Book Review: The Last Lecture

"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted"

I recently just finished the book that follows up on the "last lecture" by fellow proud nerd, Randy Pausch, nearly a decade after his death (he passed in July 2008), and a decade to the day after the now famous lecture. I've been getting knee deep in death lately (which seems to be a trend, especially with some of my movie reviews). I've been watching The Leftovers, where coping with loss is a major theme. The Last Lecture is the dream scenario for many in that show, where someone knows the end is coming, and is more able to cope and prepare, and tell the people around him the impact they've had on him, as well as the future he hopes for.

The book expands on the speech, and reflects on it. I had always heard about this video, but never really delved into it. I sat down to watch it after I read the book and in preparation of this post. I'm glad I did. It's nice to look back long after he has passed to keep moving his message on. It's a simple, positive one that cuts through a lot of the cynicism and negativity around us. While I can certainly acknowledge his upbringing gave him a lot of benefits, simple advice sometimes helps to affirm what we all as humans should strive for.

I love the quote above, as it is something I'm currently grappling with and have had to come to terms with in the past. I look forward to the clarity of hindsight as I move forward (if only it was given to us in the moment).

As I said, I've been watching The Leftovers, which deals with loss, and I think we should all also be a lot more grateful for the time we have with those we care about, and we should tell them what they mean to us. I got married when it may have been sooner than some were expecting. But I was ready to marry my wife when I proposed, and I didn't want to wait any longer to be her husband.

I encourage you to give the video another viewing if you haven't seen it in a while. It's a simple, pure, and will help you to reflect on where you are, where you've been, and where you want to go. It will also help to honor a man who loved life, and lived it fully.

Book Review: "Give and Take"

"... when concern for others is coupled with a healthy dose of concern for the self, givers are less prone to burning out and getting burned—and they’re better positioned to flourish."

As a part of my professional development plan for 2017, I decided to finally read Give and Take by Adam Grant. I've been recommended this book several times by several different people so I figured it'd be good to get around to actually reading it. I'm so glad I did. I really enjoyed this book. I felt like it was speaking to me at just the right moment as I work to move up and grow in a very different work environment. There is so much good stuff in this book so the short version of this review is me telling you to go out there and get this book now. Here's the long version:

Through a series of interview, stories, and studies, Grant explores the idea that being a "giver" is the best way for someone to get ahead versus the popular notion that we all need to be ruthless "takers". Across all different industries, this theory holds to be true, and Grant gives objective evidence to back it up, much from his own experience as well as that of others. He also gives helpful advice on how to overcome common hurdles for givers, like negotiating, being assertive, and avoiding burnout.

"This is what I find most magnetic about successful givers: they get to the top without cutting others down, finding ways of expanding the pie that benefit themselves and the people around them. Whereas success is zero-sum in a group of takers, in groups of givers, it may be true that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts."

In a world where we're experiencing vast complex hardships, fear, and our social capital is at an all time low, I feel like this book is something we all need to read now more than ever. We can make a better world for all if we work together, trust one another, and build bridges, not walls.

"When people assume that others aren’t givers, they act and speak in ways that discourage others from giving, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy."

"Givers reject the notion that interdependence is weak. Givers are more likely to see interdependence as a source of strength, a way to harness the skills of multiple people for a greater good."

I hope you read this book and integrate more giving into your life in however you see fit.

Thanks for stopping by!

Book Review: Brewing Up a Business

"Of all that the world has to offer, it is innate human potential that is the most impressive."

I recently finished reading a book that I've been meaning to read for a while now, Brewing Up a Business, by Sam Calagione about the founding of Dogfish Head Brewery. I got the second edition a few years ago when it came out and actually got it signed by Sam when he came to visit University of Delaware to promote it. Dogfish has always piqued my curiosity since it is something from Delaware that a lot of people know of. I've had a few beers of theirs that I've liked, and recently (finally) visited their brewery in Delaware (they have a ale house here in Maryland that I need to check out too). Nevertheless, I've appreciated them as an ambassador of my (sort of) home state and was excited to sit down with this book after far too long putting it off.

I will say that this book didn't grab me in its entirety. There are cool parts, like the stories about the early days of Dogfish Head. There are also less cool parts, like going into how to balance your small business's budget (oversimplifying a bit here). I personally wasn't reading this book for the introduction to business lessons. I wanted stories and advice about life. I appreciate that the book has both, but it ended up with a decent portion of the book not being for me. I skimmed through the parts that started to lose my attention. It felt mostly like pretty boiler plate leadership and business tips that are very much currently part of the zeitgeist on sites like Inc or Fast Company (granted this book came out several years ago, so it was probably a little ahead of the curve).

There are some fine morsels in there (see the above quote which I love). There is also some neat connections for me personally between the obvious location for the brewery in Delaware, where I grew up, but also where I was born in Maine (the state as a whole, not my hometown). I really like craft beer, going to breweries with my partner, trying new things, and meeting the people who are passionate about their craft. It helps get a local flavor wherever I go and is a great way to relax and connect with others. I look forward to continuing this trend. I appreciate the opportunity to read this book to deepen the respect I have for Dogfish Head.

Go check out this book at your favorite book retailer or your local library. Sam Calagione also released another book recently, Off-Centered Leadership, so if you want more from Dogfish Head, check it out too!

Thanks for stopping by!