The Weekend Read – Steal like an artist by Austin Kleon

A present from my brother in 2012, this is a small book with a big message that punches well above its weight. 

The concept behind Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative is that we learn by copying.

The chapter titles are to the point and act as a great guide:

  1. Steal Like an Artist. (All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.)
  2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. (Fake it ’til you make it.)
  3. Write the book you want to read. (Don’t write what you know, write what you like.)
  4. Use your hands. (Step away from the screen – your hands are your original digital devices.)
  5. Side projects and hobbies are important. (Don’t worry about unity from piece to piece, what unifies all your work is that you made it.)
  6. The Secret: Do good work and share it with people. (Put stuff on the internet)
  7. Geography is no longer our master. (You don’t have to live anywhere other than where you are to start connecting with the world you want to be in)
  8. Be nice. (The world is a small town).
  9. Be Boring. (It’s the only way to get work done).
  10. Creativity is subtraction. (Choose what to leave out)

In respect to the book (and because I am short of time) I am quoting from the review on the excellent  Actionable Books – do yourself a favour, look them up & subscribe. Weekly reviews of  interesting business books. 

What completely resonated with me, as I pondered the notion that it all has been done before, is that this idea is actually very freeing. It removes the “burden of trying to be completely original.” No pressure. Can’t come up with that new product? Pulling your hair out to develop the next best viral sensation? Trying to figure out what to write about next? No pressure. It has already been done before. So, go look at the best of what has been done before and steal from it.

Available from The Book Depository

Why Dentistry Is Separate From Medicine – and the possible consequences

Why Dentistry Is Separate From Medicine 

The divide sometimes has devastating consequences.

Doctors are doctors, and dentists are dentists, and never the twain shall meet. Whether you have health insurance is one thing, whether you have dental insurance is another. Your doctor doesn’t ask you if you’re flossing, and your dentist doesn’t ask you if you’re exercising. In America, we treat the mouth separately from the rest of the body, a bizarre situation that Mary Otto explores in her new book, Teeth: The Story of Beauty, Inequality, and the Struggle for Oral Health in America.

Specializing in one part of the body isn’t what’s weird—it would be one thing if dentists were like dermatologists or cardiologists. The weird thing is that oral care is divorced from medicine’s education system, physician networks, medical records, and payment systems, so that a dentist is not just a special kind of doctor, but another profession entirely.

But the body didn’t sign on for this arrangement, and teeth don’t know that they’re supposed to keep their problems confined to the mouth. This separation leads to real consequences: Dental insurance is often even harder to get than health insurance (which is not known for being a cakewalk), and dental problems left untreated worsen, and sometimes kill. Anchoring Otto’s book is the story of Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old boy from Maryland who died from an untreated tooth infection that spread to his brain. His family did not have dental benefits, and he ended up being rushed to the hospital for emergency brain surgery, which wasn’t enough to save him.

A thought provoking read which continues here.

The Weekend Read – Getting Things Done by David Allen

gtdDavid Allen – Getting Things Done – the art of stress free productivity.

This is one of those “must read” books, an obligatory member of every coach’s reading list for their clients. The second edition, published in 2015, is just over 300 pages long and comes almost 15 years after the first edition which was hailed as “the business book of the decade”.

A long book but a worthwhile read and its almost philosophical approach to task and time management will provoke you to think about what, why, how and when you are doing what you do.

Michael Townsend Williams, in his excellent little book Do/Breathe, says, “No one teaches us the art of doing. We are thrown in the deep end at school, somehow avoid drowning in university or college, and end up splashing wildly through our working lives.” He goes on to suggest a form of David’s GTD to deal with what we have to do. We all have to do.

One of the great things about the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach is that it comes at things from a point of not having an overwhelming “To-Do” list that can stifle you to the point of paralysis. As the cover “blurb” says, “Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organised can we achieve effective results and unleash our creative potential.”

The book is divided into three sections:

  • The Art of Getting Things Done,
  • Practicing Stress-Free Productivity and
  • The Power of Key Principles.

After dabbling with all manner of organisational methods which were mostly repackaged common sense I came to this book with some reluctance, thinking, “Do I really want to be regimented by someone else’s imposed procedures?” I found it to be practical, adaptable – we all live very different lives – and effective. I was able to make improvements to the way I organised myself from the first chapter.

David starts by outlining the stages of his core process:

  1. Capture what has our attention.
  2. Clarify what each item means.
  3. Organise the results which presents the options we..
  4. Reflect on which we then…
  5. Choose to engage with.

We all have “stuff” coming into our in-basket (whatever form that takes), so start with the questions, “What is it? & Is it actionable?”

If the answer is no then bin it, put it into a someday/maybe review file or a retrievable/reference file.

If the answer is “yes” ask the next question, “What’s the next action?” from here will either go to projects (anything that will take multiple steps) or it’s for immediate action.

Next question, will it take less than 2 minutes? If yes then do it. If not either delegate or defer. Delegation is of course an art in itself. If deferring then decide either when (diary needed) or if it’s an “as soon as I can” action. (“This Two-Minute rule will free up your mind tenfold” as one reviewer put it) 

That really doesn’t do even that one page justice.

It truly is a thoroughly useful read  for an effective life – you will take lessons away that will help you each and every day.

Obtainable from The Book Depository.

The Weekend Read – What they don’t teach you at Harvard Business School by Mark H McCormack

9781781253397First published in 1984, I see that it is still one of the top sellers in the Business sections of airport book shops. Its very longevity proves that it either must have something going for it or because it has always been popular it must be good. Well you pays your money and you takes your choice. I find it a well written, easily digestible book with plenty to offer anyone in any business.

I read it when it was first released by Collins in 1984 (so yet another thank you to my Dad)  thinking that the lessons of “big business” which at the time were a million miles away from my life as a peripatetic associate in dental practices would not apply to my life. In this as in many other things I was wrong – the fundamentals of business large or small are the same. I have re-read it a couple of times since and although the landscape may have changed the fundamentals have not – nor will they.

The book is split into three sections People, Sales & Negotiations, and Running a Business. The opening four chapters should be compulsory reading for all new dental graduates including as they do with getting on with people, making an impression and getting ahead. The Sales and Negotiations isn’t as high blown as you may think and has plenty of nitty gritty advice.

The last four chapters on running a business are invaluable to anyone thinking about getting into business on their own or wanting to be a first class employee. There is a lot of B***S*** spoken these days about being an entrepreneur; those people who say they want to be an entrepreneur, especially in dentistry, would do well to read the last chapter of the book where he states that 99% of people should work for somebody. Start by examining your motives and if they are dreams, if you are running away from things or you ‘want to make a lot of money’ then McCormack writes, “forget it”.

In case you don’t know who Mark McCormack was (he died in 2003) here’s the blurb, “dubbed ‘the most powerful man in sport’, founded IMG (International Management Group) on a handshake. It was the first and is the most successful sports management company in the world, becoming a multi-million dollar, worldwide corporation whose activities in the business and marketing spheres are so diverse as to defy classification. Here, Mark McCormack reveals the secret of his success to key business issues such as analysing yourself and others, sales, negotiation, time management, decision-making and communication. What They Don’t Teach You at Harvard Business School fills the gaps between a business school education and the street knowledge that comes from the day-to-day experience of running a business and managing people. It shares the business skills, techniques and wisdom gleaned from twenty-five years of experience.”

Available from The Book Depository.

The Weekend Read – The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

9781936891023I have recently read this book for the third time in 12 years. It was a gift from my coach just after I completed the sale of my practice in 2005. Presumably he identified my proclivity for procrastination which has frequently led me away from the right direction, if not always entirely in the wrong one.

The forward by Robert McKee starts, “Steven Pressfield wrote The War of Art for Me. He undoubtedly wrote it for you too, but I know he did it expressly for me because I hold Olympic records for procrastination. I can procrastinate thinking about my procrastination problem. I can procrastinate dealing with my problem of procrastination thinking about my procrastination problem.” All I can say Robert is you’re probably right and it was such a relief to realise that I am not alone.

This is a book in three parts. Book One is about the enemy of creativity which he names Resistance, Book Two is “Turning Pro” and it’s all about Combating Resistance and the author identifies the characteristics, traits and habits that make one “A Pro”.

Finally Book Three is “Beyond Resistance” – The Higher Realm and he considers Inspiration.

I realise that this all sounds well and good, with lofty ideals and ideas, but in reality this book will help, encourage and inspire you to identify the reasons for your lack of accomplishment and with practical ideas get you going again. Time after time after time.

A gem.

Buy it here

The Weekend Read – Let my people go surfing by Yvon Chouinard

chouinardSub-titled “The Education of a Reluctant Businessman”, I am indebted to my friend Richard Hellen for recommending this book. If you fail to be informed, inspired and encouraged then ask yourself why you are in business.

Patagonia is a company that deserves the attention of any business owner, employee or customer. Founded by Yvon Chouinard in 1964 as a mail order company to follow on from his original business of designing, manufacturing and distributing rock-climbing equipment which would not damage the rocks. The business grew slowly until 1972 when he started selling rugby shirts and the clothing business took off.

Dedicated to inspire and and implement solutions to the environmental crisis Patagonia pledges 1% of sales to preservation and restoration of the natural environment. Their products are designed to be sustainable, to work hard and to last.

They have suffered setbacks not least when they lost a series of law suits for “failing to inform” of safety issues related to usage of climbing hardware including one filed by the survivors of a climber who died in a fall after slipping out of a Chouinard climbing harness. The financial outcome led to bankruptcy and their abandoning climbing gear manufacture, but they regrouped and persevered.

This book is part autobiography, part story of a unique business and a detailed blueprint for hope. Firstly a man who has lived fully and challenged the wilderness, a business that lives as close to its principles as it can with a culture that cares for its people, both customers and staff, and products and finally does its best to sustain and protect our environment.

I cannot recommend it highly enough, it recently absorbed, entertained, informed and influenced me through two trans-Atlantic flights making me wonder about the source of the clothes that I was wearing and increasingly guilty about every mile of the damage that my journey was causing.

You can buy it here from The Book Depository.

The Monday Morning Quote #400

“Five years from today, you will be the same person that you are today,

except for the books you read and the people you meet.” .

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones

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photo – a portion of one wall of ‘The Woodshed” at ReesAcres.ie