I love reading. A common phrase I say is, “So I’m reading this book right now…” I read a lot of books about building a business, communication, pitching, marketing, etc. Pretty much anything to help me learn something that I can apply to my own life.
I just finished two books and am working on another. I’ve gained a lot of value from these books and I want to pass them along because I believe you can get a lot of value from them too.
If I understood you, would I be making this face? My adventures in the Art and Science of relating and communicating by Alan Alda.
If you are not familiar with Alda like I wasn’t, he is an Emmy-winning actor who played Hawkeye Pierce in the classic TV series M*A*S*H and hosted the award-winning PBS series “Scientific American Frontiers” for 11 years. He’s also had many other acting accomplishments.
In his book he talks about how important it is to be able to relate and communicate, verbally and non-verbally, with anyone. He goes on to explain how he’s helped science and engineering students communicate their research and research proposals better to gain funding. He’s also worked with young, gifted musicians. And he’s helped them through doing improv.
Improv helps people notice the small verbal and non-verbal cues that people show that most of us overlook. We can decipher if someone is engaged, excited, disinterested, or annoyed by simply paying attention to them. Improv involves being so in-tune with your partner that you can sync up during mirror exercises, even when you are mirroring each other’s sentences!
This is important for entrepreneurs. It can really come in handy when you are giving a pitch to potential investors. If you don’t notice that they started pulling out their smartphones or have their head propped up on their elbow, you could continue blabbering about something that they already don’t care about. That’s a waste of their and your time. If you notice that they are disengaged, you can work to get their attention back before it’s too late.
Also see this article to read an interview Alda had with Forbes to learn more about his book.
Black Privilege: Opportunity comes to those who create it by Charlamagne Tha God.
Now if that title made you raise a quizzical eyebrow, you are not alone. I was skeptical too. We hear of white privilege (which is very real), but how can there be such a thing as black privilege? He is what Charlamagne says:
“I consider black privilege to be a spiritual force, whereas white privilege is a systemic presence. That spiritual connection comes from the access black folks seem to have to the divine, a connection that allows us to survive and thrive in this country in spite of all the obstacles we have faced. I wake up every day believing “I have the privilege of being black.” How else am I supposed to feel? And if you’re a black person reading this and feel otherwise, then in the words of Malcolm X, “Who taught you to hate yourself?””
Throughout reading this book and after, I thought about how it fit into my own context as a transgender person. Oppression is systematic and real. If you’re not a white, heterosexual, cisgender, straight male, you are already at a systematic disadvantage. But you can’t wallow in that.
I’m a very optimistic person, and agree with Charlamagne that opportunity does come to those who create it. Luck is also not a term I use to describe how I’ve gotten to where I am today. Luck isn’t some magical happenstance. It is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.
I encourage you to think about what privileges you have, even ones you might not think are privileges. For example, I consider to be privileged by being a transgender person. If I wasn’t trans, I could very well not have even considered creating a business that will help trans+ people live their best lives. I may not be as involved and dedicated to making an impact to help trans+ people. Sure, some things in life are a hell of a lot harder being a trans person, but I can’t dwell on that. Instead I push to make a change.
The Productivity Project by Chris Bailey
One of the hardest parts about working on my own business is managing my energy and attention. I get distracted by things in life that are not as meaningful to me, but yet still capture my attention. Procrastination and I know each other too well. And there is not enough time in the day it seems.
This book has helped give me some guidance in what I need to do to get where I want to go. In reality, there is enough time in the day. We just don’t often use it as we should.
Right in the beginning of the book, Baily has an exercise that asks a few questions to figure out your productivity goals, and most importantly, why you have them.
One question: “What deep-rooted values are associated with your productivity goals?”
Understanding why you want to do something will provide a lot more motivation for you to actually do it. If you are at a time in your life where you feel like you aren’t reaching your potential, I would recommend picking up a copy of this book. I believe it will help anyone who wants to make a change to be more productive.