Tag Archives: Learning

My Top 10 Books of 2017

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 Photo Credit – Thanks to Janko Ferlič from Unsplash

Reading is one of my favourite things to do and one of my goals for 2017 was to read/listen to a book every 2 weeks – 26 books in total for the year. I have set this same goal for the past few years and have yet to meet it!!!  With all great goals, it’s a matter of ploughing on and trying harder next year. In saying that I did manage to read/listen to 22 books and enjoyed each and every one immensely.

Extreme Ownership  (How U.S Navy SEALs Lead and Win) – Jocko Willink and Lieber Babin

This was by far my favourite book of 2017 and the best book on leadership I have read in a long time.

This is a story about how war can teach us the most valuable leadership lessons and how these leadership lessons can be used in all areas of our personal and professional lives.

Most of us don’t work in the extreme conditions of war in Iraq where this book is based and so we may think that what Jocko and Leif learned on the battlefield wouldn’t apply to our daily lives. This is so far from the truth.

What I loved most about this book is the fact that the leadership lessons that Jocko and Leif share through their incredible experiences are so simple. With all the complications, complexities and dangers of war, the lessons shared are ones we can all learn from and apply.

The leadership basics of solid, clear and consistent communication, keeping everything simple, effective teamwork, planning, planning and more planning, prioritisation, accountability and courage are woven into all of the fascinating true-life stories that Jocko and Leif tell.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough and if you’re a fan of audiobooks it’s narrated by the authors which is always a treat!


I Had To Survive (How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling to Save Lives) – Roberto Canessa

An incredible true story of survival, leadership, the strength of the human spirit and the will to live in the most difficult circumstances. A plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team with friends and family crashes in the Andes in 1972. After living for  two months in the wreckage of the plane the only hope of survival is to cross the Andes to find help. This story is told by Roberto Canessa, one of the rugby players who trekked for 10 days across the Andes to raise the alarm, saving himself, his trekking partner Nando Parrado and 14 of their friends. Roberto Canessa went on to become a paediatric cardiologist saving the lives of newborns with heart complications throughout his esteemed career. A true hero, an incredible story and a magnificent read.  

The film documenting this incredible story and book of the same name ‘Alive’ are equally as enjoyable as Roberto’s book. 

Start with Why (How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action) – Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek is one of my favourite thought leaders. Simon’s Ted Talk is one of the most viewed videos on YouTube. This book is an excellent follow on from this video as it dives deeper into the necessity and benefits from knowing your ‘WHY’ and starting with your ‘WHY. You can watch the video here,

The Personal MBA (Master The Art Of Business) – Josh Kaufman

In his remarkable book, Josh outlines everything you need to know to succeed in life and business in an easy to understand, simplistic approach. Josh’s understanding of business, psychology and systems ensures you have a lot more than the basics required to succeed on completing this book. 

 If you’re looking for more books of a similar calibre, here is Josh’s personal recommendation of the best 99 business books.

The Personal MBA Recommended Reading List: The 99 Best Business Books

The Remedy (Bringing Lean Thinking Out of the Factory to Transform the Entire Organization) – Pascal Dennis

Pascal Dennis is one of my favourite Lean authors and Lean thought leaders.

Having read and loved the other 2 books in Pascal’s trilogy ‘Andy and Me’ and ‘Andy and me and the Hospital’ I knew I was in for a treat on reading ‘The Remedy’ and was not disappointed.

Keeping the two much loved characters of the other 2 books, Tom Pappas and Andy Saito and introducing us to Rachel Armstrong, this book tells an excellent story of how Lean can be implemented across an entire business and not just on the manufacturing floor.

A must read (as is ‘Andy and Me’ and ‘Andy and me and the Hospital’) for anyone in business and interested in Lean.


 Real Magic, The Power Of Intention, Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life – Dr Wayne Dyer (RIP)







I know this is 3 books but I have counted them as one as they are all from the same author. I am a huge fan of the late great Wayne Dyer and every single one of his books are as enjoyable as they are unique.

The following books also made it to my Top 10 in previous years, I have a habit of reading some great books time and time again, each reading bringing a deeper understanding of what the author is teaching,

Platform (Get Noticed In A Noisy World) – Michael Hyatt

I read ‘Platform’ a few times this year as I created, launched and marketed this new website. Platform is an extremely well written book on building and sustaining an audience online and jam packed with excellent advice from a man who really knows what he is talking about. Michael Hyatt has spent most of his career in the publishing world and now runs his highly successful blog where he shares his knowledge and wisdom generously.

If you are a blogger, writer or any type of business owner and want to know more about growing your blog, readership and business through social media, I highly recommend this book. It’s easy to read and the wisdom shared is easy to implement.

Money Master the Game (7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom) – Tony Robbins

Tony is a master when it comes to finance and in this book he not only shares his own wisdom but also leverages the wisdom of many of the world’s finest financial advisors to share their advice, insights and experience. Tony’s book is written in an easy to understand format for all levels of wealth which is why I liked it so much.  The spectrum of financial guidance goes from the simple advice of ‘spend less, save more’ to investment advice in stocks and shares and hiring a fiduciary to help you with same.

For anyone like me who doesn’t know much about stocks and shares, the steps to assist with ‘spending less and saving more’ are reason enough to buy and read this book.


10% Happier (How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story) – Dan Harris  This is an insightful, uplifting and really funny book. In this book Dan Harris takes us through his journey to the top of his game in television and journalism which culminated in a nationally televised panic attack. The lifestyle changes Dan makes after this panic attack take him on a different journey, a more inward journey that leads him to a much happier place. Dan’s upbeat, honest and humorous personality is what makes this book such a pleasure to read.


 The Power of Now (A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment) – Eckhart Tolle

I have lost count of the number of times I have read ‘The Power Of Now’. The first time I read this book I didn’t really understand it, however what I did understand was that there was a very powerful message in the book. Each subsequent reading has brought a deeper understanding of the simple principle that Eckhart teaches. There is only the ‘Now’, there never was and never will be anything other than the ‘Now’. A deep and powerful book – if this book sounds interesting to you, be prepared to give it the time it deserves. One of the best and most powerful books I have ever read.

Other books I read/listened to and thoroughly enjoyed in 2017 are,

 Linchpin – Seth Godin

Tribes – Seth Godin

The Dip – Seth Godin

Purple Cow – Seth Godin

The Icarus Deception – Seth Godin

Life’s Golden Ticket – Brendon Burchard

7 Habits Of Highly Effective People – Steven Covey

The Third Alternative – Steven Covey

In Bound Marketing – Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah

Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting – Robert McKee

What were your favourite books of 2017?

What is on your reading list for 2018?

Keeping it Simple,


x x x


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Meeting Art and Understanding Lean

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Oprah calls it an ‘Aha’ moment – the moment when something falls into place, when the penny drops, when a lightbulb goes off in your brain and you understand something with an immense clarity that you previously didn’t have.

I experienced this ‘Aha’ moment over 3 years ago when Art Byrne delivered his keynote speech at the 2013 Lean Enterprise Academy Summit. As well as a great guy, Art is a powerhouse of Lean knowledge having lived Lean with it’s highs and lows for many decades. I have read Art’s wonderful book ‘The Lean Turnaround’ many times and knew I was in for something special as Art took to the stage.

My ‘Aha’ moment came in as short a time as 4 minutes into Art’s talk. I had always known that Lean enabled a better, more efficient, more inclusive way of working however after listening to and understanding Art’s simple explanation of Lean, the power of this methodology was finally clear to me. Key elements from these short 4 minutes of Art’s talk that helped me understand the power of Lean are as follows

  • Lean is not a bunch of tools
  • Lean is not a collection of projects or belts (Art in his fabulous honesty makes it clear that in running a business you are not running a karate class!!!)
  • Lean is ‘the biggest strategic business weapon you can ever have’  – a business being ‘a collection of people and processes trying to deliver value to a set of customers and always the best team wins’.
  • Lean is a growth strategy not a cost cutting strategy.

Art continued by explaining the key elements required to be successful at Lean which are that Lean and  Operational Excellence are your core strategy, that Lean is led from the top and that people are transformed. Without these elements, Art explains very honestly,  failure will be the outcome!

As Art spoke about transforming people, he explained that people are the only asset you have that appreciates and you want them to keep appreciating, that you also need to respect your people because the best improvement ideas come from the people doing the work. To do this you need to create a learning environment where people are learning every day and are excited to come to work. This then becomes your culture, the way things are done around here – this is Lean.

Art summed up all of the above by simply saying –  Lean is a people thing!

I met Art at one of the break out sessions. He was gracious, humble and generous with his time. I spoke with him around challenges I was having in implementing Lean in my role as I  did not have the influence of a CEO for Lean to ‘come from the top’. He smiled and gave me some of the best advice I have ever received. He said ‘be the CEO in your area’, excellent advice for anyone trying to make things better when it’s not coming from the top!

Art signed my copy of his book ‘The Lean Turnaround’ by using a popular phrase synonymous with Guinness – it was Art’s way of saying how much he loved Ireland and how much he respects Kaizen. And yes, I totally agree with him, Kaizen is good for you!!!!

I left the 2103 Lean Enterprise Academy Summit energetic, enthused and looking forward to the next steps on my Lean journey.

Almost 4 years later my Lean journey continues to experience highs and lows, I’m happy to say more highs than lows these days and always, always learning lessons which is at the core of what Lean is about, continuous learning!

Thanks for reading,

Keeping it Simple,




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