Phil Knight created Nike. This book is a *phenomenally* well-written, funny, tear-jerking, inspiring look at how he and his eclectic team of misfit geniuses made Nike one of the most iconic brands in the world. If you’re into sports, business and hero’s journeys, you’ll love it. I highly recommend it. Big Ideas we explore include: Crazy Ideas, victory, billionaires getting their credit cards declined (before they’re billionaires), optimal business, gratitude, luck and answering your calling.
Christopher McDougall is a brilliant story teller (and author of Born to Run). In this great book, he weaves together a number of different narratives, with an emphasis on two: one about an extraordinary wartime adventure on Crete and the other about Natural Movement. In the process, he shares a ton of Ideas on how we can each tap into the extraordinary superpowers latent within. Big Ideas we explore include the ancient Greek meaning of the word “hero,” the mantra of the hero, why weeds + fat are optimal fuel and a great test.
This is a *super* popular book in the Paleo movement that, as the sub-title suggests, introduces us to the Whole30 and can change your life in unexpected ways. Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig created the Whole30 that has inspired tens of thousands of people to follow their plan and change their life. I’m one of those people. I talk more about how my life changed as a result in the Note. Big Ideas we explore include +1 or -1 bite by bite, the experiment of ONE, the four tests of Good Food, are grains necessary? and your personal health equation.
Joe De Sena is the founder of the Spartan Race. He’s also, as Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, tells us: “a paragon of grit” who “shows you how you’re capable of so much more than you think.” A paragon of grit. That’s the perfect description. After inspiring us with stories of real-life heroes and ancient Spartan lore, De Sena walks us through the seven pillars of Spartan training + a 30-day plan to get Spartan Fit. Big Ideas we explore include getting to the starting line, developing obstacle immunity, making thousands of small decisions and your gritty oath.
Michael Pollan is one of the world’s leading thinkers on nutrition. Time magazine voted him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He’s also a Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. One of the things I most love about him and his work is that, as a journalist, he takes a much wider, more objective view of the nutritional landscape—which can often be dominated by (and muddled by) individuals with *very* strong, dogmatic, inflexible ideologies. Big Ideas we explore: Nutritionism (vs. food), the big experiment (that failed), the Aborigine in all of us, the 5 fundamental transformations of industrializing food and Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puff and Trix cereals as health foods as per the American Heart Association. (<— Can you believe that? Crazy. And true.)
What if happiness began at the end of your fork? The latest research on neuroscience and nutrition tells us that’s a VERY wise place to start. And, of course, that’s what this book is all about: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body. It’s a really well-written, eye-opening look at how we got into the nutritional mess we’re in and the extremely damaging effects of the modern American diet. And, of course, more importantly, how we can optimize our nutrition so we can dial in the three facets of happiness: our focus, our mood, and our energy.
Cal Newport is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Dartmouth who went on to MIT for his Ph.D. and is now a Professor at Georgetown. In this book, Cal shares the top ideas he gleaned from interviews with non-grind Phi Beta Kappa members at elite schools across the country. They had to perform well AND they had to achieve those results without grinding away. Their practices, although discovered independently, reflect the same wisdom shared in the science books. It’s great to see the overlap. Big Ideas: pseudo-work vs. real work (and a secret formula), conquering procrastination, when/where/how long should you study?, #1 way to learn (and #1 trap), the importance of spacing out your work and the power to choose your future via excellent grades.
Want to reach your optimal weight while preventing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancer AND while feeling energized as you live longer? Eat more fat. That’s what Dr. Mark Hyman—one of the world’s leading Functional Medicine doctors—tells us. This book is ridiculously packed with Big Ideas—walking us through the eye-opening science of why fat is awesome along with a plan on how to “reboot our biology to our original factory settings” via a 21-day program followed by a long-term plan to rock it. We explore the surprising truth about fat, good fats vs. bad fats, going pegan (think: best of vegan + Paleo), a quality carb, and dealing with root causes rather than symptoms.
Benedict Carey is an award-winning science writer for The New York Times. This book is his exploration of what the latest research says about, you guessed it, How We Learn. Big Ideas we cover include the #1 enemy to learning (and how to win that battle), why distributed your learning is where it’s at, how sleeping is like learning with your eyes closed and how to put the Zeigarnick Effect to use for maximum benefit.
David Ludwig has both an M.D. and a Ph.D. and is a professor and researcher at both Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. He’s overseen dozens of diet studies, authored over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles, and supported thousands of patients looking to optimize their weight. In this book, we learn how to conquer cravings, retrain fat cells, and lose weight permanently.
Michael Pollan is the author of a number of New York Times best-selling books on nutrition. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world. If you’re looking for a SUPER compact, witty look at the primary rules on how to eat well, this is it. It’s a fun, witty, concise guide to eating well featuring 64 food rules structured around Pollan’s seven words of wisdom: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Big Ideas we explore include the 2 Facts of nutrition everyone can agree on, Rule #1, why low-fat made us fat, and the final rule (#64).
Eric Goodman is the creator of Foundation Training. If you’ve ever had back or neck or other physical pain, this book might be just what your doctor forgot to order. And, of course, if you’re just looking to take your energy to the next level, this is a gem. In the Note, we take a quick look at why gravity + sitting/bad posture = compression and why that’s so bad plus how to deal with it as we become fluent in a new movement language and have fun becoming perpetual motion machines.
The gut. That’s where all the health magic (or challenges!) begins. Alejandro Junger is a cardiologist turned functional medicine doctor who created the incredibly popular Clean Program. We covered his first book Clean and now for a spotlight on the Clean Gut. Big Ideas we explore include symptoms vs. root causes (paint any brown leaves green lately?), how food’s shelf life correlates with yours, your 2nd brain, nutrigenomics, gluten (the ubiquitous poison) and step 1 to cleaning things up (hint: remove toxic triggers).
ACT. That’s where it’s at. This is our second Note on Russ Harris and his great introduction to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. (Check out the Notes on The Confidence Gap as well.) In this book, Russ walks us through how we get caught in the happiness trap and, more importantly, how to free ourselves. We’ll take a quick look at the myths of happiness, the six principles of ACT, how to deal with emotional quicksand, how NOT to visualize (and what to do instead), and writing down your values (<— science says that’s wise).
Eleanor Roosevelt served as the First Lady for 12 years—through her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt’s terms as President during the Great Depression and World War II. She went on to play a leading role as a diplomat in the United Nations was one of the most loved and influential women of the 20th century. This book is a beautifully written, inspiring look into “Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life.” Big Ideas we cover include how to conquer the great enemy (fear), Eleanor’s Top 4 Big Ideas on Time Management 101, holding the tension between our dreams of perfection and reality while making all life one big adventure.
Katy Bowman is one of the world’s leading biomechanists—helping us integrate proper body movement to optimize our well-being. She has a great podcast + blog you might enjoy as well. This book is packed with a ton of exercises and plenty of info on the science of biomechanics to help us pay more attention to the loads we’re putting on our bodies throughout the day so we can get in harmony with how our bodies were designed to move. Big Ideas we explore include moving your TRILLIONS of cells, why movement > exercise, why walking is the secret sauce, and how to take a forest bath.
Jim Rohn was one of the 20th century’s leading personal development gurus—influencing everyone from Tony Robbins to Darren Hardy. He wrote and taught in a simple, conversational, down-to-earth style. Reading this book feels like sitting down and having an inspiring chat with one of the best old-school coaches out there. Big Ideas we explore include the formula for success (+ the 2 easies), how to unlock your potential, character = chisel, and the key to perseverance.
Daniel Goleman is a former New York Times science writer and author of the uber-bestselling book Emotional Intelligence. In Focus, we look at the underlying neuroscience of attention. We need to start by realizing that the strength (or weakness) of our attention is at the core of E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. we do. Everything! Which is why Goleman calls it “the hidden driver of excellence.” Big Ideas we explore include rumination vs. reflection, the three foci of willpower, smart practice and hitting the mental gym.
Joan Vernikos was the former Director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division. Basically, she was responsible for understanding how to optimize the health and well-being of our astronauts. In this book, she walks us through how our sedentary lifestyles are surprisingly similar to the gravity-free lifestyles of astronauts in space. Just as an astronaut’s health rapidly deteriorates outside of gravity’s pull, OUR health erodes when we adopt a sedentary lifestyle. Big Ideas we cover include Gravity 101, why gravity is so N.E.A.T., how to build G-Habits and why your telomeres don’t like you sitting so much.
Katy Bowman is the world’s leading biomechanist—helping us apply wisdom from that domain to optimizing our lives. This is a great, quick-reading, smart and funny look at how we can optimally transition from sitting all.day.long to creating a standing and dynamic (<— key word!) workstation to help us optimize our whole-body health. Big Ideas we explore include whether or not sitting is the new smoking, checking in to see if we’re active yet also sedentary, the 3 M’s of movement, working out our eyeballs, what sea turtles can teach us about our sleep and how to have the best ideas.
This is a dinky little pamphlet of a book based on a speech Albert E.N. Gray gave to a group of Prudential life insurance agents back in 1940. It’s packed with goodness and is uber-popular. In this Note, we define The Common Denominator of Success, identify the power of purpose and the fact that your future is formed by your habits.
Russ Harris is one of the world’s leading authorities on one of the most cutting-edge forms of therapy known as Acceptance and Commitment Training, or ACT for short (pronounced like the word “act” not A.C.T.). In this book, Russ tells us that we’ve been following the wrong rule book if we want to dial in our confidence. We explore The Golden Rule of confidence (and 9 other rules), why we need to defuse from our negative thoughts NOT try to eliminate them, how to have instant success (presto!), and how to move from FEAR to DARE as we live the great adventure that is our lives.
This is a surprisingly awesome book—a fable about a young captain who spends time with a master and commander who reveals the secret code of rockin’ it. It’s kinda like if a Navy SEAL wrote The Alchemist or The Way of the Peaceful Warrior or The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari. Big Ideas we cover include: U.P.E.R.S.I.S.T. (the code to being unstoppable), the 2 limitations in life, how to discover your why, how to plan in 3-D, and the magic pill you need to take.
This book is very different than the types of books I usually focus on. It’s not “self-development” per se; it’s more like “state-development”—as in, the optimal politics for our nation and world. The main thrust of the book is that we are entering a revolutionary time, the era of “Great Connection.” His primary focus is on a macro level. In our Note we focus on how we can apply this wisdom on an individual level. Big Ideas include a look at the #1 illness of our era and how to deal with it, why we need Hard Gatekeeping, the difference btwn complicated and complex and building a 10,000 year clock while answering the call to revolution.
Seneca was an old-school Roman statesman and one of history’s leading Stoic philosophers. In this book he tells us that life is only short if you don’t know how to use it and also gives us some tips on how to deal with challenging times and cultivate tranquility. Big Ideas we explore include making T.O.D.A.Y. the day, how to deal with being exiled (never know when it could happen ;), and why flexibility is the virtuous road to tranquility (and how to avoid the detours).