This page is an ongoing collection of my most influential books, docs, movies, and so forth. I thought it deserved more permanence than a blog post, and I expect it to snowball over time and probably require further organization. For now, you get the laundry basket format. Nothing is in order, but everything is gold to me. I hope the material below contains as many “holy shit!” moments for you as it held for me.
Jordan Peterson Will Offend You
Jordan Peterson stirred up profound controversy when he refused to use invented gender pronouns. Here are the words that must be used by Canadian law:
The University of Toronto nearly fired him over this. But it put him in the spotlight, and now he’s basically too popular to fire without U of T taking some serious heat for suppression of free speech.
He has a lot to say about everything. All of it profound, most of it abrasive.
His book, 12 Rules For Life, An Antidote To Chaos is essentially a modern replacement for the bible.
Zero fucking around. 100% business. This is how it’s done.
Success is Easy, So is Failure
It took me a few tries to get into Jim’s literature, and this is by far the best compilation I’ve come across. Yes, the material is old, but it’s god damn epic. If you want to take on bigger goals, this is a good place to start.
Teaching Your Kid To Be Financially Independent
I’m forever desperate for solid financial advice, especially when it’s simple and profound. Jim provides advice on what to teach your child about spending their first dollar, involving a drive through the ghetto, and it’s awesome.
Motivation is Unreliable, So You Better Form Strong Habits
This book will make you puke in your mouth, but so will lots of things that are really good for you. On the topic of “success” – I don’t think I’ve ever listened to anything as both painful to hear and important to hear as this audiobook. It’s the god damn vegetables of my library. The principles outlined in this book are soul-crushingly mundane. But they work.
I’ve never had much respect for “life coaches” but fuck – Brendon Burchard does deliver on his claim that this book will tell you what it takes to be successful. It might be a bit overloaded with tactics for achieving your top goals, and the exercises might get your eyes rolling clear out of your skull, but the uncomfortable truth that:
- Yes, I do need to clearly define my goals and
YES, I do need to actually track the degree to which I adhere to the carefully planned steps in achieving said goals
Is the surest path to actually doing the really hard shit one sets out to do.
Motivation only gets you started. Strong habits carry you forward when motivation is nowhere to be found.
How To Cope With General Bullshit
Sometimes you just don’t have much choice in the way things are playing out, or so you think. Fuck Feelings gives some pretty straight up advice on how to deal with the assholes in your world (or in dealing with your own asshole behaviour), co-written by a Harvard-educated father and his comedian daughter. They don’t pull any punches, and I like that.
Eating Chicken Wings Like An Immigrant
The above title applies broadly to a collection of very clever and frugal techniques first brought to my attention by Ramit Sethi in I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Ramit’s writing style is punchy and offensive, and combined with some truly potent financial advice (on how to buy a car like an Indian, using the client retention department to lower your bills, maximize your borrowing power + more) this is one of my absolute favourites of all time.
How to Create My Future
Debbie Millman’s episode on the Tim Ferriss podcast explores a writing technique where you just write about a day in the future (10 years out) presuming you’ve already done everything you need to do to realize your dreams to that point. I’ve inadvertently already had success doing this, so I’m still doing it.
The best chefs on the planet are also some of the most driven, passionate, adventurous people around. I can’t watch an episode of Chef’s Table without getting inspired, not only about food but about how to live.
The Millionaire Mind and The Millionaire Next Door
The Millionaire Mind and The Millionaire Next Door reveal the major differences in earning, spending, saving, and overall mindsets of self-made millionaires and average people, without any of the selfish elitist cuntiness of Rich Dad Poor Dad (which is also an invaluable read unto itself). The Millionaire books take the scientific, statistical approach to teaching some of the most powerful money lessons I’ve ever been exposed to. Both books are packed with “holy fuck” mind blows that took me totally by surprise, and to this day stand as two of the most mentally transformative books I’ve ever read.
More inspiration to be adventurous, this time care of the youngest girl to circumnavigate the earth, solo, in a sailboat. Laura Dekker disarms that shitty voice inside that talks me out of adventuring. She helps me think of my dreams less as dreams and more as maps.
Grit and Relentless
Grit is a study of gritty people, and reveals the true nature of grit and how to cultivate it. It documents how grit trumps talent every time. The studies and examples in Grit demolish the “I’m not naturally good at…” excuse, leaving no reason for not doing the really important things you want to be doing, deep down. If you’ve ever thought or said, “I really wish I’d learned how to ______ when I was younger” this book will make you realize that you should probably shut up and start learning.
Relentless takes us inside the minds of the top performers in the world (specifically basketball legends). This book showed me that there is a simple but extremely difficult to execute formula for world-class mastery and greatness: work way harder than everyone else for way longer than everyone else. Then work some more.
Naval Ravikant’s Talk on The Tim Ferriss Show
Steve Jobs vs. Just Do Your Job
I’m amending this post because I just recently finished So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love and it dramatically shifted how I think about how work mixes with passion.
The Steve Jobs video below is beautiful. It’s inspiring, but maybe it’s not very helpful beyond inducing a fleeting sense of inspiration. The problem, is inspiration fizzles out, and you’re back where you started. This book, on the other hand, takes an economical look at how to develop “career capital” by putting in the hours to develop rare and valuable skills, and then by investing that “career capital” in bids for more control over your career. Once that control is yours, and you’ve piled up enough deliberate practice to forge your way to the forefront of what’s even possible in your industry, a mission will become visible. It is then essential to place numerous “small bets” to test out ideas/ventures/businesses/products without committing too heavily. Immediate feedback on your “small bets” will generate the information necessary to make the next bet. Through this methodical approach, a clear, compelling, and deeply rewarding (both intrinsically and financially) career/life mission will emerge.
I’m still going to keep the Steve Jobs video on here, because I still love it. I just wouldn’t rely on it as a compass for how to find work you love.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.
We want so badly to have a clear sequence of dots to follow. We want to see our destination because it makes us feel in control, and safe. An approach to being the truest versions of ourselves, the people we dream of being, is to simply allow ourselves to do the things we’re drawn to. No map, just an internal compass.
Lia and I watched this twice, back to back. Tactics for unburdening parents and allowing our children to take on more responsibility sooner – which apparently they thrive on.
Emphasis on creating a safe space for imperfection in the household. This builds stronger, more resilient, more secure kids than a household which hides its problems from the kids.
For our kids to feel safe exposing themselves to us emotionally, they need to see us exposing our own emotions and being vulnerable. If we have social or personal or psychological challenges in our lives, our kids are going to inherit those same challenges if we don’t address them first in ourselves. If we model negative self-talk, our kids will do the same thing and it will crush their self-esteems and senses of self worth.