Category : Books

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Book Review: Killing Jesus by Bill O’Reilly

So I’m sitting with some pastors the other day and one guy says, “Have you ever read the book Killing Jesus“. Everyone begins to smile and nod except me. I was the only one who hadn’t read it. This guy looks at me like he’s about to tell me the cure to cancer. He says, “That book is amazing. I listened to the audiobook and actually thought I might have pull over while driving. It made the story of Jesus so real.”

After hearing that, I found myself visiting audible.com and listening to it myself on the way home that very day.

OMG!

This book is exactly as advertised. Bill O’Reilly and Mark Dugard do an amazing job of combining scripture and historical accounts to bring the story of Jesus to life like never before. More than one time I actually gasped out loud… that doesn’t happen to me.

Here are the following reasons I would suggest reading this book:

> Great way to tie in historical events during the time of Jesus to the narratives of the Gospels.

> This book will bring you face to face with the horrors of crucifixion much like the Movie The Passion of the Christ did for so many in the 1990s.

> It will give the other ‘characters’ in the Bible a lot more detail than you ever knew before.

Disclaimer- This book isn’t written to convert people. It’s written for historical entertainment. That being said you will have to take a few things O’Reilly says with a ‘grain of salt’ and do your own research before making conclusions.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to any student of the Bible hoping to gain fresh perspective on the life and times surrounding Jesus.

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Book Review: Unashamed by Lecrae

By far, Lecrae has shattered the box of Christian music forever. His book has challenged expectations again. Who would have thought a christian rapper would ever write a book or that it would be any good? But it was so good. Lecrae’s book, Unashamed, is an honest and sincere look at the author’s life. We travel with him through his massive highs, equally massive lows, and everything in between. What we find is an ordinary man with an extra-ordinary calling on his life and his pursuit of stretching himself to become everything God has created him to be.

Here are a few of my takeaways>>>

>> One aspect that really spoke to me was Lacrae’s honestly about the struggles all Christians face when it comes to ‘earning our faith’. He talked about how we struggle to understand God’s love for us because we struggle to see ourselves the way he does. Lacrae eventually realized God loves Him before he ever makes those right decisions. He’s operated FROM the acceptance of God not FOR the acceptance of God.

>> He talks a lot in the second half of he book about having a Christian World View. I thought I knew what that was but apparently not. His ideas brought fresh insight to an old conversation about who we as believers should be on the world stage. He challenged me to view myself in the same way.

>> Finding his own unique voice in the music industry. Whether you are a music, public speaker, business owner, or a single guy looking for a date; everyone is looking for something to make them stand out. It’s amazing to realize that many of us spend most of our lives trying to ‘fit in’ when we should really be looking to stand out as our own unique self. That’s probably my number one takeaway. The question of “Who am I?” “What makes me unique?” “What is my unique voice in this world?”

I have a personal ranking system with all books I read ranging from 1 (never admit I read this) to 10 (I need to read this again, blog about it, tell the world). This book definitely made it to a 10. It’s filled with great stories, great questions,  and great encouragement. This is the kind of book that I’ll probably end up buying a few extra copies so they can be given away to guests.

You should definitely give it a try.

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Leadership Thoughts of The Week

I’ve always heard it said that,

“leaders are readers and readers are leaders.”

That statement has a lot of truth to it. However, I’ve learned something very ‘common sense’ lately. It doesn’t matter how much we read if it’s not applied. Mind blowing, right? Well for me, it is. I have a goal over the past few years of reading 50 books a year. While that’s a great goal, if the lessons hidden within each book isn’t applied, the time has been wasted. And, let’s be honest. Most books, no matter how great, can usually be summed up into a handful of bit-sized principles. (some less)

Therefore, I now keep a open app on my iphone and when something hits me, I type it in. Then over the following week, when there’s a free moment, I pull those thoughts out and pour over them. Sometimes they inspire a whole new line of thinking never before imagined. Sometimes they are great reminders of what I’ve already learned. Either way, it’s been helpful.

Therefore, as an act of accountability, I’m going to begin listing some of leadership thoughts that spoke to me over the past week  here. Hope they’re helpful:

A winning behavior will not thrive in a culture that does not support it.

-Your ToDon’t list is just as important as your ToDo list.

-Think steps not programs.

-If your habits don’t reflect your dreams and goals, you can either change your habits or change your dreams and goals.

-Do whatever you can to reinforce someone’s confidence by helping him to achieve small victories. So much of leadership comes down to knowing the people you are leading and providing them with what they need to succeed. It is also about making them confident to take risks and make changes.

-When things aren’t going right, the most important thing you can do is slow down, go deep, and figure out why.

-Leadership is more about trust you have earned than the authority you have been granted.

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TOP 10 Books I Enjoyed Reading in 2014

I am a self-admitted veracious reader. John Maxwell always says:

Readers are Leaders and Leaders are Readers.

After first hearing that quote a few years ago, I made it a goal to read about 40 books a year. I don’t always hit that goal but it’s always good to have one.

The books I read are not limited to non-fiction, self help books. Some of my favorite genres would have to be leadership books, mystery fiction, and historical biographies of great leaders.  My reading taste is really all over the place as you will be able to tell below.

Here we go. My TOP TEN favorite books this year in NO PARTICULAR ODER:

 

41BOOK ONE: 41: A Portrait of My Father

BY: George W. Bush

LINK: http://goo.gl/n9phLp

Info: I’ve always been a George Bush fan. He’s probably the best foreign policy president we’ve had in a long time. One of the things I admired about him the most is how he led by cultivating great relationships with people before asking them to follow. The world went too long without his memoire. While this isn’t that it is a great book about his life from the view of his son and former president George W. Bush. I especially loved all the little humorous comments and anecdotes Bush Jr put in the book about his mother’s famous bluntness and sense of humor. Barbara Bush deserves a book all by herself but for now, this will do.


allegiantBOOK TWO: Allegiant (Divergent Series)

BY: Veronica Roth

LINK: http://goo.gl/7DvXGc

Info: I had to finish the series. Don’t judge me. This book was probably my favorite of the trilogy mainly because it was finally over. Any series like this will be compared to the Hunger Games books and still a flash back to the Harry Potter series. People are always looking for the next big thing to get on board with. To me, this series wasn’t ‘all that’ even though the idea behind it was great. In the end, Allegiant served it’s purpose of keeping me distracted during those long training runs while I prepared for my first marathon. Hated the ending though… all I’ll say..


unbrokenBOOK THREE: Unbroken

BY: Laura Hillenbrand

LINK: http://goo.gl/YfE5TE

Info: This book needs it’s on blog post. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. First, I’m a sucker for good biographies. Second, I love a good story. Third, I love my faith and enjoy hearing about others who embrace faith in their lives. This book had all that and more. The author did a masterful job painting an early picture of a troubled Kid-Louie. Then, after everything he went through, the story ends with him investing back into troubled kids… awesome full circle. That’s just the beginning. There’s so many layers to this story.  What’s not in the book is that Louie tried for years to get his story out to the world. It wasn’t till the end of his life that everyone began to take notice. So, the only sad thing is he wasn’t able to receive the accolades he deserved.  Can’t wait for the movie to come out.


killing.lincolnBOOK FOUR: Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever

BY: Bill O’Reilly

LINK: http://goo.gl/I1yw3q

Info: It’s a shame that many people will not read this book because Bill O’Reilly wrote it. Abraham Lincoln is my favorite president so when I heard Bill had combined well documented facts and new discoveries into one book written with the feel of a reporter telling the story as if it just happened… I’m in. I enjoyed the way he crafted the telling of all the events leading up to the assassination of Lincoln. There were several facts about Mary Todd Lincoln, Lincoln’s cabinet, his generals, etc. that really gave extra color to the story.


unleashBOOK FIVE: Unleash: Breaking Free From Normalcy

BY: Perry Noble

LINK: http://goo.gl/zLMii7

Info: Love him or hate him you have to admit… Perry Noble is real! He’s a breath of fresh air in a world that always tries to be so politically correct. His common sense approach to faith and life is probably what I love about him the most. When you hear him talk it’s not hard to understand how he pastors a church that’s probably going to become the largest church in America at some point. His passion for the things that matter is amazing. This book is probably going to become an annual read for me. Loved his challenge to take the leap into what’s possible.


crashthechatterboxBOOK SIX: Crash the Chatterbox: Hearing God’s Voice Above All Others

BY: Steven Furtick

LINK: http://goo.gl/VIc9dG

Info: I’ll admit… I’ll always have a soft spot for Steven Furtick. I’ll probably read everything he ever writes. It goes back to his first book “Sun Stand Still”. At the time, I was thinking about doing the craziest thing ever with my life and was scared to death. (planting a church) “Sun Stand Still” taught me about the audacity of ‘all in faith’ and ‘going for it’ in life. Furtick’s book became my playbook for and new vocabulary for audacious faith and I still use the quote “If you’re dreams don’t scare you, they insult God.” (paraphrase) As much as I loved “Sun Stand Still”, “Crash the Chatterbox” might come close to surpassing it for me. I’ve never read an author who was so honest about his personal struggles and mental battles. Instead of making me think less of Steven it actually made me think “me too”. Loved it so much. Probably the most thought-provoking book on this list.


outliersBOOK SEVEN: Outliers: The Story of Success

BY: Malcolm Gladwell

LINK: http://goo.gl/wZhK2O

Info: This book made so much sense on so many levels. It both challenged me and helped me take a relaxing breath at the same time. No matter what you pursue with your life there are always those people who stand out as uncommonly successful. They are Outliers. People with uncommon opportunities and experiences at just the right time to make a big difference in their field of expertise. On one side it helped me say, “So it’s okay if I’m not as successful as they are. They are social oddities.” However, the question also arose, “Am I an Outlier in some way?” Loved the stories in this book.

Favorite takeaway has to be that in order to become a world class expert at something you have to apply 10,000 hours of your time working on your craft.


next.gen.leaderBOOK EIGHT: Next Generation Leader

BY: Andy Stanely

LINK: http://goo.gl/asJ7pj

Info: This will never be known as his best work but it’s one of my favorites. The main reason is because you get this sense of sitting across a table at a coffeeshop hearing Andy say these leadership ideas. He writes it as though he is pouring out practical experiences from years of leadership. Almost like he’s giving you his inside scoop on leadership life. I loved hearing him write out of personal experience and give his personal steps and guidelines. It’s a quick read and a lot of doable applications.


four.obsessionsBOOK NINE: The Four Obsessions of an Executive: A Leadership Fable

BY: Patrick M. Lencioni

LINK: http://goo.gl/pLxzni

Info: Patrick Lencioni has changed leadership writing forever. I love his approach of writing a story and drawing out leadership principles. That’s exactly what so many leadership books have been missing. There are many, many great leadership books with great theories but Patrick has helped flesh them out. By the time I finished this book, I felt as though I had been challenged and grown with the young executive. It made me want to be the kind of leader and coach the senior executive is. Great stuff.


21.laws.of.leadershipBOOK TEN: 21 Irrefultable Laws of Leadership

BY: John Maxwell

LINK: http://goo.gl/Bv9N5B

Info: I question anyone who claims to be a leader is not well read in the John Maxwell universe. If you don’t have at least 3 Maxwell books, you’re not really interested in leading. This book is now my favorite. This book and it’s companion book “21 Indispensable Laws of Leadership” make for a great foundation in anyone’s leadership life.

The most eye-opening leadership book to me is the LAW OF THE LID. If people stop growing it’s only because they’ve put a lid on their life.

 

Okay, so I took the time to give you some of my favorite books of 2014.

What do you think? Is there a book I should read next year that you enjoyed?

Tell me what you think. Also, don’t forget to share this blog on Facebook and Twitter so we can get more people’s opinions and get our 2015 reading list together.

 

 

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Book Review: Five Love Languages

5-love-languagesOf all the tag lines for books, the one for this book is probably the best. It says “The Secret to Love That Lasts”. That’s really it. We all want to love and be loved. The big trick is HOW?!

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman will help you understand how to love others in a way that means the most to them.

This book is always my ‘go to book’ when I speak with struggling couples who want to grow in their marriage. Communication is one of the number one issues that all struggle with, especially in the area of showing and receiving love.

This book will take a lot of the guess work out of figuring out LOVE.

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All, Books, LCL, Leadership
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3 Books to Jump Start Your Leadership Growth

Leadership Growth is a lifelong pursuit. You never stop growing.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received about leadership was to learn that becoming a great leader is a lifelong pursuit. It takes a long time. That helped me a lot because I hoped maybe this whole ‘leadership thing’ could be conquered in a weekend.
Yeah, I had a lot to learn and still do.

If leadership growth is your goal, it’s very important to have a working foundation of what leadership is and where you are in your journey. Here are three books to help you set up the proper leadership foundation. These are not by far the only great leadership books. They are just some of my favorites and some of the books I frequently refer back to.

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Book Review: Killing Lincoln

9780805093070_custom-54bdca8cdcaddc95dbf0e264880bcfb10d87eaed-s6-c30Title: Killing Lincoln

Link to Book

My Review: 

Abraham Lincoln has always been one of my favorite presidents. I couldn’t help but be interested in a book that sheds even further light onto the last days of his life. This book was entertaining and though provoking. While it won’t be for everyone, it was something I was glad to have read. My main takeaway were:

-You leave a legacy when you die. Make sure you are remembered well.

I realize some will not read this book mainly because of who the author is. However, if you can get past your dislike for Bill O’Reilly you will enjoy the best kind of storytelling: True History.

From Amazon:

A riveting historical narrative of the heart-stopping events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and the first work of history from mega-bestselling author Bill O’Reilly

The anchor of The O’Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America’s Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln’s generous terms for Robert E. Lee’s surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln’s dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.

In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies’ man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country’s most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history’s most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.

 

My Rating: 5 of 5

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Book Review: Decision Points

decision-points-george-bush-gyanizTitle: Decision Points

Link to Book

My Review: 

While I think life is too short to become separated over which side of the political line you are on, I do think this is one political book worth reading. Mainly because it’s not really about politics. It’s about leadership. Love him or hate him, George W. Bush presided over one of the most difficult presidencies of our time. I would argue his presidency was one of the most difficult of all time second only to Abraham Lincoln. Who knows if we would have done any different if we were in the same situation.

The unfortunate thing about being president is you don’t get to decide what will come your way while you are in office. All you can do is the best you can with what you have.

It’s also important to realize you don’t just get to make decisions and move on. You have to convince people to go along with your ideas, enlist support from opposition, etc, etc.

Putting all that together, this book was fascinating. We were able to see the decision process of a man who encountered several crisis situations, and countless no-win scenarios.

While he admits himself that he got many things wrong, he still stands to me as one of the greatest presidents in modern history. I say that not because I liked everything he did or even because of his vocal faith. I think he was a great president because of how his leadership under pressure and how he endured possibly the most difficult presidency since Abraham Lincoln. (As stated earlier). That’s just my opinion. I would definitely say to hold your judgement of this man until after you’ve read this book.

FYI- If you download this as an audiobook you get to hear him read it as well.

From Amazon:

In this candid and gripping account, President George W. Bush describes the critical decisions that shaped his presidency and personal life.

George W. Bush served as president of the United States during eight of the most consequential years in American history. The decisions that reached his desk impacted people around the world and defined the times in which we live.

Decision Points brings readers inside the Texas governor’s mansion on the night of the 2000 election, aboard Air Force One during the harrowing hours after the attacks of September 11, 2001, into the Situation Room moments before the start of the war in Iraq, and behind the scenes at the White House for many other historic presidential decisions.

For the first time, we learn President Bush’s perspective and insights on:

  • His decision to quit drinking and the journey that led him to his Christian faith
  • The selection of the vice president, secretary of defense, secretary of state, Supreme Court justices, and other key officials
  • His relationships with his wife, daughters, and parents, including heartfelt letters between the president and his father on the eve of the Iraq War
  • His administration’s counterterrorism programs, including the CIA’s enhanced interrogations and the Terrorist Surveillance Program
  • Why the worst moment of the presidency was hearing accusations that race played a role in the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, and a critical assessment of what he would have done differently during the crisis
  • His deep concern that Iraq could turn into a defeat costlier than Vietnam, and how he decided to defy public opinion by ordering the troop surge
  • His legislative achievements, including tax cuts and reforming education and Medicare, as well as his setbacks, including Social Security and immigration reform
  • The relationships he forged with other world leaders, including an honest assessment of those he did and didn’t trust
  • Why the failure to bring Osama bin Laden to justice ranks as his biggest disappointment and why his success in denying the terrorists their fondest wish—attacking America again—is among his proudest achievements

A groundbreaking new brand of presidential memoir, Decision Points will captivate supporters, surprise critics, and change perspectives on eight remarkable years in American history—and on the man at the center of events.

Since leaving office, President George W. Bush has led the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The center includes an active policy institute working to advance initiatives in the fields of education reform, global health, economic growth, and human freedom, with a special emphasis on promoting social entrepreneurship and creating opportunities for women around the world. It will also house an official government archive and a state-of-the-art museum that will open in 2013.

 

My Rating: 5 of 5

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Book Review: UltraMarathon Man

ultramarathonmanUltraMarathon Man (by: Dean Karnazes)

Link to this book

So, it’s no secret that I’m attempting something that many people have thought me crazy for. I’m training to run a marathon. While admittedly a daunting challenge it now seems like a mere walk in the park compared to what is discussed in this book. Dean is simply amazing. This guy made running a marathon not only look possible but downright boring. He has ran in every kind of weather and not just for a marathon distance. He runs for 100 miles at a time! I try to not even dry that far in one day. While I’ll warn you he sometimes uses language which may be offensive to some, you’ll love his honesty and candor.  You might also be tempted to be turned off by the slight hint of hubris as well. I say give him his dues. The guy ran 100 miles in Death Valley. He’s cooler than me. Enjoy.

From Amazon:

Ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes has run 262 miles-the equivalent of ten marathons-without rest. He has run over mountains, across Death Valley, and to the South Pole-and is probably the first person to eat an entire pizza while running. With an insight, candor, and humor rarely seen in sports memoirs (and written without the aid of a ghostwriter or cowriter), Ultramarathon Man has inspired tens of thousands of people, non-runners and runners alike, to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and be reminded of “what it feels like to be truly alive,” says Sam Fussell, author of Muscle.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

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Book Review: Simple Church

simple-church-coversBook 26 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

Simple Church (by: Thom Rainer)

Link to this book

Before reading this book I was already a steady reader of Thom’s blog. So, it was a no-brainer when I discovered he had a book. What followed was a glorious trip down common sense lane. Thom is right on track. We can get so busy making “church happen” we forget about the intangibles. The simplicity. The fact that it’s not our busy-ness that grows disciples. It’s our consistent, steady determination as we focus on the small things.

From Amazon:

The simple revolution is here. From the design of Apple products to Google’s uncluttered homepage, simple ideas are changing the world.

Now in paperback, multi-awarded #1 national bestseller Simple Church guides Christians back to the simple gospel-sharing methods of Jesus. No bells or whistles required. With insights based on case studies of  400 American churches, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger prove the disciple-making process is often too complex. Simple churches thrive by taking four ideas to heart:

Clarity. Movement. Alignment. Focus.

Simple Church
 examines each idea, clearly showing why it is time to simplify. This updated trade paper edition includes a new chapter with further insights the authors have gained through hundreds of conversations with church leaders since this landmark book’s original release.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

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Book Review: 15 Invaluble Laws of Personal Growth

BK3033__48597_zoomBook 25 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

15 Invaluable Laws of Personal Growth (by: John Maxwell)

Link to this book

I question the leadership of anyone who is not well read in all things Maxwell. This one is probably his most applicable especially for young leaders.  (For now, that’s still me.)

From Amazon:

Are there tried and true principles that are always certain to help a person grow? John Maxwell says the answer is yes. He has been passionate about personal development for over fifty years, and for the first time, he teaches everything he has gleaned about what it takes to reach our potential. In the way that only he can communicate, John teaches . . .

  • The Law of the Mirror: You Must See Value in Yourself to Add Value to Yourself
  • The Law of Awareness: You Must Know Yourself to Grow Yourself
  • The Law of Modeling: It’s Hard to Improve When You Have No One But Yourself to Follow
  • The Law of the Rubber Band: Growth Stops When You Lose the Tension Between Where You are and Where You Could Be
  • The Law of Contribution: Developing Yourself Enables You to Develop Others

This third and final book in John Maxwell’s Laws series (following 2-million seller The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork) will help you become a lifelong learner whose potential keeps increasing and never gets “used up.”

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Just like shampoo…. apply, rinse, repeat.

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Book Review: The E-Myth Revisited

emythBook 24 of 5o in my quest to read 50 books in 52 weeks. (2013)

The E-Myth Revisited (by:Michael Gerber)

Link to this book

This book has opened my eyes not only to the process of business planning but to my own personality like no other. Gerber talks about the different parts of a leaders personality and how different aspects surface at different times. We’re all sometimes entrepreneurs, sometimes technicians, and sometimes even managers.
Love how he says that many of begin businesses because we’re great technicians at something and think if we’re good at it we should be good at running a business which features it. However, that is seldom the case. Great hairdressers are not necessarily good salon owners, good cooks aren’t necessarily good restaurant owners, good ministers aren’t necessarily great pastors. (ouch)
Really thought provoking. Another yearly read for me.

From Amazon:

In this first new and totally revised edition of the 150,000-copy underground bestseller, The E-Myth, Michael Gerber dispels the myths surrounding starting your own business and shows how commonplace assumptions can get in the way of running a business. He walks you through the steps in the life of a business from entrepreneurial infancy, through adolescent growing pains, to the mature entrepreneurial perspective, the guiding light of all businesses that succeed. He then shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business whether or not it is a franchise. Finally, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business. After you have read The E-Myth Revisited, you will truly be able to grow your business in a predictable and productive way.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Just like shampoo…. apply, rinse, repeat.

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