A Book That Will Help You Become Better at What You Do


Mary Jo

I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing – the process, the product, tools, habits, everything – so I was pre-disposed to enjoy On Writing, written by prolific writer Stephen King.

The book is a combination of memoir and master writing class, creating a combination of practical tools and suggestions imbued with encouragement and inspiration. It can be a quick read or do as I did and spend time thinking, researching, and implementing some of these ideas.

Biggest takeaway:  If you want to become a better writer, read. Read a lot. And that’s one reason I’m glad we started this 2018 travel reading challenge.

From Mary Jo

Maybe it’s because I have a bunch of business goals I’m keeping my eye on, but this year I seem to be reading a bunch of business-related books. I’m juggling a lot of balls right now, so it seems like a good time to pick up The One Thing.

It’s a simple concept, instead of trying to multi-task, focus on the one important thing in your life. The concept has merit, do one thing well instead of a bunch of things poorly, but only summarily takes into account the fractured lives that people – often women – lead. Not everyone is a CEO in a financially successful business, with staff at work and a spouse at home that will keep everything running smoothly. While there are some good takeaways from this book, it felt a bit sexist, and I would like to have heard a woman’s voice talk about battling through the responsibilities women are faced with to discover their one true thing.

From Mary Jo

I’ve reached the point in the growth of my business where it’s time to review – and in most cases raise – my rates. Whenever this happens there can be pushback on the new rates, potential clients trying to wheedle down my ask to the very lowest price possible. I get it, there’s only so much money to go around, and I can’t blame people for wanting to get the very most for their spend.

In the past, it was a fairly common response for me to suggest splitting the difference. But after reading Never Split the Difference, that’s not going to happen again.

The author explains that in his business (hostage negotiations), splitting the difference means that someone (or someones) die. That’s not an acceptable outcome. In the book, he lays out step-by-step scenarios on how to incorporate winning negotiations into everyday life.

I hated this book, bemoaning that it was hours of my life that I’ll never get back. But, even though I didn’t like it, I read it and it goes on the list.

The author seems terribly self-indulgent, a little too full of himself, and doesn’t bring any real qualifications to his conclusions in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. (And I would point out that the book is full of F-bombs, perhaps for a lack of sufficient English skills.

There was probably a redeeming concept or two in here, but it was buried beneath too much self importance.