In the midst of migrating posts, papers, photos, projects and ramblings to Squarespace. Thanks for your patience :)
I still remember where I was when I read this article from CNN in 2006, where a centenarian cited cold showers for 100 seconds every morning as one of the factors that may have led to his long life. I was visiting my parents and had to mentally prepare myself by overcompensating and starting with a cold shower. It was the longest 100 seconds of my life.
Fast forward to now, 2018. I have been doing the 'cold shower countdown' for over a decade, and sometimes it is still just as mentally challenging as that first time! The trick is to NOT overthink it nor overcompensate by making the water too hot beforehand.
Some days I hardly make it through a full count of ten under a barely cool rinse, and other days I lose track of time during an entire freezing cold shower. My goal everyday is to withstand it either colder, longer, or both, than the day before. And if I fail? I'll turn off the water, dry off, and strive to do better tomorrow.
Have you made the switch to the #coldshowerclub? Give it a try - just a count to 100 - and let me know what you think.
I know this post is a couple of weeks overdue, but I had two lingering books from the end of 2017 that I had to finish first! I read/listened to 30 books this past year! So, without further ado, please continue below for a brief and SPOILER-FREE overview of the books I read/listened to in 2017.
Please leave comments, questions, and suggestions on what to read this year!
|| NON-FICTION ||
Born A Crime - Trevor Noah | I found this book of particular interest, as Trevor and I are almost the same exact age, and faced similar cultural influences thousands of miles apart. However, I felt that the book was overhyped, as it ends a bit abruptly and off-tone. Additionally, I think that his writing style reflects his inability to make the leap from intelligent discourse to intellectual insight, as is often frustratingly apparent on his tv appearances. I only recommend this as an audiobook, so you get to enjoy Trevor's talent and penchant for a variety of accents and pronunciations. [Audible Link]
Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times - George Crile | An absolute MUST READ for anyone interested in American or international politics, or anybody seeking more clarity about how the US built relationships and got involved in such quagmires in Pakistan and Afghanistan over the last 30 years. [Audible]
The Dynamics of Persuasion: Communication and Attitudes in the 21st Century, 4th Edition (Communication Series) - Perloff, Richard M. | An academic exploration of marketing, social psychology, etc. in regards to persuasion and influence.
Homo Deus - Yuval Noah Harari | A must-read! Deftly combining various disciplines, YNH takes readers on a whirlwind tour throughout human history and evolution (socially, technologically, philosophically, etc.) and offers poignant predictions for our future as a species. [Audible]
Influence: Science and Practice (5th Edition) - Cialdini, Robert B. | More digestible and actionable version of the Persuasion text above, from one of the originators in the field!
The Nerdist Way (How to reach the next level in real life) - Chris Hardwick | A funny introduction to self-improvement book, geared towards video game and RPG nerds, against the backdrop of the rise and fall and re-rise of the former host of MTV' Singled Out. Lots of great actionable advice, especially in regards to dealing with email clutter. [Audible]
The New Encyclopedia of Snakes - Chris Matteson | Fun reference & coffee table book
The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels - Pease Gadoua, Susan | Book about relationships; I expected more from this on practical advice for those thinking about marriage and relationships. More just a summary of current literature and homage to Esther Perel and advice for current open marriages.
Selling The Wheel: Choosing The Best Way To Sell For You Your Company Your Customers - Cox, Jeff | Fun story-driven book to explain various concepts in sales, management, and entrepreneurship.
Supermensch - Shep Gordon | Wow what a fascinating look behind the scenes of 5 decades in Hollywood, Rock n roll, and the world of celebrity chefs and world-class talent agents. Literally a story about drugs, sex, and rock n roll. I recommend the audible version so you can really enjoy Shep's hard east coast accent and reading through wry smiles as he retells his life's story. [Audible Link]
Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman - Richard P Feynman | An amazing lifelong tale at one of America - and the world's - most interesting physicists. From participating in a band in Carnivale, to lecturing at Princeton, and from the Manhattan Project to John Lilly's sensory deprivation tanks, this is a life story unlike any other. Highly amusing, engaging, and inspiring! [Audible]
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running - Murakami, Haruki | A fun, short memoir of the famous Japanese author's mindset and challenges covering a decade of long-distance running. [Audible]
|| FICTION ||
All Our Wrong Todays: A Novel - Elan Mastai | Another take on the messing-with-the-past-during-time-travel paradox trope. Overall, it's a funny, if not sometimes philosophically depressing, and thought-provoking read. Not the most original characters but still a well-written enjoyable tale, told from the perspective of the time traveling protagonist and his quest to alter history and secure the timeline in which 2016 saw technological advances a la The Jetsons [Audible]
Children of Time - Adrian Tchaikovsky | A really unique take on futuristic sci-fi and the space opera genre. An unexpected pleasure. Might also help increase empathy towards spiders for any arachnophobes... [Audible Link]
A Column of Fire - Ken Follett | I reallly, really wanted to like this third novel in the Kingsbridge series, but Follett just didn't deliver. The other texts in the series drew the reader into an emotional relationship with the main cast of characters, and drew visceral reactions of disgust towards the antagonists, while also educating readers on art history and the intricacies of grand architecture. This book felt like an excuse to attack and explore the rift between the Catholic and Protestant churches, without the same level of depth. [Audible]
A Conjuring of Light - V.E. Schwab | The third book in the Shades of Magic series by a veteran female author. A fun short (compared to the popular epics) fantasy series with a young female and young adult male protagonists. [Audible Link]
The Dark Tower Series (Book IV, Book V, Book VI, & Book VII) - Stephen King | King's self-proclaimed magnum opus, the entire series took nearly three decades to write, and took me a year to read. The final 4 books in the series were equally engaging and experimentally surreal as the introduction. I haven't read many of King's other works, in which universe this series takes place, but it was a great read for a fan of adult western-themed fantasy. Grab the first book, or give it a listen, and follow the gunslinger as he chases the man in black across the desert. [Audible Links Book IV, Book V, Book VI, & Book VII]
Edgedancer: From The Stormlight Archive - Brandon Sanderson | This short story is like an 'inbetweenisode' in book form. It introduces two new characters seminal and important to the rest of the Stormlight Archive series. This probably should have just been included in one of the larger texts and split into a couple of introductory chapters. A must-read for those following the 10-volume Stormlight Archive. [Audible]
The Emperor's Soul - Brandon Sanderson | A novella from the award-winning and prolific Sanderson, taking place on the same planet as his Elantris series. A well-written story, as always with Sanderson, yet somewhat forgettable on its own and feels like it ought to be a long chapter in a larger tome. [Audible]
The Girl With All The Gifts - M.R. Carey | I'm a sucker for zombie stories about anything other than videogame style zombies and what have you. Also for stories told from unique perspectives, and where the reader discovers the world alongside the characters in the story. That being said, I enjoyed this story, fun at some times, and gritty at others, and both of its female protagonists.The film features Glen Close, and is on the top of my to-watch list in 2018! [Audible]
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman | A bitingly funny and witty take on the apocalypse featuring a great cast of characters; biblical, British, and otherwise. A joint success by two masters of the craft; wish I had read this sooner! [Audible]
The Last Days of Night: A Novel - Graham Moore | A riveting tale of historical fiction about the turn of the 20th century, and the rivalries among Tesla, Edison, and their lawyers, lovers, and contemporaries as they race to electrify and enlighten the country. [Audible Link]
Leviathan Wakes - James Corey | The first in a series of great hard sci-fi which serves as the source material for the tv show, The Expanse. Well written, engaging dialogue, and a thought-provoking story about the future of our species evolving in numerous environments. [Audible Link]
Oathbringer - Brandon Sanderson | The third tome in the Stormlight Archive series. Sanderson is the master of sword-n-sorcery high fantasy, as his latest novel clocking in at 1300+ pages from the Cosmere proves yet again. Large worldbuilding, internally coherent, well-defined magic structure, and on and on. If ya don't know, now ya know. The author is Mormon which does affect some of the themes regarding romance, sex, and redemption. Beyond this, I can't wait for the remaining SEVEN books...[Audible]
Reamde - Neal Stephenson | Another dazzling epic tale intertwining cutting edge technology and international locales from this master storyteller. A brilliant African-American female protagonist, Jihadists at Asian cybercafes, and backcountry shootouts in Middle America. Need I say more? [Audible]
1) FAQs | That's a verb. Not a noun. Frequently ask questions of your audience! Engage them everything from on their opinions of previous events, or fonts for your upcoming fundraiser invitations!
2) IMAGERY | Use pictures, gifs, and sites like Canva.com to create visually appealing words and images
3) DO IT LIVE! | Take advantage of the Stories feature on Instagram! Stakeholders want to know whats going on behind the scenes. Share the giant platter from your latest board meeting! Show the office on a Friday, or your constituents receiving aid. This is a great opportunity to shoot and share a quick video of any action which will disappear in 24 hours.
4) SCREW SEGMENTATION | Engage ALL of your audiences. Create content for donors, potential donors, volunteers, professional staff, constituents. Put ALL of yourself out there. If you're used to segmentation, see the bonus tip.
5) #HASHTAG | Take advantage of trends by combining both #Popular hashtags, and ones which are #unique to your business, organization, or event.
BONUS: Boost Wisely! | It can be exorbitantly expensive to get your posts in front of all desired audience members. Combat this by engaging your audience constantly, and if you do want to boost or promote content, make sure you use VERY SPECIFIC (read: creepily) targeting parameters (location, interests, age, etc.) to make sure that your money is being spent as best as possible to get your post on the proper feeds.
Have any tips, tricks, or best practices of your own to add? Comment below!
"Ya know J," my friend said to me years ago after finding out he got accepted to medical school, "I'm finding that the harder I work, the luckier I get."
Ever since then I hear his voice in my head saying this exact phrase, often in times when I need motivation. You see, regardless of whichever name you want to apply it from the title of this blog, 'luck' - in its colloquial use - has little to do with chance itself. So, then what does luck ACTUALLY entail? Simple.
LUCK = PREPARATION x OPPORTUNITY
If you aren't prepared to seize the opportunity, then that moment which could have been your proverbial lucky break, is literally just another moment passing you by. How do you prepare for these moments? Work hard. Ask tough questions. Ask simple questions. Read. Write. Talk. Listen. Learn to accept and apply feedback. Be actionable. Keep your eyes up and open for and prepare yourself for any opportunities and chances which might come your way.
As I learned from my time in the Boy Scouts, 'Be Prepared'. Not just in order to be ready for moral actions, but the seemingly lucky moments of opportunity, too.
All Day I Do Air Squats
In his breakthrough best-seller, Four Hour Body, prolific author & experimenter Tim Ferriss begins with a travel anecdote about how he was caught by his friends doing 'air squats' in a bathroom stall to stay in shape while traveling overseas.
Since first reading this story, not only has my conscious concern and interest in health and well-being increased but so has the time that I spent sitting down commuting or in front of a computer. To combat the rise in sedentariness, and since I have not made the leap into a full-sized standing desk (I have a small standing corner desk but it's only big enough for a small laptop or keyboard), I got into the habit of doing air squats. All. Damn. Day.
Just put on the tea kettle? 5 air squats. Just washed my hands after using the restroom? Quickly! 5 more air squats before going back to wherever! Waiting for the bus? Why not squat? On a call? Stand up and squat! Just finished staring at my screen hunched over and working way too hard on a simple blog post? Jump/drag/stumble out of the chair and bust out a few quick air squats. Feels much better.
Basically, anytime I have a few moments waiting around or am about to physically move from one scenario to the next, I do a few quick air squats to pump my blood and use forceful breathing while doing so as a quick mental refresh. This sends positive signals to my brain and body and also helps me move on from one task to the next. I don't keep track anymore, but for an added bonus, see how quickly you can make it to 50 or 100 air squats in a day.
Finished reading the article? Leave a comment, then get up and do a few quick air squats! You'd be surprised at how easy these are to incorporate in your day!