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New Years – Resolutions and Random Initiatives

 I’m not big on formal New Years’ resolutions. But, I like to take stock of ideas I found interesting last year, and ones I am intrigued by now. Often these ideas come from books, or are embodied in them.

Books I enjoyed last year:

  • Heads in Beds – snarky, insightful account of a young man’s ascendancy in the hotel business. He starts in New Orleans and moves up to New York, and has many interesting adventrues and encounters. He’s an amazing writer, but in addition to being entertaining, he offers practical advice on how to get good deals at hotels.
  • No Easy Day – First hand account of the raid that found and killed Osama bin Laden. It was riveting, but the big surprise was the account of how Seals are trained, and how they move up to become members of Team Six. These guys must be the most well-trained athletes in the world.
  • The Finish: The Killing of Osama bin Laden by Mark Bowden – I read this right after No Easy Day because it provided detail on how we figured out where bin Laden was. The surprise from this book is learning about the technology related to drones and information sifting.


Books I plan to read this year (or have already started):

  • To Sell is Human – by Dan Pink – I always enjoy his take on things. Pink effectively argues that more of us now need to “move” people to adopt our ideas and proposals (e.g. a form of “selling”). Lawyers “sell” ideas or arguments, so this book is relevant to them, and I’m finding lots of good information here on how to be more persuasive.
  • The Art of Explanation – by Lee Lefever. The author is the founder of, a company that helps companies explain their products by using short videos that make use of visuals. Dropbox is one of their clients and you can see Lefever’s handiwork if you watch the Dropbox video his company created. This book is a great primer on how to explain things better. I’m surprised at how much I am learning, mostly by simply becoming aware of how great explanations work.


New ideas and tools I’ll be paying more attention to:

  • Mindmapping – I’ve used these for a few years now, but not extensively. This year I feel like I’ll be mindmapping pretty much every day. The trick will be to develop a workflow that lets me create and tweak my maps from anywhere, and on any device (e.g. computer, iPad, or iPhone).
  • Presenting from an iPad – I love walking up to a podium to do a presentation with just my iPad. If I’m standing at a podium it’s really the easiest tool to set up and present from. The only limitation is that once the Keynote slidedeck gets too large it won’t work; and my slidedecks often contain lots of video clips. But if the presentation is not too large it’s the easiest way to present from a podium.
  • Webinars – I love doing live CLE seminars. It’s great to get immediate facial feedback, and also I like the social interaction after the event. But the fact is: a lot of what I talk about could be explained better if the audience was at their own computer as I did a live demo from my computer. This is what webinars are optimal for, and I think they’re a great compliment to live seminars. Or they can be useful in their own right. The trick is for potential audience members to know how to log into a webinar, which I think most people now know how to do.


Anyway, that’s part of my list of books and tools I’ll be focused on next year. What about you? What are you reading or trying to learn?

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