B2W Books of the Month

Selected book reviews by Dan Murphy published in the Achieve (formerly Creating True Wealth) newsletter on the first Friday of each month. Get them sent to you free each month by signing up for the Achieve newsletter at right.


#46 December 2016 – The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

#45 November 2016 – Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg

#44 October 2016 – Drive by Daniel Pink

#43 September 2016 – Grit by Angela Duckworth

#42 August 2016 –  The Excellence Habit by Vlad Zachary

#41 July 2016 – Seven Strategies for Health and Happiness by Jim Rohn

#40 June 2016 – The Simplicity Cycle by Dan Ward

#39 May 2016 – Raising Your Line by Robert Stevenson

#38 April 2016 – Your Financial Success by Daniel R. Murphy

#37 March 2016 – Practical Steps to Financial Freedom and Independence by Usiere Uko

#36 February 2016 – Goal Power! by Daniel R. Murphy

#35 January 2016 – The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

#34 December 2015 – The 4 Disciplines of Execution by McChesney, Covey and Huling

#33  November 2015 – The Greatest Success in the World by Og Mandino

#32 October 2015 – Hidden Strengths by Thuy and Milo Sindell 

#31 September 2015 – The Leadership Handbook by John C. Maxwell

#30 August 2015 – The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

#29 July 2015 – Book Summary- Safe Money Millionaire Written by Brett Kitchen and Ethan Kap By Joe Mosed

#28 June 2015 – Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

#27 May 2015 – David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

#26 April 2015 – The Success Essentials by Daniel R. Murphy

 #25 March 2015 – I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

#24 February 2015 – The 5 Choices by Kogon, Merrill and Rinne

#23 January 2015 – Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

#22 December 2014 – 5 Essential People Skills by Carnegie Training

#21 November 2014 – Reinvention by Brian Tracy

#20 October 2014 – Top Performance by Zig Ziglar

#19 September 2014 – Rewire: Change Your Brain by Richard O’Connor, PhD

#18 August 2014 – Compelling People by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

#17 July 2014 – Getting Things Done by David Allen

#16 June 2014 – Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

#15 May 2014 – The Corporate Soul Handbook by Ron Mercer

#14 April 2014: Focus by Daniel Goleman

#13 March 2014: Achieve Anything in Just One Year by Jason Harvey

#12 February 2014: Hacking Leadership by Mike Myatt

#11 January 2014: As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

#10 December 2013: Paychecks and Playchecks by Tom Hegna

#9 November 2013: Leading at the Edge by Dennis NT Perkins

#8 October 2013: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, Jr.

#7 September 2013: Rumsfeld’s Rules by Donald Rumsfeld

#6 August 2013: Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake

#5 July 2013: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

#4 June 2013: Into the Storm by Dennis NT Perkins & Jillian Murphy

#3 May 2013: Real Influence by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

#2 April 2013: How Did That Happen by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

#1 March 2013: The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin




A book review by Daniel R. Murphy 

Title and Author:  Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Synopsis of Content:

A thorough exploration of what is currently known about how the human brain functions and how it drives human behavior. Based on many years of research our thinking abilities are divided into two modes: Fast and Slow, or System 1 and System 2.

System 1 operates quickly. It is also automatic, it does not require or permit reflection and protracted thought process. It functions without our even being aware of it, for the most part. System 1 is a pattern recognizer. It quickly recognizes a known pattern. For example, if I say “red, white and…” your System 1 function will instantly think “blue” as the next word, at least it will if you are American.

System 2 operates more slowly. It allocates attention to effortful mental activity, including complex calculations. If I ask you to multiply 3658 x 5.369 you will use System 2. If I ask you to create a business plan you will use System 2.

There are mental functions that System 1 does very well and some it does very poorly and some it does not do at all and the same can be said for System 2.

Because these two systems operate so differently they can have both positive and negative consequences. If you are confronted by a threat you can react quickly to defend yourself or seek safety. You need not use System 2 and contemplate all the possible options available to you – you can act swiftly. When we lived primarily in nature hunting and surviving predators this system was essential but even today it serves us well.

Consider how you drive a car. How often have you driven some distance, lost in thought about something, and not even being aware of all the actions you are taking to properly drive the car? System 1 drives the car while System 2 engages in reflective thought.

As good as System 1 is at driving and escaping saber tooth tigers it does not do so well in evaluating new and complex problems. It leads us to make assumptions (some valid and some very mistaken) and to make decisions based on those often invalid assumptions. System 1 limits our tendency to consider new ideas and question old ones.

Once we understand how the two systems work we can intentionally invoke System 2 where we need it.

What I found useful about this book:

Life is full of decision making. This book helps us understand how we make decisions and how to make them more accurately and effectively. We can understand how we make invalid assumptions and decisions. We can learn to be more accurate in our thinking when we are aware of how these two systems work.

Readability/Writing Quality:

This book is written by a scientist. Though it is aimed at a general audience it is rather dense. It requires some intense mental effort to understand, or as the author would say, it requires System 2 thinking. While it can be a bit challenging to get through the book it also conveys a great deal of information and the journey is worth the effort.

Notes on Author:

Daniel Kahneman is a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002. He is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Princeton University.

Other Books by the Author:

International Differences in Well-Being
Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgment
Choices, Values and Frames
Well-Being: The Foundations of Hedonic Psychology
Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases
Attention and Effort

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. It is important to understand and recognize that we think in more than one way and that on a very basic level that thinking can be divided between a fast and slow mode. Fast thinking allows us to survive and to learn skills and practice them without undue thought. Slow thinking allows to create, invent, understand and calculate.
  2. Intuition, which can serve us well in many ways, also serves us poorly in many others and should be looked upon with skepticism. It is a product of our fast thinking system which largely functions without verification and accuracy.
  3. To obtain the most from our slow thinking capacity we must put forth significant effort. We must question all assumptions and resist the easy and often erroneous conclusions that the fast thinking mind jumps to. Bearing this in mind can make us more accurate and successful in our thinking.

Publication Information:
Title and Author: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Copyright holder: © 2011 by Daniel Kahneman
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux


A book review by Daniel R. Murphy 

Title and Author:  David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Synopsis of Content:

The sub-title to this book describes its contents in one sense, “Underdogs, misfits, and the art of battling giants”. It may also have been called, “the limited power of the powerful”.

Despite myths like David and Goliath we most often assume that those in power and those with power will prevail over the weaker side in any contest. Gladwell tells us a number of true stories, beginning with David and Goliath that show how and why the more powerful side in a dispute or battle may often not win. He illustrates how the “weaker” party can use their perceived weakness as a strength and prevail. He shows how the abuse of power can be self-defeating.

He shows how a novice coach who knew nothing about basketball led his team to victory over better trained teams. He demonstrates how smaller class sizes in schools do not always provide better education. The theme continues with how attending the most prestigious universities may not be the best choice for students; the power, for some, of disabilities such as dyslexia; and struggles by those in the civil rights movement and during war that defeated a more powerful foe.

From these stories he argues certain principles: that there are disadvantages to advantage; and advantages to disadvantage; that challenge and difficulty can produce strength; that there are inherent limits to power; and that power itself, used in smaller doses can be more effective, but used in larger doses can backfire.

Gladwell also admits there are limits to these theories. At times the more powerful do win, perhaps in the majority of situations. But if the underdog is cunning enough and brave enough and perhaps most importantly persistent enough the underdog can often win over the more powerful foe.

The lessons offered by this book have many applications. For the parent who wants to be effective guiding children, the supervisor or manager who wants to use his authority wisely to direct employees, the government leader who wishes to mobilize support for a proposal or the person fighting the uphill battle against those with greater perceived power there are valuable lessons in this book.

The lessons here are not that the weak always prevail against the strong. In fact the author acknowledges that more often the strong prevail against the weak. His challenge to us is to redefine strong and weak. His point is that though not always, very often what we perceive as weakness can possess strength and what we perceive as strength can be weak and in those situations the weak will prevail over the strong.

What I found useful about this book:
The stories Gladwell tells us provide an engaging read that gives dimension and power to the principles he is conveying. This is not a dry book about politics or power, this is an engaging book about people and how they use, misuse and lose power over others.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written as with all of Gladwell’s work. The story telling makes it read much like a light novel. It is difficult to put down. He does a masterful job of linking one concept and example with another.

Notes on Author:
Malcolm Gladwell is a journalist and author. He has been a staff writer for the New Yorker since 1996.

Other Books by This Author:
What the Dog Saw
The Tipping Point

Related Website:

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Our perception of power and weakness can be deceiving. Human interaction is complex and a “weaker” person with sufficient persistence and intelligence can often overcome or outwit a more powerful opponent.
  1. Those in power should never assume they are guaranteed to prevail because of their power. The abuse of power can delegitimize one such that one loses influence – one’s power becomes less effective.
  1. Those fighting abusive power must remember that if the persist and if they exercise flexibility and adaptability against more powerful but usually less flexible opponents they have a significant chance of attaining what they want.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Copyright holder: 2013 by Malcolm Gladwell

Publisher: Back Bay Books / Little, Brown and Company



I Will Teach You To Be Rich – Book Review

By Dr Carmen Lynne

By: Ramit Sethi (2010); ISBN 978-0-7611-4748-0; Book Price: $15.95

In this book, you can find out how to start with any amount of money and become wealthy.

Be Rich

Ramit Sethi is the founder and writer of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, which hosts over 250,000 readers every month. He is a recent graduate of Stanford University and a co-founder of PBwiki, an online collaboration company. He is a New York Times Bestselling author featured on ABC News, CNN, and Wall Street Journal, etc.

Learning to be rich

Ramit Sethi presents 9 chapters to help readers to learn to be rich. He shares on optimizing credit cards (Ch. 1), beating the banks (Ch. 2), investing (Ch. 3), conscious spending (Ch. 4), saving while you sleep (Ch. 5), the myth of financial expertise (Ch. 6), picking a portfolio that will make you rich (Ch. 7), optimizing finances (Ch. 8), and more.

Enjoy learning how money works

Ramit Sethi has a fresh style aimed at resourcing readers to enjoy the process of becoming rich. He says, “Spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t. This book isn’t about telling you to stop buying lattes. Instead, it’s about being able to actually spend more on the things you love… ”

Ramit employs points to deliver concise keys. Discussing credit cards and winning over debt, he shares, “The Six Commandments of Credit Cards… 1. Pay off your credit card regularly… 2. Get all fees waived on your card… 3. Negotiate a lower APR (annual percentage rate)… 4. Keep your cards for a long time and keep them active… ”

The teaching that Ramit presents is punctuated with helpful hints as, “Online savings accounts let you earn dramatically more interest with lower hassle.” These hints add value to readers and keep interest high!

Potent headings as, “Investing is the single most effective way to get rich” will inspire interest and engage readers.

Sethi works hard to correct false concepts, as in frugal V’s cheap. He suggests, “… we confused frugality with cheapness… Frugality isn’t about cutting your spending on everything… It’s about making your own decisions…”

The attraction of Ramit Sethi’s teaching is his intermittent focus on benefits. He relays, “Unlike other people, who worry about money (because they never learned how it works), you get to focus on the things you love.”

Get rich results

Ramit Sethi skillfully instructs readers to get rich results while maintaining an engaging presentation of ideas. For quick wealth building ideas:

Success Step: Describe a simple map for becoming rich (e.g. work, innovate, save, invest… ); Follow your map!

Article Source: I Will Teach You To Be Rich – Book Review



   A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

A Books2Wealth Book of the Month: February 2015 

Title and Author:  The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne – Subtitle: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity

Synopsis of Content:

In 1989 Stephen R. Covey published his now famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In 2015 three influential executives at Franklin Covey, published this book, The 5 Choices, to take up where Covey left off over 25 years ago.

The 5 Choices focuses on the management of Decision Making, Attention Management and Energy Management on a personal level. Just as Covey sought to provide solutions for business people who were becoming overwhelmed with the demands of work and other life obligations these authors have sought to bring those ideas into the 21st Century. They begin with the assumption that today’s world is more complex, busier, more demanding and more distracting than the world of the 1980s. Among the causes of this greater complexity and distraction are all the digital intrusions and tools that exist today. This book seeks to help us manage those digital intrusions and tools so we can achieve more and be less harried and chaotic in the process.

The book is divided into four main sections: Decision Management, Attention Management, Energy Management and finally Being a Q2 Leader. Each of the three first sections contains subsections which constitute the 5 Choices as follows:

Decision Management:

  1. Act on the Important; Don’t React to the Urgent
  2. Go for Extraordinary, Don’t Settle for Ordinary

Attention Management:

  1. Schedule the Big Rocks, Don’t Schedule the Gravel
  2. Rule Technology, Don’t Let it Rule You

Energy Management:

  1. Fuel Your Fire, Don’t Burn Out

Choices 1, 3 and 5 are straight out of Covey’s play book. However they are not simply a repeat of the 1989 book. They develop the concepts to a higher level than Covey’s book did and they have updated them to be more relevant to the current world and especially to today’s technology. Choices 2 and 4 are completely new ideas though they too have their roots in Covey’s work. It includes useful ideas on how to manage social media and email and how to avoid those technologies from burying us.

The entire book is built around the Time Matrix that Covey taught about. This concept was not actually invented by Covey, it was invented by Dwight D. Eisenhower and before Covey’s book was called the Eisenhower Box.

The Time Matrix is a tool used to divide all our tasks and activities into four quadrants: Q1 – Urgent and Important; Q2 – Not Urgent and Important; Q3 – Urgent and Not Important; and Q4 – Neither Urgent or Important. The goal is to focus as much time and energy on Q2 activities so as to minimize Q1 and Q3 activities and to get rid of Q4 activity altogether.

What I found useful about this book:

This book takes a fresh look at much of what Covey wrote about and makes it more relevant to the 21st century. The ideas surrounding Q2 activity especially are more helpful and more well developed than anything I’ve seen in this area since 1989.

Equally useful and insightful are the parts that address how to manage technology and make it serve us rather than allow us to serve it. I highly recommend this book.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

The book is very well written and well organized. It is easy to read. The authors build upon more basic concepts and develop them more intensely.

Notes on Author:

Kory Kogon is an executive at Franklin Covey with a lot of experience in management, productivity, and communications.

Adam Merrill is vice president for Innovations at Franklin Covey and has worked in the time management and productivity fields for 25 years.

Leena Rinne is a senior consultant with Franklin Covey with 15 years’ experience in international business. She specializes in client relationship management.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Time and Energy devoted to Q2 activities makes us more productive, focused and capable. It allows us to direct our lives and prevents external forces from controlling us.
  1. The more we can avoid the urgency addiction and focus on what is important the less harried we will be and the more effective we can be.
  1. It is essential to get control over technology and limit its tendency to dominate our time and attention while using its tools to make us more effective. This requires an on-going effort and focus but pays off greatly and gives us more time for important work.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill and Leena Rinne

Copyright holder: 2015 by FranklinCovey Co.

Publisher: Simon & Schuster


Buy the Book here:


A book review by Daniel R. Murphy 

Title and Author:  Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

Subtitle: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time

Synopsis of Content:

Eat That Frog is a book about time management, personal development and project management all in one. It includes many of the familiar teachings of Brian Tracy but with a focus on getting the important things done.  The Frog one must eat is the major task or project one must do to achieve one’s goal. It may be difficult or unpleasant at times, thus the analogy to eating the frog, but Tracy tells us why it is so critical to do it and get it down before we make excuses not to.

Find out what other successful people do the same things until you achieve success.

Develop the habit of focus. Concentrate on your most important task, do it well and finish it. Your frog is your most important task to be completed.

The book is full of tips and advice of great value. It is difficult to summarize it all. Here are some of the best lessons in the book:

  • Take action immediately.
  • Plan every day in advance. Create your To-Do List for each day.
  • Apply the Pareto Principle or the 80/20 rule to all you do.
  • Consider the consequences of what you want and what you have to do.
  • Think about the long term.
  • Use the ABCDE system to prioritize continually.
  • Focus on key result activities.
  • Prepare thoroughly before you begin.
  • Upgrade your skills.
  • Motivate yourself into action.
  • Slice and dice the big tasks.

Tracy also teaches his basic formula to achieve success:

  • Find out exactly what you want to achieve and pursue it.
  • Write it down.
  • Set a deadline to achieve your goal and write it down.
  • Make a list of everything you can think of that you need to do to achieve your goal.
  • Organize that list into a plan.
  • Take action on that plan immediately.
  • Resolve to do something every single day to achieve your goal.

What I found useful about this book:

As with all of Tracy’s work this book is chock full of tips and ideas that will help make you more effective in your use of time and accomplishment of work. The list above, though not exhaustive of what the book provides, are all excellent ways to improve how you get things done.

The action steps at the end of each chapter are excellent as well.

What I did not like about this book:

Tracy has published many books and I’ve found them to all repeat a great deal of material. The author does not assume you have read his other books and includes in each of them some of the same basic information. This is only a problem if you have read a lot of his books.

Some of his advice seems contradictory. For example to say you should act immediately and you should prepare thoroughly before you act may seem contradictory. One might also conclude when he says act immediately that includes doing the preparation. It would be helpful if he explained those conflicts in advice.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

The book is well written. It is easy to follow and is well organized.

Notes on Author:

Brian Tracy is a speaker and author in high demand. He has published many books and many more audio and video training programs.

Related Website:

To learn more about Brian Tracy and his products go to http://www.briantracy.com/ .

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Eat That Frog: get the things done you find most challenging first and continue to work on them until they are completed.
  1. Learn to focus intently on one task or goal at a time until it is complete. Avoid distractions.
  1. Continually learn and upgrade your skills to become more effective and competitive.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Eat That Frog! by Brian Tracy

Copyright holder: 2007 by Brian Tracy

Publisher: Barrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.


A book review by Daniel R. Murphy Title and Author:  The 5 Essential People Skills – Dale Carnegie Training

Synopsis of Content:

This book got is start as training material for a Dale Carnegie course and has since been made available to all of us. The book focuses on basic interpersonal skills needed in all areas of life and especially to be successful in business. The five essential skills covered include rapport building, curiosity, communication, ambition, and conflict resolution.

These fundamental skills are discussed in terms of assertiveness, rapport building, curiosity and understanding in business, persuading others, asking questions skillfully, assertive skills for listening, and speaking and ambition. All of the skills mentioned are framed within the context of the proper level of assertiveness needed to be effective. There is also an excellent chapter on business etiquette.

The book addresses many aspects of how each specific skill should be used. It focuses on Carnegie’s teaching that we can be most effective by being indirect and helpful rather than insulting others.

This book is dense. It contains a mountain of information that a casual read-through may not catch. It is a book that should be studied, not just read.

What I found useful about this book:

The book is easy to follow and full of detail about all aspects of each skill discussed. Real life applications and examples are provided.

What I did not like about this book:

I do not have much to criticize here. The book is instructional in nature so can be a bit dry at times.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

The book reads rather like an instructive textbook but is well written, clear and well organized. Skill development is broken down into steps for the reader to follow whether one is in need of the most basic development or more advanced skill building.

Notes on Author:

Much but not all of the content was written by Dale Carnegie. Some portions refer to Carnegie and quote him thus written by someone else. The book was used as an instructional text by Dale Carnegie and Associates, Inc. and adapted for publication to the general public.

Dale Carnegie was a giant in the self-improvement industry during the 20th century. He became a household name with the publication of his best known work, How to Win Friends and Influence People published in 1936. He launched  career as a writer and trainer and in the 1950s his Dale Carnegie Training programs spread throughout the nation. Though Carnegie died in 1955 his programs have continued and grown significantly to the present time.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Influencing others is accomplished through building rapport with them.
  1. Assertive curiosity is crucial to finding opportunities and being creative.
  1. Using proper business etiquette helps you be more effective with other people promotes a cooperative and friendly work environment.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The 5 Essential People Skills – Dale Carnegie Training

Copyright holder: Original Edition ©2004 by Nightingale-Conant. Text edition ©2009 by Dale Carnegie & Associates, Inc.

Publisher: Simon and Schuster (Fireside)

Get the Book:



A book review by Daniel R. Murphy 

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:


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


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.


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

©1986 by Zig Ziglar

Berkley Publishing Group (Penguin)



The September 2014 Books2Wealth Book of the Month

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy 

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

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



Book of the Month: August 2014

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy 

Title and Author:  Compelling People – The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

Synopsis of Content:

This book is a study of how we influence others and how effective we can be in doing so. The authors cite large numbers of psychological studies to support their conclusions and add in their own experiences with people they’ve worked with.

The authors divide all of our abilities to influence others into two categories: strength and warmth. Ideally we should balance both and use both in generous amounts.

They discuss the “hand we are dealt” – the actual attributes we have in warmth and strength as well as general perceptions about those qualities in people with our given traits: gender, ethnicity, age, etc.

Despite the hand we have been dealt the authors make the case for our ability to change what we know and do and to enhance our ability to influence others by strengthening our warmth and our strength and by maintaining an ideal balance.

They then apply these concepts to specific areas of human conduct: leadership, public speaking, politics, and more.

What I found useful about this book:

While this is not a scientific book there is a significant reliance on social science to bolster the authors’ conclusions. There is no discussion of the validity of the studies they cite but they are not making this stuff up as they go. The social science provides a depth of insight and some credibility.

The book is full of insights, some expected and some surprising. Anyone who wants to have any influence over others (and all but a hermit likely fall in that category) can learn a lot about what enhances influence and what does not.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

While not a scientific tract this is an academic work and can be a bit plodding. It is well written however and is an enjoyable read over all.

Notes on Authors:

John Neffinger graduated from Harvard and Columbia law school and practiced law. He served as Director of Communications for the Harvard Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. As a consultant he has advised politicians and business leaders around the world.

Matthew Kohut is managing partner at KNP Communications. He has a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He advises and coaches leaders in business and government. He has been a speech writer.

Both Neffinger and Kohut write for the Huffington Post.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Both strength and warmth as perceived by an audience govern how influential a person will be. Both qualities are essential to gain a listener’s confidence and trust. Confidence and trust are essential to influence.
  1. Ideally one must master a balance with a high level of both warmth and strength to be the most influential. The most influential people have learned to blend these traits.
  1. Both warmth and strength must be genuine. People generally have a strong sense to detect phoniness and will not connect with a person or be influenced unless those qualities are perceived as genuine.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Compelling People – The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

Copyright holder: John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut 2013

Publisher: Hudson Street Press, Penguin Group, New York


A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Book of the Month – July 2014 

Title and Author:  Getting Things Done by David Allen

Subtitle: The Art of Stress-Free Living

Image: www.humanmedia.org 

Synopsis of Content:

This book is about how to organize everything you work with: every document, email, and every other item in your home or business office and how to manage these things along with your projects and tasks in the most effective manner.

The table of contents provides an excellent overview of the book:

  • The Art of Getting Things Done
  • Getting Control of Your Life – the 5 stages of mastering workflow
  • The 5 phases of project planning
  • Practicing Stress-Free Productivity
  • Setting up the time, space and tools
  • Corralling Your Stuff
  • Processing: getting “in” to empty
  • Organizing: setting up the right buckets
  • Reviewing: keeping your system functional
  • Doing: making the best action choices
  • Getting projects under control
  • The Power of Key Principles
  • The Power of the Collection Habit
  • The Power of the Next Action Decision
  • The Power of Outcome Focusing

Allen’s system is based on some basic principles:

  1. Anything that must be done in the future clutters your mind and distracts you unless you can get it out of your mind. He maintains that as long as it is on some list your mind will dwell on it. Put it on a list and you can forget it. So he recommends putting everything – and I mean everything – on a list to be scheduled or worked on later. This applies to your next medical exam, replacing the batteries in your flashlight and the next big project at work. This will empty your mind of the “to-do” list and free it to relax and do more important work.
  1. Maintain a minimum number of lists. Too many lists and they will be unmanageable, too few and they will also be unmanageable. He provides guidelines for how many is ideal.
  1. Lists must be reviewed regularly and at least weekly. If a list is not managed it gets out of control.
  1. As you go through things on your desk or in your email in-box follow this simple rule: If it can be done in two minutes or less, do it. If it will take more than two minutes file it and either schedule it, drop it or delegate it. The goal is to maintain a clean desk and empty in box.

The mechanism you use to keep your lists and manage them is not important. Whether it is paper or electronic he urges you to use the one you are most comfortable with.

What I found useful about this book:

Allen’s book is truly one of the best time management books I’ve read. It is full of great ideas and his systems work – I know as I’ve used them. If you set up the system he advises and manage it regularly you do get control over your tasks and time. The trick is to follow the steps and manage the system regularly.

What I did not like about this book:

Allen short sells the discipline it takes to follow the collection habit he describes. This takes some real effort. The payoff is worth the effort. However Allen soft sells the effort required to some extent.

Also Allen fails to address a real problem some people have: some people simply have too much to do. No matter how it is organized it is simply more than one can get to. A chapter on how to deal with this problem would be helpful.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

Getting Things Done is very readable and easy to follow. It is well organized and provides clear steps to follow.

Notes on Author:

David Allen is an author, consultant, coach and keynote speaker. He advises some of the world’s largest businesses.

Other Books by This Author:

Getting Things Done – The Art of Stress Free Productivity – 2002

Getting Things Done – C Pbp – 2008

Getting Things Done – B – 2012

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. You must get organized to be productive and reduce stress. This means getting everything organized from your desk top to your computer. It means getting all your tasks on a list so your mind is not mired in keeping track.
  1. Practice a simple formula for organizing what needs to be done: if it takes 2 minutes or less do it; if it takes more than two minutes either schedule it, dump it, file it or delegate it.
  1. Lists must be actively managed at least weekly. Develop this discipline to keep on top of things and free your mind for creative thinking and work.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Getting Things Done by David Allen

Copyright holder: ©2001 David Allen

Publisher: Penguin Books



The Books2Wealth Book of the Month for June 2014

A book review by Daniel R. Murphy 

Title and Author: 

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

Synopsis of Content:

This book is about ideas. It is about where they come from, how they develop and what conditions best promote their development.

The author examines networks and how they function in nature, in human society and on the internet. Johnson first examines selected individual idea developments from history beginning with Charles Darwin and how he developed his ideas about evolution.

From these individual examples he develops a theory about how people actually develop ideas – especially complex ideas that are world changing. He identifies the environments that most effectively promote idea development: what he calls liquid networks. In nature he cites coral reefs as a prime example of this. He describes how the symbiotic and collaborative processes on a coral reef allow a rich growth of life to come from a nutrient poor environment.

He then extrapolates this process to apply to cities and the internet. He examines the development of inventions and technological advances and looks at the environments and processes that are most likely to promote such advances.

Johnson challenges the myth that most great advancements are the product of one genius working alone. Though he concedes that some progress does come from the lone individual he argues this is the exception to the rule. Most ideas, and most progress, he argues, come from the interaction of various individuals sharing ideas and building on past ideas to develop new ones.

He cites various examples of this including how most modern technologies were developed by numerous people sharing information and building on past ideas.

Environmentally he argues that the place where ideas are most often nurtured are those rich in high densities of people (or animals) working together such as cities or coral reefs.

Johnson examines many of the technological and conceptual advances of the past 400 years and finds that most of them come from some form of collaboration. He says that today most ideas come from research universities and or from research labs run by large corporations where this collaborative function is at its best.

Johnson discusses how these collaborative processes work. He tells us about the adjacent possible principles and that new ideas come from examining the edges of possibility around you. The most fertile idea generation comes from being exposed to multiple disciplines and ideas.

Johnson also writes about the “slow hunch”. He gives several examples (including Darwin) of people who had a hunch which over a long period of time grew and developed with added information and thinking. Most ideas do not come from an instant inspiration of genius but instead from a gradual process where a hunch may linger in the mind for years or even decades and then exposure to new ideas and relationships between ideas give birth to the concept that started with the slow hunch.

What I found useful about this book:

This book is an excellent study on how ideas are nurtured and developed. I learned a lot about how important it is to escape your silo or field of work and collaborate with others in various fields of work and thought to enrich your own thinking.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

This book is not an easy read. It forces you to think in new ways about how ideas are formed. It looks in great detail about how ideas have been formed in science and other areas. At times the detail is a bit daunting but is worth it because it paints a clear picture of how ideas are best developed in a way that a shorter examination of the process would fail to reveal in sufficient detail.

Notes on Author:

Steven Johnson is a bestselling author and founder of a number of websites.

Other Books by This Author:

The Invention of Air

The Ghost Map


Interface Culture

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Your best ideas will develop from a collaborative process interacting with numerous other people and their ideas. Creating and working in an environment rich in this kind of interaction with the largest number of possible influences generate the most ideas and lead to the most transformative changes. There is great value to visiting coffee houses and other places where this collaboration and discussion across disciplines can nurture your ideas.
  1. Write everything down and review those notes from time to time much as Darwin did. This allows you mind to expand on ideas and builds on the slow hunch.
  1. Read and learn from various disciplines outside your own. This will enable you to expand your thinking to levels you could not reach on your own.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Where Good Ideas Come From – The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson

Copyright holder: 2010 by Steven Johnson

Publisher: Riverhead Books, NY



A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy 

Title and Author: The Corporate Soul Handbook by Ron Mercer

Synopsis of Content:

In this little book of 117 pages including appendices the reader will find a wealth of insight into what makes organizations succeed and fail. In the end Mercer tells us that how our organizations treat people defines their success. The business or other organization that treats people well will succeed because it has a soul. The organization that does not treat people well has no soul and will fail.

The book has seven chapters:

The Benefits of Nurturing a Healthy Corporate Soul

The Four Structural Pillars of Your Organization

Zombies or Zealots?

Walk the Talk

Working Together Using Balance and Harmony


Inspiration Not Just Perspiration.

The book then ends with a Conclusion followed by an Appendix on the essence of the corporate soul and a Guide on assessing the soul of your organization.

The Corporate Soul Handbook is both a discussion of the concept of a soul for an organization, and this applies to nonprofit organizations just as much as for profit, and a handbook to introduce the reader on how to assess your organization for its soul and what actions one can do to improve it.

As with so many books on corporate success and management there really is nothing new in this book. Mercer takes long understood principles and reframes them in the context of this concept of a corporate soul.

Mercer explains that every organization has four pillars: Capital, Management, Employees and Customers. How an organization treats those four pillars and maintains a balance between them defines the corporate soul.

He provides examples of businesses like Southwest Airlines that have a healthy and vibrant soul and thrive. He offers other examples of organizations that short change those pillars and fail. He explains what each of these four pillars need to thrive and how they all equally support the successful organization. He teaches how we must nurture them all to survive and thrive.

This book focuses on the intangible ingredient for organizational success. It focuses on the positive and the cooperative. It explains how the way we treat the people (pillars) or our organization define its soul and its success.

What I found useful about this book:

This book provides insight into the how we do what we do and why the how makes such a difference. It identifies the importance of how we treat the people who make our organizations succeed or fail. It goes beyond the bottom line and defines the ultimately important line. For all of us who lead organizations and for those of us working in those organizations these ideas are critical and give us hope.

It is probably no accident that Ron Mercer is a banker. Banks fuel and drive much of the commercial activity in the world. Modern commercial enterprise would not be possible without banks for the most part. Yet banks and bankers have suffered much in their reputation in recent years with the failed banks, the stories about self-serving over paid executives more interested in extracting wealth than creating it. In this book Mercer offers a refreshing viewpoint about what healthy corporate should look like. He offers good examples of corporations that possess this “soul” and offer their customers excellent service and their employees a great place to work.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written. It is easy to read and contains many good examples to flesh out the principles espoused.

Notes on Author:

Ron Mercer is a senior executive in the banking industry. He has advised startups and Fortune 500 companies. He maintains a website and blog.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Every organization is supported by four pillars: capital, management, employees and customers. How we treat each of these pillars leads to the organization’s success or failure.
  1. It is critical for everyone, but especially leaders, to walk their talk. We must set the example. We must act in the way we teach or we lose all effectiveness.
  1. It is important to understand that how we treat others defines the soul of our organization. That soul is an intangible and largely unmeasurable essence that everyone recognizes when they see it and when it is missing. We must nurture that soul to achieve success as an organization.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Corporate Soul Handbook by Ron Mercer

Copyright holder: 2013 by Ron Mercer, Jr.

Publisher: Prime Your Pump Publishing, LLC, Texas


A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy 

Title and Author:  Focus – The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman

Synopsis of Content:

This book is about how we pay attention to the world around us and to what we do. It is about how we focus on things, or fail to. It is also about the consequences of how we focus or fail to, from how it affects our personal achievement and performance to how it may affect the fate of human kind.

Goleman begins by explaining how we pay attention, how we focus and how we make fundamental decisions based on an overview of the anatomy of our brain. He explains the difference between “bottom up” thinking, where our more primitive brain (the amygdala) drives basic reactive thought and instinct based fast thought, such as what drives us (food, sex, emotion) and the slower “top down” thinking that emanates from our more advanced pre-frontal cortex or executive functioning brain. Critically to understand how these work one must also understand how they conflict and how they complement one another. Understanding the way the brain works helps us understand and influence whether we merely react or whether we control our thought.

The book then goes on to explore a somewhat eclectic selection of brain functions and attributes that form our thought processes. He explores how we perceive others, or “read” them; the role of empathy in our thinking; how we perceive patterns or fail to; how we act upon immediate threats but largely ignore distant threats; and how these thinking patterns help us to succeed and to fail.

He discusses how not the amount of practice but the quality of practice defines how proficient we are. He challenges the 10,000 hour myth, in which it is argued that a talent or skill is developed to proficiency with 10,000 hours of practice explaining that proficiency and mastery require quality practice for many hours.

He then applies these ideas to what makes a more effective and well-focused leader and ultimately how our success or failure to apply these ideas may well spell survival or death to human civilization.

What I did not like about this book:

The book starts out examining how we think and learn without an apparent agenda. In the end there clearly is an agenda. Goleman does not merely prescribe how our focus can make us succeed as leaders but in the end how it can cause us to fail as a species due to what he argues is our Achilles heel: our apparent inability to adequately recognize long term threats and act in the present to avoid them.

In doing this he advances an argument that our failure to recognize the ultimate environmental threat we face (primarily human driven climate change) may well lead to our destruction. He offers little to suggest how we overcome this fate, if indeed it is our fate.

What I found useful about this book:

Despite its shortcomings the book is an excellent introduction into how our minds work in terms of attention and focus and how that influences what we achieve or fail to achieve. It teaches how a complex interrelationship between our more primitive thinking and our more sophisticated thought processes can work together to be very effective.

He also provides some insight into the crucial role that emotions can play both to our detriment and to help us succeed more effectively. He also explains how we can be more effective as a leader by understanding these aspects of our brain and using that knowledge to control what we do and how we do it.

Ultimately the book is about what we pay attention to and how we do so. It is about how our use of focus can help us and our failure to be aware of it can hurt us.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written and well organized. The writing is stimulating and engaging. He makes the reader think and helps the reader to understand disparate concepts that work as a whole.

Notes on Author:

Daniel Goleman is a former science journalist and author. He also speaks publically. He cofounded the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning at Yale University and now at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Other Books by This Author:

Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence

The Brain and Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence

Creative Spirit

In all Goleman has written 13 books related to emotion, the mind and leadership.

Related Website:



Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Our thinking is driven by two different brain functions, a bottom up primitive process centered in the amygdala and a more sophisticated reasoning process, or top down process, driven by the pre-frontal cortex. Understanding how these different forms of thought influence us can help us to be more effective in our thinking.
  1. It is possible to train ourselves to focus more intently and intentionally which can protect us from more turbulent emotional thought. This can reduce anxiety and other emotional functions that are defeating.
  1. While focus and disciplined thought are important and helpful to us daydreaming and unfocused thought also play a vital role in creativity and problems solving. It is critical to use both types of thinking.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Focus – The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman

Copyright holder: 2013 by Daniel Goleman

Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers, NY.


A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy 

Title and Author:  Achieve Anything in Just One Year by Jason Harvey

Synopsis of Content:

Harvey has compiled in this book a daily meditation and inspiration for how to achieve more. For each day there is an inspirational quote from an author or leader, some questions to stimulate your thinking and a lesson which often requires you to do something.  There are 365 such pages, one for each day of a year. You can start any time as they are not tied to any dates.

While you could sit down and read this book through its real value is to use it one page per day for a year. Harvey challenges the reader to move beyond where they are now in life, even if they feel stuck, and to expand your potential and accomplish more.

Each day has a lesson and an assignment. Some of the assignments are generalized, challenging you to think in a different way or to interact with others in a different way. Other assignments are more specific challenging you to do one thing differently.

The book is part inspiration – and it is very inspirational – and part a book of exercises and lessons to move you forward in the areas where the author has found people most often stuck or lacking proper action or reflection. The book is also a day by day recipe for constant personal development.

Each page can be read in five minutes or less, and many only take a minute to read. The exercises and assignments however take more time – as much as you are willing to devote to make positive changes in your life.

It does not matter where you might be on your road to success and achievement nor does it really matter what you are attempting to achieve. It would serve people in business, in their private lives, or in any personal success path.

The book is not preachy but it does deliver valuable lessons that are classic success ideas. Harvey gives you a little push and what you do with that is entirely up to you.

What I did not like about this book:

The book would benefit from a table of contents and a good index. While the day by day progression is good the book contains a lot of wisdom that would be easier to access if it had a good index.

What I found useful about this book:

The daily quotations are real gems and come from many different sources. The book is almost worth its price just to get those quotes. The real value though goes far beyond the quotes. The inspirational lessons and the exercises are excellent day by day steps to make progress.

One of the book’s advantages is that you do not have to wade through hundreds of pages and then try to draw broad lessons from them. The daily format lets you move through the book gradually without spending more than five minutes a day reading.

After a year the reader will have covered 365 pages but more importantly the reader will have moved through a set of lessons and exercises that can change perceptions, beliefs, and patterns of thought and action.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

The book is well written and very easy to read. The day by day format slows you down and forces you to do what should be done with every good book on personal development and success – it forces the reader to understand, think about and use the book’s content. It is like having a one year success coach.

Notes on Author:

Jason Harvey is a certified life coach. He is founder of the Limitless Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research on human potential. Harvey lives in Canada.

To read more about the author and about his purpose in writing this book read the Books2Wealth exclusive interview with Jason at: Interviews.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. This book contains 365 ideas you can use, but for this review I will include just three: your power of choice more than your abilities define your potential. Look at the choices you make where they have led you. Consider that each choice you make defines your limits and your potential.
  1. “A missed opportunity is worse than a defeat”. Be alert to opportunity and be willing to seize it when it becomes apparent. So much is missed when we let opportunity pass by.
  1. “All things are difficult before they are easy”, Thomas Fuller. Resist the inner thinking that you are not good enough, smart enough or otherwise unable to do something. Stop limiting yourself. If you want to achieve something do the work and it can happen.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Achieve Anything in Just One Year by Jason Harvey

Copyright holder: 2010 by Jason Harvey

Publisher: Amazing Life Press, Canada


A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Hacking Leadership by Mike Myatt

Subtitle: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly

Synopsis of Content:

This book is about the challenges facing every leader in every organization although it is focused on business as that is where the author’s experience is. Myatt refers to the process of addressing leadership challenges as “hacking”; a term used a lot these days. He cites a definition for “hacking” as “to discover an alternate path, clever and skillful tricks, shortcuts and workarounds, etc.” Using that definition then Myatt leads us to hack various problems that befall leaders and their organizations.

Myatt tackles the challenges facing all leaders including: Purpose; embracing the Future; dealing with Mediocrity; Culture; Talent; Knowledge; Innovation; Expectations; Complexity; and failure. He examines each of these as “gaps” that is inadequacies and challenges that need to be overcome to be effective as a leader. Some of these gaps are in the leader himself, others are in the organization he leads.

The book is written on the theoretical level. He does not offer many concrete examples of how his suggestions would be implemented. He tells us what a leader needs to achieve and then leaves it to the reader to figure out how that must be done in a given situation.

The book is thorough in its examination of the skills a leader must master and the problems a leader commonly faces. The thrust of his argument is that a leader cannot be a mere manager. A leader does not just maintain the status quo. A leader must challenge the people he leads to embrace change, even destructive change, to move the organization into the future. He tells us that this is a competitive essential in today’s world.

Myatt ends his book by telling readers that the most important thing any leader does is serve his family. He reminds us that no success in business will ever make up for neglecting our loved ones.

What I found useful about this book:

This book challenges leaders to be bold and future-oriented. A leader must be on the cutting edge, not to cause change for change’s sake but to use creativity and thought to identify what is wrong with an organization or what can be improved and then to formulate the path to making those changes. This is a 21st century book on leadership to be sure. It is not a book for the timid or the tired. It challenges leaders to use all their energy to move forward.

While this book focuses on the leader’s role in business I found most of the principles and lessons he teaches will be useful to leaders in all kinds of organizations.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written, well organized and easy to read.

Notes on Author:

Mike Myatt is an executive coach with years of experience. He is the CEO of N2Growth.com

Other Books by This Author:

Leadership Matters (2007)

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. “The secret sauce to purpose is found in a leader’s ability to scale personal and professional purpose into a cause embraced and evangelized by others.” – It is not enough for a leader to have a vision for his organization – it must be a vision that can be communicated to and accepted by the people in that organization.
  1. “However it’s important to note the same trait capable of propelling you to the top can also send you over the edge. Passion is not aptitude, nor is it competency, and neither is it totally unique. The only difference between irrational exuberance, folly, or impulsivity and passion is clear sense of purpose. These are nuances lost on many”. – Passion is not enough to successfully run an organization. It must be tempered by essential qualities including ability, competency, etc.

3.” It was President John F. Kennedy, who said: ‘For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future’”. – Leadership is about change. Change is unavoidable and the leader who masters change masters leadership in large part.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Hacking Leadership – The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly

Copyright holder: 2014 by Mike Myatt

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ


A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

A Books2Wealth Classic and Book of the Month for January 2014 

Title and Author: As A Man Thinketh by James Allen

Synopsis of Content:

The essence of this little book is that what a man thinks is what the man becomes. Or in today’s parlance, what a person thinks determines what the person becomes. This little book, 31 pages in the pocket edition, is a powerful explanation of the New Thought concepts popular at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. This was the new thinking a century ago about how we become what we become. Fortunately for us most if not all this theory is equally useful today as it was a hundred years ago even if it is not as unique as it may have seemed then.

Our Thoughts Control Our Circumstances 

Allen begins with a discussion of how out thoughts affect our circumstances. He describes this in two different aspects. First he explains what we now know as the law of attraction – what we think about enough will be attracted to us. Second he dwells on the need to transform thought into action – the need to transform ourselves in order to obtain what we seek in life.

Avoiding Fear and Negative Thinking 

In the second part of the little book Allen discusses the power of thought and conviction on our health and wellbeing. He tells us that those who live in fear of illness become ill. Again, he is applying the law of attraction.

Dominant Purpose 

The third section is devoted to the importance of a single dominant purpose in our lives. Here we find the same thinking that Orison Swett Marden was writing about in the United States during the same period and later the same general thinking was carried forward by Napoleon Hill. While I cannot now say for sure it seems likely that both Andrew Carnegie and Napoleon Hill were influenced to some extent by Allen’s little book. We see the same basic teachings in The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles, an American contemporary of Allen.

Allen completes the book with a section on how thought factors into achievement and finally the importance of serenity.

Allen’s little book was a hit a century ago when he published it and has remained in print and of interest ever since. Og Mandino said that this little book was among the top ten success books of all time and I don’t disagree. It is not possible in this short article to delve into the depth and wisdom of this little book. While the writing style is a bit dated and the density of the prose requires one’s full attention and thoughtful reflection there is no better example of a small manual on how to pursue self-development in how we think and how we use thought.

Most people could read this little gem in an evening, but few could fully mine its depth in a hundred evenings. This is one to reread again and again. Like an onion, the more one studies it the more one uncovers between its covers.

This little book is a must read for anyone serious about a study of success and of maintaining even a minimal success library. And on that subject, it is important to review a number of these success books over time to obtain the depth they have to offer. Only by reading several authors will the real color of this thinking completely develop in your mind.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

This little book was originally published in 1902 and has remained in print for over 110 years. It is surprisingly readable for a book written a century ago. I like the Executive Books version because it has good headings.

Notes on Author:

Allen was a British subject who wrote a number of books including this one for which he is best known. He died in 1912. This book is the best known but he wrote 20 books. Ironically he thought this book was one of his least significant works.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. “Good thoughts bear good fruit, bad thoughts bad fruit”. We create, to a great extent, our own circumstances and outcomes by the way we think.
  1. “You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration.”
  1. Calmness of mind is a jewel of wisdom. The calm man learns to govern himself.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author:  As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

Copyright holder: the original copyright has expired; various publishers have added headings and other material to copyright it. The copy I have is copyrighted by Executive Books 2001.

Publisher: there are various publishers; my copy is from Executive Books



A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Books2Wealth Book of the Month: December 2013 

Title and Author: 

Paychecks and Playchecks – Retirement Solutions for Life by Tom Hegna

Synopsis of Content:

This book focuses most on the way to use life insurance, and in particular, a life insurance annuity, to provide for a more secure retirement income. However there is more to it than that.

The first four chapters outline the limitations, risks and problems with retirement planning. He points out that traditionally a retirement plan included three legs:

Social Security, a company pension, and a lifetime of savings. He then points out the problems with all three. Social Security is beset by significant problems for the long term and will almost certainly end up paying less to retirees than it has in the past.

Company pensions are disappearing quickly and some that do exist fail. Unlike our grandparents who could work for a company all their career and then depend on a pension throughout their old age this is no longer available to most people except in a very few industries and government workers. As for government workers, he points out that the pension obligations in the public sector are not adequately funded and may also end in disappointment.

Savings have suffered a number of problems. Many people have lost a lot of money due to market corrections in the late 1980s, 2000 and 2007-2008. As a result many are squeamish about equities and have moved their money to banks where they are earning virtually nothing. The other problem with savings is that since no one knows how long they will live there is no way to calculate how to pay out savings over the retirement period so that one does not either run out of money by withdrawing too much or leave too much behind.

Chapter five then offers a solution to this by advising that people use an annuity to guarantee some income for their entire retirement period. Because of the way annuities are structured they can benefit more than one person, such as paying out to a surviving spouse. And they avoid the uncertainty of the length of life by pooling that risk among millions of people.

The remainder of the book discusses Life Insurance, Long-Term Care Insurance and Estate Planning.

The book does not discuss how much an annuity will actually cost although for illustration purposes it often refers to $100,000. Obviously this would limit who can benefit.

The book does a pretty good job of analyzing the comparative strengths and weaknesses of annuities, life insurance and other investments. There is no doubt that the author, who has long been in the insurance business, is biased in favor of annuities and insurance. However he does spend some time discussing some of the risks with annuities and talks about good and bad annuities. It is about as balanced a book as one can expect to find from a cheerleader for annuities for retirement.

What I found useful about this book:

The book goes into considerable detail about the different types of annuities available, their pros and cons. It also discusses the things to watch out for, the questions one needs to ask an agent before buying and the importance of knowing something about the viability of the insurance company you buy from.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is well written and well organized. The details about annuities and different types of insurance is at times technical and might glaze over the eyes of some people who are not accustomed to this kind of financial discussion.

Notes on Author:

Tom Hegna has spent his entire career in the insurance industry, much of that with MetLife and then with New York Life where he became first vice president in 2010. He retired from New York Life in 2011 and now works full time speaking, writing and training.

Other Books by This Author:

Retirement Income Masters: Secret of the Pros

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Become aware that retirement options have changed in the 21st century. One cannot depend solely on Social Security and savings to insure a comfortable retirement. One way to augment retirement income is through the wise use of an annuity.
  1. Consider annuities as part of a risk management plan. While some are better than others they are not as a whole bad despite some bad press.
  1. Seek out a good professional who specializes in retirement planning including the use of annuities. Do your homework and if you select an annuity make sure you know as much as you can about the company.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Paychecks and Playchecks by Tom Hegna

Copyright holder: 2011-2012 by Tom Hegna

Publisher: Acanthus Publishing, Boston, MA.


A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and AuthorLeading at the Edge, Second Edition by Dennis N.T. Perkins with Margaret P. Holtman and Jillian B. Murphy.  Subtitle: Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shakleton’s Antarctic Expedition

Synopsis of Content:

In 1913 Canadian explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson led an expedition to explore the Arctic between Canada and the North Pole. He used a ship called the Karluk. In 1914 Sir Ernest Shakleton led the British Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition which aimed to be the first men to cross the Antarctic continent. They used a ship called the Endurance.

In both cases the ships were trapped in ice and ultimately destroyed by ice. In both cases the surviving explorers and their crews had to battle unimaginable ice and cold to survive and return to civilization.

Leading at the Edge chronicles these two expeditions and how two very different men led their teams. The book contrasts the leadership styles of these two men and how it affected their teams. The Canadian team deteriorated into squabbling chaos and suffered numerous deaths. Their leader adhered to a strictly hierarchical and authority based leadership model that did not serve him or his men well. In the end Stefansson deserted his own team leaving them to die or survive on their own. He did survive.

Shackleton adopted an entirely different leadership style. He put the welfare of his men first. He endured tremendous personal suffering and sacrifice to save them. His team remained united and exhibited repeated acts of courage and self-sacrifice for their team mates.

Drawing primarily on these two epic stories but also on other survival stories, his experience in Vietnam and in business Perkins develops ten leadership strategies that lead to success “at the edge”, that is in extreme conditions where men’s abilities are put to the ultimate test of endurance and the struggle is for survival. Perkins then explains how these same strategies can be used by anyone in a leadership position to more effectively lead their team, company or institution. The ten strategies are:

  1. Never lose sight of the ultimate goal and focus energy on short term objectives.
  2. Set a personal example with visible, memorable symbols and behaviors.
  3. Instill optimism and self-confidence, but stay grounded in reality.
  4. Take care of yourself: maintain your stamina and let go of guilt.
  5. Reinforce the team message constantly: “We are one – we live or die together”.
  6. Minimize status differences and insist on courtesy and mutual respect.
  7. Master conflict – deal with anger in small doses, engage dissidents, and avoid needless power struggles.
  8. Find something to celebrate and something to laugh about.
  9. Be willing to take the Big Risk.
  10. Never give up – there’s always another move.

At the end of the book Perkins provides “tools” to help the reader apply the lessons learned in the book including inventories and methods to develop one’s own leadership skills to include the ten strategies and he explains how this can apply to everyday business.

What I found useful about this book:

Few of us will ever have to survive in hostile life threatening environments or be responsible for the lives of a team of other people. Yet from these adventures on the edge we can learn the leadership strategies that not only have served adventurers in these extreme situations but can serve us as well in more normal conditions.

The ten strategies are easy to understand and to apply to the everyday working world. While luck can play a role in any venture the best leadership skills can make the ultimate difference.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

Much like Perkin’s second book, Into the Storm, Leading at the Edge is a page turning adventure story which also teaches valuable leadership lessons applicable to all of us. It is well written and easy to read. It is well organized.

Notes on Author:

Dennis N.T. Perkins is CEO of The Syncretics Group, a consulting firm. He graduated from the Naval Academy and served in Vietnam as a Marine company commander. He has taught at the Yale School of Management. He is passionate about his work and actually went to Antarctica and retraced Shackleton’s route on the ice. Margaret P. Holtman and Jillian B. Murphy are consultants specializing in leadership skills and coaching.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. It is critical to never lose sight of your ultimate goal while focusing on short term objectives to get there.
  1. Optimism is essential to keep a team motivated but it must be grounded in realism; when it is necessary to change direction the leader must do so.
  1. An effective leader minimizes status differences on the team to forge a united group all working toward the same goal.

Other Books by This Author:

Into the Storm

Publication Information:   

Title and Author:  Leading at the Edge, Second Edition by Dennis N.T. Perkins with Margaret P. Holtman and Jillian B. Murphy

Copyright holder: 2012 by Dennis NT Perkins

Publisher: Amacom (American Management Association)

Note: “Leading at the Edge” is a registered trademark.



A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

The Books2Wealth Book of the Month for October 2013

Title and Author:  The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Subtitle: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Synopsis of Content:

The seminal book on personal development and leadership of the 1980s this book, first published in 1989, was a #1 best seller and continues to be a popular book. In it Covey divides personal development into seven categories and assigns to them a habit or set of habits that will improve one’s life.

First Covey discusses the importance of principles and of leading one’s life according to principles. He also discussed our perceptions and how we can change the way we look at things through shifting a paradigm. Then he moves to the seven habits.

The seven habits are Be Proactive, Begin with the End in Mind, Put First Things First, Think Win-Win, Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood, Synergize and Sharpen the Saw. Covey labels the first three habits as the Personal Victory, how we master our own lives. The last four are called the Public Victory, how we become more effective with others.

He maintains that one must first achieve effectiveness for ourselves, the private victory, before we can attain effectiveness with others. The habits are presented in an order based on what we need to work on first, second, etc.

Covey’s analysis of perceptions and paradigms was a novel approach to a self-help book at the time it came out. The brilliant aspect of the book was not so much the content of the seven habits, there was little new in that, it was the way he organized these ideas and related them to one another. His reliance on principle centered thinking was also unique.

A second unique aspect of the book is the emphasis on basing one’s decisions on principles, which Covey maintains are universal. He argues that principles are timeless, they have always existed and always will, and are universal; they apply equally to every culture and place. He emphasizes that because principles are universal and inherently true they serve as a sound basis to guide one’s life.

What I found useful about this book:

I can still remember the day I bought this book in 1994. I cannot say that about any other book I purchased nearly twenty years ago. I can remember standing in front of the bookstore bookshelf and looking over the book, wondering if it was worth the price and the time to read it. In time I read the book six times and am now reviewing it for the seventh time. Each time I read it I learn more.

I must admit this is my favorite book on personal development and improvement. It is comprehensive in scope, covering every important aspect of personal development. It challenges you and informs you. To the extent you can apply the principles and habits Covey teaches you realize great benefit. This book contains valuable lessons about how to organize your time and your life.

I highly recommend this book. If you read only one book on personal development this year this should be the book.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

The book is written in an easy and very readable style. It has excellent examples and illustrations of the lessons he teaches. It is very well organized.

Notes on Author:

Dr. Stephen R. Covey was a university professor, writer and lecturer. He was very influential. He was co-founder of the Franklin-Covey Co. Dr. Covey died in 2012.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Live out your imagination, not your history. Know that you have full control over what you do. Accept full responsibility for your life. The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
  1. A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.
  1. The bottom line is, when people are crystal clear about the most important priorities of the organization and team they work with and prioritized their work around those top priorities, not only are they many times more productive, they discover they have the time they need to have a whole life.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Copyright holder: 1989 by Stephen R. Covey

Publisher: Simon and Schuster


A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for September 2013.

Title and Author:  Rumsfeld’s Rules by Donald Rumsfeld.

Synopsis of Content:

Donald Rumsfeld has had a tremendous career in the military, business and government. He served as a flight instructor in the US Navy from 1954-1957, Administrative assistant to two Congressman, Stock Broker, and Representative from Illinois to Congress from 1962-1969. He served four Presidents as Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Director of the Economic Stabilization Program, Counselor to the President, Ambassador to NATO, White House Chief of Staff, twice as Secretary of Defense, once under President Ford and later under President Bush. He was CEO of two large corporations, special envoy for the President to for the Law of the Sea Treaty, Special Presidential Envoy to the Middle East, and Chairman of the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission. His experience covers the period from 1954-2006 – five decades in business and government.

In the course of this rich experience he collected a series of principles, rules of conduct, executive tips, government tips, and leadership lessons. This book is a compilation of those rules and some interesting insight into where their use or lack of use led to success and failure.

The book though is also a peek inside the White House during four presidencies (Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush) as well as government outside those administrations. The rules are set out under some rubrics, including On Business and Management, On Serving in Government, On Politics and Congress, On the Press, Serving in the White House, For the Department of Defense, On Intelligence, and On Life and Other Things.

The rules include quotes and lessons learned from many of the key leaders around the world during the 20th century, many of whom Rumsfeld knew and his own experience and lessons learned.

This book is also a political commentary of sorts. Rumsfeld is a lifelong Republican and does not hide that fact. He peppers his stories with political commentary.

However whether you agree or disagree with Rumsfeld’s political views you can benefit from learning about his rules and lessons on a large number of subjects under the general heading of effective leadership – both in business and in government.

What I found useful about this book:

First this is a rich collection of anecdotes and lessons from a lifetime of service in government and business. The list of “rules” is very long but is very instructive. It was also interesting to see government through the eyes of a long time insider in Washington.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

The book is very well written, easy to follow and entertaining as well as instructive.

Notes on Author:

Donald Rumsfeld served in government and business for five decades and under four Presidents. His experience is broad. He is a thoughtful man who has collected the best lessons about leadership he could find over a lifetime.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. You never really lose until you quit trying (Mike Ditka).
  1. When you are skiing, if you are not falling, you are not trying.
  1. Simply because a problem is shown to exist it does not necessarily follow that there is a solution.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Rumsfeld’s Rules by Donald Rumsfeld.

Copyright holder: ©2013 by Donald Rumsfeld

Publisher: Broadside Books, Harper Collins Publishers. Available on Kindle.



A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for August 2013

Title and Author:  Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake

Synopsis of Content:

This is a somewhat different kind of book on how to succeed written by a very unique businessman, and that is actually his point, we are all unique, we should embrace and use our individuality and avoid conformity. Although the author is a businessman he has spent a substantial amount of time as a “serial entrepreneur” and has on numerous occasions gone against the advice of others. He marches to his own drum.

Although he groups his success principles under three broad categories: Reclaiming Your Mentality, Creating Winning Ideas, and Transforming Ideas into Achievements; each main grouping contains a number of subcategories.

The gist of his thesis is that first we must assume full control of our own mental state. Having done this we act intentionally and thoughtfully, not automatically. Here he uses a Situation – Thought – Reaction paradigm which is very similar to ones discussed by Jack Canfield, Stephen R. Covey and others. This idea that we can and should choose our own reaction to outside stimuli is an old one. However Blake gives us a different perspective on this. As with much of his thinking here he is influenced by his extensive study of physics and other branches of science.  He explains how science has given us modern insight into how we think and react that is missing from other writings on this subject.

Next the author uses teachings on the power of the mind and the law of attraction that go back at least to the teaching of William James, Prentice Mulford, and James Allen. Again however his understanding and application of the law of attraction is different from what has been written before – he gives us a new way of looking at these things. He then teaches how these principles can be used to become more creative and successful.

In fact Blake provides a fresh look at ideas that have been around a very long time. He also presents new ideas to replace the old. He says that a positive mental attitude alone is not enough to be successful. Real accomplishment in the US has been by individuals who worked very hard and paved their own path.

Best of all this book makes you think. He forces us to take a critical look at a lot of success literature and reexamine it in light of both what science has discovered and what his own experience has taught him.  He gives you some simple tools, like practicing quiet time, a form of meditation, which is very useful. This is not a book to read through quickly and put away; this is a book to study carefully and return to.

Blake is a fresh voice on success. His work can be appealing to the conservative businessperson as well as the new age reader. His writing is insightful and forces the reader to think in new ways about some very old ideas. He has used these techniques to achieve success.

Blake is also bold. He does not pull punches. He criticizes those things he finds unworthy of belief or unproven. There is a refreshing genuineness to his writing.

The author is donating the profits from the book to cancer research. He says he is not a “success guru” but a successful businessman who has discovered what works in the pursuit of personal and financial success and wants to tell the world about it.


This book is very useful to anyone who wants to expand their ability to think for themselves and to increase their effectiveness. It will be useful to anyone seeking genuine success.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

The book is well written. He uses stories to illustrate his ideas. He draws heavily on his own experiences and that of his family but also on science and the experience of others. The book is well organized and easy to read.

Notes on Author:

Trevor Blake is a serial entrepreneur and businessman. He has excelled in sales and in building businesses. He has developed new business models. He has demonstrated the courage and fortitude to go his own way despite heavy criticism. He was born in the UK but has since relocated to the US. He describes himself as not being a “self-help guru” but a pragmatic businessman.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Pause before you speak. Give yourself time to really think about your response rather than just responding with a gut response. Choose your reactions carefully. Be self-aware.
  1. Create intentions rather than goals. An intention should be in the positive, what you want to come about, but phrased in the present tense, as though it has already happened.
  1. Take quiet time each day to mediate for about 20 minutes and then to reflect on and repeat your intentions.

I highly recommend this book.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Three Simple Steps by Trevor Blake

Copyright holder: 2012 by Trevor Blake

Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.


A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Book of the Month for July 2013

Title and Author:  Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

Synopsis of Content:

This is an in depth study of the life of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Computer and one of the most instrumental people in the development of the personal computer and other digital products.

Jobs was a genius, an artist, a successful businessman, a corporate leader, a thought leader, an innovator, a rebel and an eccentric. In the late 1970s he dropped out of Reed College in Oregon and founded Apple with his friend Steve Wozniak in 1976. He developed the concept of a fully integrated personal computer with software and hardware that Apple controlled exclusively. He was forced out of Apple in 1985 and went on to form his own company to build the NeXt computer. He then became a key player in Pixar and helped launch it as the most successful digital animation producer in the world. Apple eventually purchased Pixar.

In 1994 he returned to Apple at their invitation when the company was not doing well. What followed was one product success after another with the iMac, the iPod, iPhone, iTunes and iPad. On October 5, 2011 Jobs died of pancreatic cancer which he had struggled with for over six years. He was 56.

In addition to telling the story of Apple and Job’s influence on it and its products, the book delves into his personal life and his personality. Few punches are pulled. Jobs is depicted as narcissistic and often brutal in his relationships with colleagues, friends and family. He generally put his work before everything else. His relationships with his children were often troubled. He had little contact with his first daughter, Lisa.

In 1991he married Laurene Powell, a business student. Their marriage is described as successful though Powell had to learn to live with someone who was often difficult.

Jobs was known for being brutally honest in his work. He would declare a proposed idea or product “shit” and demean the people involved in it. He claimed his single aim was to assemble A class people to build A class products to serve the public in the best possible way. He had a unique ability to get the most performance out of people who respected him despite his often difficult inter-personal style. He also would lavish praise on people and their work when he liked it. People often found themselves liking him despite his rough edges.

He was famous for perfecting the “launch” of a new product with a carefully planned stage presentation. New products were kept secret until he unveiled them at these presentations. He was a master at public relations and marketing. He did not believe in asking the customer what they wanted. Rather, he believed it was his role to discover what the next big thing should be and then educate the public about it. He would tell them what they needed and this was almost always successful.

His artistic and design emphasis kept a focus on hardware and software that was elegantly designed. At the same time he possessed a vision of the future while paying excruciating attention to detail.

The computer industry developed along two separate tracks: the open system where software was licensed on different computers, championed by Bill Gates at Microsoft and the totally controlled and integrated model that Jobs maintained at Apple. He would rarely license any Apple software for other manufacturers. If you wanted Apple software and products you had to get them from Apple. Apple became the largest computer company and the most profitable on Job’s watch.

The book does a masterful job of showing us who Steve Jobs was as a person, a CEO, a designer, visionary and businessman. He was a complex man with a genius for knowing what the public would want before they knew what they would want.

This is an outstanding book both as a biography and a study of what makes success in business.


Reading about successful people is always useful. You can learn a lot about the importance of focus, simplicity, dedication to detail and devotion to quality from this book. You will also learn some aspects of a CEO personality which probably would not be wise to emulate.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

The book is very well written. It holds your attention and is well organized. The author juggles lots of characters and time lines well. You never feel lost.

Notes on Author:

Walter Issacson is the CEO of the Aspen Institute. He has been chairman of CNN and managing editor at Time magazine. Issacson also wrote bestselling biographies of Benjamin Franklin, Henry Kissinger and Albert Einstein.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. It is critical to maintain focus to be successful. It is as important to know what to say no to as to what to say yes to. Jobs always focused on perfecting a few products rather than being weighed down with too many.
  1. Attention to detail is as important as attention to the grand vision. Jobs understood this and launched a series of high quality products that generated customer loyalty and lots of revenue. He said he was not interested in making money but in changing the world. If he made money in the process that was fine.
  1. To get the most out of people you must challenge them. A high quality company needs high quality people and some ruthlessness in maintaining quality is essential to product success.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Steve Jobs by Walter Issacson

Copyright holder: 2011 Walter Issacson

Publisher: Simon and Schuster


A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Into the Storm by Dennis N. T. Perkins with Jillian B. Murphy

Synopsis of Content:

Two books in one, Into the Storm is a thrilling account of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race and especially the challenges faced by the amateur crew of the AFR Midnight Rambler, a small 35 foot yacht that won the race. In the second part of the book the author analyzes the team dynamics of the winning boat and those that lost. From this analysis the authors provide excellent lessons on how to form a team, manage a team and the team dynamics that work best, especially when the team is faced with an extremely demanding challenge.

At its best the Sydney to Hobart race, in Open Ocean, from Sydney, Australia to Hobart, Tasmania, some 732 statutory miles, is a grueling challenge in sailing. It requires the best prepared boats and teams, the highest caliber of sailing skill and the most effective team work. At its worst this race is deadly. The 1998 race was unique in that the boats sailed into a hurricane they did not expect and faced extreme peril. Of the 115 boats participating only 44 reached the finish line. Twenty-five sailors were washed over board and seven died. Fifty-five sailors were rescued. It was the largest sea rescue in Australian history.

The crews that stayed in the race were faced with over 36 hours of bruising conditions. The waves reached 100 feet and winds exceeded 100 knots. The overall race winner, the AFR Midnight Rambler, accomplished what larger boats and professional sailors were not able to due to the remarkable team work.

In the second part of the book the authors discuss the ten prime lessons of team work that made the AFR Midnight Rambler a survivor and a winner. These lessons can be of great value to any team even those not faced with a life threatening challenge.


Anyone who works with other people, anyone who is part of any kind of team and anyone who depends on a team working effectively will benefit from reading this book. While most readers will never face the challenge this race provided the lessons in team work taught will benefit every team no matter what the challenge.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

This book is very well written. The first part is a fast paced page-turner that is entertaining, educational and inspiring. The second part provides useful analysis that is easy to understand but not over simplified.

Notes on Author:

Dennis N. T. Perkins, author of Leading at The Edge, is CEO of Syncretics Group. His group serves as consultants to helping leaders succeed. He is a graduate of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. Jillian B. Murphy is Director of Client Services at Syncretics and works as an executive coach.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Make the team the rock star. High profile sailors are often given special privileges on boats and they are called rock stars. Treating individual team members this way can have a negative effect on team cohesiveness and effectiveness. Making the entire team a unit and making all members equally important contributes to team success.
  1. Extreme preparation for any challenge is the first essential. When the team believes they have prepared enough they need to prepare even more. Nothing can be over looked and nothing can be assumed.
  1. Effectiveness at “the Edge” requires Relentless Learning by the entire team. It requires continuous innovation and improvement of skills and methods. In the highly competitive world where teams operate today this principle is essential.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Into the Storm by Dennis N. T. Perkins with Jillian B. Murphy

Copyright holder: 2013 by Dennis N. T. Perkins

Publisher: Amacom Books, a division of the American Management Association.


A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:  Real Influence, Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

Synopsis of Content:

“Most people, most of the time, aren’t motivated to do what you want them to do”. This book is essentially about how to motivate others to do what you want them to do. On a basic level it is a book on sales. You must sell people on doing what you want them to do. To do that you apply a very basic sales technique: you identify what the other person wants and use that to influence them.

Goulston and Ullmen argue that the forms of influence taught in higher education are “disconnected influence”. It is trying to influence and motivate others without being connected to them. People recognize this immediately and are resistant to it.

They also argue that because we are convinced, often based on the very best intentions, that what we want others to do is adequate good reason for them to do it. By ignoring what others want and focusing on what we want we create a form of blind spot in our thinking which reduces our effectiveness.

To overcome this blind spot we must concentrate on effectively influencing others in the context of what they want and need. To do this they suggest four approaches:

  1. Seek to motivate others by inspiring them to achieve great outcomes. Do not settle for what is possible, look for what might be possible to inspire.
  1. Listen past your blind spot: find out what others really want and listen. Seek to truly connect with others.
  1. Engage people in their mindset: find out what they believe and what they truly want. You then explain to them how what you seek them to do will further their desires. In sales talk this means you provide them with a “solution” to their problems using your approach.
  1. Do More. It is not enough to merely identify their needs and try to solve them through your solution. You must go beyond that and do more than they could possibly expect. You must not just impress them with your solutions, you must wow them.

This approach is not easy. It is hard work. It forces you to really understand what you want people to do and why. It forces you to really listen and understand what they want and why and then reconcile the two.

When others feel truly understood and feel connected to you they are more likely to be receptive to your message and to allow themselves to be motivated to do what you want them to do to the extent it matches and meets their needs and wants. This must be a genuine process, not a sophisticated form of manipulation. People will sense insincerity and being sold. They must believe that you truly care about them and have a genuine relationship with them. This is the most effective way to influence others.


This book is very useful to anyone who wants or needs to influence others or to persuade them. It is therefore useful to anyone.

Readability/Writing Quality:  

Well written and organized.

Notes on Author:

Mark Goulston, MD, is a psychiatrist and business advisor. He is author of the bestselling book, Just Listen.

John Ullmen, PhD, is an executive coach on influence. He is on the faculty at UCLA.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Overcome your blind spot by genuinely listening to others. This is hard work and requires continuous effort.
  1. Seek to understand what others really want and why.
  1. Identify how the ways you seek to influence others will meet their genuine needs and wants.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: Real Influence, Persuade Without Pushing and Gain Without Giving In by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

Copyright holder: Mark Gouston and John Ullmen © 2013

Publisher: Amacom

ISBN: 9780814420157

272 pages.



A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy

Books2Wealth Book of the Month for April 2013 

Title and Author:  How Did That Happen by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Synopsis of Content:

The subtitle of this book, Holding People Accountable for Results the Positive, Principled Way, is a good description of the book’s purpose. The book starts with questions about How Did That Happen – first focusing on the financial crisis which began in 2007. Financial markets melted down, billions of dollars were lost, banks faced bankruptcy and many other businesses were in trouble. Using this as a starting place the authors ask the frequently heard question, how did that happen, and then discuss how to avoid the need for that question by using proper accountability systems.

The authors have devised a graphic presentation of their work consisting of two concentric rings: an inner ring and an outer ring. These rings define what they call the accountability sequence.

The outer ring includes the basis for establishing expectations, a foundation to insuring accountability. The outer ring includes a focus on Form, Communication, Alignment, and Inspection. They explain in great detail how these functions should be used to create clear expectations for employees and others.

Inside the outer ring is the inner ring which focuses on the four solutions: motivation, training, culture and accountability.

Together these functions create clear expectations and then provide the basis for accountability for the execution of those expectations. They also stress the importance of doing this work in a positive principled way.

The book is a very thorough examination of what goes wrong with accountability and why. These reasons include a failure to clearly define expectations, properly communicate them, provide proper positive and principled feedback, and holding everyone from the top to the bottom of an organization accountable for following through. The authors use both a detailed theoretical explanation as well as a rich palette of examples of what can go right and wrong depending on how you implement these solutions.


Anyone who works in any organization where people’s performance is critical to success can benefit from this book. It is equally applicable in business, nonprofits, and government. It provides a framework for how to clearly establish a foundation for accountability and making it work. It will prove particularly valuable to those in management and control of an organization but elements of it would be useful to anyone working with others where expectations and accountability are important. It is difficult to imagine any organization where these things are not critical.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

The book is well organized and well written. It is moderately difficult and builds on a sequence of concepts that require some study and review.

Notes on Author:

The authors are well established advisors and consultants who have written other best seller business books including The Oz Principle and Journey to the Emerald City. Their business is Partners in Leadership, Inc.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. It is most useful to assume that people are trying to do the right thing. Searching for flaws in the system which establishes expectations is more productive then finding fault.
  1. It is critical to clearly define and communicate expectations to insure accountability.
  1. It is equally critical to manage expectations and focus attention on that process throughout any business operation.

Publication Information:  

Title and Author: How Did That Happen by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Copyright holder: 2009 by Roger Connors and Tom Smith

Publisher: Penguin Group


A Book Review by Daniel R. Murphy-

Title and Author:  The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin

Synopsis of Content:

This is a compilation of various writings by America’s grandfather of success, Benjamin Franklin. It begins with the introduction he wrote to his autobiography. It is then divided into three sections:

The Way to Wealth

In this section Franklin discusses the importance of Industry (what we would today call hard work); Self-Reliance; Frugality; Charity; Experience; and all peppered with pithy axioms and Yankee sayings. Little has changed since Franklin wrote these words. He did not invent these ideas. They represented the native Yankee work ethic and the Judeo-Christian ethic.

Advice to a Young Worker

In this short article Franklin remembers the disciplines and methods that served him so well in his youth in the working world. It is a short review of those “virtues” as he calls them, of hard work, persistence, frugality, etc. He frames these ideas for the young man or women seeking to do well.

The Path to Virtue

As a young man Franklin began a self-improvement project, concentrating on one virtue every week until he felt he had incorporated them into his life. He discusses the value of Temperance (avoiding over indulgence), Silence (avoiding trifling conversation), Resolution (resolving to follow through), Frugality, Industry, Sincerity, Justice, Moderation, Tranquility, Chastity, and Humility.

As was customary in the 18th century Franklin did not divorce personal integrity and virtue from personal success. The improvement of the person was required to attain success on both a personal and business level. He understood, as did Jim Rohn two centuries later, that you cannot be less a person and a success at the same time.

While some of Franklin’s moral teachings may seem naïve and preachy today one has to wonder if the world would not be a much better place if more people heeded this advice. Today’s headlines all too often describe the deceit, cheating, and lack of integrity among our leaders and business leaders. Franklin understood that one must constantly work to improve themselves to be successful. One must be a good person to be a successful person.


Anyone serious about genuine self-improvement and development of the whole self in order to be successful will benefit from this timeless work. In it you will find the fundamental principles that nearly every success author since has espoused.

Readability/Writing Quality:   

Franklin wrote remarkably clearly for an 18th century author. He wrote for the common man, not for the intellectual. While the organization and style of that period is a little difficult for modern readers his work was much more readable than most of his contemporaries.

Notes on Author:

Benjamin Franklin was an eminently successful American from the 18th century. He succeed in the printing and publishing business so well that he was able to retire from active business by his early 40s. He spent the rest of his life as a statesman, diplomat and inventor. He was instrumental in many public improvement projects founding the first public library, insurance company and fire department in the United States. He became one of the sages and principle architects of our nation and helped write the US Constitution. He was one of the most important founding fathers.

Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. When someone complained about paying taxes Franklin responded, “We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly. It is only by mastering one’s own self that one can truly attain success in life.
  1. Franklin appreciated the value of time, our most precious asset. He wrote, “If dost thou love life, then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
  1. In one proverb Franklin incorporates both the need for hard work and the balance equally important to a successful life: “Drive thy business, let not that drive thee; and early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise, Poor Richard says”.

Publication Information:  

The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin

Published by Best Success Books (Kindle). This material is in the public domain.



Book Summary- Safe Money Millionaire – Written by Brett Kitchen and Ethan Kap By Joe Mosed

Guaranteed retirement income is the name of the game. I think the financial industry has done their best to destroy trillions of dollars of wealth for a commission. I am fine with people getting paid for rendered services but there should be no fees in a loss market situation. We need to be thinking about preserving our capital as well as building it and NOT gambling our future away.

Why is this important to me?

I always want to ask this question as if I am sitting in your shoes. I don’t want to waste your time. How are you doing in your retirement? Have you made money in the last three years or are you still in a rebound from the 40% haircut that Wall Street provided in typical 401K plans?

The great housing burst was partially created by derivatives. Perhaps 100 people actually understand these instruments. Our economy was on the verge of collapse because traders needed to get their year-end bonus. Selling financial instruments that can take down a banking institution with a simple 3% price movement is not the smartest way to go. Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and Merrill Lynch all proved this in 2008. Traders leveraged billions of dollars for millions in commission. I guess you need to go to Harvard or MIT to understand these trades but the math does not look to smart even to a 3rd grader.

Safe Money Millionaire is a good book that you need to read if you are interested in having a retirement. Rule #1 simply states don’t lose money and Rule #2 states – don’t forget Rule # 1. This book adheres to these rules.

Safe Money Millionaire is a quick read that covers several topics. For the sake of time, I will cover three key takeaways. The end goal is financial freedom and independence.

  1. Breakup with Wall Street – If you invest strictly for Rates of Return then you are doomed. This is a one dimensional approach that does not work for the masses. Wall Street pitches investment advice 24×7. This is designed to attract sheep. Cramer from Mad Money recommended viewers purchase CIT Group because it was primed for an uptick. Four weeks later CIT filed for bankruptcy. This type of advice is seen all over the place. You are encouraged to buy Mutual Funds that have a high past performance. If you really think about this you are being encouraged to buy at a high price. To make money you need to buy low and sell high. Gambling is a sure way to financial ruin. You need to take your financial education into your own hands. You need to guarantee your principle and your rate of return. The key word here is guaranteed.
  1. Pay Taxes on the Seed or the Crop – Farmers are allowed to either pay taxes on the seed or the crop. Which would you rather do? If you said pay on the seed then you are correct but this also blows your 401K logic out of the water. When you pay seed or basically invest in after tax dollars, you are locking in your future because you know exactly how much money you will receive back. If you decide to pay on the crop then it is not guaranteed how much you will pay because most likely the tax rate will be higher. To be a Safe Money Millionaire, you need to pay on the seed not the crop.
  1. Financing Yourself to Wealth – This does not mean leverage yourself to the hilt with bank debt. Financing yourself to wealth means creating your own bank and then using your money efficiently to become wealthy. Why did Willie Sutton rob banks? Because that is where the money is. This strategy is one of the strongest I have seen and using the Infinite Banking Concept with a long term approach will absolutely secure your future.

Safe Money Millionaire is another book that highlights the Infinite Banking Concept and debunks traditional investment advice. In the book the authors quote Suze Orman. When asked what she invests in, she says: “I save it and build it in municipal bonds. I buy zero-coupon bonds and all the bonds I buy are triple-A-rated, and insured so even in the city goes under, I get my money.” When asked about playing the market, she says, “I have a million in the stock market, because if I lose it, I personally don’t care.” These statements are powerful because she invests in guarantee returns. The bond market is NOT the stock market.

I hope you have found this short summary useful. The key to any new idea is to work it into your daily routine until it becomes habit. Habits form in as little as 21 days. One thing you can take away from this book is Rule #1- Don’t Lose Money. Schedule 15 minutes each day to get educated on guaranteed investments like permanent life insurance, insured bonds and annuities to jump start your way to financial freedom. These require education on your part. When you do that and couple it with the Infinite Banking concept then not only will you be financial independent, you will become wealthy.

Joe Mosed invites you to subscribe to http://www.successprogress.com to receive free video book summaries. Our vision at Success Progress is to provide relevant & meaningful content to our user community. To view the video summary of this article please visit http://www.youtube.com/successprogress

(c) Copyright – Joe Mosed / Success Progress All Rights Reserved Worldwide.


The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

Title and Author:   The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick

Synopsis of Content:

Using social media effectively to promote a business, a new book, or anything else you want to promote is an art and a collection of skills. In this book Kawasaki and Fitzpatrick provide some great and insightful tips on how to do just that.

They teach you how to optimize your social media profiles, tips on how to keep adding good content, the importance of frequent posting, the power of curation and more. There is a chapter on how to respond to comments including how not to – that is how not to be negative no matter what commenters say to you.

There are additional chapters on integrating your social media with you blog, how to socialize events and specifics on how to get the most out of Google +, Twitter and Facebook.

The book includes good examples. Both authors are masters at using social media with large followings. They teach the techniques on how to do this. No matter how you put it social media is a lot of work and their tips do not change that but they can save you time.

What I found useful about this book:

In addition to the great tips and examples the book gives detailed explanations on how to do things. You have to have some familiarity with social media to gain the most from this, it is not ideal for beginners, but anyone can benefit.

The book is available in print and electronically. It is full of hyperlinks that take you to a great deal of additional content. To get the most from the book get the electronic version.

Readability/Writing Quality:

The book is very readable. Kawasaki writes in a very informal style that is very easy to follow. It is also well organized.

Notes on Author:

Guy Kawasaki works for a company called Canva, an on line design service. He is a fellow at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked for Apple and Google.

Peg Fitzpatrick is a social media strategist and director of digital media at Kreussler Inc. She has led successful social media campaigns for large corporations including Google and Virgin.

Other Books by This Author:

Kawasaki has written 13 books on various subjects.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Effective use of social media requires a well-designed strategy. It is not a hit or miss game. You have to develop your strategy and follow through with it.
  2. Social media is changing every day. To be most effective with it you have to experiment and keep abreast of the changes.
  3. To be effective in social media you must share good content and be yourself.

Publication Information:

Title and Author:  The Art of Social Media by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
Copyright holder: ©2014 by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Portfolio / Penguin.


A book review by Daniel R. Murphy

Title and Author:   The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell

Synopsis of Content:

Based largely on his own experiences as a leader in both nonprofit and for profit enterprises Maxwell sets out 26 “lessons” on how to be a better leader. He suggests that being an effective leader requires one to improve oneself and to lead oneself first. He provides anecdotes from his own experiences and quotations from other notable leaders to frame each lesson.

Some of these lessons are about how to be successful in one’s work. He counsels you to find your passion – an area of work you love to do – and then to pursue it with full commitment. He offers particular skills a good leader must develop including being a good listener, the need to “define reality” and steer others in accordance with that reality and to keep your focus on your primary goals.

There are chapters on time management, which he calls life management; how to develop others and how not to; how to learn from mistakes; the importance of continuous learning; how to distinguish oneself as an effective leader in tough times; how best to run a meeting; and many other such lessons.

Maxwell’s original profession was as a pastor and there is a preachiness to his writing. If you can get past that there is much of value in what he teaches.

What I found useful about this book:

The book goes deeply into the various aspects of leadership. It teaches what not to do as much as what to do. He uses real world examples to illustrate the principles he teaches. Being an effective leader is much about being an effective person. It is about improving one’s skills and understanding of others as well as understand oneself. He does a good job of balancing these things.

Readability/Writing Quality:

The book is well written and edited. It is easy to read and is well organized.

Notes on Author:

Maxwell is a pastor, speaker, coach and author. He was declared by Inc. magazine to be the most popular leadership expert in the world in 2014. He leads several organizations that teach leadership around the world.

Other Books by This Author:

Maxwell is a prolific writer. He has written over 40 books.

Related Website:


Three Great Ideas You Can Use:

  1. Your ability to become a better leader is based on how you respond to others and to circumstances.
  2. The first person we must examine is ourselves. If you do not look at yourself realistically you will never understand where your personal difficulties lie.
  3. Listen carefully to those you lead. Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.

Publication Information:

Title and Author: The Leadership Handbook – 26 Critical Lessons Every Leader Needs by John C. Maxwell
Copyright holder: ©2008 John C. Maxwell
Publisher: Nelson Books


What Are Your Hidden Strengths?

“Your strengths will get you in the door, but to make progress you are going to have to become more of who you are and draw on your hidden strengths.

Hidden strengths are not weaknesses. They are capacities you have that have yet to be recognized, developed and utilized. They become your Learned Strengths.

Your strengths and weaknesses need to be managed. Strengths need to be managed so that they are not overused or overbearing. Weaknesses need to be managed so that they don’t derail you. Often they can be delegated. But the area between the two—your hidden strengths—not only provide a deep pool of strengths to draw on but they will help you to smooth out your rough edges and bring into balance your natural strengths.

Hidden Strengths, authors Thuy and Milo Sindell have identified 28 skills in four categories and made available a free Hidden Strengths Assessment at HiddenStrengths.com. The four categories are: Leading Self, Leading Others, Leading the Organization, and Leading Implementation.

Once you have identified your hidden strengths you can identify areas to focus on developing that would nullify a weakness or contribute to your success without directly attacking areas where you struggle. For example, Barry lacked emotional control and it was hurting his leadership capacity. He did have hidden strengths in the areas of resilience and flexibility. So instead of attacking his weakness, he developed his resilience and flexibility. In doing so he did not get so fired up that he lost control of his emotions. The authors note that “if he prepared ahead of time for meetings by formulating his ideas and alternatives, it make him more flexible when he listened to others’ ideas, and everyone would feel heard and understood.””

Read the rest of the review here.

Source: Leadership Now Leadership Blog (author not identified)