Tag Archives: #remotelearning

Maybe perfect for this Zoom Season – Leadership Training Informed by the Best Business Books

The book synopsis presentation then just kind of hovers over everybody; they think about it; they remember; and they ask “how does this apply to our current efforts?”  And, trust me…it always does apply to your current efforts.


We are all in the midst of Zoom SeasonZoom, or Webex, or Ring Central, or Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams, or…  I’m not sure I’ve got all these names right.Zoom

We’ve all been watching “how to do it” videos, looking for lighting tips, camera angle tips, microphone tips.

I’ve bought a small ring light.  It’s probably not good enough.

My new microphone is arriving today.  I’m hopeful.

We are all learning to mute our microphones; to be wary of where we walk, and where we go if the camera is on when we….well, you understand the warning.

And, we are told to look into the camera.  That one is especially hard for me.  I am accustomed to seeking eyeball to eyeball contact with my live audiences.  I’ve spoken to live audiences for 5 decades.  Person to persons.  Now, if I look into the eyeballs of a participant on a screen, it actually hurts my eye contact with the whole audience.  This one is taking some serious adjusting for me.

But…but…what do we do on all these meetings?

This is where maybe I can come in.

For the last six weeks, I have become something of a regular on computer and iPad and SmartPhone screens, delivering my book synopses remotely.

  • We’ve moved the First Friday Book Synopsis into remote mode, on Zoom.
  • I’ve spoken to teams in technology companies, city governments, and misc. “everyone is welcome” gatherings.

I’ve now developed an opinion:  people need some content in some of their remote gatherings.  I mean, not content about sales goals, or the new roll outs, but content to help them think about work – to help them think about being more effective, to help them maintain motivation, to help them communicate even more clearly during this difficult time.

People have shown special interest in books that deal with intrinsic motivation, and time management, and leadership-over-the-web.

I have presented my synopsis of Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Habits by James Clear to two different audiences.  This is a book about the habits you have that you are glad you have, and the habits you need to have, and the habits you have that you should definitely get rid of.  (By the way, it is #1 on the New York Times list of best-selling business books for three months in a row.  Click here to read my blog post about  the May list).

drive_book-by-daniel-pink_danpinkdotcom1I have presented my synopsis of Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink to two different audiences.  This is the modern classic on intrinsic motivation.  And this is definitely the moment when we need to dig deep and motivate ourselves with intrinsic motivation.

I have presented my synopsis of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen.  This is the modern bible of time management, and David Allen has created an entire universe of GTD enthusiasts.  For some of us new to this much working from home, how to be truly effective in the use of our time is a real challenge.

I have presented my synopses of a couple of different books by retired SEAL Jocko Willink on leadership: Extreme Ownership (co-authored with Leif Babin), and Leadership Strategy and Tactics.   And I have presented my synopsis of Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott, which really fits well, expanding on and reinforcing ideas from Jocko Willink.  Leaders have a special challenge in this moment – how to keep the team on track without ever really “seeing” the team members.Radical Candor

And at the First Friday Book Synopsis over the last two months, I have presented my synopsis of The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Jonah Berger.  It is a book on persuasion.  It basically argues that all persuasion is self-persuasion.  And, thus, we can only be catalysts to help others persuade themselves.  Really good book!

I also presented my synopsis of the new Dan Heath book, Upstream:  The Quest to Solve Problems before they Happen.  My goodness, what a book for this moment. If only we had…

So, in this Zoom Season, maybe one of my synopses could bring some help to you and your team.   The synopses are usually 45-50 minutes; followed by discussion.  Your team will learn the key stories, the principles and lessons and takeaways from each book. And the book synopsis presentation then just kind of hovers over everybody; they think about it; they remember; and they ask “how does this apply to our current efforts?”  And, trust me…it always does apply to your current efforts.

In my description of what I offer, I say that I provide
Leadership Training Informed by the Best Business Books. 
I’ve been at this for 22+ years.  I think people find it useful.

Are you interested?  Send me an e-mail:  .

Viktor Frankl; David Allen; John Steinbeck (and, Daniel Silva) – Suggested Book Reading for these shelter-in-place days

Man's Search for MeaningIn the midst of this shelter-in-place moment, plenty of us – especially those of us who work in some kind of independent capacity – are having trouble getting started, getting scheduled, and getting things done.

I’ve tried to think about books that might be useful in such a moment.  So, here is a farily short suggested shelter-in-place reading list.

(And, a reminder:  if you own a Kindle, or have the Kindle app on your iPad, you might be able to get the Kindle versions for free from your local library for free).


Suggestion #1 – Read (or re-read) Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  Viktor Frankl survived the death camps, and wrote this masterpiece in a matter of days.  It is a two-part book.  Part two was actually a manuscript that he had written in the period before his ordeal; lost, of course.   He reconstructed it from his memory, and refined it.

This is probably the most important book I have ever read.  And, its insights come from the darkest of the dark days of all.  If you have never read I, now would be a good time.200px-Getting_Things_Done

Suggestion #2 – Read Getting Things Done by David Allen.  You have got to be the ultimate self-starter in these days.  This book will give you a framework for your work.

I was tempted to recommended Drive by Daniel Pink, in this slot, on the power of intrinsic motivation.  And/or The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.  The three of these together might give you a deeper understanding of why and how to be a good “remote:” worker, to help you prepare for the unique challenges you face a this moment.

Suggestion #3 – Read (or re-read) The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.  This book is one of the novels called “The Great American Novel,” and may be the best book I have ever read (Frankl, the most important; this, the best).

From Wikipedia:
The Grapes of Wrath is an American realist novel written by John Steinbeck and published in 1939. The book won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and it was cited prominently when Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962.

grapes of wrathThe Grapes of Wrath is begins with what happens to people who are hard working, on their family farms, and yet through no fault of their own, their lives are turned totally upside down.  It is about more than that – but it is about that.

Those are my top three suggestions  And here is a…

Bonus Suggestion #4 – Daniel Silva, The Kill Artist. You need a little escape, don’t you?  I go with thrillers.  And if you have never discovered Daniel Silva’s Israeli assassin Gabriel Allon, it is time to make his acquaintance.  You may as well start with book #1 in the series:  The Kill Artist.  This summer, book #20 is scheduled for release.  (Yes; I have read them all).

Click here to see the list of the Gabriel Allon books in order. 

I believe you will find these suggestions worthy of your time.  Give them a try!

One of Gabriel Allon's many harrowing adventures

One of Gabriel Allon’s many harrowing adventures


I have synopses available for the books by Frankl, Allen, Pink, and Gawande.  (First time to purchase?: be sure to read my FAQs)  Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation .  Check them out.  I have many more synopses to choose from.
Click on the buy synopses tab at the top of this page (you can search by title).  And, click here for the newest additions.

Remote Learning 101 – Read this before attending your learning session

(Note: For only the second time in our history, we are cancelling our monthly First Friday Book Synopsis session.  The first time was due to an ice storm. This time, it is the coronavirus closings.
I will be experimenting with some remote learning possibilities.  I already have the first couple of sessions booked.  I plan to/hope to make some “available to all.”  This post is for those who “attend” such sessions.


You are participating in a Remote Learning Session.  This means that this is an opportunity to learn.  As a serious learner, you intend to learn.  Here are some quick and easy “Guidelines” for this session.

  • The simple and easy — Show up; Stay Put; Stay Focused.

#1 – Pretend you are in person. Turn off your phone. Watch, and listen.
#2 – Print out all materials, and follow along with pen in hand.
#3 – Practice good posture.  (Research says that the better your posture, the better you will pay attention).
#4 – Prepare your learning space.  Literally remove clutter; visual clutter; other-work-on-your-mind clutter.
#5 — Participate fully in any on-line discussion exercises.
#6 – Pull up the session on the largest screen at your disposal.  A tablet is better than a phone; a computer monitor is better than a tablet; a big-screen tv is better than a computer monitor.  The bigger the screen, the easier it is to focus on the material delivered.

  • The More Challenging
  • #1 – Have a conversation with another participant or two after the session is completed.  You know; like you would have at the beverage break at a conference.
  • #2 – Write up a brief (one-page) report with these post-session thoughts:
    • This is a summary of what I learned – my personal takeaways
    • This is what I think our organization should consider from what I learned in this session
    • Consider sharing this with fellow participants; maybe your boss/supervisor; other people on your team.

Here is the content of this post in a printable, shareable format.

Click on image for full, printable view.

Click on image for full, printable view.