Book Review:The Self-Evolved Leader- by Dave McKweon

Written by leadership and speaker Dave McKeon The Self-Evolved Leader is a primer for any leader who wants to get the best of their staff fousing on various team directions, developments, and that end up in positive results.

McKeon has a 3 step process to help leaders of all & kinds of processes that include creating a shared vision and sharing by using 5 disciplines.

The Self-Evolved Leader is divided into 4 parts. They are:

1. Preparing for a Self-Evolved Leadership.

2. The key elements of Self-Evolved Leadership.

3. Mastering the Self-Evolved Leadership Disciplines.

4. Sustaining the Self-Evolved Leadership.

All of these parts contain huge amounts of advice on issues like mediocrity, accountability, change, creativity, developments, and responsibility. And to maintain your progress McKeon has some ” homework” for you to do.

This book has a lot for you to do and can be a quite overwhelming. I suggest you bring out a high lighter, Post-it Notes, and notebook to mark key passages as you read this book.

Hopefully, this will guide leaders become more effective and make their staff top notch. Believe me, as someone who dealt with pretty bad bosses this is a much needed book.

 

Book Review: Never Stop Dancing by John Robinette and Robert Jacoby

It is said April is the cruelest month and for John Robinette this is true. In April of 2010 he lost his wife Amy.

When it comes to losing a spouse there are countless books about and by widows by not a whole lot about widowers. The only two I can think of are books written by Rob Sheffield and Mathias Freese.

Now there is another: Never Stop Dancing.

Divided into four parts named in the four seasons starting in the summer after Robinette lost his treasured wife Amy and it’s aftermath.

Encouraged by his friend Jacoby, Robinette was asked to share his experience as an act of therapy and healing and Never Stop Dancing conveys both of their stories.

Robinette goes into heartbreaking detail about losing Amy from her sudden demise to moving on finding someone new to love like planning her funeral, cancelling her credit cards, to experiencing the stages of grief, not to mention being a single dad to two boys deeply entrenched in their own grief. And all of it truly pierces your heart.

And there are tales of why Amy was so loved. Described as Robinette knew her true self, Amy seems almost too good to be true, but one person I wish I new personally.

Jacoby also shares his experience helping his friend cope and his story is also necessary in conveying Robinette’s path of bereavement and healing.

Never Stop Dancing isn’t just about losing a spouse. It is also a story of male friendship.

This book is written in exquisite detail and when you finish it you just want to everyone a huge group hug.

Book Review: Stressed in the US-12 Tools to Tackle Anxiety, Loneliness, Tech Addiction and More by Meg Van Deusen, Ph.D

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How do you know when I find a book that informs, inspires, and Impacts me in a positive way? When I fill it with Post-its, highlight certain passages, and write notes in the.margins. And that’s exactly what I’ve done Dr. Van Deusen’s book Stressed In the US.

We live in a nation where people are stressed and stretched to the max. We don’t get enough sleep. We’re addicted to social media yet ache with loneliness.We mindlessly eat, don’t exercise, and are disconnected from nature. Both our physical and mental health are out of whack in a toxic world.

What’s a person to do just to feel a little less stressed?

Well, reading Van Deusen’s book is a good start.

As I’ve mentioned in past book reviews, I’m a bit wary when it comes to self-help books. Some are way too namby pamby and some are too self-righteous. But Van Deusen’s book is one of understanding, research, life experiences (including her own), and a great deal of compassion.

Stressed in the US focuses on defining stress and what stressed us out. Van Deusen goes into deep detail on our attachment to others, dealing with loneliness, overcoming our addictions to technology of all kinds, and how getting more sleep, exercise, and healthier diets can de-stress us and make us feel a whole lot better. And yes, we can have a few indulgences and luxuries every now and then.

And in the final chapter she sums up the 12 tools to living a less we can use to combat stress which include things like making eye contact with others to getting back to nature.

I, myself am slowly but surely, working these tools into my daily life. And I forgive myself when I mess up. I hope these tools will help me overcome the past few horrible years. Stressed in the US is a welcome addition to my book shelf and my journey to healing.

Book Reviews: You Are Awesome-9 Secrets to Getting Stronger and Living an Intentional Life by Neil Pasricha

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In this day and age it’s difficult to feel somewhat mediocre let alone awesome. Our country is deeply divided, our global world is spinning out of control, and Mother Nature is a harsh mistress.

On personal level we are constantly bombarded with messages telling us we are never enough. We are told by advertisers and marketers, social media, reality TV, corporate owned news, and celebrity culture. We’re not rich enough, smart enough or just enough.

It’s all enough to make us feel awful. But Neil Pasticha begs to differ in his book You Are Awesome: 9 Secrets to Getting Stronger and Living an Intentional Life.

For the uninitiated Pasricha is a best-selling author, popular public speaker who has given speeches at TED Talks and SXSW, and award-winning podcaster at 3 Books.

I admit I have a love/hate relationship with self help books. Some have all the appetizing quality of a breath mint and others are a delicious feast.

After a brief introduction where Pasricha reminds us to be resilient, he gives us the 9 secrets to claiming his awesomeness.

  1. Add a Dot, Dot, Dot
  2. Shift the Spotlight
  3. See it as a Step
  4. Tell Yourself a Different Story
  5. Lose More to Win More
  6. Reveal to Heal
  7. Find Small Ponds
  8. Go Untouchable
  9. Never, Never Stop

Now my fully competent readers, you can probably figure out a few details of Pasricha’s secrets from the nine titles. But the titles are not sentimental greeting card verse. Pasricha goes very much in depth, using care and craft, the hard work, scientific facts, true stories (including his own) and various resources to achieve transformation. Believe me, you’re not awesome because you are breathing.

In the wise words of one of my favorite  philosophers, RuPaul:

“You better work!”

You’re going to have take an in-depth look at your life, past, present, and and possible future and do a full assessment of your missteps. It won’t be pretty.

But you will also be encouraged to revisit the times where you succeeded and found true joy, professionally and personally.

In the end You Awesome is both a regular book and workbook. While reading it I found myself writing down notes, highlighting passages, and applying Post-it notes to several pages.

Written in voice that is both honest and relatable, Pasricha’s You are Awesome is a good primer on gaining more resilience and living a life of purpose and meaning.

*Thank you to Simon and Schuster Canada for the advanced copy of You Are Awesome: 9 Secrets to Getting Stronger and Living an Intentional Life. This book will be released this Tuesday, November 5th.

Asylum-True Tales of Madness from a Life in Fashion by Simon Doonan*

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“Ah! Fashion. A nuthouse? A refuge? Or maybe both. Yes, an asylum in both senses of the word. A place where unemployable crazy people are always welcome.

Every seasoned personage has his or her favorite stories of folly, aberration, derangement, kookiness and excess.”-Part of a quote of Simon’s author quote in his book Asylum: True Tales of Madness a collection of madcap essays about what Doonan has witnessed during his life in the fashion biz.

Among them include peers that peanut gallery of nuttiness, models who fancy themselves as spiritual advisers and who are also total cheapskates, Anna Wintour barely blinking, let alone freaking out, when a ceiling fell at a runway show during fashion week, the dating habits of the fashion elite, which include affairs with hustlers, porn stars, gangsters, and jailbirds, fabulous fashion femmes like Diana Vreeland, Polly Mellen, Suzy Menkes among them, and so much more sordid stylish and fashionable fables that will entertain both fashionistas and people who can’t tell the difference between a Jimmy Choo and a Jimmy John’s.

And of course, Doonan can’t help drop names, names, names when it comes to the factory of fashion, including Chanel, Rei Kawakubo from Commes des Garcons, Lagerfeld, Balenciaga, Tom Ford, Thierry Mugler, and so much more!!!

But there is essays that reflect on more serious topics, like how AIDs impacted the fashion industry, taking the lives of creative visionaries like Perry Ellis, Tina Chow, Willi Smith, Halston, Patrick Kelly, and Juan Ramos.

Smart, sassy and wonderfully written, you will find a sensitive man of true compassion and fashion. I have no doubt Mr. Doonan would give you one of his technicolor shirts off his back when you’re in the depths of despair while also filling you in on the a la mode of all the people, places and things of fashion.

*I also reviewed Doonan’s book Wacky Chicks.

 

 

 

Book Review: Eloquent Rage-A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower by Brittney Cooper

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Already a fan of Brittney Cooper’s work at the website Salon I was pretty excited to get my hands on her book of essays Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower. I was especially thrilled after I read all the praise this book was garnering from notable women like Joy Reid, Rebecca Traister, and my beloved Roxane Gay, who calls Cooper’s work “provocative and engaging.”

Provocative and engaging? Yes, and so much more.

Cooper is a professor of women and gender studies, and Africana Africana studies at Rutgers University. She is also co-founder of the Crunk Feminist Collective.

Eloquent Rage focuses on black women and black women’s feminism. Her essays offer commentary on topics like politics, pop culture, relationships, sex, and other things affecting the black community. Much of these topics reflect Cooper’s experience but she invokes the experiences of others.

Cooper’s writing is both academic and accessible. And these essays are a much needed education for this white feminist.

To give you a sneak peek into the pages Eloquent Rage, the essays focus on topics like bothersome sassy black woman stereotype, strong female leads in pop culture, Michelle Obama’s silent defiance of the Trump regime expressed through her hair and body language, and the problem with white feminists.

Eloquent Rage is a treasure of a book and should be used in both the classroom and at book discussion groups.

 

Book Review: Maid-Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land

Over the past few years I’ve read several books on what it is like to live in the richest country on low pay, back breaking work, while striving to make a better life for oneself and perhaps one’s family. Some of these books include Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado, We Were Witches by Ariel Gore, The Broke Diaries by Angela Nissel, and of course, Barbara Ehrenreich’s classic, Nickel and Dimed.

I didn’t think I could handle reading another one until I came across Stephanie Land’s memoir, Maid-Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. (Introduction by Barbara Ehrenreich)

Not quite 30, Land found herself leaving an abusive relationship with a young daughter in tow. What followed her was a nightmare of homelessness, deplorable apartments, low wages working as a housekeeper, and a very unpleasant journey through the so-called safety net when it came to acquiring government assistance. Unlike some fortunate souls Land lacks a supportive family who help her in her time of need.

Land decides to clean houses to support herself and her daughter while also attending college. She works for a local housecleaning company but also takes on freelance gigs. Not surprisingly, housekeeping is truly back breaking, horribly paid, and demoralizing. Some of her clients don’t see her fully human and worthy of respect. And then some of them just don’t see “her.”

Not making enough money to buy even the basic necessities, Land has to go on government assistance, a tangled weave that is often very difficult unravel with its endless paperwork and noxious questioning of Land’s eligibility and worthiness. If one earns a few extra dollars, one can find their benefits slashed or lose them in their entirety.

Keep in mind, not only is Land taking care of her daughter and cleaning houses, she’s also attending college. I just dare any reader to call her a slacker. She is the antithesis of lazy. In fact, due to my research, most people receiving some type of assistance are working and/or going to school. They are not cheating the system and most are not lazy losers.

But back to the book…

Maid is searing with brutal honesty. Land’s love and devotion to her daughter is undeniable as is her willingness to make a better life using various options. Her resourcefulness is both admirable and clever. I couldn’t help but root for her. Does she at times feel sorry for herself? Well, of course. She is human, after all. There certain times in one’s life when you just got to cry over your lot in life, and then you move on.

In the end people who are struggling like Land deserve respect, not empty pity or utter derision lacking any type of empathy.

In the end Maid convinces the reader to look beyond the stereotypes you may have swirling in your brain when it comes to the poor, anyone on benefits or those faceless, nameless heroes and heroines who make our lives much easier through their blood, sweat and tears.

Maid is a treasure of a memoir. Land should be very proud of herself, and I hope she keeps writing. I expect more from her. She’s one to watch.