Weekend reflection and reading

This is the first week in maybe 5 years when I’ve written as much as I have. I’ve posted every day for the last 5 days, and will continue to post daily for as long as possible just to keep the chain going. I’m enjoying the routine, and I’m enjoying the uptick in traffic too, so¬†if you’re reading this, thank you ūüôā

My big goal right now is building a¬†repeatable, scalable system¬†to generate leads for my copywriting business. Right now I’m doing a lot of haphazard, ad-hoc outbound sales and network marketing, which is OK, but isn’t systematic. I need a way to produce reliable, consistent leads and sales. I need to think about how best to do that, and how to build it.

On the plus side, I had some great conversations with potential clients and potential sources of leads and JV deals this week, which was really positive.¬†They were the type of things that will probably lead to good income streams in a few weeks or months, but won’t put cash in the bank right this second. Which is fine, it just makes me wish I’d done them a few weeks ago, but there you go. The¬†best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the second best time is now.

I didn’t work out at all this week — had a minor injury that I didn’t want to aggravate,¬†so I skipped the gym, but I can already feel myself getting out of the habit. I need to correct that as soon as possible.

Also, in future I want to make this weekly goal review more structured and systematic too. I want to figure out a way to do that that isn’t too burdensome. I’ve seen some people use systems like this¬†that look good on paper, but would be way too complex to start with, so I want something more basic. I’ll work this out this week.

Anyway, here’s a collection of things I’ve been¬†reading¬†this week, and recommend¬†you peruse over your leisurely weekend. Enjoy.


  • Real World Blueprint for a $5million week¬†– Ramit Sethi goes into deep, intense detail about a product launch at his company, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Ramit is one of the best in the business when it comes to online sales and marketing, so you can learn a ton from him. But more importantly: don’t try super-advanced tactics if you’re just starting out. Get the fundamentals right, and build from there.
  • Career advice no-one tells you – job requirements are negotiable,¬†imposter syndrome is a good things, and other unconventional job hunting advice. What I love most in this article is the¬†concept of doing the job you want before you’ve got it. Just start doing stuff, and send it to the person you want to hire you. If it’s good, they won’t ignore it.
  • Don’t say “maybe” if you want to say “no” – good piece from Ryan Holiday on not being afraid to turn down things that you just don’t want to do. It’s your time, your life, so protect it.
  • The Million Dollar Question¬†– this is an older essay by Sebastian Marshall that PERFECTLY encapsulates the issues and insecurities of taking an unconventional path in your career and your life. It’s a big fear that I have as I move towards more freelance and entrepreneurial projects, and something that I’m wrestling with right now, so it was good to read this again.


  • The Millionaire Fastlane¬†– I love the¬†central idea of this book — that the only way to really get wealthy before you’re old is entrepreneurship and building income-producing assets — but god, the title is awful. It sounds like a bad infomercial and makes me not want to recommend it. A good read though.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders¬†– I’m a huge Warren Buffett/Charlie Munger fanboy, and there’s more wisdom in this book than an entire MBA course. But¬†it’s a long read — it’s just a collection of every letter to BH shareholders from 1965-2014. For edited excerpts of these letters, check out The Essays of Warren Buffett, and for more on Charlie Munger, Tren Griffin’s recent book Charlie Munger: The Complete Investor is really good.
  • The End of Jobs – my buddy Taylor Pearson’s first (but probably not last) book is a fantastic argument that traditional jobs are in terminal decline, and that you¬†should start to move towards a more entrepreneurial career path. Taylor’s a great writer — his essays are testament to that — and this is an important and timely book. Pair it with Choose Yourself, which covers similar ground but from a more inspirational point of view (Taylor’s book is more the nuts and bolts, practical advice).


How to handle a down-market (and 3 book recommendations)

If you’ve been following the business news the last few weeks, you’ve probably seen bad news story after bad news story: a slowdown in China, the US market is down, the price of oil is down and oil companies are losing money, etc. etc. etc.

We’ve heard it all before. The most important piece of advice is: don’t sell. Turn off the news, stop refreshing your portfolio, and go do something else. Take a walk outside, meditate, read, write, exercise, spend time with your family.

(As an aside, I read an interesting paper today that says most investors who invest in mutual funds actually get WORSE returns than the funds they invest in due to bad timing: they pull their money out when the market falls, and buy in after it has already recovered. As economist Matt Yglesias says, the stock market is the only market where things go on sale and all the customers run out of the store.)

Anyway, while I was ignoring the financial news this week, here’s what I was reading instead:

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow

This is an epic, 800 page biography of an incredible industrial titan. One of the wealthiest men in history, Rockefeller’s net worth was estimated to be around $200bn in today’s money. What struck me from this book is his intensity of focus, and his stoicism — he accepted the reality he had to deal with, and just got down to work, with incredible results. (And thanks to Ryan Holiday for his post on the joy of reading long books, which drove me to finally pick this book up, having had it on my wish list for some time now.)

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance

This had also been on my wish list for a few months — Chernow’s book got me in the mood for more biographies, so I grabbed this and tore through it in a couple of days. I actually learnt a ton about SpaceX from this book — I’ve been a Tesla fanboy for a couple of years now, but the story and accomplishments of SpaceX are actually more impressive from an engineering and innovation point of view. Reading this, I’m struck by the same thought that I had when I readWalter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs: this guy is a real dick, and I would hate to work for him. I understand why people would want to, because if you can deal with a high-pressured working environment, you can create things that literally change the world — but I don’t think I would like it, and I don’t think I’d do well in that situation. I’m not sure what that says about me though. Something to think about a little more.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

Cal’s previous books helped me hugely when I was at university (How to Become a Straight-A Student) and in the early stages of my career (by becoming So Good They Can’t Ignore You). Now, in his latest book, Cal outlines his philosophy of Deep Work, which he defines as complex, cognitively taxing work that is difficult, but creates real value — as opposed to shallow work like reading and responding to email, which tends to be straightforward, and feels productive, but doesn’t usually create much value. Cal argues that by maximising the amount of deep work we do (and consequently minimising shallow work) then we’ll not only be more productive, and do better in our careers, but we’ll be happier too. This book had a big impact on how I view work as a whole, and I’m genuinely excited to put the ideas in this book into practice. My friend Kevin did a great summary of this book too, if you want to check that out.

The Obstacle Is The Way

I’ve been reading Ryan Holiday’s blog for about 7 years now. He’s the Director of Marketing for American Apparel, and has worked with authors like Tim Ferriss, Robert Greene¬†and Tucker Max. He’s also a staunch advocate of stoicism as a¬†personal¬†operating system.

His new book is called The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage. It’s the best book I’ve read¬†in a long time, and it’s a book I will undoubtedly turn to again and again over the next 50 years. Ryan teaches you how to deal with anything in your life, and turn it to your advantage.

There are three aspects to this.

1. Perception

Controlling your perception is key – you have to flip the obstacle around to see how it can work for you. Think: tight deadlines give you the opportunity to practice working under pressure and focus on what really matters. Failing at a business venture gives you more intel about what does and doesn’t work in a particular marketplace. If your computer crashes and you lose all your work: now you have a chance to do it over, even better than before.

What matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure…this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming – or possibly thriving because of – them.

2. Action

Every single thing we do is a reflection of who we are as a person. We owe it to ourselves to do our best work, to keep going, to strive and to what it is we were meant to do. And we always have a choice to keep working and to put in the effort and the work required of us.

The great psychologist Victor Frankl, survivor of three concentration camps, found presumptuousness in the age-old question: “What is the meaning of life?” As though it is someone else’s responsibility to tell you. Instead, he said, the world is asking¬†you that question. And it’s your job to answer with your actions.

3. Will

Finally, there is the idea of will, which is what you hold deep inside of you.

True will is quiet humility, resilience, and flexibility…[not] weakness disguised by bluster and ambition. See which lasts longer under the hardest obstacles.

This is what we should all strive to be:

Certain things in life will cut you open like a knife. When that happens – at that exposing moment – the world gets a glimpse of what’s truly inside you. So what will be revealed when you’re sliced open by tension and pressure? Iron? Or air? Or bullshit?

Ryan is also clearly influenced by both Robert Greene and Marcus Aurelius in terms of his writing style for this book – it is simple, clear, direct and practical. I found myself highlighting and marking numerous passages which I will turn to again and again in the future.

What I’m reading

I’ve binged on books over the last couple of weeks – here’s some of what I’ve been reading:

The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson. Like I said a week or two ago, I’m a little behind the times with this book, but it was full of fantastic graphs, explanations and theories as to how the internet has changed so many business models for the better, and the important of niches.

The Four Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. Again, I’m hugely behind the times, but I finally got around to reading this, and I thought it was great. I can’t instantly put into practice much of what Tim talks about (in order to escape 9-5 I would first have to find myself a 9-5 job from which to escape) but I really admire what he’s done, and I think it’s inspiring. Your life doesn’t have to be work all week, party on friday and saturday night, rinse and repeat for 40 years: you control it, you can shape it and you can do what you want. There’s some fantastic productivity advice in here as well.

The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation by Lafley and Charan. This book is a fascinating look at how Proctor and Gamble focus on customer-centric innovation and how every decision is driven by trying to improve the day-to-day life of the customer. I knew P&G were a big company, but I was blown away by the sheer number of brands they own. 21 brands with sales of over $1bn per annum. A lot of P&G’s success comes from hugely extensive market research, immersing themselves in the customer’s world and seeing things as they do, defining what the issue is and then coming up with a way to ‘delight’ the customer.

What I’m reading

Outliers РMalcolm Gladwell
Gladwell’s third book, where he looks at what factors determine success, with surprising results (as if we’d expect anything different). I liked this book a lot more than Blink (which is still very good), and it’s definitely a much more mature book than The Tipping Point, but I’m not sure if it’s better. Definitely worth reading, if you haven’t already. Gladwell has a fantastic talent for making non-fiction writing incredibly engaging and entertaining.

Permission Marketing – Seth Godin
Another good book from Seth, who’s blog I highly recommend. This book is a bit outdated, as it was published in 1999, so some of the examples are a bit irrelevant now, but the principles are solid: for a good primer on permission marketing, read this post. I’ve been reading Seth’s blog for a while now so, like Purple Cow, this book was more for supplementing what Seth has published on his blog, rather than introducing me to new ideas.

The Game – Neil Strauss
I’ve probably read this book more than any other, but I’m going through it again and reading it properly. I think I first read this book when I was 17, and at the time it changed my life. I thought I had discovered “the secret” , and that by applying the knowledge in here I would have infinite success with women and live a happy life. In short, I completely missed the point of the book. But, for a while at least, I was quite into the community, and read a lot of self-help books with the intent of increasing my success with women. Strangely, just thinking that I knew more than other people about women made me much more confident, and this confidence actually paid off. As I got a little more mature I grew out of the community, but the confidence I had acquired stayed with me. Now I’ve realised no-one needs all this PUA bullshit to have success with women, which in turn made me a lot more confident in myself. Now, two years after I first read the book, I’m infinitely more confident than I ever have been before. Strange how that worked out. I highly recommend this book, as it is amazing, and Strauss’s honesty about his shortcomings is incredible. Just don’t do what I did – actually listen to what Strauss is saying about this subculture.

I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell – Tucker Max
It’s been a long term at uni, and I needed a break from some of the heavier non-fiction that I read, so I’m reading this again. Hilarious. Although I think my girlfriend is worried (and slightly jealous) about the number of times I’ve read this book.

What if Steve Jobs ran one of the Big Three auto companies? – good article that looks at the problems in Detroit, and how they could learn a lesson from Jobs’ turnaround of Apple back in the 90s.

The High-Res Society – another great essay by Paul Graham.

“Large organizations will start to do worse now, though, because for the first time in history they’re no longer getting the best people. An ambitious kid graduating from college now doesn’t want to work for a big company. They want to work for the hot startup that’s rapidly growing into one. If they’re really ambitious, they want to start it.”

Is effort a myth? – this is one of my favourite Seth Godin posts. I’ve been re-reading it recently and thinking about how to apply it to my own life. I waste far too much time at uni, rationalising it by convincing myself that I’m exposing myself to randomness, when actually I’ve just wasted an afternoon playing video games.

If you have any recommendations for books, articles, essays, blog posts or whatever, email me at andrewlynch88@gmail.com.

What I’m reading

The Virtues of War – Steven Pressfield. This is an awesome book written in the first person from the perspective of Alexander the Great. It’s fiction but Pressfield has obviously done his research – apparently it’s very accurate. I should read more about Alexander the Great. I think I’m going to pick up 33 Strategies of War pretty soon as well.

Purple Cow – Seth Godin. Very good book that calls for businesses to stand out and do something worth talking about. Consumers now have all of what they need, and most of what they want, so you need to do something extraordinary to get their attention. I’ve read Seth’s blog for quite a while now so it was a lot of the same ideas, but still very good. I’m planning to read Permission Marketing and Unleashing the Ideavirus within the next week, too.

The Alchemist – Paolo Coehlo. I first read this book a couple of months ago. I love it. It’s an inspiring tale about following your dreams and fulfilling your personal legend. At times Coehlo gets slightly too spiritual and new-age for me, but I still think everyone should read this book.

Anyone Can Do It: My Story – Duncan Bannatyne. Duncan is a scottish entrepreneur who most Brits will know from the TV show Dragons’ Den. This is his autobiography, where he talks about his various business ventures. It’s a very typical rags-to-riches story, but Duncan mentions a few things that stood out for me. His first million-pound business was a company called Quality Care Homes, a chain of elderly nursing homes in the north of England. Duncan says that he didn’t have first-mover advantage, specialised sector knowledge, or a unique selling point: he just went and did it better than everyone else had. Good read.

Why talent is overrated – very interesting article that says that those who we consider to be very talented aren’t necessarily genetically disposed that way – they just practice a lot more and a lot harder than most.

What You’ll Wish You’d Known – transcript of a high school graduation speech that Paul Graham was meant to give, but didn’t. He talks about a lot of great stuff, and it’s a lot better than the typical graduation speeches of “don’t give up on your dreams”. Charlie Hoehn has a good summary of some of the key points here.

As always, if you think there are any books or articles that I should check out, please email me at andrewlynch88@gmail.com.

Final note: the Book Quotes page is now up; you can access it by clicking the link along the top bar, or by clicking here. And I’ve changed the theme of the site a bit: any feedback or ideas, feel free to email me.