Review – Didn’t See It Coming – Carey Nieuwhof

In “Didn’t See it Coming” Carey Nieuwhof outlines seven challenges that can catch a pastor or leader by surprise even though they are ubiquitous. The seven challenges are Cynicism, Compromise, Disconnection, Irrelevance, Pride, Burnout, and Emptiness.  Carey calls these seven challenges “epidemics of our age.” While these things have a tendency to catch us off guard, they don’t need to if we see the warning signs.

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Michael Hyatt’s Leaderbox – First Impressions

If you want to see what a Leaderbox looks like, here’s my unboxing and first impressions:

I told myself I wasn’t going to do it. I told myself it was too much money. But then, I received a 10% off coupon for Michael Hyatt’s Leaderbox and I thought I’d revisit my initial decision.

After thinking about Leaderbox some more, I ended up joining.

What caused me to take the jump? Basically, the coupon came at the right time.

In a previous blog post, I wrote about reassessing how I read. I realized that if I was going to learn deeply, I had to read differently. So, fewer books.

I also realized physical books would help in my quest. I am able to make notes in a physical book. I can highlight and underline. At the end of each chapter, I can give feedback or write out a summary. For learning, I decided I would focus on physical rather than electronic books.

Leaderbox provides the tools I feel I need. Each month Leaderbox provides two (physical) books, a 21-day reading guide, a facebook group, and some quote cards. The Reading Guide asks questions about the day’s reading and provides a place for notes. The Facebook group provides an opportunity to learn from others. My hope and expectation are that my learning will be deepened and my thinking will be challenged and expanded.

The other aspect of Leaderbox that will be helpful is Hyatt’s team choosing the book. If I want to learn deeply and think differently, my reading must challenge me. I tend to gravitate toward the same type of books. I’ll browse through Amazon, see something that looks good, and then purchase.

Having someone else choose the book means I may end up reading a book I would normally avoid, which is good. If I am going to expand my thinking, I need to be challenged in areas I tend to ignore.

I could have decided to purchase a similar product from other companies, but I felt the books (at least the ones I knew about) Hyatt’s team provided were of higher quality. For instance, one of the books for March,The CEO Next Door: The 4 Behaviors That Transform Ordinary People into World-Class Leaders, as of this posting, hasn’t even been released. I received the book two weeks before the release. The authors expand on their Harvard Business Review cover story.


Samsung Chromebook Pro Real World Review

About a week ago I purchased a Samsung Chromebook Pro. I’ve wanted one of these even before they were available. However, it’s taken me about a year to finally get one.

I’ve not been disappointed. In fact, I’ve been extremely impressed. I’ve been so impressed that I decided to do a “Real World Review.” This is not a fancy review. I don’t cover build quality or specifications, but I will share how this laptop has changed how I approach some of my work.

Review – Acer R11 4 Gig Real Life Review

What this Review Is And Is Not

I thought I’d do a review of the Acer R11 Chromebook focusing on how it fits within my daily workflow. This review will not address the technical specifics of the Chromebook, but more day to day usability. If you are interested in specifications, octane speeds, etc., there are great reviews such as:

CNet R11 Review
Laptop Magazine R11 Review
Computer World R11 review
The Verge

Instead of the technical merits, I will focus on my experience with the Acer R11 (4Gig 16meg SD model). I plan on updating this review as I used the machine especially once the Google Play Store is available bring all the Android apps.

My Case Use

I am a pastor so my work varies and includes quite a bit of writing as I prepare sermons, lessons and newsletters, along with talking with people, facilitating training events, leading meetings, creating strategic leadership and organizational plans, and various other activities. Currently I am working on a second book which I plan to self-publish through Amazon’s Createspace service.
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Book Review: Smarter, Faster, Better – Charles Duhigg

Well Written

Charles Duhigg displays his writing acumen in “Smarter, Faster, Better” and that, perhaps, explains my ambivalence toward the book. The book’s title, “Better, Faster, Smarter” sets expectations of being focused on productivity, which it does, but it takes some work to get to the productivity discussions. Duhigg uses two or three antidotes and stories per chapter, tying them together to frame productivity help, which overshadow productivity insights. I found myself wanting to skim the stories to get to the point of the chapter, and the book, which was productivity.


Duhigg used great stories that were written quite well, but I was expecting to learn the “how” of productivity, rather than how pilots prepare for disasters, Saturday Night Live staff created great shows, or how the movie Frozen ended up being a hit. The stories were engaging nonetheless. If you are looking to discover how productivity works (Duhigg’s goal), and like to read interesting antidotes displaying how productivity works in specific contexts, you will probably be happy with the book.

However, if you are wanting to learn more of how productivity works, but don’t have the time, energy, or desire, to read a 400 page book that is, in my opinion, summed up in the appendix, then there are many “summary” books on Amazon that, I assume, provide more focus on productivity. I took four pages of notes in a Moleskine notebook, so I did find quite a bit of value. While I ended up skimming the first part of several chapters, I found, at times, the strong writing pulling me back into the Duhigg’s accounts of productivity at work.

The chapter titles describe the productivity area addressed in the chapter; Motivation, Teams, Focus, Goal Setting, Managing Others, Decision Making, Innovation, and Absorbing Data. The appendix was especially helpful as Duhigg outlined how he used these productivity methods as he was writing the book.

Still Helpful

Despite myambivalence there was insightful productivity advice amid all the stories. While some of the advice has been outlined elsewhere, I found the connections and combination of productivity methods helpful, such as connecting SMART and stretch goals, team norms, decision making, and the chapter outlining innovation. In retrospect, there was quite a bit of insight throughout, it is unfortunate that those insights get dwarfed by lengthy background accounts. I recommend this book if you want insightful productivity advice and don’t mind the background accounts, or, don’t mind skimming. If you have grown weary of business and productivity books that are mostly stories, you might want to check out one of the many summary options.

I received the ebook in exchange for an honest review.