‘The 4 Disciplines of Execution’ by C. McChesney, S. Covey and J. Huling

This highly recommended and bestselling business book is a set of practices that have been tested by many organisations, to help them turn plans and strategies into action. Although the book helps organisations, it is just as helpful for individuals. The book gives advice, based on experience and practice, on how to achieve goals, have meaningful work, and get successful results and stay focused in the midst of a “whirlwind” of priorities.

Discipline One: Focus on the Wildly Important

By focusing on less you get to achieve more. Instead of focusing on or trying to do everything at once, select one or two most important goals, and focus your finest efforts on those instead of giving mediocre focus on many goals at once. This will also help you become clear about what matters the most.

Discipline Two: Act on the Lead Measures

Some actions have more impact than others, and those are the ones you should identify and focus on. This is the discipline of leverage. Your lead measures are those of the most high-impact things you should do to reach your goal(s). These are measures you can predict and influence.

Discipline Three: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

When you’re keeping score you tend to play differently. When you’re tracking how you’re scoring, you become emotionally engaged and the result is a high level of performance. This is about engagement – knowing whether you are winning or losing the game.

Discipline Four: Create a Cadence of Accountability

You have to follow through with consistent action and operate with a high level of accountability. Commit to moving the score forward. Report on your commitments, review the scoreboard, and clear the path and make way for new commitments. This discipline is where the actual execution takes place.

The above has been simplified so that an individual can be able to understand and put it to practice. The 4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX) can make a difference in your personal life too and the book is written in such a simple way that it’s not difficult to take what it advises an organisation, and chop it down to suit you as an individual or a small organisation.

Execution is challenging and this is what this book is for, giving you a framework of how to break through those challenges. When priorities are a mountain it becomes difficult to straighten them or get them done effectively. Here you’ll find ways to prioritize your time and focus on what matters the most. Goals differ, some are achievable and others aren’t, some are more important than others. The book helps you narrow down what matters the most.

It seems simple but you have to keep at it, commit. It’s one of those books you might want to keep revisiting as you go along, highlight important parts, or keep notes on the most important rules/guidelines. Depending on how fast you learn, it can be repetitive but that can be beneficial if you want to get every bit of detail and thoroughly understand it. It’s worth having.

Book Review: The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau

“Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love And Work Better To Live More.”

Depending on where you are in your life and career, this book could be positive and inspiring or it could be insufferably ambitious. I found it to be a brew of both. Here’s how.

In a world where we are constantly discouraged by the arduous, harsh and dark journey starting and running a business is, it’s pleasant to read a book that simplifies it and makes it look achievable. The $100 Startup shows how you need three important ingredients to start – a service or product, willing payers and a way to get paid for it. It talks about how you don’t need a lot of money or exceptional training to start a business. Guillebeau advices that what you need is to merge passion and skill with something that people can use. He does, however, warn that not all passions are to be pursued as business because there are passions that people are not willing to pay for.

In the book you’ll find help to outline your business ideas quickly, helping you to solve the challenge of creating the elusive business plan that leaves many stuck. There are also steps to market testing as well as strategies to launching. Guillebeau uses case studies throughout the book; stories of people who quit their jobs and took the leap to start a business that ended up successful, and people who packed their bags to travel the world while making money.

The advice and stories are great but if you’ve already read a number of business or self-help books, this one can sound like a repetition of everything you’ve heard before. The emphasis on combining passion and skill with something people can use is at times dissatisfying and the many case studies are exhausting.

At times, a book has the pure intention of showing the reader all the possibilities out there by focusing on a lot of successful stories but that can make the book stale and create that too-ambitious element. Readers don’t want a book that says, “Sit your butt down, you will fail at this”, but they also don’t want a fairytale-esque self-help because it’s challenging for many people to square that kind of information with their realities.  

I’d recommend it for people with no baggage, no spouse or family to look after. You can’t just up and leave to globe-trot while running a business from your laptop and cafes when you have kids and a spouse with a steady job. Younger people who are still finding themselves and who can afford to make the shittiest mistakes while growing and learning their way to generating income, will probably appreciate it. Also, older people who want to finally do the things they had sacrificed to have a stable family, would appreciate it and take on this kind of journey.   

It can get you going at first but halfway through the book you can easily take a bow, put it down and say, “I get the gist, thank you.” However, the simplicity of how taking the leap and starting, making changes and learning as you go along are some of the gems you’ll walk away with.

⭐⭐

Title: The $100 Startup

Author: Chris Guillebeau

Published: 2012

Genre: Self-help

Review: The Art of War for Women by Chin-Ning Chu

“It’s About the Art, Not the War.”

After reading this book I had to admit that I had not understood Sun Tzu’s The Art of War at all. Could it be that the original text had been written for a male audience and I had failed to interpret it from a female point of view? Whatever the reason I’m happy to have read Chin-Ning Chu’s version.

Whether you want to move up the ladder, get that senior position you’ve been eyeing, break the glass ceiling, deal with a difficult colleague or boss, be a better parent or homemaker, or become a successful entrepreneur, this book will help address some of the things that are holding you back and help you with the way forward.

Before you think that this is some raging feminist book, stop. It’s certainly not anti-men and I think that men can also benefit from reading it. Chin-Ning Chu takes all the principles from ancient text and breathes contemporary life into it, and addresses it to women. Something we need more of.

This book is about effective strategies and how we women can see ourselves as leaders, which a lot of times we shy away from because throughout history we have been misrepresented in a lot ways – too emotional and not built for leadership. A good example of how Chin-Ning Chu applies Sun Tzu’s principles is how with regards to this misrepresentation of women she suggests the art of deception and how we can use this illusion of weakness to our advantage.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, all of it. There are many gems she shares about repackaging womankind and selling the world a new image of womanhood. This encourages you to change the way you see yourself, how you see the roles you play in your personal life and in business. After reading The Art of War for Women you will change the way you think, the way you act and the way you manage yourself, people and situations.

I’d recommend this book to women who have been losing on the battlefield of career and home because they’re women and because they have been fed the lie that they can’t win. The book will teach you about taking a holistic approach to winning. I would also recommend it to people who, like me, have read the original The Art of War by Sun Tzu but couldn’t grasp it or apply it anywhere.


Title: The Art of War for Women

Author: Chin-Ning Chu

Publisher: Broadway Books, New York. 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-51843-7

Genre: Business & Economics