My Dozen "Must Read" Book List for 2016

Going into 2016, I'm picking a dozen books that are must reads for me this year. I thought I'd share my list in hopes there might be some that would be good reads for you as well, or at least to inspire you to make a list of your own. Reading is imperative if you want to learn and grow, and to become better at your craft, whatever that might be.

Here's my list:

  1. "The Richest Man in Babylon" by George S. Clason - A classic that I've read multiple times, but always a great, easy read as a refresher on the basics of building wealth.
  2. "What to Do When There's Too Much to Do" by Laura Stack - One of my focuses this year is getting more organized!
  3. "The 4-Hour Workweek" by Tim Ferriss - It's been on my list for too long. Getting it done 1st quarter 2016.
  4. "Start With Why" by Simon Sinek - If the book is anything close to his TED talk this will be an amazing read.
  5. "Awaken the Giant Within" by Anthony Robbins - I've started this book a number of times and it's super interesting, but because of the detail and length I've fizzled out each time. Not this time.
  6. "The Compound Effect" by Darren Hardy - Another shorter and easier read, but with great concepts and insight.
  7. "Bringing up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson - I've got two of my own, so learning how to be a better dad is always a must!
  8. "Losing My Virginity" by Richard Branson - One of the most inspirational entrepreneurs of our time.
  9. "Trump: The Art of the Deal" by Donald Trump with Tony Schwartz - Another one I've been meaning to read. How can you not learn something from one of the greatest real estate entrepreneurs?
  10. "Purple Cow" by Seth Godin - With multiple businesses, it's important not to get stagnant and to stay focused on standing out by being unique and remarkable.
  11. "Brain Rules" by John Medina - I've heard awesome things about this book. Breaking down how our brains work. Learning more about how we're wired will not only show you where you can personally make changes for the better, but will also increase your ability to interact with and understand other people. Since we all work, live and do business with people, it's a "no-brainer".
  12. "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh - When one of the best companies to work for and one of the most successful online stores started by selling shoes, of all things, tells how he did read it. Customers and employees are become more demanding about how a business is run, what their motivation is the work for or buy from them, and what impact they're making. All good things, and with the trend in that thought process, you want to be ahead of the game in running your business in a similar way.
There you go! Take the time to make a list of your dozen "must read" books for the year and make it happen. I hope this list has started you in the right direction, and maybe even a couple of them will end up on your list. I'd love it if you'd share your list with me once you have it down. Make 2016 a year of incredible learning and growth in your life!

Giving and Gratitude

Ok, so I am going to distract myself from my 5 part series on mind shifts (and after only 1 post!). I'll get back to that, I promise, because they're super important and I want you to take those tools and the new philosophies into the new year. However, I just can't pass Christmas and New Years without a couple posts acknowledging some of the great perspectives we can get out of the season.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve (I'm still in disbelief that it's already here). In addition to spending time with your loved ones, I want you to spend some time reflecting on just two things: giving and gratitude. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you reflect on these two areas.

  1. How can I focus more on giving this year, rather than on receiving? The ironic thing here is that as you focus more on giving, you will receive more than you ever imagined you would.
  2. Where specifically do I want to focus my giving this year? It may be financially, or it may be with your time. It may be both. It may be sharing your expertise with other entrepreneurs to help them grow your business, or with students who are looking for guidance. Find something to give to that speaks to you and your values personally.
  3. How can I incorporate giving into my regular, every day life? Giving doesn't have to be an event, or a huge contribution, though I fully believe in being involved in larger scale giving. You can give consistently, daily even, by taking the time to hear out a friend who is going through a hard time and needs someone to listen, or by being aware of those around you and the everyday opportunities to get involved and make a difference, no matter how small it may seem. The point is to give of yourself, without expecting anything in return.
  4. Am I giving to my full potential? Be honest with yourself. Is there more you could be doing? Make this year the year that you step up and do it.


This one's pretty straight forward. What is it you're grateful for? Take some real time to think about it. I realize this time of year can bring pain to a lot of people, for a lot of reasons, when it's supposed to be a season of joy. But we all have things we can and should be grateful for. Heck, we're all living and breathing, so that's something right there! I encourage you to make a physical list of everything in your life that you're grateful for right now, no matter now small.

If you spend some time really thinking about giving and about gratitude, I promise you it will make a difference in your attitude and your perspective. Not only that, if you go through the questions and really think these through, you will go into the New Year with a renewed focus on all the positive things in your life you have to be grateful for, and how you will personally make a contribution this upcoming year.

During all the craziness of the season, don't forget the true reason we celebrate and how incredibly grateful we all should be for the biggest gift of all, that we've all been given and are free to receive. Merry Christmas!


I'm going to spend some time with the next few topics covering 5 key mind shifts that you need to make to increase your success. Some of them will seem fairly basic at first glance, but I challenge you to really think and consider your personal thoughts and philosophy around each topic we cover. The small changes in the way we think often produce the largest changes in our results. Our philosophy about life is what determines most of outcomes. Many times if you're not making the progress you want to be, it's because there's an underlying conflict somewhere in your philosophy. Unless we take the time to analyze our thinking and challenge our current beliefs, we may never uncover those issues and it will be a constant struggle. We need to uncover those areas and see if there needs to be a change in philosophy that will propel you towards your goals. Lets' get started with the first mind shift we need to evaluate.

We don't get what we want. We get what we expect.

Let's explore this a bit.

Think about what you want to get out of life; what you want to accomplish. Think about the big things you've set out to do, especially the ones you keep aiming for but seem to consistently be falling short - maybe even way short. Think also about those you know that have dreams and goals, but for whatever reason aren't reaching them. I would strongly suggest that, if you really dig deep (and you may not really have to dig that deep at all), at the root of the problem is likely this one piece of philosophy. Here's why I say that. What we want, and what we expect, can be and often are two separate things. Plenty of people want to be a millionaire. In fact, if you asked 100 people on the street if they wanted to be a millionaire, if I were a betting man, I'd say your chances of all of them giving you a "yes" answer are pretty darn good. So, why aren't they? It's because, while they may want that, they don't expect it to happen to them.

Now of course there's more to it than that. Obviously there's the effort you need to make, the education and knowledge base you need to build, and so forth. You can't just expect something to happen and have it happen. That's called ignorance. The point is, if you don't expect something, it won't happen, regardless of the efforts. You can have all the knowledge, you can take all the steps that should be taking you where you're trying to go, but without this key piece of actually expecting the results, you will never get anywhere. You'll continue running in place, expending a ton of energy without any real results. You may make some small progress, but you'll never achieve your full potential. Everything you do starts with expectation and belief! It's the foundation of any endeavor, large or small. You simply cannot achieve something if you don't expect it to actually be fulfilled.

Think about it. You will not put in your full effort to something you don't believe will actually happen. Why would you? What's the point if you don't really think you'll get there? Really examine this in your own life. Spend some good, focused time just writing out what you want and seeing if you truly believe and expect that in your life. Dig deep. You may think you believe and expect what you're striving for to happen, but when you start really challenging yourself and looking closely at each of your goals, you may be surprised at what gets flushed out. Be honest with yourself. If you don't have the expectation or belief, it's ok! Telling yourself you do when you really don't will not help get you past it. You need to identify what you do and do not have expectation of so that you can make a deliberate adjustment to your mindset. If you ignore it, it won't change. But if you acknowledge it, you can make the choice to rewire your thinking to that of expectation and belief.

I was listening to a sermon recently, and the pastor made an observation on a passage that had never occurred to me before. In the story of the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah and Elizabeth are old, and have not been able to have a child. They are in a state of waiting. An angel appears to Zechariah, and tells him he will have a child, even in their old age. Though at first he does not believe, we look further and, later in the story (Luke 1:24) it says he returned home from his service at the temple, and "soon afterward his wife became pregnant". This is not to be crass, it's simply an observation that once he believed, he was filled with expectation, and expectation, in turn, leads to action. Without the belief and the expectation of good things in your life, of achieving what you've set out to do, you will not take the action steps to make it happen.

I challenge you to really explore the expectation and belief in your life. Do you really expect the results you say you want? Or do you need to go to work on changing your philosophy, changing your wiring, so you do in fact expect those things and believe they can and will happen in your life. Only then can you move to effective action and massively increased results, and start seeing the things you want in your life come to be. Your only limits are those that are self-imposed in your own mind.

"Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve." -Napoleon Hill

5 Things to Reflect on Going Into 2016

Believe it or not, 2016 is just a couple weeks away. If you're like me, you're shocked at how quickly this past year has gone by. Regardless, here it is, and as we head into the new year everyone, or at least everyone who has a sense of wanting to improve themselves and their performance this past year, is reflecting on the last 12 months and looking at what they can do to improve and do even better in 2016. Here are 5 areas that you need to include in your reflection.

  • Personal Development - What one area do you want to massively improve upon this year? Pick one and only one. This doesn't mean you can't read or study other topics, but picking one thing you're going to master this year will help you focus and create huge results in that area. What's the one thing that will make the biggest difference in your life and business? Is it increasing productivity or organization? Is it your relationships? Is it negotiation? Leadership? Whatever will make the biggest impact, identify that and make that your main study for the new year. Commit to mastery.
  • Health - Are you healthy? Did your quality of health increase or decrease this last year? What can you do in 2016 to do better in this area? If your body is not running to the best of it's ability, every other area of your life will not be as effective as it could be.
  • Relationships - Are your relationships what they could be, or could they be better? Are your closest relationships deep, or are they all shallow and surface-level? Evaluate the relationships you have. Choose the ones you want to deepen, and identify any that are toxic or counterproductive and limit or eliminate them. You become who you spend time with. Make sure those you're spending time with are who you want to be like. Make sure those you love the most know that. Show them and tell them daily, and make them a priority.
  • Contribution & Service - Are you making a positive impact on the community and world around you? Do you leave things better than they were, or do you leave a trail of negativity and destruction in your wake? Are you involved in anything bigger than yourself? Life without contribution and making a difference, with only living for yourself, is empty.
  • Your Environment - This is everything you're surrounded with day to day. From your neighborhood to the car you drive, from the people you're with daily to the weather and climate where you live. Are these things what you want? Most people take a lot of these things as they come without even thinking about it. You know what? If you don't like the cold, and you live in a cold climate...MOVE. If you don't like the people you work with, figure out a way to get out, whether it's finding a new job or starting your own business. We all have the ability to change our environment. We're not stuck wherever we are right now. If it's not what you want, figure out a way to change it.

In every area, I encourage you to do the following:

  1. Identify what was good this year, and what needs to change. Be specific
  2. Come up with a structured plan of what you're going to do this year. This includes daily, weekly or monthly tasks. Pick the specific things you will do this year that will create the most results. Make sure you can measure your progress, and make sure you do so on a regular basis. Schedule check-in points up front.
  3. Find accountability - Find a friend or colleague that will you trust and can be honest with, and who will hold you accountable. Make it clear that it's ok to call you out when you're not performing or accomplishing what you said you would, and that you won't hold it against them when they do. And then let them.
I'm going to make 2016 my best year yet. How about you?

REI Has it Right

Close your stores on one of the biggest shopping days of the year? That's what REI has done on Black Friday, and it has people talking. Their #Optoutside campaign is definitely not consistent with our over consumerism in America, and here's why I think it will be a big win for the company.

Doing something counter-culture creates buzz. Obviously they've gotten a lot of publicity for doing something unexpected, and what some people think would be crazy because of the perceived negative results to the bottom line. We all know job #1 of marketing is to make sure people are talking about you.

Values before dollars. REI is an outdoors store, and promoting going outside vs spending the day in shopping malls is consistent with what they're trying to do. Remember, as Mr. Sinek would say, people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Any time you do something that holds to your values, even if at face value it appears to be counter productive to benefiting the business, will ultimately lead to the benefit of the company anyway. Values before dollars, and the dollars will come as a result, and to a higher level than if you were to compromise on those values. Consumers are too smart and savvy; if you compromise once, you'll lose credibility and you may not be given the chance to make it back up.

Online shopping keeps the sales coming in. Thanks to our wonderful technology, they'll still rake in the sales as a huge percentage of people do their shopping online anyway. After all, why go out in public and risk a fist fight with the crazy guy trying to save $100 on a tv when you can do all your shopping online in your kitchen while drinking your morning coffee?

I predict a big spike for REI. They won't lose many, if any, sales on Black Friday since their site is still up and taking sales, and the publicity and values statements they made will just create more sales and more faithful customers. Good work REI!

Act Before Thinking

As I was trying to figure out what topic to blog about today, I came across this title in my "drafts" to remind myself to post about it at some point. I thought it would fit perfect for my post, as I was just listening to a teleseminar talking about "Ready, Fire, Aim", while at the same time listening to a Real Estate Guys radio show where the topic was one of their main mantras - "education for effective action". I took it as a sign that these came up during the same day that it was the perfect time to address this.

We're traditionally taught to be prepared; to get ready, aim and fire, in that order.  It sounds reasonable, right? It seems to make sense that that's the logical order of things. There's a lot to be said in favor of it to be sure. You don't want to go into something with zero knowledge or direction, that's certainly true. However, so many people get stuck in the first two parts of the process. They either never feel like they're "ready" enough, or if they do start to aim, it's without enough clarity to know what they're supposed to be aiming at, or with too much timidity to actually pull the trigger. They sit and wait, and analyze, and before they get to "fire" the opportunity is passed and they have to start all over. Opportunity does not sit and wait with a target on it's back for you to aim until you're fully prepared to pull the trigger.

So what's a more effective approach? The "ready, fire, aim" concept is not new, but it is contrary to what our naturally tendencies and comfort is. We often want to be completely ready to go, and we should be reasonably so, but you will never be fully 100% ready to pull the trigger. If you wait until everything lines up perfectly, until you have all the answers and all the knowledge you need to move forward, you'll be waiting your entire life. We need to be reasonably ready, have a good knowledge base to stand on, and pull the trigger, even if we don't know 100% what the final outcome will be or have every "what if" scenario figured out ahead of time.

One important aspect of this is knowing enough to work backwards off a "worst case scenario". You have to have enough knowledge around what you're doing to create a couple possible outcomes, and figure what your worst case scenario is. If you can live with that, don't go any further in analyzing. Start moving forward, and then figure out the details or exact direction from there. Take real estate entrepreneurship for example. When you come across a potential deal, and you know values, you can work backwards and figure out a couple exit strategies. Is the worst case handing the deal off to another investor for a small wholesale or assignment fee? There could be several other much better options, but if that's the worst case, stop thinking and pull the trigger. Then explore the other options and decide which route is the best. Is the worst case a huge loss, but with the potential for profit? Ok, well then in those instances step back and take a closer look first. That said, some of the great companies out there have had worst case scenarios that were complete failure of the business. The point is, you need to make that decision on what you can live with as a worst case. Even facing a potential catastrophe as a worst case could still mean moving forward, if you know that going into it and are ok if that is the final result.

When you get stuck with thinking you need all the answers before you can do anything, remember that there is no way you can know it all. That's why it's so important to surround yourself with smart people and have a great team around you. The key really is action anyway. Knowledge is not power, applied knowledge is power. Knowledge is only the potential for power. You can have all the knowledge in the world, but without using it and taking action, it's not doing anything for you and is wasted. Don't spend your time working so hard to learn something, to become an expert, and then never use it!

Here are some quick tips to get past being stuck in either the "ready" or "aim" steps:
  • Expand your knowledge - But don't let not knowing all the answers stop you.
  • Build a great team - Having a great, knowledgeable team helps you feel more confident.
  • Step outside your comfort zone - Get used to it, because "ready, fire, aim" isn't always - or usually isn't - comfortable.
  • Be clear on what you want - Without clarity on what you want in life, how can you know what to aim at?
  • Be bold - Ask questions around and take bold steps towards the things you want.
  • Don't over-think it - If you sit and think about all the bad things that could go wrong, of course you'll never want to move forward.
  • Remember that failure is part of success - Re-frame your thinking around failure. It's only failure if you let it defeat you. Otherwise it's just part of the process and an opportunity to learn and do better.
 Now go out there and practice. "Ready, Fire!, Aim". Get as much knowledge and make as many preparations as you can up front, then take bold action, and make adjustments as needed.

Be a Rubber Ball - Bouncing Back After Setbacks

Setbacks and disappointments are guaranteed to happen. It's a part of life, especially if you're pushing yourself and striving for bigger accomplishments. It's inevitable. But it's not the fact that they happen that's important, it's what you do when those situations arise that matters. You can let it stop you in your tracks, or you can be like a rubber ball and bounce back. You need to have some "give", some flexibility, in order to be able to bounce back. Just like the rubber ball gives in when it hits the concrete and prepares itself for the launch back up. And that's exactly what can happen with the right mindset and proper redirection after a setback; you can launch yourself to even greater heights. Here are a few thoughts on bouncing back:
  • Get the Lesson - What did you learn from the setback or disappointment? Debrief what went wrong, why and what you can do to avoid a similar mistake in the future. Don't dwell on it. Look back, analyze, adjust and move on.
  • Seek Advise - Talk to people in your field or just other people you trust and who's opinion you respect. Ask them for their take on what happened and listen to their words of wisdom.
  • Know You're Not Alone - Everyone faces setback. Sometimes just knowing you're not the only one going through it can help you push forward.
  • Set Up a Game Plan - Come up with a plan of how you're going to move forward from here. Don't let the setback stop your movement. Come up with a plan to keep going and implement it right away.
We all see the successful side of those who have made it. It's easy to think it came to them without effort and without the hardship and setbacks we face in our businesses. The truth is, those who have succeeded at the highest level are the ones who have failed and faced more setbacks than those who have not. The success is what's highlighted, not the failures, so it's easy to look past that part. As Thomas J. Watson said, "If you want to succeed, double your rate of failure."

Gaining by Eliminating

Ok, I'm taking a page from my mentor's book here, so credit given where it's due this is based on a coaching cd by Greg Pinneo that I recently listened to. S.I.S.E., or "Sh** I Should Eliminate" - what should we remove from our lives to be more effective, to move closer to our goals and grow to live our potential? To live a healthier, more fulfilling life? If you ask people that are very successful, especially those that seem to get more done in a day than seems possible, most of them will tell you that it's not just about what they do that is the key; it's more about what they don't do. Here's few to get you started on thinking about what you should eliminate in your own life. Some are a spin off the cd by Pinneo, and some are my own thoughts.

  • Distractions - We are so distracted in our culture today it's ridiculous. Between the ads we see and hear constantly and the constant "ding" of the 30 different alerts set on our phones, we are almost always distracted in some way. It's so bad we even have a phrase to describe it: Continuous Partial Attention. If you're not acutely aware of your own distractedness, it's very easy to get sucked in. It's all around us. When you're in a state of Continuous Partial Attention, you are never truly focused on the task at hand. You not only get less done, but you're never in the moment. You rob yourself of the full experience of so many great things in life if you're never fully present in anything you do.
  • Vagueness  - Who wants to live a life where at the end you, or anyone else who was around you, couldn't really say what it was you did? What if they couldn't say what you stood for, what you believed in, or what you set out to accomplish? A vague life is a life without direction. Be clear on who you are, what you stand for, what you will not tolerate in your life, and what you want to accomplish. Know what legacy you want to leave. If the picture of what you want is vague, the results will be as well.
  • Negative People - These come in all types, from those who are just "takers" who will never give anything from their end, to those who make you feel less of yourself just from being around them, to those who just have an overall negative attitude, to those who try to shatter your dreams with their own limiting belief of possibility. Here's an easy tip - don't hang around these people. We become like those we hang around. No matter how mentally tough you think you are, if you spend your time around people like this, it will affect your own attitude. Not to mention the fact that many of these types of people are time suckers and will use your time without hesitation or apology - before you know it you've been on the phone with them for 45 minutes, haven't said more than two words on your end, and have just been thrown up on with all of their problems and their negative spin. You know it's true, because it's happened to you before.
  • Shallow Conversation - No more "how's the weather?" talk. Let's talk deeper. Let's talk life, philosophy, goals and aspirations. Let's talk life experiences. When we talk deeper, we build deeper relationships, we challenge our own thoughts, and we become better people.
  • Worry - Worry has no place in your life. Think about it - has worrying about anything, whatever the outcome, ever helped in a situation? Ever? Of course not. Worrying does nothing but cause stress and make you wonder about things that are either out of your control or will never happen. Worry is a mentally draining, time wasting activity that has absolutely zero chance of having a positive return. If you tend to worry, sit down and make a list of all the things you're worried about. Then go through the list. The things you can do something about, do something about it, and the things you can't do anything about, let it go! We can't control the government, we can't control inflation, we can't control whether we get hit by a bus today or whether we're going to get cancer. Sure, we can do things to stay healthy and we can pay attention when we cross the street. But worrying about something that may or may not happen is worthless and has no place in your life. Control what you can, let go of what you can't. Now go make your list; seriously, right now.
  • Apathy - I would go so far as to say this is one of the single biggest problems in our world today. Do not settle for less than what you're capable of. Don't be complacent and stop growing and becoming better. The opposite of apathy is passion. Get involved in whatever you can do with passion and that lights your fire. Then pursue it with everything you've got.
  • Exhaustion - Staying up super late and getting up ridiculously early doesn't make you a martyr for your business; it makes you less effective. You're body can't function without proper sleep. You can actually get more done in less time if you're properly rested. Yes, there are times when you need to grind it out and push through, but if you're living every day of your life without enough sleep, you're asking for your body to crash. And it will. Don't burn yourself out.
Remove these things from your life and you will see a huge increase in the quality of your life, and you'll move much more quickly towards those things which you've set out to accomplish. What other things can you eliminate from your life in order to gain? Eliminate them today and start reaping the rewards.

-Comment, let me know your thoughts and what you need to eliminate on twitter -

Make This Your Year of Change

It's that time again. A year ends and another one begins. Along with it comes setting aside the past, and looking toward the new year with hope and anticipation. "This is going to be the year" everyone tells themselves. Sadly, but the middle of January, most have already given up on what they've set out to change. Don't let that happen to you! Not this time! Here are a few simple pointers to go into 2015 and make progress on your goals and ambitions.

Have Complete Clarity - You can't reach a goal or hit a mark if it's vague. You must be perfectly clear about what you're setting out to accomplish.

Have a "Why" Bigger Than the Goal Itself - Don't just try to hit a number. Know what hitting that number will do for you, your life and those you love. Focus on that reason and you're motivation will continue.

What is Your "One Thing"? - Don't set too many goals! At the beginning of the year, people tend to set a long list of what they want to change. Financial goals, health goals, family goals, and on and on. You want to have goals for every aspect of your life, and you absolutely want to be balanced. However, you can't expect to make progress without focus. Pick the one thing you want to change most first, focus on that, make some new habits around that change, and add something else. Don't overwhelm yourself with too much, or you'll just give up on all of it.

Find Accountability - Ask someone you trust, and who will be honest with you and hold your feet to the fire, to hold you accountable. Tell them exactly what you want to accomplish, by when, and check in with them often with progress reports.

Do Something Every Day - Do something every single day that will make progress towards your biggest goals. It may be something that doesn't even feel like it's moving you much closer at all, but it's the little, daily things added up over time that get you up the mountain. If you do something every day, you'll look back months from now and be shocked at how far you've gone.

Simple, yes. But also effective. It's the little things that make the difference in whether your 2015 will be a year of achieving what you've set out to do, or if you'll be sitting in the same place you are now when you're reflecting on 2015 come January 1st 2016. You get to choose. Make it happen!

Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action Commercial Real Estate