Things I Learned from Each Book I Read in 2020 — Leadership I.M.H.O.

In the beginning of 2020, I pledged to read at least new 50 books by the end of the year. I fell short to that pledge, and was only able to read 45 books. (Reread around seven other books) Despite missing my goal, I’m extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from several thought leaders and various leaders of nations, the military, global organizations, and pioneers of their own industries.

From the brothers who pioneered aviation, to the person who perfected French fries-there are so much to learn from their stories, their experiences, and their adventures!

In this post, I’ll quickly go over the 45 books by quoting/paraphrasing a line or topic, that I recall, from each book. Consider this a lightning round of things I picked up from each book. Please don’t fact check. I’m sure I’ll miss a few of these.

Here we go…

PLATFORM/Hyatt, “Start a blog and write regularly” (ouch);

FINISH/Acuff, “Beware of noble obstacles.”;

WELCOME TO MANAGEMENT/Hawk, “You must become the ‘numbers’ guy and the inspirational leader,”;

STORIES THAT STICK/Hall, “Slovenian sales clerk telling a story about JFK’s cologne”;

INFLUENCE/Cialdini, “When people are uncertain, they look for social proof”;

DEEP WORK/Newport, “divide your day into ‘time blocks’ to help manage productivity”;

MEDITATIONS/Aurelius, “You’re better off not giving small things more time that they deserve.”;

ALTER EGO/Herman, “Find a signal, an action, or an object to activate your alter ego.”;

SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU/Newport, “You need to gain ‘career capital’ by having a rare and valuable skill to offer in return.”;

THE CONNECTOR MANAGER/Wilde/Roca, “Development readiness: mastery, learning agility, personal drive”;

THE LITTLE BIG THINGS/Peters, “More that ‘built to last,’ be ‘built to impact.’”;

SHOE DOG/Knight, “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what needs to be done and let them surprise you with their results.”;

CRUSH IT/ Vaynerchuk, “Quality is a tremendous filter”;

THE SPEED OF TRUST/Covey, “Trust = Performance Multiplier”;

THE EFFECTIVE EXECUTIVE/Drucker, “Effective decisions-don’t start with the facts, start with the opinions of those around you.”;

IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE/Peters/Waterman, “Essential functions of an executive: 1. Create a system of communication, 2. Secure essential efforts, 3. Define/promote purpose.”;

RADICAL CANDOR/Scott, “It’s better to have a hole (vacant personnel spot) than have an asshole.”

MULTIPLIERS/Wiseman, “Growth mindset: multipliers see intelligence as continually developing.”

212 DEGREE LEADERSHIP/Anderson, “Excellence is to do common things in uncommon ways.”

YOU CAN’T SEND A DUCK TO EAGLE SCHOOL/Anderson, “Change is the key that unlocks the growth and excitement in any organization.”

THE WRIGHT BROTHERS/McCullough, “Study, study, study — brothers would watch the birds for several hours.”

GRINDING IT OUT/Kroc, “Overnight success-thirty years is a long night.”

LEADERSHIP SECRETS OF ATTILA THE HUN/Roberts, “It’s unfortunate if decisions are made by chieftains several miles away from the front. (Delegation) Chieftains should not place their Huns in situations where their weaknesses will prevail over their strengths.”

THE 4 DISCIPLINES OF EXECUTION/McChesney/Covey/Huling, “Wildly Important Goals (WIG): From X to Y by when.”

HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE/Carnegie, “Genuine interest in other people. Smile. Remember their names. Be a good listener. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest. Make the other person feel important.”;

IT’S YOUR SHIP/Abrashoff, “Real leadership: knowing about yourself first, then use that to build a great organization.”

WORK SIMPLY/Tate, “Avoid ‘shoulds.’ Shoulds lead us to overcommitment. Overcommitment diminishes quality.”

IT WORKED FOR ME/Powell, “There are no trivial jobs in successful organization, but there are too many trivial leaders who don’t understand this.”

THE ADVANTAGE/Lencioni, “A good plan violently executed today, is much better than a perfect plan executed next week.” And “Story about a wife asking the husband, ‘Why don’t you say you love me anymore?’ Husband: ‘I told you that at our wedding, I’ll let you know when that changes.’”

THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A F*CK/Manson, “Uncertainty is the root of all progress and all growth. A man who believes he knows everything learns nothing.”

HOW TO GET YOU POINT ACRSS 30 SECONDS OR LESS/Frank, “Know your objective. Know the right person who can make it happen. Know what that person is going to want from you.”

MANAGEMENT MESS TO LEADERSHIP SUCCESS/Miller, “Remember, 8 for 8 is way better than 8 for 10.”

BUILT FROM SCRATCH/Marcus/Blank, “Responding to change is one of the reasons for the success of the Home Depot.”

THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER OVER THE SEPTIC TANK/Bombeck, (I remember it was funny, but I don’t remember any line from it.)

THE FIVE DYSFUNCTIONS OF A TEAM/Lencioni, “The five dysfunctions: No trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results.”

AMERICAN ICON/Hoffman, “Weekly BPR (business plan review) and SAR (special attention review) meetings with Alan Mulally: don’t just show the green-most importantly show the reds.”

THE 5 LANGUAGES OF APPRECIATION IN THE WORKPLACE/Chapman/White, “No employer can guarantee the security of their employees, but they can help employees feel wanted and appreciated. This can ease their fears.”

THE 8TH HABIT/Covey, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Memory is past and finite. Vision is future and infinite.”

RAVING FANS/Blanchard/Bowles, “The purpose of systems is to ensure consistency. It allows you to deliver the minimum standard of performance consistently. Use systems as a safety net.”
TOTAL LEADERSHIP/Friedman, “The lifelong pursuit of self-knowledge is the leadership imperative.”

GUNG HO!/Blanchard/Bowles, “Worthwhile work. In control of achieving goal (autonomy). Cheering each other on.”

DEATH BY MEETING/Lencioni, “The four meetings: Daily huddle, weekly tactical, monthly strategic, quarterly offsite review.”

THE CATALYST/Berger, “Don’t try to change every minds. Focus on ‘swing voters,’ who are open to facts and arguments.”

THE BEST PRESIDENTIAL WRITING/Fehrman, “If the farmer and the wageworker are well off, it is absolutely certain that all others will be well off, too. (T. Roosevelt),” “You can’t con people, at least not for long. You can create excitement, you can do wonderful promotion and get all kinds of press, and you can throw in a little hyperbole. But if you don’t deliver the goods, people will eventually catch on. (D. Trump)”;

THE FOUR OBSESSIONS OF AN EXTRAORDINARY EXECUTIVE/Lencioni, “Be cohesive. Be clear. Over-communicate. Reinforce.”

Crowdsourcing FTW

I hope you all enjoyed reading some of my takeaways from each book I read in 2020. Please do share some of the learnings from your readings. I’d love to see the title, the authors, and a one-liner in the comments below.

Have a great 2021!

Originally published at on January 15, 2021.

20-Year Financial Services Veteran. Leader and Contributor in IT, Marketing/Advertising, PR, Lending, and Customer Service. Coach. Author. Speaker.