Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Traction – 5 Stars!

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013


Get a Grip on Your Business 


Gino Wickman

Five Stars!


This is a wonderful book on taking your business – any business – and making it wildly successful.  The suggestions are sound, the methods are solid business recommendations and the results used as examples are those of excellent leaders manifesting that excellence and leadership in eventual business success that the author has taught and now explains in his book.  The recommendations seem reasonable and repeatable – as if any excellent leadership team could take them and run.  I loved it, and will return to the book and to its recommendations in Real Life.

The book was not, of course, about the author as some books are, but by the author as…well…all books are, and this type of book does not have a lot of personal information about the one writing, but I love a book with an underlying buzz of a great person writing it.  This book has the feel of being from the perspective of a well-grounded, kind, driven, principled person, and it makes it all the more enjoyable to read.

Thank you to Dr. Beth Davidow, DACVECC for the recommendation of this book!

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This is the last of my reviews of the books from the article  “24 Books to Change Your Life” by Tom McFerson in the June 2013 edition of Veterinary Economics.  A huge “THANK YOU” to the author for such a great reading list and to the contributors for the steady supply of books to read, many of which I would have otherwise accidentally missed!

Book Reading Project Summary

Friday, April 29th, 2011

In the July 2010 edition of Veterinary Economics, Tom McFerson wrote an AWESOME article called 25 Books for Your Summer Reading List. I have finished the list! Woo! What a fun project.

I decided to take the project one step further and review the books I loved. It is much easier to criticize a book than invest several months or years into actually writing one, so that is why I decided to only review the ones I loved and could give…


Five Stars!


Here are links to the reviews of my favorites…



Start-Up Nation

How to Win Friends and Influence People



Good to Great

Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic

Skills for Communicating with Patients, Second Edition

And some “update posts” about the project…

What I am Reading This Week: Veterinary Economics

What I am Reading This Week: Big Important Books

What I am Reading This Week: The Same Big Important Books

Coming Soon on Riley and James

And some other books my daughter Abby and I reviewed during the year of the book-reading-and-reviewing kick…

Houdini Was…

Speaking for Spot

Marvin the Golf Caddy Dog

Anesthesia for the Pet Practitioner, Third Edition

The Complete Cat’s Meow


And HERE is a super-cool book shelf graphic from Shelfari. I had seen it on friends’ websites, and NEEDED it for this post! How cool is this book shelf??


Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

So now I need a new project!

I have been keeping track of the books YOU have recommended this year and plan on reading all of them! The ones you have recommended and I have read, I have loved. What other books would you recommend? I like almost everything!

Next Up on Riley and James…

Book Reading Project Bunny Trails


Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Switch:  How to Change Things When Change is Hard


Chip Heath and Dan Heath

I loved it!  Five Stars!


I have had friends AND coworkers make fun of me for reading every single word of every book I read, starting with the table of contents.  I need context people!  I started this book with a search for the relationship between the authors.  In case you are not as neurotic as I am (or in case you are), the last sentence of the “about the authors” synopsis on the back cover reveals that they are brothers.  Now I was ready to begin.

I often say I do not like change.  In the middle of change, I moan about it.  After change, I gripe about it.  A year later, I look around and realize that change was the best thing for me.  As a new change comes up, I complain about it…

The authors challenged that attitude almost right from the beginning (p.4).  I liked getting married…that was change.  I liked having both kids enter our life…that was change.  I liked moving home to Omaha…that was change.  In response to their challenge to rethink our attitudes towards change, I have decided never to say “I just don’t like change” again.  There.  That will not change.  Ha!

They explained how to motivate others or even ourselves by breaking down the components of change into our rationality (rider), our emotions (elephant) and the path to change.  While I was reading, I kept coming back to some of my own “What if” big change dreams…

What if kids in Haiti were not hungry?

What if puppy mills were gone?

I already obsess about this and other stuff, of course.  We all have our “What if” dreams, I guess.  This book made me think “What if…I could have something to do with the changes?”  And that is huge.

Also, this book made me cry, which of course, even given my overly sappy nature, leadership books are not supposed to do.  The story that got me was the story about the transformation of an underachieving high school to a very successful high school brought about by the incoming principal (p. 173-175). She changed the entire school’s outlook on learning by changing the school’s grading system from A, B, C, D, F to A, B, C and NY (not yet).

(Side note:  Comments in parenthesis – Five Stars!  ✩✩✩✩✩  If the authors write a book containing everything they say in parenthesis in this book, and add some equally smart alec material, I will pay anything for it.  I found myself flipping ahead to read their usually related, always hilarious, smarty-pants side comments.)

One more “This Book is Awesome” point, then I will just let you read the book for yourself.  Anyone who mentions FlyLady and Dave Ramsey, two of my favorite leaders and authors, in the same sentence (p. 134), gets five stars just for that.

Bunny Trails: The images of an elephant and his rider as a person’s sometimes dueling emotions and mind are borrowed from The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt.  I have a feeling if these authors like a book, I will too.  So that’s on my “What’s Next” list.  Chip Heath and Dan Heath also wrote a book before Switch called Made to Stick which I assume is equally awesome.

Pile it on!  I’ve got plenty of bookmarks!  I’ve had bigger stacks on my nightstand!

This is number…something…of the twenty-five books I am reading in Veterinary Economics Leadership Series. As of this past weekend, I have all of the 25 books tracked down, and only seven more of them to get my hands on.  Thank you for all of your help with this fun project!

What I am Reading This Week: How to Win Friends and Influence People

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Next in the leadership series…

How to Win Friends and Influence People


Dale Carnegie

Since I am only reviewing leadership books of the Veterinary Economics suggested reading list to which I can give five stars, I think I will start each review the same way…I loved this book!  Five stars!

And I did.  How to Win Friends and Influence People was published in 1936 and I absolutely LOVE Dale Carnegie’s writing style.  He wrote as if he were wearing a top hat.  Unfortunately, I read a rereleased edition that Mrs. Carnegie published in 1981.  She updated some of the stories and language.  So every time I read a story in the first person that occurred after Mr. Carnegie passed away in 1955, I would do a double take – a sort of “I-just-saw-a-ghost” jump and yell.  The lessons in this book are invaluable and timeless.  I will buy it for sure if I can find an original edition.

Bunny Trails Several times, when Mr. Carnegie needed an especially pure or great example, he would turn to a story of a dog.  What struck me was his emphasis on the effectiveness of positive reinforcement training (which he did not word in that way of course, as it is a relatively new term, though not as new of a concept as I had assumed.)  When he wanted to emphasize how kind words are more effective than harsh words, he would remind the readers how much more quickly our pets learn when we train with kindness and rewards.  I began to think it would be very fun to trace the history of animal training.

Of course, as far back as the Old Testament, Balaam was reprimanded by an angel of God Himself for mistreating his poor donkey.  But I had until now assumed that “Positive Reinforcement Training” as a replacement for “Negative Reinforcement Training” had just tipped into favor in the last few decades.  Apparently wise, successful people knew all along that kindness and compassion are the best way to treat anyone, whether human or animal, and just did not have a nifty name for the concept yet.

Also, of course, I would like to read the other books Dale Carnegie has written.  He had an engaging writing style, and fun stories with solid morals.  And while he was a great man in his own right, he also seems to have been one or two degrees from every famous person of his time, which also makes for a fun read.

What I am Reading This Week: Start-Up Nation

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Next in the leadership series…

Start-Up Nation, The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle


Dan Senor and Saul Singer

I LOVED this book…

Five Stars!


I have a special place in my heart for Israel, and the multilayered reasons for that do not even fit in the “What in The World Does This Have to Do with Pets?” section of this website.  That would be another website entirely!  The history contained in this book is fascinating, and has changed the way I view world history overall.

But this is not a book about heart or emotions or passion.  It is a book about achieving success against seemingly insurmountable odds, which is a theme that I absolutely love.  It is a book about Israel, which I have already told you I love, and it is a book about entrepreneurs and start-up companies, especially those in the technology sector, which, until this past week, I did not care one bit about.  In fact, I had to open the book and change every single vowel in my spelling of entrepreneurs, as I am quite sure I have not ever used the word before today.

And I love that about the book too.  I found myself caring very much why start-ups are successful or not, why Israeli start-ups tend to be SO successful, and even caring about the details of the businesses profiled in the book.

I suppose most of all I love a book that can make me care about things I did not know I would care about.  And in that regard above all, this is a great book.

Bunny Trails: The publishing company of this book intrigues me.  The book was published in November 2009 by Twelve.  They publish at most one book a month and invest in the long term success of the books they publish.  When I have time, I will read the other books published by Twelve.  Theoretically, if I can catch up with what they have published so far, I should be able to keep up by reading one book a month.  Woo!  I need another reading project!  Well, no I don’t.  But I am excited to have one.

What I am Reading This Week: Blink

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Next in the leadership series…

Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking


Malcolm Gladwell

I liked this book very much, maybe even more the second time than the first.

Five stars!


That’s all I’ve got.  Also, I took careful note of the cover on this one.  White like the rest of his books.  Classy white, not boring white.  I love it.

Bunny Trails: Now I want to go back and read Tipping Point, Outliers and What the Dog Saw again.  Malcolm Gladwell may very well be my favorite author.

More Bunny Trails: Click here to see a video of my brother Dave Nelson of Secret Penguin and Matt Helt playing paddleball with Malcolm Gladwell.  That would actually lend itself better to a discussion of Tipping Point, but once again, that’s what I’ve got.  And how fun!!

What I am Reading This Week: Freakonomics

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

I started working through my pile of leadership books I began piling after reading the July 2010 Veterinary Economics article, 25 Books for your Summer Reading List.  I have restrained myself and only started three books.  The first one I finished was…



Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Five Stars!


Disclaimer:  The books I do not enjoy, I do not talk about, and the ones I do enjoy I rave about.  Who wants to hear about a book that was sort of ok??  No one!  So books get five stars or no mention.  This book gets five stars.

In case I am not the last person in America to read this book, I highly recommend it.  Things you would not expect to bother you will, and things you would expect to really, really bother you – so much that you may have avoided thinking much about them before now – will prove worth analyzing.

The first thing I noticed was the cover.  The names of the authors made me think of the scene in Benny and Joon where Joon gets Benny two goldfish whom she has named Steven and Stephen.  I DID like the cover as soon as I saw it (I assume because it reminded me of the Benny and Joon scene), so this is one book I actually bought instead of borrowing first to make sure I liked it.

My kids pointed out (after I had finished reading the book) the cool picture on the cover of an apple with orange innards (signifying I suppose that things are not always as they seem).  Maybe I should not judge a book by its cover, because I do not notice the things normal people notice.  But in this case, it turned out fine.

I expect much of this book to echo around in my head for a while.  The bonus material contains a very sad recounting from Steven D. Levitt’s own family life which will probably be the part of the book that stays with me permanently, even with all of the crazy, fun turn-what-you-thought-you-knew-on-its-head stories that make up the body of the book.

I will also remember the thirty second thing.  The authors point out in a subpoint to an argument mid-book that drowning can occur in thirty seconds.  When we were in Turks and Caicos for my brother’s wedding in 2007, my daughter went under water and lost consciousness.  My husband pulled her out, and she made a rapid and full recovery.  Those few seconds have changed us forever, and I read the second half of the book with a horrible stomach ache.  I did not know the thirty second thing.

The rest of the paradigm shifts, the ones the authors create on purpose, perhaps should have given me a stomach ache, but did not.  They were well-told, jarring in an entertaining way, and made me want to learn more about things I had not previously even given a second thought…sumo wrestling and real estate agent commissions among them.

I do not know whether or how this will make me a better veterinarian or leader, but maybe.  I still have some thinking to do.

Bunny Trails…Now I want to read SuperFreakonomics by the same authors and wander around their blog, Freakonomics, The Hidden Side of Everything, at the website of the New York Times.  I still have several leadership books to read, so I need to stay focused!  Next up…Blink by Malcolm Gladwell or The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell, whichever one I finish first!

What I am Reading This Week: Veterinary Economics

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

Hmm.  Reading Veterinary Economics has become less passive and more active these past couple of months.  I can’t wait to see what the August issue has in store!

The July 2010 issue had an article about leadership books.  I just stared at the photographs of the books and said, “Yes, Veterinary Economics journal!  I will read the twenty-five books you suggest!”

Click this link to see the article that made me want to put down my Stephen King and Bible in a Year and switch to a leadership kick for a while. (Just kidding Stan! Still reading.)

McFerson T. 25 books for your summer reading list. Veterinary Economics 2010;51(7):18-24.

Tom McFerson got four other veterinary field related professionals together, and they each listed their five favorite leadership books and challenged us to read them all.

So far, I have asked 11,758 people to read with me and Russ has said yes.  Yay!  This will be fun.

Maybe I should NOT start a second pile of books…

If you have whipped through those, or previously read them…here’s some more suggestions…

From Russ:

Fish by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul and John Christensen

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson

From Phil Barnes:

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne

What Clients Love by Harry Beckwith

From Me:The Tipping Point and then everything else Malcolm Gladwell has ever written and will ever write, even if (maybe especially if) it is on the back of a napkin at dinner.  His brain just seems to think faster than even he himself can process – I love it!

The Referral of a Lifetime by Tim Templeton

The Loyal Customer, A Lesson From a Cab Driver by Shep Hyken (If you’re getting overwhelmed by this growing list, start with this cute little book.  My kid just read it in twenty minutes.)

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

From Dad*:*I’ve been waiting for these suggestions.  Like Russ says, if you want to be a good leader, pay attention to what Bob does.  Bob Nelson is my Dad and he is the most successful person I know.  He was pretty excited to hear about this project, and here are the books he pulled off his shelf to add to my pile…

The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino

Soar with your Strengths by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson

All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum

Where Have All the Leaders Gone? By Lee Iacocca