Category Archives: reading

what the dog saw [book report]

I love Malcolm Gladwell.

Really.  I heard his voice in an interview before I ever read his book.  And I was hooked.  It wasn’t just his voice. (If you’ve ever listened to any of his audiobooks you know what I’m speaking is true.)

It’s his arguments.  They just seem to make sense to me.  And they are also very entertaining.

His latest book, What The Dog Saw, is actually a collection of his essays from The New Yorker.  The topics he covers a range from spaghetti sauce to dog whisperers to the Enron fiasco to football quarterbacks.  No topic is too popular or too off beat for Gladwell to cover.

I enjoyed this collection of essays.  However, I do hope that his next book is another original work rather than a collection.

So, if you’re a fan of Gladwell and you have yet to read What The Dog Saw, shame on you.  If you are sceptical of this popular author, I understand.  However, if you are the type of person who likes to get under the surface and truly find the answer to the question, “why?”, then you owe it to yourself to give at least a few of the stories in this collection a chance.

Have you read any of Malcolm Gladwell’s books?  What do you think?

not available

Last weekend I was offline.  I didn’t tweet.  I didn’t even check my twitter stream.  I did not even go on Facebook or check any email.  The closest thing I came to using the computer was seeing how the weather was going to be.

In today’s age of  “always being available” I found this past weekend to be refreshing.  And busy.

Now I was anxious.  But only a little.  I have an event that happens in less that one month and there are people who are counting on me.  But they all have my phone number.

So what did I do that kept me busy?

  1. I watched almost every Thomas The Tank Engine and Bob The Builder dvd and vhs we have with my son.  And we do have alot of videos/dvds.
  2. I read a few stories from Malcolm Gladwell’s “What The Dog Saw”.
  3. I took afternoon naps.
  4. We fed ducks at Harbourfront.
  5. We celebrated my sister’s birthday at her cool downtown condo.  (She cooks a great green curry something or the other. Really.)

So, I know it’s only Tuesday afternoon.  But why not “schedule” to be offline this weekend.  It doesn’t have to be this weekend.  I’m just suggesting to keep the smartphone in your desk (or at least data free) and your laptop powered down.

You’ll be amazed to see how much you can accomplish and how free you can be when you’re “not available.”

I would love to hear your thoughts on unplugging yourself.  Has anyone ever tried it recently?


The Audacity To Win

 Three books so far this year.  Here’s my book report video style.


I always appreciate your comments!  Please keep them coming.

Crush It

I like reading.  I think I always have.  I’ve almost read every Hardy Boys books and many Robert Ludlum books.  These days my reading includes stuff about social media.  I’ve recently read Trust Agents as well as Accidental Billionaires.  (To be honest, I think I need to get some more Ludlum in my veins – one can only get to serious.)

Today, I’m very excited to offer all my blog readers a chance to win a fantastic book called Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk.  I recently put out a challenge on Twitter that if and when I reach 1000 followers on Twitter I would give away 2 copies of the best-selling book.

So, here I am.  True to my word I will give away 2 copies.  One will be the hardcover edition.  The other will be a very cool online web-based version of the book from  (Check out the link.  It’s pretty cool!)

On with the contest!  Contest?  You bet.  Here are the rules:

  1. You must participate on my blog to have a chance of winning.  (No Facebook entries please.  Thank you.)
  2. Leave a comment on WHY you deserve to win either copy of the book.
  3. Winner will be based on what I determine as the best response.
  4. I am looking for a minimum of 10, 8, 5, 3, 2 responses (so tell your friends to apply because I only know of 4 people who actually read this!)
  5. Contest runs from now until I finish eating my lunch on January 22.

Ready.  Set.  Go.


Accidental Billionaires

We’ve (the boys) have all done something to impress the ladies.  Let’s see: I’ve gotten a tattoo, grew my hair long and also had it shaved, wore black rock concert t-shirts to mosque (church), and one night I even told every girl in a nightclub that I loved her.  Yes, I’ve done some stupid things in my life.  Who hasn’t?

I have yet to create an online social network.  That’s what The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal is all about. 

Authour Ben Mezrich tells the true tale of how 2 best friends from Harvard created Facebook.  The story is told in a very fast moving pace.


There were a number of lessons I learned from this book.  The first was work.  Work hard. Work so hard that the work that you do becomes all consuming because it’s what drives you.

Loyalty.  There is something to be said about being loyal to your friends and the people who care about you.

Keep your (mine) eyes open.  And I don’t mean literally.  To read about how numerous people, at the same time, were pursuing something new, innovative, cool and potentially popular was not only inspiring.  It was motivational.  It showed me that there are opportunities anywhere and everywhere. As long as we are keeping our eyes and minds open, opportunities will come.

Is this book worth reading.  Sure it is.  I’ll tell you what:  If you’re on Facebook and use it, you should read this book.  Find out how it was created.  Learn about the people who created it.  Read about how one of the most popular brands and largest companies in the world was birthed.


Keep your eyes on this blog and on my twitter feed.  I will be giving away a couple of copies of a very popular current business book.  Once I hit 1000 followers on Twitter I will write a post here.  In order to win you must participate.  And I promise you the prize is well worth it.  Okay.  That’s all for today.  As you were.

Trust Agents

I’ve completed my first book of 2010 even thought I started in 2009. 

Trust Agents – Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust was written by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.  Click on the names to follow these trend setters on Twitter as well as on their own personal blogs.

So what is this book about?  

Trust Agents, in my opinion, is the authours attempt to outline how to properly use the Web.  You see, many people think that just by blogging, being on Facebook and tweeting is enough.  The first thing I thought was that I will get on these tools and people will want to know what I know.  They will want to buy what I’m selling.  I’ll be rich in no time flat.  How wrong was I.

Over time I have figured out that it is very important to create something of value and to engage in the various communities.  Trust Agents makes the case for this using examples and the authour’s own personal experiences.

What’s next.

Here’s what I’ve done.  First, I’ve renamed the title and focus of this blog.  “Being helpful” is a simple yet very powerful statement.  It means that I will attempt to be helpful in the blog posts here.

Second, on Twitter I aim to re-tweet (RT) interesting and informative tweets from other people.  I do this because there are other people who have lots to offer.  And I’m smart enough to know that I don’t know everything.

Third, get involved.  Join and attend a MeetUp.  It can be formal or informal.  But engage in and with the community you want to influence.  Whether you are looking for a job, career change or want to sell your wares to.  The technology may have changed but the rules of personal engagement have not.  It is still important to place value on people and to treat them as human beings rather than just faceless consumers.

There will still be posts that I blog about that are personal to me.  I might have another suggestion for the Blue Jays or maybe even a guest post or two.  You’ll also get an update on the books I have completed reading.  And on Twitter, you’ll also come across tweets on articles that I write for other sites.  You may even notice that I also tweet about stuff I like.  In 140 characters one can only be so helpful.  Being human also means having a personality.

As Mike Wilner and the fine folks at Drunk Jays Fans says, 
Reasonable and Rational comments are welcome!



It’s a place. And a book.

Shel Israel has written the answer to when your friends ask you: What the heck is Twitter?

Twitterville is a great synopsis of what Twitter was, is, has been, could be.

Shel gives a plethora of examples of individuals, companies, charities and other organizations who use Twitter to further their cause.

Early on he gives an example of an American who used Twitter to get freed from prison.  He also describes how hospitals and other medical institutions use Twitter to engage with the public.  From small companies fighting large corporations to established brands using Twitter as a PR tool, Shel gives a thorough analysis of this simple tool with a limit of 140 characters.

If you’re a student, you can use Twitter to crowdsource information and gather research.  If you’re a professional you may use Twitter to market your product or as a customer service tool.  If you’re a business owner, being on Twitter may allow you to keep up with market demands.

In the end, Twitter may also save the world. Curious? Read the book.  It’s a wonder what we may accomplish in just 140 characters.

Tell me about the book you have just read.

Made to Stick

If you’re like me, even a little bit, you’ve wondered why certain ideas or images have stuck in your mind for many years. One of the things that has stuck with me is the old McDonald’s jingle about the Big Mac. I don’t remember the last time I saw or heard this commercial, but it sticks with me to this day.

Brothers, Dan and Chip Heath’s 2007 book, Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and others Die seeks to explain this phenomenon. Most interesting, they outline the steps necessary to make ideas or stories or even marketing strategies successful:

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credibility
  5. Emotion
  6. Stories

This book is filled with stories, anecdotes and simple explanations on how we all can (either professionally or personally) ensure that our ideas remain in our audience’s mind years later.

I highly recommend this book. If you’re a coach leading a team, this book will help you understand what will make your players remember what they should be focusing on. If you’re a parent trying to understand how to make your kid complete her homework , you will find invaluable tips. If you’re a marketing professional, this book will ensure that your strategy becomes successful. No matter the profession, this is a book that will help you deal with the people around.

Try it you’ll like it!

Do you have a favourite book? Have you read Made to Stick? Thoughts and comments are welcomed. Especially on the original post.

Leading From The Heart.

Another one bites the dust. A book that is. This is one “leadership” book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Duke basketball legend and coach, Mike Krzyzewski, wrote a book in 2001 titled, Leading From the Heart.

Here’s what you’ll read in this book: A narrative of Coach K’s (as he is affectionatly known) life from growing up in Chicago to leading Duke’s basketball program during their 100 year anniversary.

Leading From The Heart is a great book. And here is why it is for me: Because Coach K describes in detail his conversations, thoughts and actions in a variety of different situations. Situations that everyone – sportsperson, student, business tycoon, employee – can relate to.

The best part is his take on winning and success. I think you’ll enjoy it.

So, if you’re on a team, lead a team, or want to achieve the success that the Blue Devils have, this is a great book to pick up this summer and enjoy on your hammock.

Happy reading!

What are you reading this summer?

The Choice

I’m finally getting back to my proper reading habit/schedule. I’m trying to read 24 books for 2009.

I tried another John Maxwell book. Even Psycho-Cybernetics started out with a promise. Yet I seemed to have gotten myself in a lull after speeding through 4 books early on this year.

So I decided to go to a classic. Someone whom I’ve always enjoyed reading. Og Mandino. He has a way of combining words together on paper that makes me want to continue reading well into the night. Only Malcolm Gladwell, recently, has done this for me.

So I turned to his classic, The Choice.

The Choice is a timely book. During these days of economic uncertainty and the pressures of choosing between financial survival (as we add a third job to our already hectic schedules) and family stability ring true for many people today. This is not the theme of The Choice.

In this book, we find a very successful breadwinner having to choose between the principles he believes in and teaches or succumbing to a life-altering decision.

With Father’s Day right around the corner, I highly recommend that father’s pick this book up today and start reading.

What book did you just finish reading? I would love to hear your thoughts on what you’re reading and if you’ve read The Choice, did you enjoy it?