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July 2020

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David Baldacci, the New York Times–bestselling author of 38 adult novels and 7 children’s books that have sold more than 130 million copies. His work has been translated into 45 languages, published in 80 countries, and adapted for film and television. Most of David’s novels are part of a series such as The King and Maxwell series, The Camel Club series, The John Puller series, The Will Robie series, and The Amos Decker series.

Here are my favourite take aways from watching David Baldacci’s Masterclass Session on Mystery and Thriller Writing.:

Desire hath no rest, is infinite in itself, endless, and as one calls it, a perpetual rack, or horse-mill.

Making more money, getting married, buying a new car, giving birth to a child, moving into your house, all these are great achievements, but they would not make you happy. When we get what we want eventually, we ask ourselves, is this all there is? We overestimate how happy we would become when we achieve some of these goals and aspirations. The reason for this tendency is called Hedonic Treadmill/Adaptation.

Hedonic Treadmill is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes. Human desire is insatiable; we are always reaching for something, a new car, more money, a destination which, when we eventually get there, we realize it is a journey and not a destination. We say to ourselves, If and when I get that job, that car, that pay raise, buy that house, we would be happy, but unfortunately we don’t get that happiness we think we should get.

Hedonic Treadmill is the observed tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.

I stumbled on Coach George Raveling’s story while reading, Jon Gordon’s Book: The Power of Positive Leadership and after finishing the book, I googled him and I was inspired by his story hence am blogging about it.

Referred to by many as “Coach”, George is Nike’s former Director of International Basketball. He is a husband, a father, a friend, and a mentor to many. In 1960, Raveling graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and a fruitful collegiate basketball playing career in the record books. In 1964, George would return to basketball as an assistant coach at his alma mater. He would go on to become a world-class educator and coach with head coaching jobs at Washington State, the University of Iowa and USC. Following a prolific basketball coaching career, he would spend brief stints as a color commentator for Fox Sports and CBS, before being presented with an opportunity of a lifetime to join Nike, Inc.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination.

Mary Jane Oliver (September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019) was an American poet who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 2007 The New York Times described her as “far and away, this country’s best-selling poet. Wild Geese is a selection of her best-known poems, including the title-poem and ‘The Journey”

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.

We are not positive because life is easy. We are positive because life can be hard

A Leader is a dealer in hope, during adversity, obstacles, crisis, and trying times; the leader should always show optimism and positivity. The most powerful tool in a leaders toolset is what he does (example), not what he says. A leader who is positive and optimistic during trying times gives followers the confidence they need during tough times.

In the Power of Positive Leadership, Jon Gordon shares what he has learned and provides a comprehensive framework on positive leadership filled with proven principles, compelling stories, practical ideas, and practices that will help anyone become a positive leader.

Positive leadership is all about seeing and creating a brighter and better future. It’s about inventing, innovating, creating, building, improving, and transforming education, healthcare, business, government, technology, farming, design, communities, cities, transportation, and every aspect of our lives and the world we live in. Some scoff when leaders share bold ideas, imaginative goals, and seemingly impossible dreams, but ideas, imagination, and dreams are the fabric positive leaders weave together to create the future and change the world.

Here are my favourite take aways from reading, The Power of Positive Leadership by Jon Gordon:

 If your habits don’t line up with your dream, then you need to either change your habits or change your dream. If you want to hold on to your dream, then be prepared for a battle to change your habits because a bad habit never goes away by itself.

Bad habits are easy to form, but hard to break. Good habits are hard to form, but easy to live with. Our thoughts become our words, our words become our beliefs, our beliefs become our actions, our actions become our habits, and our habits become our realities. Your life is a summation of the good and bad habits you have formed over the years, it crystallizes into your ideals, your identity, and reality.

A habit is an idea that is fixed in a person’s subconscious mind that causes them to do something without any conscious thought.

On Habits : The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller:

  • Don’t be a disciplined person. Be a person of powerful habits and use selected discipline to develop them.
  • Build one habit at a time. Success is sequential, not simultaneous. No one actually has the discipline to acquire more than one powerful new habit at a time. Super-successful people aren’t superhuman at all; they’ve just used selected discipline to develop a few significant habits. One at a time. Overtime.
  • Give each habit enough time. Stick with the discipline long enough for it to become routine. Habits, on average, take 66 days to form. Once a habit is solidly established, you can either build on that habit or, if appropriate, build another one

Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do). -Stephen R. Covey

Dr. Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina is the president of the African Development Bank since 2015. Until he was appointed Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in 2010, he was the Vice President of Policy and Partnerships for the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). He was named Forbes Africa Person of the Year in 2013 for his “bold reforms” in the farming sector.

On May 28th, 2015, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina made history when he was elected as the 8th President of Africa Development bank thus becoming the first Nigerian to occupy that exalted position since the establishment of the Bank in 1964.

Akinwumi was born in February 1960 to a Nigerian farmer in Ibadan, Oyo State. He earned a first-class honours Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Ife, Nigeria in 1981. In 1988 he completed a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics at Purdue University in the United States, where he won the Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis Award for his research work. He also won the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation Social Science Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 1988, which launched his international career in global agricultural development.

He also Speaks Impeccable French

It’s not like there’s a science to being creative. Just do what works for you and keep going forward.

I am a super fan of two of Shonda Rhime’s Hit TV Series, How to get away with murder (with Viola Davis) and Scandals (with Kerry Washington). While watching these series, I was always amazed by the suspense in the show, and I wondered how they wrote the plot and how it is even possible to write a script that good with the twist and turns in every episode. If you have not seen both shows check them out, they are outstanding. When I subscribed to Masterclass, Shonda Rhime’s session was one of the first I had to see, and she did not disappoint.

Shonda Rhimes was born in 1970 and raised in Chicago, Illinois. The daughter of intellectual and supportive parents, Shonda grew up telling stories. She strove to become a novelist but turned her focus to film and television writing later in life. Shonda majored in English and film studies at Dartmouth College and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She wrote the HBO television movie, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999), her first professional credit, and penned two feature films thereafter, including The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004).

Go write. Prove yourself to be a writer. Nobody has to pay you in order to write. You have to just find the time and do it.

Life is a game, and the player opposite you is TIME. If you hesitate before moving, or neglect to move thoughtfully and decisively, your pieces will be wiped off the board by TIME. You are playing against a partner who will not tolerate INDECISION!

Print | Kindle | Audiobook

Think and Grow Rich is one of the few books I have lost count of the number of times I have read and listened to the book. It is by far one of the most influential book have ever read as it contains lost of wisdom and insights; each look or reading of the books makes the point clearer.

Think and Grow Rich was first published in 1937 by Napoleon Hill during the Great Depression, and it has sold more than 15 million copies to date. The book was the suggestion of one of the richest men in the world at the time, business magnate Andrew Carnegie.

Think and Grow is based on the Author Napoleon Hill’s twenty years study of successful individuals in that era such as Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, George Eastman, Theodore Roosevelt, Elbert Hubbard among others. His study is distilled as 13 principles contained in the book as the “Philosophy of Achievement”. They are:

  • DESIRE : THE STARTING POINT OF ALL ACHIEVEMENT
  • FAITH: VISUALIZATION OF, AND BELIEF IN ATTAINMENT OF DESIRE
  • AUTO-SUGGESTION : THE MEDIUM FOR INFLUENCING THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND
  • SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE: PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OR OBSERVATIONS
  • IMAGINATION:: THE WORKSHOP OF THE MIND
  • ORGANIZED PLANNING: THE CRYSTALLIZATION OF DESIRE INTO ACTION
  • DECISION : THE MASTERY OF PROCRASTINATION
  • PERSISTENCE : THE SUSTAINED EFFORT NECESSARY TO INDUCE FAITH
  • POWER OF THE MASTER MIND” THE DRIVING FORCE
  • THE MYSTERY OF SEX TRANSMUTATION
  • THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND : THE CONNECTING LINK
  • THE BRAIN: A BROADCASTING AND RECEIVING STATION FOR THOUGHT
  • THE SIXTH SENSE:THE DOOR TO THE TEMPLE OF WISDOM

SUCCESS REQUIRES NO APOLOGIES, FAILURE PERMITS NO ALIBIS.

Here are my favourite take-aways from reading Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill:

It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:

“This is water.”
“This is water.”

It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really is the job of a lifetime. And it commences now.

This commencement speech was originally delivered by David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College on May 21, 2005. The speech was published as a book, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life.

The speech captures Wallace’s electric intellect as well as his grace in attention to others. After his death, it became a treasured piece of writing reprinted in The Wall Street Journal and the London Times, commented on endlessly in blogs, and emailed from friend to friend. The speech is one of my favorite addresses of all time as it contains a profound set of wisdom that might take multiple listen to learn, at least it took me a long time to get what he was trying to convey.

This, I submit, is the freedom of a real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship.

Speech Transcript of David Foster Wallace’s This is Water Speech

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story thing turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre… but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish.

The immediate point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about.

Author: Mark Nepo
Title: Breaking Surface

Let no one keep you from your journey,
no rabbi or priest, no mother
who wants you to dig for treasures
she misplaced, no father
who won’t let one life be enough,
no lover who measures their worth
by what you might give up,
no voice that tells you in the night
it can’t be done.

A man’s alibi is the child of his own imagination. It is human nature.

A lot of us do not achieve our goals as we have ready-made excuses and reasons why we are not able to achieve success. As the saying goes: In life, we either have reasons or results, excuses or experiences, stories or success. As Mark Twain, once quipped: “There are a thousand excuses for failure but never a good reason.” The reasons we give for not living up to our potential are never good enough because no matter how bad you think your situation is, someone has gone through it and they succeeded hence your excuses are really not valid.

In Napoleon Hill’s classic book, Think and Grow Rich he shares the Fifty-Seven Famous Alibis by Old Man If and it is a very excellent list of famous excuses we all use for not achieving our goals and aspiration:

People who do not succeed have one distinguishing trait in common. They know all the reasons for failure, and have what they believe to be air-tight alibis to explain away their own lack of achievement. Some of these alibis are clever, and a few of them are justifiable by the facts. But alibis cannot be used for money. The world wants to know only one thing–HAVE YOU ACHIEVED SUCCESS?

A character analyst compiled a list of the most commonly used alibis. As you read the list, examine yourself carefully, and determine how many of these alibis, if any, are your own property.

IF I didn’t have a wife and family…

IF I had enough “pull”…

IF I had money…

IF I had a good education…

IF I could get a job…

IF I had good health…

IF I only had time…

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.- Hal Borland

Success in any endeavor requires perseverance and persistence, the ability to continue to do something even though it is difficult. For example, it is normal for an aspiring writer to get loads of rejection letters before getting published; it is like a rite of passage to becoming a published writer. What distinguishes the successful writer from the unsuccessful writer is that the successful writer continued to write even though they were not published yet; they continued to horn their craft, they persisted, and they eventually succeeded.

Persistence is one of the vital keys to succeeding in any task or profession. Don’t Quit, Press On, Keep pushing, if you persist, you would eventually succeed. Persistence is the secret to success.

Here are some great quotes on persistence:

  • “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” – Calvin Coolidge 
  • “Not realizing what you want is a problem of knowledge. Not pursuing what you want is a problem of motivation. Not achieving what you want is a problem of persistence.” – John C. Maxwell

Whenever you wake up, that is your morning. What matters is that you wake up. – Igbo Saying

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian Writer born 15 September 1977; she grew up in Nnsukka, Enugu, Nigeria. While she was growing up, her father, James Nwoye Adichie, worked as a professor of statistics at the University of Nigeria. Her mother, Grace Ifeoma, was the university’s first female registrar.

Chimamanda completed her secondary education at the University of Nigeria Secondary School, Nsukka, where she received several academic prizes. She studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half. At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria for the United States to study communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia. She received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Connecticut State University, with the distinction of summa cum laude in 2001. In 2003, she completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University. In 2008, she received a Master of Arts degree in African studies from Yale University.

The starting point in journalism is that there are no boundaries. Everyone has their own version of the truth. But there are facts. There is reality. And as a reporter you can come up with the best obtainable version of the truth.—Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward is an associate editor of the Washington Post, where he has worked since 1971. He has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes, first in 1973 for the coverage of the Watergate scandal with Carl Bernstein, and second in 2002 as the lead reporter for coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Bob has authored or coauthored 18 books, all of which have been national nonfiction bestsellers. Twelve of those have been #1 national bestsellers. In listing the all-time 100 best nonfiction books, Time magazine has called All the President’s Men, by Bernstein and Woodward, “perhaps the most influential piece of journalism in history.

Here are my favorite take aways from viewing Bob Woodward’s Masterclass on Investigative Journalism: