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Family Investment Center Team Talks About Books That Inspire Serious Thinking and Real Change: The Full List

The Family Investment Center team is talking about the books that have influenced their view of business success, or of life in general. Enjoy this list below and add a few to your personal shelf!


Richard C. Salmen, President

The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal    - Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz


Why Richard loves the book:

The central premise of the book is that energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. From the authors: “This insight has revolutionized our thinking about what drives enduring high performance. It has also prompted dramatic transformations in the way our clients manage their lives, personally and professionally. Everything they do—from interacting with colleagues and making important decisions to spending time with their families—requires energy. Obvious as this seems, we often fail to take into account the importance of energy at work and in our personal lives. Without the right quantity, quality, focus and force of energy, we are compromised in any activity we undertake.”


How it changed his life:

The challenge of great performance is to manage your energy more effectively in all dimensions to achieve your goals. Four key energy management principles drive this process. They lie at the heart of the change process and they are critical for building the capacity to live a productive, fully engaged life.


PRINCIPLE 1: Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.


PRINCIPLE 2: Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal. To be fully engaged requires strength, endurance, flexibility, and resilience in all dimension. The richest, happiest and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal.


PRINCIPLE 3: To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do. Stress is not the enemy in our lives. Paradoxically, it is the key to growth. In order to build strength in a muscle we must systematically stress it, expending energy beyond normal levels. Doing so literally causes microscopic tears in the muscle fibers. At the end of a training session, functional capacity is diminished. But give the muscle twenty-four to forty-eight hours to recover and it grows stronger and better able to handle the next stimulus. While this training phenomenon has been applied largely to building physical strength, it is just as relevant to building “muscles” in every dimension of our lives—from empathy and patience to focus and creativity to integrity and commitment. What applies to the body applies equally to the other dimensions of our lives. This insight both simplifies and revolutionizes the way we approach the barriers that stand in our way.


PRINCIPLE 4: Positive energy rituals—highly specific routines for managing energy—are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance. Change is difficult. We are creatures of habit. Most of what we do is automatic and nonconscious. What we did yesterday is what we are likely to do today. The problem with most efforts at change is that conscious effort can’t be sustained over the long haul. Will and discipline are far more limited resources than most of us realize. If you have to think about something each time you do it, the likelihood is that you won’t keep doing it for very long. The status quo has a magnetic pull on us. The power of rituals is that they insure that we use as little conscious energy as possible where it is not absolutely necessary, leaving us free to strategically focus the energy available to us in creative, enriching ways. Look at any part of your life in which you are consistently effective, and you will find that certain habits help make that possible.


How it changed the way he thinks about his business:

Whenever a client tells me “I don’t have time for that.” I now know that what they are really saying is “I don’t have the energy for that.” We then need to dig deeper to understand what their real motivation is and what the real challenges are in order to help them change the financial behavior that is limiting their potential.


What makes a lasting impression from this book:

• Our most fundamental need as human beings is to spend and recover energy. We call this oscillation.

• The opposite of oscillation is linearity: too much energy expenditure without recovery or too much recovery without sufficient energy expenditure.

• Balancing stress and recovery is critical to high performance both individually and organizationally.

• We must sustain healthy oscillatory rhythms at all four levels of what we term the “performance pyramid”: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.

• We build emotional, mental and spiritual capacity in precisely the same way that we build physical capacity. We must systematically expose ourselves to stress beyond our normal limits, followed by adequate recovery.

• Expanding capacity requires a willingness to endure short-term discomfort in the service of long-term reward.


Additional titles on Richard’s “must read” list include:
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Are of Decluttering and Organizing  - by Marie Kondo


The Science of Liability: 27 Studies to Master Charisma, Attract Friends, Captivate People, and Take Advantage of Human Psychology  - by Colin Falconer


Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love,
Parent, and Lead - by Brene’ Brown


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Live a Good Life - by Mark Manson


The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results - by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan


Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead – by Brene’ Brown


Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? - by Seth Godin


Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – by Carol S. Dweck


The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever
- by Michael Bungay Stanier

15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management: The Productivity Habits of 7 Billionaires, 13 Olympic Athletes, 29 Straight-A Students, and 239 Entrepreneurs

- by Kevin Kruse


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – by Daniel H. Pink

Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time – by Susan Scott

How to Get Lucky: 13 Techniques for Discovering and Taking Advantage of Life’s Good Breaks – by Max Gunther


Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

- by Greg McKeown


Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder  by Nassim Nicholas Taleb


Emotional Intelligence 2.0  by Travis Bradberry, Jean Greaves


Get Out of Your Own Way: The 5 Keys to Surpassing Everyone’s Expectations

by Robert K. Cooper

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

by Liz Wiseman; Greg McKeown


The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win

by David Ulrich; Wendy Ulrich; Marshall Goldsmith


The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves

by Matt Ridley


Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, First Edition

by Kerry Patterson; by Joseph Grenny; by David Maxfield; by Ron McMillan;
by Al Switzler


Go Put Your Strengths to Work: 6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance

by Marcus Buckingham


What You Can Change…and What You Can’t: The Complete guide to Successful Self-Improvement  - by Martin E.P. Seligman

Outliers: The Story of Success - by Malcolm Gladwell



Dan Danford, CEO/Founder


Quiet,by Susan Cain


Why you love the book:

Do you get energy from being around people, or from thoughtfully recharging your personal battery? This is a fascinating discussion about introverts. American society historically rewards extroverts with big personalities. Yet, 30-40 percent of us are introverts. Interestingly, some incredibly successful and inspiring people are introverted.


How it changed your life:

My personality never really fit the extrovert salesperson model suggested in business school, or the typical stockbroker. I’ve overcome that in a lot of ways, but I always suspected my quiet ways reflected some sort of character flaws. It’s been amazing to discover – late in life – that those very traits are “normal” and can be helpful in business.


Why it changed the way you think about your business:

I suddenly realized that my ability to read, understand, write, and explain (introvert traits) are responsible for most of my business successes. The very things that seemed negative are enormously positive.


Fortunate Son, by John Fogerty


Why you love it:

I read a lot of books about rock ‘n roll and this is one of the most authentic. Fogerty chronicles his life story with some incredible insights about his life’s ups and downs.


How it changed your life:

There are many ways to live a creative life. Creativity brings to mind occupations like songwriters and actors, but there’s creativity in jobs from teachers to entrepreneurs. The creative process is unique to each person, but the challenges can be similar. Fogerty suffered horribly at the hands of his early manager and others he trusted (all Creedence Clearwater Revival royalties still flow to others). Still, he grew beyond all that and became one of America’s most beloved and successful performers.


Why it changed the way you think about your business:

It’s pretty common to encounter bad situations and people in business, but I admire John Fogerty for rising above the parasites.


What’s your favorite quote from the book?

One of my all-time favorite songs features John Fogerty singing “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.” I love the lyrics and the infectious tune and you’ll hear it over the loudspeakers at ballparks all summer long. Fogerty wrote the song and played every instrument on the record. It’s a solo recording!


The End of Power, by Moises Naim


Why you love this book:

The world is changing and Naim explores how 24/7 news and social media influence the seats of traditional power. From politics to economics to social culture, power is diminished everywhere by the new order of worldwide openness.


Why it changed your life:

There are no secrets. You’ve heard the adage that “knowledge is power” and that has always been true. Today, it’s very hard to exercise power or earn profits by hoarding information. That knowledge leverage is gone.


Why/how it changed the way you think about your business:

Data about almost everything is readily available, but converting it to usable information and making it operational is where value lies.


What surprised you most from what you read?

There were amazing examples from around the world. For instance, I was surprised to find that institutions like churches and universities also suffer consequences from these changes.


Nudge, by Richard Thayer


Why you love the book:

Thayer won a Nobel Prize for these ideas. The traditional notion that “more is better” is turned upside down as Thayer explains that too many choices often create bad results. Most people choose better among a handful of options than a dozen. It’s counterintuitive, but you know it is true if you ever watched someone new study a Starbucks menu.


How it impacted your approach:

The best way to help people is to guide them in the right directions.


How it changed the way you think about your business:

In business, people turn to us for help. Most times, they understand and expect that we know more than they do. It’s good to offer them choices, but too many choices can paralyze them. It’s best to narrow the choices while staying prepared to go deeper. Probably better to say less and know more!


Is there anything in particular that made a lasting impression from this book?

Thayer explained the 401(k) dilemma first revealed to me back in the 1980s. The 401(k) premise was to offer employees choices on how to invest their retirement savings. Unfortunately, many people opted out of the plans because they were burdened by all the options. Even people who opted into the plans often made sub-optimal choices, but now we know it is better to build positive defaults (nudges).



Chris Steins


The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey


Why you love the book:

I was lucky enough to read this as a young adult and it has turned out to be a true blessing for my family. 


How it changed the way you think about business:

This book is partly responsible for me wanting to help others by joining the financial profession. 


Any favorite quotes from the book?

Anyone familiar with Dave Ramsey knows his famous financial sound bite: “IF YOU WILL LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE, LATER YOU CAN LIVE LIKE NO ONE ELSE”.


Laura Holthaus


48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal, by Dan Miller


Why you love the book:

It was an excellent read after graduating from college and being unsure of which career path to take.


What’s your favorite quote from this book?

 “Success is never an accident. It typically starts as imagination, becomes a dream, stimulates a goal, grows into a plan of action—which then inevitably meets with opportunity. Don’t get stuck along the way.”


Maybe your bookstore wish list just grew by a few, or maybe you’re intrigued to know more about how the team at Family Investment Center are shaped by these ideas. Make an appointment with us to talk more about the ideas that come into play when we’re helping you create the future you want.


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