Summer definitely conjures up images of sitting under a beach umbrella or shade tree, with time to read those books we put on our “must-read” lists. If you don’t have a list – or risk having more time than books — I’ve sorted through my recent reads to select some I think you might enjoy.
Facing the future head-on
The world is experiencing unprecedented rates of change, and we can deal with that fact in one of two ways: We can fear it and let it drive us – or even paralyze us. Or we can try to understand it and make it work for us. I chose the latter path. Among the books I read on that journey, two stood out.
“The Future Is Faster Than You Think” by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler – I spent a few days ‘live’ with Peter Diamandis at an online event, Abundance 360. This part-entrepreneur, part-futurologist says, “In the next ten years, we’ll reinvent every industry.” This book helped convince me that we’re in an epic boom cycle as many converging technologies reinforce one another.
Change is everywhere, starting with AI, virtual reality, robotics, blockchain and 3d printers. Next, as technologies leverage one another, the speed of change will be even faster. We can expect more disruption — and wealth creation — in the next decade than our minds can conceive.
Diamandis and Kotler explain how the exponentially accelerating technologies will affect everything from industries to how we raise our kids, govern our country and care for the planet. It’s easy to fear something if we don’t understand it. This book brings welcome clarity to help us look forward to the future with optimism.
“The End of the World Is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalization” by Peter Zeihan – This is another forward-looking book. However, this time we focus on the consequences of America changing its role in the world at a time when globalization is unraveling. Zeihan turns the dry topics of geography and demographics into vibrant, approachable forces that drive many of the significant decisions we read about in the news. I’ve not only read his other works, but I also watch his YouTube channel daily. He’s that good.
Globalization has been credited with making everything cheaper, better and faster over the past decades. Much of that was thanks to the role America chose to play after World War II.
However, because of intentional and unintentional developments, that role is changing. Peter Zeihan combines his expertise in demographics – the size and composition of each nation’s population – with his view of geographical constraints. He uses that to forecast where countries and regions are headed.
A different form of prophesizing
“The Harbinger” by Jonathan Cahn – I was surprised by how much I enjoyed my introduction to the world of alchemy when I read Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist.” Since then, I’ve realized that few authors can capture the delicate balance between fantasy and believability while taking you through ancient mysteries and credible prophesizing. Rabbi Jonathan Cahn is another author who can – and does in his book “The Harbinger.” I thought I was reading this book as an escape, but it turned out to be enveloping, engrossing – and hard to put down.
According to Cahn, the book is a loosely fictional novel based on biblical analysis. It builds on a real-life, non-fiction connection between a prophecy regarding the destruction of ancient Israel (fulfilled in the 8th century BC) and destructive events occurring in the U.S. this century. Using fiction, he’s free to dramatize events that could otherwise be dry and academic —and instead, create a highly readable narrative.
Depending on your viewpoint, this could be considered the third book about facing the future.
Living life to the fullest
“Forever Young” by Mark Hyman, MD – The older we get, the more concerned we are about longevity: what we’ve done wrong in the past and what we can do right in the future to fix that. I subscribe to holistic medicine, and Mark Hyman is a leader in that field. I love his podcast, “The Doctor’s Farmacy,” and can heartily recommend the podcast and this book.
Dr. Mark Hyman broke through to public awareness as a health revolutionary as the founder of several rule-breaking entities: The UltraWellness Center, the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, and the education-focused Institute for Functional Medicine. He has written 15 New York Times bestsellers on food’s role in our good health.
In “Forever Young,” he focuses specifically on how our biology and health affect the process of aging. It is described as “a revolutionary, practical guide to creating and sustaining health – for life.”
Looking for heroes?
“Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice” by Adam Makos – I’m halfway through this book, turning page after page and looking for excuses not to put it down. I admit that I watched the movie on a recent plane flight, and I now wonder if the outcome will be different in the book. It’s a well-told story that makes us ask one question: how far would we go to save a friend?
The backdrop is the Korean War, America’s “forgotten war.” And the leading roles are played by two U.S. Navy aviators: a white New Englander and an African American sharecropper’s son from Mississippi.
At a time when racism is said to be driving our country’s divisiveness, this book goes back to when America was still divided by segregation and when racial issues had barely been addressed legislatively. Yet bravery and selflessness were stronger than discord.
Business philosophy times two
Each year, I look for outstanding books that directly or indirectly address business philosophy. The first book I found was by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Ben Hardy. In it, they suggest we think big and ignore incrementality: a philosophy we can apply successfully to our lives and businesses.
“10x is Easier than 2x” by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Ben Hardy – Dan Sullivan is considered one of the world’s leading coaches for highly successful entrepreneurs. Dr. Ben Hardy is an organizational psychologist whose blogs have been read over 100 million times. In this joint effort, they share that an incremental goal like “grow my business by 2x” won’t engage you intellectually and emotionally the same way 10x growth will.
But 10x? Your first reaction will likely be to hesitate. After all, your brain may tell you that the greater the goal, the greater the effort. But that’s what the authors reject. Instead, bigger goals simplify the process. It’s about quality versus quantity and where you put your focus. Sullivan and Hardy explain their 10x mindset in great detail – which helps you apply it to all aspects of your life.
Clear explanations, good stories and relevant case studies show you how it’s done.
“Unreasonable Hospitality” by Will Guidara – Lessons in business philosophy can come from anywhere, as this second selection exemplifies. In the case of Will Guidara’s book, it provides a fascinating insight into the high-end restaurant industry and the experience it offers to patrons. Yet you can apply those same lessons to almost every business. (As a bonus, I can’t wait to try some of the restaurants mentioned in the book.)
In 11 years, Will Guidara transformed a struggling two-star brasserie into “the best restaurant in the world.” He didn’t do that by focusing on the tried-and-true incremental improvements at the edge of what existed. Instead, he opted for the creative solution of “always, always, always,” going above and beyond to over-deliver to patrons.
As the boss, he realized that to reach his full potential, he had to start by motivating all employees to want to serve the customers well. He understood that it feels great to make others feel good – thus making hospitality a selfish pleasure. By aligning the skills of his employees to their ideal tasks, the joy received from providing good service became a mission rather than a chore.
His philosophy ties back to the fact that people will always have the desire to be cared for. Whatever business you are in, you can choose to be in the hospitality business. And if good service is given, your business should thrive.
I hope you found something that might interest you to read this summer. Drop me a line and let me know what’s on your list. Happy reading!
This article originally appeared in the Old Colony Memorial.