books & summer vacation

I set a goal for myself during the past nineteen days while we were all on vacation: Read a bunch of books.

And while I didn’t hit my goal of 9, which, let’s be honest, was pretty aggressive, I did finish four books and am half way through Hemmingway.

Here’s a rundown of what I did read:

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead, Brene Brown

“Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.”

Life altering might be an over exaggeration but I was moved enough that I gifted copies of this book to several people.

I will continually ask myself, “What’s worth doing even if I fail?”

I will continually ask for the “courage to show up and let myself be seen.

Bossypants, Tina Fey

This has been on my list for some time and after my wife finished reading Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In“, we co-read Fey’s book.

Super simple read. I’ll leave with two highlights:

  1. “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”
  2. When dealing with people who are critical, ask yourself the following question: “Is this person in between me and what I want to do?” If the answer is no, ignore it and move on.
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable“, Patrick M. Lencioni

This was as easy a read as “The Phoenix Project” was. Told in a narrative format, reading about how teams work or don’t work.

I fundamentally believe that at the root of everything must be trust. Trust and authenticity.  I was taken by this:

“trust is the confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good, and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group.”


“By building trust, a team makes conflict possible because team members do not hesitate to engage in passionate and sometimes emotional debate, knowing that they will not be punished for saying something that might otherwise be interpreted as destructive or critical.”

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character“, Paul Tough

Through Year Up the biggest skills I see as important to tomorrow are the ability to learn, the ability to be more than you are today.

Paul calls this Grit.

“The problem, as Randolph has realized, is that the best way for a young person to build character is for him to attempt something where there is a real and serious possibility of failure.”

A Farewell to Arms“, Earnest Hemmingway

I’m not actually done with this but since I read it back in high school, I’ll count it.

This was my favorite book in high school, even better than Thomas Pynchon’s “Crying of Lot 49” but I can’t remember exactly why.

Figured a second read might be a good idea.