Into the Storm by NT Perkins with Jillian B. Murphy

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Into the Storm by Dennis N. T. Perkins with Jillian B. Murphy

Synopsis of Content:

Two books in one, Into the Storm is a thrilling account of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race and especially the challenges faced by the amateur crew of the AFR Midnight Rambler, a small 35 foot yacht that won the race. In the second part of the book the author analyzes the team dynamics of the winning boat and those that lost. From this analysis the authors provide excellent lessons on how to form a team, manage a team and the team dynamics that work best, especially when the team is faced with an extremely demanding challenge.

At its best the Sydney to Hobart race, in Open Ocean, from Sydney, Australia to Hobart, Tasmania, some 732 statutory miles, is a grueling challenge in sailing. It requires the best prepared boats and teams, the highest caliber of sailing skill and the most effective team work. At its worst this race is deadly. The 1998 race was unique in that the boats sailed into a hurricane they did not expect and faced extreme peril. Of the 115 boats participating only 44 reached the finish line. Twenty-five sailors were washed over board and seven died. Fifty-five sailors were rescued. It was the largest sea rescue in Australian history.

The crews that stayed in the race were faced with over 36 hours of bruising conditions. The waves reached 100 feet and winds exceeded 100 knots. The overall race winner, the AFR Midnight Rambler, accomplished what larger boats and professional sailors were not able to due to the remarkable team work.

In the second part of the book the authors discuss the ten prime lessons of team work that made the AFR Midnight Rambler a survivor and a winner. These lessons can be of great value to any team even those not faced with a life threatening challenge.

Usefulness:

Anyone who works with other people, anyone who is part of any kind of team and anyone who depends on a team working effectively will benefit from reading this book. While most readers will never face the challenge this race provided the lessons in team work taught will benefit every team no matter what the challenge.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

This book is very well written. The first part is a fast paced page-turner that is entertaining, educational and inspiring. The second part provides useful analysis that is easy to understand but not over simplified.

Notes on Author:

Dennis N. T. Perkins, author of Leading at The Edge, is CEO of Syncretics Group. His group serves as consultants to helping leaders succeed. He is a graduate of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. Jillian B. Murphy is Director of Client Services at Syncretics and works as an executive coach.

Related Website:

http://www.syncreticsgroup.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Make the team the rock star. High profile sailors are often given special privileges on boats and they are called rock stars. Treating individual team members this way can have a negative effect on team cohesiveness and effectiveness. Making the entire team a unit and making all members equally important contributes to team success.
  1. Extreme preparation for any challenge is the first essential. When the team believes they have prepared enough they need to prepare even more. Nothing can be over looked and nothing can be assumed.
  1. Effectiveness at “the Edge” requires Relentless Learning by the entire team. It requires continuous innovation and improvement of skills and methods. In the highly competitive world where teams operate today this principle is essential.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Into the Storm by Dennis N. T. Perkins with Jillian B. Murphy

Copyright holder: 2013 by Dennis N. T. Perkins

Publisher: Amacom Books, a division of the American Management Association.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for June 2013

Buy the book here:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Deliberate Practice

“Practice makes perfect”. Or does it? We are brought up being told that practice is the key to attain proficiency in most anything. In school we practice throwing a baseball, playing the piano, reciting the times tables and a thousand other examples of practice. The lesson we soon learn is that if you repeat something often enough you get good at it.

To an extent this is true. As we practice we refine our approach here and there. Practice at physical activity builds coordination and muscle strength. Practice of mental activity makes us faster and more proficient at whatever task we are practicing. To a limit. Anyone who has practiced anything extensively finds that they reach a plateau – a point where performance no longer improves. Repeating the same thing over and over builds general ability and makes complex things easier to do. But there comes a point when nothing improves. We just keep doing the same thing over and over.

People who are training to get better and better at something must learn to improve their performance. This kind of practice is called “deliberate practice”. It is about refining our practice, learning to improve performance, and making it a bit better each time. It take concentration and a lot of work. It requires careful observation, thinking and adjustments in the way we do whatever we are practicing.

James Clear wrote an article on this that provides examples of people who have used deliberate practice to continuously improve their performance. Golfer Ben Hogan, Benjamin Franklin, sushi chef Jiro Ono, martial artist Josh Waitzkin and chess master Magnus Carlsen are a few such examples discussed in Clear’s article. Those that use a highly focused and disciplined form of deliberate practice get better and better all the time. They do not plateau unless they reach some inherent physical limitation. Even then they may find a way to exceed such limits.

If you merely want to get good at something practice. If you want to get great at something you must learn deliberate practice. It takes a lot of commitment and persistence, but it pays off.

Read Clear’s article here to learn more about deliberate practice.

Learn how to get great at something. What would you like to be great at?

Learn how you can achieve more and realize your goals in my book, The Success Essentials.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

The Power of Good Behavior

Beverly Langford has written a timely book on the advantages of good behavior in the business world. It applies far beyond business of course, good behavior is important to success in any organization. Langford’s book, The Etiquette Edge, is about the etiquette skills that help us advance in our work with others. It is about good communication skills, social savvy, and understanding appropriate behavior.

Etiquette may sound like an old-fashioned word. Maybe that is because in today’s world it is too often missing. It is not that etiquette has died or is no longer important. In an increasingly inter-connected world it may be more important than ever. Proper etiquette need not be stuffy or about rules that no longer seem relevant. Langford has updated the etiquette tool box so that it remains relevant to the modern world. Etiquette is the lubricant that makes organizations run smoothly and facilitates relationships to run smoothly. We can all benefit from a deeper understanding of what behaviors help us work with others. This book is a gem.

Read a review of The Etiquette Edge on BusinessBookTalk.com here.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Real Influence by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Real Influence, Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

Synopsis of Content:

“Most people, most of the time, aren’t motivated to do what you want them to do”. This book is essentially about how to motivate others to do what you want them to do. On a basic level it is a book on sales. You must sell people on doing what you want them to do. To do that you apply a very basic sales technique: you identify what the other person wants and use that to influence them.

Goulston and Ullmen argue that the forms of influence taught in higher education are “disconnected influence”. It is trying to influence and motivate others without being connected to them. People recognize this immediately and are resistant to it.

They also argue that because we are convinced, often based on the very best intentions, that what we want others to do is adequate good reason for them to do it. By ignoring what others want and focusing on what we want we create a form of blind spot in our thinking which reduces our effectiveness.

To overcome this blind spot we must concentrate on effectively influencing others in the context of what they want and need. To do this they suggest four approaches:

  1. Seek to motivate others by inspiring them to achieve great outcomes. Do not settle for what is possible, look for what might be possible to inspire.
  1. Listen past your blind spot: find out what others really want and listen. Seek to truly connect with others.
  1. Engage people in their mindset: find out what they believe and what they truly want. You then explain to them how what you seek them to do will further their desires. In sales talk this means you provide them with a “solution” to their problems using your approach.
  1. Do More. It is not enough to merely identify their needs and try to solve them through your solution. You must go beyond that and do more than they could possibly expect. You must not just impress them with your solutions, you must wow them.

This approach is not easy. It is hard work. It forces you to really understand what you want people to do and why. It forces you to really listen and understand what they want and why and then reconcile the two.

When others feel truly understood and feel connected to you they are more likely to be receptive to your message and to allow themselves to be motivated to do what you want them to do to the extent it matches and meets their needs and wants. This must be a genuine process, not a sophisticated form of manipulation. People will sense insincerity and being sold. They must believe that you truly care about them and have a genuine relationship with them. This is the most effective way to influence others.

Usefulness:

This book is very useful to anyone who wants or needs to influence others or to persuade them. It is therefore useful to anyone.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

Well written and organized.

Notes on Author:

Mark Goulston, MD, is a psychiatrist and business advisor. He is author of the bestselling book, Just Listen.

John Ullmen, PhD, is an executive coach on influence. He is on the faculty at UCLA.

Related Website:

www.MotivationRules.com

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Overcome your blind spot by genuinely listening to others. This is hard work and requires continuous effort.
  1. Seek to understand what others really want and why.
  1. Identify how the ways you seek to influence others will meet their genuine needs and wants.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Real Influence, Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

Copyright holder: Mark Gouston and John Ullmen © 2013

Publisher: Amacom

ISBN: 9780814420157

272 pages.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for May 2013

Buy the book here:

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin

Title and Author:  The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin

Synopsis of Content:

This is a compilation of various writings by America’s grandfather of success, Benjamin Franklin. It begins with the introduction he wrote to his autobiography. It is then divided into three sections:

The Way to Wealth

In this section Franklin discusses the importance of Industry (what we would today call hard work); Self-Reliance; Frugality; Charity; Experience; and all peppered with pithy axioms and Yankee sayings. Little has changed since Franklin wrote these words. He did not invent these ideas. They represented the native Yankee work ethic and the Judeo-Christian ethic.

Advice to a Young Worker

In this short article Franklin remembers the disciplines and methods that served him so well in his youth in the working world. It is a short review of those “virtues” as he calls them, of hard work, persistence, frugality, etc. He frames these ideas for the young man or women seeking to do well.

The Path to Virtue

As a young man Franklin began a self-improvement project, concentrating on one virtue every week until he felt he had incorporated them into his life. He discusses the value of Temperance (avoiding over indulgence), Silence (avoiding trifling conversation), Resolution (resolving to follow through), Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Tranquility, Chastity, and Humility.

As was customary in the 18th century Franklin did not divorce personal integrity and virtue from personal success. The improvement of the person was required to attain success on both a personal and business level. He understood, as did Jim Rohn two centuries later, that you cannot be less a person and a success at the same time.

While some of Franklin’s moral teachings may seem naïve and preachy today one has to wonder if the world would not be a much better place if more people heeded this advice. Today’s headlines all too often describe the deceit, cheating, and lack of integrity among our leaders and business leaders. Franklin understood that one must constantly work to improve themselves to be successful. One must be a good person to be a successful person.

Usefulness:

Anyone serious about genuine self-improvement and development of the whole self in order to be successful will benefit from this timeless work. In it you will find the fundamental principles that nearly every success author since has espoused.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

Franklin wrote remarkably clearly for an 18th century author. He wrote for the common man, not for the intellectual. While the organization and style of that period is a little difficult for modern readers his work was much more readable than most of his contemporaries.

Notes on Author:

Benjamin Franklin was an eminently successful American from the 18th century. He succeed in the printing and publishing business so well that he was able to retire from active business by his early 40s. He spent the rest of his life as a statesman, diplomat and inventor. He was instrumental in many public improvement projects founding the first public library, insurance company and fire department in the United States. He became one of the sages and principle architects of our nation and helped write the US Constitution. He was one of the most important founding fathers.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. When someone complained about paying taxes Franklin responded, “We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly. It is only by mastering one’s own self that one can truly attain success in life.
  1. Franklin appreciated the value of time, our most precious asset. He wrote, “If dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
  1. In one proverb Franklin incorporates both the need for hard work and the balance equally important to a successful life: “Drive thy business, let not that drive thee; and early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise, Poor Richard says”.

Publication Information:  

The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin

Published by Best Success Books (Kindle). This material is in the public domain.

This was the Books2Wealth Book of the Month Review for March 2013.


 

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Godin on the Candy Diet

I talk a lot here about how important it is to continually learn. There is a tendency in American society to learn less, especially in the popular media. Seth Godin, one of my favorite bloggers, touches on this in his January 4, 2017 blog post. As always Godin is pithy and concise although this post is longer than most he writes.

It is not that popular media used to be an intellectual gold mine. It has always been more about entertainment than about knowledge. That is what people want to see. They want candy for the eyes and ears. Godin’s point is valid however. American mainstream television is horrible. I stopped watching it three years ago. Newspaper and magazine readership is seriously below where it was a generation ago. People read blogs and snippets and Tweets but they are not as likely to read something that is thoughtful or something that explores ideas in depth.

I do not suggest that everyone must be an intellectual or that there is anything wrong with some light entertainment. I do suggest that there appears to be a dumbing down of media in America and a rejection of knowledge. It is not the first time this has happened. Consider the Know Nothings of the mid 19th century for example. But in the last hundred years I think it has sunk to its lowest level.

While there are significant political and cultural consequences from this dumbing down trend I write about it here because of how it affects people’s ability to increase their level of knowledge and skill in an increasingly competitive world. How are we to seriously compete in a world where we spend more time watching “reality television” than reading a newspaper or a book?

Let me say that I know many people who are serious readers and serious about learning. This trend is by no means universal, it is just too prevalent.

I am curious of this American diet of nonsense has affected other nations and cultures much. I invite my readers from other countries to comment here and let us know. Is this true in the UK, in South Africa, in Japan, in Brazil? If you are from outside the US let us know. Is there a worldwide rejection of knowledge and serious thought?

My hope is that this will turn around. I hope that people will miss deep thought and real information and seek it out. If that does not happen it does not bode well.

What do you think?

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Learning from John G Miller

As I transition content from my books2wealth site to this site it is like visiting old friends. The articles, book reviews and interviews are worth looking at again. In 2010 I sent my newsletter readers my book review of John G. Miller’s book, Outstanding! – 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Great and that year I also published my interview with John. Both the book review (posted last October) and the interview are now available on this blog.

Miller is the founder of QBQ, Inc. and a best-selling author. In addition to Outstanding! he also wrote QBQ: The Question Behind the Question. Miller is a speaker and consultant. His books are very informative and well written. A wonderful thing about books and interviews is that we can go back after some time has passed and learn even more from them.

Read the book review here and the interview here. You will pick up some great ideas about how to improve how an organization works and you may well be able to apply them in your organization, whatever it may be. You will also find some gems about how be more effective as an individual.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

Avoiding Extreme Frugality

The old wisdom “moderation in all things” applies to how we manage our money just as much as anything else. Most people are not overly frugal and so I do not write about that often. For most the opposite becomes the problem: over spending, incurring debt, etc.

One can however go to the other extreme – one can become so frugal it is an extreme. They buy nothing they do not actually need, and I mean need, like food. They forsake entertainment, socializing, and buying anything that they do not absolutely need. They even give up creature comforts. Although extreme frugality for a short time might help one get out of debt or save for something important, in general it is not a healthy way for most people to live. Being sensibly frugal does not mean living like a monk.

Last November Trent Hamm posted a good article on this on his The Simple Dollar blog. He focuses on positive frugality that allows us to focus on what is important and strip away expenses that are not truly important. This requires some introspection and discernment. It requires us to look at what really is important to us and limit our spending to those things.

Hamm’s article is relatively long and detailed and I am not quoting it here at length for that reason. But it is worth reading because it frames healthy frugality in all its forms. It helps you focus on what is important and teaches how to be fugal without undue deprivation. I recommend reading it and giving it some thought. Remember that every dollar you save through healthy frugality pays of debt, avoids debt and invests in your future. By looking at it that way it really makes sense. It is really about putting off a little immediate gratification for a long term view of what is important to you.

I recommend Hamm’s article as a good way to get a comprehensive view on healthy frugality and avoid going too far. Check it out.

Learn how to manage your money, eliminate debt and build wealth in my book, Your Financial Success.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com

How Much Time Does It Cost?

Trent Hamm, author of the Simple Dollar blog, wrote a post about the ten lessons he has learned about money. Each of these ten lessons are golden. One of them leapt out at me though. Hamm suggests that you think of your purchases in terms of time rather than money. Here is how he puts it:

“Time is the one truly valuable resource in life. No matter how hard you work, you can never earn more of it. Money itself is just a way to measure time. You get a certain amount of dollars for an hour that you work, and then you trade those dollars for some item or experience, meaning that you think that a certain amount of time spent doing work is a fair trade for that particular item or experience. Money is just the go-between to help you translate the time you invest for the things that you want and need.

Because of this, I tend to think of most financial transactions in terms of time, not money. Every dollar I spend, according to the “back of the envelope” math, equates to somewhere around 4 minutes of work. Another way of looking at it is that every time I spend $120, I’m adding another work day to my life, a day where my hours are mostly filled with work tasks and not with things that I enjoy. $120 adds up surprisingly fast in an era of Starbucks and endless entertainment options.

On the other hand, moves I take to save money and spend less work in the opposite fashion. If I can do something that will save $120 over the next year, like adding weather stripping to a door, that means that this coming year (and every year after that), I’m essentially gaining a day of complete freedom.

That kind of thinking really motivates me to take action right now to spend less money. The reason is that right now, I have the sound mind and body to take on a bit of extra challenge. Right now, I can handle a task like installing weather stripping. Right now, I can make the decision to buy store brand dish soap. If I make those better decisions right now, then I’m essentially giving myself the gift of personal freedom at some point down the road. I’m earning a day without work.

I love visualizing those days without work, too. I think about an afternoon curled up in a comfortable chair with a great book on a cold day. I think about several hours spent hiking on an interesting trail in a nature preserve somewhere. I think about gathering several of my friends together to play board games all day while having great conversations. I think about packing a picnic lunch and sneaking off with my wife to some beautiful grassy hill, spreading out a blanket, and simply spending an hour or two together watching the world go by. I think about working on some big ambitious project that I never have time for but which seems so incredibly fulfilling in my head. And I earn those things through being smart with my money.”

This is just another way of using opportunity cost to evaluate a purchase. It is however a little different than the usual opportunity cost analysis. It is different because time is the one resource that is completely limited. You cannot increase your time. You can manage it. You can find ways to earn more money per minute of work. But the time itself is fixed.

Next time you contemplate a purchase think about it in terms of time. How long will you have to work to earn that new purchase? Is it worth it?

Read the rest of Hamm’s post here. It is well worth the time you spend to read it. It will be even more valuable if you implement what he has learned.
Learn how to manage your money, eliminate debt and build wealth in my book, Your Financial Success.

Wishing you well,

Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.
www.danielrmurphy.com
www.books2wealth.com