So, you ask, what are three things you can recommend that people read and watch and use? Here are my thoughts. If you want to know more about me, check out the two sites where I do most of my writing. You’ll find out about my work as an author, blogger, ghostwriter, and writing coach at Writing a Book with Wally (http:writingabookwithwally.com). You’ll find my thoughts on leadership on my Three Star Leadership blog (http://www.threestarleadership.com). Now here are my recommendations.
Good things to read.
I’ve been writing since I was a pre-teen and I believe that writers should be readers. Here are my thoughts on three good things to read.
If you read business books, you owe it to yourself to read anything that Bob Sutton writes. His stuff is practical, well-researched, and cleanly written. His most recent book is Scaling Up Excellence, but all of his books are first-rate. If you aspire to writing a great nonfiction book of any kind, Bob’s writing is full of excellent examples of what good research looks like, how to document it, and how to interweave research findings, conclusions, and learning-rich stories.
Read or re-read the classics. I devote a segment of every day to exercise, meditation, and reading the classics. I’m working my way through Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations right now. Two other favorites are Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship.
Read novels. Not the hyper-literary kind where you’re supposed to notice and admire the style. Read novels where the story is the important thing. Novels help you slip inside another person’s skin. I love the novels of Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but my all-time favorite is Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop.
Good things to watch.
The only television I watch is junk TV. I love those Darwinian survival shows for cooks or people who race around the world or beautiful men and women seeking true love. I watch them for the same reasons I read westerns and mysteries, because I don’t have to think. Having said that, here are two good things to watch and one to not watch.
Watch TED talks. They’re perfect for learning about something new. They give you new dots to connect. Because they’re on the net you can watch them almost anywhere on almost anything. What could be better?
If you’re an American, watch the BBC news or Al Jazeera. American news networks do an awesome amount of cultural navel-gazing. Non-US news networks will give you range and perspective you won’t get anywhere else.
Now for something not to watch. Don’t watch television when you’re doing something else. When you’re eating or having a conversation or reading, turn off the TV. When you go out to eat, go to restaurants without televisions. Then turn off your phone so you can pay attention to the person you’re with and the meal you’re paying for.
Good things to use.
I love the stuff that helps me do what I do better and live a richer life. That’s the basis for picking three good things to use.
Everyone who knows me calls it my “idea catcher.” It’s an Olympus VN-702PC digital voice recorder. I use it to capture ideas when they flit through my mind. Later I transcribe (and usually edit) them so I can use them later. If you don’t capture ideas when you have them, they will float away like butterflies on the wind. It’s not enough to have good ideas, you have to capture them, too.
Use timers, reminders and checklists to help you handle routine matters so you can devote precious mental energy to more important things. Your smartphone will give you options that you can always have with you.
I love tools that are superbly made and make your work easier or your life easier or richer. I like the balance in a fine knife or shotgun. I like a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. My recommendation won’t cost you much and you can use it right out of the box. Buy some Riedel stemware you and you will enjoy your wine more. I’m drinking a nice Pinot Noir from a wonderful Riedel glass as I write this.
Connect with Wall on Twitter, @WallyBock.