A Key to Success: to tell a…

So , there are many ways to be successful. This happens to be what’s worked best for me and I truly believe if you do this you can find success wherever that might be. What is it? It’s learning how to tell a good story.

Yes, from the dawn of time we have been story tellers. A story can take any form, it can be a painting, a photo, a blog post, literally anything. Let me clarify, just because you have something to say doesn’t make it a story. A story is a process of organizing information, tailoring a message to your specific audience. This audience can be yourself or others. We are constantly absorbing new information and this information is just noise until we break down the noise and organize. So what do stories need?

Stories need focus

One story at a time. Yes we have a lot to say and want to say it all at once, but this almost always ends in disaster. You end up having too much to say and end up spreading yourself too thin. You end up jumping from topic to topic and lose the interest of your audience.

Stories need a message

There is no point in telling a story if it doesn’t have a message. People want application. A story without a message is simply put, a waste of everyone’s time. You don’t tell a joke without a punchline and the same applies here.

Stories need to matter

You must tailor your story to your audience. Some stories are best left untold if they don’t add value to the other person. That’s not to say the story doesn’t matter, but it might be a story for another day and a different audience. If you find value in the story, great, that’s your own personal story. This said, my advice is try to find universal interests to frame your stories. Like, for example, everyone can relate to wanting to feel valued, to know that they have worth. You can tell many stories from this frame, whether that be giving advice through a blog or telling someone how much you appreciate their work and listing specifics.

So there you have it, a simple guide on what stories are and what to watch out for so you’re not giving people word vomit. I would like to note that this post is just one story. There very well has probably been another blogger who’s written about telling stories and reached a completely different outcome. Life isn’t about right or wrong, it’s about valuing the differences! Now go out and tell your story (or stories) whatever that (those) may be! Thanks for reading!

The One Thing: Worth a Read?

So, what is the one thing? Well, that’s the idea behind this book. People are constantly making themselves busier and busier but for what? People try to achieve a work life balance but only find themselves stressed and frustrated. This book challenges this belief and instead refers to the “work-life” counterbalance. If you’re working, your focus should be on work. If you’re “living” your focus should be on life (family, friends, yourself, etc). This is just one of many ideas touched upon in this book.

Readability:

The book is easy to read and is very engaging, often riddled with pictures and diagrams. Gary Keller and Jay Papasan take the time to literally underline important concepts in the book, as if you were making notes in the book yourself. It’s a cool and memorable idea, and makes it easy if you want to refer to the book later on. The end of each chapter has a “big ideas” section that covers all the key concepts.

Application:

This book is extremely useful. I read the book a few weeks ago and a lot of the concepts have stuck with me even though I haven’t been practicing all of them. This is a book that gives you specific techniques to do more with less and really helps you manage your time more efficiently.

Final Verdict:

Amazing book, I’d put it high on my list for “must reads”. I’d say it was just as helpful as “how to win friends and influence people” and “7 habits for highly effective people”. If you’re someone who feels like you want to make the most of your time and not waste it doing things that don’t matter to you, pick up this book!

Good to Great Review: Is it worth a buy?

So “Good to Great”,  was it good or was it great? Well, that’s a tough call. As an “essential” business book I found it a little meh when compared to the works of Stephen Covey and Dale Carnegie. Th basic premise behind “Good to Great” is that in order to make the leap from good to great, a company must have “disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action”. It’s a fun idea and what I liked is the book found this information through extensive research into companies. For that fact alone it’s worth a read. This is a data driven book that tries (and largely succeeds) to marry the data to “universal rules”. I thought Jim Collins was a good author, being honest and transparent in his language. He does tend to repeat a lot of the concepts but for the most part I never felt like it was going in circles. So what’s my recommendation?

Recommendation: Worth a Buy, but I’d definitely wait until you’ve read some other “essential” business books. The book can get dry at times but there’s a lot of good material to read. Can also apply what you learn to your everyday life (although not to the same extent as “7 Habits” and “How to Win Friends”).

Note: I listened to the audible version, which was fun because Jim Collins himself narrated it and added extra snippets that weren’t in the original book. As far as content, there are a few diagrams which couldn’t be shown that are in the book but that Jim Collins took the time to describe in detail. As far as using this book as a reference, I would most likely recommend the hard cover.

Summer Reading Lists! They aren’t just for children.

So it’s summer. Whether you’re on vacation or not, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy some time in the sun. We’re all busy people but are we all that productive? This past year I’ve read some fundamental “business” books. These are great books if you want to reach higher and really build a foundation for yourself. So, without further ado, here’s my reading list:

All Work:

  1. 7 habits for highly effective people – I cannot preach this book enough. Helped me get on my feet this year and find success. Why it’s worth your time: The 7 habits give you a concrete framework for you to go from being dependent to independent to interdependent. If you find life constantly out of your control, give this book a try. It’s not a dry book and it has plenty of anecdotes to keep you entertained.
  2. How to win friends and influence people – Don’t be deterred by the title! This is not a book about becoming a grand puppet master and learning how to control relationships. This is a book that teaches you the techniques for being a better person! Why it’s worth your time: Communicating well can be hard. How often are we actually given a framework for how to be a better communicator? More often than not, we’re left to the wolves when it comes to learning how to communicate. Excellent communication skills are expected, so it can be frustrating when we don’t even know where to start. Well look no further, this is your book. I recommend reading after 7 habits. This book has plenty of anecdotes and is an easy, but thoughtful read.
  3. The One Thing – The book i’m reading right now. Great book, so great that I’m going to recommend it before I even finish. Why it’s worth your time: This is a book all about focus. It’s all about working smarter, not harder. Another book that gives you a framework for success, I highly recommend giving it a spin.

All Play:

  1. The book of awesome – Did I buy this book because of the title alone? Perhaps, but it is still a great book and I highly recommend reading it! Why it’s worth your time: This book is a quick read. It’s not a book you have with a glass of wine next to the fire. I actually heard of this book through a TED talk I watched years ago when I was but a wee freshman in college. I was caught up with all the chaos that is college so I needed a little reminder of all the little things that makes life so great. The story behind the book is amazing and I highly recommend checking out the link. Each “chapter” is a different awesome thing, so chapters can range from a paragraph to a few pages. The author is hilarious, so the book is good, lighthearted fun.
  2. The Martian – Where do I even begin with this book? This book is awesome (but is not the book of awesome). Why it’s worth your time: This book makes math seem cool. But more than that, it’s a space adventure showcasing the good of humanity and the strength of the human spirit. Mark Watney gets stranded on mars and has to survive. How does he do it? Why does he do it? Does he actually survive? All great questions. Also this book has lots of potatoes! Yay for potatoes!

Other Books:

  1. Good to Great – Next on my reading list, all I know is my professors love this book and that’s good enough for me.
  2. TED Talks –  I listened to the audio version which was narrated by the author, Chris Anderson, also the CEO of TED. If you’re looking to better your public speaking skills, not a bad place to start.

There you have it, if you’re looking for a great way to start your summer, try picking up one (or all) of these books. I included links to the books, so click away! Also be sure to check out the TED talk if you have the time, thanks for reading!