To be honest, I never thought I’d make it to a 9 day writing streak, and at the time you’re reading this, I’ll have hit 10 essays. But getting through that first week, I find myself thinking, “I wonder how much longer I can make this streak last?”
I had an informational meeting last year with a thought leader in the social media and digital marketing space. This gentleman is doing some of the things I aspire to do, like speaking on panels, and getting approached by big name companies. When I asked him how he was able to establish himself in the industry he said, “I started as a writer, so my stuff was out there, and people knew where to see how I think. They liked it, and now here we are.”
A Day after that conversation, a popular YouTuber I respect, and fellow shipper Ali Abdaal, posted that he was doing the Ship 30 for 30 writing cohort, and like they said in Zorro,
By Day 30 I Hope to…
Find My Niche and Teach What I’ve Learned
I love sharing what I’ve learned about productivity and self led knowledge pursuits aka Ultralearning. I love telling people about the books I’ve read. I also, enjoy diving into the strategy and the future of digital and social media marketing. With these atomic essays I’m excited to explore multiple topics in small bites.
Build the habit and embrace the identity of a writer
After putting in the reps and (hopefully) showing up everyday, I hope to build the habit that allows me to identify as “a writer.”
Build an audience
Much like my informational interviewee said, I want to put content out to start establishing my voice, but more than anything I want to see what my peers and others feel is my expertise through how they respond to my range of content, and what topics they want to hear more about.
So now it’s time to say, bon voyage as we set sail on this experience, I can’t wait to see where we are 30 days from now!
2021 was my best reading year, since I started tracking my reading in 2018. You can’t manage what you don’t measure! And December was a chill reading month.
My goal was 52 books, a book a week, but I’m ending the year at 115!!! I’ve said it in a past post, but I never thought this dyslexic kid would get to a place where she reads over 100 books. I don’t think I’ll ever stop shouting from the roof tops about this accomplishment.
Side note: I was obsessively trying to finish a book before midnight on the 31st, but then I realized I had the ultimate life hack on my hands…
This was my first full month with my library card, my first full month with the Kindle I got myself for Black Friday, and my new true love Libby, so I don’t have the typical stack because many of my books were audiobooks and ebooks.
Here’s everything I read in December:
Skin of The Night by Claire D. Bennett (ebook)
I love a spicy romance read and this one delivered. Smutty books deserve their due, because that was the foundation of my reading in 2020, and this book reminded me why!
The Memo by Minda Harts
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. This is one I would recommend to all women in the workplace because there’s a real lack of professional development books written for women of color, specifically Black women. This book had some really great pieces of advice that would benefit all women, and I particularly loved the chapter specifically for white women. Harts clearly wrote this for Black women, and her editor let her, and I love that for us!
Lucky by Marissa Stapley (ebook)
This was a really lovely book. I saw someone describe Lucky as enigmatic and I think that’s the perfect description. I was constantly rooting for her even though she was a criminal who deserved to be punished. I think if you like Thelma and Louise, I Care A Lot, Heartbreakers, grifter stories in general, this will be up your alley.
We Should All Be Millionaires by Rachel Rodgers
I was expecting this book to include some step by step guides to practical money management, where she would break down how to budget, how to negotiate bills, etc. But really this was about the money mindset, goal setting, and dreaming big when it comes to money. This isn’t the best for budgeting, personal finance, or intrepreneurial pursuits, but this is lovingly written by a Black woman for Black women. Other marginalized folks will learn a lot from it, and especially white people, but this is a FUBU situation.
The Comeback by Ella Berman (ebook)
This book was both engaging and hella boring. Grace gave me Jennifer Lawrence vibes. I also loved the juxtaposition of the clearly creepy Michael Bay guy versus the more handsome/charismatic producer. I would recommend this book to someone who followed all the Me Too trials and explosion in Hollywood, I can imagine a lot of women would like it.
The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass (audiobook)
If this hadn’t been an audiobook I don’t know if I would have finished reading this! I’m not sure what I think of this book. It was a very AHS style story like Tate in Murder House, then there was a queer romance and coming of age story in there, and on top of all that was this story about race. Mistakenly people used Get Out as a comparison, but there wasn’t a moment of this that reminded me of Get Out except for when the white kid kept talking about it being the slave’s fault in the Crucible. Otherwise, the slightest mention of race makes folks think any book is like Get Out.
We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz (ebook)
This was a lifetime movie, a full on lifetime movie! It’s not that the book was bad, there were just so many things to make certain plot points fit that I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. It was clear that the author was writing an Amanda Knox meets Natalie Holloway story. The girls were very Amanda Knox mixed with Bad Seed, and the story of the Spanish American man at the center was very Natalie Holloway. I would watch this as a show I think. Overall it was a quick read, lazy, but a fun time, and I can see why it was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick. If you end up liking this one I would recommend – One by One, The Push, The Lightness, Verity, and The Herd.
Range by David Epstein (ebook)
I wasn’t a massive fan of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and this felt like the antidote to that book. Bill Gates recommended this book, and I knew I needed to check this out. With the proliferation of AI, being adaptable and gaining new skills quickly is going to be incredibly valuable to get ahead. This one felt like validation of my ultralearning pursuits and self taught/studying. I really love that it in a wicked world being less rigid is a life hack. Overall this was a really good book but incredibly repetitive.
How Not To Die Alone by Logan Ury
I’m not someone who dates, and because I really didn’t date when I was younger, the whole realm of dating is scary and overwhelming to me. This book was incredibly helpful. Because Ury approaches dating from a scientific way, and mixes in the emotions, it makes the task feel less daunting. I can see why Ali Abdaal recommended it. It allows you create a measurable approach to figuring out if you have dating right. I also got a ton of great ideas for work, and how to improve my interpersonal relationships with people.
The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll (audiobook)
This book is the equivalent of a Netflix series that you want to tell other people to watch, but they have to sit through 6 hours of super boring shit to get to the pay off in the last hour. The housewives element was entertaining, I felt like it was a little over wrought at times. Also, the Goaldiggers show was unnecessarily convoluted. Maybe because I was listening on audiobook, but some of the plot was so slow it was hard to follow, like the Soulcycle spoof mixed with Tom’s. Overall the ending was worth the payoff, but I wish it hadn’t taken such a long time commitment. If you are a housewives fan, this is the one for you!
And now for my 25 favorite reads from 2021, in no particular order:
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
The Hidden Habits of Genius by Craig Wright
The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
Working Backwards by Bill Carr and Colin Bryar
Think Again by Adam Grant
Anna K by Jenny Lee
Ego is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday
A World Without Email by Cal Newport
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
“Reading fiction is important. It is a vital means of imagining a life other than our own, which in turn makes us more empathetic beings. Following complex storylines stretches our brains beyond the 140 characters of sound-bite thinking, and staying within the world of a novel gives us the ability to be quiet and alone, two skills that are disappearing faster than the polar ice caps.” —Ann Patchett
I feel like there’s a perception that in order to be well read, particularly in the world of leadership and personal development, you should only read nonfiction. Many people with voracious reading habits commonly make the same mistake: They hardly, if ever, read fiction. Some of them even brag about it! I mean we can all probably find a productivity bro that proudly says they haven’t read fiction since they were forced to in high school.
It wasn’t until bschool where I took a course called Leadership Through Fiction, that I realized how powerful fiction reading can be. I remember sitting among skeptical MBA candidates while we read What Makes Sammy Run, and watched Game of Thrones. That was reenforced when I took Ryan Holiday’s Read to Lead course and an entire module was devoted to fiction.
Too many people want to know the secret sauce of the successful. They want to know exactly how this or that billionaire made it, want the “real” stuff. Hell, even I’m guilty of proclaiming that a nonfiction book allows you to download decades into days.
The characters in fiction look nothing like what we know? We’re too busy to waste time reading about yearning, and feelings, and complex experiences, and all that stuff. We can’t justify sitting down and trying to make it through the plays of Shakespeare. Where are the “takeaways”??? How do I possibly make Romeo & Juliet actionable for my business??? The Invisible Man can’t teach me how to increase my conversion rate.
We’re kidding at this point, of course, but the larger point remains the same: people will twist themselves into knots to find an excuse for why they don’t read fiction. Why they don’t need to. And they’re all nonsense.
“I’ve never read a novel. That kind of reading annoys me.” —Adolf Hitler (super glowing endorsement to shun fiction right?)
Fiction is where the real knowledge is! Great novels, like all wonderful art, are filled with little bits of insight about the human condition that are worthy of pulling out and thinking on. Fiction can change your life and teach you just as much as any non-fiction book. Like Fran Leibowitz said, a book should be a door, not a mirror! Oh and fellas, I promise you if you pick up a romance novel you’ll start to get an idea of what women want, or at the very least book tok will help you understand why we’re all looking for Mr. Darcey, or a werewolf bad boy in the mafia (women…we’re complex creatures).
Some of the greatest philosophers looked to works of fiction. Seneca liked to quote the works of the great Roman poets Virgil and Lucius Accius, the legendary Homer, the playwright Plautus. He also wrote many brilliant plays himself, plays that anyone who would like to understand Seneca’s philosophy on a deeper level, ought to read.
Ryan Holiday has the perfect words (as always):
Fiction offers writers and thinkers a forum for expressing their ideas in their purest and most concentrated forms. These great minds knew the power that resides within works of fiction, thousands of years before the research proved it:
Multiple studies have shown that imagining stories helps activate the regions of your brain responsible for better understanding others and seeing the world from a new perspective. When the psychologist Raymond Mar analyzed 86 fMRI studies, he saw substantial overlap in the brain networks used to understand stories and the networks used to navigate interactions with other individuals.
A 2013 Emory University study compared the brains of people after they read fiction to the brains of people who didn’t read. The brains of the readers showed more activity in certain areas than those who didn’t read—especially the left temporal cortex, the part of the brain typically associated with understanding language. The website testyourvocab.com analyzed millions of its test-takers to discover that fiction readers were significantly more likely to have a larger vocabulary.
In his book Such Stuff as Dreams: The Psychology of Fiction, cognitive psychologist Dr. Keith Oatley argues that fiction is a simulation for the social world. Just like your understanding of starting a company or a meditation practice is improved by reading books on the subject, reading fiction improves your understanding of social relationships. It improves your ability to step into someone else’s shoes and think about what other people might be thinking. In fact, Dr. Oatley says it allows you to experience a variety of social circumstances and explore alternate states of mind from a wide variety of people that you otherwise can’t always interact with in your typical day-to-day life.
As the great multi-genre author Neil Gaiman likes to say, “Fiction gives us empathy: it puts us inside the minds of other people, gives us the gifts of seeing the world through their eyes. Fiction is a lie that tells us true things, over and over.” So whether it be for mere entertainment or for self-improvement, pick up a work of fiction today and get lost in the imagined world—it just may help you better understand the real one.
If you’re coming around to the idea of adding more fiction, or picking up a novel in 2022, here are some of my favorite fiction reads from 2021 with links so you can add them to cart now (full disclosure, not all of these are new releases, some are backlisted books I finally picked up this last year):
When I was at Columbia Business School I participated in the block week masterclass for the Luxury Education Foundation (LEF).
The Luxury Education Foundation is a non-profit organization focused on nurturing future leaders in the luxury industry and fostering meaningful exchanges between like-minded CEOs, leading executives and high-potential, emerging talent. Established in 2004, LEF partners with Columbia Business School, Parsons School of Design, and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to create global, qualitative interdisciplinary programs to ensure future success for members, students, and alumni.
Thanks to reasonable dues I still get to participate in different roundtable discussions. And surprisingly, thanks to the push to remote events, I’m still able to attend speaking events in LA.
Most recently there was a Think Tank discussion on technology in fashion.
I found the conversation so incredibly valuable, and truthfully I haven’t stopped talking about Web3 topics since 2017 in bschool. I think the metaverse conversations are fascinating. Don’t get it twisted though, I don’t understand blockchain, or NFTs. But as a gamer, I can recognize that all of this started in gaming. And like a nerd forward sequel to Devil Wears Prada, the decisions made in publishers offices have trickled down to the fashion industry.
Technology and the pandemic have changed personalization. I think as Web3 evolves the questions we, in the fashion industry should ask ourselves, “how do brands stay relevant in the metaverse?” and “how will marketing change in the metaverse?” As a digital marketer that last one is the million dollar question. It’s the wild west in the metaverse, and whoever can identify strategic priorities first will be the “expert” everyone turns to.
What the metaverse is going to open up is the 4th space, the melding of the physical and digital world. And the investments are there, we’re already seeing brands buying up digital real estate, or acquiring brands that know there way around 4th space, case in point Nike acquiring RTFKT.
What do I think will be the first steps to finding some kind of footing as a marketer in the metaverse. I think the panelists on the LEF Think Tank said it best, psychographics will matter. As the market becomes more global you’re going to need to understand subcultures, what makes the customer tick on a human level. Model and futurist Sinead Bovell said it best, as tech becomes more ubiquitous to our world, it’s the human connection/EQ element that will make you invaluable. I don’t think we all need to dive in understanding behavioral science, but I do think that we’ll need to go beyond campaign execution and start figuring out how to make an emotional connection with the audience.
We’re a social first, digital society, or at least we’re getting there, and I can’t wait to keep learning more, sharing with you all, and diving into how all of this isn’t just impacting the fashion industry, but entertainment, unique partnerships, and all the other little bits.
Like always, if you made it this far, I wanted to share some things I’ve enjoyed around the topic.
To say I had writers block for this week’s blog post is an understatement.
As I’ve grown to embrace my neurodivergence over the last few years (and honestly I have Tik Tok to thank for allowing me, at my big age to not feel so alone), I’ve realized that there are days like this. Days where I sit down and my executive function fully fails me. It’s like task paralysis, I just can’t get my brain to go.
My aim with coming back to blogging was to provide value to readers. I guess the value I’m providing today is helpful for the other ADHD folks who think they’re alone in these moments. The moments where you sit down to work and absolutely nothing happens, and you feel like you’re failing. Or maybe those moments you sit through a lecture only to feel like you would have been better off never going, because absolutely nothing made sense to you. Or even looking down the barrel of weekend tasks and not having the ability to get started.
I’ve been lucky on my ADHD journey to find some influencers who have helped me finally put words to these moments…honestly there’s an influencer for everything.
If you have a task ahead of you, are neurodivergent, and can’t get going, hopefully these videos help you feel less alone like they did for me…
What is a commonplace book. By definition a commonplace book is, a book into which notable extracts from other works are copied for personal use. I love how Austin Kleon refers to it as a “swipe file” in his writing.
A commonplace book is a depository for ideas, quotes, anecdotes, observations, and information that you come across during your life in the course of reading, observing, or other didactic pursuits. The purpose is to record and organize information that strikes you, quotes that motivate you, stories that inspire you for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, in your speaking, or whatever it is that you do.
I have Ryan Holiday (like many things in my life) to thank for learning about this process.
Often times when you read a lot, there’s an assumption that you don’t retain a lot of what you read, and since learning about the commonplace book, it’s been incredibly helpful in regards to retaining and connecting what I read.
But aside from helping me retain what I read, the commonplace has held an important place in the world of “learned people” (please read that in the voice of John C. Reilly in Stepbrothers).
Courtesy of Ryan Holiday in the Read to Lead Challenge:
“From his days as spokesperson for General Electric in the 1950s, through his presidency in the 1980s, and until his death in 2004, Ronald Reagan, dubbed ‘The Great Communicator,’ delivered thousands of speeches and some of history’s greatest public addresses. How did he do it? He had a secret weapon that would only be discovered after his death.
In 2010, when the Reagan Presidential Library was undergoing renovation, a box labeled ‘RR’s desk’ was discovered. Inside the box were the personal belongings Reagan kept in his office desk, including a number of black boxes containing 4×6 note cards filled with handwritten quotes, thoughts, stories, political aphorisms, and one-liners. Distinguished by themes like ‘On the Nation,’ ‘On Liberty.’ ‘On War,’ ‘On the People,’ ‘The World,’ ‘Humor,’ and ‘On Character’—this was Reagan’s version of a commonplace book.”
My commonplace has taken many different manifestations, all for the sake of trying to find what works.
I’ve tried notecards.
And “capture and create” method.
Recently, and what’s proven to be super effective, using Notion. The fact that I’m even using Notion feels like a cliche of all the productivity folks on YouTube, but I swear they aren’t full of it. As you can tell from the examples above, I’m often feast or famine. I tend to write everything down to a point that I’m writing a mini version of the book, or it’s a notecard without the context.
My current Notion system often looks like the below…
My challenge to you is to start keeping a commonplace book.
Commit to drawing from multiple sources: fiction and nonfiction, magazine articles, poems, even pertinent quotes from TV shows or movies. If you don’t find anything in your current content multiple days in a row, consider discarding it and picking something new. Think of specific topics you want to cover, example, devote the next ten pages of your book to leadership (something I’m working on in the new year, dedicated pages toward a single topic, rather than book by book).
I’m always reading with a pen, or highlighter, and some page flags in hand. I’m also not opposed to folding pages. Books are meant to be read, interacted with, so don’t be afraid to have a dialogue with the author, and look for bits to transfer to your commonplace book.
The first time I read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, I was blown away when I learned that we were basically getting a peak into his commonplace book. So if it helps, think of a commonplace book that you’d want to leave for your kids and grandkids…they’ll know where you drew inspiration.
The Roman author and philosopher Seneca said it brilliantly:
“We should hunt out the helpful pieces of teaching and the spirited and noble-minded sayings which are capable of immediate practical application—not far-fetched or archaic expressions or extravagant metaphors and figures of speech—and learn them so well that words become works.”
Since you’re still here, enjoy these two videos on the topic…
…if you ever want to see past stacks, or want to get any of the books head to THIS link.
This is a first for me, because I was struggling on what to blog about this week, I’m doing my monthly stack 2 days before the month closes…which is dangerous for me. I read all the way up until the clock strikes midnight on the month (not actually midnight, more like 10pm). But, I’m going to share the stack as it is so far, along with two books that I’m fairly certain will be done and dusted by the 1st.
The first thing you will notice about this month is I FINALLY got a library card, and I leaned on audiobooks a lot more than past months.
Side tangent, I haven’t had a library card since I was in middle school. I was still so controlled by my limiting beliefs when it came to reading that I never read any of the books I took out, and got a bunch of late fees on books I barely liked. Which for a terrified dyslexic is like a financial punishment for being a shit reader. So now ya girl has better reading habits and finally feels like she has a handle on this whole library life. I was so hype when I got to the library the first time that I basically did a supermarket sweep, grabbed 10 books, and was met with a lot of incredulous looks that I would get through everything.
Ok, back to the main event.
In November I read 9 books (11 if you count the 2 that I’m going to finish before EOM), 2 Did Not Starts, and 1 DNF.
What I read in November (warning: some spoilers below):
This is Not the Jess Show by Anna Carey (audiobook):
Loved the nostalgia of the 90s mixed with the nods to the future. I’m a fan of The Truman Show, so it was cool to see a YA version of it. Not an original premise but I thought it was a unique new take. Also it did a why better job with this premise than The Followers, which was a DNF for me.
If you enjoy YA, or The Truman Show, or The Followers, or need an easy read slump buster, this is the book for you.
I wish they would have taken a page from the Truman Show and drawn out the world more. I was shocked by how quickly the author broke it all open. I thought we were going to spend more time in the production world, and give Jess more space to be skeptical about what was happening around her. It felt like immediately she knew something was off, but I didn’t get the sense through any character development that she was that observant. It could have been like The Shimmering State, a believable future with an undefined year, with just a touch of current times that the reader can believe it’s in the not so distant future.
Philanthropy Revolution by Lisa Greer
This book felt more like a memoir of someone who joined the 1% than a not-for-profit strategy book.
The book was a little tone deaf at times strictly focusing on the impersonal ways 1%-ers are approached, but neglected to speak to the percentage of income donated stateitic, that showed $50k below donate 4% of their income compared to the 2.4%-2.6% of $100k-$1M. I would have loved to see ideas of the book applied to different income levels, career levels, demographics, etc. I also found the data on how the generations donate to be a little reductive, because if we acknowledged the wealth disparity between generations we’d have a more complete picture on what they’re donating.
It was helpful to learn about EDGAR for researching potential donors and DAF options for donations.
The book didn’t feel very tactical, but was a decent entry into learning about the conversations donors have around what they expect from an NGO.
This is a good book for anyone looking to learn more about the 1% or kick off new ideas about fundraising. I serve on a lot of NGO boards and this was an excellent kickoff to learning more about the fundraising world.
For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this thriller, even when the book got boring, I still wanted to stick with it to see how they were going to untangle all of the murders.
The author gives away the culprit at the top, we know Teddy Crutcher behind it, but in the vain of something like Dexter, from the killers perspective, we follow that individual throughout the book. There was a pretty solid red herring. I assumed because we were even meeting the character, that they’d prove integral to the plot, but even with the obvious connection the pay off was worth it in the end.
I would watch this as a movie because it made for an engaging story, but if a sequel to this book came out I’d skip it, cause I didn’t care about any of the characters beyond this story.
This book is good if you enjoy academia, high school drama/rich teens, thrillers, Samantha Downing, this is probably a book you’d enjoy. This gave me One of Us Is Lying Vibes, also Big Little Lies because of the rich families hiding secrets vibes.
The Roommate by Rosie Danan
This was an enjoyable read with a wonderful HEA.
I was impressed by the fact that this book is wildly sex positive, centers female pleasure, and tries to humanize sex work in a whimsical way. No one is trying to escape sex work, but rather make it safer, and destigmatize the adult industry. I also loved LA as the backdrop, and that the characters talked through their baggage and fears.
I was surprised by the lack of diversity in this book. There’s only one character of color, even though the author makes a big point of mentioning how Josh, Naomi, and Clara want to show a range of bodies and ethnicities in the porn industry.
It was smart on the spice scale to make one of the characters an adult entertainer, because it allowed someone to provide the dirty talk that made sense, after making Clara and everyone in her orbit out to be massive prudes.
If I never hear another miscommunication trope I’ll be a happy woman, and Clara being perfect virgin adjacent still felt like it was perpetuating this idea of purity making her desirable over Naomi it was a little ick!
I liked the characters enough that I want to read Naomi’s book.This reminded me of the book version of Zach and Miri make a porno, even down to the ending. Kiss Quotient, for the sex work factor and steam.
The Days of Afrekete by Asali Solomon (audiobook)
This is one of those books I would say is significantly above my intelligence level. This book is smart and quick, there’s something beautifully tragic about Liselle because she seems constantly moved around by others that move through her life. I don’t understand how she is with Winn, and it doesn’t seem like she is either.
There were some stand out quotes that I really liked:
“She knew how girls were she knew that in spending the weekend with Selena she might have inadvertently put a down payment on a future she was not ready to ante up.”
“…partial Indian blood…better than being all Black”
“Crazy…what you call a girl when you’re done with her”
“…to make plans with people that had just stepped off planes and trains was a sad second hand way to live” (Liselle felt like she was living a second half life to me throughout the book)
The way time is used was a little confusing but still effective. There also weren’t any wasted words in this book. A lot of fiction I’ve been reading has superfluous words, this book is written with intention.
This book was good, but I think it was so far outside of my comfort zone that I struggled to enjoy it…however I can acknowledge that it’s really brilliant writing that others should definitely read.
The book is inspired by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Toni Morrison’s Sula, and Audre Lorde’s Zami. The story of Liselle reminds me a lot of DeBlasio’s wife too.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
Blythe (the mother) reminded me of the main character in Luster for her insane choices, the stalker nature gave me You vibes, and I’d also say Bad Seed. I’ve also heard others say it reminds them of a book called There’s Something About Kevin.
This book was fine.
Honestly I thought the storyline about Blythe’s mom was unnecessary, it didn’t really help me understand Blythe better, or add to the story about Blythe and Violet. I didn’t get context that made their actions as mother and daughter make sense. The only pay off that had was with the neighbor that felt like a mother to Blythe being revealed in the end to still be part of her life.
I wish there had been more done with Violet. I would have loved for the story to have gone full Michael Meyers origin story and showed us how twisted and dark this child was, and how she was pulling her mother’s mental health down while tricking Fox. It felt like the author wanted to write a dark book, but stopped herself from really going there. Because there was so much there for her as a child, and for other people besides the night nurse to allude to her having this darkness inside of her.
Blythe was so hysterical that is was almost comical in a Sarah Paulson in AHS later seasons kind of way. She was also the most infuriating character for the choices she made. And Gemma felt very one dimensional to me.
This was described as a quick read, but I think the characters were such throw aways for me that it took me over a week to finish cause it was just fine.
Someone described this book as literary, but it felt lazy at times.
Courage Is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave by Ryan Holiday
There isn’t a book that Ryan Holiday writes that doesn’t blow me away and impact me greatly.
It completely changed the way I thought about courage, particularly with everything happening to Black lives, I wonder if my dreams to be a change-maker are frivolous and even allowed for someone like me.
I want to be a leader, and this book made me so incredibly emotional because it felt like confirmation that I was called to be a leader in my field.
There honestly isn’t a Ryan Holiday book that doesn’t leave an impression on me!
The stoic heals themselves by focusing on what they can control: Their response. The repairing. The learning of the lessons. Preparing for the future. Making a difference for others. Requesting help. Changing. Sacrificing for a greater good. – Ryan Holiday
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
This book was doing too damn much!
Even when I was writing the synopsis in my Notion notes, I was exhausted by how much shit was happening. It was twisty, and kept my attention. There was just too damn much happening in this book.
This could have been good, but St. James clearly decided to throw it all in there.
I was entertained, but grateful I didn’t buy this and got it from the library instead.
This is a good book for someone that likes ghost stories, woman taking back the narrative, murder mysteries, and pop lit.
The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll
I will save this for a later post, but I was drawn to bullet journaling when I learned it’s a great system for neurodivergent folks, then I came across Ryder’s interview on The Daily Stoic Podcast and I was sold. So I’m legit just getting started on the method, but once I have 3 months under my belt, I will share everything I’ve learned, my takeaways from the book, and all the resources that led me to try it out.
Here are the last two books I expect to finish this month:
The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan
The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll(audiobook)
Now if you’ve made it this far, here are a couple YouTube Videos you might like, related to this post:
My Storygraph account informed me recently that I’d hit 100 books. And because I’m a skeptical person (and overly committed to book data), I checked my GoodReads account to confirm that “yes” I had in fact passed 100 books.
When you read a lot, as I apparently do, people have a few assumptions: you must not have much screen time, you must read super fast, and you can’t possibly retain everything you read.
First, I watch a crap ton of TV, YouTube, and movies. I’ve been known to get sucked down a Marvel Tik Tok hole. I veg out after work on the couch watching YouTube videos, and have to be up to date on all things Housewives. So don’t think I’m an intellectual who abhors screen time.
Second, I’m not the fastest reader. Growing up dyslexic, I used to sob when I got more than 10 pages of reading assigned for homework, and don’t get me started on grad school…I learned to talk my way out of a paper bag when it came to case studies, cause I couldn’t do 20 pages of technical reading per night over 4 classes, so I had to learn to skim, listen, and put some razzle dazzle to it. I will admit that I’ve learned some reading technics, that have made me a more efficient reader, and I’ve worked hard to improve my words per minute. Maybe eventually I’ll share what I’ve learned about visual pacers, reducing subvocalization, and knowing when to speed read and when to slow down.
Lastly, you’d be surprised how much you retain between commonplace books, discussing books with other people, and writing reviews…but that’s a post for another day.
So now that we’ve myth busted, here are a few of the things that helped me hit this reading milestone:
Set a measurable reading goal – whether it’s a sentence a day, a book a week, 20 minutes every day (my personal goal), set some sort of goal. Because “reading more” doesn’t cut it, it’s nebulous and it gives you no idea of whether you are hitting your goal. If you read 1 book a year, set the goal of 2. If you haven’t read a single book in ages, just shoot for one sentence a day. I won’t drone on about it here, but James Clear lays out in Atomic Habits why small measurable habits are more impactful of getting you to a larger goal.
Always have a book with you – I always make sure to have a book on my kindle to read in line at Disneyland, or I turn on an Audible book when I wake up (rather than open tik tok or IG), or I keep a physical book in my purse. This lowers the friction between reading, and not reading. It makes it so damn convenient that it’s harder for me not to do it than it is to just fire up a little reading session.
Set time aside to read – My morning reading time is important to me, it’s when I’m most focused, energized and motivated to read. Read when it makes sense for you, and when you’ll have the energy to actually want to.
Stop reading books you don’t like, embrace the DNF – This was a hard one for me, but I’ve learned to embrace quitting books. I was recently slogging through a much hyped thriller, and I wasn’t into it. So my rule is 100 – (your age) = when you can quit a book if it isn’t working. Forcing myself to read a book that isn’t working has lead to many a reading slump in the past, I will drop a shit book like a bad habit, and I recommend you do too if you have any sort of reading goal. I truly don’t care if it’s the hottest pop lit of the season on everyone’s list, if I don’t like it, I’M OUT!
Read what you like – I haven’t read most of the classics, and I don’t care. I don’t feel an obligation to only read new releases, to only read non-fiction, or whatever else is popping on BookTube. In 2020 I read basically rom coms. I’d come back from protests, or turn off the news, and sink into comfort reads, getting lost in happily ever afters. For some reason this year I was really into horror books, thrillers, and stoic classics. Now if you only want to read Manga and nonfiction, that’s dope and you should! Stop reading things other people like that you know you hate. You will never catch me reading a Bronte family book, because Jane Eyre is AWFUL!!!
Those are my Top 5 tips for how to read a little more, but I’m sure it won’t be the last bookish post.
Looking forward to breaking down in future posts, some speed reading techniques, how I keep a commonplace book/Notion page on what I’ve read, and the monthly stacks. And for the sake of accountability, in 2022 I want to replace at least 30% of my screen time, especially on social, with reading.
In undergrad I took a class about how to make compelling powerpoint presentations. It was 2007 and people were losing their minds over making the best, most media packed, over the top presentations, to get an A.
I feel like that was the start of my arranged marriage to powerpoint for the rest of my academic and professional life. In Bschool, after you got through the Core and away from excel, you were thrown back into powerpoint presentations, searching the web for .png files to make the perfect mock up of your point. I took immense professional pride in working on the Upfronts deck at NBCU, and at Telemundo I spent 2 weeks storyboarding a post mortem for the marketing done around The World Cup coverage. A few years ago I was making 4 decks a week, and in my role at BET+, I made an 86 page brand deck, that I’m incredibly proud of, but man was it an inefficient way to explain anything.
So what does all of this have to do with what Jeff and I have in common? Well Jeff Bezos hates Powerpoint!
Here’s an email from 2004 where Bezos talks about how much he can’t stand Powerpoint:
A few years ago, Brad Porter, Amazon’s VP of Robotics, quoted Bezos on this:
“The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a PowerPoint presentation, some type of slide show. In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points. This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience. And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a six-page narrative memo … If you have a traditional PPT presentation, executives interrupt. If you read the whole six-page memo, on page 2 you have a question but on page 4 that question is answered.”
As someone who worships at the alter of operational excellence I was super into the idea of eliminating Powerpoint for a more efficient method, and wanted an excuse to implement the idea.
Bryar and Carr explain in the book that powerpoint lacks nuance, but narrative documents are portable and scalable. They allow for nonlinear and interconnected arguments. They’re better for decision making, you’re able to write while anticipating objection, you can connect the dots for the reader, and a narrative is more interactive.
Amazon meetings allegedly start with 20 minutes of silence while everyone reads, and then they can get down to brass tacks. Every narrative doesn’t have to be 6 pages, but they cannot be more than 6 pages. And your ability to craft a narrative can be a make or break for your success at the company. You are ultimately writing 1 page for every 10 minutes of a meeting/presentation.
A few months ago when I was speaking with a mentor he was encouraging me to make a walking deck, to prepare all senior and executive leadership for my 2022 vision by presenting a powerpoint of what I was thinking for the year ahead. It hit me after we hung up, that there was no way that I could present to every single person I needed to, and that my little neurodivergent brain would get exhausted with my own road show. So this year I figured was the perfect time to try my hand at the Amazon memo technique.
I’m proud to say that after 6 pages, size 10.5 font I was able to express some ambitious goals and strategic priorities in that document. And as a writer, I found it to be a more fulfilling exercise, it took the mental load off from presenting, and it’s allowed me to have some really in depth convos with internal stakeholders once it was sent around.
Now I won’t be sharing my document, but I did find another blogger, who not only explains the 6-pager but also shares his own 6-pager from his time at Amazon. You can find it HERE. Seriously, hit that link if you want to try your hand at a new technique for presentations and meetings.
I don’t think I’ll be able to eliminate powerpoint forever, but when it comes to presenting more strategic initiatives I can’t wait to dive into more Amazon memos.
Now if you’ve made it this far and you neither want to read a book or a blog post, enjoy some YouTube videos…