100 Books!

100 Books!

I had a professor at Oklahoma State that I really enjoyed, named Dr. Urich. I took several of his classes, but I think what stuck with me more than his course material was some of his common-sense teaching. One night, he talked to us about the stats of people who read books after completing school versus those that don’t. He presented the stats in the infographic below. My memory is a bit fuzzy, but he mentioned in class reading 100 books or maybe it was a list of his favorite 100 books. Either way – I decided that was a goal I wanted to accomplish.

More than ten years later, I finally completed that goal of reading 100 books. It’s funny; when I talk about this goal to people, I usually get one of two reactions. The avid reader replies, “100 books…what, in a year?” and the non-reader replies, “Holy crap; who has time for that?” It took me a long time to complete this. In those more than ten years since Dr. Urich’s class, there were years where I read a lot of books and there were years where I maybe only read a couple. The past three years have been pretty consistent. I wake up earlier than I need to, have some coffee, and try to read for at least 30 minutes. I don’t force it – if I don’t feel like reading, I don’t. But most mornings, I look forward to it. Some mornings when I have more time, I’ll read for more than an hour. I like to think of books as my mental diet. If I put the right things in, then I get outward results. When I read about business, my business improves. When I read about personal finance, my bank account grows. When I read about bodybuilding, my muscles grow. When I read fiction, my imagination grows. No matter what I read, I feel like my perspective expands, my vocabulary improves, and I just think better.

100 Books Comprehended

What’s the point of reading 100 books if you can’t remember what they say? As I knocked books off of my list, I would do nerdy stuff like divide up the books by category and see what topics I was reading more of. I tried picking out future books by category, but after a while I dropped that and just read what I felt like reading at the time. That was the key to keeping it fun and enjoyable. I wanted to make sure I was retaining the best parts of all of these books. I wanted a system of note keeping where I could reference all of my favorite parts, quotes, and thoughts. After reading Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, I started following Ryan online. I thought I liked reading until I started following Ryan; that dude READS. I found a series of blog posts (check it out here) he had done about how he keeps notes about his reading so that when it comes time for him to write a book, he has a system of notes in an order that he can easily reference. BINGO! I didn’t exactly copy Ryan’s system…but close.

I keep a box of 3 x 5 note cards. In this box, I have categories divided up alphabetically. Every time I read a book, I put thoughts, notes, quotes, and stories that are impactful to me inside this box and in the appropriate category. It’s pretty simple, but I’ve found myself using it a lot. It has also been cool when books interconnect that you don’t expect. For instance, one of my top five business books (as you’ll see in my ranking below) is Tribal Leadership. Over three years after reading Tribal Leadership, I was reading Phil Jackson’s book Eleven Rings and he talked in detail about his use of Tribal Leadership. This was awesome and having my old notes from Tribal Leadership was great at that time.

I have people asking me for book recommendations pretty often, so I thought I would rank my favorites from a few different categories.

Favorite Business Books (in no particular order)

  1.  Good to Great
  2. Start with Why
  3. Tribal Leadership
  4. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
  5. The Score Takes Care of Itself

Favorite Fitness Books

  1. Spark
  2. Championship Bodybuilding
  3. Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder
  4. Becoming a Supple Leopard
  5. The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding

Favorite Fiction Books

  1. The Alchemist
  2. Treasure Island
  3. Rogue Lawyer
  4. The Da Vinci Code
  5. The Firm

Favorite Self Development Books

  1. Two Minutes in the Bible for Men
  2. Let Your Life Speak
  3. Can’t Hurt Me
  4. FLOW
  5. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Fittest School In America?

Naperville, Illinois –

We left the hotel in downtown Chicago around 7am for a cold walk to the train station. People from Dallas are terrible at public transportation because we really don’t have any. Tawna and I were nervous about getting the correct tickets and leaving on time to meet Paul for our scheduled tour of Naperville ISD. Of course, there were train delays with unforeseeable solutions but we lucked out finding a one-way train out early. We just had to figure out how to get home in time for my afternoon participation in the Club Industry Panel – one hurdle at time!

I could hardly believe we were getting a personal tour from Paul Zientarski. Paul may not be a household name to all, but I had been reading about Paul’s work for years. In a very short summary, Paul was probably one of the most impactful PE Teachers of all time. Paul and his team and Naperville have led the charge of incorporating more movement into education and he is routinely booked around the world to share his methodologies and findings. If you want to learn more about Paul’s work, here’s a link to an excellent Ted Talk he gave: Paul’s Ted Talk


I became familiar with Paul after reading the book Spark by John Ratey.  John’s book is revolutionary, in my opinion, because he makes a solid case for exercise being the answer for many of life’s curable diseases like anxiety, depression, addiction, attention deficit disorder, aging, and learning disabilities. The capstone case study and opening story in Spark is about Naperville ISD and the work Paul and his team have accomplished there. Naperville attracted Dr. Ratey with their unusually high rankings in an international test called the TIMSS. At this time, the USA ranked 19th in math and 18th in science. Naperville actually registered as its own country and achieved rankings of 6th in math and 1st in science. Dr. Ratey went to observe what they called Zero Hour P.E. where children would show up before school and utilize heart rate monitors to do a cardio program designed to enhance their brain function as their first class of the day, which was strategically the class they were struggling with. The story is fascinating – I highly suggest reading the book.

Paul picked us up at the train station and after a quick intro and pointing out a few fun facts about Naperville during our drive, we pulled up to Naperville Central High School. Paul is now retired – but walking around the school, it’s obvious his name and impact on the staff there are still very real. Every employee we walked by had an endearing or joking remark to give Paul. Paul had a detailed agenda for us. We observed (and participated) in a math class that utilized “brain breaks.” Every 20-30 minutes, the kids would stand up and do a quick brain game that involved the arms crossing the midpoint of their body to stimulate both sides of the brain and usually some kind of reactionary thinking or tough thinking. For instance – we had to play Rock, Paper, Scissors in reverse. Meaning that participant one throws a signal and participant two must react by throwing a signal that would’ve lost had it been thrown first. We made our way over to a freshmen female weight training class. All of the girls in this class were participating in a circuit of weight training – carrying iPads where they would record their reps and weights.  The class ended with a cooldown and some light stretching.

We checked out one of the school’s gymnasiums that had received significant investment from the community. It included a large rock-climbing wall and a suspended ropes course that you would see at a summer camp or leadership retreat. This is exactly what Naperville used it for – their student council and leadership teams got to participate in team building activities that corporate leaders pay thousands of dollars to attend.

My favorite part of the tour was seeing their famous cardio class in action. We entered a room to the blast of a movie turned up loud. There were probably 50+ pieces of cardio machines in the room – all in use. All of the students were on a variety of cardio machines – all facing out, so they could do cardio and watch the movie that was playing. On the wall, there was a giant projector screen displaying the heart rates of every student. Each and every student was wearing a heart rate monitor. Their teacher had left instructions about how many minutes they needed to spend in the correct “zone.” It was up to the students to watch their heart rates and match their cardio pace with the number range they needed to stay in.

We didn’t have time to visit the pool where they do a variety of different exercise classes, including kayaking! It was important to me to have time with Paul to go through his presentation in hopes of learning what I could to bring back to Dallas. Paul took us to a local Starbucks and spent 90 minutes with us, walking us through the presentation he gives around the world. Paul provided plenty of inspiration and information in our six-hour visit. I wanted to be careful about how I asked him questions, as it’s likely I’ll never get to spend time with Paul again and I didn’t want to pick his brain about things I could learn in a book; I wanted wisdom. It was clear that Paul knew this information could make a serious change in the world, but in his wisdom, he advised me that I did not try to achieve change through the established school system. Reading between the lines, I could sense he had spent his career battling red tape and politics. Paul instead thought that my plan to work in the nonprofit sector was a good idea and that private afterschool programs were a great place to make change. I also left with the feeling that since Paul’s retirement, many of the things he had worked hard to put in place were already eroding. Education is something everyone takes very seriously but there are obviously different views about how to go about improving it. Exchanging study hours for physical activity isn’t always an idea that’s accepted and as more pressure mounts on teachers, principals, and school districts, adding more studying and more class time seems to be the approach that’s winning the votes. Thanks to people like Paul and John Ratey, there’s mounting proof and momentum that physical activity will enhance education, not distract from it.

Readers 2 Leaders

I’m very excited about the work I’m doing with a very special organization called Readers 2 Leaders. I just began serving on their board of directors and am excited about their mission and bringing my talents and resources to the table.

I first started working with Readers 2 Leaders in the summer of 2018. I volunteered to work at their summer camp in West Dallas, working to alleviate the “summer slide” that kids experience between school years. This is especially important with the kids that we serve because they are already behind in their reading level and the summer slide only puts them further behind.

Let me start this story from the start, though, because I think it’s a cool story! In 2015, I was at the Arnold Classic. We were Gold Sponsors of the event with our brands: destination, GASP, and Better Bodies. As part of this sponsorship, we got to attend a luncheon with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arnold is a lifelong hero of mine (like very true meathead!) and it was awesome to hear him speak about his “fitness crusade.” Arnold told stories about how weird weight training was when he began and how over the years, he has been an advocate for fitness and the changes he has seen. He also spoke about the work he was doing with after-school programs, telling us about how the time between when school lets out and when parents get home is a vulnerable time for kids and how a lot of the bad influences reach them.  I was very inspired by this. When I got home, I started researching after-school programs in Dallas. I linked up with an organization called Dallas Afterschool. Also around this time, I read the book Spark by John Ratey and was inspired by the recent research connecting exercise to learning and brain development.


Working together with Dallas Afterschool, I arranged for our staff and personal trainers to host “Fitness Days” at some of the Dallas Afterschool locations where we would teach kids about the benefits of exercise and more importantly, give them a couple of hours of fun experiences exercising. These fitness days were so rewarding for the kids and maybe even more so for our staff!


Fast forward to January 2018 when I sold my equity in destination, GASP, and Better Bodies. I was ready for a change of direction. Immediately, though, I knew I was going to miss the fitness days very much. I contacted my friends at Dallas Afterschool and told them I no longer had a staff, but wanted to volunteer as an individual. They suggested a few organizations for me to check out and Readers 2 Leaders stood out to me. I love to read and I thought their mission was very logical and concise. To paraphrase, they basically said that if there is one single thing you can target to make the biggest difference in young people, it is literacy. The stats for adults that have literacy issues are very scary. If a child reads at a competent adult level, their chance for a positive and successful life is greatly enhanced.  I thought this seemed like a very impactful way to make a difference, so I signed up for their summer camp.

One of the days I was there, I “checked-in” on Facebook. One of my long-time gym members wrote a comment to me thanking me for my help and letting me know he was on the board of directors! How cool! We ended up meeting up that summer and he told me about the organizational successes and challenges they were having. I told him that I was very interested in contributing to their cause and that I thought we could have an even greater impact on reading scores if we incorporated fitness in a strategic way. This connection between fitness and learning was exactly what I had been studying since reading the book Spark. He thought it was a great idea and arranged a meeting for me with the founder and executive director. The founder is an accomplished marathon runner and was very excited about the idea. Shortly after the meeting, I happily accepted a position on their board.


The work we have been doing since I joined the board has been fun and challenging. There’s also a ton of room for involvement for individuals looking to help. I’ll be organizing monthly Fitness Days that will require four to six volunteers per month. The organization is also in need of digital exposure; so my social media savvy friends, we need your help as well. Please message me if you’re interested in donating any of the following: time, money, or skills.



Camp Jansen Seminar Notes

Camp Jansen Seminar Notes

Hosts: Matt Jansen, Nathan Deashea, and Michaela Aycock

Location: Arsenal Strength

I’ve attended and hosted a LOT of bodybuilding related seminars. Matt Jansen’s stock is really hot right now with a client list containing Ian Valliere, Nathan DeAshea, Shaun Clarida, and Charles Griffen, just to name a few; as well as his past work with Dallas McCarver. A client list like this has typically been reserved for a handful of well plugged in “gurus” that train all of the top-level athletes. I was excited to attend to see what he was doing differently, learn a thing or two that I could apply to my own physique, and understand how he has elevated himself to an elite level in an industry where many never do.

I won’t break down the entire two-hour seminar, but I want to just highlight the points that I thought stood out. A lot of bodybuilding advice is pretty standard and they covered all of the basics in a way that gave me confidence in their knowledge. Sometimes you will have a trainer that gets hot for a while that’s really trying to buck the system with some new and wild way of doing things. Matt and his team were very basic. In fact, they often fielded questions with an attitude of, “You’re way overthinking this thing, man.” Let’s get into it.

What sets Matt Jansen apart from other coaches?

One hour into the seminar, I was listening to him answer questions from the audience and trying to hear what it is that makes him different. I was hearing some clues, but I had a great idea. He was sitting there with two of his Olympia level clients. I thought, why don’t I just ask?! So I did. Matt’s a humble guy; so he was a little uncomfortable at first, but his clients were not shy about bragging. I’ll do my best to boil it down into a few main points.

  • Takes the time to thoroughly learn about individual clients.
  • Has the skill set, judgment, and instincts to act on what he sees.
  • Isn’t afraid to “break rules” for individualized advice.
  • Is driven to be the best in his field.
  • Is an athlete himself: “We’re in this together.”

A refreshing focus on hard training

I think many would agree that the competitive physique industry tends to hyper focus on managing the tiniest details of their nutrition and supplementation. This is understandable because it’s the hardest to learn, it has the most variables, and it’s also a 24 hours per day / seven days per week endeavor where training is usually limited to one to two hours, five to six days per week. If you surf the web looking for advice, the nutrition and supplementation topics outweigh training probably three to one or more. Matt had a refreshing focus on hard training. Answering question after question in the seminar, he often referenced back to prioritizing the workouts. When asked about diet, the answers were framed in a way that made sure you were considering the effects that diet would have on your workout. When asked about cardio, he answered in a way that made sure to protect the hard workouts. “Don’t micromanage your nutrition and half ass your workouts.”

Don’t be in a rush to compete nationally

I really thought this was sound advice and MUCH NEEDED in today’s pro-card-driven competitive culture. Matt suggested winning three overalls before heading to Nationals. Anything less than this and you’re likely just taking an expensive trip to learn a lesson that, “If you’re honest with yourself, you probably already knew.” Take your time. Get good at your craft. Learn your body while you’re competing on the local and state levels.

Sleep more

Sleep is an increasingly popular topic, which I’m happy to see. I’m personally tired of the “grind life, “sleep when you’re dead” crowd. Matt and his crew were very big on getting adequate sleep and finding time for power naps during the day. “All the best bodybuilders I know sleep more than the average person.”

I enjoyed the seminar and seeing what Camp Jansen was all about. After the seminar, Clean Eatz hooked us up with lunch and I finally got to train at the Arsenal Strength Showroom. I’ve been friends with Andrew for quite a few years now and have been meaning to make it out to the showroom for years. I got in a great chest and shoulder session and had fun checking out all of the prototypes that these guys were working on.

Is Competing in Physique Sports Healthy?

As someone who has been around competitors a lot over the past ten years, I often get desensitized to all of the…unique things that competitors do when preparing for a contest. Recently, I was in a conversation with someone that’s new to our sport, or world I like to call it, and it’s always nice because being around someone like that, you get a fresh perspective on what’s going on. I was having a conversation with this colleague and a local competitor and as he described his peak week, she looked at him and said, “Is this even healthy?!” I really enjoyed the rest of the conversation and thought it was a fun topic to write and talk about.


  • In a long-term sense – my answer is yes.

I think when done correctly, in a long-term sense, competing is very healthy. Obviously, the benefit of exercise is undeniable and competing requires a lot of that. One could argue that the general trend for competitors to focus on low intensity cardio isn’t healthy in a long-term sense, but with the rising popularity of HIIT cardio, I think many more competitors are taking advantage of the benefits of intense aerobic training. Weight training also has a long list of benefits, which competitors should experience in spades. Learning how your body reacts to food and learning how to control your weight and body composition are also incredible tools for your long-term health. Competing over a long-term span also requires good health. You can only maintain an impressive exterior with an unhealthy interior for so long. Anyone that wants to compete for years quickly realizes that to look good on the outside, you need to pay careful attention to your internal health.


  • In the short term, I believe it’s healthy about 80% of the time.

Many times, we are judged on our behavior in the moment people are witnessing what’s going on. If that’s the case, then yes, there are certainly some unhealthy behaviors required to peak for a show. That’s why I separate long-term and short-term judgement. Is restricting water before a show healthy? No. Is training two to three hours per day healthy? Rarely. Is a severe calorie deficit healthy? No. But all of these unhealthy practices, and many more, are done in short bursts. Which leads me to my next and favorite point…


  • All Sports Have Risks

I think it’s unfair to compare competing against itself. Football players get concussions and all kinds of injuries. Motocross racers break bones constantly. Race car drivers die relatively frequently. Are these sports healthy? For the most part, yes. Physique sports get unfair judgement because our “injuries” or unhealthy practices aren’t limited to a playing field or timed event. They are just as much a part of our sport though and are “on the field” injuries all the same.

Book Review: Let Your Life Speak


Let Your Life Speak

By Parker J Palmer

Published 2000



Why I write book reviews, outlines, and reflections (link to bottom of page)


This book is a gold mine of vocational wisdom that I would recommend to just about anyone.  If you have ever wondered “what’s my purpose?” or “am I supposed to be in this career path” or “is this job right for me” or even just felt an itch about your career that you can’t seem to scratch I would certainly recommend this book. It’s a very deep book so if you’re like me, and most people in modern society and the instant gratification of cell phones and google has reduced your attention span to less than that of a gold fish you will probably need to read this in small chunks. The text is just too potent and deep to absorb too much at once unless you’re experienced in this type of reading (which I am not). I personally read the through the book roughly a half chapter at a time and at the end of each chapter went back with a highlighter to grab the parts that stood out to me. This book was so thought provoking that I could not help to read it a second time, chapter by chapter and take notes and write out some insightful questions that I needed to find my own answers to.


In general, this book is about guidance toward finding a vocation that allows you be your “true self” and make the most of your god given gifts and live a fulfilling life.  One of the most insightful questions asked is “Is the life I am living the same as the life that wants to live in me?” That takes some searching, and in my case it even took some time to fully understand the question but the first two chapters of this book got me in a much better mind frame to both understand and answer that question. The author talks about not willing yourself into your vocation but that you should listen and pay attention to your gifts to find your true path in life. Meaning you cannot force yourself against your own nature to do something and expect to achieve your potential and most importantly be happy and fulfilled. He makes a very piercing point that most people spend the first half of their life ignoring their true gifts and pleasing others and the next half of their life trying to find themselves again. He suggests going back to your childhood to find clues about your direction in life and your ambitions and that you can often see where you let the influence of others guide you more than your own gifts.  One of my favorite quotes in the book is by Fredrick Buechner who said that “Vocation is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.” That was a very powerful quote to me and sums up what I think everyone hopes to achieve in life. Find “deep gladness” in the work you do and the fulfillment of knowing that what you’re doing is fulfilling a “deep need” in the world. That’s purpose.

The author switches back and forth from theoretical advice and his own personal examples. He is not afraid to use his own vocational mistakes and reflect on a battle with depression at one point in his life to drive home the points that this book aims to communicate.

At the end of the book there’s also a list of 5 monsters that leaders need to deal with to be effective, which I found to be very insightful. My favorite as an example, is his discussion about chaos and how good leaders live with the fact that not everything can be controlled. A natural chaos in life is natural and needed for both creativity and progress.


The book is not long at all, it’s barely over 100 pages. Depending on how easily you can digest the depth of the text it can quick read or it can take you some time.  Most nonfiction books I read I would recommend to people based on their interests or careers but his one is applicable to anyone with a purpose in life, which I think hopefully applies to everyone, so I would recommend this book to everyone. I have always been a fan of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and refer back to it often in discussion. This book is a must for anyone that is firmly planted in the self-actualization part of the pyramid.  If your basic human needs are met, your own psychological needs are met and you are in a place where you’re concerned about making the most of your gifts, fulfilling your potential, finding your true calling this book is perfect for you.


Why I write book reviews, outlines, and reflections:

I love to learn, and for me reading is one of my favorites ways to learn. In my quest for learning through reading I did some research on retaining the knowledge I am taking in to make sure it’s not “going in one ear and out the other” as we like to say. One of my methods of retention is taking notes, writing outlines to study, and recording my reflections and reviews of the information. I used to take a lot of physical notes, but seeing my book shelf full of books with folder papers sticking out the top is not only unattractive but also not a very scalable way to store information.  Now I’ve started transferring over my handwritten notes and highlighter filled books into digital format, and just in case anyone wants a quick read of any of the books I’ve read, or curious about someone else’s insight on a book they’ve read I decided to start publishing these notes.


Latest Article I wrote about reading: http://gregmccoy.net/reading/

Great Article about reading retention: https://open.buffer.com/how-to-read-more-and-remember-it-all/

Book Notes: The Obstacle Is The Way

The Obstacle Is The Way

Ryan Holiday

Published: 2014


Why I write book reviews, outlines, and reflections (link to bottom of page)


I read Ryan’s latest book Ego is The Enemy last year and loved it. I would describe it as philosophy in modern language, with great examples to illustrate the concepts, and written in a way that feels very practical to apply. I ordered The Obstacle Is The Way before finishing the other book, and pre ordered his latest upcoming release I was so impressed by it.


The Obstacle Is The Way is a modern version of Stoic Philosophy. I did not know of Stoicism before picking up this book – though I’ve taken a college level philosophy class I’ll admit it didn’t even ring a bell seeing the word on the page. Stoic philosophy I found out was practiced by philosophers as early as 300 BC and is. to paraphrase it, is separating logical reasoning from emotion. The biggest difference is that it’s advices are very practically applied as opposed to most philosophy being observations and understandings and not necessarily a usable guide to everyday life. As I learned in the book Marcus Aurelius, one of the most famous Emperors of Rome (who I’ll admit I only know because of the movie Gladiator), was one of the most notable Stoics in history and his writing is studied heavily on the subject.


Obstacle is the Way is basically broken up into three parts: Perception, Action and Will. Which is the steps one takes to both view, and turn obstacles into advantages. Ryan sets up the book explaining the concept we will be exploring, which is that obstacles are inevitable and that’s if we can suppress our basic emotions and reactions to these obstacles we would see that obstacles are advantageous to us, and that we should be thankful for the opportunities and lessons they create. In today’s world, our obstacles are more internal than external. In history obstacles like plagues, wars, and common disease set between us and our goals. Today the obstacles are more internal, things like stress, frustration, and debt. There are less threats that will kill us but plenty of obstacles nonetheless. Though the obstacles have changed the way great people react to them has not. Great people find a way to turn weakness into strength and to turn obstacles into advantages.


“The things which hurt…..instruct” Benjamin Franklin


Part 1: Perception

Ryan defines Perception as how we see and understand what occurs around us – and what we decide those events will mean. He then breaks it down into several brief chapters of advice to gain perspective on perception, and how to embrace it’s power in relation to obstacles.

  1. The Discipline of Perception
    1. Practicing healthy perception require exercise. If we are to keep our primal emotions and responses in check, we can stay calm in the face of adversity, and see the good in situation then we must practice doing so.
  2. Recognize Your Power
    1. No matter what situations arise, or how unfair things can be, we are never completely powerless. We control our mind and how we see obstacles.
  3. Steady Your Nerves
    1. Pressure and stress come with ambitious goals. As pressure mounts, grace and poise are more important than any other attribute because they are required if you hope to use any other skills.
  4. Control Your Emotions
    1. It’s ok to feel, but you need to separate emotional feelings from objective happenings (stoicism in a nutshell). Ryan calls is the “domestication” of emotions.
  5. Practice Objectivity
    1. Objectivity takes practice. Pull yourself out of the situation and work to see what’s really happening and see things for what they really are. This is an exercise which means it requires repetitions.
  6. Alter Your Perspective
    1. Ryan gives perspective two definitions
  7. Context – a sense of the larger picture of the world, not just what is immediately in front of us
    1. if you blow a meeting, realize it’s one meeting in a lifetime of meetings. As Richard Branson says “business opportunities are like buses; there’s always another coming around
  8. Framing
    1. an individual’s unique way of looking at the world, a way that interprets its events
  9. Is it up to you?
    1. We have to realize a distinction between what is up to us, and what is not. Focusing exclusively on what is up to us enhances our power. While chasing things that are not ours to change is destructive behavior.
  10. Live in the Present Moment
    1. Don’t overthink things. Practice living in the moment, working hard. 50% of businesses start in terrible environments without realizing it because they were busy living in the moment, and don’t realize their disadvantage until it’s in hindsight.
  11. Think Differently
    1. Our perceptions decide what we’re capable of. Stretch your perception of what is possible.
  12. Finding Opportunity
    1. See the good in everything. Start to view obstacles, rivals, setbacks for what they are: gifts. They make force you evolve, improve, realize what you don’t want, etc. Turn negatives into positives.
  13. Prepare to Act.
    1. Once you’ve managed your perceptions properly – you are ready to act with a cool head and steady hands.


Part 2: Action

Taking action isn’t special, taking the right action is what counts. When obstacles arise you can’t evade them, rely on others to solve your problems, or contemplate them to death – you must take directed action that supports your big picture goals and missions.

  1. The Discipline of Action
    1. Our instincts can cause us to be paralyzed in the face of obstacles, to simply wait for someone to fix things. Make a habit of running at obstacles, head on.
  2. Get Moving
    1. The timing is never perfect, someone might be trying to slight you, it might be too risky, it doesn’t matter – you must just start. Not doing, is the only surefire way to make sure nothing happens.
  3. Practice Persistence
    1. Expect problems but do not get distracted, discouraged or otherwise derailed from you goal. Each failure crosses one option off the list of what the solution is. Innovation comes by weeding through all the not-possibles to find the one way that is possible.
  4. Iterate
    1. Failure is inevitable. Expect it, enjoy it and learn from it. It’s often the source of breakthroughs. “Like any good school, learning from failure isn’t free. The tuition is paid in discomfort or loss and having to start over”.
  5. Follow the Process
    1. There are no big tasks, just big goals with tons of small tasks. “The Process” is breaking up those big goals into small tasks and putting your head down to complete each task with utmost quality. FINISH the task, and finish it well. Come up for air every now and then to check direction but trust and rely on the process.
  6. Do your job, do it right
    1. Our job is to try hard, to be honest, and to help others and ourselves. No matter what long term plans you have always excel with what you’re doing right now.
  7. What’s Right is What Works
    1. The conditions will never be perfect, a lot of times it’s far better to make the most with what you have than wait for the perfect opportunity that may never come. It’s better to make progress than try for perfection. Bend the rules, ask for forgiveness instead of permission – make things happen.
  8. In Praise of the Flank Attack
    1. Taking on a more powerful competitor head on is rarely the smartest way to approach a fight. Be guerrilla. Instead of pushing back against a competitor trying pulling after they have thrown a punch to use their momentum against them. True fatal weakness often comes when we (organizations) rely on size, strength or power. This strategy is much harder but that is why it works.
  9. Use Obstacles Against Themselves
    1. Sometimes you defeat obstacles not by attack, but by sitting back and letting them attack you. Moving forward isn’t the only way to progress – you can move sideways, and backwards. Deciding to resist action is action itself. This takes true humility but is effective.
  10. Channel Your Energy
    1. Don’t spend time focusing on all the “not-fairs” – channel your energy into your work. Be physically loose and mentally tight. Like an athlete in the zone – you don’t waste energy getting mad, or even celebrating.
  11. Seize the Offensive
    1. Truly gifted people view disaster as opportunity. A “teachable moment” waiting for you to seize it. When everyone else sees misfortune you see opportunity.
  12. Prepare for None of it to Work
    1. Somethings just won’t work out. You can do everything in your power but you can never control everything, and sometimes doing everything right will still leave you short handed. You can only put 100% effort into what you can control and affect, that’s it.


Part 3: Will

Ryan describes will as our internal power, which can never be affected by the outside world. And Will Power is turning undeniably negative situations into learning, humbling experiences that even help ourselves and others.

  1. The Discipline of will
    1. If perception and action are the disciplines of mind and body then will is the discipline of the soul. It is the only discipline that’s 100% in our control. We can form our perceptions and putt 100% effort into our actions but when things go wrong it requires will to endure and even be happy despite of problems.
  2. Build Your Inner Citadel
    1. A fortress inside of us that no external adversity can ever break down. We are not born with this, and it must be built and actively reinforced. We craft our spiritual strength through physical exercise, and our physical strength through mental practice – sound mind in a strong body.
  3. Anticipation (Thinking Negatively)
    1. The world is ruled by external factors. Be prepared for this. The only guarantee is that things will go wrong. The only things we can use to prepare for this is anticipation. Be prepared for failure and ready for success.
  4. The Art of Acquiescence
    1. Constraints in life are good. Accept them and let them direct you. When the cause of something is outside of us we are better off to accept it and move on.
  5. Love Everything That Happens
    1. Cheerfulness in all situations, especially the bad ones. We don’t get to choose what happens to us but we do get to choose how we feel about it.
  6. Perseverance
    1. Staying Power. It’s not about overcoming one obstacle but many. It’s not round 1 it’s the long game.
  7. Something Bigger Than Yourself
    1. When we focus on others our own personal fears and troubles will diminish. The desire to quit feels selfish when we consider the people who would be affected. Unity over self.
  8. Meditate on Your Mortality
    1. Remember you are mortal. You are not invincible and time is not limitless. Keeping your mortality in mind gives you purpose, urgency and perspective.
  9. Prepare to Start Again
    1. Behind the mountains are more mountains. Each time you learn something, develop strength, wisdom and perspective a little more of the competition falls away until all that is left is you: the best version of you.


Final Thoughts:

First see clearly. Next, act correctly. Finally, endure and accept the world as it is. It’s not enough to read or say this it takes repetitions of thinking and acting to turn it into muscle memory.



Why I write book reviews, outlines, and reflections:

I love to learn, and for me reading is one of my favorites ways to learn. In my quest for learning through reading I did some research on retaining the knowledge I am taking in to make sure it’s not “going in one ear and out the other” as we like to say. One of my methods of retention is taking notes, writing outlines to study, and recording my reflections and reviews of the information. I used to take a lot of physical notes, but seeing my book shelf full of books with folder papers sticking out the top is not only unattractive but also not a very scalable way to store information.  Now I’ve started transferring over my handwritten notes and highlighter filled books into digital format, and just in case anyone wants a quick read of any of the books I’ve read, or curious about someone else’s insight on a book they’ve read I decided to start publishing these notes.


Latest Article I wrote about reading: http://gregmccoy.net/reading/

Great Article about reading retention: https://open.buffer.com/how-to-read-more-and-remember-it-all/


My Favorite Productivity Tools, Resources and Influencers

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee

I started studying productivity as a means to deal with the work load that progress and success brings. You plan for certain accomplishments but you don’t necessarily plan for the opportunities that come up along the way. At every level of success more opportunities present themselves and if you are driven person it can be hard to say no. Through time you are able to sharpen your abilities to follow new opportunities, but I quickly found myself with stack of so much “good stuff” that I really had to dig-in to be able to process everything. A reputation is built on delivering what you said you would deliver, or beyond it. Being a trustworthy person and more people speaking highly of you than having bad reviews. For those of us that like to accept new adventures or bite off more than we can chew, it’s so important that you have resources and systems in place to cope with opportunities or you risk under delivering and disappointing people that you worked hard to connect with or simply just adding hours and hours to your days. Sometimes it takes exceeding your maximum work capacity to understand that at some point you simply cannot do more. If you are to keep running at the pace you are running you there will start to reach a point of diminished return. In hindsight, I can draw together some basic symptoms from my personal experience.

  • Hearing a new idea from someone makes you want to run in the other direction as fast as possible. When you are over loaded, “new” sounds like death sentence. When you have your work under control, new ideas are fun and exciting.
  • You are constantly saying sorry. “Sorry it took so long to get back to you” “Sorry I missed your email” “Sorry I didn’t do what I said that I would.” When you are working like a dog nothing hurts more than having to say sorry all the time. You shouldn’t need to apologize for working so hard, but when you can’t cope with everything you have attracted or committed to you end up under delivering and feeling as if you are always on defense. When you have your work under control you can live on offense most of the time. Following up that someone received your work, calling contacts just to check in – not when they need something from you, happily answering the phone because you can process anything that comes in.
  • You feel like you’re constantly forgetting things. Unless you’re rain man, holding things in your head only works to a certain level.


If you recognize those symptoms, it’s probably time you start building systems. Whether you’re a lone ranger, have a personal assistant or are even in charge of a large staff it can still be very beneficial to have personal systems in place to cope with whatever is coming at you or even just to compartmentalize your thoughts and ideas. Here are 4 of the best tools I’ve found over the past 6 or 7 years, and what I’m currently using.




Getting Things Done. This is one of the most impactful books I’ve ever read.  I can clearly see a “before GTD” and an “after GTD” in my life. The philosophy of this book and the detailed systems you can apply to both your professional and home life are ridiculously awesome. I would recommend this book to just about anyone, ESPECIALLY entrepreneurs.

productivity post getting-things-done

David Allen

Not a huge surprise that I would list David Allen as my next resource, who just so happens to be the author of GTD that I just raved about. David is my favorite productivity authority, and following him online and in his other books is one of my favorite ways to keep my productivity work sharp.  I read and reread his book, and I would suggest signing up for his newsletter. I hope to one day participate in some of the coaching options he has available.

Productivity Post DavidAllen


Rescue Time is a cool tool you can install on your computer (and some phones.. I’m anxiously awaiting the IOS app to be available) that tracks how you spend your time. You simply install it and it runs in the background of your computer keeping track of what you spend time on. It auto-categorizes your activity and things it doesn’t automatically detect you can assign to different categories. This is a really cool way to analyze your productivity and make objective decisions about how you spend your time. I personally went on a mission to cut back both my time spent in meetings each week and time spent working out of my email inbox, and have really enjoyed the results of those changes.



Outlook Tasks

This is not a tool that I see many people using and now I live in it. I promise David Allen didn’t pay me to write this article, but David and the GTD team have a downloadable resource on the best way to track your to-do’s using Outlook Tasks. I’m a pen and paper kind of guy, but I try my best to transfer all my bad scratch notes into my tasks each day. Assigning them due dates, and even the locations on which I should work on them.

productivity post taks emoticon