Books I’ve Been Reading


April 27, 2012 by Jay Helms

Lessons Learned from Books I Have Read Recently

Disney War by James Stewart
The war chronicled in this book revolves around Roy Disney (Walt’s Nephew), a guy named Frank Wells, Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner, and former Disney man Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg left in the 90’s to start DreamWorks with Steven Spielberg. What I learned is Eisner, Katzenberg, and the men they hired basically operated like Voldemort, the Malfoys, and the Death Eaters. They accomplished incredible feats through sheer force of power and will, while leaving a collection of dead bodies in their wake. I am reminded of a Voldemort line from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, “There is no such thing as love, only power. And those too weak to seek it will die as fools.”
Eisner had one particularly redeeming quality: creativity, and the ability to get behind creative ventures. Katzenberg had one redeeming quality: the ability to do whatever it takes to get a job done effectively. Frank Wells had the most redeeming qualities of anyone in the battle and the chief one of his was his humility in a world of driven people. I think all three of these qualities in one person would make for a fantastic leader and friend.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
How can you not love Malcolm Gladwell? Did you know Gladwell and Colin Powell are cousins? Reading Outliers, I learned the phrase “self-made man/woman” is a falsehood. I learned the Irish and Scottish culture of honor from more than 300 years ago has profoundly shaped the culture in the southern United States. And I, personally, am a product of that in some ways I am not comfortable with. I learned how a very unique gig had a profound impact on how the Beatles became great. I learned to better embrace the place God has given me in this world and to value that more.

Food Trucks by Heather Shouse
I learned a number of creative recipes. Food truck owners & cooks are some of the true innovators in the food industry and no one saw them coming. I learned that I would love to “Rent” a food truck and get one to come to my street for a block party one night. I learned that if I am traveling anywhere in the USA I need to be sure to know what Food Trucks frequent the city I am visiting. This will change how I travel.

Mud, Sweat, and Tears by Bear Grylls
This is an amazing “man book” filled with terrific narrative recollections and very, very short chapters. Interestingly enough, I learned how true Outliers is, from Bear’s book. I learned how powerful a Dad’s love for a son can be. I learned how our Heavenly Father’s love has made Bear into a model for masculinity reminiscent of Jesus – a combination of humility, toughness, and joyfulness. This is a great Father’s Day gift. It is released in the US this coming Tuesday, May 1.

What about you? What have you read recently? Share what you have learned. I would love to learn from you.

2 thoughts on “Books I’ve Been Reading

  1. annewoodman says:

    I haven’t read Disney War… but I have read Steve Jobs, which touched on not only him but the rise of Pixar, etc. I think you would like that one. I learned: geniuses are not the most endearing people, but somehow they change the way we experience the world.

    I love Malcolm Gladwell and have read all of his (I think). I had no idea that he and Colin Powell were cousins! Cool.

    Along the lines of some of these nonfiction books… I enjoy Barbara Ehrenreich’s stuff: ie. she (as a middle-aged writer) takes on a series of minimum wage jobs and writes about how it’s impossible to survive and thrive (tough to put down a deposit on an apartment if you are just starting a cleaning houses job, for example).

    Haven’t read about Bear Grylls, but I love watching him. He’s pretty amazing.

    One book I keep going back to in my mind is Night by Elie Wiesel. I think my life changed after reading that one.

    And I’d like to read the new one by Madeline Albright about how she had no idea that several members of her family died in the concentration camps… and how her parents raised her Roman Catholic when the family’s background was actually Jewish. I bet it’s fascinating.

    • Jay Helms says:

      Great suggestions. I looked over “Night” my freshman year of college, but had such an elitist teacher who loved it, that I really didn’t want anything to do with anything she liked. I should give it another shot.

      And I’ve actually been considering (seriously) writing Malcolm Gladwell and asking him to research and write a book on the subject of top-level leadership, kindness and being genuine…can they coexist? He could start with his cousin. I’m convinced it is possible to get great stuff done without having to be so unendearing.

      I have a copy of Bear’s book to share with Daryl, but I don’t want to push it on anyone. There are some wonderful Father-son stories in the book that I think he would appreciate at this stage of life.

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