Book Review: Teach To Work

You might not be drawn to Teach To Work unless you are in the teaching or mentoring arena. If that’s not you, stay with me anyway. This book has good things to say about how we train and teach the next generation. This will be important for us as business people and families. Written by Patty Alper in 2017, Teach To Work outlines what she has learned and how to be successful in guiding younger generations to be successful in the world.

Alper hits the ground running in the introduction and first chapter by outlining why mentorship is so important and how it benefits students, mentors, and the companies that sponsor mentors. Her insights aren’t just her own subjective results. She cites research and publications like the Harvard Business Review. She also includes company testimonials from the likes of Starbucks, Pfizer, Ernst & Young, 3M, and more. Chances are that if these folks are seeing benefits then it is probably good for your business as well.

The book goes beyond advocating for mentorship. Teach To Work is about project-based mentorship that provides students with the skills, social interaction, and emotional support to do big things and prepare for the working world after school. Alper goes into the how-to after outlining why mentorship is important.  Part Two of the book is chalk full of tips, examples, and knowledge to get you started or help you become better at mentoring students in a project-based environment.

Improving my project-based mentorship is exactly why I picked up this book. About a year ago, I had the privilege to help Oklahoma Christian Academy start a project-based class to help students contribute to the world around them. Students brought ideas to the class for business, non-profit ventures, and social endeavors. I was pleased and honored to help the teacher and the administration develop this course and mentor the students.  Teach To Work will help us propel this concept into new depths and greater contribution in the years ahead.

You may not be as involved in mentoring students, but this book is still a great bank of knowledge. If you are in business or have children then I recommend picking up a copy or at least exploring the ideas and resources available. Closing the skills gap helps us all ensure the future will be bright!

I’d love to discuss this topic more if you are interested. You can reach me at phil@philklutts.com or on LinkedIn. Find more from Patty at http://teachtowork.com/.

Here are just a few of my takeaways from the book:

“College graduates who had mentors encouraging their goals and dreams, internships, or long-term projects where they applied what they are learning, double their odds of achieving a great job and a great life compared with their peers who did not.” – Page xv, forward by Brandon H. Busteed of Gallup, Inc.

“Students tell us, repeatedly and in a variety of ways, that we are bringing something to them that they are not getting anywhere else.” -page 23

“Most importantly, it focuses on students cultivating a real-world experience with guidance from you as the mentor.” – page 70

“Youth are geniuses at improvisation and imagining what isn’t obvious. Their powers of reinvention often far surpass even their own expectations, if they are given an invitations to succeed and the support and guidance of an interested adult.” – page 206

Book Review: Capital Gaines

I was a little nervous when my wife said she got me something to do while she was gone. Projects at our house can be all over the board including remodeling down to the studs (of homes and campers!), building chicken coups, and writing projects for HS classes. The variety always keeps us doing new things and learning new skills. There was no need to be nervous this time though. She brought home a book for me to read while she took the boys on Spring Break.

Capital Gaines is the personal memoir of Chip Gaines of Magnolia and Fixer-Upper fame. Chip has a lot of fun stories and it is impossible not to realize he is an engaging personality that loves life to the fullest. The book chronicles his business and family life including struggling in school, leaving everything for a trip to Mexico (that didn’t work out well), growing their family, and managing to the empire they run today.

The book is a fun and easy read. At just 169 pages, it is fun and engaging. Chip shares his lessons learned and exciting stories using his fun and playful tone. Things like the stick figure diagrams of him riding a 4-wheeler off a cliff help the book stay light-hearted.

In the end, I feel like I have a few things in common with Mr. Gains. I’m sure if you read the book you will find something he does or believes to fit in line with your life. He does a great job of connecting with his readers.

Quotables:

“Your purpose is just like mine, it’s big, and it’s important, and there’s no one else anywhere on the planet who can fulfill it. So quit messing around – and go get ‘em.”

“Vocation is a powerful thing. Don’t let it just happen to you. Chase after it…”

“Complacency is the enemy, and getting started is as triumphant as crossing the finish line.”

“There’s no cap to the amount of time or resources I would give to my kids if I knew it could help them fulfill their destiny. I want to instill in them that they are competent to go do anything in the whole wide world if they are willing to do the work and set their minds to it… As parents, we have the unique opportunity to champion our children’s dreams in a way that no one else can.”

“What’s never going to change? Our values, our priorities, our commitment to each other and our family. But I hope that literally every other part of our lives changes. I hope that every new season and situation of life changes me.”

unsplash-logoMilivoj Kuhar

Book Review: The Power of Moments

Chip and Dan Heath knock it out of the park again with this one.

Do you wonder why you have so many fond memories and glimpses of great times with friends and family? Or why that one restaurant will always be your favorite because of the way the wait staff treated you? The Heath brothers set out to figure out “Why certain experiences have extraordinary impact.”

Experiencing positive moments is not all science, but Chip and Dan researched and came up with the four dominating traits of great memories. The four elements they define in the book are elevation, insight, pride, and connection. Each element gets a full rundown with stories, research, examples, and activities. Examples come from business, family, sports, education, and more.

The book’s category is listed as Business and Economics. Although you could apply the lessons to these areas, it really is not a personal development, business, education, or leadership book. Moments can be defined and powerful for all areas of your life. I’ve thought of ways to apply the book as a husband, father, manager, teacher, friend, and neighbor. This book is perfect if you want people to remember an experience.

Quotes:

“Familiarity and memorability are often at odds.”

“If we want more moments of connection, we need to be more responsive to others.”

“If risks always paid off, they wouldn’t be risks.”

Mentoring: “(High standards + assurance) + (direction + support) = Enhanced self-insight”

“You can’t appreciate the solution until you appreciate the problem.”

Bottom Line: A good book for any industry or personal endeavor.

Book Review: The ONE Thing

Title - Photo by JOHN TOWNER on UnsplashGary Keller and Jay Papazon team up again to write a mainstream business productivity book. It has practical advice that they used directly in their business. The main point of the book is that a narrow focus gets more results. It is basically a more direct Pareto Principle (remember the 80/20 rule), just narrowed down to one thing! Their hook line for the book is this:

“What is the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

The book contains proven tactics that you have probably heard before. I’ve read many other books to hear the concepts written by Gary and Jay in this one. They, of course, put their spin on them and relate them to their personal experiences. It does balance story and research well and thus was enjoyable to listen to. I listened to this one on Audible. It’s worth the monthly Audible credit, but I don’t think I’ll buy a paper copy.

The Domino Effect is one of the best parts that stuck out to me in this book. A domino is small, but it can knock down another domino that is 1.5 times its size. If you play it out, starting with a 2” domino and the next is 1.5 times its size, then the 25th domino would be as tall as the Eiffel tower! Gary and Jay prove the point:

“No matter how small the first step is, the power generated from that first activity compounds into something much greater.” -The ONE Thing

Bottom Line: Pick this one up if you need some quick and easy productivity advice.

Book Review: The Traveler’s Gift

Traveler's Gift Book

Andy Andrews’ The Traveler’s Gift is one of the most engaging and enjoyable books I have read. So much so that I’ve read it 3 times in 2 years. It is a fairly short read, so don’t be impressed with my quick turn-around on it!

“Seven decisions that determine personal success” is the subtitle of the book and doesn’t stretch the truth. I have gained personal satisfaction and success as I’ve incorporated these decisions into my life. Andrews is a great author and storyteller. He successfully puts his talents to work here to combine self-help, history, and fiction into a single book.

Andrews writes the powerful story of David Ponder. He is on the brink of giving up his life after devastating circumstances crumble his success to nothing. He is thrown into a quest to receive 7 decisions from historical figures. These decisions show him the path to personal success.

The decisions are written such that you can read each one independently of the story and get the benefit. But don’t short yourself by doing that. The context and story of David Ponder make the decisions even more powerful. In addition to the book, Andrews has many guides and extras available at  www.andyandrews.com. Check those out too before or after you pick up the book.

Quotables:

“The buck stops here. I control my thoughts. I control my emotions.”

“Success requires the emotional balance of a committed heart”

“Poor is the man whose future depends on the opinions and permissions of others.”

“I will choose to associate with people whose lives and lifestyles I admire.”

– Andy Andrews

Bottom Line: This one is a must-read

Risky Chicken

Many people are aware of the inverse relationship between risk and reward. Financial investments are referenced most often when talking about risk and reward. Low risk = low return. Many of our activities and decisions today are based on the concept of minimizing risk. Risk Management has become a huge business and we are always hoping to have certain outcomes we can control.

Of course, this isn’t a phenomenon just limited to our modern day.  Even back in the Bible times, people wanted to keep what they knew instead of risk a huge reward. In Exodus 16 the Israelites grumbled and complained because the risk was too great. They wanted to return to the predictable life of slavery because they were hungry. The reward of freedom and following God was not big enough for them to want to risk the discomfort involved.

I often find myself shying away from rewarding activities due to the risk involved. Taking a stand, investing money, proposing a solution at work, and asking hard questions at home are all risky behaviors that I have avoided instead of accepting the risk and seeking greater rewards. My natural tendency is to be comfortable and not risky. I have had to learn how to foresee risk, plan for it, and work to mitigate it when I can. Planning and mitigating cannot manage away all of my risks but it does help!

All of these things came to mind as I worked to spread a pile of mulch in our backyard. I almost injured one of our chickens several times as I swung my shovel back to the pile for another load. Clark (named for her explorer-like adventures) was the only chicken willing to be up close and personal with the business end of my shovel. She probably didn’t understand this topic of risk vs. reward, at least intellectually, but was willing to risk the shovel for the reward. What’s the reward you ask? Big, juicy earthworms! I would uncover big worms in the pile as I dug deeper into the pile of mulch. My shovel would get much deeper than the chickens could scratch and thus reveal the big worms before they could get away.

Clark the risky chicken

Clark continues to roam the backyard uninjured. I continue to think about what I need to do accept more risk in search or reward. My thoughts are not limited to finances or business. I think about how I am seeking reward with my spiritual life. Matthew records Jesus telling us about this risk vs. reward in his gospel record. Jesus tells the parable of a man who entrusts bags of gold with his servants before he leaves on a journey. The servants who risk the money with investments gain a reward while the servant who hides his gold and earns no extra money is thrown out into the darkness.

I don’t want to be thrown out into darkness. I also want to seek higher rewards in life and business. Learning to deal with risk is how to achieve these greater rewards. Learning to deal with risk means accepting small risks and losing occasionally. There is no single best answer to how much risk is the right amount for you. I know I am looking for ways to increase my risk tolerance so that I can enjoy greater benefits, even if that means losing sometimes.

How much risk are you willing to take?

 

Book Review: Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy

There is a big reason not to read this book: I’m not in advertising.

But as a business professional, there are even more reasons to read this book. This book is a great read if you sell anything, which you do. Even in a corporate job, you sell ideas, projects, services, etc. to your “customers.” Using words and design to motivate others to action is the basis of advertising and Ogilvy was among the best at it. Ogilvy also gives his tips on management, communication, sales, client relationships, and other areas.

Ogilvy’s emphasis on hard work and data-driven decisions is a clear foundation for his success. Data overall has become a buzz word and concept recently but only because of technological advances in the collection and access we have to it. Ogilvy knew the power of data and used it to create success, it just took a lot more work when he started than it does today. Respecting others (both inside your organization, clients, and consumers) is also a strong theme throughout the book. Understanding who your audience is and giving them respect and honesty will go a long way in any business!

Ogilvy demands well thought-out and refined communication. Ogilvy says that “the more informative your advertising, the more persuasive it will be.” But he also advises to keep your inter-office memos short and to the point. As a professional, take communication seriously. Write what is needed, but no more.

There are some outdated references and data in the book. TV ads were new when he wrote the book, so it is short on advice there. Sears, Roebuck is praised for advertising, as they should have been in the 1960s. Sears is definitely not a powerhouse anymore but very relevant at the time! If you can look past these few outdated references then you will enjoy the advice in this book.

I highly recommend reading Confessions of an Advertising Man if you are in any business. There are a lot of great quotable passages in the book, coined “Olgilvy-isms;” here are a few of my favorites:

“It is important to admit your mistakes and to do so before you are charged with them.”

“Tell the truth, but make the truth fascinating.”

“No manufacturer ever complained that his advertising was selling too much.”

“I admire people with gentle manners who treat other people as human beings.”
– David Ogilvy

Bottom line: I will keep this one on my shelf and read it again.