Aslan

Safe? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.— C.S. Lewis in The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

Quotes from Rework

Last night I finished reading Rework, the new business book from the guys at 37signals. Every part of this book was excellent (great illustrations to go with great content). I've read quite a few business books - Good to Great, Primal Leadership, First, Break All the Rules, Built to Last, etc. Rework is easily the best business book I've ever read. Why? Because its all common sense. The messages are simple, clear and succinct - filled with ideas that take a minute to understand, but a lifetime to execute.

I'm usually not the type that likes to highlight and underline things in the books that I read, but I was able to make note of some of the ones I want to remember.

I strongly suggest you buy this book. Until your copy arrives in the mail, here are a few of the passages that struck a chord with me.

Its the stuff you leave out that matters. So constantly look for things to remove, simplify and streamline. Be a curator.

When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes and argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.

Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.

Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand ... They know what to omit.

Interruption is the enemy of productivity. The worst interruptions of all are meetings. Meetings are toxic.

Marketing is something everyone in your company is doing 24/7/365.

You don’t create a culture. It happens. Culture is the by-product of consistent behavior.

Rockstar environments develop out of trust, autonomy, and responsibility. They’re a result of giving people the privacy, workspace, and tools they deserve. Great environments show respect for the people who do the work and how they do it.

When everything needs constant approval, you create a culture of non-thinkers.

When people have something to do at home, they get down to business. They get their work done at the office because they have somewhere else to be. They find ways to be more efficient because they have to.

When you turn into one of those people who adds ASAP to the end of every request, you’re saying everything is high priority. And when everything is high priority, nothing is.

Now, go buy it.

Foundation Fireworks

Cover of Foundation FireworksLast year I had the good fortune of writing a book called Foundation Fireworks CS4 about the graphics creation software Adobe Fireworks, a subject near and dear to my heart. The book is finally published and I'm long overdue in posting something here to promote it. Writing this book was a tremendously educational adventure for me. One thing I learned is that writing a book is a lot harder than I thought would be. I now fully appreciate the amount of effort and time required to write a book - regardless of the subject matter. I'm glad I was able to share the workload with some very talented designers and an outstanding editing team.

The other designers that contributed content were Matt Heerema, Hugh Griffith, Craig Erskine, Matthew Keefe and Grant Hinkson. These are some really talented designers and great authors. Also, the team at Friends of Ed (Apress) were great to work with - very helpful and very patient.

So who is this book for? Here's an excerpt that sums it up nicely:

Are you a designer looking for a new and quicker way to prototype and create for the Web? Or are you perhaps a web developer who finds most design tools to be overly complex for what you need to get done? In either case, productivity is key, and Fireworks is Adobe's Creative Suite web productivity tool of choice. So even if you're an experienced Fireworks pro who wants to keep up to date on the latest additions to Creative Suite 4, Foundation Fireworks CS4 will show you how to get the most out of Fireworks so that you maximize your efficiency without sacrificing any creativity or power.

You can learn more about the book from the Friends of Ed site here. And, if you're interested, you can buy the book on Amazon here.

I'm going on a trip and I'm taking ...

Remember the game we used to play as kids to make the time go by faster during long road trips? Well, I'm going on a trip to Chennai, India the first 10 days of December and I thought I would make a little list of the things I'm bringing with me. I don't want to be a pack mule, but I also want to make sure I bring "enough" for a trip half way across the world.

I'll be flying from DFW to Dulles to meet up with my boss and two others. Then we fly from Dulles to Brussels, Belgium — a 9-hour flight. After a 3 hour layover, we fly from Brussels to Chennai — another 9-hour flight. We'll work in the offices in Chennai for 3 days then travel to Pondicherry on the weekend. Pondicherry is some sort of resort town near the beach and is supposedly pretty nice. Then we go back to Chennai to work for two more days before coming home.

The following are things I'll be cramming into my backpack:

Books

  • Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season
  • I am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
  • The Elements of User Experience, by Jesse James Garrett
  • Transcending CSS, by Andy Clarke
  • Don't Make Me Think, by Steve Krug (this one's not for me to read, but to give to one of the guys in India trying to learn about Web Design)

I hope I'm not bringing too many books. I hate to load down my backpack with superfluous stuff, but the last thing I want is to be stranded on an airplane with nothing to read.

DVDs

  • Minority Report
  • Matrix Reloaded
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Office Space

I am borrowing these movies from my brother. I haven't seen any of them. Hopefully they'll provide a nice mental reprieve when I need a break from reading.

Electronics

Of course, I'm bringing my MacBook Pro, my extra mouse and battery charger. Also bringing my iPhone and charger. I plan on taking some good pictures with our digital camera. I've never taken it on any of my trips, so I'm a little nervous that I'll forget I have it and miss some good photo ops. i also don't want to lose or break it.

Miscellaneous

Passport, sunglasses, business cards, gum. Maybe a couple of good articles printed off the internet and maybe a Sports Illustrated or two.

I'll probably bring a full size suitcase, but haven't even thought about packing it yet. I think its relatively warm, but not hot, over there this time of year, so hopefully I won't need to worry about a jacket. The typical jeans, t-shirt and running shoes outfit will probably be standard for me over there.

I'm very curious about what I'll be bringing back with me. I plan on getting souvenirs of some sort for Cori and the kids but no idea yet. I joked earlier that I'd bring a King Cobra back for Bennett. :)

Am I forgetting anything important? Any recommendations?

I Love Books

I read a lot of books. Seriously. I haven't always liked reading, but the older I get the more I love to read. My goal for this year has been to read 25 books. I'm almost there, but still have quite a few pages to flip before the end of the year. To date, I've completed 18 books, I'm in currently in the process of reading 3 more and have 4 waiting on deck. I think I have a pretty good chance to reach 25 because I have a trip to India coming up in early December, so I'll have plenty of time on the plane to read.

I have read more books this year than ever before. I usually read a handful of books each year, so I'm not sure what the reason for the spike has been this year. About mid-year, I realized I had already read quite a few and decided to see if I could set a goal and reach 20. I've since upped that goal to 25.

The more I read, the more it makes me want to read. I've gotten to the point where I don't ever want to be without a book or a stack of books that I'm currently reading. Some of the books I read are for keeping up with design industry trends like Don't Make Me Think and Transcending CSS. I also like to read books about war like The Shark Mutiny and Warrior Soul. The type of book I like to read the most, I've found out recently, are the books that change the way I think about the world — The Kite Runner, Same Kind of Different As Me, and Divine Nobodies.

The amazing thing is that I used to really not enjoy reading. As a kid and in high school and in college, I didn't like to read at all. Maybe I was too busy playing Pacman, Tecmo Bowl and EA Sports NHL Hockey '94 (best ever). Now I read for pure enjoyment &#8212 and not just magazines and books about sports.

Who knew reading could be so fun?

What good books are you reading? I'm open to suggestions for what I should put on my list for 2009.

I Love Books

I read a lot of books. Seriously. I haven't always liked reading, but the older I get the more I love to read.

My goal for this year has been to read 25 books. I'm almost there, but still have quite a few pages to flip before the end of the year. To date, I've completed 18 books, I'm in currently in the process of reading 3 more and have 4 waiting on deck. I think I have a pretty good chance to reach 25 because I have a trip to India coming up in early December, so I'll have plenty of time on the plane to read.

I have read more books this year than ever before. I usually read a handful of books each year, so I'm not sure what the reason for the spike has been this year. About mid-year, I realized I had already read quite a few and decided to see if I could set a goal and reach 20. I've since upped that goal to 25.

The more I read, the more it makes me want to read. I've gotten to the point where I don't ever want to be without a book or a stack of books that I'm currently reading. Some of the books I read are for keeping up with design industry trends like Don't Make Me Think and Transcending CSS. I also like to read books about war like The Shark Mutiny and Warrior Soul. The type of book I like to read the most, I've found out recently, are the books that change the way I think about the world — The Kite Runner, Same Kind of Different As Me, and Divine Nobodies.

The amazing thing is that I used to really not enjoy reading. As a kid and in high school and in college, I didn't like to read at all. Maybe I was too busy playing Pacman, Tecmo Bowl and EA Sports NHL Hockey '94 (best ever). Now I read for pure enjoyment — and not just magazines and books about sports.

Who knew reading could be so fun?

What good books are you reading? I'm open to suggestions for what I should put on my list for 2009.

Books

Let's start this blog off with something innocuous - books. I love books. I read a lot of books. Seriously. I'm on pace to read over 20 books this year. Two odd things about me - it hasn't always been this way. I have a case of adult-onset book adoration. I'm 35 right now and I only started reading and enjoying reading since my mid to late twenties.

I used to hate reading. I have always been a slow reader, maybe that contributed to my book loathing. But I think the main thing was that I wasn't reading anything that interested me. I only read out of obligation. I was assigned books to read in high school and college and I hated every page of it.  Somehow I got an A in English in 11th grade without reading one of the main books we studied - Moby Dick. I wrote a paper on this book and I took at least one test covering this book - without reading it. I read parts of it, for sure, but I could never get through more than a page without my mind wandering and then I'd forget what I had read and then have to start over. That's for the birds! :)

I think what turned me around was my wife, Cori. When we started having kids, she insisted on reading to them at an early age.  She (and I guess we) has instilled in them a love for learning which extends to reading (among other things) and witnessing how that all unfolded over the years pushed me in the right direction I think. Reading books that I'm interested in and that I want to read makes all the difference. Growing up, I didn't think that was an option.

I'm not sure I can categorize what types of books I like to read. I like biographies, autobiographies, historical fiction, modern-day fiction, books about war, books about growing up, books about race, mysteries and even some sci-fi/fantasy books.

But most of all, I like books that change the way I think about the world, rather than telling me what I should think.  So, to wrap up the first official post of this new blog, I'll list some books I've read recently (last couple years) that have changed the way I think about the world.

In general, I think reading helps shape your worldview. For the longest time I had no worldview of my own, it was only inherited from my parents and cultivated by the church. I've found that reading has enabled me to define my own worldview apart from the narrow-minded, legalistic, "we're right and everyone else is wrong" mentality common in mainstream Evangelical Christianity today.

Perhaps later I'll give a list of my favorite all time books. That will be harder, but is definitely doable and necessary.

What's in Your Bookstack?

I've been tagged. Stephen is wondering what's in my "Bookstack". My bookstack: a few of the books I'm currently reading.

Every now and then I'll pick up a book, usually a novel, that sucks me in to the point I can't put it down and I read cover to cover in a short period of time. But more often than not, I get a new book, read a few chapters and then before I finish, I'll start reading a different book. This happens a few times and I start stacking them on my desk or next to the bed to read whatever interests me at the moment.

The books in the photo above (from top to bottom):

One day soon (????), we'll have a tool to track and share what is in our Bookstacks. Until then, I'll tag a few others (Cori, Christian, Josh and Andy) to find out what kinds of interesting things they're reading.