5 Impacting Books I Read in 2014

If you didn’t already know this about me, I am a reader.

I invest a minimum of 15 minutes a day into reading (which usually helps me to get through one book per month), but many days I will read much more than that.

I believe that every businessperson needs a personal growth plan, and that reading is a crucial part of that.

I managed to get through about 20 books in 2014, and though they weren’t all earth-shattering for me, there were definitely some great discoveries that came along the way.

In this post, I’d like to share with you five books that really impacted me in 2014.

1. The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea by Bob Burg & John David Mann

The Go-GiverWhat a powerful book to kick-start the year with. The Go-Giver is a story about a young man (Joe) that’s mentored by an older, more successful man (Pindar).

Through Pindar, Joe learns five powerful laws of success that seem completely counter-intuitive. However, he has to put them to the test to keep his mentoring relationship, and eventually discovers that each of them actually work.

The laws of success essentially come down to serving and giving. Though I am sure that there are those out there who won’t share my viewpoint, I believe that enduring success does come from creating value for the world.

I had a lot of things going on in the early part in 2014. I was feeling discouraged, but this book really lifted my spirits. It helped me to take my eyes off of myself and begin to look outwardly – to those I could add value to – again.

Though I did end up reading this book twice in 2014 (in the early part and the latter part), it added the most value to me the first time around.

Purchase this book on Amazon (affiliate link)

2. The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield & Janet Switzer

The Success PrinciplesThis is the big book of success principles (I think there are 64 to be exact).

Jack Canfield is the co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul, and was also one of the experts featured on The Secret.

Despite the criticism that continues to hover around The Secret, there is no doubt that Canfield has accomplished some amazing things. He also reinforces the importance of action throughout this book, something that was largely missing in The Secret.

The book is no doubt inspiring, and no matter what you’re taking on in business or life, there is something you can take away from The Success Principles.

The one thing I wish this book did a better job of is on the application level. There are entirely too many success principles, and you can’t remember them or implement them all at once!

Canfield himself recommends taking hold and laying claim to one at a time.

This puts the reader in charge of what they do with this information. You may use the book as a reference guide or you could master one principle at a time.

Purchase this book on Amazon (affiliate link)

3. The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

The Magic of Thinking BigEvery time I read this book, I get something new out it. That is supposed to be the case with every book you read (especially if you come back to it after a sufficient amount of time and personal growth), but I don’t find that with every book. This is one of those few exceptions.

The Magic of Thinking Big is deceptive. People that are already familiar with personal growth or business may find that it is pretty straightforward and stock. That’s what I thought when I first read it.

However, I have probably read the book four or five times now, and every time I walk away with something different.

This book goes deeper than you might initially think. Different sections will stand out to you depending on where you are on your personal growth or business journey.

If you haven’t started your personal growth journey, this is a good entry point. It’s also a good place to come back to ever so often.

Purchase this book on Amazon (affiliate link)

4. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts

The 5 Love LanguagesThough I am not married as of this writing (this book is primarily for married couples), the thing that I gained from this book was insight into myself as well as others.

I learned a lot about myself and my temperament in 2014, and this book played a major part in my ongoing self-discovery.

Learning that I was an introvert and what that actually meant was probably the most significant revelation for me in 2014, but there were other golden nuggets along the way, like in The 5 Love Languages.

The five love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

This book showed me what I had already suspected about myself; that Physical Touch is my primary love language.

But it also revealed what I didn’t really have a handle on; my close second was Words of Affirmation. I started to become aware of how much words impact me.

It was also amazing for me to discover how love languages are connected to your thoughts. When I properly understood that I receive and express love through Physical Touch, I was also able to decipher why I often thought of hugging people I care about.

Great book for couples, I’m sure, but great book for singles too.

Purchase this book on Amazon (affiliate link)

5. Wild at Heart: Discovering The Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge

Wild at HeartJohn Eldredge’s books are perhaps some of the best there are on the subject of the Bible and spirituality.

Wild at Heart gets into what it means to be a man; and the stark contrast that exists between who men ought to be and who they actually are in today’s world.

Men really are wild at heart, but it seems as though we’ve lost some of that fight, and many men today are either bored, angry or resigned to their current position in life.

I read this book as a twenty-something, and I thought it was really good, but as a thirty-something it seems to hold a different weight altogether.

I’m glad that I read it earlier in life, but I was not yet an adult, not yet solidified in my identity, not yet awakened in mind or in my heart.

This book reminded me that I need to seek God to tell me that I have what it takes. Every boy – and by extension every man – has that important question within them: “Do I have what it takes?”

I also needed to be reminded that God comes before woman. I have a strong desire to marry one day (hopefully sooner rather than later), but I needed to reawaken to the fact that a man cannot bring his question to a woman. Wow.

Purchase this book on Amazon (affiliate link)

Conclusion

Did you read any books that you really liked in 2014? Do you remember how they inspired you or changed your thinking?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Browse more book reviews

Don’t Let Rejection Stop You

One of my first bands was called Lightly Toasted Touché.

In 2004, we decided to book our own summer tour. I had the idea to put together a snail mail campaign that involved sending letters out to churches to let them know who we were and to ask for bookings.

I was fortunate enough to find a huge database of churches online, and took full advantage of that.

When all was said and done, we had nearly 200 letters to send out to churches across Canada, and something ridiculous like 1,500 letters addressed to churches in the U.S. As you can imagine, this was no small undertaking (we spent a lot of time stuffing envelopes to say the least).

Two things went wrong with this postal mail campaign. First…

The Response was Lukewarm

From our Canadian campaign, we got a total of three responses; one negative, one indifferent, and one positive.

First, here’s the negative response we got. Our letter was torn and returned to us with this note on the back.

Rejection Letter

That chicken scratch is pretty hard to read, but this is essentially what it says:

Dear Sir,

The churches are not open for service (?) here as people are mostly few elderly & can’t afford to keep up financially and church is closed + we do not like rock & roll music it’s not sacred music.

So take the name of church off your mail list Thank you

We got this response in spite of the many open-ended suggestions we gave recipients in our letters. Here are a couple. They are direct quotes from our letters:

  • The band is looking to play churches, schools, community halls, lounges, outreach events, backyard shows, church services, and just about any event that requires a band (it may be beneficial to plan an event around the band’s performance).
  • We ask sincerely that you would forward this letter to anyone you think who would best be able to help us (i.e. pastors, youth pastors, church councils, booking agents, etc.).

By the way, despite the fact that we were asked to remove the aforementioned church from our non-existent “mailing list”, they did not include a return address. The only clue was the stamp, which read “Paynton, Saskatchewan.”

Considering their population is 150, I guess it would be relatively easy to figure out what church it was, but it’s still a little puzzling as to why they even bothered to send a response except to say “rock & roll music it’s not sacred music”.

As for the indifferent response, it was from a pastor of a church I used to go to. Enough said.

Finally, the positive response. We had someone from BC, Canada that was interested in booking us. It never panned out, but at least we got in touch and started building the beginnings of a friendship.

I’m sure you’re wondering what else went wrong with our postal mail campaign. Well…

We Couldn’t Afford to Send Our U.S. Addressed Letters

Yeah, this was a slight oversight to say the least.

Despite all the effort we had put into writing the letters, signing each one, addressing all of the envelopes, and even purchasing a custom stamp that we used for the return address on the envelopes, monetarily, we couldn’t justify sending out so many letters to the States.

As you can imagine, it costs a little more money to send letters to the States from Canada compared to domestically addressed mail. Of course, the sheer quantity made it an expensive proposition as well.

Takeaways

Our efforts may have been a little misguided, but we still learned some important things from this experiment.

Firstly, postal campaigns can be effective, but if you want them to work, you must  be a little more strategic than we were. We weren’t reaching out to people we knew, and our letters were not addressed to anyone specific. In retrospect, the letters were probably too long too.

We had no idea whether the churches we were reaching out to would even be interested in booking us. We didn’t check to see whether any other artists or bands were being featured at those churches.

Secondly, you must budget for snail mail campaigns, especially if they are of a larger scale. You probably gathered that much already.

Thirdly, you can’t take rejection too seriously. Not to say that LTT went on to become a massive success, but we did play a number of gigs (some of them actually paid), and gained a little bit of notoriety for our music.

They were modest beginnings to be sure, but the promise of something better was lurking around the corner. Several years later, the original members of the band – along with a new lead singer – got back together to form Angels Breaking Silence, and though we never “toured” per se, we did play many out-of-town shows and enjoyed considerable success thanks to our well-managed financials.

Final Thoughts on Rejection

Rejection can catch you off guard. It often comes when you’re least expecting it.

But it’s not something to be dwelt upon. I have found that if you don’t catch negative thoughts early and consciously choose to change your mind, you can quickly go into a downward spiral, and that’s an unhealthy way of dealing with it.

More than likely, you will experience some rejection on your journey. Just remember that even The Beatles had critics, so there’s really nothing wrong with being rejected. It’s all about how you respond to it.

Barenaked Ladies – Gordon Review

Barenaked Ladies – Gordon Review

Barenaked Ladies – Gordon ReviewI have often been told that my music and vocal style sounds like that of the Barenaked Ladies – in particular Steven Page – many times before. The comparison is admittedly flattering and complementary.

I can’t say that I’ve always been a Barenaked Ladies fan or that they were ever my primary influence. They’ve just always kind of been there.

Still, I have memories of listening to them on vacation in Malaysia when I was a kid, and I also remember the big break they had with “One Week” when I was in high school.

A lot of people thought that the band was brand new when they broke into the U.S. market, but they had spent many years as independents, and released several demo tapes before they experienced any kind of mainstream success. Looking for a hardworking band? You’ve found one.

Gordon (affiliate link) is therefore their first official commercial release, in a matter of speaking. It sold extremely well in Canada, which is not surprising considering how polished and simultaneously quirky it was.

The Ladies cite artists like the B-52s, They Might Be Giants and “Weird Al” Yankovic as influences, and I suppose that is where some of the similarities between them and David Andrew Wiebe becomes more apparent.

“Weird Al” was a staple in my dad’s music collection, and I would later become obsessed with They Might Be Giants on my uncle’s recommendation. I have also had a love affair with New Wave music, and that’s where the B-52s fit in.

Both Yankovic and TMBG have influenced my approach to music significantly, though it doesn’t always come across lyrically. Musically speaking, I can draw some similarities (I often play acoustic guitar and use jazz chords; so do the Ladies).

As I sit back and listen to Gordon again, I am amazed at how every song is so recognizable. Again, it’s not like I wore out any of their CDs at any point. Somehow, this album has embedded itself into my subconscious without me being aware of it.

Many of the songs found here are fan favorites, and I’m partial to “Enid” and “Brian Wilson” myself. In a way, it’s almost like a Greatest Hits album. It’s what an album is supposed to be.

Gordon is serious, smart, sentimental, quirky and funny all at the same time. I think this is due in part to the chord progressions and harmonies. Though there are some frantic and upbeat numbers, there are also some slower, more laid-back songs like “Hello City”, “Wrap Your Arms Around Me,” and “What A Good Boy.”

Gordon is also daring. I think it goes a lot of places perfectionists wouldn’t go. Just listen to Page nearly breaking out in laughter on “The King of Bedside Manor”, the weird vocals and tip-of-the-hats to Rush on “Grade 9” or the comedic call-and-response banter on “If I Had $1000000”, and you find a band that was willing to let it all hang out.

What is sometimes overlooked is that they are also backed by serious talent. They could write catchy pop hits and then turn around and write ballads or folk and bluegrass tunes. They could be poignant and heartwarming, and they could be equally lighthearted and fun. They could also pay homage to Rush within the context of their own songs.

My band mate Anna pointed out that the Barenaked Ladies sound like “frustrated jazz musicians,” and nowhere is that more apparent than on this record. Just listen to “Box Set,” and you’ll see what I mean.

I can’t call myself a frustrated jazz musician, because my roots are overwhelmingly in blues and classic rock. But I am easily bored with traditional open chords (“zombie” chords), and I have often used jazz chords and suspended chords in place of them. Again, that’s where I might share some things in common with the Ladies.

In all, this is a great collection of songs. Though the they can be enjoyed individually, this is one of those rare cases where the sum is better than its parts.

7 Musicians I Would Love to Collaborate with

7 Musicians I Would Love to Collaborate with

If I could collaborate with any musician in the world, living or… living, I would pick the following individuals to create albums with.

Nuno Bettencourt

Nuno Bettencourt

Who?

Nuno Bettencourt is most known for his work with the Funk Metal band Extreme during the late 80s and early-to-mid 90s and their hit song “More Than Words”.

He has since been involved in a variety of bands and projects, including The Mourning Widows, DramaGods, Satellite Party and more recently, Rihanna. He is considered one of the most accomplished rock guitarists alive.

Why?

I think it would be awesome just to trade riffs and learn from the best. Guitar collaboration projects don’t always measure up to the hype they create (I’m definitely not comparing myself to the masters), but I think Nuno and I could create some great hooks, explore some new musical territory and maybe even develop some twin guitar licks.

Nuno is super versatile, so no matter how ambitious we got in terms of scope or genre, I’m sure we could come up with some great music.

Ivana Santilli

Ivana Santilli

Who?

Santilli is a Canadian R&B singer and multi-instrumentalist.

Why?

I’ve always loved the sound of a Fender Rhodes, and when I think of Rhodes players, I can’t help but think of Ivana Santilli (and she has a great, smoky, vintage-y voice besides).

If we collaborated, I’m sure we could cover a lot of ground, from jazz to soul to funk to R&B, but I think it would be just as cool if we experimented with electronica and rock.

Another cool angle would be to write a few stripped-down, acoustic guitar and keyboard numbers.

Remy Shand

Remy Shand

Who?

Remy Shand is another Canadian R&B/soul singer and multi-instrumentalist.

Why?

It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that I developed my falsetto voice while repeatedly singing to Remy Shand’s only official release, The Way I Feel (affiliate link).

I know that Remy is a versatile guy, and whatever he contributed to the project would be nothing short of stellar (bass, keyboards, vocals, etc). Undoubtedly we could make some great grooves and harmonies together, and since I already have a few songs that are stylistically similar to Remy’s, we could flesh those out as well.

Harry Hess

Harry Hess

Who?

Lead vocalist of Canadian melodic rock band Harem Scarem.

Why?

I’ve always loved the melodic rock/power pop genre, and I can’t think of a better vocalist to collaborate with in that genre than Harry. I don’t necessarily have a great voice to carry a rock tune, but Harry does, and I’m sure we could come up with some great harmonies too.

Harry is also an accomplished studio engineer, and has a great ear for vocals and instruments.

Pete Lesperance

Pete Lesperance

Who?

Guitarist of Canadian melodic rock band Harem Scarem.

Why?

Pete Lesperance is quite easily one of the best guitarists in the melodic rock genre. He also writes songs, plays keyboard and sings.

At one point, Pete was collaborating with Our Lady Peace’s Mike Turner under the name Fair Ground, and that was a great project with a different feel from Harem Scarem’s music.

I’m sure that no matter what type of music we created together, it would be melodic and hooky.

Josh Ramsay

Josh Ramsay

Who?

Lead vocalist and chief songwriter for Canadian punk rock band Marianas Trench.

Why?

I like practically everything the Trench has ever done. Unlike many bands in the same genre, they back their music with talent.

Aside from creating some awesome hooks, I think it would be awesome if Josh and I did a concept album.

Again, vocals have not always been my strong suit, and I would love to work with other vocalists who could help me realize some of my musical visions.

Besides that, I’m sure Josh and I could create some great music plain and simple.

Dan Reed

Dan Reed

Who?

Lead singer of the Dan Reed Network.

Why?

The Dan Reed Network was a largely overlooked funk rock/electronic rock band from the 80s, but they had a lot of catchy songs with great hooks.

I’m a sucker for rock with a groove (Pat Travers, Rick Derringer, Lenny Kravitz, etc.) and I think we could make some great groove rock together.

But even if we went in more of a laid-back acoustic direction, I would be elated.

Closing the Chapter on 2014

Closing the Chapter on 2014It has already been a full week since the New Year has begun. Have you been able to close the chapter on 2014 yet?

If you haven’t, it’s important to leave the past in the past so you can focus on what’s ahead. Whether 2014 was a good year or a bad year, it doesn’t predetermine what 2015 can be for you. You can make this your best year yet.

Here is another excellent interview via Jaime Tardy with Michael Hyatt. In this video, they are discussing the year 2014, but of course it’s just as relevant for 2015.

The whole video is value-adding, but if you don’t have that much time, I would recommend starting at 14:39 and listening through to 18:07.

Here’s an excellent quote via Michael Hyatt that extrapolates on what I was saying earlier:

I think it starts by acknowledging that you’ve got a blank canvass in front of you, and Tony Robbins says this – and I really like it – but your past does not equal your future. You know, whatever has happened last year or in previous years doesn’t have to determine the outcome that you’re going to experience in 2014. So realize that you’re standing in front of a blank canvass and the future is pregnant with possibility, and you can dream anything you want.

And here is another key quote from Michael Hyatt:

…take people through a process of processing last year, because too often if we don’t close that chapter fully, if we don’t process it thoroughly, then we drag it into the next year, and it can really inhibit the results we could obtain if we processed it correctly.

Do you have a process for closing the chapter on another year?

If not, here are the seven questions Michael Hyatt asks himself:

  1. If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be?
  2. What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring?
  3. What did you accomplish this past year that you are the most proud of?
  4. What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?
  5. What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year?
  6. What was missing from last year as you look back?
  7. What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year?

Bonus: My Answers to the 7 Questions

I’ve given you the tools. I’ve alerted you to the importance of closing the chapter on 2014. I could have just stopped there. However, I wanted to give you some added value, so here are my candid answers to the seven questions. Remember, you’re not in this alone.

1. If the last year were a movie of your life, what would the genre be?

  • Drama. It was a rollercoaster year, especially emotionally and financially. If my story were being retold, this would be the challenge part of it.

2. What were the two or three major themes that kept recurring?

  • Dipping and rising. I would suddenly get a huge influx of calls for work, and then I would hear nothing for a while. Then, the cycle would start all over again. It seems to have stabilized towards the end of the year.
  • Financial challenges. I learned some important lessons, and had to start making some changes. I couldn’t go about doing things exactly the same way I had done them for the last two or three years.

3. What did you accomplish this past year that you are most proud of?

  • Releasing my first audio course. This was a huge win for The Music Entrepreneur in my mind.
  • Redesigning and re-branding The Music Entrepreneur website. The site looks amazing, and has helped to build a lot of trust and credibility with my audience.
  • Writing guest posts for Flypostr as well as Sessionville. Both have been received very well.
  • Conducting a rather extensive outsourcing and marketing experiment.

4. What do you feel you should have been acknowledged for but weren’t?

5. What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year?

  • Not being better prepared for an internship I initiated.
  • Not asking out a girl I like.
  • Not seeing more sales for the audio course.

6. What was missing from last year as you look back?

  • Relationships! I have found excellent friends in Sean, Maveen and Dustin (and there are plenty of others I appreciate but didn’t meet this year), but all in all I either didn’t initiate enough or just didn’t have as many like-minded people to hang around with. I want to be productive, but I want to make sure I’m sharing in the victories, blessings, and challenges too.
  • Fun! Certainly, I did take advantage of being down in Spokane and played in the pool (unfortunately, it led to sunburns, heatstroke and dehydration too though; and I broke my glasses that day). I had the chance to play a few games, and there was one major get-together with old friends, but it either just wasn’t enough or wasn’t the right kind of fun. This year felt a little too serious. Of course, there were some financial constraints too.

7. What were the major life-lessons you learned this past year?

  • Don’t spend money you don’t have, even if it’s on your business. There are no guarantees that you will see a return on your investments, and many times they don’t come immediately.

Conclusion

I hope that helps you to be just as ruthlessly honest with yourself as I was. Here’s wishing you an excellent 2015, and I will be praying that it will be one of your best years yet!