Book Review

My Lessons from The Spark and the Grind

the spark and the grind.jpg

I selected The Spark and The Grind by Erik Wahl as the inaugural selection of the View 112 Summer of Business Books Reading Challenge because the concept leapt off the dust jacket and struck me so abruptly.  I was casually browsing the business section of my local Barnes and Noble and there it was well placed in the center of the section, eye level.  I picked it up and have been compelled ever since. Check the top of the inner dust jacket: “We’ve been conditioned to think about creative genius. As a dichotomy: dreamers virus doers, creativity virus discipline, the spark vs the grind.  But what if we’re wrong? What if it’s the spark and the grind.”(Wahl). I highly recommend you read this book in its entirety as it is FULL OF GEMS.  Here are a few for me:

1. There is danger being all grind and no spark.

This book validated my evolved perspective on creativity. Many professionals idolize the super grinder and the concept of hustling. Although I am also writer, I have never considered myself a creative. In fact for many years, I’ve ignored writing as a childhood dream turned adult hobby.  I have taken much more pride in being a “grinder”. Having a strong work ethic is a career characteristic of which I am most proud. It’s an incredible feeling to be known to execute.  Contrarily, I have always viewed creatives as people solely walking around with their head in the clouds dreaming all day. While creatives are inspiring, to be labeled and known as a super grinder seemed much more aspirational. After all these years of working, its taken age and experience for me to build confidence in the fact that I am truly a creative grinder. When I made the decision to cherish creativity, I took one step closer to living a limitless life. I am no longer just a leader, great sales person, business woman, or writer. I am all of those things and MORE.

“If you lean toward being a Grinder, stop using focus as an excuse to ignore other opportunities around you.” p.55

The Spark and the Grind-Erik Wahl


2. Aggressively pressure the unfamiliar.

While I’ve not always been able to define it, I’ve always believed there is something more in life than my current experience. The book makes a compelling case that the only way we find that nagging “something more” is when we go beyond the familiar. In sales, I’ve seen the benefit of curiosity. The deals I’ve been able to close or rooms I’ve been able to enter from remaining curious has been proven repeatedly. We must be curious in all aspects of our life. Innovation is born of curiosity. Self doubt in our ability, manifests itself in the form of editing curiosity.  How often do you convince yourself a reoccurring thought or idea is not of value? How often have you compared a wild thought to your normal environment and dismissed it as “crazy”? We all possess creativity.  We just need to stop trying to make creativity convenient to our ordinary lives.

“By introducing ourselves to the unfamiliar, we open up our network to novel possibilities for efficiency. This is called innovation.” p.64

The Spark and the Grind-Erik Wahl


3. Don’t let insecurity stop you

Embrace your rookie season. Even publicly if need be.  If we are committed to life long learning, we will always have rookie seasons. In order to be an expert, you have to be a rookie.  Develop the vulnerability and patience to appreciate being a novice. I think often times the obstacle is the fear of looking like a beginner versus actually beginning. It takes a lot of courage to do things when you are not confident. I will stop robbing myself of amazing opportunities because I’m insecure about how I may appear to others while I’m figuring it all out. How many more incredible experiences will you miss from not working through the awkwardness of the beginner phase?

“We fight not to appear foolish. Stop fighting that fight. Let go of your self-consciousness and fear of humiliation. There are far greater things to lose than a little ego now and then.” p.198

The Spark and the Grind-Erik Wahl


This book really inspired me to look differently at how I pursue my life and career.  It is certainly one of my favorite books I’ve read in 2017 (I have all the highlighted passages to prove it.). Erik Wahl also has a pretty cool YouTube Series in which he highlights people who epitomize the concept of The Spark and the Grind.  Check it out

My Thoughts on Thomas Friedman’s Thank You for Being Late

Thank you for Being Late

I just finished reading Thomas Friedman’s latest book Thank Your For Being Late. Friedman’s thoughts and research unexpectedly moved me both personally and professionally.  Allow me to share a few simple thoughts:

The Power of a Pause  During an era where busy is the new black, Friedman acknowledges the gift we give ourselves when we make a few moments to take a pause. During that pause, we can be more mindful about what’s happening right in front of us. We can settle our thoughts and connect our ideas better. As a freelance writer with a rewarding full time career, my mind is constantly racing. Internally I am generating questions and ideas at a rate impossible to capture and connect with what’s truly impactful. Pausing versus propelling to act gives me more time to flush out solutions, assess opportunities and appreciate the moment. Taking just a moment to focus on the journey of our professional performance, rather than the destination actually helps with our development and enhances our experience. It’s from taking the time to pause that allows us to pinpoint the important parts of our journey. As a result we fail faster and recall steps to success with much more ease.

Connection through Globalization  Friends, we are truly more connected that I thought.  Friedman builds a timeline of the technological advancements and highlights that make your colleague on the other side of the planet feel like your offices are in the same building. Gone are the days in which we consume information and keep it for competitive advantage. Today we advance by contributing to the conversation. Thanks to these advancements bringing us closer together, we can contribute at unprecedented levels. The knowledge of the greater collective is what moves our culture forward. I’ve been wrestling with this idea of consumption vs contribution. I’ve dreamed of being a writer my entire life. After spending the better part of last year reading 112 books, I realized my desire to share all I’d learned was also a responsibility to contribute to the collective from which I’d learned so much. Thus, making the decision to become a freelance writer a no brainer. We all have thoughts, ideas, passions to contribute. Think of all the platforms in which you consume information, art, entertainment, peace or connection. The simple acquisition of content is no longer enough, we are truly enhanced and making steps toward advancing when we apply what we learn and share it with others.

Stop Ignoring the “Black Elephants” in Life.  Turns out, there are some dangerous effects with “the power of many”, like climate change. Friedman shares the definition of the “black elephant” on p.158 of this book: “A black elephant, it was explained to be by the London-based investor and environmentalist Adam Sweden, is a cross between a black swan-a rare, low-probability, unanticipated event with enormous ramifications-and the elephant in the room: a problem that is widely visible to everyone, yet that no one wants to address, even though we absolutely know that one day it will have vast, black-swan-like-consequences.” This black elephant concept is in reference to climate change in the book. It immediately caused me to think of the black elephants in my own life and business such as the professional relationships I need to cultivate, causes that are important to me like literacy, health care, racial, social, and economic equality. There are small decisions that will lead to larger moments later on in life. In the book, Friedman shares 4 phrases in climate change that are basically red flags:

  • Just a few years ago…but then something changed
  • Wow, I’ve never seen that before
  • Well, usually, but now I don’t know anymore
  • We haven’t seen something like that since

These are all phrases that if you find yourself saying or thinking in reference to climate change, you should really be doing something. We need to take action at all levels to influence policy making. If the government won’t take action, we still can still influence change in our own practices, with our voice, our vote, and the companies and organizations we support. As for the black elephants in our personal lives, the same steps apply.

Friends, this is a unique age in our lives. We must seize this opportunity to engage with one another and connect like never before. You’ve heard the expression “Start with what you have”.  This book is an optimistic reminder that we have so much! We have more resources available to us today than at any other point in history. What will you do with this access? How will you responsibility contribute and leave the world better than you found it and in only a way you can?  Take that pause, connect/contribute, and take ownership of those black elephants.


Books to Launch Your 2017

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“New year, New you” is mocked these days on social media because often times we don’t maintain our resolutions.  Still, I am a believer in the power of goal setting.  Few things motivate me more than dreaming, planning, and mapping out my accomplishments this time of year.  True I didn’t accomplish everything in 2016, I certainly feel the growth and difference a year can make.  Often what I read says a lot about me and my focus.  Here I share with you books I’ve read or will read to improve my health (mental and physical), finances, professional ambitions, productivity and more.   (more…)

112 Books: The Top 12

One of the most frequently asked questions of me is “What has been the best book you’ve read this year?”  I have had a hard time answering the question as I’ve read so many fantastic books.  (My list was sensational!) Narrowing down 112 books to 12 was hard.  Allow the disclaimer that I could give you another 12 beyond this list.  That being said, here at my top 12 books I’ve read in 2016: (more…)

Book 100: Ego is the Enemy


Well guys its official.  I have read 100 books this year.  I only have 12 books to read between now and my birthday on January 12, 2017.  I didn’t know when I selected Ego is the Enemy to be my 100th read that I would get so much perspective about this journey of reading and blogging about reading 112 Books.

Many things stood out to me about this book but one that really struck me was the section under Aspire. This section called out a lot of things for me such as talking about what you are going to do versus doing it first then sharing if you must.  I think I am pretty action oriented, but something hit me like a ton of bricks after reading the Aspire section:  (more…)

Terry McMillian: I Almost Forgot About YOU!

I Almost Forgot About You

I’m just going to say it.  Terry McMillan made a come back with her latest novel, “I Almost Forgot About You”.  I have not read a Terry McMillan book since the 90s people.  There I was in the Barnes and Noble and right at the new releases table was this gem.  I LOVED it!  Let me tell you why: (more…)

The Concept of Grit


Genius or Hard Work?  Cue Allen Iverson: “We talking bout practice?”

This book makes a compelling case about the value and benefit of hard work.  Psychologist and author Angela Duckworth profiles subjects from all walks of life: sports, business, education and more. Think of all those people thriving at the top of their game-you may be surprised at how they really got there.  This book argues a particular factor that separates those who excel and those who do not. Excellent vs Average could possibly be boiled down to one trait if you will… (more…)

Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching

Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching

So I’m browsing through Barnes and Noble and stumble across this book. The title grabbed my attention immediately. After reading the cover, I decided to give it a read. Oh. My. Goodness! I DEVOURED this book!  During these trying times for young Black men in America, this book gives a voice to many! (more…)

Mental Toughness

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do

Recently a friend picked out this book for me.  Immediately intrigued by the title, I knew this would be a book I wanted to give my undivided attention.  For that reason, I saved it for my trip to Miami.  I LOVED all 13 chapters, the ones that really spoke to me are bolded: (more…)