Archive of ‘books’ category

17 Inspiring Books About Life, Productivity & Business to Read in 2017

17 Inspiring Books about Life, Productivity & Business to Read in 2017

17 Inspiring Books About Life, Productivity & Business to Read in 2017

Every year I like to make a list of books for the blog that I’ve read, or want to read in the coming year. I’ve been asked a few times in the last year, whether or not I would consider taking this list and doing a Charmed Book Club, but for me, reading has always been a pretty solitary pursuit. I like to read at my leisure, not feel like I have to read to keep up with an expectation. At least, I haven’t done that since college and I swore to myself once I graduated that I would never make myself read anything on some arbitrary schedule again! Although I prefer to read at my leisure, I don’t necessary read for pleasure either, most of the books I read are non-fiction or personal development because I read to learn. If you were curious why I know certain things or how I got to be so intelligent, I’d have to blame it on something I read or the act of reading itself. This year, I’ve challenged myself to do something a little out of character with my reading habit, and that is to read regularly. What I read is up to me. When I read is up to me. I just want to develop my habit into a more regular practice and finish at least a book a month. Right now, I read at least two dozen books a year, but some months I read none, and others I may read five. I’m not consistent with my reading, and I’m convinced that if I commit to the habit of reading a few days a week and finish the book of my choice a month, that it will stimulate the creativity in my brain and expose me to thoughts and ideas outside the norm of what I regularly experience online.

So, to follow in my annual footsteps, I have assembled a list of 17 books to read in 2017. These books cover a variety of topics from finance, productivity, and business, to confidence, career and sleep. Some I have read before, but many are new to me, and my plan is to share my progress with these books via Instagram. So if you are interested in what I am reading and what I’m thinking about each, definitely follow me there.

1. Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charmed Duhigg

2. The Marshmallow Test: Why Self-Control Is the Engine of Success by Walter Mischel

3. The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod

4. Born for This: How to Find the Work You Were Meant to Do by Chris Guillebeau

5. Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry

6. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder  by Arianna Huffington

7. Today Matters: 12 Daily Practices to Guarantee Tomorrow’s Success by John C. Maxwell

8. Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation–and Positive Strategies for Change by Linda Babcock 

9. I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time by Laura Vanderkam 

10. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges by Amy Cuddy

11. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

12. How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty: And Say Yes to More Time, and What Matters Most to You by Patti Breitman

13. You Got This: A Strategic Goal Setting and Planning Guide to Help You Achieve Your Goals and Organize Your Life! by Alexis Giostra

14. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

15. The Woman Code: 20 Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life by Sophia A Nelson

16. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S Clason

17. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

I’d love to know if you have read any of these books and which you recommend. If you have any other suggestions for me and the community, I’d love for you to share those down in the comments or let us know what is on your TBR (to be read) list for 2017!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

10 Pumpkin Spiced Books to Read in October

10 Pumpkin Spiced Books to Read in October

Although Fall begins in September, October is truly the month that brings the autumn chill and with it, plenty of opportunities to snuggle up with a good book and something warm to drink. So, I have been compiling a list of my favorite books to read in October. Some are quintessentially spooky for Halloween and others are classics that just feel like they need to be read with a side of pumpkin spiced anything!

Necronomicon by H.P. Lovecraft

Amazon Says: H.P. Lovecraft’s tales of the tentacled Elder God Cthulhu and his pantheon of alien deities were initially written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s and ’30s. These astonishing tales blend elements of horror, science fiction and cosmic terror that are as powerful today as they were when they were first published.

This handsome tome collects together the very best of Lovecraft’s tales of terror, including the complete Cthulhu Mythos cycle, just the way they were originally published. It will introduce a whole new generation of readers to Lovecraft’s fiction, as well as being a must-buy for those fans who want all his work in a single, definitive, highly attractive volume.

The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe

Amazon Says: Undoubtedly the most famous verse written by Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven is also one of the most famous poems in the world. Though it did not bring him much in the way of money, this piece was, as per the author’s statements, composed quite methodically, with an aim to appeal to the masses. And appeal it did, making Poe an overnight sensation, a household name almost the moment it began to circulate. Full of brooding guilt, moody atmosphere and love lost, The Raven depicts Poe’s overwrought narrator and that most infamous of all fowls, the titular croaking Raven.

Miss Peregrin’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Amazon Says: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. 

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Amazon Says: Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Amazon Says: Few creatures of horror have seized readers’ imaginations and held them for so long as the anguished monster of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The story of Victor Frankenstein’s terrible creation and the havoc it caused has enthralled generations of readers and inspired countless writers of horror and suspense. Considering the novel’s enduring success, it is remarkable that it began merely as a whim of Lord Byron’s.

“We will each write a story,” Byron announced to his next-door neighbors, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover Percy Bysshe Shelley. The friends were summering on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland in 1816, Shelley still unknown as a poet and Byron writing the third canto of Childe Harold. When continued rains kept them confined indoors, all agreed to Byron’s proposal.

The illustrious poets failed to complete their ghost stories, but Mary Shelley rose supremely to the challenge. With Frankenstein, she succeeded admirably in the task she set for herself: to create a story that, in her own words, “would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror — one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.”

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Amazon Says: In 1603, James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne, becoming James I of England. London was alive with an interest in all things Scottish, and Shakespeare turned to Scottish history for material. He found a spectacle of violence and stories of traitors advised by witches and wizards, echoing James’s belief in a connection between treason and witchcraft.

In depicting a man who murders to become king, Macbeth teases us with huge questions. Is Macbeth tempted by fate, or by his or his wife’s ambition? Why does their success turn to ashes?

Like other plays, Macbeth speaks to each generation. Its story was once seen as that of a hero who commits an evil act and pays an enormous price. Recently, it has been applied to nations that overreach themselves and to modern alienation. The line is blurred between Macbeth’s evil and his opponents’ good, and there are new attitudes toward both witchcraft and gender.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Amazon Says: English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count’s transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula’s grim fortress, but a friend’s strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt. The popularity of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror romance is as deathless as any vampire.  Its supernatural appeal has spawned a host of film and stage adaptations, and more than a century after its initial publication, it continues to hold readers spellbound.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Amazon Says: This is the book that started it all! The basis for the smash hit Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Gregory Maguire’s breathtaking New York Times bestseller Wicked views the land of Oz, its inhabitants, its Wizard, and the Emerald City, through a darker and greener (not rosier) lens. Brilliantly inventive, Wicked offers us a radical new evaluation of one of the most feared and hated characters in all of literature: the much maligned Wicked Witch of the West who, as Maguire tells us, wasn’t nearly as Wicked as we imagined.

The Shining by Stephen King

Amazon Says: Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz

Amazon Says: This spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz’s popular books on American folklore is filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will make you jump with fright.There is a story here for everyone — skeletons with torn and tangled flesh who roam the earth; a ghost who takes revenge on her murderer; and a haunted house where every night a bloody head falls down the chimney.Stephen Gammell’s splendidly creepy drawings perfectly capture the mood of more than two dozen scary stories — and even scary songs — all just right for reading alone or for telling aloud in the dark.

If you have any October favorites you would recommend, please make sure to share yours in the comments below, or better yet, snap a pic of your favorite books, post it to Instagram or Twitter and tag me @MissTrenchcoat and use #CharmedGTD so the whole community can get inspiration from your recommendation!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

16 Business & Personal Development Books You Must Read in 2016!

16 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read in 2016

2016 Business & Personal Development Books to Read in 2016

In 2015 I read a lot of business and personal development books. Some were good, and some were not so good, but as an entrepreneur, I think it’s so important to keep your mind challenged and informed and reading books is probably the easiest way to expose yourself to new concepts and methods of thinking. One of the reasons I was able to read so much last year was due to Audible.com which I finally subscribed to after years of dragging my feet and it was one of the best decisions I made for my business in my opinion. If you’re curious about Audible, check out this offer where you can get not one, but two free books with a trial subscription! So, out of all those books, which did I enjoy the most? Well, here are the 16 business and personal development books that I read and recommend you read in 2016!

1. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Link: http://amzn.to/1YXKQw5

If there is one book from this list that I would suggest you read this year, it’s Essentialism! So much of my approach to working smarter, not harder is diluted into the contents of this book and I truly believe that everyone – not just business owners – need to hear the message of this book.

2. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

Link: http://amzn.to/1JQuRni

A lot of what sets successful people apart is attitude and perseverance. This book is a tried and true narration of what it takes to be truly successful in life and the obstacles that we all must face as we rise to the top. This book is honestly packed with gems of advice and actionable items, so I would suggest getting a printed copy, highlighters and a lot of page flags as you devour this one, or if you read the audiobook as I did, make sure to keep a notebook handy!

3. You Got This by Alexis Giostra

Link: http://bit.ly/YOUGOTTHISBOOK

I absolutely couldn’t create a list of books for you to read and not include my eBook on strategic goal setting. This is definitely not just a read it once and think about the message type of book, it’s a true workbook with worksheets and actionable items to help you plan your goals and ensure execution by prioritizing them as well as the key routines that will make it easier for you to establish a pattern of success. Hundreds of members of my community have already purchased this book since its release in November, and the positive reviews are rolling in daily so if you struggle with goal setting and making big things happen for your life, this is the book for you!

4. The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

Link: http://amzn.to/1NY8TTk

This short but direct book outlines the mental blocks that keep creatives from doing their best work and how to overcome them. If you are someone who struggles with producing creative work and truly wishes to make a full time career from it, you need to read this book.

5. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason

Link: http://amzn.to/1NY8XTa

In my opinion, this is the only financial book one need ever read. I was first exposed to this book when I was very young and finally reread it this year. To my astonishment, I had spent the years in between actively executing the principles of this book. It’s so funny the way solid financial principles are just timeless and once they are engrained in your mind and put into practice, your whole life can change and set you free from financial burdens. If you struggle with finance and feel like the topic is overwhelming to you, this book will break down money and wealth for you in a series of parables that anyone can relate to and understand.

6. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

Link: http://amzn.to/1JQvhKC

This is one of two habit formation books I read this year, and between the two, I connected more with this one. I think many of us take for granted the roles that routines play in our lives, but this book really explained in great detail what routines are, how they control us and how, with targeted and sustained effort, we can change them. It’s not easy to break a bad habit and establish a new routine, but if you have something – anything really – that you want to accomplish in your life, great or small, you need to understand how to control your habits and routines and build ones that will actually create success for you!

7. Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Link: http://amzn.to/1JQvmxL

And this is the second habit formation book I read this year and definitely still enjoyed or else it wouldn’t have been included on this list! In this book, Gretchen Rubin outlines her own experiments in habit and routine formation. She definitely acknowledges the established work of Duhigg and expounds upon it with some helpful personality based observations that are truly the crown jewel of this book, however, this work was a little less science and a little more personal anecdotes. Definitely worth the read, but I’d suggest Duhiggs book first.

8. Louder than Words by Todd Henry

Link: http://amzn.to/1NY98Oc

Now this is one of those books that no matter who you are, if you want to make any sort of impact at all, either personally or professionally, you need to read it! Again, another short read but one all about tapping into your authentic voice to connect with others and share your personal story to motivate and inspire.

9. The White Space Solution by Anne Samoilov

Link: http://annesamoilov.com/shop/product/white-space-solution-book/

After I read through this awesome eBook by my dear friend Anne Samoilov, I immediately called her to find out why in the world she wasn’t promoting this book to the high heavens because people seriously need to hear about and practice white space in their daily lives. We are all too busy, or so we say. Anne’s book really shows you how important it is to have time and space in your life to create and explore in order to do your best work, be your best self and fully engage in the lives of those who matter most. If you feel constantly busy and overwhelmed, you need to read this one!

10. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Link: http://amzn.to/1NY9nJg

This is the quintessential book for interacting with other people. It’s like a psychology lesson distilled into relatable action. Again, I truly believe this is a development book that everyone needs to read, but especially anyone who interacts with customers, clients, vendors or really any people who you need to rely on to help make your goals and dreams a reality.

11. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

Link: http://amzn.to/1NY9Bjm

This is one of two quintessential productivity classics that I think everyone needs to read. Covey’s book is a long running go to for business professionals, but it certainly applies just as equally to stay at home moms or creatives.

12. Getting Things Done by David Allen

Link: http://amzn.to/1JQvPjE

The second productivity classic, again beloved by the corporate sphere but seriously applicable to anyone and everyone! Getting Things Done is an annual reread for me and it seems that every time I dive back in I pick up a new lesson or tweak to my productivity systems that I hadn’t tried before.

13. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Link: http://amzn.to/1NYa8C6

Another classic for artist’s and creative types that really dives deep into the creative process and how to support creativity in our lives. If your job or passions are even remotely artistic or fall into the creative space. You should read this!

14. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

Link: http://amzn.to/1NY8Mam

Out of all the books on this list, this is the only true business book I’ve included, so if you don’t own, or ever hope to own your own business, this doesn’t apply to you, however, if you do you need to read this. You know those statistics people throw around about how many businesses fail in their first year and then how many more fail within a few more years and how many are still standing after a decade? This book explains all about that. It’s actually very interesting to see that lack of customers isn’t actually the thing that kills a business, it’s so much more about plans and systems than you really could ever have imagined.

15. A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Link: http://amzn.to/1NY9hkN

Yep, I added a woo-woo book to this list, but one that really made a big impact on me. I’ll agree that there are some things about this book that are perhaps a little too much for me, but the underlying message of this book is really powerful and honestly moved me to tears so many times. I think it’s good for us to read personal development, even perhaps spiritual development books (which is really what this book is), that really move us because some times I feel numb to the world and books like this make me feel reconnected to the human race. Definitely not the book for everyone, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my favorites.

16. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

Link: http://amzn.to/1R8IBSD

If you are a male or female working in corporate America and you haven’t read this book yet, please stop whatever you are doing and order it asap. I realize that this book was meant to inspire women, but anyone who works in a business environment should read this. I know this can be a polarizing book, but the results of real research was put into this book and it’s truly heartbreaking to be confronted with the fact that women are held back at work. They hold themselves back, their partners hold them back and worst of all, their own teams and companies hold them back. Obviously this book doesn’t apply to 100% of situations, but its enough that we all need to be aware of workplace biases and work to break our own preconceived notions.

So now you have 16 new books to add to your to read list or Audible queue! I am still in the process of researching the books I want to read for the year. I’m not necessarily someone who makes a full list and then checks books off one by one, but I do want to get started with some new-to-me reads asap. I already know I am putting another Todd Henry book, Die Empty, on my reading list and I have a few fiction novels that I started in 2015 that I want to tie up Q1, but I’d love to hear any suggestions you have for me based on these recommendations or even something totally different that you absolutely love and recommend. Let me know in the comments what you think I need to read this year! Oh, and one final thing I want to say about reading and personal development– I think reading is great, I obviously do or else I wouldn’t share book recommendations with you. However, I want to make sure you don’t spend all your time reading and leave no time for acting on what you’ve learned. Some people have a tendency to go into research and personal development mode before they feel like they can begin to implement and act, but unfortunately, that can often lead to a holding pattern where one is reading, reading, reading and never actually getting started on their business or new and improved life. I guess what I am trying to say is don’t use books as an excuse not to begin living your life. I want you to act on what you learn in these books, not use them as a barrier to keep you from living your dreams!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

3 Business Books in my Audible Queue

3 Business Books in my Audible Queue

Many of you have been asking me about the business books I am currently reading as I have made some passing suggestions and mentions of books in my Audible queue in different posts and videos over the past few weeks. Today I wanted to share with you the 3 business books that are currently in my audible queue, because as many of you know, I prefer to listen to audio books than to read. I just get more enjoyment and I feel like I complete more books when I listen to them as opposed to making time throughout my day to stop what I am doing and read. I’ve also gotten a few questions about how I like Audible and if I’m affiliated with them since I do talk about them whenever I talk about books pretty much!

To answer that first, I do happen to love Audible. For a long time I was resistant to the idea of signing up to Audible because it is subscription based and for some reason I was under the impression that any books you downloaded through your subscription to Audible would be lost if and when you canceled your subscription, but I was very pleased to discover that this is not the case. Once you download an audiobook, it’s yours, no matter if you cancel your subscription! This really eased my mind and so I did sign up for a monthly plan where I get two credits per month for something like $22.95 a month and I do find that I use the credits and finish books at a faster rate using Audible. Plus, Audible ends up having lots of sales on specific books and genres all the time, so not only will I get the two credits a month to use on my account (they do roll over as well, it’s not use them or loose them on a monthly basis) but I do buy one off books at discounted prices pretty frequently. I use my credit towards books that are newer or cost more than $11.50 (as thats essentially the price I am paying for a book with my credits) and if there is a sale and a book I want is $5.99 or something inexpensive like that, I will jump on the price and save my credits for a full price read. It works out pretty well for me!

I am also not directly affiliated with or sponsored by Audible. I know some people have direct relationships with Audible and have special membership codes to distribute where they get a cut of sales when people sign up, but that’s not me. I do, however, get a small commission from Amazon because I am an Amazon Affiliate and Amazon owns Audible. I’m not exactly sure how it works out, but when you sign up for a free trial through one of my links, I do get a few dollars, and if you buy a book through audible (I believe at face value price, not using credits) I get the same Amazon commission I would get if you purchased a physical copy of the book! So I am affiliated by proxy with Audible, but this isn’t a situation where I am sponsored or work with them directly to promote their services. I share about Audible because I do use it (and pay full price for my membership) and I only tell you about books I have read or purchased and I think are worth your time to check out as well! And that’s what I’m here to share with you today because I know many of you are like me and are on a quest for as much knowledge as possible, especially when it comes to business and personal development!

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

So this book is one that I have recently just finished in my Audible queue and I knew you would want to know about it because it’s often touted as being a must read for entrepreneurs and I definitely agree. The book begins with the premise that a staggering number of small businesses fail in their first year of business and more fail even by the five to ten year mark as well. Gerber explains that the reason for this is that entrepreneurs start businesses out of a desire to work for themselves but then end up creating businesses where they are an employee and have to take on a tremendous amount of work to keep the business going. Eventually, these employee minded entrepreneurs burn out and close up shop. So, Gerber outlines the key business strategies that differentiate successful entrepreneurs and business owners from their failed counterparts and outlines the changes you can make to ensure the solvency of your business for the long term.

The E-Myth Revisited deserves all the praise it’s received and then some! I was so glad to find that I myself was at least approaching my business from the right mindset, however, hearing Gerber’s suggestions for running a sustainable business really helped me to clarify some big picture questions I had been struggling with recently in my own business.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Essentialism is an audiobook that I am currently in the middle of listening to so I have not finished the book to the point where I can give a full review, but if the second half is as good as the first half, I can rest safe in my opinion that this book is also an essential read for not just business owners, but anyone who feels overwhelmed with their life. If you haven’t already heard about this book, it explains that in order to do our best work and perform at our highest levels of productivity, we must only do those items that are essential to our life and work. McKeown goes through some great examples and case studies supporting why less is really more and squashes some terrible business myths that have really been causing workers to underperform due to job stress which could very well be costing a tremendous amount of money to our economy in lost productivity.

If you come from a traditional corporate business structure, you should really read this book and hopefully free yourself from some self-imposed shackles that are most likely eating away at your time and your life. But I also believe that even an overwhelmed stay at home mother can get benefit from this book, it’s not just for a working professional!

Louder Than Words by Todd Henry

Louder Than Words is the most recent book on my Audible queue, and I haven’t actually started on this one yet, but I still wanted to share this with you. Todd Henry has written a few other best sellers like Die Empty and The Accidental Creative which have received heaps of praise. Personally, I haven’t read his previous works, however, the concept of this book really spoke to me as I am always trying to learn the best way to communicate with my audience and spread awareness of my products and services in a natural and engaging manner. I honestly can’t wait to finish Essentialism so I can start on this book. I guess I could start on this book now, but I have found that I do get more from these books when I listen to one at a time because my mind doesn’t have to remember which book discussed which topics.

If you have read any of these business books, I’d love to hear your thoughts, especially if you have some feedback on Louder Than Words. In the meantime, if you would like to sign up for Audible, I do have a special sign up link that gives you two free audiobook downloads as opposed to one when you sign up for their 30-Day trial. Again, just sharing this with you because you’re my friends and I want to make sure you get a deal!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

3 Ways to Overcome Resistance & Start Getting Shit Done!

3 Ways to Overcome Resistance

I spent quite a few hours in the air last week traveling to and from Aruba on vacation, and so I decided to spend some of that travel time wisely by catching up on a few audiobooks I had downloaded from Audible.com. The book I was most anxious to listen to, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, was recommended to me on numerous occasions by a variety of mentors and so I decided it was time to check that one off my list. The audiobook wasn’t long, less than three hours in total, so I listened through to completion on a single flight. The book was by no means ground breaking, however, it was immediately evident to me why so many people had suggested it, because I myself have been living by and evangelizing about every message in this book for years! I honestly felt such a deep connection to the book as I sat there listening and internally applauding each sentence. The crux of the book was simple; in order to find success in the creative fields, you must learn to overcome the various types of resistance you are sure to face on a daily basis. You may think that the hard part of being creative revolves around the execution of it, but really, it’s the muddy waters of resistance that begin far before you get to work that are the true challenge. If you find that you get overwhelmed at just the thought of your work, or feel like your riding a rollercoaster of emotions that make creativity difficult for you to sustain, here are 3 ways to overcome resistance and start getting shit done in your life!

1. Turn Pro

Within the War of Art, Pressfield explains the difference between an amateur and a professional and why it is necessary for you to turn pro, even if you are taking on an endeavor as a #sidehustle. An amateur is someone who says they are doing something for the love of it, but really, this is a barrier that keeps the amateur from fully realizing their potential. A professional, on the other hand, takes their work seriously and knows that the success of their endeavor needs to be beyond the whims of passion or pleasure. An amateur can worry about failure and feel discouraged by it because they are working from a place of emotion, while a professional can rise above outcomes and work through failure until the point of ultimate success.

2. Understand the source of creativity

One of my favorite quotes from Marianne Williamson explains that “You are a faucet and God is the water,” and this concept is one that Pressfield explains within his book as the true source of creativity. Any great artist or creator knows that it is an impossible feat for one person to come up with an endless supply of creative ideas, and likewise, all great artists know that their ideas do not come from them, but instead are dictated to them from God. This phenomenon may seem very woo-woo, but it is one that I experience on a regular basis. When I submit my creativity over to God, magic happens. An outpouring of ideas flow through me like water and all I have to do is grab a pen and keep up!

3. Never give up

Another interesting phenomenon that is again, often chalked up to being outside the realm of possibility, is that your success often lies on the other side of great failure. Because of this, it is essential that you do not give up just because you have failed. Personally, I believe that when you give a whole-hearted and well organized effort, it is impossible to fail entirely, but failure is a part of success that a true creative artist must fully embrace. Everything is impossible until you do it, and although you may fail a hundred times on the way to success, the only way to cross the finish line is to keep going and refuse to give up.

This book wasn’t a long or difficult read, but it sure was powerful. If you feel like you could use a fire under your butt to get started or to work through a creative endeavor, definitely pick up this book and start applying its many lessons to your life! Let me know down in the comments if you have read this book or even if you face resistance in your own life and how you deal with it. I’d love to know your thoughts and strategies as well!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

3 Business Lessons I Learned from a 3000 Year Old Civilization

3 Business Lessons Learned from The Richest Man in Babylon

I recently finished listening to the audio of a book I had once read when I was very young called The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason. I can remember my father brining the book home and telling me to read it, even though I couldn’t have even been a teenager at the time, this was something my father would sometimes ask me to do because he is does not read well. English isn’t his first language and he barely graduated high school as it was, but I on the other hand, had been a very early reader and would sometimes read books or articles for my father and tell him about them. So, he gave me the book and told me to read it, so I did. I can’t say that I remember very much of any books I had read at the time quite as well as this one. The book is a guide to success that outlines basic principles for the building up of wealth and financial security, which you would think would have been boring for a child, but this book was not. It was told in a series of parables that I was surprised to find I still remembered more than a decade later. Listening to the audiobook reminded me of where much of my attitude towards money had come from, and that I had been employing the lessons of this book since the time I found my first job in high school. Although so much of the book was familiar with me and the stories hadn’t changed in all this time, my perspective on the book was something that I discovered was remarkably different and caused me to understand the story in a whole new light. On the surface, The Richest Man in Babylon is a book filled with financial advice, yet in my second experience of the book I found so much more depth in terms of business advice that I knew would be important for me to remember and apply to my own business. So, today I wanted to share with you the three business lessons I learned from the story of The Richest Man in Babylon, in the hopes that this ancient wisdom is utilized even in our modern society!

1. There is no such thing as something for nothing

Getting something for nothing is a concept that has infatuated many people to their ruin. The truth of the matter is that there is no such thing as something for nothing, although it’s quite an attractive offer, it’s against the laws of nature for someone to suddenly receive something of great value for little to no effort or risk. Belief in this concept leads many to gamble away large sums of money or waste tremendous amounts of time scheming to come up with some quick buck business concept.  Although it may often seem, especially in this day and age, that people are striking it rich overnight with very little effort, in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our world may seem so transparent because of social media and modern conveniences, yet although we think we see much, we really see only a small portion of reality. The online business world is a perfect example of this, and although there is certainly much money to be made by a savvy business operating online, it’s not some get rich quick scenario. Ask anyone who has ever started a business online and they will tell you that so much work went into making their very first sale, and that after that things got harder, not easier! The business world is an uphill battle even when you are working with modern conveniences!

Fortune Favors the Bold

2. Luck comes to those who are ready and willing to act

I’ve said it before, I believe that we make our own luck, and that pertains to everything in life not just business. Yet, this concept of luck still tends to permeate our conversations and analysis of successful people and businesses. When we see someone doing well in their business, we tend to trivialize it. “They got lucky with the timing of their launch,” or “they got some good press because they know so and so, they are so lucky!” I’m not sure what it is about successful businesses that make people believe that luck had anything to do with it. There is no magical force governing which businesses will succeed and which will fail. We all have the same odds, the difference is that some people seize opportunity when they see it and are ready and able to strike when the iron is hot. Being ready for those “lucky” moments and being able to recognize them is the single greatest determining factor for success. If you’re sitting in your office focusing on your work and your business, you will never see the opportunities that may pass right by your door. You need to keep your feelers out there in the world, know what sorts of opportunities you are looking for and keep your plate just a little bit empty so that when a lucky opportunities arises, you have the time and resources to jump on it! Luck is really as simple as that!

3. There is nothing wrong with starting small

The third and final business lesson I learned while reading The Richest Man in Babylon is that when there is great risk and uncertain reward, there is nothing wrong with starting small. When it comes to business, I think people have some sort of preconception that you need to go big or go home, as though starting a large business has some greater chance of success and solvency than starting a small side business. The truth is, starting small is a great way to test a business. It gives you an opportunity to bring a product or service to market with the minimum viable product without having to spend a lot of time making things perfect. Once your business has begun, it’s much easier for a small business to grow than it is for a large business to downsize. Often a small business is better able to adapt and make instant changes to their offerings, which in the end, make their products more desirable because they are responding to immediate data rather than product development testing. Yes, it’s true than when you risk only a little bit, your reward will not be as great, but remember the two earlier lessons and understand that hard work and action are the two quickest paths to success and the type of business you create, whether it’s large or small, can’t escape that truth!

I hope these lessons resonated with you and that perhaps you learned something new from this old book based on even older truths. If you would like to check out the audiobook for The Richest Man in Babylon, feel free to use this link to get two free audiobooks when you sign up for a free Audible.com membership! If you have ever read this book, I’d love to hear what you thought of it and any other gems of wisdom you found particularly useful!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

What the Successful Know About Habits is Why You’re Not Achieving Your Potential

Control Your Habits, to Control the Outcomes of all that you do

If you remember my On My iPhone post from the end of March, you may already know that I have been listening to a very popular business book called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. I actually recently finished the book and I have to admit it was pretty eye opening to hear about the role our habits plan in our lives and specifically how this pertains to success. Not just success as in a vague representation of our lives, but in terms of how often we as individuals are able to achieve the things we set out to do. I know I’ve discussed before that people often comment to me that they believe I am a very focused and disciplined person, an observation that never fully made sense to me until I was exposed to this book. The book basically explained to me the key information about habits that successful people know and use to their advantage, including how my own habits were bringing me consistent success without me ever feeling like I was “working hard.” Since childhood I have been operating under a certain set of habits that were instilled in me as a child and basically have defined my work ethic ever since. So, the fact that I am constantly achieving my goals, while obvious to outsiders as being a result of disciplined action and focus, just felt like normal day to day life to me. Now, if you feel like you are someone who is not achieving their potential, guess what? I have good news for you! You can change your habits so that success is a habitual activity for your. You just need to understand what successful people know about habits, something I fully realized while reading this book, and am going to share with you today!

Successful People Know that Our Lives are Ruled by Habits

You may think that you have control over your life, but when you boil down your days everything comes down to your habits. Humans are creatures of habit that rely on a sense of regularity to their lives in order to survive, but successful people are able to leverage knowledge of their habits and use these instinctive procedures to make them better at what they do. You can argue against this point if you want, but just accepting the fact that habits play a major role in our lives will make changing them to your own benefit that much easier. Everything from our work, sleep, social relationships, and diet are based on our habits and unfortunately, habits are a hard thing to break. If you have ever tried to quit smoking or implement a new diet or excursive regime, you know first hand that it’s hard to change habits because they are part of an overall routine. When you just try to start or stop a habit cold-turkey, you fail because the overall routine kicks in, resets itself and brings you back to your old habits fast, but when you swap one habit for another strategically, you find that success is achievable!

Successful People Know that You Achieve More when You Don’t have to Think

Remember back to grade school when you were learning math and the teacher taught you how to add and subtract. But it wasn’t enough that the teacher would teach you HOW to perform addition and subtraction, they always went a step further and forced the whole class to remember lines of equations repeatedly. 1 + 1 = 2, 1 + 2 = 3, 1 + 3 = 4, etc and so on. Well, if we knew how to add and subtract, why did we need to basically memorize addition tables? Wasn’t it enough that we knew how to add, so that if we were faced with the situation of having to add 1 + 1, we could figure out how to get to 2? Well the answer is no, it’s not enough, and the reason is because it’s always easier, quicker, and more efficent to know information or to perform an activity when the outcome is a knee jerk reaction as opposed to having to think. Thinking requires effort, it’s a process in and of itself, so when it comes down to having to complete an action, it’s actually more efficient when you know what to do, as opposed to having to think about what to do. When you have to think, time is wasted, errors can occur and questions can even arise in your own mind of whether or not you are correct. When things are an automatic response, its much simpler and smoother of a process. This is why successful people have systems and routines in place that allow them to remove the burden of thought from their lives and work so that important tasks are habitual and therefore more efficient and accurate. Then they can reserve all that mental energy that they would have used on thinking and put it to good use working on solving problems and developing new sources of income!

We Are What We Repeatedly Do - Aristotle Quote

Successful People Know that You Are What You Repeatedly Do

Aristotle said it best “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” If all our actions in life boil down to our habits, then being a person who is aware of and in control of their habits is almost like a litmus test for success. If you can control your habits enough to achieve success once, you can do it again, and soon you can become a person who seemingly succeeds at all they do. Success and achievement are recipes, they are not the same for each and every person, but once you find the recipe to success in your own life, the sky is the limit for what you can achieve once you apply that knowledge and routine to other aspects of your life. This is actually the reason I purchased this book to begin with. As an online entrepreneur, I noticed that other successful entrepreneurs had many of the same habits and once I started seeing the pattern, I knew I needed to learn more about how to control my habits so that I was achieving at a higher level! If you look around and notice that all the people you look up to seem to have habits and routines in place that you are currently lacking, it may be time for you to change your habits as well!

Overall, I think that The Power of Habit was a great business book, and I’m certainly glad I purchased it! I will say, it was a very fun book to listen to on tape as I did, via Audible.com and I would suggest for other entrepreneurs or anyone else who categorizes themselves as a life long learner, that you sign up for an Audible membership because you are seriously able to devour more books and knowledge this way! I’m not sponsored by Audible or anything, you guys know that when I find something I like, I love to share it with you all, and so far Audible has been an excellent tool for me that I plan to use to the fullest extent!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

10 Must Read Business Books

10-Must-Read-Business-Books

I am asked very frequently for book recommendations, specifically, which business books have been the most influential as I have built my own online business. As someone who reads a lot of non-fiction, particularly on the subject of business, marketing and advice, it’s hard for me to narrow my list down so I have chosen today to share with you my top 10!

  1. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey: Probably the first business and productivity related book I ever read, I still draw inspiration from this book on a regular basis, not just in my business but also in life in general.
  2. The $100 Startup, by Chris Guillebeau: When I first realized that I wanted to start an online business, I did a lot of research into a good book to read on the subject and this was one that kept popping up over and over again. If you want to start a business quickly and inexpensively using the power of the web, this book is filled with examples and case studies to help you make your own way.
  3. Blog Inc, by Joy Cho: Joy Cho of Oh Joy! was probably one of the first bloggers to make it big and parlay their online brand into the real world, so when she came out with this book, I was intrigued. I wouldn’t say the information in the book is life altering, however, if you want to pick up a book about blogging that is a solid choice, this is the one to go for.
  4. The 4-Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss: I guess you could say that this book really started it all. I’ve been a long time fan of Tim Ferriss from his association with Kevin Rose and the tech industry in general and this book seriously made me reconsider everything I thought I knew about the modern workforce. I have said before that I believe creating an online business is the new American Dream, because it affords you not only financial security, but also the ability to work whenever from wherever. Once I read this book, I knew I was going to one day work for myself from my laptop, exact location, unknown!
  5. Getting Things Done, by David Allen: Another of my favorites and a classic productivity book that is useful for everyone, not just professionals or business owners. I do believe, however, that putting into practice organizational systems such as the method put forth in this book is a must for any business person. You can’t be successful without a system, and you may not like David’s, but he gives plenty of wiggle room for you to create a process and workflow of your own.
  6. It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s how Good You Want to Be, by Paul Arden: File this one under purely inspirational. It’s not a book you read so much as a book you experience and draw energy from. Good to have on a bookcase for those moments when you need a little something extra.
  7. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie: Although this isn’t what you would call a business book, this is a book all business people should read. It’s all about the art of persuasion, something that an online business owner had better have in spades if they expect to make a living in cyber space. Learning the motivations behind human decision making processes and how to angle yourself so that you are more appealing are priceless skills.
  8. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, by Gary Vaynerchuk: If online marketing is like a prize boxing match, in order to win you have to use a sustained strategy of wearing down your opponent and then knocking them out once you have gotten them to drop their guard. Except with online marketing your opponent is your community of potential customers and your best punches are valuable content and information that your community wants and needs. Gary V tells it like it is and gives you a real strategy to achieve your business and marketing goals.
  9. Empire Building Branding Blueprint, by Alexis Giostra: Okay, so this is a bit of shameless self promotion, but I include this for good reason! If you haven’t been able to tell, I have read a lot of books and done a lot of research into the art of online business, because, well, it’s my job! Not everyone has the time, energy or the focus to do as much reading and research as I have in order to learn the very important lessons about business that I know, so I have done all the hard work for you and put everything I know into my Empire Building Blueprints. The first Blueprint on Branding is now available if you want a crash course to creating your own solid business brand without wasting time, money and resources you just don’t have!
  10. Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon: Another question I get asked a lot is how I continually come up with fresh new content for my Blog, YouTube and social media feeds, but newsflash, everything has been done before in one way or another, so creating new fresh new content requires perspective and ingenuity. This slightly controversial book explains how to steal like an artist so you are always ahead of the curve with content creation.

Hope these books piqued your interest and gave you some ideas for some new reads this Spring! Let me know what your favorite business books are in the comments and if you have a book recommendation for me, please let me know because I am always looking for great new non-fiction reads!

xoxo,

Alexis-Signature

On my iPhone {June 2014}

On-My-Iphone-June

On my iPhone is a new monthly feature on Strange & Charmed where I give you a peak into what I have been loving on my iPhone for the month! Covering topics like apps, games, podcasts, music, websites, books and more, I hope this series helps you all discover new and exciting content out there that can be enjoyed from your iPhone! To stay up to date with this series, make sure to follow the On my iPhone tag!

To kick off this new series, I have a bunch of wonderful content to share from my iPhone to yours! I have spent a lot of time this month focusing on inspiration for my business and consuming as much fresh, new content as I can!

Currently Playing, Lost Yeti: This adorable 32-bit puzzle game is all about helping your little Yeti friend navigate his way to a delicious frozen dessert while dodging obstacles like ice and enemies. I actually got this game for free from the Starbucks Pick of the Week in-store promotion cards, so if you are stopping by a Starbucks, take a look and see if you can grab this cute but casual game for free, or download it from the app store for $1.99!

Currently Reading, #GIRLBOSS: There has been a lot of hype about this book around the internet lately, so I decided to download the sample from the iBooks Store and see what it was all about. This frank, funny and admittedly vulgar memoir is a must read for any female online entrepreneurs and internet lovers alike. Although I download and read the sample on iBooks, I already went ahead and bought the hardcover of the book to own, if only for the awesomely empowering cover!

Currently Watching, Emma Approved: If you enjoyed the incredibly popular YouTube series, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, you will love Emma Approved. Another timeless Austen tale told via the modern medium of internet and video, Emma Approved is a fashionable, technologically clever web series based off Emma, aka Clueless for those of you who are more familiar with film titles than paper ones! And if for some reason you missed Lizzie Bennett back in the fall when I told you to watch it, you seriously need to catch up on both of these series asap- seriously better than anything else on TV!

Currently Surfing, My Life as a Teacup: My good blogging buddy Kristin recently sat down for a Google Helpout session with me to help revamp her wonderful blog! Although Kristin has a lot going for her on her site currently, we were totally able to brainstorm some awesome new features and content for her site that is seriously going to bring so much more fun and whimsy to her corner of the internet. If you don’t already read Kristin’s awesome blog, I hereby give you permission to click out of this post and click onto her site, immediately! Oh, and if you have or are looking to start a blog but need some guidance from a blogging pro, head on over to my Empire Building coaching page and sign up today for one-to-one blog and business consulting with me! 

Currently Listening, The Lively Show: I have been following Jess Lively for a few years now and I have loved her new podcast “The Lively Show!” Although it’s geared towards female bloggers and online entrepreneurs, I think it’s an inspiring Podcast for any woman who is looking to bring meaning and “intention” in their life! If you are a reader of my blog, you will most definitely love this podcast, so go ahead and subscribe to it now and hear the stories behind some of your favorite, and soon to be favorite, bloggers and business owners!

I hope you all truly enjoyed this first installment of my On my iPhone series! It will be a monthly feature posted the final Tuesday of each month, so make sure to keep you eye out for it! Also, let me know in the comments what you have been loving, content wise, on your iPhone this month! I love new content, so keep your recommendations rolling in!

In Progress

In-Progress-June

I’m one of those people who starts reading more than one book at a time and then never seems to finish any. Lately, I have been “reading” a few books that just never seem to end because I can’t seem to focus enough on getting through them properly. Maybe its me, maybe its the book, but I don’t like when I don’t finish things, so I am making it my goal to get some of these in progress books off my book shelf by actually finishing them up!

Tell the Wolves I’m Home: A Novel by Carol Rifka Brunt

Amazon Synapsis

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

An emotionally charged coming-of-age novel, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a tender story of love lost and found, an unforgettable portrait of the way compassion can make us whole again.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

Amazon Synapsis

Mindy Kaling has lived many lives: the obedient child of immigrant professionals, a timid chubster afraid of her own bike, a Ben Affleck–impersonating Off-Broadway performer and playwright, and, finally, a comedy writer and actress prone to starting fights with her friends and coworkers with the sentence “Can I just say one last thing about this, and then I swear I’ll shut up about it?”

Perhaps you want to know what Mindy thinks makes a great best friend (someone who will fill your prescription in the middle of the night), or what makes a great guy (one who is aware of all elderly people in any room at any time and acts accordingly), or what is the perfect amount of fame (so famous you can never get convicted of murder in a court of law), or how to maintain a trim figure (you will not find that information in these pages). If so, you’ve come to the right book, mostly!

In Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy invites readers on a tour of her life and her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood, with several conveniently placed stopping points for you to run errands and make phone calls. Mindy Kaling really is just a Girl Next Door—not so much literally anywhere in the continental United States, but definitely if you live in India or Sri Lanka.

The Paris Wife: A Novel by Paula McLain

Amazon Synapsis

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking, fast-living, and free-loving life of Jazz Age Paris. As Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history and pours himself into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises, Hadley strives to hold on to her sense of self as her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Eventually they find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for.

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk

Amazon Synapsis

New York Times bestselling author and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk shares hard-won advice on how to connect with customers and beat the competition. A mash-up of the best elements of Crush It! and The Thank You Economy with a fresh spin, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook is a blueprint to social media marketing strategies that really works.

When managers and marketers outline their social media strategies, they plan for the “right hook”—their next sale or campaign that’s going to knock out the competition. Even companies committed to jabbing—patiently engaging with customers to build the relationships crucial to successful social media campaigns—want to land the punch that will take down their opponent or their customer’s resistance in one blow. Right hooks convert traffic to sales and easily show results. Except when they don’t.

Thanks to massive change and proliferation in social media platforms, the winning combination of jabs and right hooks is different now. Vaynerchuk shows that while communication is still key, context matters more than ever. It’s not just about developing high-quality content, but developing high-quality content perfectly adapted to specific social media platforms and mobile devices—content tailor-made for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr.

So, have you read any of these books yet? Let me know what you thought of these books and also let me know what’s on your In Progress list by leaving a comment below!

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