Getting Things Done by David Allen

Book of the Month – July 2014

Title and Author:  Getting Things Done by David Allen

Subtitle: The Art of Stress-Free Living

Synopsis of Content:

This book is about how to organize everything you work with: every document, email, and every other item in your home or business office and how to manage these things along with your projects and tasks in the most effective manner.

The table of contents provides an excellent overview of the book:

  • The Art of Getting Things Done
  • Getting Control of Your Life – the 5 stages of mastering workflow
  • The 5 phases of project planning
  • Practicing Stress-Free Productivity
  • Setting up the time, space and tools
  • Corralling Your Stuff
  • Processing: getting “in” to empty
  • Organizing: setting up the right buckets
  • Reviewing: keeping your system functional
  • Doing: making the best action choices
  • Getting projects under control
  • The Power of Key Principles
  • The Power of the Collection Habit
  • The Power of the Next Action Decision
  • The Power of Outcome Focusing

Allen’s system is based on some basic principles:

  1. Anything that must be done in the future clutters your mind and distracts you unless you can get it out of your mind. He maintains that as long as it is on some list your mind will dwell on it. Put it on a list and you can forget it. So he recommends putting everything – and I mean everything – on a list to be scheduled or worked on later. This applies to your next medical exam, replacing the batteries in your flashlight and the next big project at work. This will empty your mind of the “to-do” list and free it to relax and do more important work.
  1. Maintain a minimum number of lists. Too many lists and they will be unmanageable, too few and they will also be unmanageable. He provides guidelines for how many is ideal.
  1. Lists must be reviewed regularly and at least weekly. If a list is not managed it gets out of control.
  1. As you go through things on your desk or in your email in-box follow this simple rule: If it can be done in two minutes or less, do it. If it will take more than two minutes file it and either schedule it, drop it or delegate it. The goal is to maintain a clean desk and empty in box.

The mechanism you use to keep your lists and manage them is not important. Whether it is paper or electronic he urges you to use the one you are most comfortable with.

What I found useful about this book:

Allen’s book is truly one of the best time management books I’ve read. It is full of great ideas and his systems work – I know as I’ve used them. If you set up the system he advises and manage it regularly you do get control over your tasks and time. The trick is to follow the steps and manage the system regularly.

What I did not like about this book:

Allen short sells the discipline it takes to follow the collection habit he describes. This takes some real effort. The payoff is worth the effort. However Allen soft sells the effort required to some extent.

Also Allen fails to address a real problem some people have: some people simply have too much to do. No matter how it is organized it is simply more than one can get to. A chapter on how to deal with this problem would be helpful.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

Getting Things Done is very readable and easy to follow. It is well organized and provides clear steps to follow.

Notes on Author:

David Allen is an author, consultant, coach and keynote speaker. He advises some of the world’s largest businesses.

Other Books by This Author:

Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress Free Productivity – 2002

Getting Things Done – C Pbp – 2008

Getting Things Done – B – 2012

Related Website:

http://gettingthingsdone.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. You must get organized to be productive and reduce stress. This means getting everything organized from your desk top to your computer. It means getting all your tasks on a list so your mind is not mired in keeping track.
  1. Practice a simple formula for organizing what needs to be done: if it takes 2 minutes or less do it; if it takes more than two minutes either schedule it, dump it, file it or delegate it.
  1. Lists must be actively managed at least weekly. Develop this discipline to keep on top of things and free your mind for creative thinking and work.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Getting Things Done by David Allen

Copyright holder: ©2001 David Allen

Publisher: Penguin Books

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

Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake

Synopsis of Content:

This is a somewhat different kind of book on how to succeed written by a very unique businessman, and that is actually his point, we are all unique, we should embrace and use our individuality and avoid conformity. Although the author is a businessman he has spent a substantial amount of time as a “serial entrepreneur” and has on numerous occasions gone against the advice of others. He marches to his own drum.

Although he groups his success principles under three broad categories: Reclaiming Your Mentality, Creating Winning Ideas, and Transforming Ideas into Achievements; each main grouping contains a number of subcategories.

The gist of his thesis is that first we must assume full control of our own mental state. Having done this we act intentionally and thoughtfully, not automatically. Here he uses a Situation – Thought – Reaction paradigm which is very similar to ones discussed by Jack Canfield, Stephen R. Covey and others. This idea that we can and should choose our own reaction to outside stimuli is an old one. However Blake gives us a different perspective on this. As with much of his thinking here he is influenced by his extensive study of physics and other branches of science.  He explains how science has given us modern insight into how we think and react that is missing from other writings on this subject.

Next the author uses teachings on the power of the mind and the law of attraction that go back at least to the teaching of William James, Prentice Mulford, and James Allen. Again however his understanding and application of the law of attraction is different from what has been written before – he gives us a new way of looking at these things. He then teaches how these principles can be used to become more creative and successful.

In fact Blake provides a fresh look at ideas that have been around a very long time. He also presents new ideas to replace the old. He says that a positive mental attitude alone is not enough to be successful. Real accomplishment in the US has been by individuals who worked very hard and paved their own path.

Best of all this book makes you think. He forces us to take a critical look at a lot of success literature and reexamine it in light of both what science has discovered and what his own experience has taught him.  He gives you some simple tools, like practicing quiet time, a form of meditation, which is very useful. This is not a book to read through quickly and put away; this is a book to study carefully and return to.

Blake is a fresh voice on success. His work can be appealing to the conservative businessperson as well as the new age reader. His writing is insightful and forces the reader to think in new ways about some very old ideas. He has used these techniques to achieve success.

Blake is also bold. He does not pull punches. He criticizes those things he finds unworthy of belief or unproven. There is a refreshing genuineness to his writing.

The author is donating the profits from the book to cancer research. He says he is not a “success guru” but a successful businessman who has discovered what works in the pursuit of personal and financial success and wants to tell the world about it.

Usefulness:

This book is very useful to anyone who wants to expand their ability to think for themselves and to increase their effectiveness. It will be useful to anyone seeking genuine success.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written. He uses stories to illustrate his ideas. He draws heavily on his own experiences and that of his family but also on science and the experience of others. The book is well organized and easy to read.

Notes on Author:

Trevor Blake is a serial entrepreneur and businessman. He has excelled in sales and in building businesses. He has developed new business models. He has demonstrated the courage and fortitude to go his own way despite heavy criticism. He was born in the UK but has since relocated to the US. He describes himself as not being a “self-help guru” but a pragmatic businessman.

Related Website:

http://trevorgblake.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Pause before you speak. Give yourself time to really think about your response rather than just responding with a gut response. Choose your reactions carefully. Be self-aware.
  1. Create intentions rather than goals. An intention should be in the positive, what you want to come about, but phrased in the present tense, as though it has already happened.
  1. Take quiet time each day to mediate for about 20 minutes and then to reflect on and repeat your intentions.

I highly recommend this book.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake

Copyright holder: 2012 by Trevor Blake

Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for August 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

Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

Synopsis of Content:

This is an in depth study of the life of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and one of the most instrumental people in the development of the personal computer and other digital products.

Jobs was a genius, an artist, a successful businessman, a corporate leader, a thought leader, an innovator, a rebel and an eccentric. In the late 1970s he dropped out of Reed College in Oregon and founded Apple with his friend Steve Wozniak in 1976. He developed the concept of a fully integrated personal computer with software and hardware that Apple controlled exclusively. He was forced out of Apple in 1985 and went on to form his own company to build the NeXt computer. He then became a key player in Pixar and helped launch it as the most successful digital animation producer in the world. Apple eventually purchased Pixar.

In 1994 he returned to Apple at their invitation when the company was not doing well. What followed was one product success after another with the iMac, the iPod, iPhone, iTunes and iPad. On October 5, 2011 Jobs died of pancreatic cancer which he had struggled with for over six years. He was 56.

In addition to telling the story of Apple and Job’s influence on it and its products, the book delves into his personal life and his personality. Few punches are pulled. Jobs is depicted as narcissistic and often brutal in his relationships with colleagues, friends and family. He generally put his work before everything else. His relationships with his children were often troubled. He had little contact with his first daughter, Lisa.

In 1991he married Laurene Powell, a business student. Their marriage is described as successful though Powell had to learn to live with someone who was often difficult.

Jobs was known for being brutally honest in his work. He would declare a proposed idea or product “shit” and demean the people involved in it. He claimed his single aim was to assemble A class people to build A class products to serve the public in the best possible way. He had a unique ability to get the most performance out of people who respected him despite his often difficult inter-personal style. He also would lavish praise on people and their work when he liked it. People often found themselves liking him despite his rough edges.

He was famous for perfecting the “launch” of a new product with a carefully planned stage presentation. New products were kept secret until he unveiled them at these presentations. He was a master at public relations and marketing. He did not believe in asking the customer what they wanted. Rather, he believed it was his role to discover what the next big thing should be and then educate the public about it. He would tell them what they needed and this was almost always successful.

His artistic and design emphasis kept a focus on hardware and software that was elegantly designed. At the same time he possessed a vision of the future while paying excruciating attention to detail.

The computer industry developed along two separate tracks: the open system where software was licensed on different computers, championed by Bill Gates at Microsoft and the totally controlled and integrated model that Jobs maintained at Apple. He would rarely license any Apple software for other manufacturers. If you wanted Apple software and products you had to get them from Apple. Apple became the largest computer company and the most profitable on Job’s watch.

The book does a masterful job of showing us who Steve Jobs was as a person, a CEO, a designer, visionary and businessman. He was a complex man with a genius for knowing what the public would want before they knew what they would want.

This is an outstanding book both as a biography and a study of what makes success in business.

Usefulness:

Reading about successful people is always useful. You can learn a lot about the importance of focus, simplicity, dedication to detail and devotion to quality from this book. You will also learn some aspects of a CEO personality which probably would not be wise to emulate.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written. It holds your attention and is well organized. The author juggles lots of characters and time lines well. You never feel lost.

Notes on Author:

Walter Issacson is the CEO of the Aspen Institute. He has been chairman of CNN and managing editor at Time magazine. Issacson also wrote bestselling biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Henry Kissinger and Albert Einstein.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. It is critical to maintain focus to be successful. It is as important to know what to say no to as to what to say yes to. Jobs always focused on perfecting a few products rather than being weighed down with too many.
  1. Attention to detail is as important as attention to the grand vision. Jobs understood this and launched a series of high quality products that generated customer loyalty and lots of revenue. He said he was not interested in making money but in changing the world. If he made money in the process that was fine.
  1. To get the most out of people you must challenge them. A high quality company needs high quality people and some ruthlessness in maintaining quality is essential to product success.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

Copyright holder: 2011 Walter Issacson

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Book of the Month for July 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

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

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

March Book of the Month

books-ebookThe Books2Wealth Book of the Month for March is Achieve Anything in Just One Year by Jason Harvey. This is a great book. Rather than sitting down and reading it cover to cover it is most effective to read a page a day for a year. Each day you get an inspirational quote, a lesson on personal development and an assignment for what to do to implement the lesson. It is like having a success coach for a year.

To learn more about the author and the intent behind the book I interviewed Jason and you can find that interview at the Books2Wealth website.

Read the Review Here.

Read the exclusive Books2Wealth Interview of the Author Jason Harvey 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

Leading at the Edge – Book of the Month for November 2013

Leading at the Edge, Second Edition by Dennis N.T. Perkins with Margaret P. Holtman and Jillian B. Murphy.  Subtitle: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shakleton’s Antarctic Expedition

Synopsis of Content:

In 1913 Canadian explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson led an expedition to explore the Arctic between Canada and the North Pole. He used a ship called the Karluk. In 1914 Sir Ernest Shakleton led the British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition which aimed to be the first men to cross the Antarctic continent. They used a ship called the Endurance.

In both cases the ships were trapped in ice and ultimately destroyed by ice. In both cases the surviving explorers and their crews had to battle unimaginable ice and cold to survive and return to civilization.

Leading at the Edge chronicles these two expeditions and how two very different men led their teams. The book contrasts the leadership styles of these two men and how it affected their teams. The Canadian team deteriorated into squabbling chaos and suffered numerous deaths. Their leader adhered to a strictly hierarchical and authority based leadership model that did not serve him or his men well. In the end Stefansson deserted his own team leaving them to die or survive on their own. He did survive.

Shackleton adopted an entirely different leadership style. He put the welfare of his men first. He endured tremendous personal suffering and sacrifice to save them. His team remained united and exhibited repeated acts of courage and self-sacrifice for their team mates.

Drawing primarily on these two epic stories but also on other survival stories, his experience in Vietnam and in business Perkins develops ten leadership strategies that lead to success “at the edge”, that is in extreme conditions where men’s abilities are put to the ultimate test of endurance and the struggle is for survival. Perkins then explains how these same strategies can be used by anyone in a leadership position to more effectively lead their team, company or institution. The ten strategies are:

1. Never lose sight of the ultimate goal and focus energy on short term objectives.

2. Set a personal example with visible, memorable symbols and behaviors.

3. Instill optimism and self-confidence, but stay grounded in reality.

4. Take care of yourself: maintain your stamina and let go of guilt.

5. Reinforce the team message constantly: “We are one – we live or die together”.

6. Minimize status differences and insist on courtesy and mutual respect.

7. Master conflict – deal with anger in small doses, engage dissidents, and avoid needless power struggles.

8. Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about.

9. Be willing to take the Big Risk.

10. Never give up – there’s always another move.

At the end of the book Perkins provides “tools” to help the reader apply the lessons learned in the book including inventories and methods to develop one’s own leadership skills to include the ten strategies and he explains how this can apply to everyday business.

What I found useful about this book:

Few of us will ever have to survive in hostile life threatening environments or be responsible for the lives of a team of other people. Yet from these adventures on the edge we can learn the leadership strategies that not only have served adventurers in these extreme situations but can serve us as well in more normal conditions.

The ten strategies are easy to understand and to apply to the everyday working world. While luck can play a role in any venture the best leadership skills can make the ultimate difference.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

Much like Perkin’s second book, Into the Storm, Leading at the Edge is a page turning adventure story which also teaches valuable leadership lessons applicable to all of us. It is well written and easy to read. It is well organized.

Notes on Author:

Dennis N.T. Perkins is CEO of The Syncretics Group, a consulting firm. He graduated from the Naval Academy and served in Vietnam as a Marine company commander. He has taught at the Yale School of Management. He is passionate about his work and actually went to Antarctica and retraced Shackleton’s route on the ice. Margaret P. Holtman and Jillian B. Murphy are consultants specializing in leadership skills and coaching.

Related Website:

http://www.syncreticsgroup.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

1. It is critical to never lose sight of your ultimate goal while focusing on short term objectives to get there.

2. Optimism is essential to keep a team motivated but it must be grounded in realism; when it is necessary to change direction the leader must do so.

3. An effective leader minimizes status differences on the team to forge a united group all working toward the same goal.

Other Books by This Author:

Into the Storm

Publication Information:   

Title and Author:  Leading at the Edge, Second Edition by Dennis N.T. Perkins with Margaret P. Holtman and Jillian B. Murphy

Copyright holder: 2012 by Dennis NT Perkins

Publisher: Amacom (American Management Association)

Note: “Leading at the Edge” is a registered trademark.

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

July Book of the Month: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Book of the Month for July 2013

Title and Author:  Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

Synopsis of Content:  

This is an in depth study of the life of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and one of the most instrumental people in the development of the personal computer and other digital products.

Jobs was a genius, an artist, a successful businessman, a corporate leader, a thought leader, an innovator, a rebel and an eccentric. Read more…

And, get the book:

Wishing you success and prosperity,
Daniel R. Murphy

Helping People Learn to Build Wealth
www.Books2Wealth.com

Wishing you Success and Prosperity,

Daniel R. Murphy

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