What will you read in 2018?

In 2012, a business associate proclaimed to me that, “print is dead” as she carried on in her predictions about the coming all digital age of media and advertising. Yet today there are more physical books in print than in any time in human history. Printed books have actually grown in volume since those proclamations. Jonathan Segura writes, “Despite a less-than-ideal environment—no breakout bestsellers on the adult fiction side and a lengthy, brutal election cycle that sucked nearly all of the air out of the cultural conversation—unit sales of print books were up 3.3% in 2016 over 2015. Total print unit sales hit 674 million, marking the third-straight year of growth, according to Nielsen BookScan, which tracks about 80% of print sales in the U.S.” (Segura 2017). Some estimates state that there were 2.7 Billion books printed in the US in 2016. So it seems that print is not quite dead yet.

In studying people of excellence over the last decade, one of the most recurring themes was the idea of continuous learning and in particular reading across a broad spectrum of interests. Research is showing that physical reading stimulates that brain in ways that other activities cannot and some are beginning to correlate this with reducing risk of disease later in life, such as Alzheimer’s. Consider just a few people throughout history:

  • Benjamin Franklin was said to have self-educated through reading
  • Mark Twain self-educated in public libraries, after age 11. He would go on to earn two honorary Doctorate Degrees
  • Theodore Roosevelt was said to have read a book a day
  • Bill Gates reportedly reads 50 books per year

In the “Book of Five Rings”, the legendary Samurai, Miyamoto Musashi once wrote that fundamental elements of excellence included:

“Take an interest in many arts”


“Know the ways of all professions”

It seems that one of the best ways to expand your knowledge and be exposed to new ideas is still to read across a variety of topics.

So what will you read in 2018??

Source: Bryan’s Year in Books | Goodreads


Segura, J. (2017) Publishersweekly.com Print book sales rose again in 2016



What is your IKIGAI?

According to the Wikipedia definition, “The term ikigai compounds two Japanese words: iki (wikt:生き) meaning “life; alive” and kai (甲斐) “(an) effect; (a) result; (a) fruit; (a) worth; (a) use; (a) benefit; (no, little) avail” (sequentially voicedas gai) “a reason for living [being alive]; a meaning for [to] life; what [something that] makes life worth living; a raison d’etre.”

In people who have managed to find and sustain excellence throughout their lives, this concept of Ikigai repeatedly comes up as a common denominator. For some it can be as simple as family and children while others will have a more complex definition.

Socrates, for example, famously said that “An unexamined life is not worth living”. Albert Einstein often made references to his curiosity about the universe as his biggest personal drive.

Ikigai, like excellence, can be found by anyone…So what is your IKIGAI?



Sources: Wikipedia: Ikigai (Retrieved 2017)








What is Strategy in Business?

Many have historically confused strategy with tactics or other thought processes, particularly in business. Almost three hundred years ago, legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi wrote the “Ground Book” as one of the “Book of Five Rings”. In it he implies that strategy is the, well, ground work of everything that we do. It’s the ‘road map’ we use to chart a course both personally and professionally.

In today’s rapidly changing world however, I suggest that strategy is as much about being the cartographer (the map maker) as it is about charting a course. Our world, particularly in business today, is full of uncharted territory and unforeseen changes to the topography.

Strategy is indeed about charting an accurate course from where we are today to where we want to be but the true strategist keeps an eye on the sudden changes to the map and knows when, where & how to adjust.

“Confusing purpose with strategy is bad news for your firm and your career.”

Aligning Strategy and Sales, by Frank V. Cespedes (p.56)

What will you focus on in 2017?

From Aristotle to Lao Tzu and throughout the world there are examples of what is referred to as “Wisdom Literature”. These are historical texts that offer common sense maxims and guidance for everyday life. Most of them have recurring themes that revolve around the power of focus, habit, character and the principles that govern the consequences of our actions.

So what will you focus on in 2017?


Do you hit adversity back?

For the last six years I’ve been studying, in depth, people of significant contribution throughout history. From Marcus Aurelius to Miyamoto Musashi, to Theodore Roosevelt, to Steve Jobs and there are some distinct common denominators in their character. Regardless of their time, place, circumstances, upbringing or resources they all share a set of traits and behaviors that allowed them to find and sustain excellence despite sometimes major and/or chronic obstacles.

Recently, someone brought up this quote below and it was a great reminder that one of those key common traits of sustained excellence was the ability to navigate and overcome adversity. In a challenging economic, social and political time, there is no greater skill that can be applied to every endeavor of life than the ability to navigate and overcome adversity.

“Adversity hits us all, how we hit back is what defines us.”


Below is a brief but insightful assessment tool from the Harvard Business Review Blog that you can use to get a quick snapshot on resilience. Keep in mind that it’s nothing more than a snapshot of a moment in time. Resilience is a choice that you make everyday, that you have total control over and is ultimately defined by you and not by a snapshot. Keep hitting back!!



Assessment: How Resilient Are You? – HBR.

Are you a person of Action?

Do you push yourself and your experiences outside of your comfort zone, or do you wait until dragged kicking and screaming?

Do you intentionally learn about new things you thought you would never have interest in, or do you cling to the same sports interests that you always have?

Do you read outside of your usual interests, or do you cling to the same television shows and digital media obsession? 

Do you pursue health, for the sake of energy & longevity, or do you try to diet for the sake of losing weight and getting back to the status quo?

Are you waiting for the world to return to ‘business as usual’, or are you delving into a global culture of unprecedented resources?


SALES, Up for the “dirty word” challenge?

A well-respected business mentor(who happens to be my father-in-law) has always maintained;

“Whatever the profession you happen to be in, ultimately it’s sales.”

In his latest book, “To Sell is Human, The surprising truth about moving others”Daniel Pink brings forward significant empirical evidence to support this claim and validate what many have always intuitively known about the term “sales”. The book is also  a fun and easy read, giving some historical perspective on where sales has come from in the 20th Century to specifics on where it’s headed in the next decade. Not to mention that it also serves as another great example of the ENMEI concept of “Economic Evolution”.

If you consider the term “sales” a dirty word and believe that it has nothing to do with your profession, you should read this book. If your profession falls within the category of sales, you should definitely read this book.


So now for the CHALLENGE:

Think of a profession, any profession, that you believe has nothing to do with moving others (hence sales) and post in the comments section why you believe it so. I will do my best to counter that challenge and others are encouraged to join in(just remember this is for fun, please play nice in the sand box).

Customer….XYZ. Buzzwords But Meaningful

Business philosophies can quickly evolve into offshoots that render the root philosophy almost obsolete in function. Take the philosophy known as, “Customer Service” for example…

The evolution has gone from;


They are the current buzzwords yes, but there is a real paradigm shift between the three. Do you know the difference? Do you understand the “Three P’s” that drive Customer Experience? How to create the culture that ultimately drives Customer Loyalty?

It is much more than merely the sum of the customer service parts….and in a digital age, it matters. No matter how small your business, it matters.