7 Authors Who Inspire My Journey
1. Brene Brown (Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, Dare to Lead)
Ten practices of living wholeheartedly are the foundation of how I strive to live. Brene’s practices give me permission to be human, hang in there, and keep going with whatever I have completed across any given timeframe: a day, week or month. The biggest win for me is letting go of being a perfectionist; I am shame-resilient. I have learned to lean into vulnerability and bring what I have each day to my pursuits. I am free to do what I want to do; the weights are gone! When I wake up I get to design my path and build it. Whether I am doing financial planning or learning to be a better writer, I get to decide what I want. I get to help you do the same, too!
2. Paul Krugman - "Arguing with Zombies" Economics, Politics, and the fight for a better future.
Paul spells out clearly why some ideas should have died yet they keep shambling along like zombies. Here is an excerpt From Part 10: Tax Cuts. "The Ultimate Zombie." The ultimate zombie is that tax cuts for the rich will miraculously cause the economy to improve and create jobs. The tax cut zombie has failed each time. Ronald Reagan passed a huge tax cut in August 1981. As it happens the nation was just entering a recession which sent unemployment to its highest level since the great depression. By late 1982 the economy began to recover. The recession was more or less ended by monetary easing by the Fed. In 1993 Bill Clinton raised taxes and conservatives predicted disaster. Instead, Clinton presided over a huge economic expansion. It was tested under George W. Bush whose supporters promised a boom. What he got was lackluster growth followed by financial collapse. It was tested in 2013 when Barack Obama let some of the Bush tax cuts expire while raising some other taxes to pay for Obamacare, the economy just kept chugging along. It was finally tested by Donald Trump in 2017 amid promises of another economic miracle. Even as late as early 2019, the Trump tax cut was looking like a big fizzle. There were also tests at the state level. In 2011 California and Kansas moved in opposite directions. California raised taxes amid cries from the right that it committing economic suicide while Kansas cut taxes promising an economic surge. As it turned out, California did fine, while Kansas ended up with a budget crisis and a vote by Republican legislators to reverse many of the tax cuts. In Short, few economic doctrines have been as thoroughly tested and thoroughly refuted as the claim that low taxes on the rich accomplish great things for everyone. Yet the doctrine persists. In fact it has tightened its grip on the Republican party to the point where almost nobody in the party dares to express skepticism. I originally saw the term Zombie ideas in an article about of all things Canadian healthcare, where it referred to false claims like the assertion that vast numbers of Canadians were constantly crossing into the United States in pursuit of medical treatment. As the article pointed out, this claim had been refuted many times, and should have been killed as an argument against Canada's health system. Instead however, it just kept shambling along, eating people's brains. Well belief in the magic of tax cuts for the rich is the ultimate zombie. And the truth is that it is not hard to see why it is proved it has impossible to kill. After all, think about who benefits from the persistence of the belief that low taxes on the rich are a great thing. All it takes are a few billionaires willing to spend a small fraction of their wealth supporting politicians, think tanks, or actually "think" tanks and partisan media will to spread the tax cut virus. That's easily enough to keep the zombies lurching along. Some of the articles in this section attempt to shoot those zombies in the head yet again. After all, one must keep trying. But here's the thing, the public has never bought into the tax cut message, polls consistently show that voters want the rich to pay more, not less, in taxes. And especially since the 2018 mid-terms, some democrats have been emboldened, once again, willing to propose taxes on high incomes and extreme wealth to pay for social priorities.
3. Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic, Eat Pray Love, The Signature of all Things)
Elizabeth is the permission slip to pursue your creativity. She writes, “We all are creative beings...If you are not being actively creative, you are probably being actively destructive.” She reminded me that I am creative (first as a builder, now as a planner and as I am practicing now to be a better writer).
My favorite advice from her is to “have an affair with your creativity.” Paint your bicycle, write a book - do what you need to do to get out of your box and stand up, breathe, and be creative. If you’re stuck in your process, do something else. For instance, when Einstein had trouble with a math problem, he would go play the violin. After a few sonatas, he would return with excitement and joy to solve the problem.
What feeds your soul? What gives your soul wonder? Sneak in 15 minutes where you can. The world needs your creativity and mine.
4. Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers, Tipping Point, David & Goliath, Blink)
Malcolm asks, “What are you curious about? Build your expertise where you have interest.”
You can gain expertise in whatever you want to learn, but you have to put in your time.
As Gladwell writes, to become an expert you need 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice.” Bill Gates and Paul Allen had 10,000 hours of computer code writing experience before they were 18. Across 21 years, I built my expertise as a wealth manager building equity income portfolios using individual stocks. I did not start off knowing how to do this, but I learned.
5. Jen Sincero (You are a Bad Ass):
Jen reinforces the foundation from Brene Brown’s 10 practices of living fully and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours reference, giving yourself permission to do what you want to do. If you can imagine it, you can do it, achieve it, live it.
There are no limits to what you can accomplish; if you can imagine it you can achieve it. Have faith, whatever you want to call it—source energy, the flow, angels, your genius or your muse, or God, or Allah, or Buddha—the universe has your back and wants you to succeed.
Get a coach already! Professional athletes have a coach their entire careers to be the best they can be.
6. Neil deGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist – My Favorite Universe – 12 lectures from the Great Courses.)
Neil’s lectures deepen my connection with being a rational optimist (Matt Ridley, The Rational Optimist) and pique my curiosity. These lectures lay out the Big Bang until the end of the sun in 5 billion years and give me a new, broader perspective. Neil shares that the universe is vast, and we are the “proof of concept” of humans. There should be more life out there; and, if there is other life, it will be composed of the same elements we are, since the universe is made of these elements. This concept makes me curious to keep learning and be in love with these difficult, perhaps transcendent, questions.
7. James Traub (John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit )
John Quincy Adams’ entire life is inspirational. He proved that big things happen when you keep fighting if you have a vision for a better world. He fought for things that were not always in his best interest. For example, he kept fighting in a system where the slave owners had more power than they should have had. He wanted the world to be more egalitarian, a fair place for all.
This biography inspires me to keep pursuing “forward progress.” As I read further, I saw him as the example of Elizabeth Gilbert’s “stubborn gladness.” He fought and kept going, and he didn’t shrink back and hide in the corner. He pursued each day with the “arrogance of belonging (Gilbert).” This book reminds me that “Wow, things have been a lot worse!”