In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author: In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Synopsis of Content:

In Defense of Food Michael Pollan has given us the most important book on nutrition in this decade. He strikes back at the deluge of diet books and nutritionalism that has confused Americans now for two generations. He uses science to attack the “science” behind the nutritionalism that has so distorted the American attitude toward food and has left Americans as the most over fed and under nourished in the world.

After poking generous holes in the various theories and diet fads of the past 40+ years Pollan gives us some very decent guidance about what we should be eating and how we should be thinking of food. His fundamental thesis is simple: we should eat food, not too much, and mostly plants. By that he means:

Eat food:  the evidence is overwhelming that we should eat food in as natural a state as possible. We should eat whole foods, not processed foods or refined foods. We should eat more like our ancestors of a century or more ago. If you cannot pronounce or do not recognize the ingredients on a package don’t eat it. If there are generally more than five ingredients don’t eat it. If it contains highly processed and refined foods, including grains, sugar and oils, don’t eat it. If your great grandmother would not have recognized it – don’t eat it. Eat everything else. Eat fresh and frozen (but unprocessed) fruits and vegetables. Eat meat that is not processed or filled with hormones, chemicals, etc. There is a bit more to it than that, but that captures the essence of eating “food”.

Not too much: Americans eat on average 700 calories more per day than they did just 50 years ago. We are bigger, fatter, more obese, and have more disease arising from poor nutrition than ever. We have more diabetes, heart disease and cancer from eating junk food. We also have too much fat on our bodies because we exercise too little and eat too much. Portion sizes are too large and our food is more loaded with fats and sweeteners.

Mostly plants: while one does not need to be a vegetarian to eat healthy, the more meat one eats, especially fatty and processed meats, the less healthy we are. Plants provide the healthiest nutrients and the least unnecessary calories for our body if they are fresh and wholesome.

Pollan points out that various ethnic diets, especially in the Mediterranean and Asia are far healthier because they follow these three simple guidelines. The modern American diet, on the other hand, with its processed foods, high fructose corn syrup laden drinks and quickie pizza and burgers is a short road to disease.

Our youth, who have grown up on this diet, and will less exercise than Americans traditionally got, may be the first generation to have a shorter life span than their parents.

Pollan is not a radical. He does not say you have to eat tofu and raw food all day. There are many very healthy, delicious foods that you can and should eat. His indictment is against the highly processed and inadequate foods that dominate our diet today.

This is not the first book to send this message – but Pollan does a very good job as a careful journalist to bring us the facts to support the position he takes. By adhering to the simple guidelines he suggests we can regain health as well as our waistlines. His arguments are compelling as well as reasonable.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

This is very well written. He writes in an engaging style and yet provides the footnotes and sources that support his position.

Notes on Author:

Michael Pollan is an accomplished author and journalist and is the Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. He writes for NY Times Magazine. He also authored The Omnivore’s Dilemma among others.

Related Website:

http://www.michaelpollan.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Eat food that is wholesome, as natural and whole as possible and with as little processing as possible. Stick to the outside of the supermarket, if you must buy food in supermarkets, aiming for in season produce, fresh unprocessed meats and dairy with as little processing as possible. Avoid artificial ingredients and “convenience foods”.
  2. Make sure to get exercise every day.
  3. Eat slowly and intentionally, and only eat until you are full or nearly full. Reduce the size of portions that are all too common in the Western diet today.

Publication Information:  

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

©2008 by Michael Pollan. Published by Penguin Books. 205 pages not including Sources and Index.

Wishing you well,

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

Goal Power

Everything You Need to Know About How to Use Goals to Achieve Anything by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   Goal Power! Everything You Need to Know About How to Use Goals to Achieve Anything by Daniel R. Murphy

Synopsis of Content:  

Goal Power! is a concise introduction to the fundamentals of creating effective goals and executing them. You will learn how proper use of goals leads to success and can enable you to achieve anything you want to achieve.

Learn how the number of goals you have affects your ability to achieve any of them.

Learn how to properly define a goal with sufficient clarity to motivate you and help you achieve your aim. Learn how to use short term and long term goals.

Learn how to execute a goal and sustain efforts for the long term.

This book provides a fundamental guide on how to create, write out, implement, measure and achieve goals. It discusses the number of goals you should have, or not have. You will learn how in the implementation stage how to reassess goals and make mid-course corrections.

At the end of the book is a step by step guide on how to create a great goal.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is clearly written with examples and well organized.

Notes on Author:  

Daniel R. Murphy is a blogger and author who has studied success for over 30 years. He has authored hundreds of articles on financial success, success in general, personal development, leadership, and time management.

Other Books by This Author:

The Success Essentials
Your Financial Success
Effective Time Management

To learn more about these books go to: http://danielrmurphy.com/books-etc/

Related Website:   

http://danielrmurphy.com

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. The fewer goals you have the more you will achieve on your goals. Ideally working on one goal at a time leads to the most success. More than three goals at any one time can so deplete focus and energy that none are achieved.
  2. It is critical to write your goals down. Written goals are achieved far more often than unwritten ones.
  3. Goals should be clearly and simply written and should be time bound. They most often should be measurable.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Goal Power! by Daniel R. Murphy
Copyright holder: ©2015 by Daniel R. Murphy
Publisher: Albany Publishing Co.

Goal Power! is available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.

Wishing you well,

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

Mental Models II

A week ago I discussed James Clear’s article on how to think better using Mental Models. This week I want to take a second look at this concept and look at another post by Clear on this idea.

Clear defines a mental model as, “an explanation of how something works. The phrase “mental model” is an overarching term for any sort of concept, framework, or worldview that you carry around in your mind”.

“Mental models help you understand life. For example, supply and demand is a mental model that helps you understand how the economy works. Game theory is a mental model that helps you understand how relationships and trust work. Entropy is a mental model that helps you understand how disorder and decay work.” Clear also observes that mental models guide how we perceive the world and how we behave.

Mental models can be very helpful but they are not perfect. “There is no single mental model from physics or engineering, for example, that provides a flawless explanation of the entire universe, but the best mental models from those disciplines have allowed us to build bridges and roads, develop new technologies, and even travel to outer space. As historian Yuval Noah Harari puts it, “Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. Thus, the real test of knowledge is not truth, but utility.””

Charlie Munger said that 80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight to make you a worldly-wise person.

Clear has assembled a starting list of some of the most common mental models in a number of disciplines. In invite you to check out his list and read up on some of those models. The better you understand them the more effectively you can use them. You can read more here.

Wishing you well,

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

The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

Synopsis of Content: 

The 4 Disciplines of Execution is a blueprint for how to effectively improve something through the establishment of a key goal, develop a system for measuring performance of the goal, and then following through with its execution. The authors advise focus on no more than three goals and if possible only one. They argue that too many goals dilute effort too much resulting in too little being achieved toward any one goal. To really effectively achieve a significant goal requires a high level of focus and that happens best with three or fewer such goals.

The approach is to develop a big goal, something vitally important. They call this a WIG which stands for “wildly important goal”. Once the goal is identified it is necessary to develop certain measurements to determine if the goal is being achieved.

The first measurement is the “lag measures”. This measurement tells you if you are achieving the actual goal. For example if the goal is lose 25 pounds then the lag measurement is losing 25 pounds. This is the ultimate measurement of achievement.

Next you must identify those actions that will most likely enable you to lose 25 pounds. As an example those actions may include restricting daily calorie intake to 1800 calories and increasing exercise to 5 miles of walking or running each day. These are called the “lead measures”. For this goal then the lead measures are calories consumed per day and miles walked or run per day.

The next step is to measure performance on the lead measures every day and track both the lead measures and the lag measure to determine performance and achievement of the goal. It is important to post these measurements on some form of graph or table where everyone involved in the goal can see how they are doing. Participants are held accountable for their contribution to the lead measures at a weekly WIG meeting where the posted data is reviewed and each participant’s contribution is reviewed.

This system was developed primarily for organizations and teams within organizations. However at the end of the book the authors discuss case studies to show how the same system can be used for personal goals.

Throughout the book case studies are presented showing how this method helped various companies and organizations to improve their performance, often in substantial ways. It builds cohesion and accountability in the team, or if done by an individual for that individual.

What I found useful about this book:

The focus on finding ways to measure the actual actions needed to achieve a goal is very helpful whether you are working with an individual goal or a team goal. The way the system fits together and accurately measures performance as well as accountability is an elegant and powerful concept. The real life examples show that it can really work in the real world.

Readability/Writing Quality: 

The book is well organized and well written. It provides all the information needed to understand the method and what makes it work.

Notes on Author:  

Chris McChesney works at FranklinCovey as a Global Practice Leader for design and development of the 4 Disciplines method.

Sean Covey is Executive Vice President at FranklinCovey and directs its international operations in 141 countries. He was involved in the original creation of the 4 Disciplines methodology.

Jim Huling is a consultant with FranklinCovey working with the 4 Disciplines. He has worked in corporate leadership in Fortune 500 companies and privately held companies.

Related Website: 

http://the4disciplinesofexecution.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:  

  1. Identify the most important improvement you can make or the biggest problem you need to solve in your organization or your personal life. Create a Wildly Important Goal to address that improvement or problem and then use lead and lag measurements to track progress and motivate follow through.
  2. All organizations can measure the performance of their employees and their teams on a bell curve with high performers on the right side, poor performers on the left side, and the average performers in the middle. Use the 4 Disciplines to move that bell curve to the right – to make everyone more effective performers.
  3. Measurement of the attainment of the goal and the actions needed to get there are key to motivating people and achieving an important goal.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 4 Disciplines of Execution by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling

Copyright holder: © 2012 by FranklinCovey Co.

Publisher: Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Books2Wealth Book of the Month: December 2015

You can 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

Do Nice Guys (and Gals) Finish First or Last?

google.com/clipart

You have all heard the axiom “Nice guys finish last”. But is that true?

Eric Barker examined this question in his recent book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Barker likes to look at what science has to teach us about things like success.

Wharton School professor Adam Grant looked into the research on this question. He divided people into three categories: Givers, Takers and Matchers. Givers were people who most often gave to others and helped others – they were nice guys. Takers more often took from others and Matchers tried to balance their giving and taking.

In studies of professionals he first found that givers (nice guys) often finished poorly. The missed deadlines, got lower grades and closed fewer sales. But this was not all he found. He also found that on the other side of the spectrum givers did best. People who constantly found ways to help others were the ones who scored best on success metrics. Takers and Matchers he found scored in the mid-range. So some nice guys finished last but some finished first.

Grant found that the difference between givers who succeed and those that fail is not random. He found that in the very short term Takers can succeed. Being a bully or a cheat may work for a little while. It does not appear to be an effective long term strategy though. Givers trust others and can create an atmosphere of trust in a social group. People working together with trust can accomplish much more than one person working alone. The research also showed that people who “chunk” their giving so they are not giving all the time do better. Volunteer three hours a week on one day and reserve the rest of your time to meeting your own needs rather than volunteering every day, for example. So to be a Giver who succeeds you should budget your giving – that is not do it all the time. We have all known those people who give all the time and neglect their own needs.

Barker also found that givers were most often rich. Arthur Brooks studied the connection between charitable giving and wealth and found that the more people gave the more wealth they earned. The question then arises, are Givers getting rich because they are Givers, or are they Givers because they are rich and can afford it. This raises the question about cause and effect.

All of these studies are based on correlations. Correlations can point to a cause and effect dynamic but they do not necessarily do so. The kinds of rigorous studies that would actually demonstrate genuine cause and effect have not been done in this area. Scientists agree that if you have enough correlations, if they repeat over and over, they probably are showing some form of cause and effect.

I hope that most of us think it is proper to be a Giver or a nice person because it is morally correct. If it pays off with more success for us that is a bonus.

You can read more about this and a lot more about what science tells us about success in Barker’s book, Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

Wishing you well,

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

The Success Essentials by Daniel R. Murphy

Book Review

Title and Author:  The Success Essentials by Daniel R. Murphy

Synopsis of Content:

The central message of this book is that success can be learned. We can read about the success of others and observe what they do in daily life and from their successes and failures we can learn what to do and what not to do.

No matter what we set out to do this book teaches the fundamental skills and disciplines that have allowed so many successful people to excel and achieve what they set out to achieve.

The book discusses the importance of attitude and our mental state to success. It teaches how to determine our chief aim or goal in life and how to focus on that. It tells us why that is so critical to success.

You then learn about the power of dedication and persistence, the price one must pay for genuine success, the importance of planning and setting goals, and the importance of executing on those plans. Finally there is a lot of discussion about self-discipline in a number of areas to enable us to succeed.

What I found useful about this book:

This book is based on proven techniques for success. There are no secrets to success and no magic involved. It is about proper focus, planning, execution and persistent dedication. It is about developing and maintaining the proper disciplines to achieve.

Readability/Writing Quality:  
The book is aimed at a general audience. It is well organized and easy to read.

Notes on Author:
The author has spent the last three decades studying success. He put what he learned into practice to go from poverty to become a successful public servant and rise to the top of his organization. He writes and blogs on success, leadership, wealth building, and personal development.

Other Books by This Author:
Your Financial Success
Effective Time Management

Related Website:

http://www.thesuccessessentials.com/

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Success begins in the mind. We must determine what we want to achieve and develop commitment and dedication to that aim. We must believe we will achieve what we set out to do.
  2. Proper planning is essential to success. We must set goals properly and then execute on them daily to succeed.
  3. Success in any endeavor requires a high level of commitment, dogged persistence and the cultivation of proven self-discipline. Focus and hard work are essential to success.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Success Essentials by Daniel R. Murphy

Copyright holder: 2011 and 2013 by Daniel R. Murphy

Publisher: Albany Publishing Company

Wishing you well,

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

Become More to Achieve More

“Unless you change how you are, you’ll always have what you’ve got”. – Jim Rohn

The late Jim Rohn was an inspiration to many. After a successful business career he became a very successful motivational speaker, trainer and author. He presented personal development seminars world-wide for over 40 years.

Rohn’s primary teaching was that what we are defines in large part what we have. To attain greater wealth and happiness we must become more. Rohn taught that it was not so important what you get but what you become. What you become enables you to get what you want. This fundamental idea is more important today than ever because we live in a world that is increasingly competitive and rapidly changing.

Successful people as a rule read a lot. They are continuously learning and thereby improving themselves. Warren Buffett, self-made billionaire, reads 600-1000 pages a day and has done so for decades. He devotes 80% of his time to reading and learning. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, reads 50 books a year, or one each week. Mark Cuban reads more than 3 hours a day. Elon Musk is an avid reader. Mark Zuckerberg reads two books a month. A study of 1200 wealthy people found they have extensive reading habits. They read not to be entertained but to learn.

According to Thomas Corley, author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits Of Wealthy Individuals,” 67% of rich people watch TV for one hour or less per day, while just 23% of poor people keep their TV time under 60 minutes. Corley also found only 6% of the wealthy watch reality shows, while 78% of the poor do.

You do not have to want to be rich to benefit from reading good books and continuing your education. Reading opens all kinds of opportunities. It expands your understanding of the world. Whatever you wish to achieve in life you will get further if you read more.

Read Jim Rohn’s article here.

Learn more about Jim Rohn and his teachings on personal development and creating wealth here.

Wishing you well,

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

Reinvention by Brian Tracy

A Books2Wealth Book of the Month Review

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy (Nov 2014)

Title and Author:  Reinvention by Brian Tracy 

Synopsis of Content:

In Reinvention Tracy asks us to reevaluate ourselves, where we are and where we are going. His premise is that the world is changing rapidly and our ability to change and adapt to that changing world is key to success.

He invites us to examine who we are and what we want. He asks us to evaluate what we are worth in the marketplace. He follows this with a chapter on how to get a job which is actually a repeat of some of his previous work.

He wraps up with tips on how to get ahead, how to get the most out of yourself and some steps on how to reinvent yourself.

This book is very change-oriented. Much of what is written is covered in many of Tracy’s previous books so you will not find a lot of new material here. What makes this book different is the focus – it is focused on making changes in yourself to achieve what you want to achieve.

What I found useful about this book:

It is the future oriented and self-directed nature of the book that is most attractive and makes it motivational. If you need a kick in the pants to start making positive changes in your life and move from where you are to where you want to be this book provides some good insight and motivation.

What I did not like about this book:

I wish there was more new material in the book. Most of its content is repeated from past books by Tracy. There is nothing fundamentally new here and if you have read most of his other books you will find that disappointing. If you have not read his past work it will be fresh and inspiring.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

As with all his books Tracy writes well here. It is clear and well organized though the chapter on getting a job seems out of place.

Notes on Author:

Brian Tracy is a renowned personal improvement author and trainer. He is prolific having authored dozens of books and many audio and video programs.

Related Website:

http://www.briantracy.com

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. To reinvent yourself you must take a careful inventory of your strengths and weaknesses, determine where you want to go and what you want to achieve, and then take action to achieve it.
  1. A major characteristic of successful people is that they are very future oriented. They spend a lot more time thinking about the future than the past.
  1. How successful you are is determined mostly by how you think. Thinking positively and in a future oriented manner leads to greater success.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Reinvention by Brian Tracy

Copyright holder: 2009 Brian Tracy

Publisher: American Management Association

Wishing you well,

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

Top Performance by Zig Ziglar

A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Top Performance by Zig Ziglar

Zig Ziglar was the bestselling author of a number of great books on success and sales. He has been featured on numerous TV shows and was a gifted public speaker. He was both informative and inspirational.

In Top Performance, published in1986, Ziglar combines the things he had learned in decades of work in the business world to provide a blueprint for just what the title suggests – top performance. It is about getting the most out of yourself and others in your organization. It is about optimum performance.

The book is divided into three parts: The Art of Top Performance, The Science of Top Performance and Motivating Top Performance.

The entire book is largely based on Ziglar’s key axiom, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”. This approach began as his sales theory. Selling things to people is difficult at best. But helping people is much easier and they are much more receptive to being helped. In fact they will more often willingly pay for being helped.

The first part of the book concentrates on the focus of emotional thoughts to enable one to perform at one’s best. It is about your personal choice to be a top performer, causing others to want your leadership, expecting the best and thereby inspiring the best, looking for the good and finding it, etc.

The second part is about the importance of effective communications, how to build genuine morale and positive contributions, rewarding and motivating others, and other management gems.

The third section concentrates on Ziglar’s unique approach to motivating people through education and the key to action as the source of performance measurement.

For each section he develops a simple formula that is easy to remember and keys one in to the more detailed information set out in each chapter. At the end of the chapters he wraps up with a list of key principles which summarize what you should learn from the chapter.

This approach is easy to read, easy to understand and remember. It is a great study aid. For those of you who are wise enough to return to good books and study them further than the first read, this books I organized in a way that promotes that kind of study.

Top Performance is full of anecdotal examples to illustrate the basic principles he introduces you to. It is full of great quotes from many famous and not so famous sources. It is full of tools, like the Seven Step Goal Setting Formula on page 154. It is full of these gems that warrant a second and third review.

Anyone serious about building a library of truly good classic books on success and personal development should have a copy of Top Performance on their shelf. You can get them in paperback and used for a very modest price.

About the Author:

Zig Ziglar, 1926-2012, was an accomplished salesman, businessman, trainer, writer and public speaker.

Rating:

Over all this is a very good book and very useful. I recommend it.

©1986 by Zig Ziglar

Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin)

This review originally published in October 2014.

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

Rewire: Change Your Brain by Richard O’Connor, PhD

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author: Rewire: Change Your Brain by Richard O’Connor, PhD

Originally published: September 2014.

Synopsis of Content:

This book is an exploration of self-defeating behaviors and how to overcome them. These behaviors include procrastination, overeating, chronic disorganization, staying in bad situations, excessive worrying, risk taking, passive aggression and self-medication and many more.

The author draws on psychology and brain science to understand why we engage in self-defeating behaviors and how to overcome them through a better understanding of how our brains are “wired” and how we can “re-wire” them.  He calls our propensities to engage in these behaviors our “undertow”.

The author, a psychotherapist, describes the mind as divided between a conscious self and an automatic self. Many of our self-defeating behaviors are rooted deeply in the automatic self (subconscious). Habits are formed largely in this automatic self. Bad habits are in fact “wired” into your brain and this makes them difficult to overcome. To overcome bad habits we must learn to re-wire our brain.

Habit is reinforced by repeatedly doing them and in some instances by the pleasure principle – because some habits bring us pleasure. The brain actually rewires itself when we learn something new. “Neurons that fire together wire together” he says.

It is possible to rewire the brain by being aware of how it works and by forcing ourselves to behave differently and consistently for at least three months. In fact the re-wiring process begins immediately, as soon as we change behavior. But to attain a sufficient degree of re-wiring to truly change a habit seems to require at least three months of consistent behavior. Even then if the behavior is not continued the re-wiring can be lost.

Habits are therefore self-reinforcing. Each time we engage in a habit (good ones or bad ones) the more likely that habit will persist.

O’Connor offers hope for those who want to overcome deeply seated and long lasting bad habits. He provides exercises to help re-wire the brain.

What I found useful about this book:

This book provides an understanding on both a psychological level and a physiological level of how the brain works, how habits are formed, how they are reinforced and how they may be changed.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written a reasonably well organized. It is a bit dense as one might expect from the writing of an expert but the ordinary reader should not have difficulty with it.

Notes on Author:

Richard O’Connor, MSW, PhD is an author of four books and is executive director of the Northwest Center for Family Science and Mental Health in Litchfield County, Connecticut. He supervises the work of 20 mental health specialists. He is a practicing psychotherapist in Connecticut and New York.

Other Books by This Author:

Undoing Depression

Undoing Perpetual Stress

Happy at Last

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Understand that habits, both good and bad, are hardwired in our brains. The more we do them the more these physical connections are reinforced.
  1. It is possible to change this hard wiring – to rewire the brain through persistent conduct.
  1. Our beliefs and assumptions can heavily influence out thinking. It is wise to re-examine our beliefs and assumptions regularly to make sure they are not supporting bad habits.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Rewire: Change Your Brain by Richard O’Connor, PhD

Copyright holder: 2014 Richard O’Connor, PhD

Publisher: Hudson Street Press – Penguin Group

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