Category Archives: Productivity

My Reading List – Fall 2016 & Winter 2017


After more than six months of not having any 5-star reads, I have several amazing reads to share with you. Below are my ratings for the books I read between October 2016 and March 2017, as well as a brief summary of how each could add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with most of the content and found some fantastic nuggets throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson
I tend to not be a risk-taker. I like to play it safe, and feel like I have everything under control. Mark helped me to realize that by living from this posture, I am keeping myself from maximizing my God-given potential. This book left me motivated, in ways that no other book has done before, and excited about taking risks.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson
Because of my tendency to be risk averse, my motto over the last 4-5 years has been “live with courage”. When I have done so, my life has been richer, more meaningful, and simply more amazing. “But something invaluable and irreplaceable is lost when we cave in to conformity. We lose our personality. We lose our originality…Instead of becoming the one-of-a-kind original we were destined to be, we settle for a carbon copy of someone else.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to settle. I want to be courageous.

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen
I’ve already read this book three times this year, and will probably read it again in the summer months. It is rich, and Jennie’s wisdom fills my soul. She reminded me over and over again to release my grip on life and stop trying to control everything. She reminded me to own my failures and apologize graciously. She reminded me to engage in pain and suffering, and let myself be touched by them rather than trying to run from them or be numb to them. So rich!

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Shauna’s words hit me hard, and were exactly what I needed to get me to face the fact that I had too much going on and needed to cut some things out of my life, and do more practicing of what I preach with my clients of, saying no to the good so you can say yes to the great.

4-Star Reads

Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray
I have difficulty slowing down. Resting is not something I am good at. I realized that part of the reason why was that I didn’t know what rest actually looked like. Bonnie helped me define rest, as well as recognize that rest is different for each of us. She walked me through a process that left me with pages of notes of what rest means to me and how I am most replenished in body, mind, spirit, and soul.

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
I don’t really like Joanna’s decorating style (no offense to you, shiplap lovers), but I love watching she and Chip help people achieve their dream of having not just a house, but a home. Their memoir is a deeper glimpse into who they are and what brought them to where they are today, including some good lessons about money management and marital communication.

Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy
Every business person needs to read this book. Whether you only manage yourself, or you manage a team of people, Daniel presents tangible and practical disciplines that everyone can benefit from. This is the main book that we, at Building Champions, use with our clients, and there is quantitative data that proves that, when applied, success happens.

Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono
We’ve all been in a meeting where a product or service is being evaluated and one person is talking about how they feel about it, another person is talking about how to prove the benefits of it, another person is talking about how horrible everything is with it, and another person is talking about how it can lead to a future product or service. Edward helps us organize, clarify, and specify each of these different perspectives and reduce confusion in communication in a creative way.

3-Star Reads

Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson
I was super amped to read Mark’s latest book, after having loved Wild Goose Chase and In the Pit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good, and had a lot of the same stories as the other two. But, the principles are still relevant, and his wisdom is just as sound.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
Very helpful insights into how the creator of the comic, Dilbert, got to where he is today. He presents some practical advice of how to set yourself up for success based on his own failures and successes. His suggestion of creating systems is a useful method for creating accountability for yourself.

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday
Ryan didn’t necessarily invent fake news, but he certainly took the concept to a whole new level. This book is a fascinating look at this current hot topic, as Ryan exposes his own methods and clues the rest of us non-media folks, into how the media world works.

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday
I’m not Ryan’s intended audience with this book, but I wanted to learn more about growth hacking since it’s clearly something that, as a consumer, affects my life. He did a good job of defining it and using some examples, from his career, of how he’s done it.

Love Lives Here by Maria Goff
Maria takes experiences, both common and difficult, and finds beauty and meaning in them. Her book is a good reminder to take note of situations and circumstances, and look for the deeper learnings in them.

My Next Review

Below are some of the books that are on my current reading list. I will post a blog in July that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick
Do Over by Jon Acuff
The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened The West by Lesley Poling-Kempes
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Learning to Lead by Fred Smith
The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier
Business Boutique by Christy Wright
On the Clock by Tim Enochs

What was one of your 5-star books in the Fall and Winter months?
What are you currently reading?

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

My Reading List – Summer 2016

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Lots of business travel over the summer meant that I didn’t read as much as I wanted to, but there are a few that I’m really excited to share about. Below are my ratings for them, as well as a brief summary of how each might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

None

4-Star Reads

Under New Management by David Burkus
Dr. Burkus presents some fantastic ideas that disrupt the status quo, and prompt us to think about business systems and processes that are basically broken but that we’ve allowed to outstay their welcome. His ideas are backed by case studies of companies that are trying new methods and are seeing some great results. This is a must read for anyone in executive leadership and HR.

H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick
Want to be a better leader? Start with the 20 habits that Brad outlines in this book. None of the habits will surprise you, but they are all ones that, when intentionally implemented, are game changers. Don’t let their simplicity fool you, they will take courage and intentionality.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
I’ve never seen an episode of any of the hit shows that Shonda is the writer for, and I didn’t know anything about her before I started her book, but she won me over with her authenticity. She’s hilarious, and surprisingly down to earth and relatable for someone who is famous and a multi-millionaire. I don’t agree with some of her personal beliefs, but the first 2/3 of the book is a must-read for every working mom.

3-Star Reads

Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson
Our culture teaches us that success is only for a lucky few. This perspective causes unnecessary competition, comparison, envy, and jealousy. Sophie’s book is a beautiful reminder for women that we need to come alongside and support one another instead of tearing each other down and telling each other how we should live. She tells us that our “callings complement one another” and that we need to “bless each other.” Amen.

2-Star Reads

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
I am a very organized person and thought I would love this book, but honestly, I found her methodology to be bizarre and bordering on OCD. The one thing that I really did like, and will use personally, and with my clients, is that when the time comes to do some purging of material items, that we go through the process of asking ourselves if each particular item brings us joy, and if we recognize that it doesn’t then take that as the cue that it’s time to let go of that item.

My Next Review

Below are some of the books that are on my current reading list. I will post a blog in January that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

Do Over by Jon Acuff
The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened The West by Lesley Poling-Kempes
Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

What was one of your 5-star books this Summer?
What are you currently reading?

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

My Reading List – Fall 2015

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Below are the books I read in Q4, with my rating and a brief summary of what I learned, as well as how I think it might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

I didn’t have any 5-star reads in my Fall reading, but the best book of 2015 for me was Essentialism by Gary McKeown. Every single one of us would like to have more time in our lives, and Gary does an exceptional job of walking through how to make that happen.

4-Star Reads

For The Love by Jen Hatmaker
Life is difficult, and Jen gets real with her readers making sure that we know it’s ok to let our real lives show, and to not get caught in the trap of trying to make our lives appear perfect and easy. She is hilariously funny and her message will resonate with everyone who has ever tried to make their life look like it’s straight off of Pinterest.

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
Akin to Greg McKeown’s book, Lysa’s overall goal and intent is to help us determine where our time is best spent and how to say no without disappointing people. She presents us with practical filters to use for our decision-making. I found much wisdom in her easy-to follow, and implement, approach.

People over Profit by Dale Partridge
Our economic, and general societal, well-being is still recovering from the effects of people in the finance world sacrificing their convictions for greed. Dale does a great job of showing us what leads to poor decision-making in organizations, and provides us with seven core beliefs that, when acted upon, will bring health, vitality, and sustainability. One of my favorite quotes is, “Fire others the way you would want to be fired.”

3-Star Reads

QBQ! The Question Behind The Question by John G. Miller
Through some simple questions and disciplines, John teaches us how to take personal accountability. He reminds us, “We can’t change other people. We often can’t control circumstances and events. The only things we have any real control over are our own thoughts and actions.”

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
“There will never be anyone exactly like you. You were given special gifts and talents to share with the world, and even though everybody has special gifts and talents, nobody will use theirs quite the same way you do.” If you need some inspiration and reminders that you are strong and capable, this book will definitely provide you with that pick-me-up.

The Prince of the Marshes by Rory Stewart
A fascinating look at life in Iraq during the years following the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Rory, a British diplomat, shares his story about the time he spends in Iraq trying to help the country unite and re-build with its own government and culture. I preferred Rory’s book, The Places In Between, about his year in Afghanistan over this one.

2-Star Reads

Money by Tony Robbins
I had high hopes that a multi-multi-millionaire would bring some great insights in regard to personal finances, but I was pretty let down. The book is nearly 700 pages, but was extremely repetitive; it could have been 200 and retained the few valuable elements. The section about 401k investments was helpful, but overall I’ve learned far better financial wisdom from Dave Ramsey and my uncle.

1-Star Reads

Disarming the Narcissist by Wendy Behary
This is the only book I read in 2015 that I would say is not worth reading. From my research on this topic, there are more helpful articles on the internet. Bummer!

My Next Review Will Include

Below are some of the books that I am reading or re-reading over the next few months. I will post a blog in April that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

Do Over by Jon Acuff
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Living Forward by Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt
H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick
Deep Change by Robert Quinn
Scary Close by Donald Miller
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

What was one of your 5-star books this Fall?
What is on your reading list this Winter?

(Here are the links to my other 2015 reading lists: winter 2015 and spring & summer 2015.)

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

Did Your Family Go On Summer Vacation Without You?

Growing up, summers were a blast! There was always so much to look forward to. Whether it was more frequent trips to the beach or practicing our dives and belly-flops at a friend’s pool or camping somewhere along California’s gorgeous coastline or heading to see the Colorado cousins. I can honestly say that my childhood summers were close to perfect, almost idyllic.

The one thing though that would have made them complete, is if my Dad had been able to join us more often.

The majority of my childhood my Dad was building two businesses. He worked hard to provide for our family of six. But in doing so, it meant that he often didn’t join us at the beach, or only came camping on the weekends, or met us in Colorado for one of the weeks we were there.

As I reflect back on this, I know he did the best he knew how. But, I have to be honest with you, I sure do wish that he’d had a business coach who would’ve helped him plan better, strategize more, identify his core convictions more thoroughly, and work through his calendar and teach him how to maximize and prioritize his time.

Knowing what I know now, I’m confident that if he’d had the kind of support and accountability that my Building Champions colleagues and I provide to our clients, that he would not have missed out on so much, and our summer vacations would have been even more amazing.

I say this with confidence because one of my colleagues just helped his client take her first real and unplugged vacation with her family in 13 years. Another former client of ours just took a 4-week vacation to Europe with his wife and was completely free of work obligations while there.

These, and similar successes, happen because, as coaches, we help our clients be intentional about where they spend their time and how they make their decisions.

Did you miss out on time with your family this summer and want to make sure it doesn’t happen again next summer?

Here are some ideas and resources to help you not miss your next family vacation:
1. Greg McKeown’s new book, Essentialism, speaks to the value of disciplined prioritization.
2. Lysa TerKeurst’s new book, The Best Yes, speaks to rising above the endless demands for a woman’s time and attention.
3. I, or one of my colleagues at Building Champions, would love to engage with you through coaching and help you become more intentional and purposeful.

What are you going to do differently so that you don’t miss summer vacation next year?

Why I Am No Longer Desperate For A Mentor

Our society no longer actively uses apprenticeship as the main means of learning one’s trade or skill. It is not often that we have someone come directly alongside us and commit to teaching us everything they know about a specific area of expertise. For the longest time I had a deep discouragement about this. I desperately longed for a Christian businesswoman who would spend time pouring into me from the depths of her wisdom about what it means to be a Christian woman in the business world, and the ABCs of business.

My frustration at not being able to find a woman like this began to dampen when I started to discover the power of observation. About 15 years ago I started making mental notes of what I observed as examples of good leadership and of bad leadership. Then, while working on my MBA, I started recording specific decisions and actions that I witnessed, from various leaders and managers around me, specifically those I observed from women in leadership positions. My arsenal was being constructed of good tools and ineffective tools, of positive methods and negative methods.

While reading the book of Matthew, as part of the #LentChallenge, I was reminded that Jesus used modeling and demonstration as a means of teaching the disciples. He didn’t hold their hands and “apprentice” them, but He invited them to observe His actions and choose for themselves if they wanted to follow His way of doing things. He also invited the disciples to observe and witness the examples being shown by the Pharisees, and again evaluate for themselves what the better way was.

As I read through these scriptures it reminded me of how wonderful a gift observation is to us, and how much we can learn from it. It also reminded me of the constructs of self-directed learning and autonomous learning that I studied throughout my PhD program. Essentially, both constructs indicate that we are capable of learning more when we purposefully and intentionally show desire, initiative, resourcefulness, and persistence in engaging in a learning activity.

This led me to think about other learning activities that have helped me to be a better businesswoman, a better Christian businesswoman.

For me, the main method outside of observation that I have learned from is reading. I love to read, primarily articles, books, and blogs. I’ve discovered that there is great content out there, and some not so great content, but I can learn something from both kinds. I also learn a lot from podcasts and sermons, which I often consume while on the treadmill. Social media expert, Claire Diaz Ortiz, recently posted this article on ways that she learns. I love her plan for getting the most out of a conference. A couple of years ago, author and speaker, Michael Hyatt wrote this blog about how you can go further, faster. In it he said that the secret to doing so is to “Enlist the help of the best coaches and instructors you can afford.” He gives a really helpful list of the people he’s hired over the years to help him with everything from his golf game to his business and life planning.

The point is, I’ve learned that there are so many more wonderful ways to learn than through direct instruction from someone. I no longer feel the need to have one woman teach me everything she knows because I know I can learn more through these many other sources and methods.

In what areas of your life do you want to learn and grow? What method might best help you?

Reduce Your Guilt

It’s become something to brag about; the less you’ve gotten, the more cool and hip you are. It has the similar bragging quality as the number of emails you receive in a day; the more you get, the more important you are.

I’m talking about sleep.

It’s like it’s the new proving ground; if you are getting 4-5 hours a night then you are definitely doing things right and if you are getting 7-8 hours a night then you’re lazy and you are certainly not going to be successful.

Arianna Huffington says, “We’re told…that sleeping less…[is] an express elevator to the top.”

I don’t know about you but I’ve gotten caught up in this and it’s making me tired.

Through a significant change in my career and education situations over the last year I have been sleeping 7-8 ½ hours a night pretty consistently. But that comes after four years of averaging 5 hours a night (weekends included). Frankly, it feels awesome and I am so grateful but I also feel guilty and terrified of “being found out.”

I don’t want my reputation as an incredibly hard worker and ambitious woman to be tarnished, but I also don’t want to go back to being tired all the time.

In an effort to reduce my guilt and allow myself to embrace this new lifestyle of sleeping the recommended number of hours for most people, I spent some time reading up on the topic of sleep and found some great pieces of information from some respected authors like King David, Arianna Huffington, Michael Hyatt, and Angela Thomas.

Michael Hyatt says, “Exercise, diet, and mental focus are all important, but they can’t make up for a lack of rest.” We can will ourselves to do a lot of things and our bodies will cooperate when forced to wake up at an unreasonably early hour, but as Angela Thomas says, sooner or later our bodies “will require payback.” Whether that’s through getting sick, giving us no choice but to rest, or through our conscious decisions to sleep in on the weekends and take naps.

Michael Hyatt says that not getting enough sleep causes a decrease in focus, creativity, resilience, generosity, and productivity. Arianna Huffington adds to this list negative impacts to our confidence, mood, and decision-making. She points out that lack of sleep was noted as factors in the Exxon Valdez spill, the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion, and the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island nuclear accidents.

All of this truly gives me pause and makes me think quite seriously about the amount of sleep that I really need and should be getting no matter what my circumstances are, but King David’s words are what bring peace and eliminate the guilt:

“It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to His beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2, ESV).