My Takeaways From The Book Stonewalled

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 at 09:35 PM with 0 comments

photo of the back cover of Stonewalled

You don't need me to tell you that today the news media is as much about the story as what they are covering. If you're like me you'd rather not hear about reporters and networks being the top story, rather what's actually going on in the world. Where we may hear a digested, front-end view of their involvement in the story, rarely do we get an insider's view of what's really going on behind the sense in newsrooms or how someone is being impacted, especially when they're being impacted negatively.

As someone who doesn't have cable TV or an antenna and haven't for a very long time I almost never watch the network news or major cable news networks. Instead my news comes from online, reading news Web sites, subscribe to their RSS feeds and following their Twitter accounts. In addition to this, I follow many individual reporters, reading not only what they are posting as new stories but their own Twitter timelines. Where this aggregation of information of information is probably more comprehensive and time consuming than simply “watching the news,”, but it allows me to come to my own informed consensus of what’s going on.

Among the reporters I follow is Sharyl Attkisson, a national investigative reporter who is the host of Full Measure and author of the book The Smear which I recently read and shared my takeaways from. As I have been following her and her reporting for several years, I was drawn to read her most recent book, as well as her first book, Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama's Washington, where she chronicles covering news events in Washington, and believed political forces worked against her, even hacking into her computers.

Though I read Stonewalled before I read The Smear, I still recall well the takeaways and questions I had from this book.

The “making of the sausage” that is network news – If you think about it, there is very little network news available to be watched. A 30-minute newscast is really only 23 minutes of programming and 7 minutes of commercials. In this time only so many stories can be covered and only to a certain depth. This is also costly in reporter-power plus research. Even the 27/7 news channels don’t cover all that much news as compared to opinion programming.

In Stonewalled, Attkisson states that this plays into whether stories are aired or not. As well, it can be up to the news anchor themselves what gets aired. If that person has a bias, stories may never get seen by the viewing public. She details many cases of this during her years at CBS News.

Overflow news stories on the Web – When some of Attkisson’s news reports were not aired on the evening news program, they were often posted to CBS News’ Web site. I personally had no idea this happened; my assumption was that stories on the Web site were simply what aired. As a result, I have added news Web sites to the mix of news sources I mentioned above to gather all points of view, think for myself and form my own opinion on events around the corner and around the world.

Did the government really hack into her computers? As of this writing and for over 10 years, Attkisson has been trying to get information from the government on what she suspects and was confirmed by her informants, that employees of an unknown part of the US government hacked into her personal and work computers. Why? She suspects her persistent coverage of the Fast and Furious scandal and other government investigative reporting may have led to this. And to date, she has yet to get any official answers.

Stonewalled is a well-written journey through the life in the US capital area, complete with shadowy figures as well as those operating in broad daylight. I highly recommend it as a compliment to what was observed in the news over the last decade. As I finished reading this a while ago, I also promised it to someone a long time ago, and finally the book is in the mail.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book Things Are What You Make Of Them

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, November 30, 2017 at 09:28 PM with 0 comments

photo of back cover of Things Are What You Make of Them

There are no shortage of books, blogs and articles out there offering career advice. In fact, you are reading something from one of them right now! If anything, they all have something in common – long narratives, loaded with stories and real-life examples, explaining in great detail the author’s point-of-view.

The new book, Things Are What You Make of Them – Life Advice for Creatives by Adam J. Kurtz, is a book that, as you can guess by the title, is in the above-mentioned genre, but its format and structures breaks the above-mentioned mold. Where it offers career advice, its format is unique – there are just over a dozen “chapters” – each beginning with a description, then a hand-written list of 8 points, followed by 8 pages, also hand-written, corresponding to each point on pages no more than 4 inches by 6 inches.

As I said, this book is unique, and refreshing. The advice is written with a mix of Kurtz’s sense of humor and his brutal honesty. It’s a short read, which you can finish in less than an hour, but gives you a lot to think about for a long time and easy to remember – each page has a colored border by chapter, and all pages are perforated for easy removal and hanging up in a prominent place.

As you can guess, this book gave many things to takeaway from it.

photo of page from Things Are What You Make of Them

Define creative – As the book’s subtitle is “Life Advice for Creatives,” some of you reading this may think, this book is not for me as I am not “creative” in the sense of a designer or artist, as the author is. To borrow a phrase, bollocks! Many of us, where we may be in a corporate job that is not defined with words such as “artistic” are actually creative in nature – we are using our brains and imagination to find creative solutions for our employers or clients. To borrow another phrase, this one by from Kurtz’s own definition of “creative” in the book, it is “… a person who defines themselves, in some way, by their creative passion or profession.” I love this description and feel it suits myself, and it may suit you as well – think about it.

Take away what works for you, literally – In any book, you can find yourself liking and disliking various parts of it. This is in fact why I write takeaways from books rather than reviews of them. With this book if something resonates with you, you can then literally and easily remove it as all pages of the book are perforated, then post it someplace as a reminder or inspiration.

More books are needed in this format – From its small size to its vibrant colors to perforated pages to its concise advice, more books should be crafted this way. It reminds me of the book 52 Motivational Quotations for Salespeople by my good friend Tom Cruz, which has each quote on a separate page so they can be removed and displayed prominently. Especially in our fast-paced digital world, it allows us to take a brief time out, read and reflect.

When I heard about Things Are What You Make of Them, I preordered it right away. I learn about Kurtz and his creative work from his book 1 Page at a Time, which I bought and am still using as an (almost) daily creative outlet. His light-hearted approach has drawn me to his work, and it makes me smile and think at the same time.

After finishing this book, I decided to give it to someone who is a very creative person, and am eager to hear their thoughts on it as they read through it.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Smear By Sharyl Attkisson

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, September 17, 2017 at 08:17 PM with 0 comments

photo of The Smear signed title page

If I were to sum up the last US Presidential election process in one word, it would be “painful.” Why painful? For almost 2 years prior people were subjected to dialogue that wasn’t even worthy of an elementary school playground. I could go on and on and on and on with analogies of what I heard, but one descriptor of it would certainly not be “substance.”

All the while I’ve had a sneaking suspicion this was all intentional. After reading the book The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote by Sharyl Attkisson, I was unfortunately reassured of my assumptions.

The Smear was published this summer, and is a very timely journal of the 2016 US national elections, including analysis on headlines discussed, as well as a history lesson as to the people and sources – from money to information – behind the candidates. Attkisson is a veteran investigative journalist, formerly with CBS News and now host of Sinclair’s Full Measure weekly news program. As I have liked her comprehensive reporting, I was compelled to pre-order this book when it was announced.

My takeaways from The Smear went from to micro to macro, and are as follows.

There were events I missed – As I read through The Smear, there were several times I said to myself, “gee, I didn’t know that.” Especially for someone like me who, despite being a long-time cord-cutter but someone who prides himself on keeping close eyes and ears to the news, there were a few events and some nuances I missed. With all that was flung and slung by so many, I wasn’t completely surprised.

Follow the money – To say that money is influential in politics is like saying sunlight is influential in growing plants. Typically we all have seen the end results of political spending, namely in advertising of various formats, but with “fake news” Web sites coming and going, we don’t all know who is behind them or paying for them. With the plethora of political consulting firms, political action committees (PACs) and SuperPACs and their influence, it’s hard to follow. In The Smear, Attkisson does a good job in connecting the dots along the money trails.

Will it ever get better? – I believe in journalism. With this last election, about all I saw was biased opinion and very little hard news. There are journalists I know and follow and trust. It’s not an exhaustive list, but a vital one to me. Overall I follow a broad spectrum of information sources, think for myself and come up with my take.

As someone who enjoys reading about politics, I enjoyed and recommend The Smear. It’s presented in a methodical and relatively chronological order, and I found it a good read. If you’re not into this type of book, or you believe everything you hear and see on (insert your favorite news network here) then this book probably isn’t for you.

As I do with every book I read, I give it away, and this one I am sending to my favorite Father-In-Law. Where I may have an idea of what his politics are, I am still eager to hear his take on this book.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From December Magazine Volume 27.2

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 07:08 PM with 2 comments

photo of back cover of December Magazine Volume 27.2

Beyond the writing I have done here at The Hot Iron I have also explored more creative and expressive forms of writing. Don’t get me wrong, what I wrote about registering domain names for your children took a unique approach, but it’s not certainly something to curl up and read in bed.

With this in mind, I attended last year’s Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago with a different lens and steps than previous times. Not only was this quest more fulfilling, but I spent most of the day there as well.

One of the first stops I made was at the table of December magazine, a biannual literary journal. The non-profit magazine has its roots in the Windy City but now hails from St. Louis. I was intrigued as this publication presents works from a variety of authors, some being their first published work. I subscribed on the spot – a mere $20 for a year – and got the current issue as a bonus. Later that day I tore into it, reading it cover to cover, all the while thinking, “hmmm.”

When the latest issue, volume 27.2, arrived, I was now 3 issues relatively new world of poetry and short stories, and as you may have already guessed I have some takeaways from reading this edition and the others of December magazine.

Poetry is more than what I was taught in school – First I have to say when I say “school” I stop at high school, as my college experience had me mostly in the computer lab. I was taught poetry was about structure and rhyming. So as I grew up, if it didn’t have a set structure or rhyme, it wasn’t a poem. Granted much of the lyrics of the songs I grew up listening to didn’t always rhyme either, but I must have been too busy singing and moshing to them to notice.

The drama is in the details – The greatest thing I have enjoyed of the many short stories I have read has been how details of whatever story is being told, from gripping to mundane, come alive as the details are being revealed. It’s like peeling layers of the onion to reveal more connection to the story. That zoom in on the details, or lack thereof, can make or break a story.

I can do this – Enough said there… I’ll stop this takeaway, wrap up and get back to an idea for a short story that has been simmering in my head.

Upon further perusing the Lit Fest that day I found many, many other periodicals similar to December magazine. Rather than collect them all, I stuck with one, one I just renewed for another year of unique reading and inspiration.

As I give away books as I read them, I did the same for this issue of December magazine. Rather than directly giving it to someone, I simply left it on a Chicago CTA Red Line subway car one morning. I only hope the person who happened upon it enjoyed it as much as I did.

Do you read any literary journals? Perhaps December magazine? I welcome your thoughts in the comments of this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, May 06, 2017 at 02:21 AM with 0 comments

photo of the back cover of Confessions Of An Economic Hit Man

Everything happens for a reason. That phrase is something I have always believed in. Even if I don’t know what that reason is, or don’t believe the reason when I hear it, I have always felt that somewhere, someone knows why something happened.

This phrase came to mind as I read the 2004 novel Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. The book, which he says is truly that, his confession – is about how corporations have worked and continue to work on behalf of the US government to gain influence, allies and assets from other countries for the benefit of said corporations and the US government, but not necessarily for the countries they are purporting to help.

As you might guess, Perkins states he was an economic hit man, or EHM. The book is the story of his life from growing up in New Hampshire to being offered the role and traveling the world doing the bidding of others through the consulting firm he worked for. When successful, he benefitted greatly. When not, he still got paid, but then handed the work off to others to get the job done, presumably at any cost.

As I read this tale of international intrigue, many thoughts swirled through my head, including the following takeaways.

Act Locally – Perkins traveled the world as an EHM. He didn’t do it sitting behind a desk in his Boston office. Granted this was the 1970’s and 1980’s and you didn’t have the tools of the Internet we have today. But if you want to be effective and close the deal, you have to directly connect with others, on their turf. I have done this before and in the case of an EHM, for good or bad.

Tell Your Story Well – With a topic like this, it is easy to dismiss it as a farce and conspiracy theory without even reading one word of it, Now I am not saying this story is 100% true, as I have no clue. I am simply absorbing what the author wrote. But what he wrote, though, is a well-told story where he ties world events in with his own tale. If it is 100% false, then he is an amazing fiction writer.

Everything Happens For a Reason – See what I wrote above. What Perkins wrote about may or may not be the reason – again, I don’t have any special insight, I can only take him for his word. Then again, what I’ve seen in headlines over the years, my hunch is there is more to the truth than fiction. And as Mark Twain once said, truth is stranger than fiction.

If you have any interest in current affairs, world politics or simply love a great story, I recommend Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. I bought this book myself, and as I pass along all books I read, this one is going to a good friend who is an international consultant who himself has traveled to all corners of the planet. Is he an EHM itself? I don’t know, and if he is I’m not sure I even want to know for sure.

Have you read this book by John Perkins? If so, what did you think? I welcome all thoughts in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From the Novel Post Office By Charles Bukowski

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, March 24, 2017 at 07:16 PM with 2 comments

photo of Post Office back cover

People learn about books and authors from a variety of sources – friends, social media, browsing airport stores, the New York Times Bestseller list... just to name a few. I first learned about writer and poet Charles Bukowski in a much different way – a bar.

The Bukowski Tavern is a quaint place tucked into the corner of a parking garage complex that also houses a high-end bowling alley and seafood restaurant in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood. The long, narrow joint serves a great selection of beers and has a kitchen, the latter which made “The Buk” a favorite lunch spot for me when I worked nearby several years ago. That, and the fact my co-workers didn’t like it, made me a frequent patron as a getaway from my daily grind.

On the walls of Bukowski Tavern are paintings of the image of its namesake as well as quotes from his books. One would think by being immersed in such a locale would drive me to want to read his collection of books and poems. One would think, but that was then when curling up with a good book meant sticking my nose in a technical manual. That was then, this is now, and I have finally begun reading Bukowski’s work.

Post Office was his first novel, written later in his life after publishing numerous short stories and poems and, as you might guess, working for the U.S. Postal Service. It is a gritty, real-life tale, yet written in a compelling way to hold the reader through the hard-drinking life and times of a mail carrier. As I read and absorbed this piece, the following takeaways came to mind.

The topic can be mundane – Working, drinking, bad relations... these don’t necessarily jump out at you as topics you want to read about. As I made it through the pages of Post Office, the vivid story presented in front of me became as if I was watching it, and made for an entertaining use of my time. It fulfills the expression that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

Read something different – A short perusal of the other book takeaways I have written here at The Hot Iron shows a variety of books, but few of them are fiction. This is not to dismiss the gripping and compelling business books I tend to gravitate to, but as I read Post Office it reminded me I need to mix it up more.

Write, right now – Post Office was written and published when Bukowski was 49. I am 49. Granted he had written many, many poems and short stories for many years. Where I won’t equate my own little blog as an equivalent, as I have written the 800+ posts here over the last decade, I have gained a great appreciation and love of writing, and it’s time to get those books out of my head and into a more tangible format.

As you might guess, Post Office is far from a children’s novel. I highly recommend it for anyone who is not easily offended by language, and loves a good, real story. I gave this book to a friend who is a huge reader but has never read Charles Bukowski himself. It was easier to hand the book over to him than to fly him out to Boston to the bar, though the latter would be much more fun.

If you have read Post Office or any of Bukowski’s other works, I’d welcome your thoughts in the comments to this post. I am now ordering his second book, Factotum.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Ultimate Female Fan Guide to Pro Football

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, February 04, 2017 at 05:19 PM with 0 comments

photo of The Ultimate Female Fan Guide to Pro Football cover

The Super Bowl is a game you prepare for mentally, physically or both – depending on your level of fandom, and what you are watching it for. It is unique among sports as even non-fans watch, for the commercials, because they are at parties, for curiosity sake, et. al.

If you are a football fan, you realize the complexity of the rules of the game – realize in that you understand them all, none of them, or as many are, somewhere in between. How much you may know is most likely influenced by if you played football, was taught by a parent or someone else close to you or you learned on your own… he latter being the case for myself. Football for me wasn’t my first love of sports, but has become it. I grew up a baseball fan, which came from my Mom’s love of the Boston Red Sox. While I was growing up, the New England Patriots were horrible, and the bottom rung of the sports ladder in New England, way behind the Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins.

So when I decided on a whim to get season tickets for the Patriots back in the early 90’s, before they became the multiple Super Bowl winning team they are now, where I had some knowledge of the game, I had much to learn. As I was in my mid-20’s at that time, I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t know more of the game, and sought out a way to learn it. I found a book that not only helped me then, but over 20 years later as well.

I found the book The Ultimate Female Fan Guide to Pro Football at the Patriots Pro Shop, which was adjacent to the team’s former home field, Foxboro Stadium. Flipping through it, I realized it was exactly what I needed to learn the game. Two decades later I found it among some things, and I dusted it off and re-read it. My takeaways, as follow, come from my recollection of my initial read as well as this recent unearthing of it.

Structured Learning Is Sometimes Better Than On-The-Task Learning – As most of my training and learning over my career has been on-the-job or just-in-time and supplemented by some training, depending on the topic structured learning is the better way, as it was for me with football. Simply sitting down and watching 60 minutes of plays over 3 hours may not even cover everything, and taking a methodical approach supplemented with watching the game helped me learn it well.

Anecdotal Information Provides Greater Context To Formal Knowledge – Learning the formal rules of football, like any other topic, is important to learning about what you are watching. But for a game like football which has evolved over close to 100 years, having familiarity of the evolution and events which led to where the game is today is great to the deep understanding of the game. Betsy Berns mixes helpful hints and fun facts throughout the pages of The Ultimate Female Fan Guide to Pro Football, all of which provide greater context to the main information presented.

What Taught Me Helps Teach Others - When I found the book, I wanted to go through it again as I am teaching my daughter the rules of football. As I am writing this I am sitting down with her and we are going through it together, and I am helping her understand both the rules for and my love for the game, which I hope will lead to her own appreciation and affection for it too.

As my copy of The Ultimate Female Fan Guide to Pro Football came out over 20 years ago, what I have is now out of print and is now known simply as The Female Fan Guide to Pro Football by the same author. Where I haven’t read the newer version specifically, I can only imagine it is better (not to mention more up to date) than my version. I recommend it to any fan of any reading age – and gender – as a great way to learn this great game.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book Equal Is Unfair

By Mike Maddaloni on Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 04:11 PM with 6 comments

photo of Equal is Unfair back cover

This past spring I attended a debate held by Chicago Ideas Week between Dr. Yaron Brook, the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute and Dr. James Galbraith, an economist and professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, on the topic “Is Equal Fair?” Where it was a debate about a heady topic, there was a good connection with the audience on the subject of equality and inequality in our society.

As someone who owned his own business and believes my success and failures are my own doing, despite all outside factors and influences, I personally take a more conservative look at this topic. That being said, I came into this debate with an open mind and was interested in hearing both sides to see how either could influence my thinking. In my humble opinion, Brook won this debate not only on substance but in style and how he presented complex economic models in simple terms.

After the debate I bought a copy of the book Brook co-authored with Don Watkins, an Ayn Rand Institute fellow, titled Equal is Unfair as I was interested in reading more on the points Brook made during the debate. As I expected, it is a very comprehensive book, with economic charts and data. However, it has an interesting and engaging narrative that explains well to the non-numbers person like myself without taking anything away from the topic.

As I read Equal Is Unfair, there were a few overarching takeaways I took from it, including:

Nothing Is Ever Equal – Other than a well-formed math equation, it is hard to say that all things are truly equal in the world, or can be. Many people have advantages in one area over others where they may have disadvantages in other areas with the same people. Especially in an ever-changing world, it’s hard to predict everything and keep things in equal, especially when there are unpredictable and unanticipated forces that may come along and have a negative impact, at first, and from which someone may recover or not.

By artificially trying to make something equal that naturally isn’t, it is simply going against a tide that is hard to maintain. Rather, do you look for another way, a Plan B, to gain advantage as compensation? For myself, I don’t look at being equal as the end goal.

What Do You Really Want? – The idea of equality is discussed in the book, as it was in the debate, to bring people in line with others who have better access to resources or information. To this end, I think to myself… is the goal for everybody to be equal, or to have the opportunity to be all the want to be?

Consider the Ripple Effect – Efforts to make all things equal may have unforeseen consequences, such as costs incurred or diverted, that have to be paid for somehow from somewhere. Anything new will have an impact on time and resources which are not infinite.

Whatever side you are on this issue or whatever your political and societal positions are on the topic of equality, I recommend reading Equal Is Unfair for a unique point of view on this topic.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways So Far From The Book 1 Page At A Time

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, August 10, 2016 at 03:08 PM with 3 comments

”photo

A consequence of being in a routine is that our entire body can be consumed by it. Where things like repetitive strain injuries or simply being sore from sitting on our butt for a long time are obvious, what isn’t as apparent is the impact on our brain.

If you don’t believe me, here’s an example – you are buzzing along in what you do all day and someone comes along and asks you a question, and all you can do is stare back dumbfounded. They may have well as used a Sharpie and wrote it on a pool noodle and hit you with it. Call it brain fatigue, but does it show a sign your brain needs some exercising?

When I saw the book 1 Page at a Time – A Daily Creative Companion by Adam J. Kurtz sitting on the shelf at Judy Maxwell Home in Chicago, I couldn’t help but pick it up. (If you don’t know about this store, think Spencer Gifts with an old-world flair and a sharper edge; it’s also owned by actress Joan Cusack, so that adds to its eccentricity) It only took me flipping through the first few pages and I was sold. It is an adult workbook, with a page a day dedicated to a brief creative exercise to do in the book.

Each page presents a unique activity, from making a list to drawing a picture to whatever. Some are quick and easy, some require actual thought. As it’s a page a day, and I started late last year, I am not done yet – thus the “so far” in the title – but I have enjoyed every exercise so far.

Though I have much to go, I feel my takeaways from 1 Page at a Time will endure and be reinforced as I go through it.

Think Different – Borrowing from the infamous Apple tag line, this book does just that. It asks you to do things you most likely don’t normally do on a regular basis as part of your job or even for fun.

Challenge Yourself – As some of the activities have required me to sit back and ponder before putting pen to page, it’s been extremely helpful to have a challenge that is outside of my normal work and life challenges, which tend to be more technical, business and child-focused.

Draw – When was the last time you drew a picture? For the fun of it? This is probably why adult coloring books are all the rage these days. Where many of you reading this may not consider yourself an artist, the drawing I am talking about is not about being an artist. Rather, it is about expressing something with visualization.

On occasion a day or 2 go by when I don’t do a page a day, but then I catch up on them. I tend to do them in page sequential order, but there is no reason you can’t flip around and choose one at random. I never read ahead, as I like to approach these with some spontaneity.

I highly recommend getting a copy of 1 Page at a Time, or get 2 – 1 for yourself and 1 for a friend. If you have it and are using it, I’d love to hear what you think about it in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book Manage Your Day-To-Day

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at 08:22 AM with 0 comments

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So, how is your day going?

Whenever asked that question, or just now as you read it, you may have begun it with a sigh or groan, or some insincere sense of enthusiasm. As much as we can plan days and focus on whatever we need to do, there are plenty of factors working against us and disrupting our momentum. These disruptors will never go away, and our only choice is to try to bring elements in to manage or counter them.

When I heard about the book Manage Your Day-To-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind I said to myself, “self, how can I pass on reading this?” The book is a collection of writings and interviews with 20 “creative minds.” Where some I have heard of, like Seth Godin and Tony Schwartz, most of the rest I had not. Yet each of the contributors were very intriguing, yet practical. Manage Your Day-To-Day is a good read that gets you thinking about your own routines and practices and how to get the “most” from them, whatever “most” means to you.

As I read the book, my takeaways from it were not from the specifics of the book, rather from its big picture, and are as follows.

Misery loves company, but only if you want to be miserable together – As I read the dozen pieces from the 20 authors, nobody was saying that they have overcome chaos and their lives are exactly as they want them. Yet they did admit to challenges and offered both general and specific advice on how they are conquering what challenges them.

You deserve a break today – How many times have you been working on something and someone asks you about lunch, and you are thinking, “gee, I just had breakfast!” (Ok, you can put your hands down now.) I have written man times here at The Hot Iron about the creative process – or if you are so inclined, simply thinking – and the need to get away to change the scenery, recharge the brain and come back with a fresh focus.

In my current role, in the employee handbook for my firm it actually mentions taking breaks during the day just for that reason. As a matter of fact, I am writing this very blog post on one of those breaks. And on the way to the Starbucks where I am writing this, I was able to easily think through something for work that my brain kept tripping on. Where I thought I dropped the ball on something, I actually did not, and completely followed through. A nice thought to have in my head as I return to the office.

Where was Scrum? – As I read this book after reading Jeff Sutherland's book on Scrum, using Scrum would be a perfect way to help you manage the creativity. As a matter of fact, I recently setup my own scrum board for myself, with tasks such as writing this blog post and fixing the closet doors in my kid's bedroom.

I recommend Manage Your Day-To-Day for anyone who is looking for ideas and encouragement on improvement of their productivity or just to add some calm into their lives. This book is one I bought myself after reading about it somewhere – sorry, I forgot, as I have had the book for a while. As I always pass along books, for this one I placed it on a shelf in the kitchen of my office with other books people have left there as a mini-library. It will be interesting if anyone takes it, and even more so if they took it after reading this blog post!

Have you read Manage Your Day-To-Day? I welcome your thoughts on the book in the comments of this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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