list.

My favorite quote was actually a poem from Ogden Nash

Sometime when you’re feeling important,
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom,
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You’re the best qualified in the room.

Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how it humbles your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water;
Put your hand in it up to the wrist.
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining
Is the measure of how you’ll be missed.

You may splash all you please when you enter;
You can stir up the water galore;
But stop, and you’ll find in a minute,
That it looks quite the same as before.

The moral in this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can.
Be proud of yourself, but remember,
There’s no indispensable man!

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

This represents a fairly unique take on a leadership book – told in story form compared to the typical chapter-by-chapter list of lessons. As a result, it was really enjoyable and quick to read. It’s also easy to see how the 5 dysfunctions appears within teams:

1. Lack of trust
2. Fear of conflict
3. Lack of commitment
4. Avoidance of accountability
5. Inattention to results

One of my favorite quotes:

…the reality remains that teamwork ultimately comes down to practicing a small set of principles over a long period of time. Success is not matter of mastering subtle, sophisticated theory, but rather an embracing common sense with uncommon levels of discipline and persistence.

A Higher Standard

I picked up A Higher Standard by America’s first female four-star general, Ann Dunwoody, after she joined the board at Automattic. The book details her experience leading teams within the military and navigating a career that lasted nearly four decades, ending with leading the global supply chain for the Army. A Higher Standard represented a bit of a departure from typical leadership books. This was less a step-by-step, tactical leadership book and more a collection of personal stories that demonstrate key leadership principles. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed it so much. I’d highly recommend!

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

I’ve heard about this book many times before, but I honestly picked it up because it was free to read on Kindle. I just stumbled upon it and figured why not? I’m glad I did. Although I felt like there was a fair amount of fluff, the seven habits were both affirmations of values I already hold dear (personal management tactics, value-driven living) and deep dives into new frameworks I was interested in exploring (see this post).

Small Giants

I heard Small Giants mentioned several times on the Tim Ferriss podcast prior to picking it up. The title says it all: “Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big.” The author details 10 (or so) companies that chose to be small despite having the option to grow quite large. It influenced my thinking quite a bit as I work with the team over at CrossFit Undeniable to make a sizeable impact without growing too large.


I picked up Factfulness after Bill Gates decided to give a copy to every graduate across the country. I thought if Bill was giving out that many copies, it must be worth a read. Factfulness provides a new mental model for thinking about the world, one that’s based on reality and not skewed by media perception. It was a fascinating read that I would recommend to everyone.

The Rational Optimist

In The Rational Optimist, author Matt Ridley challenges common pessimistic notions about the world including poverty and climate change. His thesis is that, by and large, the world is actually doing much better now than it ever has been. I picked this up because it was on sale in Kindle, and it had been on my list for quite some time. I enjoyed it, and it paired really well with the book I read next (Factfulness).

The ONE Thing

I picked up Gary Keller’s The ONE Thing on a lark after finding it for free on the Prime reading list. I had come across the title a few times in the past but never found it intriguing enough to pick it up. I (somewhat accurately) predicted I could conjure up many of the main points without reading the book.

Similar to the popular book Essentialism, Mr. Keller’s The ONE Thing presses upon readers the importance of having a singular focus at any given moment. Multi-tasking and holding many priorities in your mind at the same time decreases efficiency and makes it less likely you’ll make any progress at all. He included a quote from Steve Uzzell that I loved:

Multitasking is merely the opportunity to screw up more than one thing at a time.

Three central themes stood out as I read through The ONE Thing: Success requires extraordinary commitment, segmented attention is the enemy of progress, and many times, perseverance in the face of failure ultimately leads to success.

Continue reading “The ONE Thing”

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

In 12 Rules for Life, author Jordan B. Peterson pulls from religious texts, philosophers, and real-life examples to create 12 rules for living, which include rules like “Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping” and “Tell the truth. Or at least don’t lie.” The rules originated from an answer he posted to a question on Quora. In his book, he expands on these rules in great detail.

Continue reading “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos”


I haven’t been a big fan of history reads in the last, but 1776 changes my mind. It painted a really interesting and engaging picture of the American Revolution and the military mind of George Washington. I would recommend it if you, like me, didn’t pay attention in history class and want to understand the AR in greater detail.