You Are a Badass

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bite-sized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word. If you’re ready to make some serious changes around here, You Are a Badass will help you: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, blast past your fears so you can take big exciting risks, figure out how to make some damn money already, learn to love yourself and others, set big goals and reach them – it will basically show you how to create a life you totally love, and how to create it NOW.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.


This is one book that you definitely have to be opened to receiving. I’ve been introduced to the idea of The Law of Attraction before, so this was nothing new to me. But I did find her candidness and enthusiasm for the subject refreshing. I enjoyed reading her own stories and experiences she put into this book. In some ways, it almost felt like reading a memoir more than a personal development book.

I have never read The Secret. But if you are looking for an introduction to The Law of Attraction, this is a great place to start. This book introduces and explains the subject and explains how to put it into practice without feeling too preachy or too woo-woo crazy.

I think this is a great book that everyone should read. There’s sure to be a nugget in here that will resonate with you and motivate you to get in touch with your inner badass!

Getting to Yes

Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Since its original publication nearly thirty years ago, Getting to Yes has helped millions of people learn a better way to negotiate. One of the primary business texts of the modern era, it is based on the work of the Harvard Negotiation Project, a group that deals with all levels of negotiation and conflict resolution. Getting to Yes offers a proven, step-by-step strategy for coming to mutually acceptable agreements in every sort of conflict. Thoroughly updated and revised, it offers readers a straight- forward, universally applicable method for negotiating personal and professional disputes without getting angry-or getting taken.


I thought I was a pretty good negotiator. Good, not great. But sufficient. Until I read this book. Boy, do I have a lot to work on!

I feel like Getting to Yes will be a book I come back to many times. I found myself reading a section and then stopping and rereading it because the concepts felt so foreign I had to take extra time to process them.

The major premise of this book is that the way most people negotiate is flawed. Most of us negotiate in one of two ways: by driving an overly hard bargain to get as much as you can from the other person for the sake of “winning” or negotiating too complacently. The book calls this time of negotiating “positional bargaining”.

Getting to Yes posits that there’s a third way to negotiate that people can learn and use to find outcomes that leave both parties feeling mutually satisfied. No particular name is given to this type of negotiation, but it has four main components:

  1. Separate the People From the Problem
  2. Focus on Interests, Not Positions
  3. Invent Options For Mutual Gain
  4. Insist on Using Objective Criteria

This book was pretty eye-opening to me and it made me think of the negotiation styles of people I know well and people in power and it did made me realize that the best negotiators I could think of were using the tactics in Getting to Yes.

This isn’t a very long book, but it’s definitely a must-read even if you’re not in a sales or negotiation profession. The tips in here are applicable to all kinds of problems.


Think and Grow Rich

Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill

Think and Grow Rich has been called the “Granddaddy of All Motivational Literature.” It was the first book to boldly ask, “What makes a winner?” The man who asked and listened for the answer, Napoleon Hill, is now counted in the top ranks of the world’s winners himself.The most famous of all teachers of success spent “a fortune and the better part of a lifetime of effort” to produce the “Law of Success” philosophy that forms the basis of his books and that is so powerfully summarized in this one.


I read the extended version of the original 1937 Think and Grow Rich. The extended version includes contemporary anecdotes to add to Napolean Hill’s original anecdotes. Contemporary millionaires and billionaires mentioned in this updated version include Bill Gates and Mary Kay Ash.

Most of the wisdom of this book lies in the first half. The thread gets a bit lost through the middle before finishing strong. This seems to be a pretty common theme with these motivational and positive psychology books. But if you are at all interested in becoming well-versed on these subjects, then this book is a must-read because like Mindset it is one of the seminal works in this area.

Think and Grow Rich is really a longer treatise on six practical steps which I’ve outlined here. Money and wealth are words used throughout this book, but they can be substituted for anything you truly desire. Wealth is, after all, a word with many definitions. You can be rich in money, in things, in experiences, in love, in spirit, etc.:

  1. Define and focus on the amount of wealth you want to receive.
  2. Determine what you intend to give in return for the wealth you desire.
  3. Establish the date by which you intend to possess the wealth.
  4. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once.
  5. Write out steps 1-4 into a clear and concise statement.
  6. Read your written statement aloud twice daily, really seeing, visualizing, and believing yourself already in possession of the wealth.

Think and Grow Rich goes on from there to really dig into each of these steps, but these are the six core steps that underlie the whole book. You’re welcome!

Click here to buy on Amazon: Think and Grow Rich: The Landmark Bestseller – Now Revised and Updated for the 21st Century


By Carol Dweck

Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals—personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.


I think self-help is a horrible name for a really great category. Self-help implies that there’s something that needs fixing. I think self-improvement is a much, much better way to describe this collection of (for the most part) research-based books that aim to help us make changes in our own life.

In the last year of reading more self-improvement books, there are a few people whose names have come up over and over. Whose research or writings have apparently been fundamental to this whole school of success psychology. Carol Dweck is one of these. One of the first podcasts I ever listened to last winter featured a discussion with Carol Dweck and her research on resilience and grit.

Finally, I got my hands on her foundational work, Mindset. It’s a small, thin book and not at all difficult to read or understand. One thing I did really like was the structure of the book. After the topic and core research findings were introduced, there are a few chapters that are built on applying the mindset principles in more focused situations: business, sports, parenting, and personal relationships.


The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth

By John Maxwell

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.


This book is a great introduction to the topics that make up the keys to success, growth, and happiness. But it’s also just that: an introduction. Each chapter on each of the fifteen principles is really no more than 30 pages at the most.

The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth are as follows:

  1. The Law of Intentionality: Growth Doesn’t Just Happen
  2. The Law of Awareness: You Must Know Yourself to Grow Yourself
  3. The Law of the Mirror: You Must See Value in Yourself to Add Value to Yourself
  4. The Law of Reflection: Learning to Pause Allows Growth to Catch Up With You
  5. The Law of Consistency: Motivation Gets You Going–Discipline Keeps You Growing
  6. The Law of Environment: Growth Thrives in Conducive Surroundings
  7. The Law of Design: To Maximize Growth, Develop Strategies
  8. The Law of Pain: Good Management of Bad Experiences Leads to Great Growth
  9. The Law of the Ladder: Character Growth Determines the Height of Your Personal Growth
  10. The Law of the Rubber Band: Growth Stops When You Lose the Tension Between Where You Are and Where You Could Be
  11. The Law of Trade-Offs: You Have to Give Up to Grow Up
  12. The Law of Curiosity: Growth is Stimulated By Asking Why?
  13. The Law of Modeling: It’s Hard to Improve When You Have No One, But Yourself to Follow
  14. The Law of Expansion: Growth Always Increases Your Capacity
  15. The Law of Contribution: Growing Yourself Enables You to Grow Others

Maxwell recommends that you tackle the book a chapter at a time, giving yourself time to process, reflect, and implement. I would take that a little further and say that these fifteen laws provide fifteen separate topics for further reading and research.  There are many other great books that deal with one or a few of these topics at greater depth like Presence, Drive, Rejection Proofand Good to Great.


Crush It!

By Gary Vaynerchuk

Do you have a hobby you wish you could indulge in all day? An obsession that keeps you up at night? Now is the perfect time to take that passion and make a living doing what you love. In Crush It! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion, Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses. Gary spent years building his family business from a local wine shop into a national industry leader. Then one day he turned on a video camera, and by using the secrets revealed here, transformed his entire life and earning potential by building his personal brand. By the end of this book, readers will have learned how to harness the power of the Internet to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true. Step by step, Crush It! is the ultimate driver’s manual for modern business.


If you work in the social media and marketing world and you don’t know who Gary Vaynerchuk is, clearly you haven’t gone deep enough into learning about your craft. Gary is a thought leader in that arena and in business in general. You’ve probably seen his videos on Youtube or read his articles on Medium at the very least. If you’re like me, you’ve gobbled down his Ask Gary Vee podcast like candy. Gary is energetic, enthusiastic, intense, and incredibly focused. His work is something you need to check out if you have a business, want to own your own business, or need someone to give you some clarity on this whole internet age.

That said, this book is pure Gary. It sounds exactly like him. So if you’ve listened to his show, watched his videos, or read his articles, and don’t like him and his message, you aren’t going to like this book. Crush It! has all the same energetic hyperbole that listening to an episode of Ask Gary Vee does, now in convenient book form!

Crush It! is a fairly short book, but it packs a lot in. In summation, the steps to Crushing It are:

  1. Find Your Passion
  2. Create Great Content
  3. Choose Your Platform
  4. Keep It Real
  5. Build Your Community
  6. CARE
  7. Make the World Listen
  8. Start Monetizing
  9. Enjoy the Ride!

Sounds easy enough when you put it down on paper! But most people can attest that while #1 is totally doable, things kind of go off the rails during #2-7. And those are the real areas you need to put in work. Something’s going wrong in between, it’s up to you to figure out exactly what that is and fix it.

Crush It! was written in 2009. So in some ways, it feels a tiny bit outdated. Some companies have lost attention, others are on the way out (Sadly looking at you Tumblr. You were what my early college years were made of and now I don’t even remember my password). But this also gives you a chance to witness Gary’s oracle skills in action. He made mention several times throughout the book about a combination cell phone and FlipCam hybrid coming to consumers everywhere in the near future. If you don’t know what a FlipCam is, it was a handheld, easy-to-use, easy-to-afford camera. Its relevancy faded as the capabilities of our cell phones increased and in 2016 we saw the broad rollout of live video…exactly as Gary predicted several times over in Crush It!

Crush It! is a great introduction to Gary Vaynerchuk and his message. If you’re a Gary Vee fan like myself, you will also love this book because at this point you’re probably drinking in everything he says like a plant during a desert rainstorm.

I’ll leave you with one great quote from this book:

“No matter how big or small you want to go, your authenticity will be at the root of your appeal and is what will keep people coming to your site and spreading the word about your personal brand, service, or whatever you are offering.”

The Four Agreements

By Don Miguel Ruiz

In The Four Agreements, don Miguel Ruiz reveals the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering. Based on ancient Toltec wisdom, the Four Agreements offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness, and love. The Four Agreements are: Be Impeccable With Your Word, Don’t Take Anything Personally, Don’t Make Assumptions, Always Do Your Best.


This is a short little book packed with four powerful ideas:

-Be Impeccable With Your Word

-Don’t Take Anything Personally

-Don’t Make Assumptions

-Always Do Your Best

This is a short book that is certainly worth a read! I’ve made quick summaries of the four agreements, but you should really read this book for yourself.

On being impeccable with your word: Don Miguel Ruiz reminds us how powerful the word is. The word is a two-edged sword with the power to create and to destroy. We must always be intentional about our words and never use them to sow fear, hate, or mistrust. “What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are, will all be manifested through the word”.

On not taking anything personally: This is a pretty hard concept for me. I’ve gotten better, but I take a lot of things personally. But Don Miguel Ruiz says that what other people say about you, that hurts you or wounds you, says more about them than it does about you. When you take something personally, you agree with the statement, you believe what they’re saying.

On not making assumptions: I believe humans hurt each other more often than is necessary by making assumptions. When we make an assumption, we believe it’s the truth, and when other people don’t act accordingly, we get mad and we get hurt. But it never was the truth because we made an assumption about what the other person was thinking and feeling.

On always doing your best: By always doing your best, you will never need to judge yourself. Your best isn’t the same from moment to moment, but if it’s your best, you can’t find fault with yourself. If you don’t find fault with yourself, you won’t take anything personally.

The four agreements also encourage us to live in the present. “When we try to live in the past, how can we enjoy the present? When we dream of the future, why must we carry the burden of the past?”