All, Books

Book Review: Running with the Giants: What the Old Testament Heroes Want You to Know About Life and Leadership

Author:  John Maxwell
Genre:  non-fiction
My Rating: Must read
Amazon Link:

From the Publisher:

Motivational guru John C. Maxwell finds inspiration and encouragement in the lives of Old Testament personalities.

My Observation:

I mean, come on… it’s John Maxwell. It must be good!
Seriously though, many people forget that long before Maxwell was a world renown leadership guru, he was a successful pastor. He has said often that his reason for moving into the ‘business world’ and away from pastoring was because he wanted to reach business leaders. He said he realized the best way to win a company was to win the leader. This book was so good, I recently used it to do a message series at Real Life Church. Highly recommend reading both for leadership tips and also for devotional reading. 

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All, Books

Book Review: The Longest Day

Author: Corneluis Ryan
Genre:  non-fiction, history
My rating: If you have time
Amazon Link:

From the Publisher:

The Longest Day is Cornelius Ryan’s unsurpassed account of D-Day, a book that endures as a masterpiece of military history. In this compelling tale of courage and heroism, glory and tragedy, Ryan painstakingly recreates the fateful hours that preceded and followed the massive invasion of Normandy to retell the story of an epic battle that would turn the tide against world fascism and free Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.

This book, first published in 1959, is a must for anyone who loves history, as well as for anyone who wants to better understand how free nations prevailed at a time when darkness enshrouded the earth.

My Observation:

As a history fan, this book has been on my reading list for a while. What I found was a few a diamonds in a whole lot of rough. The book is a great piece one of the biggest battles in history. My only issue was that I was hoping for a little more backstory as to how the day came about. Still worth reading for all the history fans. My number one takeaway was learning that Eisenhower read Western novels to help get his mind off of the war. He would obsess over the details and would use Westerns to give his mind some piece. This resonated with me because this is exactly what I do only not with Western novels. I tend to get more into historical fiction and adventure fiction. 

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Thought for the Day

What could change in our life if we spent more time with God?

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All, Devotions, prayer|fasting

Top Posts I Read The Week Of May 12th

So, over the past couple of weeks my heart has been struck by the need to study more on prayer. As Christians and leaders, we tend to be willing to do almost anything for God except pray. I cannot tell you the last time I talked to someone and they were overflowing with great things to say about their daily prayer time. After many conversations I do not think this is because we do not love God. We simply do not know how to pray or what prayer actually does. Therefore, this week’s top read posts is going to be all about some great prayer blog’s I have read this week.

The following are The Top Posts I Read The Week Of April 20th:

1. 50 Great Prayer Blogs
2. Three Keys to a Better Prayer Life
3. 6 Tips for a Better Prayer Life
4. The All-Time 10 Best Tips on Prayer for Beginners That I Have Ever Heard
5. What’s the Secret to a Great Prayer Life?
6. 8 Ways to Pray
7. How to Pray Better in Public and in Private, Too (Tim Keller)
8. A Better Way to Pray
9. 12 Secrets to praying more effectively
10. wikiHow to Pray Effectively (Christianity)
11. How to Pray Effectively (Rick Warren)
12. Tim Keller’s 5 Steps for Effective Prayer
13. How to Develop a Dynamic Prayer Life
14. 10 Tips to Help Your Prayer Life

Here’s the question for the day. What is one tip you would give someone to help their prayer life take a step forward?

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Book Review: From Pew to Pulpit: A Beginner’s Guide to Preaching

Author: Clifton Guthrie
Genre:  non-fiction
My Rating: Must read (for preachers)
Amazon Link:

From the Publisher:

A down-to-earth, practical introduction to the ins and outs of preaching for lay preachers, bivocational pastors, and others newly arrived in the pulpit.

Recent years have seen a considerable increase in the amount of financial resources required to support a full-time pastor in the local congregation. In addition, large numbers of full-time, seminary trained clergy are retiring, without commensurate numbers of new clergy able to take their place. As a result of these trends, a large number of lay preachers and bivocational pastors have assumed the principal responsibility for filling the pulpit week by week in local churches. Most of these individuals, observes Clifton Guthrie, can draw on a wealth of life experiences, as well as strong intuitive skills in knowing what makes a good sermon, having listened to them much of their lives. What they often don’t bring to the pulpit, however, is specific, detailed instruction in the how-tos of preaching. That is precisely what this brief, practical guide to preaching has to offer.

Written with the needs of those for whom preaching is not their sole or primary occupation in mind, it begins by emphasizing what every preacher brings to the pulpit: an idea of what makes a sermon particularly moving or memorable to them. From there the book moves into short chapters on choosing an appropriate biblical text or sermon topic, learning how to listen to one’s first impressions of what a text means, moving from text or topic to the sermon itself while keeping the listeners needs firmly in mind, making thorough and engaging use of stories in the sermon, and delivering with passion and conviction. The book concludes with helpful suggestions for resources, including Bibles, commentaries, other print resources and websites.

My Observation:

Many of the “preaching” books today focus a lot on “why” we preach or the health of the one doing the preaching. That is great but this book already assumes those books are there. Instead, this book is geared to help someone with little to no experience preaching and it helps them prepare for their turn on stage. I wish this book had of been familiar to me about 10 years ago. There are countless ideas and methods that can help not only the occasional exhorter but also the seasoned pastor. This book will also help cut down on your preparation time. You will not get much out of it if you are not a frequent speaker but if you are, add this to your annual read list. 

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All, Books

Book Review: How’s Your Soul?

Author: Judah Smith
Genre: non-fiction
My rating: If you have time
Amazon Link:

From the Publisher: 

Judah Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Jesus Is ______, explores what it looks like to cultivate a healthy soul in the midst of a busy life and points readers to the soul’s only true home and place of rest and fulfillment: God.

“How’s your soul?”

It may seem like an odd question, but it’s what pastor and bestselling author Judah Smith chooses to ask his friends, rather than “How are you?” It’s a way to look past the externals and consider what’s going on inside, in that essential part of us that is often overlooked in the struggle to make our way through everyday life.

In the rush of living moment to moment, many of us find ourselves simply surviving, struggling daily with frustration, restlessness, boredom, and ever-fleeting joy. But if we would pause, we’d find that the things that matter most in life, what we are searching for in our busyness—stability, peace, hope, love—are rooted in the health of what Judah calls the “inside you.”

In How’s Your Soul?, Judah explores that “inside you.” Sharing his own, often humorous, mistakes and foibles, he helps us find our way through the emotional roller coasters of life to discover the soul-healing essentials of rest, responsibility, restraint, and relationships, all rooted in what he calls the soul’s only true home—God himself.

How’s Your Soul? is an invitation to find lasting emotional satisfaction and stability by bringing our feelings into alignment with God’s truth, moving beyond simply surviving, and learning how to live each day with eternal significance.

My Observation:

Honestly, this book had a few moments of brilliance but otherwise it wasn’t really for me. I don’t know if I didn’t like the book or I just expected something different. Either way, I admit being disappointed. It seemed a little too “surface” level for what I expected from Judah Smith. Judah seems to spend almost the whole book convincing us that his soul needs attention and if his does, our soul probably does too. The hope was to find a book that already assumes we know ours souls need nourishment and, instead, move straight into how to get that accomplished. Anyway, Judah Smith is a great author. If you have the time, read it and maybe you will get something a little more or at least a little different. 

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All, Leadership

Top Posts I Read The Week Of April 20th

The following are The Top Posts I Read The Week Of April 20th:

  1. Train For Success
  2. Are You Exceptionally Likable? 9 Reasons People Decide They Like You
  3. Bad Body Language Habits You Need to Break ASAP
  4. Why Every Weekend Should Be A Three Day Weekend
  5. How The CEO Of Newman’s Own Carries On An Unconventional Legacy
  6. What Do the Most Successful CEOs Have in Common?
  7. Advice For Those Who Believe They Give Great Advice
  8. 10 Signs You’re a Follower Instead of a Leader

Well, that is my Top Posts for the week.  What other great posts did you read?

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Book Review: Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms

Author: Tim Tebow
Genre: non-fiction
My Rating: Should Read
Amazon Link:

From the Publisher:

Who are you when life is steady? Who are you when storms come?

Most of us have been on the receiving end of rejection, a broken dream, or heartbreak. And while this is not an easy space to go through, when we are grounded in the truth, we can endure the tough times.

In this powerful book, Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow passionately shares glimpses of his journey staying grounded in the face of disappointment, criticism, and intense media scrutiny. Following an exceptional college football career with the Florida Gators and a promising playoff run with the Denver Broncos, Tebow was traded to the New York Jets. He was released after one season.

In Shaken, Tebow talks about what he’s learned along the way, building confidence in his identity in God, not the world. This moving book also features practical wisdom from Scripture and insights gained from others who have impacted Tebow in life-changing ways.

Though traveling hard roads is not easy, it’s always worth it! Your Circumstances do not Define You. Your Identity Does.

What do you do when life takes an unplanned detour? When the unexpected happens? When doubt or negativity tries to rise above your faith? Most of us can relate to these questions.

Through a dynamic lens of story and insight, Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow tells what he’s learned during the highs and the lows of his journey in the NFL. Shaken also features practical wisdom from the pages of Scripture and moving narratives of individuals—from celebrities to cancer patients—who have impacted Tebow’s life. Their inspiring stories will encourage you also to tackle fear, overcome bitterness, and take on the obstacles life throws at you.

My Observation:

Really is a great book. This book about having the proper perspective and if you are a college football fan, you’ll enjoy hearing Tebow’s journey through the Pro League. I cannot help but think many college players have similar experiences in the pros. 

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8 Fascinating Leadership Articles to Read Right Now

Guest post from HERE.

Today, we were thrilled to dispatch the first edition of our Leadership That Works Newslettera curated monthly digest of the very best leadership links from around the web (compiled by the enthusiastic leadership wonks at ConantLeadership). In the event that you are not subscribed to our mailing list but still have an insatiable thirst for leadership knowledge – never fear, we’ve also compiled the 8 intriguing articles from our newsletter letter right here.  Hope you enjoy — and stay curious! (And, if you like what you see, you can sign up for our newsletter right here).

Yes, You Should Take Work Personally.

Duncan Coombe, in this Harvard Business Review article, adds to the ever-mounting evidence that the axiom, “it’s not personal, it’s just business” is really awful career and leadership advice.

To Be Happy, Focus on Your Craft, Not Prestige.

This great The Atlantic interview with the author of the book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?, reveals enlightening truths about what truly fulfills leaders. It turns out, if you focus on the power, money, and prestige — you don’t necessarily get better or happier. But if you find something you love, and focus passionately on mastering it — success, and happiness are more likely to follow.

The Extraordinary Power of Deliberate Practice.

The way to achieve excellence is through deliberate practice — but it’s much more challenging than ordinary practice. How do you keep going, even when practicing with purpose is really hard? This wonderfully practical post from The Quiet Leadership Institute tells you exactly how to master deliberate practice and reach your goals.

The Leader as Artist.

This fascinating post from Brain Pickings wholly captures the idea that leadership is a craft — requiring the same attention and creativity as painting or design. Using supporting insights from maker-turned-leader, John Maeda, the article argues, “that human relationships are an act of creativity and craftsmanship, a supreme art . . .” A delightful read.

You’re Probably Not Telling, or Hearing, The Truth Enough. 

Mindy Mackenzie, author of The Courage Solution, noticed a crisis in the modern corporate landscape: people weren’t telling the truth. Why? “Because people didn’t have the courage to tell it. People were afraid of the consequences. So I wrote this book to show them how to tell the truth diplomatically but effectively.” In this interview with Skip Prichard, Mackenzie shares empowering tips for truth-telling in your leadership.

Why Autonomy Is More Appealing Than Power.

“People were nearly two and a half times more likely to take a job that gave them more autonomy than they were to want a job that gave them more influence” writes Melissa Dahl in this interesting post from New York Magazine that should serve as a reminder to leaders: if you want to engage people, trust them to do their jobs.

How to Change Your Focus.

“We have a choice about where to aim the lens of our attention” writes Seth Godin in this short but effective post on why changing our default approach to challenges is the key to doing better work.

Optimism Starts at the Top (But so Does Worry).

By re-framing the often asked question, “what keeps you up at night?” to “what gets you up in the morning?” — this post in Strategy + Business shows why leaders should be motivated by the excitement of opportunity, as opposed to the dread of failure, if they hope to better engage employees.

Thanks for reading,

Your friends at ConantLeadership

P.S. If you discovered an enlightening, must-read leadership link recently, drop us a line in the comments and share! 

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All, Books

My Book Reading Rating System

I have added a section to my book reviews and wanted to share them with you. This is in response to conversations I have had where people talk about not having much time for reading. They say that they only have time to read a few books a year so which ones are good but not necessary and which ones need more attention. Since it is not worth having the conversation about how we make time to do what we want to do so everyone has time to read, I decided to play along and add a rating system.

Here is my new book rating system and what they mean:

Must read– Add to the top of your reading list. This book is worth reading now. I will be reading it again. 

Should read– It’s a good book but not life changing. I might read this again but not likely. 

If you have time– This book is something that has enjoyment but nothing to go out of your way to read. Definitely don’t buy it. Instead, check for it at your local library. I will not be reading this book again. 

If you are bored– This book is something I sort of regret reading. I finished it but not with fond memories. If you read this one, you probably have nothing better to do. 

Don’t waste your time– Most likely did not finish this book. Get away from it quickly because it will most likely explode. 

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Leadership Websites & Blogs to Explore

Guest post from Here.

Time and time again Steven and I (Vetter’s co-founders) remind ourselves that we must not work on Vetter in isolation. We must not let ourselves get disconnected from the opinions and thinking of managers and leaders both within our user base and in the broader world. There are a number of websites that we monitor to keep abreast of the latest leadership and management thinking and we thought our readers might want us to share our to-10, listed below in no particular order:

1. Manager-Tools

We’ve been a subscriber to Manager Tool’s podcast for about 3 years now. The MT crew’s core trinity of One-on-Ones, Feedback, and Coaching make it a great educational resource for managers of all sorts. For more information, we recommend diving into:

2. Great Leadership by Dan

Great Leadership by Dan features a regular stream of high-quality articles on such topics as how to act like a leader, succession planning, performance management, and much more. Blog posts are often written by guest bloggers and their cross-section of opinions and views adds to the breadth and depth of this valuable website.

3. Management Craft

Management Craft tags itself as ‘Discussions about state-of-the-art business management’ and we whole-heartedly agree with this description. I discovered this site via a link from another site to the classic post “Birthday Butterfly Flap Post”. This is a great resource for managers looking to refine their craft.

4. Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith has years of management experience and skill under his belt and his website is a wealth of information for those who manage teams both large and small. For a truly enlightening read, check out this page that contains eleven excellent leadership articles including ‘Try Feedforward Instead of Feedback’ which greatly effected much of our thinking about the concept of feedback.

5. Forbes (Leadership sub-section)

Forbes’s sub-site is definitely not the most focused on this list but that doesn’t make it any less valuable as a management resource. Because of its famous brand name, this website benefits from New York Times best-selling guest writers of the highest quality such as Christine Comaford, George Bradt, Lisa Quast, and Cathy Huyghe.

6. The Practice of Leadership blog

Posts are often infrequent on The Practice of Leadership blog, but when they arrive, they are usually pretty beefy and in-depth. Be sure to check out the recommended reading section. Sure it’s intimidating – who has time to read and review all those books – but it’s also a great resource for all things management related.

7. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog

John Hunter’s blog is not a direct leadership blog per se but it does touch on leadership issues via posts on lean thinking and manufacturing, six sigma, customer focus, systems thinking, Toyota Production System, and innovation. It’s well worth the time it takes to find the leadership articles as Mr. Hunter has some interesting ideas from a corner of the world we don’t hear much about (Southeast Asia and Oceania).

8. Linked 2 Leadership

Linked 2 Leadership describes itself as, “a group of global professionals dedicated to leadership development, organizational health, and personal & professional growth”. We describe it as a solid leadership-based website with a profoundly dedicated fan base. The site has a pretty extensive roster of guest bloggers who integrate such disparate topics as Education and Technology and make it all relevant.

9. Three Star Leadership

Wally Bock’s Tips of the Day are the highlight of this site and we find ourselves checking this site several times a week to catch up on Mr. Block’s words of wisdom. Recent tips include: ‘Keep a list of mini-projects’ and ‘Time off should be time off’ – sage advice for managers coping with a variety of issues.


Sometimes it’s easier to figure out what the right way is by seeing it done the wrong way. That’s the heart of the message that Dilbert creator and writer has illustrated for over twenty years. Learn how not to lead at!


Take a few minutes each day to check out our top ten leadership websites, bookmark your favorites, and create a resource that you can refer to for ideas, inspiration, and continuing education in the ever-changing world of management and leadership.

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10 Highly Engaging Leadership Links

Guest post from here.

Today we dispatched the second edition of our Leadership That Works Newsletter,  a curated monthly digest of the very best leadership links from around the web (compiled by the enthusiastic leadership wonks at ConantLeadership). In the event that you are not subscribed to our mailing list but still have an unquenchable thirst for leadership knowledge – we’ve also compiled the 10 articles from our newsletter letter right here for your reading enjoyment.  This month’s links touch on productivity, decision-making, credibility, and much more. Enjoy, and stay curious! (And if you like what you see, you can sign up to receive leadership insights from ConantLeadership here).

You’ve Got to Evolve Your Purpose, Always.

This Harvard Business Review article shows why your purpose, like you, is always evolving. Therefore, you need practices for ensuring your work stays meaningful in the long-term, not just in the present.

Don’t Be the Boss Who Cries Wolf.

In this excellent Strategy+Business article, author Augusto Giacoman tells you exactly why you must put credibility first if you want to get anything substantial accomplished as a leader.  And he tells you precisely how to do it.

Why Leadership Development Is a Must.

“A common misconception is that simply because someone excels in the current role, that success will automatically translate to the next level” writes Marty Fukuda in this Entrepreneur article that spells out four compelling reasons to make investing in leadership development a top priority.

The 4 Trillion Dollar Cost of Gender Inequality.

Bridging the US gender gap in work entirely would produce an estimated $4.3 trillion in additional GDP in 2025″ finds McKinsey & Company in this fascinating, research-backed article that puts the cost of the gender gap in the workforce (and the enormous economic opportunity to be found in fixing it) in stark terms.

Be More Specific When You Talk About Trust.

“As important as trust is and as much as we talk about it, the problem is we are not always talking about the same thing” writes Jesse Lyn Stoner in this helpful post that explains in detail the four different dimensions of trust. Stoner encourages people to be more specific when gauging and evaluating trustworthiness in ourselves and others.

How to Deal with Blamers. 

“The opposite of blame is responsibility” writes Leadership Freak in this actionable post that spells out six practical ways to empower blamers to own their responsibilities more fully.

Yes, Relationships Are Part of Your Job. 

If you’re not comfortable pushing yourself to more fully connect with people, you have to get out of your comfort zone and find ways to do it anyway urges Mary Jo Asmus in this tough-love post; Asmus lays out four ways leaders can better build relationships, even if it doesn’t come naturally.

Be Here Now.

Thin Difference asked a diverse group of people from their online community how they keep themselves centered on their leadership journey. Their answers, compiled in this interesting collection of insights, make for interesting and inspiring reading.

You’ll Never Have Enough Information.  

But you still have to make decisions in a timely manner, given the information available to you. Mickey Addison, in this General Leadership article, paints decision-making as an art that gets better with practice; the more you do it, the better you can strike the balance between decisive and hasty.

Plants Can Make You More Productive.

“What we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel impacts our actions” writes Leigh Stringer in this Quiet Revolution article that outlines ways we can change our environment to “nudge” ourselves towards better habits. What’s most interesting is that “biophilia” – or humans’ innate preference to be around natural splendor — can be leveraged for higher productivity by incorporating natural elements like water and plant life into our work environment.

What leadership links did you discover this month that challenged, intrigued, or inspired you? 

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