A quick review of the 15 books I am reading right now.

I love to read. Reading is my primary source of education and inspiration. I read to accumulate knowledge and connect dots. As an entrepreneur I read to fill my knowledge gaps. And to discover how successful people became successful people.

I am always reading multiple books at one time. Well, not literally at one time. More in the way you watch multiple TV shows. Or listen to a several different radio stations. My reading is like written programming. But not like computer programming. Ok, now I am just confusing myself.

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It’s Gettin, It’s Gettin, It’s Gettin Kinda Hectic.

Lately I seem to have more books going at once than usual. So I gathered them all together in one place to count, compare and contemplate why I currently have so many books in progress.

I would have guessed that I had 6 different books started. So I was quite surprised to find my current mid-read book list totals 15 books! What follows is a summary of the books in my current active collection. And my review of the books so far.

The 14 Books I am Currently Reading and why.

 

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  1. Leondardo DaVinci by Walter Isaacson

DaVinci is one of the greatest thinkers and creative minds in the history of the world. I thought I might learn a thing or two from him.

Thoughts so far:  I am wowed by DaVinci’s curious mind, his notebooks and how painting was a relatively small part of his life and self perception. Also, he had a lot of trouble finishing his art. In fact he only finished a small number of paintings. I guess we all have our flaws. Thanks for the reminder Leonardo! 

 

Born to run

2. Born To Run  by Christopher McDougall

This book is about a barely known ancient community in the remote mountains of Mexico that is unnaturally good at long distance running. The author is trying to gain insights from exploring these people and others who are way into ultra distance running. I picked this up because it kept showing up on my radar as a book friends had read or a hot new book, or a book available at my library. So here we are.

Thoughts so far:  This is my leading physical book right now. It is entertaining, educational and super funny. I love how it dives into the evolution of ultra marathoning. The personalities profiled are fascinating. And the overview of the various high profile races make me feel like I have learned something new. Plus, the investigation into what our running shoes are really doing for us, or not, is eye-opening, and potentially paradigm shifting. I highly recommend. Even if you are more Michelob Ultra than Ultra Marathoner.

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3. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

This is the book that started a cultural phenomenon. After Lin-Manuel Miranda read this book he was inspired to create his famous broadway show about Hamilton. I wanted some of the same inspiration. So I picked up the audiobook at my local library.

Thoughts so far: Wow! What a life Hamilton lived! It started rough. And ended moronically.  #AaronBurr  But in the middle of his life he became one of the most influential men in history. Especially if you think The United States has been an influential institution. Which I do.

 

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4. Destiny and Power by Jon Meacham

My wife gave me this book after President George Herbert Walker Readmylips Notgonnadoit Thousandpointsoflight Bush passed away. This biography of Bush Senior was even more interesting to me because I watched the funerals of George and Barbara Bush on TV. Jon Meacham spoke at both, and was fantastic. I wanted to hear more of the Bush story from his perspective.

Thoughts so far: This book is great. Bush was super interesting, and his story is told extremely well. Starting with the night he lost his re-election bid to Hilary Clinton’s husband. I look forward to more. But not yet. Wouldn’t be prudent.

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5. George Lucas by Brian Jay Jones

Lucas knows a thing or two about making interesting ideas come to life. I wanted a glimpse at his process and his path.

Thoughts so far:  I am not totally sucked in yet. The force of this book is the weakest with me right now.

The Millionaire RE Investor

6. The Millionaire Real Estate Investor by Gary Keller, Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan

I own a rental home and would like to add more real estate investments to my portfolio. I study the real estate investment space a lot through books and podcasts. This book came up over and over as the go-to guide for real estate investors.

Thoughts so far:  This book is excellent. It is exactly what I was hoping it would be. It is inspirational. It is clearly a resource book, and not just an interesting read. If you are thinking about buying real estate as an investment you should read this book. Plus it has that yellow starburst on the cover. Which is the international symbol for ‘Buy Me!’

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7. The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles

This is the biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt. I love reading about business people who totally dominated. And he totally dominated like few others in history have. Other than maybe Rockefeller, Carnegie and the Gangnam Style guy. I first picked this book up at the library when I lived in Atlanta. But because it is about 800 pages long I couldn’t finish it in one 3-week session. So I asked for it as a Christmas gift last year and started again from the beginning.

Thoughts so far:  Vanderbilt was a badass. His focus, vision and determination were like weapons. He was such an imposing force that everyone referred to him as the Commodore, despite the fact that he never served in the military or sang with Lionel Richie. However, he was not a model father or husband. Although I have been to his son’s shack outside Asheville, North Carolina. So I know he ends up spreading the wealth around. But that hasn’t come up yet. If you want to be inspired by a hard-driving, take-no-prisoners tycoon, this is the book for you.

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8. Soar!  by T.D. Jakes

My parents attend a major book publisher’s annual clearance event in Indianapolis every year. I am always a beneficiary of their annual treasure hunt. They find business books, biographies, sports stories and other titles they think I’d like. Then they surprise me with a delicious new pile every year. This book was in the pile this year. I took it with me on a recent trip to Seattle and read a good chunk of it on my return flight.

Thoughts so far:  Jakes is a good, motivating writer who plays the part of both inspiring  entrepreneur and uplifting pastor. The book is best for those who are looking for inspiration to spread their wings and launch their first business.  3 years into my entrepreneurial journey I found it entertaining and nice. But I didn’t need the heavy doses of encouragement.

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9. On Writing by Stephen King

I like to rummage through the book section of Goodwill Stores for hidden gems and good deals. This was both. King is one of the most prolific and broad-ranging writers in America. So I was curious to hear what he had to say about the art of writing itself.

Thoughts so far: I have found this book interesting, although I haven’t really gotten to his writing advice yet. He begins the book with a biographical sketch of his life, starting with his surprisingly challenging childhood. So the story is good so far. But I am still not to the part where he teaches me how to write Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption (Shawshank Redemption), The Body (Stand By Me) or The Shining. But when he does, I expect this blog will get a lot awesomer.

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10. The Hustle Economy  by Jason Oberholtzer and Jessica Hagy

This is another book I received from my parents, courtesy of the annual publisher’s book sale. The book is a collection of 3 to 6 page essays from creative thinkers who have used their creativity to create their own streams of income. Some have started businesses. Some are freelancers. But they all have something to say about how they did it and what you can learn from their independent creative hustle.

Thoughts So Far. I read 80% of this book on my recent flight to Seattle. It was light enough reading that it made for a nice plane book that I could fly through. It is a good book to read in a day. The chapters are short. There are fun little illustrations, charts and diagrams that are insightful and entertaining. And I found little nuggets or quotes to take away with me. Plus I knew one of the writers, Drew Collins, from Columbus. So that was a fun discovery.

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11. Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This is one of my favorite books of all time. Napoleon Hill had a conversation with Andrew Carnegie, who had more money than Davey Crocket and the whole cast of Dynasty combined. Carnegie told Hill that he should study successful people and find out what they had in common. So he did. Hill wrote one of the best selling books of all time as a result.

Thoughts So Far: I have read this book several times. It is a reference book. An inspirational book. A how-to success guide. I think everyone should own this and reread it once a year. Right now I am reading a page or two at night. I can’t say enough good things about this book. If you haven’t read it put it on your list now. And if your name is Rich, it will really help you think and grow.

 

The One Thing

12. The One Thing by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

I love listening to The Bigger Pockets Podcast on real estate investing. At the end of the podcast they ask each guest to name their favorite real estate book and their favorite business book. I write all of the answers down. This book came up as a guest favorite over and over. So I ordered it.

Thoughts So Far: As the title alludes to, this book is about focus. I love the message. It is a great reminder of the power of focusing on the most important thing in front of you. I look forward to reading more of this. But, you know, I have 14 other books vying for my attention.

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13. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

This is the first book in the Harry Potter series. I am reading it for the 4th time. I read it once on my own. Then read the next 2 books in the series of 7. But I decided that I didn’t have enough time to read all 7 of these children’s books, so I stopped. Then I had kids. I have read this book to my daughter, Ava, and my son Johann. Now I am reading it to my baby boy, Magnus, who turned 9 yesterday.

Thoughts so far:  This books is fun to read, and just as entertaining the fourth time around. It is really fun to read with kids, because each kid sees it with their own sense of wonder. Magnus is no different. It is such a good story and such a fun series that I may decide to take Magnus through all 7 books. We’ll see. We’re just a couple of Muggles after all.

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14. How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie

This book is an all time classic. The title tells you everything you need to know. Friends and influence are important elements of success and happiness. This book takes a very positive approach to both. I have read this book twice on my own. Now I am reading it with my 12-year old son Johann.

Thoughts so far:  Everything in this book is gold. It is a reference book that we should all keep on hand and revisit often. I love reading this with Johann. Because he brings up examples of people who are good at the points made in the book.  There are constant aha’s on his face. And when we recap a chapter I know he has learned important principles of friendship and influence. I highly recommend reading this with kids. (Look at me trying to positively influence people!)

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15. Rich Dad. Poor Dad.

When I first heard about this book I thought is sounded like a cheesy, infomercially, get-rich-quick book. So I avoided it for a long time. But I kept hearing about it from people I respected. So eventually I picked it up from the library. And it changed my outlook on money forever.

This book compares and contrast how rich people and poor people view money differently. It provides an eye-opening look at assets and liabilities that everyone needs to know. I now own this book and have read it several times. I am currently reading this with my 13-year old daughter, Ava. Clearly I am trying to be more Rich Dad than Poor Dad.

Thoughts So Far:  Reading this with Ava makes me feel like a good parent. I feel like I am taking her through a college course in junior high. I can tell she is seeing the world differently now that she has almost finished reading this. This may be the most important book I have ever read to her. Sorry Goodnight Moon and Harold And The Purple Crayon.

Key Takeaway

There are more great books to read than you will ever have time to read in one lifetime. That’s why it’s fun to keep many books going at once. They satisfy your needs for learning and growing. They entertain you. The feed your curiosity. And they make you feel more learn-ed (say that with a Forrest Gump accent).

Plus, it is easier to tackle dense, long and challenging books when you give yourself a break by switching up to a light and easy read once in a while. #AtlasShrugged #WarAndPeace #TheBible  If you haven’t tried multiple books at once, give it a shot. It just might spice up your reading life, and show you just how much is out there to discover.

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It’s time for a more innovative way to celebrate the 4th of July.

Last Saturday night my family and I went to a fireworks display in Mequon, Wisconsin.  Like a good marketer should, Mequon wanted to differentiate their 4th of July celebration. They noticed that everyone else was celebrating the 4th of July at the same time. Which was ON the 4th of July. But nobody was celebrating in June. So Family Fun Before The Fourth was born. #Boom

Family Fun Before The Fourth

With a your-marketing-strategy-is-showing name like Family Fun Before The Fourth, if you can’t figure out who the celebration is for, what the main benefit is, and generally when it occurs, you are also likely to hold onto fireworks too long after you light them.

Family Fun Before The Fourth is like Friendsgiving. During a Friendsgiving celebration, friends gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, with a Thanksgiving meal, before they head off to celebrate again, by having the same meal with their family. The downside is that the appetizer event usurps the specialness of the main meal. #UsurpAsYouSlurp

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Family Fun

True to its name, Family Fun Before The Fourth, or FFBT4, offers a lot of family fun. There is a parade. Then there is a gathering at a nice park on the Milwaukee River, with food vendors, a water ski show, dancers, tumblers and live music. The cherry on top of the event is the evening fireworks show.

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Fireworks

On Saturday night as the fireworks show was about to start I was excited. Fireworks have always been the highlight of my 4th of July celebrations. Like always, the fireworks show started with a bang, and some bright lights. Followed by more bright lights and more bangs. And more bangs and more bright lights.

Then I experienced something I had never experienced at a 4th of July fireworks display: boredom.

It’s Not You. It’s Me.

It wasn’t that the display wasn’t up to par. It was. It was a very nice and lengthy show, highly appropriate for a town Mequon’s size. But I had the feeling that I had seen it all before.

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Been There, Seen That Explode.

We have all seen fireworks shows many, if not many many, if not many many many times before. I guess I am a Triple Many, because suddenly the novelty and excitement of loud, colorful explosions in midair seemed to have worn off for me. Which felt very strange. Because I consider myself excitable, enthusiastic and easily entertained.

What’s Wrong?

But in that moment I felt like a thrill seeker who wasn’t getting enough thrill. Or an addict whose current dosage wasn’t creating the high. Or someone suffering from depression who could stare at a joyful thing and not feel joy. But as I laughed at myself for not feeling the thrill of the fireworks, my own laughter confirmed that I was not depressed.

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Overexposure Without Innovation

Overexposure to fireworks was to blame. With over 40 years of fireworks display watching under my belt (actually none of the fireworks happened under my belt) my oohs and ahhs had become mehs and hmms.

The world has also changed. Fireworks were once innovative technology that was perfect for entertaining a crowd. The lights and noises and the rocketry that enabled the shells to soar into the sky was once totally foreign, novel, magical and entertaining. But not anymore.

What’s The Story Morning Glory?

The greatest downside to fireworks is that there is no story to follow. Sure, you can argue that there is a beginning, middle and grand finale. You can argue that the story is the re-creation of the rockets red glaring and bombs bursting in air-ing of the Revolutionary War. The war that got this party started in the first place. But it doesn’t feel like a story to me.

Today we have so many options at our disposal to help entertain and engage an audience that fireworks, or fireworks alone, feel underwhelming. A standard fireworks show, even with a backdrop of music now feels as if the host didn’t put much thought into the celebration. They just defaulted to fireworks. Which is like giving a neck tie on Father’s Day.

Many cities try to make up for the lack of an innovative idea by adding to the sheer quantity of fireworks detonated. But I argue that a 45 minute, $350,000 display, like the city of Milwaukee put on last night, is too long and too much. There is a law of diminishing returns at work here. At some point it feels overdone. Like operation Shock And Awe. And you just want to fast forward to the end.

Exploring Other Modern Options

It’s time to put more innovation and creativity into our Independence Day celebrations. Let’s consider all the entertainment options we can now use to create memorable, interesting and exciting 4th of July shows. Let’s share stories. Because we have really great stories to share.

4 New Ways Communities Could Celebrate the 4th of July

 

1. Video

Communities could show an amazing video each year on the 4th of July that represents what Independence and America is all about. It could be set to music and updated for our communities every year. This could be like your town’s version of One Shining Moment that is played at the end of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. This emotional, storytelling highlight reel is a perfect ending to March Madness, and could serve as a template for how we celebrate and recognize our Americanism once a year.

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2. Projection Mapping

Let’s get creative and project interesting images, video, graphics, and animation onto our city landmarks or rural barns. Projection mapping enables us to create a new Wow that fascinates the brain as it entertains. It does what fireworks were intended to do in a thoroughly modern way. My high school classmate David Title at Bravo Media in New York City can hook you up with some jaw dropping badassery if you and your community are ready to take this step.

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Holograms

A hologram is a three-dimensional image formed by the interference of light beams from a laser or other coherent light source. #onlinedictionary  We can now create amazingly real and wowing hologram images that make you feel as if you are looking at something very real, that isn’t really there.

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The possibilities with this technology are thrilling. With a hologram we could have one of the founders of our great nation deliver the keynote address of our Independence Day celebration. Imagine one of our founding fathers, like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Yankee Doodle, or one of our founding mothers, like Abigail Adams, Betsy Ross or the Statue of Liberty showing up in your town on the 4th to address your community. It would be like having Santa preach the sermon on Christmas Eve.

Broadway Style Musical 

The musical Hamilton is one of the greatest creative innovations of all time. With his broadway show, Lin-Manuel Miranda combined history with music and entertainment in a thoroughly modern, energizing, surprising and captivating way. A show using this formula could create the centerpiece of our Independence Day Celebrations. Add me to the wait list for this show right now.

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Key Takeaway

Nothing is more American than innovation. In fact, America itself is an innovation. So let’s get more innovative with the way we celebrate America’s birthday. Let’s get more creative. Let’s utilize our modern technology. And infuse the whole celebration with powerful storytelling. America’s Independence is one of the greatest stories every told. Yet we don’t often actually tell the tale when we celebrate it. Let’s change that. And start telling this amazing American story the way a modern day Lee Greenwood would do. #GodBlessTheUSA