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The Blood of Heroes by James Donovan

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

The Blood of Heroes: The 13-Day Struggle for the Alamo – And the Sacrifice that Forged a Nation by James Donovan should be required reading for anyone who would consider themselves a true Texan.

How I wept after I read this book. I mourned my birth taking place in Arkansas – even after being consoled by my father who promised I was concieved in Texas. The only solace I took in my foriegn birth was that the greatest men at the Alamo- Crockett, Travis, Bowie- weren’t born in Texas. These men died on this sacred land, and I can only wish for the same fate.

In all seriousness the men at the Alamo knew they were going to die, but they continued on until their last breath. When we are able to live for something much greater than ourselves our lives go from mediocre to extraordinary, because the success or failure of our efforts are felt beyond our own small circle. I have been searching for a book to read when my child turns 16 that will help them understand what it is to strive for greatness when everyone is against you, and I am ecstatic to have found this book.

I rate this Required Reading.

Categories: Book Review, History

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

The Power of Habit explains how habits form and how we can change them. It’s a cycle that looks like this:

Cue – Routine – Reward,

For example: Stress – Coffee – Reward of caffeine high

The idea is that if you can identify the cue that is setting you to engage in the harmful routine you can replace that routine with something else that is healthy. The example above becomes:

Stress – run – reward of runner’s high

That is really the extent of the book, but it has some really interesting stories that are worth reading.

My wife Sara – lovin’ – Sara. That’s a habit I won’t quit – my wife’s a reward all in herself. Amen?

Categories: Book Review, Business

The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization by Peter F. Drucker and Friends

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization  are as follows:

  1. What is our mission?
  2. Who is our customer?
  3. What does our customer value?
  4. What are our results?
  5. What is our plan?

I suggest buying this book and reading through it, because it provides such an easy framework to kill any interview you go into.

Categories: Book Review, Business

Saucy Time with John Adams

February 9, 2013 Leave a comment

I’m reading David McCullough’s John Adams which I will review once I get through it all, but this was too good not to share immediately. From what I have read you can imagine Adams to have the same reputation and character as a Billy Graham, which makes this all the better. This is from his time in France negotiating the future of an alliance with the newly formed US:

“Mr. Adams,” she had said, “by your name I conclude you are descended from the first man and woman, and probably in your family may be preserved the tradition which may resolve a difficulty which I could never explain. I never could understand how the first couple found out the art of lying together?”

Assisted by an interpreter, Adams replied that his family resembled the first couple both in name and in their frailties and that no doubt “instinct” was the answer to her question. “For there was a physical quality in us resembling the power of electricity or of the magnet, by which when a pair approached within striking distance they flew together . . . like two objects in an electrical experiment.”

“Well,” she retorted. “I know not how it was, but this I know, it is a very happy shock.”

McCullough, David (2001-05-22). John Adams (p. 191). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Categories: Biography, Book Review

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

January 25, 2013 Leave a comment

I was familiar with Isaacson after reading the Jobs biography, so when looking for a book chronicling the life of Franklin I landed on his. The narrative style of the author and the new information I gained about Franklin made for an incredible read. BOOK HERE.

Lessons:

One: Franklin could pass for a modern day millennial. He was non-confrontational and could put someone down while smiling at them.

Two: They struggled then – as we do now – with the need to treat people as individuals to ensure justice. This was his response to a gang of Presbyterians that were murdering all Indians they were coming in contact with:

“Should any man with a freckled face and red hair kill a wife or child of mine, [by this reasoning] it would be right for me to revenge it by killing all the freckled red-haired men, women and children I could afterwards anywhere meet.” Isaacson, Walter (2003-07-01). Benjamin Franklin (p. 212). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Three: Finally, if you need a pick-me-up to get excited about changing the world, the following quote is worth remembering:

“Rebellion to Tyrants is obedience to God.” Isaacson, Walter (2003-07-01). Benjamin Franklin (p. 316). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Use of this quote applies to the following situations:

  1. When the cop pulls you over for speeding,
  2. When the Subway sandwich artist charges you for a foot-long that is only 11”,
  3. When your mom makes you clean your room, and
  4. When the boss asks you to stay late.
Categories: Biography, Book Review

How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

January 2, 2013 Leave a comment

Baratunde Thurston wrote a really good book. You should read it. He’s funny and smart.

When people began to herald the election of Barack Obama as proof that we were living in a post-racial society I finally put together that I was born only 16 years removed from the assassination of MLK and the civil rights movement. That’s not a lot of time.

My dad has this great game where he asks older people all sorts of things, and nothing is off-limits because he asks as if he were an anthropologist – wanting to understand and not judge. Taking my dad’s lead I was bold in my teen years asking people who were old enough to effect change in the 60s what their contribution towards the civil rights movement was. I quit asking that question because the response is often so disappointing.

My response to the disappointment has been to constantly review my actions and my motives so that when guys my age twenty years from now ask me what I was doing during X event I can be proud of the contribution I made to furthering justice.

Thurston’s book articulates that there are many ways to be black. The best takeaway from the book is that it is white people’s job to end racism:

“I’ve wanted to hold an actually meaningful ceremony making the destruction of racism the official responsibility of white people. It would be like passing off the Olympic torch.” Thurston, Baratunde (2012-01-31). How to Be Black (pp. 215-216). Harper Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.

 

A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss by Jerry Sittser

July 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Book: A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss by Jerry Sittser

Lesson Learned: God uses loss to grow us

Rating: Amazing

Jerry Sittser lost his Mother, Wife, and one of his daughters when he was hit by a drunk driver on a family vacation. In this book he explains his loss and how he dealt with life after that loss. It is an amazing story of love and redemption. He answers the questions everyone asks after loss like: How do I go on without something I loved? Why does life seem so random? Will life ever be joyful again?

His loss is so severe, but he takes time to explain that his loss is no more than anyone else’s experience. Loss is loss no matter how it comes about and the same questions he asks are the questions everyone asks after a major loss. Each chapter opens with an applicable quote and my favorite one was this:

The edges of God are trajedy. The depths of God are joy, resurrection, life. Ressurection answers crucifixion; life answers death. Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki

God can only grow us through pain and while escaping pain would lead to an easy life it will also lead to a life void of depth and understanding. It goes back to the principle of only being able to truly love others if you accept and experience God’s love, truly give grace if you accept God’s grace.

It is impossible to live life without experiencing death, it is the end to anything of this world. Death always causes heart break, but that is also exciting because Psalm 34:18 says, “The Lord is close to the broken hearted, he rescues those who are crushed in spirit”.

Categories: Book Review, Spirituality