“It is better to have less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.”

Apache proverb

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 who ever lived, books are a great gift because they sit there staring back at us: providing gentle prompts, imaginative thought, and unprecedented motivation when 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.

Lately, I’ve also really been enjoying audiobooks. With the speed toggle, you can listen at an increasing speed. When you first try 1.25x, it seems a little intense. But a day or two later, you'll probably feel comfortable at 1.5x and wonder how you listened to anything slower before. Audiobooks are also more social because, rather than simply listening to music (which I love for entertainment or a demanding workout), you and a travel companion can improve your minds while exploring new areas of interest.

For my favorite books, as you'll see in the YouTube edition of this post, I make sure to also purchase a hard copy because it's easier for a quick reference.

Welcome to my second annual recommended reading list of gifts for yourself or a loved one. With this list, you'll undoubtedly have more lightning in the hand, as the earlier proverb reminds us.

Best for Entrepreneurs:

Driven
by Dr Doug Brackmann

I first met Dr Doug Brackmann in Orange County, California, in early 2019 when my good mate Ronsley Vaz interviewed him. Brackmann radiated a potent mix of strength and empathy, traits forged from a career working with some of the most driven people on the planet.

This is the best book I’ve read in 2019 and I’ve literally just purchased a copy for every one of my clients around the world.

In it, Brackmann argues that 10% of the population possess a certain DNA that makes them feel like something is wrong with them, leading to anxiety, shame, and negative self-talk that can create a hellish existence. He calls this group the ‘Driven.’

Yet, through his research (which includes holding two PhDs in psychology!) and work with some of the highest performers on the planet—everyone from Navy SEALs to pro athletes and business leaders—Brackmann has discovered how the Driven can harness that energy into constructive means to reach their highest potential.

If you are an entrepreneur, or are looking at buying a gift for an entrepreneur, you won’t go wrong with this book. I’ve never read something that struck at the heart of who I was more than this one, while at the same time giving practical tips to improve day by day.

And let's face it: every existing and aspiring entrepreneur could do with a little more help understanding themselves!


Best for Mindset:

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
by Dr Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck is one of my biggest inspirations. This book talks about what sets champions apart in any field—the growth mindset.

Dweck contrasts those who have a growth mindset with those who have a fixed mindset, and it typically comes down to one simple focus: how we respond to adversity when it inevitably strikes.

Those with a growth mindset embrace challenge and recognize mastery as a journey of self-effort, whereas those with a fixed mindset avoid challenge and give up easily.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Mindset:

In her bestselling book, Dweck shows how people of all ages can cultivate a growth mindset, while giving examples of well-known people to keep readers engaged and illustrate the points, offering practical solutions to help us fulfill our potential in the most important areas of our lives.


Best for Empowerment:

Educated
by Tara Westover

Written with phenomenal detail, Westover’s memoir describes her unique upbringing by uncompromising survivalists in the mountains of Idaho.

Working in her father’s junkyard, Westover was never allowed to go to school or visit a doctor, and recounts her volatile—and, at times, abusive—family life as the youngest of seven children.

This alone makes for gripping reading, but the trajectory from Westover first stepping into a classroom at age 17 to eventually earning a doctorate at the University of Cambridge, while continuing to fight battles in and out of the classroom, leaves you spellbound.

In particular, if you’re a female struggling to find your place (or voice) in the world—or you know someone in that situation—this book is a must read. It spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list and has now been translated into more than 30 languages.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes:

Seriously powerful stuff, and an easy listen on Audible too. Plus, if you're an aspiring writer, it's one of the most beautifully written books you'll ever read.


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.

You hear me talk constantly about winning the day. The best way to win the day is to know what actions you’re going to take on a given day and how they relate to your long-term mission, and this book gives you a forum to be able to do that.

To me, it’s been truly life-changing and is the book I gift the most. If you want an introduction to gratitude, this is the best place to be. A lot of people ask me what book it is that I keep posting on Instagram, and now you know 🙂


Best for Parenting:

Letters From A Self-Made Merchant To His Son
by George Horace Lorimer

This is the only book on this list that has entered the public domain, which means it can be downloaded for free. As a result, it’s probably a better gift for yourself, rather than sending someone a link!

This book was originally published in 1901 and contains letters from a successful business owner to his son who had just started university.

If Educated is slightly better suited to a female audience, this one is slightly better suited to a male audience. Yet, both hold enduring value for all readers.

Given Letters was written more than a century ago, it is told in a language of a foregone era, but it’s phenomenal quotes are timeless, such as:

This is the book that inspired me to start writing an annual letter to our daughter, the first one written in December 2018 (i.e. five months before she was born), so at whatever age I choose to reveal them to her she can understand the journey we’ve all been on together, especially her mother's unparalleled contributions, and exactly what unconditional love means.


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.

Email us if you're after a signed copy! If you want your signed copy to arrive before Christmas, please allow at least two weeks' notice to ensure your order arrives in time. Discounts are available for bulk orders. Unsigned copies, as well as audiobook and ebook formats, are available on Amazon.


Best Gift (or Accompaniment) for Everyone:

A letter or card, handwritten if your legibility allows, to acknowledge the recipient for all the loving and selfless actions they have taken to brighten your world and illuminate your spirit. Expressing our gratitude to one another in the long form written medium has become a lost art, but that just means your opportunity to make an impression will be even more powerful.

You've heard me say many times before that the best way to get is to give. Give someone a piece of your heart, and watch the way your life changes as a result.

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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.

As we approach the end of 2019, I wanted to thank each and every one of you for your continued support. Have a wonderful holiday season with your loved ones and get excited for an incredible 2020.

Onwards and upwards always,
James Whittaker

In case you missed it:
How to Get a Promotion: Lessons from a Chief Maker

The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.”

Steve Maraboli

I’ve just returned to Los Angeles after a three-week book tour of Australia. For those who missed the Today Show interview, you can check it out below. A big thank you to all of you for your continued support.

The winner’s mindset

Today, let’s talk about the winner’s mindset. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, champions in any field are forged in their response to failure.

We all face adversity—every one of us. Those with a fixed mindset use it as an excuse to give up and crawl further into their ever-shrinking shell. Yet, those with a growth mindset use every failure as a stepping stone to greatness.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are where we are because of our decisions to this point. By simply accepting personal responsibility and taking ownership of our lives, we significantly increase our power to change. This can apply to anything, whether it’s underperforming on a university course, being passed over for a promotion at work or failing with a fitness goal.

The fixed mindset comes from stagnation. In contrast, the growth mindset comes from having an end goal in mind and then nurturing our abilities through ongoing care and attention—avid readers of my newsletter might recognize this as “simple and consistent action.”

In her groundbreaking book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, author Carol Dweck showed that from a young age the brain can be trained to grow and improve, like a muscle. Once our limiting beliefs are gradually replaced with the growth mindset, we find it easier to take actions that keep us striving for ever-greater success. This builds bulletproof confidence and creates unparalleled resilience.

Growth mindset in action

In 1964, after campaigning for racial equality, a South African man was given a life sentence and thrown in prison to rot. Rather than giving up, he began studying Afrikaans with the hope of building mutual respect with his captors and converting them to his cause.

Twenty-seven years later, Nelson Mandela was released from prison. After his impassioned pleas for equality caught hearts and minds around the world, he was elected President of South Africa—the first non-white head of state in the country’s history. Reflecting on his extraordinary life, he famously said: “I never lose. I win or I learn.”

In 2010, an unknown fighter taps the canvas. Conceding defeat, his opponent releases the devastating chokehold. With the embarrassing loss, a mere 38 seconds into the first round, the aspiring fighter’s record now stood at a paltry four wins and two losses. Rather than let another setback define him, he continued to hone his skills. An eight-fight win streak caught the eye of Dana White and the Irishman was signed to the UFC.

Five years after the humiliating loss, he defeated José Aldo, one of the greatest fighters of all time, in 13 seconds—the fastest finish in UFC title fight history. The following year, his coach John Kavanagh released a book documenting the extraordinary journey with his star pupil entitled “Win or Learn”, echoing Mandela’s fortitude. Today, Conor McGregor is one of the highest paid athletes on the planet.

Oprah Winfrey was deemed “unfit for television.” Steve Jobs was removed from the company he founded. J.K. Rowling was fired from her job as a secretary. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. The list goes on.

How do we create a growth mindset?

True champions have a growth mindset and never accept temporary failure as permanent defeat. Instead, they prepare a vivid, detailed plan for success and get to work on winning the day. To create a growth mindset:

Onwards and upwards always,
James W.

PS – Here is a free download of the bonus chapter from Think & Grow Rich: The Legacy, showing how simple mindset shifts catapulted ordinary people to extraordinary achievement.

Ready to win the day, every day? 

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