- Brandon Miller
6 books you should definitely read in 2021
I’ve never been a big reader. Ever since elementary school, if it wasn’t assigned reading then I probably wasn’t going to take part. 2020 changed all of that for me. Even before the pandemic, and subsequent lockdown period, I made a commitment to my own personal growth and reading was a huge part of that. I wanted to challenge myself in every aspect of my life and reading about a number of different topics helped me to do that.
In total, I read about 30 books this year. That may not seem like a lot to some but it’s a big step for me! At one point, I was reading a different book every few days. Everything from Dave Ramsey’s financial books to The Alchemist. I garnered a lot of knowledge and opened my mind to new ways of thinking. I straightened out my finances, learned about my history, and discovered different avenues for my career and my future. Reading has become a staple in my life and I want to share some of the gems I felt were necessary for me to make 2020 a positive year.
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
This was one of the first books I read in 2020 and it was definitely a page-turner. I’ve always been interested in the development of talent. Why are some people more successful than others? Many people assume that Lebron James and Serena Williams were just born with more talent but this book shatters all of those misconceptions.
Daniel Coyle takes a deep-dive into the world of the uber-talented. He gets firsthand experience with some of the most successful athletes, artists, and businessmen studying their lives and what triggered their success. I won’t give away too much but he goes in-depth on various subjects such as the importance of myelin, deep practice, and the secret to accelerated growth. The real-life examples he provides are both motivating and mind-blowing. What I love most about this book is that it goes beyond sports. The scientific facts and lessons provided in this book can be applied to every aspect of your life. Give it a read and see how your thought process regarding your own talent development changes.
Harvard Business Review’s Book On Leadership
This one might not tickle everyone’s fancy but for my fellow athletes, entrepreneurs, and aspiring executives, this book is a really good read. I initially let this one sit for a bit because I wasn’t sure if it would be the type of book that would keep my interest. Ultimately, once I started reading, I was pleasantly surprised by the incredible details that were shared in each chapter.
This book is filled with articles and excerpts from various CEOs, past and present, who share some of their keys to successful leadership. I’ve always been the type of person to gather bits and pieces from various sources and develop my own way of doing things so this book was perfect. You learn about the different types of intelligence, how to get your employees to buy into your vision, and how the power of humility has helped multiple executives develop into extremely successful leaders. Athletes can take what they learn and apply it to their locker rooms. Entrepreneurs can sharpen their business skills. Anyone else in between can reflect on their current skillset and gauge whether they have the desire to further develop their leadership capabilities.
The Ride Of A Lifetime by Robert Iger
Speaking of CEOs, this book by Disney leader Bob Iger is a fantastic read. I started this book early in 2020 because I thought it would be good to hear about the journey of a very successful and prominent CEO. In the end, what I loved most about this book was much less about business and more so about the real-life situations that are conveyed in the book. I really felt like I was able to take much more than business lessons from reading about his experiences.
This is definitely a great book for those in the business world to get a better understanding of how to navigate tough situations. He shares, in great detail, about his time at ABC and Disney and moving up through the ranks. He discusses a lot of the tough decisions he had to make, both while moving up and while being a top executive. But beyond the business, he shares the personal strife he dealt with during his marriage, personal tragedies, and the loss of a close friend. All of these stories helped me to realize just how human these larger-than-life executives are. This was an incredible read from both a business and personal perspective.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi
I was pretty skeptical about this one going into it. The title is pretty cheesy and off-putting. I had already read multiple self-help finance books including Dave Ramsey’s collection so I felt like I knew it all! Thankfully, my girlfriend read it first and suggested it enough times that I cracked it open and gave it a try. After an unwanted home renovation that really burned a hole in my pocket, I figured I could see what new information I could glean from this book.
Mr. Sethi is a personal finance expert who shares his personal secrets to accumulating wealth and managing your finances. He discusses the intricacies of debt and student loans. He imparts his knowledge about credit cards and how best to use them for your benefit. The book goes over a lot of the subjects many other finance books do but what really makes this book special is his coverage of some of the topics you may not think about as often. How do you negotiate a raise? How do you get rid of late fees or credit card fees? Why haven’t you started handling your own investing?
This book has a much more brash, personal approach to it which is one that I loved. It really helped me develop a financial plan for myself, my family, and my business. I would recommend giving it a read if you’re looking to improve your financial picture.
Impact Beyond The Game by Malcolm Lemmons
This one is geared more towards my fellow athletes but this book can definitely provide some great insight and tips for non-athletes as well. The author, Malcolm Lemmons, is a former professional basketball player turned entrepreneur who uses his experiences throughout his career to pass on integral knowledge to the next generation. As an athlete, he understands what athletes need and how best they can maneuver outside of the competitive arena in order to maximize their potential.
Malcolm talks a lot about an athlete and their personal brand. Who are you beyond the sport? What defines you as a person? How can you convey that to the masses and leverage that audience to build your brand? In today’s world, social media is one of the most obvious answers. He talks about the large, well-known platforms but he also gives advice on some of the lesser known mediums (no pun intended!) that allow athletes to express themselves and engage their audience. This book is all about understanding and controlling your platform, using your brand to increase your opportunities outside of sport, and grasping the magnitude of your influence outside of your profession.
Forty Million Dollar Slaves by William C. Rhoden
I know, the title is provocative and many people are going to turn away before they even crack the book open. I would implore you to set aside your feelings about the front cover and dive into this engaging and informative read. Especially given our current social climate, it’s necessary to understand the history of our country and how it has shaped society to get us to our current point in time. Many people want athletes to simply “shut up and dribble” but this book explains why that just isn’t possible.
Rhoden eloquently provides historical context behind the development of the black athlete and their relationship to both sports and society. Plenty of people, both sports fans and otherwise, know about Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali. Very few know about the history of the Negro Leagues and how they set the foundation for what is present day Major League Baseball. The book goes in-depth about the beginnings of a variety of sports and how black athletes have evolved in those sports and in the American culture. The controversial nature of this book will force some to shy away. If you can set aside your preconceived notions and be open to learning, there is plenty that you will take away from this extraordinary work.
These are just six of the many books I read in 2020 that were massively impactful on my personal development. It is important to note, I do not have any affiliation or partnership with any of the authors. There is no financial incentive for me to promote these books. I simply learned a great deal this year and I want to share some of the works that helped me grow as a human. Whether you’re an athlete or not, these six books can help you develop skills you may not have thought of previously. At the very least, they will make for some interesting reading!
What books did you read this year that you think were vital to your growth? Share your thoughts in the comments below or feel free to reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn! Also, check out First XI FC! We are building a community of leaders who share ideas and expertise while cultivating lifelong relationships.