Books

The Complete Workologist 2014 E-Book Now Available

I like re-reading journals and previous articles I've written for this site. Once a year or so I'll go back through and read the previous year's articles. It's a nice way to get reminders about things I should be thinking about, to prompt new writing ideas, and to just generally see how I've changed over the past twelve months. A couple weeks ago I sat down to do this again and I found myself a.) wondering how much I had written for The Workologist over the past year and b.) wishing I had an e-book of all my articles so I didn't have to click through my archives to read each one.

So, I made an e-book of all my 2014 writing (and the answer to a. is approximately 43,700 words - not including The List posts or Commentary posts).

I've had many people express to me that they would like to support the writing I do here but they aren't interested in hiring me as a coach, which until today was really the only way to pay me for any value you find here at The Workologist. Now, for $8, you can have a nicely formatted PDF, .mobi (for Kindle), or .epub (for iBooks) file of all the writing that appeared on The Workologist in 2014. If that seems like a thing you'd enjoy and you're willing to part with $8 you can get it here.

Thank you for your support!

Photo by spykster

Weekend Reading #9

The latest monthly newsletter was sent to subscribers on Monday morning. If you missed it, you can sign up for future issues and see an archive of issues you missed here. I also recently created a Facebook group for readers of The Workologist which you can join here. Join us over there if you're so inclined. Finally, I recently hired my brother to help me populate the Archive with all the old articles that didn't make the initial trip over from SamSpurlin.com. If you check it out now you'll notice it's much more robust than it used to be!

Without further delay, here are some of the best things I've stumbled across in the past week. Enjoy!

A Guide for the Perplexed: Mapping the Meaning of Life and the Four Levels of Being - Brain Pickings

One of the biggest revelations I've had in the past several months is how under appreciated E.F. Schumacher is. I read his books Small is Beautiful and Good Work and they seem like a forerunner to lots of ideas that we see thrown around nowadays -- minimalism, sustainability, flow, etc. I haven't read A Guide for the Perplexed, yet, but this article and my experience with his other books has rocketed it to the top of my list.

Warren Bennis, Leadership Pioneer - Harvard Business Review

Warren Bennis was a leadership thinker, writer, and consultant. He authored many books and acted as an advisor for many powerful people. Unfortunately, he passed away last week. Although I never met him, I did spend a summer working for his son, Will at Locus Workspace. Will is a first rate psychologist and thinker in his own regard and my thoughts go out to him and his family in this tough time.

What Would Your Life Be Like If... - A Daring Adventure

When I first started my coaching practice Tim was the first person I looked to for guidance. He helped get me oriented in the right direction when I was first starting out. We have super different styles but believe in much of the same stuff. His latest article is full of his barely-on-the-rails energy and stream-of-consciousness writing style. If you're tired of my overly academic writing style then Tim is a breath of fresh air. Plus, he knows a thing or two about personal development.


As I've mentioned before, I have a brand new entheos class up called "How to Take Control of Your Indie Work Career." If you're an independent worker and want to improve your day-to-day work experience, I recommend checking it out. I'll be recording another class in the coming weeks so be sure to keep an eye on my Professor page if you're an entheos subscriber (and if you're not, you can try it out for free for 14 days).

Photo by Richard Lee

Reflecting on Summer Reading

Ever since I finished my last final exam in early May I've been trying to read as many books as possible. The summer months aren't quite like they were when I was in high school or even undergrad because the first thing you learn in grad school is that the work never really ends. However, I did have a little bit of extra time and have read approximately 19 books between then and now. 

I won't go into an exhaustive review of all of them, but I do want to share three that I think that stood out from the rest (a complete list of all the books I've read this summer and since 2008 can be found here).

Workflow: Beyond Productivity

This book is unlike any other productivity book I've ever read. I'm not even really sure where to start or how I can accurately describe it. It almost reads like what the love child of David Allen (Getting Things Done) and Aristotle would write. It's like a philosophy book in that words and concepts are very carefully defined and then systematically built into a coherent structure and a psychology book that tries to unravel the mysteries of mastery. This book opened my eyes to the very basic nature of what it means to be "productive." At the same time, by breaking it down to the very basics, the book can come across as quite complex. This paradox is probably what made the book so interesting to me as very few writers in this field treat the topic with such careful exposition. 

This is one of those books that I'm going to need to read again in the near future to unravel it even further. You can learn more about it and buy it here.

Upside of Irrationality

A few months ago I watched a TED talk by a fellow named Dan Ariely. At this point, I had never heard of him but I thoroughly enjoyed his talk and shortly thereafter I started seeing his name everywhere. I decided to pick up one of his latest books and give it a read. First, before I get into the meat of the book, I just wanted to share that I'm not 100% sure why Dan's speaking and writing style resonate with me so much -- but they do. I loved his talk not only for the content but for the way he presented it. His writing is very similar. Warm, understated, extremely clear and a touch of humor. 

Ariely is a behavioral economist which falls into the realm of psychology more often than not. His book is about how human beings are incredibly irrational even though most classical economic theory assumes otherwise. While irrational may have a negative connotation in every day use, Ariely shows how our irrationality can be quite positive. This book is chock full with very easy to follow explanations of clever experiments conducted by Ariely and his colleagues. This book is well-supported by academic scholarship yet Ariely's writing does not come across as stilted or difficult to follow in the least.

I highly recommend this book for an eye opening look at how your irrationality isn't as unique as you might think and how it can be a positive force in your life. Buy it from Amazon here.

Ripples from the Zambezi

This book filled me with hope and excitement regarding the future of independent work and entrepreneurship. In a nutshell, it's a description of a method developed by the author to help communities improve economically. While traditional development up to this point was a very top-down approach (meaning the government would create some kind of program in which community members could enroll -- like job training), Ernesto Sirolli completely turned the process around. In fact, while his job was to help local economies, he would never initiate any kind of program on his own. Instead, his theory was that the entrepreneurial spirit and intrinsic motivation of the locals just needed to be supported by somebody who could help them find the resources they need, help cut through red tap, and make connections among related businesses and ideas. Sirolli would come to a community and just start making it known that he was there to help anybody who wanted to start some kind of business. The progress was slow at first, but success started building on success and now the approach has been replicated in numerous communities throughout the world.

I thought the book got a little repetitive near the end but the basic idea resonated with me so much I didn't mind. I think there are huge connections between this book and this kind of economic development and my own interests in independent work, positive organizational psychology, and coworking. I'm not quite sure what the next steps might be but I'm glad to have read this.

Buy it from Amazon here. 

Honorable Mentions

I re-read Ready for Anything, as I tend to do every summer. It's always a good kick in the pants and reminder for what I need to be doing to keep my personal organization system fresh and well-maintained.

Christopher Peterson, ostensibly the third "founding father" of positive psychology and University of Michigan professor died several months ago. The book he completed just prior to his death is called Pursuing the Good Life and is a compilation of 100 articles he wrote for the Psychology Today website about positive psychology. It's humorous, incredibly insightful, and grounded in the best research. 

Autopilot: The Art and Science of Doing Nothing is a dense book that will inspire you to slow down, turn off the TV, and let your mind wander. For most of us, that's something that we definitely need more of. It's well-researched and clearly written.

What about you? What did you read this summer? I'm always looking for more books to add to my queue and would be happy to add your favorites. Share them in the comments below!

Photo by Chris