Abhishek Gupta – Designer

Abhishek Gupta is the lead UX Designer at Lumosity, writes at Quora and Medium, and these are his good things.

Good things to read.

Principles by Ray Dalio.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Mind, Society, and Behaviour – World Development Report 2015.

Good things to watch.

My Dinner with Andre.

The Man from Earth.

Ship of Theseus.

Good things to use

Trello for organizing important aspects of your life.

F.lux for making it easier to use computer at night without eye-strain.

Spire wearable device to get real-time notifications if you are tense or haven’t breathed deeply in a while.

Connect with Abhishek on Twitter, @uxabhishek.

Tristina Wright – Author

Tristina Wright is a blue-haired bisexual with anxiety and opinions. She’s also possibly a mermaid, but no one can get confirmation. She writes YA SFF novels and short stories about queer teens who become heroes and monsters. When she’s not writing books or short stories, she can be found around the internet guest blogging about advocacy issues. Most recently, she was featured on DiversifYA and Gay YA speaking about bisexuality.

Good things to read.

I love it when people expand their horizons a little and touch a toe outside their comfort zone. Today, I want to tell you about three authors who exist at various points along the queer spectrum so you can fall in love with their words the way I have.

Laura Lam – She’s the author of Pantomime, Shadowplay, and the upcoming third to the trilogy, Masquerade (TOR UK 2016) which is the incredible journey of Micah Grey, a bisexual intersex teen, who is raised female, runs away and joins a circus as a male, and shenanigans ensue. That’s really all I can tell you without giving it all away. My new favorite of hers is False Hearts (TOR 2016), and I can best describe it as Inception and Orphan Black and Almost Human and Blade Runner all had a baby somehow (It’s science fiction. Go with me on this.) and that baby is this book. It’s about separated conjoined twins and what happens when one of them is accused of murder. It’s sexy and shiny and intense and oh so delicious.

Justina Ireland – She’s the author of Promise of Shadows and Vengeance Bound. Justina has this magical way with words that roots you firmly in the story yet pulls your senses into the world she’s expertly crafted. She plays with mythology and preconceptions and a sense of self without being heavy-handed. I want to shove her books into the hands of everyone I know. She’s also an amazing woman who advocates for marginalized authors, especially authors of color, and I’ve learned so much from her in the time I’ve known her.

Abigail Roux – She’s the author of many queer novels. Her most famous is the Cut & Run Series, which spans nine books and follows the enemies-to-lovers adventures of bisexual FBI agents Ty Grady and Zane Garrett. She’s also recently started a spin-off Sidewinder Series, which follows friends-to-lovers Nick O’Flaherty and Kelly Abbott plus their brand new relationship and all the trouble two men who’ve known each other for fifteen years can get into (spoiler: it’s a lot). My favorite of hers, though? The Gravedigger’s Brawl (which is perfect for Halloween, hint hint). Roux gives us a gothic, almost steampunk ghost story involving a haunted bar with the titular name, a bartender named Ash Lucroix, and a geeky historian named Dr. Wyatt Case.

Good things to watch.

I love science fiction. I love the imagination. I love the reach. I love the hope science fiction gives us. Reach for the stars. Invent new things. Put aside prejudices. Watch out for asteroids. Blue milk is good for you. I also really love science fiction accidents—especially ones involving wormholes. Whoops, pressed a button. Whoops, got sucked through a wormhole. So here are three excellent science fiction shows that deal with accidental wormholes in some fashion. Bonus, these are all completed so you can binge at your leisure.

Stargate SG-1 (1997-2007) – Probably one of the first science fiction shows to really capture my imagination. The show spun off the original movie, Stargate, in which an ancient ring found in the desert turns out to be a doorway to a wormhole to another world. Aliens and misunderstandings and the requisite explosions happen. There was something about the very idea of the world that I fell completely in love with. The television show took that concept and expanded it to many doorways scattered all over the universe. Every episode, SG-1, the first stargate team, stepped through the stargate in order to explore a new world. It ran for ten seasons plus two movies and one spin-off series. It will forever be my favorite scifi television show.

Sliders (1995-2000) – In my humble opinion, the glory of this show was in the first 3 seasons. Basically, a genius physics student whoops-opens-a-wormhole which sucks him and his friends into a parallel universe. The entire point of the show is they’re sliding (Eh? Eh? Get it?) from one parallel world to another trying to find their way home. The near misses absolutely break your soul but you keep coming back for more.

Farscape (1999-2003) – Fun fact: Ben Browder and Claudia Black later join Stargate SG-1 where their characters dislike each other as opposed to here, where they are most definitely completely heart eyes in love with each other. Essentially, while testing a new flight drive in a spaceship, an astronaut is (surprise!) sucked through a wormhole to a distant part of the galaxy where he falls in with a mismatched group of outlaws. Hijinks! Shenanigans! Space muppets! And seriously some of the best makeup and costuming for the time period. The show is bright and wonderful and everything a scifi show from 1999 should be.

Good things to use.

Writing advice is, more often than not, pick your poison. It’s never one-size-fits-all and the best advice is, really, go with your gut. That said, here are three things I always use while writing.

Imak Computer Gloves – I love these things. They cushion your wrists with these badass little microbeads that basically give you a massage as you move. I bought two, obviously.

Notebooks – I collect notebooks like trading cards. I love having a notebook dedicated to each writing project. My favorites are the ones from Studio Oh! and the journals from Paperblanks, especially the Silver Filigree ones. So magical and beautiful and make me feel like whatever I put in those pages will come to life…which could, in some situations, be bad, but they’re really pretty okay?

Productivity Calendar – I got the idea from Victoria Schwab and her sticker method which is incredibly easy and straightforward. I’ve tried all sorts of productivity planning systems, reward systems, goal tracking, you name it. Nothing has worked better for me than this method. Buy any calendar or print off a free one from the internet, get some stickers or colored pens, make a key, and go to town. I’ve been using it for just about a year now (oh hey anniversary or something yay!) and it’s been amazing for my productivity in writing, editing, critiquing, getting through my towering pile of books I need to read, and even household chores and exercise. I love it. I cannot recommend it enough.

Connect with Tristina on Twitter, @TristinaWright, tumblr, facebook, or website.

John Joseph Adams – Editor

John Joseph Adams is the bestselling editor of many other anthologies, such as Wastelands, Brave New Worlds, and The Living Dead. Recent and forthcoming books include Operation Arcana, Press Start to Play, Loosed Upon the World, and The Apocalypse Triptych (consisting of The End is Nigh, The End is Now, and The End Has Come). Called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes & Noble, John is a two-time winner of the Hugo Award (for which he has been nominated nine times) and is a seven-time World Fantasy Award finalist. John is also the editor and publisher of the digital magazines Lightspeed and Nightmare, and is a producer for WIRED’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.

His latest book, the first volume of Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, which he co-edited with bestselling author Joe Hill), was just released October 6.

Good things to read.

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester. During the time when I was first seriously exploring science fiction, I was working at a Waldenbooks and reading books at a rate that I look back upon and envy. But during my time working there–this was back in the mid-90s, before Amazon was really big, and people still actually often ordered books at the bookstore–a bunch of customers started ordering this book called The Stars My Destination. I hadn’t heard of it, or its author, Alfred Bester. The sudden popularity of it confused me; it was being ordered as if it were something that had just been featured on TV. So I asked the next person who had ordered it if she knew why it was suddenly being ordered so often, and she explained that it had been out of print for a long time and had just come back into print. (I would later learn that it was out of print for a long time, despite being a science fiction classic, because when Alfred Bester died, he left his literary estate to his bartender, who didn’t know how to manage it.) The cover of that edition–the Vintage trade paperback edition from about 1996, with the hand holding the ball of PyrE–doesn’t necessarily scream science fiction, but the vaguely fantastical imagery on the cover and the word “stars” in the title prompted my curiosity to see what the book was all about. And when I read the cover copy and saw that it praised it as a classic and labeled Bester as a master of science fiction, I figured I’d give it a shot.

It BLEW MY MIND. After reading that book, my reading life became all about finding other books like that one. Up to that point, I’d read a number of sf novels that I liked a great deal, and still to this day remember fondly, but it wasn’t until The Stars My Destination that I realized the heights that science fiction was capable of attaining, and it wasn’t until then that I narrowed my reading focus almost exclusively to sf in my efforts to find more books that effected me in that same way.

There’s a paragraph in the book from the early part of chapter one that describes “common man” protagonist Gully Foyle’s state of mind. He’s been stuck, as the lone survivor, on a spaceship for 170 days, and watches as another ship approaches his, ignores his distress call, and leaves him to die:

He had reached a dead end. He had been content to drift from moment to moment of existence for thirty years like some heavily armored creature […] but now he was adrift in space for one hundred and seventy days, and the key to his awakening was in the lock. Presently it would turn and open the door to holocaust.

So that’s the key to Gully’s awakening. I think of The Stars My Destination as mine.

The [People] Destroy [Genre] Special Issues of Lightspeed, Nightmare, and Fantasy.

This might seem like a bit of a cheat since I’m the publisher of these magazines, but since I didn’t edit any of these issues — we had a guest editor at the helm for each of them — I figure it’s fair game.

You’d think that in the 21st century people would have stopped saying silly things like “women are destroying science fiction” but that ridiculous sentiment still crops up from time to time, even in professional book reviews. As a response to that, Lightspeed decided to publish an all-women issue and challenged them to destroy science fiction…so that it can be rebuilt better, stronger, more diverse than it was before. A Kickstarter campaign for Women Destroy Science Fiction! seemed to strike a chord, raising more than $53,000 (more than 1000% of the original goal), and the end result was an amazing collection of fiction and essays–NPR even named it one of the best books of the year.

The project was so successful, it also spawned Women Destroy Fantasy! and Women Destroy Horror!, and then this year, it was Queers’ turn to destroy things. That campaign had similar success, resulting in three Queers Destroy special issues as well. In 2016, we’ll publish People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction! and do a related Kickstarter, which will determine if we’ll unlock Fantasy and Horror volumes of that one as well.

The National Book Awards for Young People’s Literature LonglistI served as a judge for the National Book Awards for Young People’s Literature this year, alongside four other judges (Teri Lesesne, Laura McNeal, G. Neri, and Eliot Schrefer). We read a ton of books and whittled our favorites down to the top ten, which includes lots of amazing works. There are books on this list that I honestly feel are classics-in-the-making, books that I will remember and treasure forever. I can’t be more specific than that because I’m not allowed to discuss my specific feelings about any of the various books, but suffice to say you can’t go wrong with any of those ten. (The top five will be announced Oct. 14, and then the winner will be presented on Nov. 18.)

Good things to watch.

The WireFar and away my favorite television show of all time, and perhaps my favorite piece of entertainment ever as well. (And now that HBO has remastered the entire series, presenting it now in widescreen instead of 4:3, it looks better than ever.) If you haven’t seen it yet, I envy you being able to experience it for the first time. Full of gritty realism and social commentary, it puts every other cop/crime drama to shame. It was also hugely progressive on a number of levels; there are things in The Wire you still don’t see anywhere else on television, even more than a decade later. A true masterpiece that blazed the way for the serious television dramas that followed it.

Black MirrorThis is maybe old hat to people in the UK, but US residents are just getting a chance to see this more recently thanks to Netflix. Being a short story editor, obviously I love the idea of an anthology show, but unfortunately there hasn’t been one that’s been consistently good in…quite a long time. There were some recent ones like Masters of Science Fiction and Masters of Horror that had moments of brilliance but overall weren’t cohesively great. Enter Black Mirror, a technology-based Twilight Zone for the 21st century, with high production values, wonderful acting, and whip-smart writing. I nominate Charlie Brooker for president (prime minister?) of science fiction television, and maybe film too while we’re at it. Somebody give the guy a movie contract is what I’m saying…so long as he can do something original and not helm some fucking franchise.

(I’m going to cheat and also recommend two other fantastic Netflix shows: Sense8 and Daredevil.)

Big Hero 6It didn’t get the most attention of all of the science fiction/fantasy movies that came out in 2014, but it was far and away my favorite. It’s like the movie is made of joy. I mean, there’s tragedy in it and whatnot, but the overall thing is just so fun and joyful–I love it to pieces. Since it came out on home video, I’ve been watching it over and over like a little kid.

Good things to use.

Boomerang for GmailSubscription service that lets you banish emails from your inbox temporarily, with a pre-set time for it to “boomerang” back into your inbox. Nothing’s going to help you get your inbox under control better. If you want more tips, look for my article “Conquering Your Inbox” that ran in the SFWA Bulletin recently.

NexusmodsMod community for video games like Skyrim and Fallout. I’ve only used it for Skyrim thus far, but I can already foresee myself replaying Fallout 3 and New Vegas, and then delving into the other games that have a mod community. Don’t like the way something works in Skyrim? There’s probably a mod for that! Run out of quests? There’s like 1000 mods for that! Want the dragons to have the face of Randy “Macho Man” Savage? There is, strangely enough, a mod for that. And hey, it’s all free, and you don’t even really need to know anything about computers to make the mods work.

TurboScan app (iOS/Android). Why bother with a scanner when your phone can do just as well? I actually have a scanner that I use for bigger projects (like when I’m scanning a text to digitize it via OCR when I’m reprinting an old story), but the scanner’s so slow to boot up if I just need to scan a contract or something one or two pages, it’s much more convenient to just take a picture of it with my iPhone. But just taking a picture of the document may result in some blur or other issues you don’t want if you’re using it in a professional setting, which is where TurboScan comes in. When you take the picture it works some magic, including straightening the document image, and results in a scan that’s just as good as anything you’d get out of a scanner. When you’re done scanning, you can set up the app so that it can email it to yourself (and it will remember your email address so you don’t have to put it in every time).  It costs a couple of dollars, but it’s worth every penny!

Connect with John on Twitter, @johnjosephadams.

Lee Garrett – Author, Blogger, Project Manager

Lee Garrett is a blogger, author, and project manager. He writes at MyProductiveMac, Productivityist, and is a guest podcaster on British Tech Network. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Procrastination On Purpose by Rory Vaden. Rory is a guy that started at the bottom and worked his way up to become a successful businessman and entrepreneur. His ideas for how you can leverage procrastination to actually aid you in meeting your goals and dreams is really well written and inspiring. It’s had a great influence on me.

Getting Things Done by David Allen. Yes, I realise it’s almost a cliche to have this book in there and I’m hardly straying from the masses with it, but to not include a book that I can, hand on my heart, say has changed my life, would be doing it a great disservice. My life was a disorganised mess and I was on a road to nowhere when I discovered this book and I’m on a path to a much better place now. I agree it’s hard to follow all of the tenets that that the book promotes, however if you CAN use it as a framework, there really isn’t much of a limit as to what you can achieve.

Dark Tower Series by Stephen King.  I wanted to include a more leisure-focused read in my list because it is so important to do things that are just considered ‘fun’. Although pushed hard by George RR Martins A Song Of Ice And Fire series, I maintain that the greatest set of books I have read to do date is the Dark Tower. Not only is it easy to envelop yourself in the dark, brooding landscapes, you find yourself empathising with the characters in a way I haven’t experienced before, either in print or on film. King captures your emotions with these books by ensuring that we have a deep bond with each protagonist and I’ve never been so close to tears as I was towards the end of this series. A must read.

Good things to watch.

Over the last year, whilst I have been bedding myself into the Apple application space, I’ve been watching the screencasts that have been so expertly crafted by my compatriot Don McAllister at Screencasts Online. My productivity angle has been, and always will be, how to leverage the most from your Apple tech and I ALWAYS pick up something new from his videos, even when I don’t expect it! He’s always first to market with expert iOS, OS X and Apple Watch videos on new releases. Another application focused site that I habitually visit is LearnOmnifocus by the great Tim Stringer. Tim is a man I admire greatly, having spoken openly about his fight with cancer and how he has used tools like OmniFocus to centre his life and keep it on track. I use OmniFocus as my task manager of choice and it’s such a huge application to learn, that these videos help keep my knowledge to the level it should be, as I am an OmniFocus coach.

Lastly, I need a leisure watch and I cannot stop watching Ripper Street currently on Amazon Prime. I work occasionally on the streets of Whitechapel where the Ripper once roamed and I love the way the characters, stories and scenery are depicted. You can truly believe that the way the characters enunciate their words is exactly how it would have been in Victorian times and the plot-lines really are a mix of suspense and surprise. The fact it has been commissioned for two more seasons (four and five) is great news.

Good things to use.

I’m going to highlight the three things I use most often at the moment that I know I cannot do without. The first is Slack, which helps keep me in constant contact with both friends and colleagues alike. I’m even planning on setting up a Family Slack channel so that we can share files and have an alternative instant messaging solution, with channels for Birthdays, Holidays, Christmas etc. I think Slack has only scratched the surface with regards to where it’s going to be. Second, is DEVONthink Pro Office. I use DEVONthink Pro Office as my paperless office and, as a Project Manager, it is invaluable to me, especially when i need to retrieve data. I have workflows setup that automatically import data, both at my machine and on the go, with tools like Hazel and Dropbox and my clients feel safe in the knowledge that I have password protected databases for their files encrypted safely on my Mac.

Lastly, we have 1Password which is my password manager of choice. I store so much in here, all of my software licences, family health information, passwords (of course!), registration information, passports, secure notes – and being able to sync this across all of my devices via Dropbox means I never worry about anything being compromised, or not having crucial information when I need it.

As a mobile worker, the tools above make sure I have everything covered.

Connect with Lee on Twitter, @myproductivemac.

Sunil Patel – Writer

Sunil Patel is a writer of many short stories, a reviewer of books for Lightspeed, a playwright of several short plays, Fiction Editor of Mothership Zeta, and website owner of ghostwritingcow.com. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

I want you to trust me on my good things, so I am recommending novels with unreliable narrators.

The Egyptologist, by Arthur Phillips. Ralph Trilipush is looking for the tomb of an apocryphal king/erotic poet. Don’t trust a word he says; he lies in his own author biography. Harold Ferrell is a detective on a very complicated case. Don’t trust a word he says; he puts people in his story who haven’t even been born yet. It’s unreliable narrators all the way down with this one, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun trying to extract the truth of the matter. A story about primary documents told in primary documents, it explores the very nature of truth and history itself.

Bad Monkeys, by Matt Ruff. Jane Charlotte spins a far-fetched yarn about being recruited by a secret organization she can’t prove exists, telling tales the psychiatrist comes back with verifiable facts to contradict. Whether or not she’s lying, her story is such rollicking fun you don’t care. This is one of the most compulsively readable books I’ve ever read; once I started reading I literally did not want to stop.

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. Captured by the Gestapo, a World War II spy code-named Verity drafts a confession to her captors in a bid for safety, detailing her friendship with a pilot, Maddie, her imprisonment, and her own emotional breakdown, all the while taunting them with hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking asides. Wein does some amazing things with the unreliable narrator, playing with the idea of our lives as stories, and the truth of stories in general. The narrative twists and turns throughout, forcing you to continually recontextualize the whole story. I highly recommend the audiobook: this is a good thing to listen to.

Good things to watch.

This blog has a theme, and so will each of my sections. Here are great shows you can watch on Netflix.

Black Mirror. This anthology series is one of the best pieces of science fiction being made today. Charlie Brooker imagines the future of humanity through our relationship with technology, and it’s not pretty. Darkly satirical, the show cuts right to the heart of its characters. Each episode leaves you with the feeling you’ve read an incredibly powerful, incisive short story.

Daredevil. Daredevil is my favorite superhero, and Marvel and Netflix have done him justice, taking inspiration from the more crime noir-tinged Miller and Bendis runs and crafting a story of one man trying to protect his neighborhood, both inside and outside the confines of the law. That he happens to be a blind man with superpowers is almost incidental. With fantastic cinematography, music, fight scenes, performances (Vincent D’Onofrio’s Fisk is a deserved standout), and writing, it dazzles with its storytelling, brutal both physically and emotionally.

Sense8. Eight very different people from around the globe discover they’re psychically connected…and engage in a beautiful examination of who we are as people, what connects us all as humans, how we can learn from shared experiences across cultures, and why we must put aside our differences and work together. Also there are car chases and fight scenes and explosions. This show is the slowest of burns (it takes three or four episodes to start digging its claws into you), but it’s absolutely rewarding: by the end of the first season you, too, will be hugging all your Sense8 babies.

Good things to use.

Finally, here are some things to use if you’re a writer! Free things, specifically. Because you thought I’d list Scrivener, didn’t you. Didn’t you. (Use Scrivener. Bonus thing.)

Tools for Writers. Christie Yant developed this wonderful spreadsheet that includes a word count tracker that gives you pretty colors for writing words, a career bingo card to celebrate your milestones, and a table to manage all of your stories. You can use it however you want, but it’s an excellent way to keep yourself accountable and appreciate your accomplishments.

The Submission Grinder. David Steffen developed this wonderful website that helps writers find markets based on pay rates, genre, story length, and other parameters and then track submissions. Through user data, you can see a market’s average response time and how long it’s been since there’s been activity. I find it indispensable when I’m submitting short stories.

TweetDeck. Twitter developed this wonderful client for actually being able to use Twitter. Because, as a writer, you want to network with writers and also waste time on Twitter instead of writing. Make columns for lists! Mute as many hashtags or phrases as you want! Schedule Tweets for when you’re not around! I don’t know how people survive on regular web Twitter.

Connect with Sunil on Twitter, @ghostwritingcow.

Paul Sufka – Physician, Blogger

Paul Sufka is a rheumatologist (physician that treats autoimmune diseases) who works in St. Paul, MN and blogs about tech and medical education at paulsufka.com.

Good things to read.

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future. Elon is one of the most interesting and influential humans on the planet right now (at least until he leaves for Mars), and this is the best look into how he got where he is and how he works.

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World. Think of this as a playbook similar to The 4-Hour Workweek, but for entrepreneurs looking to at our current world of exponential technology and growth. After reading interviews with people such as Elon Musk and Richard Brandon, talk about mining asteroids, and taking ideas to the line of super credibility, if you’ve ever had an big idea that you wanted to get off the ground, this would be a blueprint to look at.

The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance. This book is a modern look at the mental state referred to as “flow,” primarily using extreme sports athletes as examples. It gives a good overview of the neurobiology behind the state, along with actionable ways to get yourself into the state.

Good things to watch.

Videos on Mobilitywod.com. This is an amazing resource for obtaining and restoring proper joint mobility and posture, which impacts how you feel day to day, and improves performance in your athletic endeavors of choice. The founder, Dr. Kelly Starrett, has one of my favorite quotes of all time: “All human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.”

Exit Through the Gift Shop. This is my favorite documentary and is directed by Banksy about the underground world of graffiti art. After seeing this, you’ll notice and appreciate this form of art in a whole new way.

Fast Five. My favorite movie in the Fast series, and one of the only movies I’ll re-watch at any time. The ending reminds me of Ocean’s Eleven.

Good things to use.

Boomerang for Gmail. This is a simple add on for Gmail that allows you to schedule emails to be sent later or have them return to your inbox at a time if the future, so you can follow up on them.

Overcast app. The major feature that makes Overcast the best iOS app for listening to podcasts is Smart Speed, which takes out the short areas of silence in each episode. At the time I’m writing this, this feature has saved me about 20 hours of listening time.

Lacrosse ball. For use in smashing your tissues while watching Mobilitywod.com. I keep one in my everyday carry bag at all times.

Connect with Paul on Twitter, @PSufka

Bruce Harpham – Project Manager

Bruce Harpham is the founder of Project Management Hacks, a career advancement resource for project managers and corporate professionals who want to build outstanding careers. He also writes at Productivityist, Lifehack.org, CIO.com, and other leading websites. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. David Allen’s guide to productivity and everyday life management is one of the very few business books I have read more than once. In 2015, I read the new edition of the book with interest. In addition to the excellent tips and techniques, Allen’s methodology intrigued me because it is a bottom up approach to getting a handle on life. In my day to day life, the two minute rule and the Weekly Review have become important practices.

The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson. I began my career in the financial services industry in 2009. It was a unique moment – a time of crisis and uncertainty. To understand the immediate causes of the crisis, I turned to a variety of books and the outstanding EconTalk podcast. However, I was hungry to understand the broader story of finance and money over time. In this book, Ferguson tells us about trade, the rise of life insurance and how different countries sort through financial questions.

Bonus suggestion: I also learned a great deal from “A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World” by William J. Bernstein

Toronto: Biography of a City by Allan LevineI have long had a passion for cities and the excitement of urban life. I have also been deeply interested in history since my first visit to the UK in 1994. In reading this book, I finally learned about the history of the city that I call home. It was exciting to learn about the mayors, companies, and people who have made my city what it is. Toronto’s history is also an intriguing evolution. In the 19th century, Toronto was known as the “Belfast of North America” for the violent clashes between Catholics and Protestants. Today, Toronto proudly proclaims itself as the one of the most multicultural cities in the world – about half of the city’s population was born outside of Canada.   

Good things to watch. 

Nursery UniversityYears after seeing this documentary at the Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival, this documentary still stands out as one of my favourites. The documentary looks at the intense competition families
face when seeking to place their children in preschool. It’s a fascinating portrait of parenting, education trends and elementary school education.

The Lord of the Rings TrilogyThis film series delivered the goods for me as a long time Tolkien fan. I have watched the films several times in theatres and at home. I love the epic storytelling and incredible world building that Tolkien and Peter Jackson bring to the films. In addition, I thought the filmmakers did an outstanding job of producing behind the scenes features on the DVDs and producing an extended cut of the film.

The West WingOne of the best TV series I have ever watched. For those of us frustrated by the current political situation, President Bartlett was an inspiration. The series inspires and entertains in equal measure – can I ask for more? I’m looking forward to watching this series again on Netflix. I have often described “House of Cards” (another favourite of mine) as a “dark West Wing.”

Good things to use. 

Google CalendarThis is my “go to” calendar and schedule resource. Where to begin? The fact that it is a free resource is what attracted my attention at first. Later, I discovered the power of reminders (you can have multiple email reminders – this is helpful when you are planning a trip or a big event). I also very much like the fact that Google Calendar can be integrated into other apps and resources such as ScheduleOnce and WeekCal – two other schedule tools I use.

Audible.comI have subscribed to Audible.com for about a year and have found it to be a great resource. Though I have been a fan of podcasts since 2008, there is something special about audio books. All the Audible.com programs I have received have had great production values and well worth the cost. I also like that Audible.com audio books can be paused and resumed seamlessly. All those benefits make the hassle of loading content to my iPod and iPhone worth it.

The 5 Minute Journal AppI started to use this 5 app a few months ago after learning about it from Mixergy. The low time commitment involved was a key point for me. I also love that the 5 Minute Journal encourages me to be more focused (choose only 3 key tasks each day). If you have ever tried the journaling habit and given up, this app (or the print book) is a great resource.

Connect with Bruce on Twitter, @PMPHacks.

Wally Bock – Author and Writing Coach

So, you ask, what are three things you can recommend that people read and watch and use? Here are my thoughts. If you want to know more about me, check out the two sites where I do most of my writing. You’ll find out about my work as an author, blogger, ghostwriter, and writing coach at Writing a Book with Wally (http:writingabookwithwally.com). You’ll find my thoughts on leadership on my Three Star Leadership blog (http://www.threestarleadership.com). Now here are my recommendations.

Good things to read.

I’ve been writing since I was a pre-teen and I believe that writers should be readers. Here are my thoughts on three good things to read.

If you read business books, you owe it to yourself to read anything that Bob Sutton writes. His stuff is practical, well-researched, and cleanly written. His most recent book is Scaling Up Excellence, but all of his books are first-rate. If you aspire to writing a great nonfiction book of any kind, Bob’s writing is full of excellent examples of what good research looks like, how to document it, and how to interweave research findings, conclusions, and learning-rich stories.

Read or re-read the classics. I devote a segment of every day to exercise, meditation, and reading the classics. I’m working my way through Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations right now. Two other favorites are Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship.

Read novels. Not the hyper-literary kind where you’re supposed to notice and admire the style. Read novels where the story is the important thing. Novels help you slip inside another person’s skin. I love the novels of Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but my all-time favorite is Willa Cather’s Death Comes for the Archbishop.

Good things to watch.

The only television I watch is junk TV. I love those Darwinian survival shows for cooks or people who race around the world or beautiful men and women seeking true love. I watch them for the same reasons I read westerns and mysteries, because I don’t have to think. Having said that, here are two good things to watch and one to not watch.

Watch TED talks. They’re perfect for learning about something new. They give you new dots to connect. Because they’re on the net you can watch them almost anywhere on almost anything. What could be better?

If you’re an American, watch the BBC news or Al Jazeera. American news networks do an awesome amount of cultural navel-gazing. Non-US news networks will give you range and perspective you won’t get anywhere else.

Now for something not to watch. Don’t watch television when you’re doing something else. When you’re eating or having a conversation or reading, turn off the TV. When you go out to eat, go to restaurants without televisions. Then turn off your phone so you can pay attention to the person you’re with and the meal you’re paying for.

Good things to use.

I love the stuff that helps me do what I do better and live a richer life. That’s the basis for picking three good things to use.

Everyone who knows me calls it my “idea catcher.” It’s an Olympus VN-702PC digital voice recorder. I use it to capture ideas when they flit through my mind. Later I transcribe (and usually edit) them so I can use them later. If you don’t capture ideas when you have them, they will float away like butterflies on the wind. It’s not enough to have good ideas, you have to capture them, too.

Use timers, reminders and checklists to help you handle routine matters so you can devote precious mental energy to more important things. Your smartphone will give you options that you can always have with you.

I love tools that are superbly made and make your work easier or your life easier or richer. I like the balance in a fine knife or shotgun. I like a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. My recommendation won’t cost you much and you can use it right out of the box. Buy some Riedel stemware you and you will enjoy your wine more. I’m drinking a nice Pinot Noir from a wonderful Riedel glass as I write this.

Connect with Wall on Twitter, @WallyBock.

Taylor Pearson – Creator, Collector, Author

Taylor Pearson is a creator and collector of mental models. He helps organizations create systems and frameworks to reach their highest potential. His book, The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning, and Freedom Without The 9-5, looks at changes in work through the lens of changes in technology, globalization, and collaboration architecture. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse.

Antifragile by Nassim Taleb.

Principles by Ray Dalio. (pdf)

All 3 are paradigm shifting reads.

Good things to watch.

Inglorious Bastards (or anything from Tarantino except Kill Bill).

Gary Vaynerchuk’s 2014 Keynote at SXSW – Gets me jacked up everytime. Very insightful as to where industries are going.

Darren Hardy’s Presentation on Super Achievers vs. Over Achievers – Hint: the answer is focus.

Good things to use.

Freedom.to. Block yourself off the internet and social media so you can actually get work done.

Better Touch Tool – Set up keyboard macros. I like to do maximize right screen and maximize left on my 15″ Mac Book Pro so it’s like having a double monitor.

Jumpcut. Saves a list of the last 10 the things you copy/pasted previously so you can go back to them.

Connect with Taylor on Twitter, @CTaylorMPearson.

Michael Shelton – Productivity Coach

Michael Shelton is a productivity coach and consultant who help busy professionals get their life’s work done. He also writes a productivity blog and these are his good things.

Good things to read.

Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time by Rick Hanson.  Dr. Hanson wrote a book of short, practical practices to develop mindfulness. I read a different practice each day or focus on just one practice for several days. I’m a big fan of his research and application of experience dependent neuroplasticity, or how our brain gets wired by what we shine our spotlight of awareness on. My favorite practice in the book is Don’t Know. The reader is encouraged to put on a child’s mind, beginner’s mind, or don’t know mind before rushing to judgment about a person, event, place or thing. It’s so freeing not to be the person that needs to know.

Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston. A fantastic way to learn best practices to break through mental resistance and calm pressure-packed situations. Mark Goulston is a psychiatrist, business consultant, executive coach, and a hostage-negotiation trainer for the FBI. He shares amazing stories of how he “talked someone back from ledge” by using effective listening techniques like getting a person to exhale emotionally and physically. His techniques can be used by parents, salespeople, law enforcement and managers who need to reach the unreachable person.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. I’ve adopted many of David’s practices for my productivity consulting program. He guides us toward a state of relaxed control as we deal with the flood of incoming items to our in-boxes, office and calendar. His techniques are practical. With a little practice, the busy professional can build a trusted and reliable system outside of their head to hold their shoulds, musts, have-to’s and other open loops.

Good things to watch.

The Mind by Alan Watts. A powerfully moving video on YouTube about our addiction to thoughts. There’s great difficulty in stopping but we must, if we want to be sane, he says. The clip has beautiful still and video images, music and a compelling case by Mr. Watts that we need to learn to leave the mind alone. His teaching has become a cornerstone in my productivity consulting practice.

The Amazing Race on CBS. I get totally absorbed in this reality television series. I’m equally fascinated by its incredible success, now entering its 27th season. Typically, eleven teams of two contestants start in the US and travel the globe competing in physical, mental and emotional tests of endurance. I pick my favorite team no later than the second episode and cheer for them to not be eliminated on any leg of the race. This show is my chance to see places I may not visit in my lifetime.

An Arizona sunset. I’ve lived here since 1992 and have seen sunsets so magnificent they are surreal. The vivid purple, orange, red and yellow strokes splashed across the evening sky are simply beautiful. The shapes morph as the sun sinks further toward the horizon. The trick is to find a day with just the right cloud cover to get an amazing display of natural beauty. It’s even better when you’re at The Grand Canyon or The Saguaro National Monument near Tucson.

Good things to use.

Evernote. I’ve been an Evernote power-user since 2012. It’s my favorite application to promote productivity for myself and my clients. I’m a super-organized person, so when I found this trusted and reliable place to store my thoughts, ideas, notes, lists and documents I knew I was home. Evernote is continually refining its service with fantastic features and pricing to help busy professionals like me get their life’s work done.

Google Apps For Work. I use Google’s suite of tools to run my business. I get a professional email address, plenty of synced storage in Google Drive, Google Docs to create and share documents, a robust calendar, and much more. Google Apps For Work is fantastic for the small to mid-sized business. It’s a tightly integrated and functional workspace.

Bodum Brazil 8-Cup French Press Coffee Maker – I love a great cup of coffee. The 34 ounce Bodum French Press is perfect for making a few cups for me or to share with family and friends. I get consistently delicious coffee from this simple, yet elegant, tool. I prefer to brew my own at home after a string of disappointing experiences with the chain coffee houses. I guess I’ve become a coffee-snob. I blend a tablespoon of unsalted, grass-fed butter in my freshly brewed cup for a healthful, natural energy drink.

Connect with Michael on Twitter, @SheltonBizServ.