Category Archives: Dusty Shelves

Start with Why

Subtitle: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

by Simon Sinek |  Non-fiction

two-hearts

Start with Why was making the rounds of Opportunity Knocks (a local non-profit that supports the growth and development of entrepreneurs) and I was excited to read it.  The timing was perfect, as I was about to design and launch my new website and this book blog.  Knowing “why" seemed imperative!

Sinek did convince me that having a strong "why" for the work you do in the world inspires others, attracts them to you, and creates loyalty.  Fantastic!  Figure out the "why" before the "what" and the "how."  A great idea!  He talks about Apple as a company with a clear "why" that inspires real brand loyalty.  Apple's "why” is "to challenge the status quo" and "to empower the individual."   I am hooked and raring to go!  How do I do that?

And then we go nowhere.  What a disappointment. First and foremost, Sinek never guides you in how to discover your "why."  He tells you in the last couple of pages to look backward.  Hmmm.  Second, he speaks almost exclusively to big companies .... About breeding trust among employees.  I was looking for a great resource for entrepreneurs.  Not this tome.

Third, he is very repetitive.  He stretched and stretched a short article into a book ... Like making pizza dough and pushing it the edges of your pan.  Fourth, I wonder if he was funded by Apple.  I was so tired or reading about Apple, with the same examples used over and over again, I wondered if I could abide typing up this posting on my iPad.

Simon Sinek held my interest for a while.  I give it two hearts because it didn't put me to sleep.  But if you read the title, and really take it in, you can stop there.  Find something else to incite your creative thinking.

Dead Wake

Subtitle: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

by Erik Larson  |  Non-fiction  

four-hearts

On Saturday, May 8, 1915, a father receives a telegram from his son ... "Am saved.  Looking for Cliff."  Five minutes later another telegram arrives from his other son, "Am saved.  Looking for Leslie."  Dad knew what his sons didn't ... They both survived the sinking of the Lusitania.

I just discovered Erik Larson this year, with my good friends Jan and Mary recommending The Devil in the White City and then Dead Wake.  Ever since I was mesmerized by Katherine Boo who wrote Beyond the Beautiful Forevers, I have learned to appreciate the great skill of an author who can write non-fiction in such a compelling manner, it reads like a page-turner fiction.

Dead Wake was a page turner for me.  Larson explores the lives of a few passengers on the Lusitania, the global environment as WW1 heats up, the hard to imagine decisions of the British Admiralty as the German U-boats indiscriminately target merchant as well as military ships, and the personal sorrows and fears of Woodrow Wilson.  But what will stick with me the longest is how Larson sketches the captain of the u-boat, Walther Schwieger, who makes an independent decision to torpedo this luxury liner.

I happened to finish this book on the exact day, 99 years later, when Wilson signed the resolution for America to enter the war, April 6, 1917.   If you haven't read Dead Wake yet, it would be an excellent addition to your list before April 6, 2017.

I heartily recommend this book ... 4 hearts out of 4.