Author Archives: randy

Everything you have learned, everything you learn, you learned (and learn) through repetition – life insight from Don Miguel Ruiz

The Four AgreementsPractice makes the master. By doing your best you become a master. Everything you have ever learned, you learned through repetition. You learned to write, to drive, and even to walk by repetition. You are a master of speaking your language because you practiced. Action is what makes the difference.
Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book) 


Re-read the quote above.

It is hard to escape the brilliant truth of the 10,000 hour rule.  You do not get better at much of anything without doing that thing, whatever that thing is, over and over and over and over again.

And – and this is encouraging, but also quite a warning – you will do what you repeatedly do.

If you are encouraging others over and over, you will (continue to) be encouraging others over and over.

If you are rude to others over and over, you will (continue to) be rude to others over and over.

Everything you have learned, you learned through repetition.  Everything.  Including the way you treat others.

This is a profound truth.

Think about it…

Part #1 of The Year in Review from the First Friday Book Synopsis, 2019

the book that we started with in 2019

the book that we started with in 2019

At the First Friday Book Synopsis, we present synopses of two business books each month.  Each synopsis comes with a multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout.  The handouts include:  the reasons why the book is worth our time; the best of the highlighted passages from the book; references to the best stories in the book; lessons and principles described in the book; and the lessons and takeaways from the book.  This year, I (Randy Mayeux) presented 23 of the 24 synopses.  We had one guest presentation from long-time regular participant Ed Savage.  (Thanks, Ed).

(Note:  since the fall of 2017, I have presented all but a couple of the synopses.  Before that , Karl Krayer and I each presented one synopsis each month.  Karl is no longer able to participate after suffering a stroke in t 2017.  Thus, I present both synopses each month, except for a rare guest presentation ).

I am planning to share three blog posts in my Year in Review, leading up to the book that I consider the “book of the year” from the ones I presented.

This post is simple – a list of all the books presented at the 2019 First Friday Book Synopsis (including the two for our December session on Dec. 6).  This is a list worth perusing.  And, I can assure you that if you read all of these books, you will greatly enhance your “business world’ education.

Here are the books presented at our event during 2019. (Sorry about the irregular formatting in this list – chalk it up to my lack of WordPress expertise).

January, 2019
1. Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts by Brené Brown. Random House. 2018.
2. This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin. Portfolio. 2018.

February, 2019

  1. Leadership: In Turbulent Timesby Doris Kearns Goodwin –Simon & Schuster; First Edition/First Printing edition (September 18, 2018) – Guest Presenter Ed Savage

2. Nuts!: Southwest Airlines’ Crazy Recipe for Business and Personal Success by Kevin Freiberg and Jackie Frieberg. Crown Business; Reprint edition (February 17, 1998).

March, 2019

  1. The Fearless Organization: Creating Psychological Safety in the Workplace for Learning, Innovation, and Growthby Amy Edmondson. Wiley; 1 edition (November 20, 2018).
  2. AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 25, 2018).

April, 2019
1. The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross. Simon & Schuster. (2016).
2. Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport. Portfolio (2019).

May, 2019
1. Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall. St. Martin’s Press (2019).
2. Nine Lies About Work: A Freethinking Leader’s Guide to the Real World by Marcus Buckingham and Ashley Goodall. Harvard Business Review Press (2019).

June, 2019

  1. Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbellby Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle. HarperBusiness (2019)

2. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller. HarperCollins Leadership (2017)

July, 2019 (Note; second Friday, July 12)

  1. Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized Worldby David Epstein.Riverhead Books (2019)
  2. WOLFPACK: How to Come Together, Unleash Our Power, and Change the Gameby Abby Wambach.Celadon Books. (2019)

August, 2019
1. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It – May 17, 2016 by Chris Voss  (Author), Tahl Raz  (Author)
2. Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?: (And How to Fix It) – March 12, 2019 by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic  (Author)

September, 2019
1. The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You by Julie Zhuo. Portfolio (March 19, 2019)

  1. Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinctionby Thomas M. Siebel. RosettaBooks (July 9, 2019).

October, 2019

1. Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell.Little, Brown and Company (September 10, 2019)
2. The Optimist’s Telescope: Thinking Ahead in a Reckless Age by Bina Venkataraman. Riverhead Books (August 27, 2019)

November, 2019
1. Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead by Jim Mattis and Bing West. Random House (September 3, 2019).
2. The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek. Portfolio (October 15, 2019).

December, 2019

  1. What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz, (Foreword: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.). HarperBusiness (October 29, 2019)

2. Be Our Guest: Revised and Updated Edition: Perfecting the Art of Customer Service (The Disney Institute Leadership Series) by The Disney Institute and Theodore Kinni. Disney Editions; Revised, Updated edition (December 16, 2011)

Are Podcasts the new Blogs?

Last evening, I was with a group of folks who have been guests on podcasts, and a couple of podcast hosts that hosted these guests.  One of the podcast hosts, Jeff Crilley – who also happens to own the studio – told me that podcasts are the new blogs.  He had good arguments, including “people have trouble actually writing blog posts.”  Yep.  Even me – and I kind of love writing blog posts.  So many things to do; so little time, and such dwindling intellectual space and emotional energy,  to do it all…

So, yes, I take this a little personally… I write on a blog.  But, as I thought about things, I realized that I don’t actually read many blogs.  I used to.  Not so much anymore.  I read news sites, a lot of twitter feeds, but not blogs.  Just a couple.

But, I also don’t really listen to many podcasts (except for a few NPR programs).  I don’t even listen to the podcasts that I have been a guest on.  I’ve been on a couple, and I am especially impressed with Valerie Sokolosky, who is top notch.  (My podcast interview with Valerie, youtube capture version, is here: click over and watch/listen).

But, this is what is sinking in.  We really are in an era of massive information overload.  Make that massssssive information overload.  There is too much to read, to listen to, to learn and absorb.

I applaud every dispenser of information, using every kind of information dispenser:  blog, podcast, short video, …you name it.

But personally, I really do find myself ever more drawn to books.  Yes, I make my living reading books and presenting synopses of them.  But, books provide deeper dives into more lasting content; at least they do for me.

What about you?  Where are you getting your information these days?  And, which information seems to stick with you the longest, making the most lasting impact?


Pause; and Punch – Your Public Speaking Tip of the day

The Delivery Part requires a lot of practice (rehearsal) with deliberate practice/work on specific elements.  Start with your posture.  Then your voice.  Then your eye contact.  Then your gestures.
{Invention: invention involves finding something to say.  HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!
Delivery: Delivery concerns itself with how something is said.  SAY IT VERY WELL!}
From my earlier blog post, 2 Ways to Guarantee a Failed Presentation


Here’s one key rule for speakers: NEVER SPEAK IN A MONOTONE!  This post teaches a specific skill to help you not speak in a monotone.

I present a workshop titled simply Executive Public Speaking.  And I also teach speech at the community college level. I have the full spectrum of speech students. Some are very nervous, and they have difficulty getting through their speeches.  Others are very good, in every way, from what they say (what Aristotle called Invention) to how they deliver their speech (what Aristotle called Delivery).

Here is a really common problem, with a quite workable solution.  Many people have not learned how to pause between key words and key phrases. They say every word, every phrase, pretty much at the same pace, and the same volume, in the same way.  In other words, they speak in a monotone. Not good!

Yes, it is possible to have pauses that last too long.  But many (maybe most) speakers do not pause enough. And when they do, they don’t follow it with a “punch” of the next phrase.  Learning how to pause with just a short pause in order to emphasize (punch) a key word or phrase takes a lot of practice.  And, how you mark up your notes will help you learn to do this more effectively.

I call this technique “Pause; and Punch.”  Pause just before a key word, or phrase, and then verbally emphasize that next word or phrase with verbal punch.

For example, take a look at these familiar paragraphs from Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

When Dr. King spoke these words, he inserted slight pauses that helped him “punch” the key phrases.  If we marked it to speak, it might look like this. (Note: / = pause; and — = pause):


I have a dream / that one day on the red hills of Georgia, / the sons of former slaves — and the sons of former slave owners — will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that my four little children / will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin / but by the content of their character.

Until this Pause; and Punch becomes second nature, it is a very good practice to mark up your speaking notes with many such marks.  Practice, practice, practice; rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!

Learn to Pause; and Punch. This will help you never speak in a monotone, and thus it is one of the most important skills to learn to become a better, more effective speaker.


Do One Pushup; Read One Book – Starting Small, and Learning to Learn and Study Better

You know the current wisdom. Start small, then build to less small; then medium; then, keep adding.

Start small, but don’t stay small.

For example, there are books on developing good habits, and they say things like this:  “start with one push up.” This is the “nudge” idea.  It is good advice, with research attesting to its effectiveness..

I’ve tried it, and it has worked.  I started that way, with one pushup (actually, with 3 pushups).  Now, I do dozens pretty much every day; on my high day of the week, I do 110 pushups.  No, these are not Navy SEAL level pushups — I’m not training to be a Navy SEAL.  But, they are decent form, and I go pretty close to the floor.  And yes, I have more energy, and generally feel better since I have started doing these.  (I’ve kept this up for a couple of years now).

And, yes, I read about this in a book.

But, here’s the thing. You’ve got to keep at it.  Pretty much every day.  And, you’ve got to make small improvements – – and then, more small improvements – until you are doing enough to

Now, let’s transfer this into the learning/study  arena.  I have an observation to report:

You don’t learn much from a tweet.
You don’t learn much from a blog post (yes – including from my blog posts).
You don’t learn much from reading a book summary.
And…and this is tough…you don’t even learn much from reading a book.

You learn the most from actually studying the books you read.  And, if fact, you seldom learn enough from any one book.  You need a cluster of books on the same topic to begin to learn about that topic.

That’s why we have experts, who read, and study, in depth, on one topic, over the long haul.

But…you can start small, and then build from there.  So, maybe, read a tweet or three; then a blog post; then look for an essay or two; and then finally find the best book on the subject you want and need to study.

And, I believe I can help.  I believe that my book synopses help in two ways.

#1 – Listening to one of my book synopses, while following along with my comprehensive handout, will help you decide:  “I need to read and study this book.”

There are so many books out there.  Good books.  You do not have time to read them all; even all of them on a specific subject that you want to master.  You need help picking out the best book for you at this moment.  My synopses can help you do that.

#2 – And then, after reading a book, revisit my synopsis, which will remind you of the key lessons and takeaways from the book.

In other words, you tackle my synopsis first to whet your appetite.  And then, after you read the book for yourself, you tackle my synopsis again for a deeper dive into the key themes, lessons, and takeaways.

Studying effectively is serious work.  Not hard; but serious.  And you can learn to do it better.  Start small; but start.  And then keep getting better at it.  After a while, you will have learned from what you have studied.  And that’s a good thing!


Here’s the link to my latest synopses.  Check out a couple.


3 Essentials for Business Success: Competence; Chemistry; and Systems – Oh, and don’t forget…(OK; 4 Essentials)

As a final word of discouragement: a great culture does not get you a great company. If your What you Do is Who You Areproduct isn’t superior or the market doesn’t want it, your company will fail no matter how good its culture is.
Ben Horowitz, What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture


Start here (the 1st actual essential):  you’ve got to have a product, or service, that the market wants.  And, your version of the product or service has to be really good to succeed in this modern-day, zero to one marketplace.

But, once you’ve got that, now you need a whole lot of other elements to be successful.  These might fall under a general category of “culture.”  With plenty of emphasis on team building.

Here’s how one person described it to me: I had a conversation with a very successful small business owner this week.  His business is flourishing, but he faces a challenge with building, and keeping, an effective team.  His team is not large; but essential to his business success.

He definitely provides a service that is needed in the marketplace.  And he provides a version of the service that is very good indeed.  But, the challenge of getting the team right, with team members striving for excellence always, is his challenge.

As we talked, we focused on three elements that are critical.

#1 – His team members have to be exceptionally competent.  This is a business where things simply must not fall through the cracks.  If they do, then the ripple effects are not good; not good at all.  So, attention to detail — competence — is critical.  And, the team members have to be competent all the time; in every interaction with the people/clients/customers.

#2 – His team has to have good team chemistry.  They have to work well together.  They have to be attentive to each other; helping each other all the time.  And they have to “enjoy” working together.

I was reminded of a line from the new Jim Mattis book, Call Sign ChaosWere the troops comfortable speaking in my presence? Did they nudge one another in appreciation of a wisecrack or incorrect remark? Did they feel at ease with their immediate superiors?

You can call this chemistry; you can call this team morale.  But the team members have to get along, enjoy working together, and genuinely have each other’s back, helping to make each team member ever-more effective. Because the team members have to “watch” for the possible cracks that have to be filled.  No “one” can do this without the help of good team members.

#3 – His team has to have the right systems in place, and follow those systems to the ”T.”  Yes, this is directly related to the competence issue.  But even if the individual is competent, if the system is deficient, the team will not be effective.

Here, the wisdom of W. Edwards Deming is worth remembering:

If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”
“A bad system will beat a good person every time.”
“Every system is perfectly designed to get the result that it does.”


So, these three are essential — competence; chemistry; and system mastery.

And, yes, hiring the right people – people who can get along with and work well with other team members; people who are reliably competent; people who can learn to work within a system, letting nothing fall through the cracks – hiring such people is always the critical need.

So, how’s your team doing?