March, I was deep in a reading slump. I read A LOT of spicy romance novels, and a touch of YA.
You’ll Be the Death of Me by Karen McManus – I’m a massive fan of McManus’s earlier YA thrillers. I couldn’t connect with the characters or the conflict.
Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey – I adored the first book in the Bellinger sister series. This was cute…but honestly, I really fell in love with the nods to the first book. And the HEA made me miss the characters.
Not Like The Movies by Kerry Winfrey – I didn’t like the first book, and I didn’t really care about this one. If fade to black romance is your thing, this is the book for you. Also, this series leans heavily on meta rom-com moments, so do with that what you will.
The Summer Proposal by Vi Keeland – This was a wildly unlikely premise, and I loved that about it. It had good spice levels, and I love any book where a wildly rich man falls in love with an “average girl.” The author was doing the most with the character descriptions, and the ending was a bummer. BUT, it’s a good spicy read.
The Fine Print and Terms & Conditions (Dreamland Billionaire Series) by Lauren Asher – This had everything I love in a spicy romance read and one thing I didn’t know I needed. The Kane family owns a Disney-style empire. They fall in love with women of color. You get grump and sunshine in book 1, and marriage of convenience in book 2. I couldn’t possibly do this series justice. I became hyper-fixated and may have re-read them multiple times in 1 week. This ain’t Shakespeare, but it’s a damn good time! I can’t wait for book 3!
If you ever find yourself in a reading slump, give yourself the grace to just have fun with your reading. When reading slumps hit, that’s when I turn to literary flaming hot cheetos. I’m not in it for substance, but I want to keep the habit going. So let my March reads be proof that even “readers” have to drop the annotations, commonplace books, and esoteric reads, and instead read fun smutty romance novels.
The world is made up of wicked vs kind environments, controlled spaces like golf and chess are kind, and variable events like work and football are wicked.
Having more generalized experience makes you flexible and more adaptable to wicked environments.
We benefit ourselves in the future, even with increased AI, to be more adaptable in our skills, to keep learning, and have wider areas we pull inspiration and analogies to solve problems.
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. This book helped me see you are never too old for anything, it’s really a situation of deliberate practice. 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 a validation of my ultralearning pursuits and self-taught/studying. I really love that in a wicked world, being less rigid is a life hack.
Who Should Read It?
If you are a career switcher, someone with multiple interests, interested in learning a new skill later in life, or someone who isn’t sure about the 10,000 hour idea.
Compare yourself to yourself yesterday, not to younger people who aren’t you. Everyone progresses at a different rate, so don’t let anyone else make you feel behind. You probably don’t even know where exactly you’re going, so feeling behind doesn’t help. Instead, as Herminia Ibarra suggested for the proactive pursuit of match quality, start planning experiments. Your personal version of Friday night or Saturday morning experiments, perhaps.
During lockdown, I watched a documentary called Brain Games. It was about memory athletes all around the world. You may be thinking, “WTF is a memory athlete?” It’s someone who competes to prove they can memorize anything from a deck of cards, hundreds of binary digits, images, random names, and the list goes on.
One year after watching that documentary, I became a ranked memory athlete, and I want to share a technique that I learned through my training.
In memory training we use something called a PAO system, in the case of numbers you assign a person action and object to every number.
How do you assign the person? Well, you use something called a Dominic System. In it’s simplest terms, the Dominic System assigns a letter to every digit 0-9.
0 = O
1 = A
2 = B
3 = C
4 = D
5 = E
6 = S
7 = G
8 = H
9 = N
Why do certain digits equal certain letter? No freaking clue. But those are the rules of the memory games and I just follow them. (There’s something else called the Major System, but we can cover that another time.)
It’s up to the memory athlete to create a person for every digit set, for me two-digit sets are the easiest, and then your action and object. 31 in my PAO system is Charlie’s Angels doing their iconic pose holding blow dryers. Another, 24, Kobe Bryant in a fast breakaway with a black mamba wrapped around his ankle. 17, Ariana Grande, doing the splits with a giant ponytail.
In a 6 digit number the first set equals the person, the second set the action, and the last set the object.
How do we link it all together 241731, Kobe Bryant doing the splits holding a hair dryer.
It wouldn’t be a book rec list from me if I didn’t include fiction. This is such a wonderful commentary on “what makes a woman a woman?” It deals with gender identity, colorism, and sexuality…and did I mention a Wild West bank robbery.
I read 7 books in February, and I enjoyed them all. I’m a major advocate for reading fiction, but February was a heavy non-fiction month for me. 71% of my reads were nonfiction, and none of them disappointed me.
There were a few reads that I struggled with that almost pushed me toward a reading slump. I had to take my own advice and remember that I don’t have to finish a book.
This was the Belletrist book for February. This is a short story collection, but I didn’t know that going into this. Because when I was listening to the audiobook I would have moments of like “wait when did this get set up?!?” Other than the time hoping I enjoyed the perspective changes.
I thought this was a well done intersectional coming-of-age story.
If you like Now And Then (the movie), you’ll like this. Also, if you like short story collections, Saph lit, or want to read more BIPOC authors, add this to your list.
This was like the productivity cookbook workbook I always needed. So many productivity books are unrealistic. This is realistic, this is practical, it’s moldable to your life. The authors worked in tech. You can interchange what works for you on any given day. I also love that the book is about prioritizing or arranging your time for what works for you. This book has been a game-changer for me since I read it.
“A structured day creates freedom. When you don’t have a plan, you have to decide constantly what to do next, and you might get distracted thinking about all the things you should or could do…instead of thinking about what to do next, you’re free to focus on how you do it.”
I have seen this book around for years, and I’ve always avoided reading it…I wish I hadn’t! This was a life-changer for me. There were so many moments that blew my mind, and by the end I was in tears ugly crying. The writing was relatable, it was honest, it resonated. I know it’s a useless feeling, but I regret not reading this earlier in life.
“Instead of looking to be right all the time, we should be looking for how we’re wrong all the time. Because we are. Being wrong opens us up to the possibility of change. Being wrong brings the opportunity for growth.”
I read this when I was feeling very inadequate as a leader. There were moments I felt embarrassed by my own audacity to learn from this man since I have so far to go as a leader. I enjoyed this book. It could have been shorter because it was repetitive at points. Also, it was so heavy on the football that I skipped over those parts since I’m not a 49ers fan, or know that much about that era. There were neanderthal moments of advice and that would only work for a man in football.
This is a great leadership book that everyone should read. Especially leaders trying to build a legacy that lives on after they leave.
I didn’t understand why a linguist would care about cults. But between her father and the role language plays in cults…I see why!
I am fascinated by cults, I loved this book. The section on religious cults was boring, I would have loved more around Scientology. The first part on deadly cults was surprising because so much of what I thought I knew was incorrect.
Montell has the yummiest use of language that I adored, and she uses vocabulary in a way that I admire and aspire to.
Most people haven’t taken a step back in the pandemic to think about how it’s impacted them emotionally.
This book teaches you the various perspectives, stories, and fears that grip us when an unexpected event happens. When I read this book in ’18 I spent a lot of time wondering what I’d do if a phantom pandemic came calling…if I knew then what I know now.
I wanted to share an ultralearning project I’m working on in 2022.
Growing up, and into adulthood, I’ve had the privilege to travel abroad. When I hear someone speaking a language other than English I’m immediately envious. There is something intelligent and chic about speaking another language. From the moment “polyglot” entered my lexicon, I’ve aspired to be one.
A polyglot is a person who knows and is able to use several languages.
So how am I going to do this?
I’m starting with Dutch. Dutch grammar is pretty straightforward and has many similarities to English. After that, will be German. German grammar is more difficult, but 60% of the English language has Germanic roots. And to close it out, will be French, German gets a lot of words from French, and English has a lot of French words as well.
I’m trying to do all this before the end of 2022.
I’m employing the Gabriel Wyner Fluent Forever Method. This involves ear training, phonetics, and flashcards with spaced repetition. Additionally, I’m also working through common Dutch verbs I would use in conversation. I’m also recording myself speaking, working on Dutch grammar, and passive language immersion.
There are many memory-athlete techniques I use in my language learning.
Here’s a tip that’s helped me. If you are watching a tv show or movie in your target language, set the subtitles to your target language. Setting your content to your target language lets you follow familiar and unfamiliar words. It also helps with ear training your target language.
Get a copy of the best language learning book HERE
We all believe coffee and caffeine give us energy, we also believe it keeps us from being a zombie. But, caffeine doesn’t give you an energy boost. Instead, it blocks you from having an energy dip caused by adenosine-induced sleepiness. If you don’t re-caffeinate adenosine is still hanging around ready to pounce.
The cognitive support effects of coffee make it a must-use for me. It is an underrated nootropic, and under-used productivity tool. I’ve learned tips that make caffeine work for me, rather than being a slave to my morning cup.
4 Ways To Make Caffeine Work For You:
Hydrate before you caffeinate – I always have a big glass of water before I allow myself to have any type of caffeine. I keep a big glass of water ready on either my kitchen counter or next to my bedside.
Wake before you caffeinate – I learned this from Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky’s book Make Time. Natural cortisol gets you up, caffeine can’t help you when cortisol is already high. Wait after you’ve been up a few hours, or before you start working, to have that first cup.
Use green tea to extend the curve – I have a rule that I don’t go beyond 2-3 cups a day. Later in the day, I turn to matcha or green tea to extend the caffeine curve with something that has a lower half-life.
Decide on the last call – Caffeine has a half-life of 5-6 hours, keep that in mind when you decide on your last call. I cut off at 3 pm. I try to be asleep by 10 pm because I wake up between 5-5:30 am. But you need to find what works for you!
Golde Matcha – This combines the skin and gut health benefits of turmeric with matcha, for a midday boost.
Moon Juice Ting – An adaptogen that I add to my morning class of water, gives it a pleasant orange taste.
Milk Frother – This was an amazing investment that allows me to make gorgeous lattes at home. It has nothing to do with the blog post, but everyone who hates making coffee at home (like me), should get one.
My physical and digital bookshelf grew in January.
I read a few books I’ve had on my TBR for some time. I read more nonfiction than fiction this month. I enjoyed some really great audiobooks, found a rom com read that was 5 stars for me, and read less physical books than I have in a while.
January was a fairly strong start to my 2022 reading.
This was described as “part page-turning cat-and-mouse chase, part sharp and hilarious satire, Impostor Syndrome is a shrewdly-observed examination of women in tech, Silicon Valley hubris, and the rarely fulfilled but ever-attractive promise of the American Dream.” It delivered on that promise. I loved all the skewering of the girl bossing. If you liked The Americans, I think you’ll enjoy this book.
She spent so much time setting up the ghost story and jump scares, she threw so much of the plot away for jump scares that became tedious after a while. I’ve loved Jackson’s other writing but this wasn’t it for me. If you liked the Candyman remake, YA horror, or When No One Was Watching, I’d say check this out…it’s a quick read.
I don’t know what it was about this book but its so incredibly dreamy! It was like the Kiss Quotient for me (I got this from the library, and I may buy a physical copy so I can have it as a comfort read in the future), I want to spend all my time with these characters. It had the right level of spice. The Schitt’s Creek inspo was fun, but I truly didn’t care. I loved Brendan and Piper and it created a new unrealistic romance level I want in my life. I just loved this swooney ass book, and because of it, I can’t wait for the sequel.
This was a lot like the Favorite Sister, it was both incredibly slow, and amazing! In one breathe it was amazingly original and I thought I knew where the plot was going and I didn’t. I also found myself getting incredibly bored at times, but as soon as I was getting bored something would happen that would draw me back in. It wasn’t engaging enough for me to devour it, but I really enjoyed the read. It was a little bit of whiplash on how incredibly quickly they wrapped up all the loose ends. But I also loved it ending with this kind of cliffhanger moment. I kept thinking if this was a show I would be all in on it, or at least a thriller with like Jessica Chastain. I think you’ll be into this if you like Dexter, Desperate Housewives, Stepford Wives, or Twilight Zone.
This was a complicated read for me. Knowing what we know of Bezos and his personal life now, making sense of that with genius business man felt like the height of cognitive dissonance.
More than anything Isaacson’s intro in the beginning is brilliant and got me excited to read the book, but when I realized it was nothing more than annual report letters and transcribed speeches I was glad I didn’t pay for this book and got it from the library.
Overall this was an illuminating read, but could have been a series of videos online or a blog post. I’m waiting for the day Isaacson writes about Bezos, cause that’ll be worth it.
This book blew my mind. This is the money text book we’ve all been asking for. Because Aliche is so candid about her own path to financial freedom it makes you feel like you are talking with a supportive friend. I learned that budgeting is an active task and it grows and evolves. Ultimately budgeting doesn’t grow your money, it helps you manage your money. This was the much more involved practical application book I’d been looking for on personal finance. If I’m honest the budgeting system she presents is a lot, and fairly complicated. I really appreciate the one-number method from Ellevest, and I don’t know why more people don’t try that. Overall, I can’t recommend this book enough, and it lit a fire under my ass.
I’ve never felt so seen by a book. This was so damn Black. Like I don’t think people understand that being a Blerd isn’t sitting in your mom’s basement watching Anime, it’s so much more, it’s so silly and cool, and this book nailed that feeling. I ended so many chapters feeling like MOOD AF. I love this book so much, and the horror movie essay, Simba, and Fantasy chapters are so powerful. Also the authors write in a way that so often I would read a passage and wish I wrote with that kind of candor and depth.
One of my favorite quotes comes with the author discusses with his dad why he loves Lord Of The Rings and fantasy so much:
“It’s not an escape. It’s hope. The good guys win and life has value in a fantasy story. It’s not about getting away from something. It’s about inserting hope into what you can’t outrun.”
The great social psychologist Karl Weick put it very succinctly: “How can I know who I am until I see what I do?”
I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I really loved that each chapter provided experiments to implement what you were reading. It was repetitive at points, but I loved the idea of leadership coming from your outward projection. The bridge versus hub leader was really eye opening, and worth reading the book for. I’ve been a hub leader through most of my career, and I think that’s why I feel so ineffective, I want to make the active decision to be a bridge leader to my team.
Overall I feel like I started the year strong, and I can’t wait to share what I read in February.
Today I want to blog about something not productivity, reading, or business related, but skincare.
I’ve had fairly problematic skin for as long as I can remember. I had severe acne and hyperpigmentation as a teenager, and had to do two rounds of Accutane. Currently, I’m dealing with hyperpigmentation from acne, the occasional breakout, and texture. I made a conscious decision that this year, 2022, I wanted to be less apathetic about my skin and make a concerted effort to improve it.
This year is all about mission glass skin.
I kicked off my mission at the start of this year with a visit to the Shani Darden Spa.
Some of my favorite celebs with coveted skin go to Shani, from Shay Mitchell, Kelly Rowland, and RHW. I wanted to kick off my skinpirational year with a facial, and I was lucky enough to work with Britt at the spa. I did a 90 minute facial that was wonderfully curated for my goals, and incredibly relaxing. There was even a peel that I thought was easily melting my face off, a la Indian Jones, but left my skin incredibly soft. I appreciated that before I left, Britt put together a list of products and samples that could help me maintain the work she’d put in, and pump up my current skincare routine.
My primary goals were to add moisture and glow to my skin.
I wanted to share some of the new additions that are helping me toward that glass skin look.
First up was adding Dennis Gross peel pads. I’m working my way up to daily, but at the moment I’m doing 3 times. I slide this into the evening routine after double cleaning. In the 2 minutes it takes the peel to settle I brush my teeth. I have noticed improvement in my hyperpigmentation, and my skin does feel better after the neutralizer.
I prefer a chemical peel over a physical exfoliant.
I don’t understand a thing about retinol or what it does, but when Britt gave me a sample after my first appointment, I gladly took it. If I use my peel pads Monday, Wednesday, and Friday evening, I use retinol Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I’ve noticed an improvement in the texture of my skin. The instructions say to work up to more use, so just like the peel pads, I want to work toward nightly use.
I also find retinol an incredibly easy step to add into the evening that doesn’t over complicate my routine.
The last product is a daytime addition that has made a world of difference.
Vitamin C has been an incredible addition to my daytime skincare routine. After toning in the morning, I pat in the vitamin C concentrate with my fingers, and then follow with sunscreen. I’ve noticed my skin looks way brighter, glowy, and hydrated after I use it.
I feel like my skin looks less sallow on zoom calls, which is a major upgrade.
I’m learning a lot on this skincare journey.
I’m learning is that I have to make all of this a habit. I currently have sunscreen and evening skincare in my habit tracker, and I’m proud to report that the chain is unbroken on sunscreen, and I’ve never missed more than two days in a row on evening skincare. I had to find a way to create the habits that support this loftier goal of glass skin. I deployed my arsenal of Atomic Habit steps. Also, I’m keeping monthly facials at the Shani Darden spa. The bonus of doing a fancy monthly facial is the financial investment I’ve put in, I want to maintain that incredible work when I’m not at the spa.
I’m still too nervous and vain to share progress photos, but eventually I’ll get there, and will gladly share when they time comes.