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!

How to Build Genuine Relationships

Life can be a challenge and trying to do everything alone can be even harder. We, as people, have an innate desire to connect. There’s enough loneliness in this world and unfortunately as people, we tend to be attracted to the great communicators and don’t bother with the socially awkward. So what can the socially awkward do? I’m here to help.

A little background before I dive in. This year I have put a lot of focus into building better relationships. I started this year as a quiet, sad individual who said too much and tried just a little too hard to make others like me. While I meant well, I was, how do i put it? Well, I was more or less perceived as an asshole by others. And guess what? Nobody likes assholes. So let’s go over the do’s and don’t to make sure others don’t see you as an asshole!

Don’t

  1. Make assumptions Once you start making assumptions of what others think of you, it’s game over. YOU aren’t the other person and I’ve found out the hard way that until you talk  to the other person, you should assume your assumption is wrong until proven otherwise.

Do

  1. Be Direct – Say what you need to say, beating around the bush only leads to further frustration. The longer you wait, the more opportunity there is for doubt to enter your mind. Time is precious and it shouldn’t be wasted playing a guessing game with the other party. So go ahead, say what you need to say!

Don’t 

  1. Try to control the relationship – Yes life is scary and we try to control as much as we can to give ourselves the illusion of stability. Control never ends well, especially when you try to do so with people. Relationships form naturally and if you try to force them, you won’t make any friends. Everyone is unique and nobody likes being told what to do.

Do

  1. Genuinely Listen to Others – I used to think I was a great listener, but in truth, I wasn’t. I was simply going through the motions (nodding my head, smiling, laughing, etc.) all the while waiting for the other person to finish (or briefly pause) so that I could make my point. What I’ve had to train myself to do is not push my agenda, to chat with someone for the sake of them being heard. You have to be patient. Listen first, be engaged, and more often than not the other party will want to hear about you.

Don’t 

  1. cross your arms – Watch your body language! If you are someone who crosses their arms out of habit, train yourself to pop your hands in your pocket, lay them on the side, or whatever else you need to do. Closed vs. open body language. It may not seem like much, but having an open posture will go a long ways in making you seem approachable.

Do

  1. Smile – So important! If you’re upset? Smile! If you’re sad? Smile. If you’re happy? Have an even bigger smile! Smiling goes much further than making others perceive you as more friendly. Smiling, one, makes you feel better. And two, it has the potential to make someone else’s crappy day great! You’d be amazed by the power of a smile. So, go ahead, smile at strangers, friends, and whoever you might see! Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself and watch the magic happen!

So there you have it. A few Do’s and Don’ts that will help you build better relationships! Remember, building genuine relationships takes time! It won’t happen over night! Keep at it and don’t lose hope!