Cal Newport is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Dartmouth who went on to MIT for his Ph.D. and is now a Professor at Georgetown. In this book, Cal shares the top ideas he gleaned from interviews with non-grind Phi Beta Kappa members at elite schools across the country. They had to perform well AND they had to achieve those results without grinding away. Their practices, although discovered independently, reflect the same wisdom shared in the science books. It’s great to see the overlap. Big Ideas: pseudo-work vs. real work (and a secret formula), conquering procrastination, when/where/how long should you study?, #1 way to learn (and #1 trap), the importance of spacing out your work and the power to choose your future via excellent grades.
Benedict Carey is an award-winning science writer for The New York Times. This book is his exploration of what the latest research says about, you guessed it, How We Learn. Big Ideas we cover include the #1 enemy to learning (and how to win that battle), why distributed your learning is where it’s at, how sleeping is like learning with your eyes closed and how to put the Zeigarnick Effect to use for maximum benefit.
Eleanor Roosevelt served as the First Lady for 12 years—through her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt’s terms as President during the Great Depression and World War II. She went on to play a leading role as a diplomat in the United Nations was one of the most loved and influential women of the 20th century. This book is a beautifully written, inspiring look into “Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life.” Big Ideas we cover include how to conquer the great enemy (fear), Eleanor’s Top 4 Big Ideas on Time Management 101, holding the tension btwn our dreams of perfection and reality while making all life one big adventure.
Jim Rohn was one of the 20th century’s leading personal development gurus—influencing everyone from Tony Robbins to Darren Hardy. He wrote and taught in a simple, conversational, down-to-earth style. Reading this book feels like sitting down and having an inspiring chat with one of the best old-school coaches out there. Big Ideas we explore include the formula for success (+ the 2 easies), how to unlock your potential, character = chisel, and the key to perseverance.
Daniel Goleman is a former New York Times science writer and author of the uber-bestselling book Emotional Intelligence. In Focus, we look at the underlying neuroscience of attention. We need to start by realizing that the strength (or weakness) of our attention is at the core of E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. we do. Everything! Which is why Goleman calls it “the hidden driver of excellence.” Big Ideas we explore include rumination vs. reflection, the three foci of willpower, smart practice and hitting the mental gym.
This is a dinky little pamphlet of a book based on a speech Albert E.N. Gray gave to a group of Prudential Life insurance agents back in 1940. It’s packed with goodness and is uber-popular. In this Note, we define The Common Denominator of Success, identify the power of purpose and the fact that your future is formed by your habits.
This book is very different than the types of books I usually focus on. It’s not “self-development” per se; it’s more like “state-development”—as in, the optimal politics for our nation and world. The main thrust of the book is that we are entering a revolutionary time, the era of “Great Connection.” His primary focus is on a macro level. In our Note we focus on how we can apply this wisdom on an individual level. Big Ideas include a look at the #1 illness of our era and how to deal with it, why we need Hard Gatekeeping, the difference btwn complicated and complex and building a 10,000 year clock while answering the call to revolution.
Russell Simmons is often called the godfather of hip-hop. He’s a fascinating guy and entrepreneur. This book is a quick, straight-to-the-point guide to meditation written in a style that makes you feel like you’re having a chat with Russell. Super simple, fun, practical. Big Ideas we explore include: how to deal with the #1 excuse for not meditating, and the #2 excuses + how meditation benefits your focus + creativity and how make your amygdala quit acting like an annoying car alarm.
Jim Afremow is one of the world’s leading sports psychologists. We covered his first book The Champion’s Mind. This one is kinda like part 2 in which we look at how the Champion responds to the inevitable (!) setbacks faced on the road to greatness—using those setbacks as opportunities to bounce back and make a sweet comeback. Big Ideas we explore include seeing setbacks as challenges rather than threats, outperforming our contracts, practicing ’till you can’t get it wrong, and the 3 P’s of peak performance.
Sir John Hargrave is a funny guy and this book is awesome. If you’re a bit of a geek (or if you’re married to one!) looking for a fun, grounded, super practical take on how to get your mind right so you can do what you’re here to do, I think you’ll love this book. Big Ideas we explore include: how to develop Jedi-like concentration, how to debug your mind, creating a vision of the best version of your life 10 years from now (and why it matters), how to make your life a masterpiece.
Angela Duckworth is the world’s leading authority on the science of grit. In fact, she pioneered the field and, as Daniel Gilbert says on the cover: “Psychologists have spent decades searching for the secret of success, but Duckworth is the one who found it.” In this Note, we explore the two facets of grit (hint: passion + perseverance, why they’re important and how to cultivate them.
Sian Beilock is one of the world’s leading researchers studying the science of optimal performance. In this book, she walks us through a range of research studies she and her colleagues have conducted to help us get a better understanding of why, under pressure and when it matters most, some of us choke. And, of course, Sian provides a range of tips on what we can do about it. Big Ideas we explore: the what and why of choking, the ultimate choke vacuum, practicing under pressure, an antidote to exam choking, and a bunch of little tips on rockin’ it.
Anders Ericsson is the world’s leading scientist studying expert performance—looking at how, precisely, the people who are the best in the world at what they do became the best. In this Note, we take a quick look at The Gift that we all have that’s the key to our potential greatness, HOW to go about tapping into the benefits of that gift via a certain type of practice (forget naive practice and go for purposeful + deliberate!), the fact that there is no such thing as a “10,000 Hour Rule,” and why we should be called Homo Exercens rather than Homo Sapiens. :)
Richard Machowicz. Mack for short. He’s an intense, inspiring and empowering former Navy SEAL. He’s an ultimate warrior. In this book, Mack teaches us how we can unleash the warrior within ourselves to, as the sub- title suggests, “Develop the Focus, Discipline, Confidence, and Courage You Need to Achieve Unlimited Goals.” Big Ideas we explore include World War 0, “Not Dead Can’t Quit,” the #1 question (hint: Do you have the guts?), and 110% vs. 80%.
As the sub-title suggests, this book is a guide to breaking down the mental walls that get in the way of building the body (and life) you’ve always wanted. Part motivational manifesto and part training manual. Big Ideas we explore include finding our extra gear, the magic # that can change your life (hint: 3:59.4), how to run a sub-4-minute mile (and achieve all your other goals), being strict + flexible and going from a 2 to an 8 by thinking less and doing more.
This is a tiny book. Like super tiny. But, it’s also packed with a bunch of great Big Ideas. We explore the root of the word affluence, the two goddesses of wealth (and which one to chase!), the most important question for affluence, seeing failure as feedback + stepping stones, and creating unbending intent.
As with all of Malcolm Gladwell’s books, this is a fascinating read—exploring the underpinnings of what *really* makes great people great. In short: It’s more complicated than we think and it’s *definitely* not simply innate talent. Culture and hard work and other often wacky variables play a pivotal role. Big Ideas we explore: The 10,000 Hour Rule, no naturals + no grinders, The Beatles (and their 1,200!! shows before they hit it big), Bill Gates sneaking out of bed in high school and the three keys to meaning.
This book is not only a golf/sports psychology classic, but a great primer on approaching life with the right mindset. If you’re into golf, you’ll love it. Big Ideas we explore include: Being an expander rather than a shrink, smaller targets leading to greater focus, the importance of your short game (in golf AND in life), fear vs. nervousness, paying a caddie to berate you and expectations: the good and the bad.
Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning NY Times journalist (and Harvard MBA) who wrote the best-selling book The Power of Habit in which he walked us through the science of building better habits. In this book, he walks us through the science of being productive so we can be smarter, faster and better at everything we do. It’s a great book packed with fascinating stories and practical applications. Big Ideas we explore include the 2 keys to motivation, how to build your focus, the best way to set goals (think: Stretch + SMART), why disfluency helps learning and how productivity is all about choices.
Matthew Kelly asks: If you had to choose between balance and satisfaction, which would you choose? Satisfaction, right? 10,000 out of 10,000 people agree. Who wants “balance” anyway? And who came up with the idea of “work-life” balance? Big Ideas we explore include figuring out what you *really* want in life, becoming the best-version-of-yourself, answering the ultimate question, mastering energy management and learning to take the decade view of your life.