Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill was one of the giants of the 20th century. His eloquence, courage and tenacity are lessons for us all.

Learn about this remarkable man who achieved so much and to whom we owe so much.

Wishing you well,

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

The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne – Subtitle: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity

Synopsis of Content:

In 1989 Stephen R. Covey published his now famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In 2015 three influential executives at Franklin Covey, published this book, The 5 Choices, to take up where Covey left off over 25 years ago.

The 5 Choices focuses on the management of Decision Making, Attention Management and Energy Management on a personal level. Just as Covey sought to provide solutions for business people who were becoming overwhelmed with the demands of work and other life obligations these authors have sought to bring those ideas into the 21st Century. They begin with the assumption that today’s world is more complex, busier, more demanding and more distracting than the world of the 1980s. Among the causes of this greater complexity and distraction are all the digital intrusions and tools that exist today. This book seeks to help us manage those digital intrusions and tools so we can achieve more and be less harried and chaotic in the process.

The book is divided into four main sections: Decision Management, Attention Management, Energy Management and finally Being a Q2 Leader. Each of the three first sections contains subsections which constitute the 5 Choices as follows:

Decision Management:

  1. Act on the Important; Don’t React to the Urgent
  2. Go for Extraordinary, Don’t Settle for Ordinary

Attention Management:

  1. Schedule the Big Rocks, Don’t Schedule the Gravel
  2. Rule Technology, Don’t Let it Rule You

Energy Management:

  1. Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out

Choices 1, 3 and 5 are straight out of Covey’s play book. However they are not simply a repeat of the 1989 book. They develop the concepts to a higher level than Covey’s book did and they have updated them to be more relevant to the current world and especially to today’s technology. Choices 2 and 4 are completely new ideas though they too have their roots in Covey’s work. It includes useful ideas on how to manage social media and email and how to avoid those technologies from burying us.

The entire book is built around the Time Matrix that Covey taught about. This concept was not actually invented by Covey, it was invented by Dwight D. Eisenhower and before Covey’s book was called the Eisenhower Box.

The Time Matrix is a tool used to divide all our tasks and activities into four quadrants: Q1 – Urgent and Important; Q2 – Not Urgent and Important; Q3 – Urgent and Not Important; and Q4 – Neither Urgent or Important. The goal is to focus as much time and energy on Q2 activities so as to minimize Q1 and Q3 activities and to get rid of Q4 activity altogether.

What I found useful about this book:

This book takes a fresh look at much of what Covey wrote about and makes it more relevant to the 21st century. The ideas surrounding Q2 activity especially are more helpful and more well developed than anything I’ve seen in this area since 1989.

Equally useful and insightful are the parts that address how to manage technology and make it serve us rather than allow us to serve it. I highly recommend this book.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written and well organized. It is easy to read. The authors build upon more basic concepts and develop them more intensely.

Notes on Author:

Kory Kogon is an executive at Franklin Covey with a lot of experience in management, productivity, and communications.

Adam Merrill is vice president for Innovations at Franklin Covey and has worked in the time management and productivity fields for 25 years.

Leena Rinne is a senior consultant with Franklin Covey with 15 years’ experience in international business. She specializes in client relationship management.

Related Website:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Time and Energy devoted to Q2 activities makes us more productive, focused and capable. It allows us to direct our lives and prevents external forces from controlling us.
  1. The more we can avoid the urgency addiction and focus on what is important the less harried we will be and the more effective we can be.
  1. It is essential to get control over technology and limit its tendency to dominate our time and attention while using its tools to make us more effective. This requires an on-going effort and focus but pays off greatly and gives us more time for important work.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne

Copyright holder: 2015 by FranklinCovey Co.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A Books2Wealth Book of the Month: February 2015 

Buy the book here:


Wishing you well,

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

How to Lead Through Better Communication

Could you be more effective working with others if you could communicate more effectively?

OK, that was a rhetorical question if there ever was one. But it is an important one. In my 40+ years working with others in various organizations and situations it I’ve found that effective communication is the most vital skill we need. For various reasons we fail at communicating effectively and the results range from irritation to failure. It seems we never truly master this art and we all need to work on it constantly. posted an article on May 1, 2017 listing six communication skills that will make you a better leader. They also make you a better team player whether you lead or not. Here are the six skills in brief:

  1. Know yourself: be self-aware and be clear about what you wish to achieve in your communication.
  2. Know your audience: you need to understand the feelings, beliefs and needs of those you communicate with to do so effectively.
  3. Be direct, specific and clear: this may be the most important skill; too often we obfuscate and confuse because we lack clarity.
  4. Pay attention to non-verbal communication: non-verbal communication often tells us more about what others are thinking and feeling than what people say.
  5. Listen before you speak: this conveys respect for others and makes others more receptive to your message.
  6. Be positive and respectful: this is a key skill to be effective and to gain the attention and engagement of others.

Of course, listing these skills and being aware of them is easy. Putting them into consistent practice is challenging for all of us. They require some hard work on our part to hone these skills and to intentionally apply them. It is very easy to overlook these skills in a busy day with multiple pressures and distractions and too little time to accomplish what we want to and what we need to.

However the pay-off is big if we can make it a habit to do these things consistently.

What do you think? What has been your frustrations with communication?

Read the Success article here.

Wishing you well,

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

The 5 Essential People Skills – Dale Carnegie Training

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  The 5 Essential People Skills – Dale Carnegie Training

Synopsis of Content:

This book got is start as training material for a Dale Carnegie course and has since been made available to all of us. The book focuses on basic interpersonal skills needed in all areas of life and especially to be successful in business. The five essential skills covered include rapport building, curiosity, communication, ambition, and conflict resolution.

These fundamental skills are discussed in terms of assertiveness, rapport building, curiosity and understanding in business, persuading others, asking questions skillfully, assertive skills for listening, and speaking and ambition. All of the skills mentioned are framed within the context of the proper level of assertiveness needed to be effective. There is also an excellent chapter on business etiquette.

The book addresses many aspects of how each specific skill should be used. It focuses on Carnegie’s teaching that we can be most effective by being indirect and helpful rather than insulting others.

This book is dense. It contains a mountain of information that a casual read-through may not catch. It is a book that should be studied, not just read.

What I found useful about this book:

The book is easy to follow and full of detail about all aspects of each skill discussed. Real life applications and examples are provided.

What I did not like about this book:

I do not have much to criticize here. The book is instructional in nature so can be a bit dry at times.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book reads rather like an instructive textbook but is well written, clear and well organized. Skill development is broken down into steps for the reader to follow whether one is in need of the most basic development or more advanced skill building.

Notes on Author:

Much but not all of the content was written by Dale Carnegie. Some portions refer to Carnegie and quote him thus written by someone else. The book was used as an instructional text by Dale Carnegie and Associates, Inc. and adapted for publication to the general public.

Dale Carnegie was a giant in the self-improvement industry during the 20thcentury. He became a household name with the publication of his best known work, How to Win Friends and Influence People published in 1936. He launched  career as a writer and trainer and in the 1950s his Dale Carnegie Training programs spread throughout the nation. Though Carnegie died in 1955 his programs have continued and grown significantly to the present time.

Related Website:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Influencing others is accomplished through building rapport with them.
  1. Assertive curiosity is crucial to finding opportunities and being creative.
  1. Using proper business etiquette helps you be more effective with other people promotes a cooperative and friendly work environment.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 5 Essential People Skills – Dale Carnegie Training

Copyright holder: Original Edition ©2004 by Nightingale-Conant. Text edition ©2009 by Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc.

Publisher: Simon and Schuster (Fireside)

Get the Book:

Wishing you well,

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

Humility is a Choice

“HUMILITY IS A CHOICE. When you meet a humble person you know you will be accepted, respected and listened to. They won’t try to manipulate you, control you, criticize you or try to impress you. They are safe.

“When we haven’t conquered our pride putting on false humility might seem like the shortcut to the benefits of being a truly humble person. We’ve all met these kinds of people. False humility is nothing but arrogance.” (Leading Blog, April 28, 2017)

Genuine humility is important as a leadership attribute. Nothing alienates others more quickly than arrogance. But false humility is also alienating and can be viewed as a form or arrogance. Pat Williams, author and senior VP of the NBA’s Orlando Magic writes about false humility and genuine humility in his book, Humility: The Secret Ingredient of Success. He identifies four ways to avoid false humility:

  1. Reflect on the kind of person you are and be the person you want to be.
  2. Ask a few trusted friends to be brutally honest with you.
  3. Immediately and humbly admit your faults and failures.
  4. Be honestly humble and humbly honest.

We all have egos and it can be difficult at times to tame those egos and be genuinely humble. Yet it is a powerful quality that we can all benefit from cultivating.

Read the entire blog post here.

Wishing you well,

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

Compelling People – The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Compelling People – The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

Originally published: Book of the Month: #18 August 2014.

Synopsis of Content:

This book is a study of how we influence others and how effective we can be in doing so. The authors cite large numbers of psychological studies to support their conclusions and add in their own experiences with people they’ve worked with.

The authors divide all of our abilities to influence others into two categories: strength and warmth. Ideally we should balance both and use both in generous amounts.

They discuss the “hand we are dealt” – the actual attributes we have in warmth and strength as well as general perceptions about those qualities in people with our given traits: gender, ethnicity, age, etc.

Despite the hand we have been dealt the authors make the case for our ability to change what we know and do and to enhance our ability to influence others by strengthening our warmth and our strength and by maintaining an ideal balance.

They then apply these concepts to specific areas of human conduct: leadership, public speaking, politics, and more.

What I found useful about this book:

While this is not a scientific book there is a significant reliance on social science to bolster the authors’ conclusions. There is no discussion of the validity of the studies they cite but they are not making this stuff up as they go. The social science provides a depth of insight and some credibility.

The book is full of insights, some expected and some surprising. Anyone who wants to have any influence over others (and all but a hermit likely fall in that category) can learn a lot about what enhances influence and what does not.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

While not a scientific tract this is an academic work and can be a bit plodding. It is well written however and is an enjoyable read over all.

Notes on Authors:

John Neffinger graduated from Harvard and Columbia law school and practiced law. He served as Director of Communications for the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. As a consultant he has advised politicians and business leaders around the world.

Matthew Kohut is managing partner at KNP Communications. He has a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He advises and coaches leaders in business and government. He has been a speech writer.

Both Neffinger and Kohut write for the Huffington Post.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Both strength and warmth as perceived by an audience govern how influential a person will be. Both qualities are essential to gain a listener’s confidence and trust. Confidence and trust are essential to influence.
  1. Ideally one must master a balance with a high level of both warmth and strength to be the most influential. The most influential people have learned to blend these traits.
  1. Both warmth and strength must be genuine. People generally have a strong sense to detect phoniness and will not connect with a person or be influenced unless those qualities are perceived as genuine.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Compelling People – The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

Copyright holder: John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut 2013

Publisher: Hudson Street Press, Penguin Group, New York

Buy the book here:

Wishing you well,

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

Compassionate Accountability

In April the Leadership Now blog posted an article on a book by Nate Regier called Conflict Without Casualties. Regier believes that conflict consumes far too much of our time, energy and money and needs to be managed more effectively. His focus is on conflict throughout the world. He offers some intriguing ideas.

Regier’s argument is that we should practice what he calls “compassionate accountability” to resolve conflict in ways that cause the least damage at the least cost. This approach resists the “I gotta win” drama that characterizes most conflict. This drama focuses our energy on self-justification which is contrary to resolving conflict.

“To be compassionate is to struggle alongside with others; to struggle with instead of against. “Compassion is the result of people taking ownership of their feelings, thoughts and behaviors, and choosing to spend the energy of conflict pursuing effective solutions that preserve the dignity of all involved. Compassion is more than care and concern for others. It’s about the willingness to get in the trenches and struggle together as an equal with others.””

Regier says that his approach to conflict depends on three skills: Openness, Resourcefulness and Persistence. He then outlines how to use these skills to promote a compassionate and constructive resolution of conflict. He argues that a failure to use these skills sets up a self-defeating cycle that Steven Karpman has identified as the “drama triangle”.

“Regier writes: “Drama inevitably pushes us into corners, where we cling to distorted worldviews that compel us to do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Compassion, on the other hand, keeps us moving, searching, nimble, effective, and capable of adapting to change.” It also keep us from being mired inside our own head and thus limiting our responses and our ability to reframe the conflict. We get stuck.”

What is missing from this discussion is the role that emotion plays in this cycle. If people could remain objective and act outside of their emotional limitations use of these skills would be easier. People in conflict are typically emotionally involved. Emotions including fear, jealousy, and anger among others interfere with our ability to be objective and to use the skills Regier suggests.

Emotion does not necessarily mean that we cannot benefit from using the skills that Regier teaches. If we can get beyond our emotional responses and use these skills we could be much more effective at resolving conflict. This does require a level of maturity and self-confidence that many people do not have however and conflict often is a result of that very problem.

Learning and applying these skills to positively resolve conflict can be very useful if we can get beyond the limitations that emotions and immaturity often impose on our responses. This is an intriguing idea and one we would all benefit from developing. People do not behave mechanically though and the emotional responses that affect our behavior in conflict remain an obstacle, especially in very high conflict situations.

Read the entire blog post from Leading Blog here.

Wishing you well,

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

What Can We Learn from WWI?

San Diego Air and Space Museum

One hundred years ago one of the greatest wars in human history was killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians and laying desolation to much of Europe. WWI as it is now called was the first total war on a grand scale. Today’s analysis of that war is a study in failed leadership in many if not all the participants.

James Strock created an excellent blog post on the leadership lessons we can gain from this awful war. They are mostly lessons in leadership failure. It reads like a list of what not to do as a leader. Strock identifies 13 lessons we should learn from this war. While these lessons have great import in the world of international relations and diplomacy, they can also be applied to our personal lives.

  • Leadership is important – good leadership skills are important whether you are the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom ore president of your local service club. Historical analysis of the causes of WWI almost all point to the failures in leadership that contributed to this disaster. To influence and lead others in a positive way we must all develop good leadership abilities.
  • Shared interest can be overcome by other considerations. We like to think that if we share common goals or principles with others that conflict is lessened. They thought that in 1914 as well when Europe was culturally and economically linked. Shared interests can promote good will and peaceful resolution of differences but it never guarantees those things. Good leaders must recognize this and act accordingly.
  • Leaders must take care of themselves and maintain good health. Many of the most influential leaders at the beginning of WWI were either physically, psychologically or in both ways weak or sickly. Strong and effective leaders must be healthy and well adjusted.
  • What has worked in the past may not work in the future. The world is constantly changing. It was changing in 1914 but is changing much more rapidly today. Effective leaders must understand this change and manage it. They cannot rely on “the way we’ve always done this”.
  • Management failures can lead to greater over all failures. Good leaders must know how to manage well.

There is much more to Strock’s 13 principles. Many of them apply more directly to national and international activities. But we can learn from them and apply many of them to our lives to avoid the kind of mistakes that led to the Great War.

To learn more about the 13 principles and the lessons of WWI see James Strock’s blog article.

Learn how you can achieve more and realize your goals as well as lessons in leadership 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.

The 1 Percent Rule

James Clear recently wrote about why a few people get most of the rewards. He referenced the one percent rule first identified and written about by Vilfredo Pareto. This is also called the Pareto Principle.

Pareto was an Italian economist who wondered why a tiny number of pea pods in his garden produced the majority of the peas. He wondered if the same thing that was happening to his peas was also happening elsewhere in life. He studied statistics and found that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the people. He learned that in Britain 30% of the population earned 70% of the income.

He continued his research and found that while the exact numbers varied from one topic to another the pattern held firm to almost everything. The majority of rewards seemed to always accrue to a small percentage of people. This became known as the Pareto Principle. It is also called the 80/20 rule. And it has been called the 1% rule.

This principle is seen in various places today. In the 2015-2016 National Baseball season 20% of the franchises won 75.3% of the championships. Two teams, the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers won half of the championships in NBA history. Clear’s article cites many other examples.

Why does this happen? There may be more than one reason but one reason is the power of accumulative advantage. Once something starts to win it gains advantages over those that are not winning. It becomes stronger. It works in nature as well as Clear describes. This advantage plays out in each contest between the players or people.

Clear’s 1% rule is an application of the Pareto principle. If you can be 1% more effective than the competition you can win. Sustaining the habits that create that advantage leads to sustained success. This is just as applicable to the individual as it is to the business or other organization. Win by just a bit each time and you can build the momentum of being in that 20% that wins 80% of the return.

This observation explains why winners become bigger winners and why those who do not win find it harder to succeed. To sustain success then requires initial wins. You have to succeed to succeed. Success breeds success. A good thing to remember in any competitive endeavor.

Read James Clear’s complete article here.

Wishing you well,

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

The Corporate Soul Handbook by Ron Mercer

Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author: The Corporate Soul Handbook by Ron Mercer

Synopsis of Content:

In this little book of 117 pages including appendices the reader will find a wealth of insight into what makes organizations succeed and fail. In the end Mercer tells us that how our organizations treat people defines their success. The business or other organization that treats people well will succeed because it has a soul. The organization that does not treat people well has no soul and will fail.

The book has seven chapters:

The Benefits of Nurturing a Healthy Corporate Soul

The Four Structural Pillars of Your Organization

Zombies or Zealots?

Walk the Talk

Working Together Using Balance and Harmony


Inspiration Not Just Perspiration.

The book then ends with a Conclusion followed by an Appendix on the essence of the corporate soul and a Guide on assessing the soul of your organization.

The Corporate Soul Handbook is both a discussion of the concept of a soul for an organization, and this applies to nonprofit organizations just as much as for profit, and a handbook to introduce the reader on how to assess your organization for its soul and what actions one can do to improve it.

As with so many books on corporate success and management there really is nothing new in this book. Mercer takes long understood principles and reframes them in the context of this concept of a corporate soul.

Mercer explains that every organization has four pillars: Capital, Management, Employees and Customers. How an organization treats those four pillars and maintains a balance between them defines the corporate soul.

He provides examples of businesses like Southwest Airlines that have a healthy and vibrant soul and thrive. He offers other examples of organizations that short change those pillars and fail. He explains what each of these four pillars need to thrive and how they all equally support the successful organization. He teaches how we must nurture them all to survive and thrive.

This book focuses on the intangible ingredient for organizational success. It focuses on the positive and the cooperative. It explains how the way we treat the people (pillars) or our organization define its soul and its success.

What I found useful about this book:

This book provides insight into the how we do what we do and why the how makes such a difference. It identifies the importance of how we treat the people who make our organizations succeed or fail. It goes beyond the bottom line and defines the ultimately important line. For all of us who lead organizations and for those of us working in those organizations these ideas are critical and give us hope.

It is probably no accident that Ron Mercer is a banker. Banks fuel and drive much of the commercial activity in the world. Modern commercial enterprise would not be possible without banks for the most part. Yet banks and bankers have suffered much in their reputation in recent years with the failed banks, the stories about self-serving over paid executives more interested in extracting wealth than creating it. In this book Mercer offers a refreshing viewpoint about what healthy corporate should look like. He offers good examples of corporations that possess this “soul” and offer their customers excellent service and their employees a great place to work.

Readability/Writing Quality:

The book is very well written. It is easy to read and contains many good examples to flesh out the principles espoused.

Notes on Author:

Ron Mercer is a senior executive in the banking industry. He has advised startups and Fortune 500 companies. He maintains a website and blog.

Related Website: 

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

Every organization is supported by four pillars: capital, management, employees and customers. How we treat each of these pillars leads to the organization’s success or failure.

It is critical for everyone, but especially leaders, to walk their talk. We must set the example. We must act in the way we teach or we lose all effectiveness.

It is important to understand that how we treat others defines the soul of our organization. That soul is an intangible and largely unmeasurable essence that everyone recognizes when they see it and when it is missing. We must nurture that soul to achieve success as an organization.

Publication Information:

Title and Author: The Corporate Soul Handbook by Ron Mercer

Copyright holder: 2013 by Ron Mercer, Jr.

Publisher: Prime Your Pump Publishing, LLC, Texas

Wishing you well,

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