My favourite life changing books

I read a great article recently — If It’s Important, Learn It Repeatedly. It makes a good case for going back and re-reading important books.

So, I went back and read Deep Work by Cal Newport. It’s one of my favorite books and it was even better the second time round. It gave me a renewed enthusiasm for doing deep work and some fresh ideas for how to go about it.

It got me thinking, what other books could I go back and read again?

Below are ten books (in no particular order) that have been life changing for me. The ideas in them changed how I think and live my life. I’m going to work my way through as many as I can throughout 2018.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Magnificent advice for how to be a likeable person. If you read and apply even a small amount of the advice in this book, your life and career will be better for it.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

This book will make you realise how little time you actually spend sitting down and getting lost in important work. The ideas are explained really well and it’s full of practicable advice.

The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf

A great introduction to the paleo diet, it’s benefits and how to follow it. I remember reading this book on a beach in Thailand and it changed how I eat as soon as I got back.

The Longevity Diet by Dr Valter Longo

A great overview of how to eat for longevity. There are many similarities with paleo, but Dr Valter also makes a good case for eating a mostly plant based diet. Some great stuff on fasting and how to eat to avoid / treat specific illnesses too.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

A great mix of storytelling and powerful life lessons. Super easy to read.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A gut wrenching story of how Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, just as he was finishing his training to become a neurosurgeon. He also had a baby daughter — very, very sad. It gets you thinking about your own mortality and puts a lot of stuff into perspective.

Chasing Excellence by Ben Bergeron

Ben is one of the top coaches in the sport of CrossFit. He coaches Mat Fraser and Katrín Tanja Davíðsdóttir, both of whom are multiple championship winners. Ben shares his philosophy for what it takes to be world-class. It’s a great story and packed full of good life advice.

On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

A bible for writing well. It’s really easy to read (as you would expect!) and it’ll change how you write forever.

Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

An awesome overview of the working routines of more than a hundred and sixty of the greatest philosophers, writers, composers and artists ever to have lived. It’s a fantastic insight into how some of the worlds greatest contributors got stuff done.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE by Phil Knight

This books shares the story of how Phil Knight created and built Nike into one of the most famous companies in the world. Full of hustle, entrepreneurism and great stories. Very inspiring.

The above list is mostly non-fiction. But, I wanted to give a shout out to the Prey Series by John Sandford. They are about a maverick detective who hunts down very bad people — usually serial killers. I couldn’t get enough of them and read the whole series in a year. SO good.

If you have a favourite book that’s been life changing for you, let me know in the comments or on twitter.

Want to get more done, and be happier?

Learn how to plan a killer week. It's a habit among high-achievers. You could easily triple your output - and most importantly, you will spend more time on what really matters.

High risk investing & cryptocurrency

Whenever anyone asks me for advice about investing, I always give the same response:

Invest in indexes. Contribute regularly, hold for the long term and rarely check.

Then I point them towards two bits of reading — JL Collins Stock Series and Warren Buffett’s $1 million bet. These do a great job of outlining the above approach, with some proof that it actually works.

I’m now convinced it’s worth having a small percentage at a higher risk. And as usual, Barry Avraam is the person responsible for getting me to take more risk. Fred Wilson’s writing on AVC also helped. Crypto Asset Allocation and Diversification (aka How To Survive A Crash) are two posts that have been particularly helpful.

Read more

How I think about everything

As we get older (and hopefully wiser), our thinking about the important things in life changes. We learn new things. We have amazing, good, bad and awful experiences. We try things that work and don’t work. We slowly build informed opinions and beliefs from all of this.

I’ve noticed that in the first 35 years of life, my thinking on certain things has changed a lot. As I’ve got closer to 40, things are starting to settle. I’ve had a few epiphany / mid life type movements. These have either solidified how I think about something, or significantly changed my thinking — probably for the rest of my life.

Read more

7 things to look for in a dream job

I made a tough decision towards the end of last year — I changed my work situation. What made it tough was, it was a good job, at a good company. It ticked most of the boxes.

All jobs have their ups and downs. I tend to find I go through periods of about 8-10 weeks when things feel really good. The work is engaging and challenging, and the results are there. And then I will hit a couple of weeks where I feel low. Everything feels like a bit of a slog. Sometimes it’s an unexpected miss or a problem. Sometimes, it’s just a case of burnout. But, I soon come out of it and get myself back into a good stretch.

Around the middle of last year, I found the good periods were getting shorter and the slogs were getting longer. It forced me to do some thinking and exploring around what is important for me at work.

Read more

Can technology free us from technology?


I’ve been using Freedom for the last couple of weeks, with interesting results.

Freedom is an app that helps you control distractions by blocking the internet, apps and websites — or any combination of those. You can start a freedom session whenever you like, or schedule a session for the future. It supports recurring sessions too. You have complete control over how long you want sessions to be, and what distractions you want to block.

Read more

Why you need to become a morning person

I’ve written about morning routines, quite frankly, more than anyone should. That’s because I believe waking up early is about the most life changing thing you can do.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of the people I consider successful and happy, get up early and follow some type of morning routine. I challenge you to think about this too. Look at well known people, colleagues and friends. I bet you come to the same conclusion.

Read more

The power of broad focuses

Recently I read ‘In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto’ by Michael Pollan. Here’s how it starts:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy. I hate to give the game away right here at the beginning of a whole book devoted to the subject, and I’m tempted to complicate matters in the interest of keeping things going for a couple hundred more pages or so. I’ll try to resist, but will go ahead and add a few more details to flesh out the recommendations.

I love how Michael Pollan simplified a complex topic (and a whole book) down to 7 words:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

It’s beautiful. Those 7 words have stuck with me since — and as a result, have helped influence my eating.

Read more

Two years without a smartphone

Two years ago, I ditched my iPhone 6 for a Nokia 130.

It was an extreme decision, but it felt the only thing left to do. I was tired of being constantly connected. I couldn’t find a way to break the addiction of compulsively checking things.

It took a couple of weeks for the urges to go away —  but go away they did. And once they did, life got better. I’m not tempted to go back one bit. It’s been life changing.

Recently I reflected on some of the benefits from living without a smartphone….

Read more

Get in touch

If you'd like to get in touch, send me an email or reach out on twitter.