Eric’s Books From 2015

I really love books, actually to be more specific, I really love buying books.

I have this impulse that when I hear about a good book I immediately want to buy it.  At one point my book backlog was well over 50 books and I decided to slow down.  I had this dream of having a library in my house one day where it would have all the books I have ever read.  But then two things happened to me that put this dream on hold (1) the eBook came out so I could put thousands of books on my phone (2) I had kids which for those of you that don’t know they have a lot of [toy] storage needs.

So the library dream was put on the backburner for a while until this year when I set a goal to read more books in 2015.  I wanted to read 15 books in 2015 and picked up on Audible to help me crank through some books.  I started out strong and then I discovered my love of Podcasts and got a little sidetracked.  There are only so many hours in the day to read/listen to books so about halfway through I got back into it.

Here’s a list of all the books I read this year in my order of favorite to least favorite.

#1 – Anything You Want by Derek Sivers (Kindle) – By far my favorite book of the year and is probably top 3 of my favorite books of all time.  Derek shares his experience with CD Baby and the lessons he learned.  The entire 88 page book is full of gems and thought provoking ideas.  My biggest take away was about building Professional Utopia and it has made such an impact it’s something we focus on a lot at BrightGauge now.  Check out Derek’s Blog and also his podcast with Tim Ferriss to learn more (after reading the book)

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#2 – Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (Kindle) – This book I read while on vacation and I could not put the book down.  Estimated reading time is 15 hours and I cranked through it in 6 on my Kindle.  There is so much good stuff in this book it’s tough to put it into a short summary but what it really taught me was that our time on this earth is very limited (when you think in terms of billions of years).  And opened my eyes to the fact that the human race can be a deadly force

#3 – The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks (Audible) – This one really got me thinking.  The whole premise of the book is that we as human have “Upper Limits” that we set on ourselves.  These upper limits can come from a variety of sources but most of them come from something way back in your childhood.  So if you have ever found yourself second guessing “are things too good to be true” or “this [insert positive feeling or wave of good luck] is going to come to an end soon” you are most probably facing an Upper Limit on yourself.  Gay provides a framework to not only identify when you have an Upper Limit problem but how to correct it and get passed it.  He also has an amazing chapter on how to move your life into the “Zone of Genius”

#4 – Money: Mastering the Game by Tony Robbins (Hard Copy & Audible) – I heard Tony’s podcast with Tim Ferriss and it intrigued me enough to get the book.  The book is over 600 pages of very focused information about managing your finances.  It’s a phenomenal read for anyone that doesn’t claim to be a financial expert and gives you some basic things you can do to be smarter with your money.  The book made such an impact that it changed the way I managed my finances at home.

#5 – The True Story of the Bilderberg Group by Daniel Estulin (Audible) – This was an interesting book about a group of very powerful families, politicians, companies, and others from around the world who get together once a year to discuss events and ideas that have/will impact the world.  The theory is that this group sets the agenda for a new world order to bring all of us under a unified country and removing the borders of current nations and states.  It’s a very powerful book and there is certainly something going on when 300+ of the most powerful people in the world get together for a 3 day conference under complete secrecy.

#6 – The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen (Audible) – This is a must read for any business owner especially someone that is starting a new business like we have been at BrightGauge.  My big lessons there are (a) we did the right thing by carving out BrightGauge to be it’s own company allowing it to grow independent of the main family business (2) Every company has the same inputs for their organization but what makes organizations different is what they do with the inputs via their Processes & Values.

#7 – Zero to One by Peter Thiel (Audible) – This was a hot book this year and really forced me to think about “the big picture” instead of focusing simply on what I was doing today, tomorrow, next month, etc.  My two favorite lines of the book are “No company has a culture, every company is a culture” and “It’s all about distribution, everyone is in sales”.  Both of them I always believed.

#8 – Elon Musk – I’m fascinated with Elon Musk, what he has accomplished in such a short time is incredible.  In his career he has completely disrupted the payment industry (PayPal), automotive industry (Tesla), space exploration (Space X) and Electricity industry (Solar City).  He is a ruthless manager that is able to drive people to do things they thought were impossible.  I admire his pursuit to do what is unimaginable and his unwillingness to give up or listen to the naysayers.  This peaks under the hood of what makes Elon tick and how he got to where he is today.

#9 – Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk (Audible) – This was my second book by Gary (see Crush It) and in this book he explains how because of social media we have to go back to the way things used to be before the internet came along.  You have to give more than you get and have to be respectful of those you do business with.  Because with social media these days it’s very easy to get burned.

#10 – Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore (Audible) – Anyone that works in technology and has a product that they need to market (which means everyone) should read this book.  Although it’s a little dated with the examples referenced in the book the theory holds very true today.  Learning how to “Cross the Chasm” is the only way to get a product into the mainstream market and really be a dominate player.

#11 – The Rockefeller File (Kindle) – This was a follow up to the book The Bilderberg Group above because it was referenced so many times I just had to check it out.  Although the book is dated, published in 1976, it’s a fascinating story about one of the most iconic families in our history and the impact they have made on our country and lives even to this day.

#12 – Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton (Kindle) – I really enjoyed learning about the behind the scenes of what happened in one of the most controversial and impactful companies of our current time.  I posted a short review of the book here.

#13 – Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk (Audible) – This was my first audible book and really opened my eyes to the world of personal branding and leveraging social media for both personal and professional aspects of your life.  I posted a short review of the book here.

#14 – How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen (Kindle) – A short read and a more personal story about a great author and professor.  Clay talks about the true measures of your life and at the end of the day it’s not about money.  Reading it made me grateful for the life I have and the people around me.

I already have a backlog of books set up for 2016 which I can’t wait to get started on…

  • Matt Olson

    I love this list! i read both Gary V books and the Elon Musk one as well. Listening to Gary V talk is energizing, he’s just full speed ahead all the time. I’m going to read at least a couple more off your list here in short order starting with #4 – Money: Mastering the Game by Tony Robbins and #3 – The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.

    • Matt – Thanks for the comment. Those are definitely good books to check out. The money one took me forever to read because I was taking so many notes and then would start making changes to my finances. So beware it might cause a lot of paperwork…

  • Josh Kotler

    A very successful friend recently commented that Tony Robbins was a guy that he had actively tried to dislike and ignore, but in the end just can’t because he is so inspiring and has a unique ability to get to the crux of what blocks (and what unleashes) personal performance . I’m starting to feel the same way about Robbins. He seemed a little cultish back in the 90’s but that was probably my cynicism more than anything else. The guy has tremendous insight.

    • Couldn’t agree more about Tony Robbins and his ability to inspire others. I’ve enjoyed his book and mix in some of his podcast material from time to time. But that’s as far as I can go. Thanks for reading Josh.