2020 MCFA Reading List

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones – James Clear

Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes – Margaret Hefferman

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant – W. Chan Kim & Reneé Mauborgne

Deep Work – Cal Newport

Deliberate Discomfort: How U.S. Special Operations Forces Overcome Fear and Dare to Win by Getting Comfortable Being Uncomfortable – Jason B.A. Van Camp & Andy Symonds

Extreme Ownership – Jocko Willink & Leif Babin

First Things First – Stephen R. Covey

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen

Go-Givers Sell More – Bob Burg & John David Mann

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions: Your Foundation for Successful Leadership – John C. Maxwell

Greater Than Yourself: The Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership – Steve Farber

Mikey and the Dragons – Jocko Willink

Principles: Life and Work – Ray Dolio

Profiles in Courage – John F. Kennedy

Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back – Andrew Zolli & Anne Marie Healy

Resisting Happiness – Matthew Kelly

The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives – Peter H. Diamandis & Steven Kotler

The Infinite Game – Simon Sinek

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail – Clayton M. Christensen

The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph – Ryan Holiday

The One Minute Manager Meets the Monkey – Kenneth Blanchard

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business – Charles Duhigg

The Strong Gray Line: War-Time Reflections from the West Point Class of 2004 – Cory Wallace

Virtual Culture: The Way We Work Doesn’t Work Anymore, a Manifesto – Bryan Miles

Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court – Coach John Wooden & Steve Jamison

Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals – Michael Hyatt

Happy 2021 and Happy Reading!

Instant Gratification Nation?

“Modern man is conditioned to expect instant gratification, but any success or triumph realized quickly, with only marginal effort, is necessarily shallow. Meaningful achievement takes time, hard work, persistence, patience, proper intent and self-awareness. The path to success is punctuated by failure, consolidation, and renewed effort.”
– Mark Twain

This past weekend I had the honor of sitting on the Service Academy Nomination Committee for a local Congressman. This panel of community leaders and local service academy graduates help to interview, rank and recommend high school seniors applying to the various academies for a congressional nomination.   

Wow!!  I was impressed!  

Yes, the resumes were strong – high SAT scores, ranked in the top 5% of their class, student council president, stand out athletes, team Captains, strong letters of recommendation, and the list goes on.  

But it wasn’t their packets that impressed me the most; it was their communication skills. Yes, I know that they have practiced and prepared, but the ability to build rapport, answer questions and communicate to a very diverse (background, age, gender, race, etc.) panel all over a Zoom interview, incredible. I left the interviews thinking about two things: 

  1. No way I would get into West Point today, and
  2. Our Nation’s future is in good hands 

But the more we asked the question of “where do you see yourself in 10 years” (4 years of school plus 5 years Active Duty service obligation), I couldn’t help leaving the weekend reflecting on the last 20 years. 20 years since I graduated high school, and I was in their shoes. 10 years ago, I was getting off active duty, getting married, transitioning to the reserves, and starting my “business career.” 10 years before that, I was applying to service academies, graduating from high school, and eventually starting my Plebe year at West Point. Boy, does time fly.  

While most of our time is spent helping our organizations look out into the future, take the time to look into your future. It’s the end of the year, and 2020 has thrown us all our punches. Take out a sheet of paper and remind yourself what you want to accomplish in the next 10 years, but spend more time on what you want to accomplish in the next year. 

And as for New Year Resolutions. Make them Dec 11th Resolutions. Don’t quit or start some extreme resolution like “I’m never eating a cookie again” or “never drinking again” find moderation and build. You will be surprised what you can accomplish over 10 years if you focus on hard work, persistence, patience, proper intent, self-awareness… and renewed effort. Take the time now to renew your effort. Don’t wait until Dec 26th or Jan 1st.  

BJ Kraemer, President

Radical Transparency

But what does Mother Teresa have to do with Radical Transparency? 

I first heard the phrase “Radical Transparency” when I read – Principles by Ray Dalio. In his words “I want independent thinkers who are going to disagree,” he says “The most important things I want are meaningful work and meaningful relationships. And I believe that the way to get those is through radical truth and radical transparency. In order to be successful, we have to have independent thinkers — so independent that they’ll bet against the consensus. You have to put your honest thoughts on the table.” He may summarize it differently but how I remember it is essentially creating a culture where honest feedback and communication is not only an operating principle but is encouraged and welcomed! Why? Because it speeds up decision making and learning. And when it’s a cultural norm in your company or project team, it’s accepted with a smile.  

This isn’t permission to lack compassion. But direct feedback NEEDS to be welcomed. I love the Army AAR (After Action Review) process for just this reason. After all training events and missions, big or small, the Army AAR is a mandatory close out protocol. What did we do well and What can we do better. I believe these questions create an environment that welcomes and encourages transparency and allows real growth.  

So in the spirit of Radical Transparency, start with being honest with yourself and your team. Where can you improve? What can you be better? Share it with your team, they deserve to know and your organization will be better for it.

BJ Kraemer, President