Free Thinking – 2021 Reading and Podcast List
After a slow start, my reading picked up steam as the year progressed. Below is a summary of what I read, presented in order of impact. Hope you find it interesting and possibly inspiring. Go read a book!
Leadership Strategy and Tactics and Extreme Ownership. How US Navy SEALS Lead and Win – Jocko Willink.
“Leaders must be humble but not passive; quiet but not silent. They must possess humility and the ability to control their ego and listen to others. They must admit mistakes and failures, take ownership of them, and figure out a way to prevent them from happening again. But a leader must be able to speak up when it matters. They must be able to stand up for the team and respectfully push back against a decision, order, or direction that could negatively impact overall mission success.”
Skin in the Game – Nassim Taleb. One word describes Taleb – SAVAGE. About half-way through, I picked up my highlighter and went back to the beginning to capture the amazing quotes and anecdotes.
My favorite: “Those who talk should do and only those who do should talk.”
Second favorite: “Avoid taking advice from someone who gives advice for a living, unless there is a penalty for their advice.”
You’re Not Alone – Zachary Westerbeck. An insightful read into overcoming anxiety and depression. Very timely given the impact of the recent pandemic measures on the mental health of teenagers and college students. Brain health awareness – for self and others – is an important life skill.
How Ike Led, The Principles Behind Eisenhower’s Biggest Decisions – Susan Eisenhower. Perhaps the greatest President of the modern era, Ike led from the middle as a true servant of the nation, believing the strength of a nation depends on four principles (p98):
- Complete devotion to democracy
- Industrial and economic strength
- Moral probity in all dealings
- Necessary military strength
The Big Short. Inside the Doomsday Machine – Michael Lewis. A repeat from an earlier list. Given the fantastical run up in residential real estate prices in 2021, seemed like a good time to revisit.
Prisoners of Geography, Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World – Tim Marshall. Interesting review of how natural geographic features shaped the wealth of nations, types of governments, and the mindsets of their populations. Much more interesting than Guns, Germs, and Steel of a few years ago.
The Great Influenza – John Barry. Story of the 1918 Flu Pandemic. “Those in authority must retain the public’s trust. The way to do that is to distort nothing, to put the best face on nothing, to try to manipulate no one.”
The Guns of August – Barbara Tuchman outlines the entwining alliances and unintentional tripwires that led to the quagmire of The Great War (WWI). Elitist ministers and generals foresaw the coming conflict and loss of humanity but were unable to stop the madness. Alliances, ego, resistance to change – on all sides – snuffed the flower of Europe for a generation.
Think and Grow Rich – Napolean Hill. Originally published in 1937, old school business and personal motivation. “Capitalistic society guarantees every person the opportunity to provide useful service and to collect riches in proportion to the value of the service.”
Bill O’Reilly has written a series of easy-to-read books covering important topics in US History (with the help of ghost writers). No, these are not weighty academic tomes. No, there is no evidence of political slant in the story telling. Want a quick refresher of or introduction to important Presidents or events? This series is a fair starting point. I’ve worked through several and plan to finish the rest in 2022.
- Killing Lincoln
- Killing Crazy Horse
- Hitler’s Last Days
- Killing Kennedy, the End of Camelot
- Killing Reagan
- The United States of Trump
Edison – Edmund Morris. A poorly organized chronicle of the greatest inventor of the modern era. Weirdly written in reverse chronological order. Great man, horrible book. Would not recommend.
I’ve sampled dozens of podcasts over the past two years. Some were quick deletes, many petered out after an episode or two, but the below have stuck with me as both interesting and valuable.
Retirement and Finance – consumer facing, well-reasoned advice from rational advisors
The Retirement Answer Man – Roger Whitney
Retirement Starts Today – Benjamin Brandt
Practice Management – how I learn to better serve you
The Perfect RIA – Matthew Jarvis and Micah Shilanski
Retirement Tax Services – Steven Jarvis (yes, he’s related to Matthew, and yes, I listen to a tax podcast)
The Agile Financial Planner – Roger Whitney (limited series)
History That Doesn’t Suck – Professor Greg Jackson. The complete history of the US in one-hour stories. As of this writing, I’m currently on episode 14 of 102, just finishing the Revolutionary War.