No Regrets: Adventuring Through Life

No Regrets: Adventuring Through Life by Linda McDermott

No Regrets is the story of how one woman travels all seven continents in an effort to grow from the small, Midwestern beliefs with which she’d been raised. Linda leads the reader through an inspirational memoir including adventures that once seemed out of reach—from washing elephants in Nepal to working (twice) in Antarctica—all the while learning to trust herself.

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(A copy of this book was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review)

I don’t do that many sponsored posts on this blog – partially because I don’t always have time to read to a deadline and partially because if I’m going to do one, I try to pick a book I think I’ll really like.

Life’s been more than a little busy lately, but when I saw what this memoir was about, I immediately knew I wanted to read it. I’ve always wanted to travel, but it’s only now that I’m older that I feel like I have the opportunity to make that a reality. The last few years I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to one new place each year…a practice I hope to keep up for as long as I can.

Because I totally understand the motivation behind Linda McDermott’s wanderlust and the title of the book, No Regrets. We only get this one life, something I’ve also been intentionally conscious of the last few years. This quote from Tuck Everlasting often runs through my head:

“Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

I’m constantly trying to remind myself that I have choices to make about how I want to live, so that when I come to the end of my life, which will hopefully be a long, long time from now, I can look back with no regrets. That I packed a lot of life in my years and made the most of the time I was given on Earth. Which includes going out to explore said Earth.

No Regrets is a memoir of Linda McDermott’s life in travel. McDermott began traveling the mid-1980s on adventures that would take her from a road trip through the US to the Swiss Alps to Nepal to Fiji and even to Antarctica. Along the way she chronicled her adventures and experiences. I really enjoyed this book because I liked that her adventures weren’t run of the mill – there was a lot of spontaneity and a lot of off-the-beaten-path adventures. Not the typical tourist things. I also enjoyed that McDermott wasn’t a very young girl when she started and most of her travel was done as a middle-aged woman or older. In the epilogue, she tells the story of a trip to the Swiss Alps conducted in her seventies! This is not the memoir of a privileged young adult who set off to travel the world before settling down, but rather the story of a woman who worked hard and prioritized making the most of her time on Earth to have new experiences –  exactly the sort of woman I aspire to be!

This is a feel-good story filled with that sense of awe and wonder that only comes when you’ve truly opened your eyes to seeing the beauty in everything and everyone around you. This book is the perfect spring break or summer beach read – perhaps while you’re off having your own grand adventure!

I’m also pleased to share that if you review this book on Goodreads or Amazon, the publicist is offering two additional stories by the author for free. If you read and review this book, make sure you email Alyssa at Mind Buck Media to get your free stories (alyssa [@] mindbuckmedia.com)

 

Will It Fly?

Will It Fly? by Pat Flynn

Stop rushing into businesses born from half-baked ideas, misguided theories, and other forms of self-delusion. A lack of proper validation kills more businesses than anything else. As Joel Barker says, “Speed is only useful if you’re running in the right direction.” Will It Fly? will help you make sure you are clear for takeoff. It answers questions like: 

– Does your business idea have merit?
– Will it succeed in the market you’re trying to serve, or will it just be a waste of time and resources?
– Is it a good idea for you? 

In other words, will it fly?

Chock-full of practical suggestions you can apply to your business idea today, Will It Fly? combines action-based exercises and real-world case studies with anecdotes from the author’s personal experience of making money online, hosting successful podcasts, testing niche sites, and launching several online businesses.

Will It Fly? will challenge you to think critically, act deliberately, and dare greatly. You can think of the book as your business flight manual, something you can refer to for honest and straight-forward advice as you begin to test your idea and build a business that takes off and soars.

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I was initially hesitant to post a review of this book for fear it would make be seem like an obsessed fangirl. I’ve actually met the author before and I started going to his monthly entrepreneur meet-up in Downtown San Diego. BUT. This book is really good. Really good. And I figured you, the readers of my blog, should know about it!

After all, that’s why I started this blog right? To give reviews of books I’d read and liked to people in need of recommendations? So here you go!

This book is very practical and interactive. It walks you through the framework and encourages you to actually take time to do it as you move through the book.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Shannon there’s a million books like that on the market, why should I get this one?”

You should get it because I, who have spent a good chunk of the last couple years consuming podcasts and books about self-development, entrepreneurship, business, and marketing, still got something new out of this book. Something about the way Pat Flynn describes the Five Years exercise really made me think about my business in a different way and deepened my focus and commitment to what I really want and don’t want out of life.

But more than that, as I said, this book is highly actionable. Meaning if you put in the work, you will get something out of it. In fact I’ve had this book on my desk for two months since I finished it (yeah, I’m just now writing the review, leave me alone) and I keep thinking I need to go back and do the exercises from Part 3 because I didn’t have time when I was reading it to do the exercises. Though I’m know they’re really good and worth doing because I heard a scaled down version of it at a talk Pat gave that I attended.

Also if you enjoy his podcast, you will not be disappointed in the book because it sounds exactly like him. You can practically hear him reading it aloud in your mind. So that’s nice!

Leapfrog

Leapfrog: The New Revolution for Women Entrepreneurs by Nathalie Molina Niño

Think the most critical factor for becoming a great entrepreneur is grit, risk-taking, or technical skills? Think again. Despite what every other business book might say, historical data show the real secret ingredients to getting ahead in business are being rich, white, and male.

Until now. Leapfrog is the decades-overdue startup bible for the rest of us. It’s filled with uncompromising guidance for winning at business, your way. Leapfrog is for entrepreneurs of all stripes who are fed up with status quo advice–the kind that assumes you have rich friends and family and a public relations team.

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Let me start by saying this is a good read for any female in business, not just entrepreneurs. And though this book does talk to and assume its audience is female minorities, there’s still good stuff to be gained if you’re a woman that’s not a minority. Basically, the only people I don’t recommend this to are the old money white males Niño names on the back cover blurb.

I heard about this book from an interview with the author on Sunny Lenarduzzi’s podcast. It was a really good episode, you can listen to it here. And as has happened to me so many times this past year, after the podcast was done I went to Amazon and purchased a copy of the book. I’m always looking for new books to fill up my Miracle Morning book pipeline since that’s the only thing I seem to be reading these days!

Leapfrog has a very loose structure: the fifty hacks in the book are divided by the themes of Ready-Set-Go-Fund-Grow. But what’s great about this book is that, similar to Tribe of Mentors, you don’t really need to read it in order or even read the whole thing in a timely fashion. You can pick it up and just read a hack here and there. Each of the hacks are only a couple pages long so the content is pretty digestible. But they’re also highly actionable!

When I’m reading fiction, I usually judge how well I’m enjoying a book by how often I get the craving to just pick it up and read a few more pages or another chapter. With non-fiction, I still use that same metric, but I also add in how passages I marked or how many pages I dog-earred (I know, I know). Leapfrog hit the mark on all three points.

I’ve already recommended this book to some female entrepreneur friends in my life so today, I’m recommending it to you too if you’ve ever found yourself frustrated or feeling alone as you build your business or career! This is a book I’m sure you’ll return to often.

Educated

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it.

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It’s rare for me to hear about a book and then actually get to read it right away. In this case, a friend was raving about it and when I said it sounded good, she brought me the book to read right away. And then I managed to convince my book club to read it a few days later.

This book was hard to put down. I read it on my vacation to Colorado so that means I finished in just a few days…which is a miracle for me right now. But Tara’s life is so interesting and the writing so beautifully done, it was impossible to quit turning the pages.

The story is disorienting at times as Tara herself is not quite clear on all the facts. And some of those facts have been deliberately obscured over the years. But even more disorienting than Tara’s memories are the truths she recounts in Educated. The truth that some people today are living this way in the United States. That there are children out there, growing up completely shielded from the truths of the world by their parents.

I deeply admire and respect Tara’s resilience in triumphing over her circumstances. Brigham Young University is not an easy school to get into, much less stay in. I think about my own college experiences and I cannot imagine college being my first formal educational experience, showing up to lecture not knowing what the Holocaust was or what a textbook is for. I surely would have failed miserably.

But Tara didn’t. And she not only succeeded, she did well enough to earn herself the opportunity to study at Cambridge and from there, her career and her destiny really took off.

The ending of Educated was really moving and heart-wrenching. I was reading it on the flight back and I was hurrying to finish it before the plane landed, otherwise I knew I’d have to park myself somewhere in the airport to finish the last handful of pages.

Educated was a really “Wow!” read and Tara is obviously incredibly intelligent and a gifted writer…I will definitely be looking for more writing from her in the years to come!

 

S.H.E: Share Heal Empower Review and Interview With Author Shannon Hogan Cohen

S.H.E. Share Heal Empower by Shannon Hogan Cohen

S.H.E. Share Heal Empower unveils the stories of twenty-four women from around the globe and across all ages and cultures, who courageously reached within to overcome extraordinary obstacles. Author Shannon Hogan Cohen has carefully crafted each story into mini literary masterpieces and paired each with art from a female artist.

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Wow. Just wow.

That’s what I have to say about S.H.E. Share Heal Empower. For not being the type of book I typically pick up, it grabbed my attention and didn’t let me go.

Though maybe I shouldn’t say this isn’t my type of book because every single memoir I’ve ever read I’ve absolutely loved. From The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls to Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart to Playing With Dynamite by Sharon Harrigan to Educated by Tara Westover (just read, review forthcoming), I’ve found memoirs to be beautifully touching and affecting.

So rather than saying this isn’t the type of book I typically pick up, I should say that I avoid picking up these types of books unless prompted because I don’t like feeling my feelings lol. I feel enough feelings in an average day to last me a lifetime.

You could say my hang up about memoir is similar to the hang up I have about reading World War II fiction, which is well-documented on this blog. Almost always end up enjoying the book (or straight up love it and call it the best book ever), but boy do I have a certain amount of resistance about it.

S.H.E. Share Heal Empower contains twenty-four stories from real women, recounting some of the hardest and darkest troubles of their lives. Each memoir was powerfully moving and inspiring. Reading through some of these stories truly made me grateful for my own life and everything I have.

I sometimes grow fearful that my own struggles have thus far been relatively small – meaning that the hardest times of my life surely still lie in front of me. Sure, I have had some dark moments and days, but compared to what some people have gone through, it’s really nothing. So I try not to think about the fact that law of averages should dictate that there’s trouble somewhere over the horizon.

But for me, reading S.H.E. was inspiring because reading through some of these stories, of these women who have gone through the most terrible hurts and the darkest times, gives me courage that when trouble does come from me, I’ll know that I’m strong enough to withstand it.

Out of the twenty-four stories in S.H.E. I connected most with the stories of Barbara Jean, Desiree, and Sonia Marie.

Barbara Jean because hers is a story of a life lived among horses and animals. She also recounted some heartbreaking experiences that hit me like a stab in the heart and made me tear up.

Desiree because I cannot imagine what I would do if I experienced what she had experienced losing her child in such a horrific way. But her courage to continue on and fight through her grief to a place where she gives back to others is truly inspiring.

Sonia Marie because it’s clear she is a fighter. Not only did she fight through her own terrifying health crises, she fought to be a strong single mother for her two sons, one of whom has his own health problems. And not only did she fight, but she’s another woman who had taken her darkest moments and used them as seeds to inspire others.

All three of these woman (and the twenty-one others in this book) have exhibited great courage in sharing their stories with the world. I have always believed that the best way to heal is to share with others. I think of it this way: when you are burdened with a terrible pain or hurt, every time you tell the story, you break off a small piece of your pain and give it to someone else to hold onto for you. And the people around you that love you are glad to do this for you because your tiny piece of hurt does not hurt them in the same way it hurts you. So they are able to help you shoulder your burden and over time, your own pain diminishes through this process of retelling and giving away a piece of the hurt.

If you’re looking for a moving, inspiring book to read with your book club or share with all the women in your life, don’t miss S.H.E. Share Heal Empower!

I was able to interview author Shannon Hogan Cohen shortly after the release of the S.H.E. audiobook and at the time of this publication, she is giving away a free copy of the audiobook to one lucky winner. Head on over to the S.H.E. Facebook and Instagram accounts to enter. Good luck!

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What Inspired You to Create the S.H.E. Book?

Growing up, I experienced tension between my mother and father and knew my mother was silently suffering but unaware of the extent. As she slowly revealed her untold stories in my late twenties, I began to understand that this woman was not weak, which is how I always perceived her, but primarily a victim of social circumstance. She had done everything she could to conceal her struggles with my alcoholic father, his death at age thirty and her strained second marriage. My probing became healing for her. Her sharing became empowering. This book became an opportunity for other women to feel safe and do the same. I have learned, we are all wounded, we all worry and we are all weighed down by feelings of unworthiness. For me, the bedrock of love, friendship and community is vulnerability. These heartfelt exchanges provided me with connection and consolation, which is my hope for the reader.

Whose Story Did You Relate to the Most Out of the Twenty-Four Women You Interviewed?

Chapter Twenty-Four, Joni…my mother and who I dedicated the S.H.E. book to. Her rock solid resilience and unimaginable human spirit is inspiring. Nevertheless, each of the women who honored me with their profound stories gave me both a sense of courage and camaraderie that I had never known before. It has taken me years to put the jagged puzzle pieces of my life together. Life offered me clues to help solve my puzzle, but I ignore them at times. It was refreshing recognizing parts of myself in each of these women, who courageously reached within themselves to overcome extraordinary obstacles. These women and their stories together with the many others who have come into my life have created a circle of sisterhood. S.H.E. was born in the spirit of this.

How Did You Come to Include Art in the Book Alongside the Stories?

Once the chapters began to take shape it felt that a simple snapshot image of each woman was not enough. In addition to that, several of the women in the book chose not to have their actual likeness portrayed. I spoke with my sister Shelby, who is an amazing artist and she liked my idea.  In short, it felt right to invite twenty-four different women artists to create a unique portrait of each remarkable woman based on her storyline. I mindfully paired the artists who were able to read their woman’s chapter and were asked to fashion a specific stylistic piece. I continue to marvel at the insight and perception of each altruistic artist. Their representations came from all types of visual expression: pen and ink, fused glass sculpture, to traditional acrylic painting, and more. All the artists in the book are of different ages and abilities, which match the women they were interpreting.

What Was Your Writing (and Rewriting) Process Like?

I describe myself as an amateur scribbler. My writing process is very raw and rewrites only come after I have my husband read through the initial rough draft (of which he calls “homework”- but politely obliges). An author friend once told me years ago to read my pieces out loud and include inflection. This is extremely helpful during my writing and rewriting process, as I have the ability to be very verbose. I am very fortunate to have a wonderful editor, who understands my messy mind and has the ability to make my words pop off the page. Without her, these stories would not be architecturally solid.

Do You Use a Computer or Write By Hand Before Transcribing?

I am old-school; ink on paper. After each interview with a woman, I will listen to our conversation again and begin crafting the chapter in a black composition notebook. I am a tactile person. It is difficult for me to create from scratch on my computer with a blank screen staring at me. For some odd reason, a blank piece of white, lined paper is more inviting. Uni-bal Air rollerball gel pens are my preference. A cup of steamy coffee is mandatory.

What Were Your Biggest Takeaways From the Journey to Become a Self-Published Author?

The journey was extremely frustrating at times, but the end result was very rewarding. I spoke with several publishing houses, who wanted to tweak or modify my manuscript. This irritated me. I understand the need to “sell” books, but I was not willing to compromise certain women’s stories to appease them. Not knowing which direction to go at times was challenging at times, as I flailed forward not knowing if the decisions I was making were accurate. In the end, it all worked out. People came into my life at the right moments and were great mentors guiding me along the way. It feels fantastic to say, “I produced this masterpiece from start to finish.”

Will There Be a S.H.E. Volume 2?

Absolutely, in fact, I have twenty women already in my queue, who are ready to share their stories. It was prudent for me to take some time off and recharge. My goal is to begin interviewing and traveling to meet the women in late September of this year. My favorite part of the process is listening to the women share their life experiences, take those concentrated nuggets of wisdom and develop a storyline to celebrate their personal victories. I remind myself and the women I interview “We cannot choose what happens to us, but we can chose how we respond.”

S.H.E. book Volume One and the woman I am, and continue to become is the result of S.H.E. Sharing, Healing and Empowering.

 

Where Can People Find Out More About You, S.H.E, and Submit Their Own Stories?

On the S.H.E. website which is www.ShareHealEmpower.com. There is a tab called “Suggest a S.H.E.” which you can use to submit a story. And please connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube (as ShareHealEmpower) to see what we’re up to!

 

 

Building a StoryBrand

Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses. This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides readers with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret for helping their customers understand the compelling benefits of using their products, ideas, or services. Building a StoryBrand does this by teaching readers the seven universal story points all humans respond to; the real reason customers make purchases; how to simplify a brand message so people understand it; and how to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media. Whether you are the marketing director of a multibillion dollar company, the owner of a small business, a politician running for office, or the lead singer of a rock band, Building a StoryBrand will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers.

Okay, so this book may seem like it’s kind of a niche interest, but it’s actually really good and is applicable to anyone building a company or building their own personal brand! Storytelling in marketing is super powerful. I think most people understand this on some level. Just think about your favorite brands…chances are they’re telling great stories!

Building a StoryBrand really lays out how to use storytelling to accelerate your brand’s results by discovering how to craft a message you’re customers want to and need to hear. It walks you step-by-step through the framework and explains the concepts in a clear, easy-to-read format.

I’ve also read Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson, the founder of Clickfunnels. While I liked that book a lot, I think Building a StoryBrand is easier for a non-marketing person to understand. The examples Donal Miller gives are a little more tangible and aren’t necessarily bound up with the online world. I think sometimes people who aren’t digital natives (and even some that are) struggle with concepts when they are tied up with the digital space. It’s a lot easier to understand an example from a movie, a book, or even a company that sells physical products like cars or t-shirts.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section introduces the concept and explains why storytelling is so powerful for brands. The second section is where you get to go through the StoryBrand framework and create a script for your brand. The third part shows you what you can do with your StoryBrand script once you have one.

After reading the book, I went online to MyStoryBrand.com where you can actually fill out the framework for yourself. Even though it’s been a little bit since I finished the book, the notes at the end of each chapter helped me quickly remember what each part of the framework was about and fill out my StoryBrand script.

Even if you don’t run a company or have anything to sell, this book is great for anyone who is building a personal brand, running an organization, or just managing an entity that needs an identity. This book makes the concept of storytelling easy to understand, develop, and implement!

18 Great Dystopian Novels and Other Bookish News

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Enjoying this new series? I’ll be back next week with the latest rumblings in the literary world!

* Buzzfeed put out a list of 18 great dystopian novels and I have to agree…I’ve read most on the list!

* Check out Nylon’s list of the best books of summer 2018 here.

* Female authors share the books they read when they’re angry.

* For the non-fiction readers, Forbes has a list of “15 Inspirational Books to Read For Success in Work and Life”.

* If it’s not clear by now, I like lists organized under the obscurest of headings. This one from Business Insider wins this week: 12 Books Famous Scientists Think You Should Read.

* Finally, just for fun: a handy novel pitch generator. Try it out here.