The best books for self improvement & staying focused

The Books I Picked & Why

How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

By Dale Carnegie

Book cover of How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

Why this book?

One of the greatest days of my professional career was when a media outlet called me a “Digital Dale Carnegie.” They had no idea what a fan I am of Carnegie's work. Carnegie passed away (1955) long before I was born but he continues to have a profound impact on my life. My grandfather, and father have both taken Dale Carnegie Courses. While Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People is wonderful and is one of the best-selling books of all time, my favorite is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living

In our modern world, worry is almost a certainty. We worry as parents, business owners, employees— we never seem to run out of things to worry about. Dale Carnegie’s How to Stop Worrying and Start Living reframed my perspective on the cost of worrying. Eliminating the fear of the unknown is often the first step to achieving our goals and Carnegie’s book was an instrumental reminder of the importance of building good habits and prioritizing mental wellness to eliminate worry. This perspective is critical to the preservation of my own time, energy, and happiness. This is a book I read annually to help me reset when I feel the walls of worrying closing in on me.


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Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success

By Adam Grant

Book cover of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success

Why this book?

Full disclosure that I sit on some company advisory boards along with Grant. However, long before that became a reality I was a huge Adam Grant fan. Both as a fellow professor and writer. In particular, Grant’s breakthrough book Give and Take. Grant reminds us that if you look at life as a dog-eat-dog world then you will remain a dog. This book reminds us of what we know intrinsically but we so often forget in our quest to get ahead. 

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Give and Take highlights the difference between those who go fast (takers), those who go far (givers), and those who fall somewhere in between (matchers). By showcasing the strengths and weaknesses of givers, takers, and matchers, Grant proves that those who are most successful in life are often those that volunteer their time and energy with little expectation of anything in return. This book perfectly highlights the importance of networking as a tool for success— a must for this digital decade.


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

By Brené Brown

Book cover of Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Why this book?

A few years ago, I had just come off stage after delivering a keynote and was grabbing my luggage to rush to the airport to catch my flight. Well, I missed my flight, and it was worth it. The moment I heard the speaker after me, I was riveted. I’d never heard of her, but I had to stay. I had to listen. I had to meet her backstage in the greenroom. The speaker? Brené Brown. 

Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly perfectly defines the shift we have seen in recent generations. Where vulnerability was once perceived as weakness, Brown portrays how she and others have transformed their own shame and guilt into strength. Daring Greatly reaffirms my own experience of stepping into discomfort and owning my story. By embracing fear, discomfort, and vulnerability, I discovered how self-acceptance can lead to helping others do the same.


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Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By Simon Sinek

Book cover of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Why this book?

When preparing for a keynote with a corporation I will ask their executive team who was their speaker last year? More times than not the answer is Simon Sinek. 

So often when I speak with companies, they can easily articulate what they do and how they plan to execute their goals. But as Simon Sinek points out in Start with Why, many companies overlook the why. Sinek showcases a multitude of examples to highlight, not only why it’s important to know and understand your purpose but, to begin with your purpose. Today’s most successful and influential companies are not marketing their products, but their purpose. This is a concept I revisit daily in my own business; goal setting and project planning always begin with our Why.


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Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

By James Clear

Book cover of Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Why this book?

We all grapple with “not enough time” or “not enough energy” to accomplish all that we want to get done in our day. James Clear’s Atomic Habits challenges us to reflect on how we approach our goals. Instead of simply setting a goal and making a plan, Clear encourages us to consider how our current habits contribute to or derail our success. Many of these concepts were incredibly influential in my own personal project to improve my health, relationships, and business. I often referenced this book when writing my own


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