Niklas Goeke – Entrepreneur and Author

Niklas Goeke is a 23 year old German student, aspiring marketing entrepreneur and author of the book How to google – the Ultimate Guide to finding everything! Every day he tries to take a step out of his comfort zone  which in his eyes is always a step towards happiness. He uses this mentality to help others in his work as a personal coach  These are his good things.

Good things to read

Managing Oneself. Peter F. Drucker is often called the founder of modern management. I’m not surprised. I don’t think I have ever learned more about myself from 60 tiny pages than when reading this book. Drucker suggests you ask yourself a few simple questions, in order to determine how you perform best. He also encourages you to share the insight you gain with anyone whom you choose to cooperate with. Some people, for example, might be readers, not listeners, thus rendering it useless talking to them for 2 hours, when all they really need to understand you, is a piece of paper with 10 bullet points. This book changed the way I learn and work dramatically. I highly recommend the audiobook (if you happen to be a listener). It is just 45 minutes long and I have listened to it multiple times on longer drives in the car.
Rich Dad Poor Dad. I got this book as a gift. I didn’t know the author, Robert T. Kiyosaki, before, but someone very successful recommended this book to me, so I thought I’d give it a try. I didn’t read this book, I ate it. I read it cover to cover within less than 5 days. This is the best book to get you started on personal finance. It uses storytelling to show the difference between having an investor mentality of acquiring assets and having a consumer mentality of spending all your income. Robert uses simple graphics to explain income statements and balance sheets and shows you the beginnings of having your money work for you instead of working for money yourself.
On the shortness of life. Whenever I read a page in this book, I marvel at Seneca. It takes a lot to write something that is just as relevant in 2000 years, as it was at the time you wrote it. He argues that life is actually quite long and a substantial amount has been given to all of us – we just waste most of it. Why are you stingy with money you can always make back, but let everyone take up your time most willingly? Often so little of life is truly lived, the rest is merely time. A clear lesson: Don’t keep yourself busy with things you will not remember, but make the most of each day!

Good things to watch

Fed Up. A great movie about the food industry from 2014. I like how it doesn’t promote any singular lifestyle, such as veganism or paleo, but focuses more on the root of a lot of problems: processed sugar. It shows you how you have been manipulated and how hard it is to escape a lot of the common misconceptions about what food is healthy and what isn’t. In the end you are also proposed with a simple solution that you can start implementing today.
How to get things done and stop sucking your thumb. A great video by one of my favorite guys online, Tai Lopez. Take the challenge of not procrastinating on small things for a week. Look at all outside requests like small bullets shot at you, which you must deflect instantly, either by getting things done right away, or delegating/not doing them at all.
Ocean’s Eleven. I can watch this movie 100 times over and still love it. I always learn something about the balance between being a gentleman and a badass, how to talk more eloquently and I sure as hell always laugh my ass off.

Good things to use

Dropbox. Originally I was going to put my macbook here. But after thinking about it, it’s really more Dropbox, that holds my entire life in a folder. Of course I use my macbook for web, writing and recreation, but if it broke today, I could just get any other laptop, and be set up again within minutes. I have it fairly neatly organized and save all my writing and projects there, so I can access them from anywhere. Bump up your space by doing some of the things suggested here.
My feet. I really like to walk. I don’t own a bicycle. I take the car or public transport for long distances, but everything that’s within 30 minutes of walking, I walk to. Every step counts. I also often choose to stand while working, because my shoulders and arms start to hurt if I sit down typing for too long.
Cold showers. It’s amazing how hardwired comfort has become into our brains. It’s time to toughen up! Not only do cold showers come with great health benefits (testosterone for guys, it closes your pores after cleaning and makes your skin less vulnerable, makes you more resistant, boosts your immune functions, and can even be used to accelerate weight loss), but also do they boost confidence beyond anything else I have seen. Go in as a wimp, come out as a winner. This transforms my entire day. Forget coffee, this will wake you up. After you’ve done this, no matter what the day brings, you’ll feel confident, prepared and already have a small win in the bank, which no one can take away from you. If I can do it, so can you!
Connect with Niklas on Twitter, @niklasgoeke, if you want to talk about learning and self-improvement, marketing, or just say hello!

Julia Rios – Writer, Editor, Podcaster

Julia Rios is a writer, editor, and podcaster. She likes comfortable feet and funny names. Her fiction writing has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, her non-fiction in Apex Magazine and Stone Telling. These are her good things.

Good things to read.

Hark a Vagrant by Kate Beaton is a collection of hilarious comics that offer smart literary, social, and political analysis of classics and historical events. And did I mention the hilarity index? Because it is very high.

Pen Pal by Francesca Forrest is a novel told through letters written by an 11-year-old girl in Louisiana, and a political activist imprisoned above a lake of lava. It’s a riveting read that manages to be sweet as well as adventurous and thought-provoking.

A Trifle Dead by Livia Day is a fast-paced and fun mystery set in Hobart, Tasmania. Tabitha Darling runs a cafe with delicious pastries and colorful clientele, and I loved following her right into the center of a murder investigation. Warning: this book is very likely to make you want to a) eat a lot of sweets, and b) visit Tasmania.

Good things to watch.

The Bletchley Circle is a three part miniseries from the BBC about four code crackers from Bletchley Park (where Alan Turing and a lot of super smart women worked on breaking Nazi codes during World War II) who get back together in the early fifties in order to catch a serial killer. It’s part period costume drama, part Criminal Minds style profiling and investigating, and part super cool nerdy women supporting each other. It is super creepy and suspenseful, though, so if you are prone to nightmares like me, you might want to have a fluffy chaser at the ready.

Teen Beach Movie is a very fluffy chaser! This is a ridiculous romp that sends up 60s beach movies with a self-aware meta component, and a little dash of modern teen musicals like Glee. The plot involves a pair of teen surfers from now going back in time into a teen beach movie from the 60s called Wetside Story, which is a beach parody of Westside Story, but with a supervillain who brings the rival gangs together to fight him and his weather-changing machine. If this sounds a bit confusing and weird, please know that it is probably weirder than you think, and also that it knows exactly how weird it is.

Sleepy Hollow combines creepy and suspenseful with weird and ridiculous. No nonsense Detective Abbie Mills has to work with Ichabod Crane, who is a BAMF revolutionary war hero resurrected via magic in order to fight off the headless horseman and other signs of the apocalypse as laid out in George Washington’s own personal bible. This is only the start of the wackiness on this show. Suspend all disbelief before you turn it on and enjoy the ride.

Good things to use.

Smartwool socks are wonderful in fall through spring. They breathe well and dry quickly while keeping your feet cozy in chilly to downright cold weather. They also come in a variety of fun colors and patterns.

Dropbox stores files for just you or shared with others across devices and in the cloud. Transferring e-books onto my smartphone used to feel like pulling teeth, but once I started using Dropbox, the transfers happened instantly. It’s also brilliant for backing up documents, and sharing work files and family photos.

Babyzoink is a name generator that comes up with unusual names. This is great if you need to name a fantasy character (or maybe even an actual baby?), and it’s also wonderful for passing a few minutes (or hours) either alone or with family and friends. One of the quirks of the generator is that it will occasionally come up with hilarious names (Fuzzbucketa and Buttmonky are two of my recent favorites). In our household, it is not uncommon to hear someone spontaneously saying things like, “These are my children, Muffinsy and Andycups.” Once, we managed to spend a 7 hour car ride generating names with some relatives. Babyzoink is magical

Connect with Julia Rios on Twitter, @omgJulia.

Paula Plant – Writer, Globetrotter, Landlord

Paula Plant is a journalist-turned-blogger who helps people shatter limits, ditch the cubicle and live life on their own terms. She’s traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units, and hasn’t had an employer since 2008. Her blog, Afford Anything, is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say, “I can’t afford it.”

Good things to read.

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. Our daily actions are more guided by unconscious habits than we may realize, Duhigg writes. In order to change our behavior, we must focus on the triggers and cues that relate to our habits, rather than rely on willpower alone.

A Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs. I will read anything that A.J. Jacobs writes. He could write directions to the 7-Eleven on the back of a napkin, and I’d read it. Simply stated: Jacobs is hilarious. His blend of earnestness, candor and intelligence is rare in the world of humor writing.

So Good They Can’t Ignore You, by Cal Newport. This book argues a notion that I’ve long believed: passion is the result, not the cause, of doing hard work everyday. I’ve written about this concept on my own blog, and Newport articulates and expands this idea brilliantly in this book.

Good things to watch.

This is tough, because I don’t watch a lot of video. But here we go …

Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Address. This graduation speech features no fluff, no filler, and no overhyped clichés. It’s pure, raw inspiration.

Legends of the Fall. This has been my favorite movie ever since I first watched it back in 1995, thanks to its brilliant character development, its rich setting (both in scenery and in history), and its themes of loyalty, freedom and duty.

Game of Thrones. Because it’s awesome. ‘Nuff said.

Good things to use.

Dropbox. Buy an upgraded account and use it to store every digital file you’ve ever created, including (especially) all your photos, videos and personal notes. Imagine how you’d feel if you lost all your data. Dropbox is cheap insurance. (And it’s much easier than backing things up to an external hard drive!)

An Adjustable Standing Desk. Sitting wrecks havoc on your body. If you perform work that requires you to spend 6-8 hours a day at a computer, invest in an adjustable standing desk. The more expensive versions allow you to adjust between sitting and standing. Alternately, if you want a cheaper version, just keep two desks in your office: one that’s standing-height and one that’s sitting-height.

Evoluent Mouse. I’m so in love with this mouse that I carry it with me on trips baggage limits be damned. Most computer mice require you to rotate your wrist into a palm-down position, which is unnatural. The Evoluent lets you rest your wrist in a handshake position, which puts less strain on the joint.

Connect with Paula on Twitter, @AffordAnything.

Jonas – Storyteller, Creative Director, Tennis aficionado

Jonas pretends to work as a creative director in his daytime and squeezes out words onto pages in his night time. He has published two novels and is half-way into his third one. When he’s not at work or with family, he’s dancing around on a tennis court somewhere, trying to imitate Roger Federer.

Good things to read.

Independence Day by Richard Ford.  This Pulitzer and Pen prize-winning book made me want to become a novelist. A brilliant story without murders. Here the beautiful language and strong realism makes sure you keep turning the page.

On Writing by Stephen King.  It’s hard not to like Stephen King. He sells boatloads of books, yet is still true to his craft. This is his book on writing, which is truly a labour of love and very inspirational.

Choose Yourself by James Altucher.  A book that fits so well in with our chaotic times that I wish I’d written it myself. James’ brain is an exciting place and the honesty and clarity of his writing is both refreshing, thought-provoking and revolutionary.

Good things to watch.

Keeping Up With The Kardashians. (Nah, that was a joke…)

Star Wars.  I’ve loved the Star Wars saga ever since I was a little boy and I’m happy I’ve managed to brainwash my stepson (9) into liking it as much. Not the best dialogue in the universe, but the storytelling is top notch and the visuals give you goose bumps.

Shawshank Redemption.  More Stephen King, I know. But this is his best movie by far and I’m not alone in thinking this (best movie of all time according to IMDB). It’s difficult not to shed a tear at the end of it.

Mad Men.  Having worked with advertising in some form or other for most of my adult life, the TV series Mad Men felt like home. I’m also a nostalgic for a time when you could drink generously in the middle of the work day. Fantastic acting and storytelling.

Good things to use.

Evernote.  For many years I wanted a software that could keep all my notes organised and in one place. Evernote does this wonderfully. Makes me feel creative and calm at the same time.

Dropbox.  Every creator’s worst nightmare is that all his/hers hard work is disintegrated in a hardware malfunction or a wildfire. Dropbox allows me to pour water on my Macbook Air without worrying about data loss (disclaimer: don’t pour water on your computer!).

Kindle.  The perfect travel buddy. Since I used to type newspaper articles on the classic Psion3a, the e-ink screen gives me both nostalgia and less tired eyes. If you love books, but don’t want to carry the weight of them, the Kindle is the way to go.

Follow Jonas’ musings on Twitter: @jonaswrites.

Maurice Broaddus – Author

Maurice Broaddus is a professional liar, pursuer of truth, and writer of stories – I Can Transform You is his newest.  These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Cain’s Blood/Project Cain. Geoffrey Girard’s adult and YA novels are terrific and terrifying reads.  It’s like the reverse of the teen fantasy that you’re secretly the son of a prince or a lost wizard:  instead you’re the clone of a serial killer.  And you have to help track down some of your brethren on a rampage.  The books have everything you could want in a serial killer romp:  cloned serial killers, conspiracy theories, terrifying science, chemical weapons, teenage killers, and a really cool black guy.

The Lives of Tao.  Wesley Chu has a powerful debut out from Angry Robot books.  An out of shape IT guy suddenly realizes that the voice in his head is actually an ancient alien life form.  Not only that, but he has to get in shape in order to save the human race.  It’s both laugh out loud and smart.  Hurry up and read it as The Deaths of Tao is about to drop in November.

Crimes in Southern Indiana/Donnybrook.  I first heard of Frank Bill when he came into my hometown to do a reading from his collection Crimes in Southern Indiana.  From page one of his twisted crime stories with characters that read like Elmore Leonard characters on crank, I was hooked.  Donnybrook is his first novel, the Donnybrook in question being a three day bare knuckle tournament in the back hills of southern Indiana.  So a cast of characters in search of their reward:  drugs, sex, violence, whatever, make their way to the tournament.  Sort of a follow the meth filled road  romp where no one wants to meet the wizard for real.

Good things to watch.

Thanks to Hulu and Netflix, I consume A LOT of television.  My television hours frankly are frightening to the point where I should be embarrassed.  I go through a season of television in a couple days and not counting my recent discovery of Aqua Teen Hunger Force (how have I been so late to this party?!?) here are a few things which have caught my attention.

Orange is the New Black. If I were to pitch you a show that was Weeds meets Oz you’d have Orange is the New Black.  Essentially it’s a fish out of water series, the fish being a suburban woman dropped into prison.  Highly addictive.

Justified.  You had me at “there’s a show based on an Elmore Leonard novel.”  (Technically I watched this on Amazon streaming)

Copper.  It’s a steampunk police procedural without the steam.  Or the punk.  Which basically makes it a historical police procedural.  Kevin Corcoran is an Irish immigrant police detective in the Five Points neighborhood in 1860s New York City.  He’s haunted by the disappearance of his wife and death of his daughter.  The show has Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana as its executive producers, the team behind Homicide:  Life on the Streets.

Good things to use.

Dropbox.  As a writer, this has proved to be essential.  It stores my stories in the cloud or whatever you call it (since I’m convinced the internet/cyberspace works by magic), syncs to my devices and my favorite feature is that it saves every draft of everything I write.  Because, 1) it only takes losing a story/chapter/article once due to a crash to convince you to have constant back up; and 2) sometimes I’ve been guilty of saving one file with the name of the other.

Decked Builder.  As a gamer geek, there’s nothing like having an encyclopedia of Magic: the Gathering cards at your finger tips PLUS the ability to see the cards in sample decks and then purchase the cards from the sites of your choice.

Samsung Tab 2 7.0.  As a borderline Luddite (did I mention that the internet works by magic?), even I have to admit that this tablet was the best couple hundred bucks I’ve spent.  Constant access to my stories (via Dropbox), constant access to researching my latest Magic deck (via Decked Builder), plus it uses Google, since I am a slave to the beast and need my gmail, calendar, and hangouts at the push of a button.

Connect with Maurice on Twitter, @MauriceBroaddus.

Trey Genda – creator High Rise Habits

These are Trey Genda’s good things

Good things to read.
Drive by Daniel Pink.  Most people tend to think about motivation in terms of carrots and sticks: behavior occurs when we’re offered something good, or threatened with something bad. ‘Drive’ makes a compelling case that this model of human nature fails to account for a third—and more powerful—motivation, which Pink labels as internal (or intrinsic) drive. In short, it’s the motivation to do things without any regard to external coercion; usually because an activity is intrinsically worthy as an “end” and not only as a “means.” Pink outlines the reasons that carrots and sticks can be counterproductive and often lead to short-term compliance but long-term disengagement.  The book focuses on principals of human nature, which makes it equally applicable to personal development, professional leadership, parenting, and any other arena where it’s important to understand human motivation.  

The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations’ by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. From government to business, social movements to churches, every human activity has a corresponding model for organization—and the way we organize matters. ‘The Starfish and the Spider’ is often labeled a business book, but for me, it’s much harder to categorize. Brafman and Beckstrom outline the difference between centralized (hierarchical) and decentralized (organic) systems, and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each. I appreciate the way the book weaves together principles of leadership and motivation with organizational structure, and explains why certain systems lead—or don’t lead—to specific types of behavior.  For me, the most powerful application of the ideas in this book (as well as those in ‘Drive’) center on my faith and on my expectations and approach to church in general. Organizations can easily ignite or squelch passion by the way they organize and approach members, and these books have greatly influenced the way I think about my faith and the importance of organization in long-term individual and group growth. 

Wired Magazine and The Atlantic.  It might be breaking a rule to include two different publications as one item, but I view Wired and the Atlantic as complementary publications.  They’re also my two favorite magazines, which means I’ve also avoid the potential dilemma of being forced to choose between the two.  In any case, I appreciate both magazines because of the quality of the writing and their similar concentration on society and culture.  Wired emphasizes science and technology, and the Atlantic focuses on politics, religion, and world events—but work from either would often feel “at home” if published in the other.

Good things to watch.

Shawn Achor’s TEDx Presentation. The Happy Secret to Better Work.  In this humorous framing of positive psychology, Shawn Achor makes the case that psychology should focus on far more than the identification and treatment of problems.  Achor discusses the all-too-popular assumption that success precedes happiness, and provides concrete examples to illustrate what might seem a counter-intuitive:  when we focus on happiness, gratitude, and purpose, we’re far more likely to be successful than if we focus on success alone.  

Clay Shirky: Institutions vs. collaboration. Clay Shirky discusses the social dynamics of decentralized systems, and the shift from industrial-era social and economic models to new systems based more on motivation, altruism, and cooperation. In his presentations and books, Shirky uses easy-to-understand examples to illustrate underlying principles, and this TED talk is no exception. The video is dated (particularly in internet time), but the ideas describe forces and influences still transforming entire industries. Shirky discusses motivation and business, but his particular focus is on media transformation and the “mass amateurization” of activities that previously belonged only to professionals.  

Drew Dudley: Everyday Leadership. We often think of “leadership” as something that’s beyond the grasp of most people (after all, isn’t it just for “leaders”?). In this video, Drew Dudley outlines a different approach: leadership as something within the reach of every single person, and an activity we engage in every single day–whether we realize it or not. This video is a great reminder that small interactions can shape lives in profound ways. 

Good things to use.

A common theme for my three my app recommendations is the idea of syncing systems and info for simplification.  Dropbox & Evernote.  Most people are familiar with these two apps, so I won’t spend much space or time describing them here.  However, both Dropbox and Evernote are each helpful enough that I feel obliged to include them in my list, because they’ve made such a big difference for me in simplifying my files and information. Having access to the same ‘stuff’ everywhere allows me to focus on more important things, and not get distracted by the logistics of questions like “now, where’s that file again?” 

CoBook simplifies contact management and integrates info and data from different networks (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) into one address book that remains consistent—and up-to-date—regardless of device. For the first time ever, I have the same contact info on my desktop, laptop, email, and phone…and it’s wonderful.  Unfortunately the desktop version is Mac-only at the moment, but an iPhone release was recently added to the App store.