“Miss a meal, but don’t miss a book.”

Jim Rohn

This holiday season, rather than squandering money on gifts with little long-term value, consider giving something practical that gets the recipient excited about taking ownership of his/her future.

Aside from allowing us to delve into the minds of the most inspiring and innovative people on the planet, books are a great gift because they sit there staring back at us: providing gentle prompts, imaginative thought and unprecedented motivationwhen we need it most. In fact, many of the people I interviewed for Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy noted that, in times of distress, just staring at the cover of Hill’s original classic made them feel better about themselves.

For the time-poor, or those with reading difficulties, audiobooks are the perfect way to consume massive knowledge in a short timeframe. For portability, and to easily retain a summary of your highlighted passages, ebooks can’t be beat. For a well-rated classic, or something you want to revisit time and time again, there’s no substitute for a hardcover, which is also far more personal than gifting a digital product.

Welcome to my first annual recommended reading list of gifts for yourself or a loved one. 

Best for Motivation:

Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy by James Whittaker

Writing this book is the greatest honor of my life and it’s truly humbling to see it continue to resonate with so many people around the world. The theme of the book is that how you respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes is far more important than the adversity itself, and this is demonstrated through a combination of moving stories and practical tips. My hope is that it continues to inspire people of all backgrounds to extraordinary achievement.

Want a signed copy? Signed copies with free worldwide shipping are available for USD $25 or AUD $30 per copy. Remember to email us with at least two weeks’ notice to ensure your order arrives in time. Discounts are available for bulk orders – email for more info. (Unsigned copies are also available on Amazon.)


Best for Resilience:

Defiant by Janine Shepherd

If you’ve read or watched Think and Grow Rich: The Legacy, you’ll undoubtedly be familiar with Janine Shepherd. Her remarkable story is the best personification of resilience and tenacity that I’ve ever seen.

Defiant is a comprehensive account of a champion athlete having her entire life ripped away by a freak accident, before summoning the courage to continue and pursue a gold medal in the sport of life. I finished this book in two sittings, then called Janine to tell her how amazing it was! Highly recommended. 


Best for Entrepreneurs:

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

I’ve always been a fan of Nike, and Shoe Dog is a warts-and-all account of founding one of the world’s most recognized companies and navigating all the perils along the way. Often, with global brands, we forget that the business all started as a simple thought impulse. Knight traveled around the world looking for inspiration, battling the market leaders (and even the US Government) and setting up distribution channels.

His philanthropic values, entrepreneurial spirit and uncanny resourcefulness make this an excellent gift for aspiring entrepreneurs with lofty goals. 


Best for Gratitude:

The 5 Minute Journal by Intelligent Change

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen how frequently I post these as Daily Stories. A huge percentage of CEOs have spoken about the importance of journaling for mental well-being; yet staring at a blank page each day can be daunting. The 5 Minute Journal provides a useful structure to start and finish the day in the right mindset. To me, it’s been truly lifechanging and is the book I gift the most.

(If you’re on Instagram, I want to follow you too! Just send me a message or email with your username so I can keep track.)


Best for Professionals:

Chief Maker by Greg Layton

This book is written for middle level managers looking to equip themselves with the skills and mindset to not only secure a C-level role but thrive.

In addition to a unique background—think living with Shaolin Monks in China, running ultra-marathons, and coaching world champion athletes—Greg has become a close personal friend. He compiled his firsthand research with true changemakers into his 5-step ‘GREAT Method’ asthe ultimate career progression handbook. Better yet, Chief Maker is FREE as part of a Christmas promotion.


Best for Personal Branding:

Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk

We all know the importance of having mentors regardless of what life stage we’re in, but too many people are focused on trying to find one in real life. The most influential people of all time—from Marcus Aurelius to Jeff Bezos—turned to the written word for inspiration, and you can do the same. In 2012, when I lived in Boston and was at a career crossroads, Gary Vee’s books were enormously influential.

Crushing It is his latest book and will help entrepreneurs and professionals, as well as those looking for a profitable side hustle, monetize their passion and package their talents for success in the digital age.


Timeless Classics:

The following three books are timeless classics and will be on my bookshelf forever:

Best Gift (or Accompaniment) for Everyone:

A handwritten card or letter to acknowledge the recipient for all the loving and selfless actions they have taken to brighten the world and illuminate your spirit.

I proudly recommend all these books and know they would be a welcome gift in any stocking. This holiday season give your friends and loved ones the inspiration and ability to help themselves.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

In case you missed it: The Path to Greatness’

“Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation.”

Margaret Wheatley

Early on in my career I made the decision to get good at networking. Whether it was striking up a conversation with a stranger in an elevator, trying to be memorable at events, or adding value to people far higher up the pecking order, I wanted to forge a meaningful relationship based on emitting a vibrant energy, an organic connection and unconditionally adding value.

This decision, along with being committed to simple and consistent action, has been the cornerstone to every success I have achieved to this point.

Being your natural self is an important part of building relationships. When it happens as organically as possible, authenticity reigns, time is saved and value increases tenfold. I’ve seen too many networking ‘experts’ say that the solution is to start at the finish line, where you spend big money to attend events, enthusiastically ‘appear’ (rather than meaningfully engage), and dish out business cards like ninja stars.

Remember, extraordinary achievement only comes with a strong foundation. A few meaningful connections are far more valuable than exchanging 500+ business cards.

Here is a five-step system to take your networking skills to the next level. This process can be followed by anyone and I absolutely guarantee it will have an enormous impact on your life.

1. Build your knowledge

True mastery in any field—including networking—only comes from ridiculous amounts of purposeful practice. Before diving headfirst into the deep end, work on your stroke. Here are the three best networking books I have encountered:

Grab a notepad and spend one hour each day reading these books, until you’ve finished all three, being sure to jot down ideas and inspiration as it comes to mind. When you’re finished, keep increasing your knowledge with podcasts like Build Your Network by Travis Chappell.

I guarantee you will 10x your networking results from this first step alone.

2. Get clear on your definition of success.

Retain a laser-like focus by being crystal clear on your objective, i.e. what you actually want to achieve from networking. Perhaps it’s to:

It could be anything. Once you have a clear objective, you can work on crafting an elevator pitch that gets people excited about wanting to help you achieve it. The result? A sizzling first impression.

Just remember the cardinal rule of networking is to focus on other people’s interests before your own. As Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” 

3. Invest in your personal brand.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is scrimping on their personal brand. Tidy up your social accounts and your personal website, and get some good quality business cards that:

In the world of Squarespace/Wix and Fiverr/Upwork, there’s no reason not to have at least a reasonably professional online presence, irrespective of where you’re at in your career.

In reference to creating a killer website for his brand new (at the time) School of Greatness podcast, Lewis Howes told me, “The website needed to look professional if I was to attract high level people to appear on the show. If it looked amateur, I would only attract amateurs.” Invest in your personal brand.

4. Get out there.

At this stage you should be fired up and ready to go, like Usain Bolt on the starting blocks! Test out your skills in every interaction you have, whether at a coffee shop, the dog park, in a business meeting—everywhere. The aim is to quickly establish rapport and get comfortable communicating with authenticity. Carry an air of confidence, trying to draw out a smile from others. If you’ve done step one, you’ll know that you need to be:

Find a list of conferences/events that are in your industry. If possible, connect with a few people beforehand who might be attending—you can easily find them via an industry FB page, the event’s FB page or posting to your own network. Having some conversations locked in can help you warm up and feel more confident than fronting it blind. Make sure you look professional, but natural and authentic.

When you start to meet people of interest, and have offered value to them, ask them to suggest 1-2 people you absolutely need to connect with at the event. When they offer some names, ask for an introduction. The original lifestyle entrepreneur Tim Ferriss once outlined his networking strategy as: “Go narrow. Go long.” A deep, trusted relationship with a few people is exponentially more powerful than a surface-level acquaintance with many.

Experience is an essential part of mastering your craft, and remember that you’ve already done most of the hard work, so excitedly get out there and get your “sea legs”.

5. Keep in touch.

Continue to offer value without the expectation of anything in return—perhaps it’s an article that might interest them, an introduction to someone you know, or a brief catch up to hear more about their journey and how you can help.

Down the track, start hosting your own mastermind catch ups to really turbocharge your network. Never underestimate how valuable a core team of enthusiastic supporters can be on every aspect of your life.

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Remember, networking is not event-specific—it is an “all the time” skill. Judge success on the number of real relationships you’ve made and invest in them long term, rather than risk burning them for short term gain.

Follow this simple formula and see how quickly your impact is amplified. After all, your network is your net worth.

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

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