I stopped making New Year's Resolutions for myself many years ago because, like many well-intentioned individuals will inevitably do, I'd usually falter a few days after January 1st, get discouraged, and give up.
But a former colleague once shared something she does every year which I've found much easier to maintain.
Instead of making "resolutions", at the beginning of each new year she chooses three words that she uses to guide her actions. If she wanted to read more, one of her words might simply be, "read". If she wanted to have more adventures, "adventure" would suffice. You get the idea.
Wait! This goes against everything we've all learned about SMART goals! Of course it does. But that's the point; the three words she chooses aren't intended to be goals, they're intended to be broad themes... and it's tough to get discouraged and give up on broad themes.
For 2020, my three words are learn, give, and courage.
Creating this newsletter touches upon all three of these themes.
I hope you enjoy it.
PS> If you've already made your 2020 resolutions and are determined to keep them, you'll want to read this great article from CNN Health appropriately titled, "How to keep New Year's resolutions".
- Despite what you may have thought while you were finishing your holiday shopping from the comfort of your couch, there's no such thing as "free shipping". Find out how retailers hide the costs of delivery—and why we’re such suckers for their ploys. (The Atlantic)
- Unless you've been in a cave or a coma for the past two months, you're probably heard of Baby Yoda. But have you wondered how the little guy so easily captured the attention and hearts of millions so quickly? Well, the reason may be biological... find out why we all love Baby Yoda, and what brands can learn from him. (LRW Online)
- If you were among the uber-rich, would you still work? You might think, "no way!"... but it turns out the rich tend to work longer hours and spend less time socializing than the rest of us. Find out why rich people don't just stop working. (The New York Times)
- Speaking of getting rich, a new year often means new opportunities! If you're thinking of making a career move in 2020, make sure your resume screams "Hire Me!" (HBR)
- And if you weren't thinking of making a career move this year, make sure it's not because you think you're too old to make a change: some of the greatest minds in history were "late bloomers". Discover "The Art of Blooming Late", via the Harvard Business Review.
My favourite books of 2019... and what I'm reading next!
I read several amazing books in 2019, but three of them instantly catapulted themselves to the top of my all-time favorite business-book list. (They were THAT good!) If one of your goals for 2020 is to read more, I highly recommend you start here...
The Ride of a Lifetime: Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company, by Bob Iger
Okay, sure, anyone who knows me knows I have a lifelong love of Disney. But you don't have to have my passion for the House of Mouse to appreciate this amazing book. I made the good decision to "read" this via Audible, and so it felt like a friend was telling me his story. Towards the end of the book, Iger recaps the lessons found throughout the book, but read start to finish, it's the tale of how one man rose to be the most powerful person in the entertainment world.
That Will Never Work: The Birth of Netflix and the Amazing Life of an Idea, by Marc Randolph
Quick, who started streaming giant, "Netflix"? You'd be forgiven if your answer was, "Reed Hastings", but you'd only be half-right. Because Netflix's first CEO was actually Marc Randolph, who shares the story of how what is now the world's most ubiquitous streaming service came to be, and the lessons he learned as an entrepreneur along the way. This book should be required reading for anyone even thinking of starting a business, but it's also an entertaining, amusing, "quick read" for anyone who's ever wondered how Netflix came to be. (Spoiler alert: that story of Reed getting the idea after racking up serious Blockbuster late fees on Apollo 13? Yeah, not so much...) Bonus: Randolph seems to be a genuinely nice guy! He included his email address in the book, and because I just had to know if it was real, I sent him a note to tell him how much I enjoyed his book... and he emailed me back! (Yup, I'm on my way to becoming BFF's with the founder of Netflix...)
The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, by Scott Galloway
There's a good chance you've already read this brilliant book, because it was published in late 2017 and I'm late to the party here. But if you haven't, click the link above and then hit, "Buy Now with 1-Click". (No, the irony of me telling you to do this for this particular book is not lost on me.) After finishing this book -- and then having the chance to attend a live taping of The Pivot podcast in Toronto late last year -- I have a newfound obsession with NYU Professor Scott Galloway, who says he began writing this book as a "love letter" to the tech giants that most of us interact with every day, but realized it was actually a cautionary tale by the time he was finished. So whether you want to know the dangers of allowing tech companies to become this large or you want to know how they did it so you can replicate their success, this is a worthwhile read. (Bonus: Galloway has an incredible sense of humour; if I had a dollar for every strange look I earned on the subway while reading this book...)
Those were my top three reads of 2019. They were so good that I regretted not buying them in hardcover format so I can keep them at my desk for easy reference... so I'm using an Indigo giftcard I got for my birthday to buy second (physical) copies of all three!
What's on my list for 2020? Here are my Top Five, all of which I already purchased and hope to have read by the end of March:
1. Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley's Bill Campbell, by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, and Alan Eagle
As per the Amazon write-up, "Bill Campbell played an instrumental role in the growth of several prominent companies, such as Google, Apple, and Intuit, fostering deep relationships with Silicon Valley visionaries, including Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and Eric Schmidt. In addition, this business genius mentored dozens of other important leaders on both coasts, from entrepreneurs to venture capitalists to educators to football players, leaving behind a legacy of growing companies, successful people, respect, friendship, and love after his death in 2016." Yeah, this is my next read.
2. Think. Do. Say.: How to seize attention and build trust in a busy, busy world, by Ron Tite
I'm lucky enough to know Ron personally, and I've witnessed his brilliance up-close-and personal. (In my previous capacity as Chief Marketing Officer of the Hill Street Beverage Company, I hired his agency to do some work for us.) While perhaps I should have read this BEFORE launching a newsletter, I'm excited to dive into this book as soon as I can.
3. Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries, by Safi Bahcall
I'll share a secret with you: I've had a crazy idea for a business in my head for some time now, and since I've been trying to decide whether 2020 is the year I pursue this "Loonshot" for some time now, this book had instant appeal for me. Then I learned this book earned a place on the "Best Business Book of the Year" lists for Amazon, Bloomberg, Financial Times, Forbes, Inc., Newsweek, Strategy + Business, Tech Crunch, AND the Washington Post... so it's probably well-worth my time.
4. Brand New Name: A Proven, Step-by-Step Process to Create an Unforgettable Brand Name, by Jeremy Miller
I had the pleasure of meeting Jeremy last year when I attended his book launch at the University of Toronto. There he gave a terrific synopsis of the process he uses to help companies find great brand names, and I'm eager to learn more. (Should I have made reading this book a priority before naming this newsletter "dp thoughts"? Um... probably.)
5. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World, by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall.
After watching Buckingham present at last year's Elevate Tech Festival, I already know each of the "nine lies" to which the authors refer... but that doesn't make me want to read up on them in detail any less. This is sure to be a great read.
A Marvelous Life: The Amazing Story of Stan Lee Kindle Edition, by Danny Fingeroth
My loyalty has always been with DC (fun fact: I have two sons, and they're both named after Superman!), but it's impossible to understate Stan Lee's numerous contributions not only to the superhero genre, but also to the entertainment world as a whole. (Let's remember that Avengers: Endgame set numerous box-office records, and became the highest grossing film of all time by earning a staggering $2.8 billion at the global box office.) I know a little bit about the man born as Stanley Martin Lieber (ironically, from reading a book about the History of Superman), but I'm eager to know more.
And there you have it!
If you have any feedback on my list -- or any suggestions on what I should read when I'm done these ones -- please send me an email.
(Disclosure: if you click the book links above and decide to make any purchases, I may earn a small commission from Amazon through the company's affiliate program. But I would recommend these books regardless, and I hope you know me well enough to know that's true.)