Monday, January 3, 2022

Becoming an Impactful and Influential Leader - A Course By Pete Mockaitis

 "The expert in the room is the one who learns the least, so if we can make ourselves the student of the room then we can be the individual who stands the learn the most"  Pete Mockaitis

This quote is perhaps the best take-away from the entire course on LinkedIn Learning.

Current Studies

 Hello Friends,

I have been spending a large amount of my time focusing on studying economics, marketing, and practicing homesteading.  I am looking forward to reviewing some LinkedIN Learning courses that I am taking thanks to my educational institution's sponsored subscription.

I have also been following various movements of cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens as their presence in the world economy increases.  I have thrown around some ideas regarding minting documents that would otherwise be submitted to peer-review journals as NFTs and want to explore this further in the future.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Book Review: "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player" by John C. Maxwell

Book Review: The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player by John C. Maxwell

    It is no secret that Mr. John C. Maxwell is one of my favorite leadership authors.  I have previous reviews on other books that I have read that are authored by him.  I intend to read many more and review each.  This time around I chose to read “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player”.  I began reading this book when I came across a four-part collection by John C. Maxwell and crawled through this one.

    I chose to read “The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player” mainly because I had set out on a journey to learn as much as I could about being a team builder.  One of my earlier mentors took pride in calling himself a team-builder and I intended to follow in his footsteps.  I believe that team building, and leadership go hand and hand.  I recognize John C. Maxwell for recognizing and capitalizing on this, as well as being a great teacher of the inherent connectivity.

The Layout

    John C. Maxwell attacks the layout of this work in a way that makes me happy.  This book is formatted specifically for the reader that wants to complete a book in less than a month while reading a short chapter each day.  The introduction is a few chapters long followed by seventeen straight forward qualities that get right to the point and do not contain much fluff. 

    In the meat of the text, where Mr. Maxwell is visiting and explain each of the qualities of a team player one by one, one per chapter, he sub-formats the book in a very pleasing patterned way.  You will find a brief story that feels like an exciting history lesson (oxymoron?), all of which are well chosen and well explained, followed by a series of formatted writing on the quality following that story.  I am really intrigued by how the pattern respects itself and follows suit in every chapter, which really pleases my inner obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Formatting the Chapters

    The first of the subheadings is “Fleshing it Out”.  During this section John further explains the quality in discussion and then follows that explanation with clear steps on how to progress towards mastery of the quality.  He does a good job at describing what the quality is, what it entails doing, and how to do it.  I am thoroughly impressed with how well he dives into the detail without using a lot of fluff to create long sittings per chapter.  I enjoyed each of the sections the most and found myself walking away from each sitting after having read this section feeling very enlightened with clear direction on what I should be doing to further develop this quality in myself.

    The second section within each chapter is a section for reflection.  It is literally called “Reflecting on It”.  John poses a question and walks through some inner dialogue to drive home understanding of what needs to happen to fertilize the growth of this quality.  This section is followed by “Bringing it Home” where there are more bullet points to further illustrate how to apply the techniques of the quality directly to ourselves.  The layout of the bullet points makes reading immaculately pleasing and tidy.  Due to the organization of this writing, I rarely felt as if I was lost in the text.

    The last section of each chapter is titled “The Daily Take-away”.  Here the author finalizes the ideas that he introduced in the previous areas of the chapter and uses various techniques to tie them together for application.  The way he builds on the idea from start to finish with a minimal amount of content but left me with very full ideas is impressive.

Pro’s and Con’s

    I always have time to point out pro’s to John C. Maxwell’s writing, as I felt I have above.  I will take some time in this section to explore what he could have done to making reading this even a better experience. 

    The volume of the book itself is relatively small.  It concluded at 150 pages in, and the formatting of the pages was in such a way that kind of minimized content on each page.  Lots of spacing and captioning quotes reduced that 150 pages down by about 15 percent.  It was clear that it was intentionally formatted to deliver a lot of information very directly in a little package.  While I liked that, I may have liked it so much that I wanted more.  I found that even though I stretched the book out, like many good books, once I got going, I began binge reading multiple chapters at a time.  I never had to mark the book and take a break outside of the chapters, because they were so short and direct.

    John C. Maxwell can wrap me up in his story telling.  I have listened to some of his audio books that were narrated by him.  Every time I read one of his texts, I can hear him telling that story in my head.  This fellow has a real soothing voice, and just the thought of this gets me hooked every time.  I believe that some of his supportive material outside of the direct tips and strategies sometimes included additional information and fluff to make the strategies stretch throughout the book.  In most occasions I believe authors do this too much in order to stretch books out much further than they should be stretched, however, I wish in this case that he would have included a little more wordage.
    Finally, I would have liked to read about more direct applications of these qualities that do not involve a grand history story.  For many of the chapters John uses a famous piece of history to illustrate the importance of why a certain quality is included in his list of seventeen.  I wished that there were less fame involved in the stories and more personal application.

My Rating

    As far as business and leadership texts are concerned, I would give this a 4.5 out of 5.  It is pleasing to read, especially if you love organization.  The information is rather direct, the bits of history augment the writing, and it is true.  It is clear when you read this that this isn’t some sales pitch or phony claim.  Every quality you review and study in detail rings that eureka bell in your head and it becomes easy to tie it into the big picture of leadership.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

"The Myths of Innovation" by Scott Berkun Book Review

“The Myths of Innovation” by Scott Berkun

Acquiring the Book

    “The Myths of Innovation” by Scott Berkun was a book that I happened to stumble across while trying to return another book to a mentor.  We will call my mentor Mr. C for referencing purposes.  He had this book and another sitting on his desk.  He had admitted that he hadn’t read it yet and was interested in its contents but offered me the first go.  I took the opportunity of being the first human to read this copy of the book and quickly grabbed it up and made my way back to my office with it.

    You can easily purchase this book from outlets such as,, and for prices ranging between ten and twenty dollars.  I have a few relationships in my workplace where we actively trade books for a prolonged period of time because we spend so much of our time at work that it makes reading and digesting books a costly pastime.


    Like the book’s title infers, it is written around the subject of innovation.  This writing delivers a lot of facts about historical innovators and the challenges that they faced long before they were known as innovators, inventors, or even successful persons.  The flow of this book started out pretty exciting for me.  I felt its invitational pull that drew me back strongly in the beginning.  This leveled off through the middle portion of the book but then returned as strong as ever towards the end.

    I often found that the book would influence me to want to pursue my dreams as an entrepreneur and inventor.  It had me comparing some of my travels and journeys with those of historically famous innovators that were the subject of the read.  I spent quite a few hours lying on my back on my living room floor looking up at the pages and thinking of how I would apply the knowledge contained in the book to my own life.

     In tandem to reading this, I was also studying business law.  My studies and the contents of the book fit together perfectly.  I have this knack for tying various things going on in my life simultaneously together to provide a good jolt of purpose and drive to whatever it is that I am trying to accomplish.  I will forever remember this book for this chunk of time of my life.

Annotated Bibliography

    The first thing that really surprised me and sold me about this book was that it contained a complete annotated bibliography that covered the entire span of the book.  Literally every page donned reference material to whatever it was that author Scott Berkun was writing about.  This was impressive as I am weak for scholarly articles and citations.   Seeing them at the bottom of every page just made me happy inside.

    Being surrounded by all the reference material gave way to the feeling that what I was reading was true.  I knew with a little bit of further research that I could confirm what it was that the author was saying and follow up on what I was reading.  I embarrassingly admit that I did not do this much, rather, I took the book for face value and absorbed the content within it without using the referencing material more than two or three times.  Upon finishing the book, it had a larger complication of the bibliography’s references.  I didn’t take too much time to look through these as I had already had the book an unwelcome length of time, however, it still made me feel good that the author had taken so much time to provide sources for what he was writing about.

    This was especially helpful in the subject matter.  The author used references to point to the validity of his claims as they pertained to historical innovators, their innovations, and their life stories.  I do wish that it contained more faction research on the process of innovation and invention and followed up by pointing to journals and articles that he based his information on, but nonetheless, any reference is better than no reference at all.  The biggest benefit of the annotated bibliography is the feel of what you were reading.  It did not feel like you were reading some quickly scribbled and pushed self help book, however, it really felt like you were holding a tome of knowledge.

Towards the End

    Things really turned up towards the end of the book.  The author skillfully twists historical inventors, inventions, their strategies, and their stories together for you and allows you to look through their eyes and think how they think for a good bit before giving you some real gems.  Towards the end of the book Scott Berkun delves into very applicable tactics and methods that the modern person can use towards improving their skills as an innovator and as a person.

    The author wrote two excellent chapters on motivation and pitching ideas.  I previously hadn’t realized how important pitching an idea was for an innovator.  I hadn’t tied innovation to salesmanship.  I also hadn’t realized all the little things to keep in mind when bringing an idea to someone else.  I am truly enlightened for having read these two chapters alone.  I admit that I wish that the book was packed full of these gyms, and I imagine how exciting it would be to read had I felt the excitement of reading the entire book as I had felt during reading and digesting these two chapters.

    The author breaks down the sales pitch of an idea in one of the later chapters into various components.  He then explains that anyone delivering a sales pitch needs to have the same pitch in various time-length formats.  What I took from this is that anyone pitching an idea needs to have a ten second pitch, a one-minute pitch, and a ten-minute pitch for the same idea.  He then gives strategies for applying each and going from the first to the last in a progressive fashion.


    I think that it is worth it to mention that a lot of the fluidity and ease of reading this book comes from the passive humor that the author possesses.  He’s able to weave a very natural feeling humor in his writing that leaves you smiling when you come across it.  This is not a forced humor or a book so injected with humor that you have to look for the content, rather, it is genuine and imaginable that this is how you would experience communicating with the author in real life.

    A lot of whether I mesh with these types of non-fiction writings depends on if I find that through reading the book that the author’s personality is compatible with mine.  In this case, it very much was.

Overall Rating

    I feel like a pretty hard critic in giving book a 3.5 out of 5.  This writing really explored historical innovators and their challenges.  I feel like it spent a lot of time pounding on history and not enough time delivering unique technique to overcome.  I do like the level of encouragement to be an inventor, but a lot of it came from pointing to the persistence of other inventors who struggled a lot instead of pointing to ways to overcome these struggles.  Overall, I really enjoyed the book and would recommend others read it if they are interested in business, inventing, innovation, and changing the world.

My Headspace at the Time

    During this time, I had been doing a lot of dreaming in my spare and not-so-spare time.  I had crafted an idea of a licensing business based on research and innovation.  This is a hard sell in real life, because of the inherent risk in hoping that research transforms into profitable substance.  Nevertheless, the book had me thinking and dreaming in ways that I hadn’t thought or dreamt of before.  I think it is these influences in our emotions and thoughts that really make books hang with us over the course of our lifetimes.  I only hope that my next series of reads provides me with the same type of interface to my life as I am currently experiencing it.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Networking Strategies and Theory Vol. 2

Photo by Ani Kolleshi, Unsplash

Networking Strategies Vol. 2

Understanding Networking

    Networking is one of those general terms that may go misunderstood by individuals.  I believe it extends a little further than the definition of just “acquiring contacts”.  If we think of it in this way though, it is far better than thinking that it is something that it is not.  It has been important in my journey to grow my network that I think of the network as being “mutual contacts with purpose”.  I believe this definition could serve everyone better for several reasons.

    Understanding mutual contacts with purpose requires us to avoid mass-friending and following others on social media.  I believe that defining networking in this way gives us substance to what we are looking for when we refer to the purpose, as well as gives a mutually beneficial relationship with the contact by understanding that you cannot be networked with another without them also being networked with you.

Premature Pitching

    A problem that I have encountered enough to define it as a problem is the act of prematurely pitching your idea to a potential network connection.  This almost always fails in successfully securing another member of your larger team or network because, even if they were on your network, they may not vibe with your current idea.  It is important that we don’t go looking for network connections for professional or even personal use by trying to lure them in with a current pitch or idea.  This is exceptionally important from the entrepreneur’s point of view primarily because when you are salivating over an entrepreneurial idea, this is a natural tendency. 

    The network member relationship must mutually exist between two parties before any ideas, pitches, or opportunities can be presented.  This has been a showstopper for me.  I get all wound up about a recent idea that I have been building on, go to grow my network, cant stop thinking about network applications to this idea, and end up just delivering the idea to someone I am trying to add to my professional network.  Chances are the individual that I’m speaking to thinks that I’m a kook and likens me to a door-to-door amateur vacuum salesman or trying to sell him a life insurance policy via a cold call.

    It is important to deliver your interest in creating a network member relationship during that first conversation and avoid discussing business.  I would also argue that it takes some reinforcement of that relationship further before discussing profession business especially as it applies to entrepreneurial ventures or opportunities.  From the receiving point of a view, if you are trying to sell an entrepreneurial journey cold, the individual on the receiving end of this conversation would probably think that you are very desperate and if you indeed have a following that you have acquired through your methods, you are probably created a cult instead of an organization.

Network Member Relationship Theory

    I like this idea just because it so very well meshes with principles of leadership and team building.  The meat of this meal hovers around individual relationships with members of your network.  It is the difference between a cold call and a warm call from a salesman’s perspective.  This is a theory that describes the process of initially contact a potential future contact, gaining rapport by building a simple relationship, growing that relationship, and then having an integrated network-member that is more likely to actually hear any ideas that you have.  This is important in professional networks because you want as much honest feedback as you can get.  The better you develop relationships with members of your network, the more fine tuned your feedback machine is.

    The powerful application of this is that you can dial in exactly how much effort you plan on putting into various network members before you intend to ask for feedback on an idea or problem.  On giant platforms like LinkedIn, you may find that you must put a good deal of effort to build the relationship of your various connections before you are able to extract any honest feedback.  I have found that smaller forums and message boards of entrepreneurs and professionals usually are more willing to engage you on the short term just because of the common ground of being a part of a smaller community.  I have been capitalizing on this a lot and plan to do so much especially with the number of growing small community forums that exist.

Network Member Roles

    Having a network of contacts is an important part of developing professionally in the world.  We all communicate and exist in and through relationships.  Without doing this would make life a very lonely experience.  As we study building networks for professional purposes, we need to keep some attention on who our network members are and what roles do they fit for us.  When we dive deeper into the realm of building a very large multi-functional professional network, we are going to encounter many different types of contacts and network members.  It will be clear that some members may seem to be better at giving advice and consultation while others tend to be more available to give feedback.  You may find that some are interested in current projects that you are working on and are eager to learn about them.  Some may just be there for the drama, and some may be present to provide negativity or nothing at all.

    The key point in mentioning roles is that while we are focused in growing our network, we should be growing it in the direction that we want to use it.  Over the course of the past year I had read a couple books that mentioned networking, so I sought to network, and network I did.  I was so willing to have followers, network connections, and friends on Facebook and Instagram that I was literally connecting with anyone willing to click the accept button.  The point here is that many of the people who I connected with filled the role of nothing, ergo I never really created a network, rather I created a few internet accounts that had a high number of connections.

    The solution to my problem here was to identify a few roles of network members that I wanted to create and then actively look for network members that could specifically fill that role.  There is still a lot of filtering through people through various attempted connections and contacts, however, it becomes clear when you find someone that can provide at least one aspect of the things that you are looking for.

    It is important to not be too restrictive in this area.  Chances are if we are honest with ourselves and set out to connect only with those who could help push our current entrepreneurial venture forward, we would all end up with a very small list of connections.  I think diversity here is important.  We need to properly identify various areas that can be occupied by networking members.  I think it is important to create an email or contact list and list them individually by their potential roles to be served in your network.  I think that if you are properly developing a network member relationship then you could even discuss this with them, as well as ask them what roles that they are wanting you to fill as a member of their professional network.

    When thinking of specific roles, I like to broadly define many categories.  Mentors, mentees, those that provide consultation and advice, those that provide feedback, those that are able to help promote a venture, those that may be directly interested in helping a venture succeed, potential partners, other dreamers, general colleagues, and even unknown are all roles that I consider when I initially meet someone new.


    Even if we are going nowhere and doing nothing, I think it is obvious that human beings are social creatures.  Having a network of contacts is essential even in the dull activity of nothingness.  If we escalate this thought to the next level of having goals and working towards them, it becomes even more clear that networking is necessary.  Our success depends on the success of our ability to effectively network.  I think focusing on the effectiveness of network should precede focus towards an efficient system of networking.  I do not believe that we should do one and completely avoid the other, however, I believe that one should come before the other.

    I believe that once we are effective at building our network, we need to continue this into a more efficient vehicle for networking.  Efficiency in networking will be a topic of a future content submission.