In Everything Bad is Good for You, author Steven Johnson offers some incredibly compelling arguments for why pop culture isn’t as bad for us as we may have thought. Johnson puts forward some interesting reasoning to consider when we talk about the negative effects of video games, movies and TV. In fact, he asks how we might think if TV were invented before books. Would we say that books were too linear and didn’t challenge us to interpret non-verbal communication and other subtleties of human interactions? In that spirit, I offer you several alternatives to reading books in the form of my top five favorite podcasts.
Some time in the mid-1980s, I was attending Mass with my family in New Jersey when I learned an important lesson about memory. We carpooled with our neighbors who lived a couple of houses away. I sat just to the left of Maria and I quietly and piously followed her up to the priest for communion. As Maria approached the altar, the priest held up the Eucharist and said, “The body of Christ.” Maria held out her hands at this very solemn moment, accepted the little piece of bread, replied, “Thank you” and put it in her mouth, finishing with the sign of the cross. All of us within a couple of feet of her turned to look at what had just happened because every Catholic in “good standing” knows that you are supposed to reply, “Amen.” Within a second, or two, Maria realized her mistake and started laughing so hard that she had to cover her mouth as tears rolled down her face. She laughed, on and off, for the rest of Mass and we replayed the incident on the ride home. Thus, a memory was born…
Ok, so lots of people like to cozy up with a good novel on the beach. If that is the only type of book you like to read during the summer, this list is not for you. This list was meant for those who wouldn’t mind reading something that might make them a little more productive, a little more knowledgeable and a little surprised.
My criteria was simple. To make the list, the book had to meet these standards:
- It must be less than 300 pages.
- It must be based on research.
- It must have the potential to make you think differently.
Nobel laureate in both chemistry and peace, Linus Pauling, once said of creativity and innovation, “The best way to get a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” In corporate America, we often here managers say, “I want to hear some ideas. Let’s brainstorm…” when they are in need of some creativity. Their thinking is that the ideas will just flow from a group of people sitting in the room. While generating a lot of ideas through brainstorming can help, it’s not the only way to make a team creative. And, asking people to “brainstorm” can actually be counterproductive…
In his insightful book, The Medici Effect, author, consultant and entrepreneur, Frans Johansson, set out to find the secrets to creativity and innovation. What he found was that the most inventive people and teams innovate by stepping into the Intersection – a place where different cultures, fields and disciplines can produce an explosion of new ideas.
by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
Review by Doug Hensch
I have been fascinated by decision-making for some time. Mostly, because I have made my share of bad decisions. The good news, however, is that I’m not alone. Consider the following statistics regarding the choices we make:
- 44% of current lawyers would recommend against being a lawyer to young people
- More than 50% of teachers quit teaching within four years of starting their careers
- A survey of 20,000 executive coaches found that 40% of senior level new hires had left their respective employers within 18 months of being hired
- In Philadelphia, PA, a teacher is almost twice as likely to “drop out” than a student
- 88% of New Year’s resolutions are broken – 68% of which are to “enjoy life more!”
by Daniel Coyle
Review by Doug Hensch
I grew up absolutely loving sports and I was lucky enough to have two parents that helped foster this love by carting me to and from practices, sending me to camps and encouraging me every step of the way. One thing always stuck out for me – when I would play catch with my dad and I made a good throw or a nice catch, I would hear, “Thaaaaaat’s it!” His praise and approval meant everything. With some luck, a couple of great coaches along the way and (of course) my wonderful parents, I had the opportunity to play football in college and I enjoyed every minute of it. What I didn’t realize, however, was that the seeds of excellence were being sewn in all aspects of my life, not just sports.