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Colleen Wainwright "the communicatrix" RSS Feed (Los Angeles, CA United States)
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The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast!
The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything . . . Fast!
by Josh Kaufman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.01
81 used & new from $2.54

13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A learning junkie's dream!, June 13, 2013
What stands between you finally being able to sit down at the piano to accompany yourself or a group of friends--or navigating a foreign country using the native language, or any other tantalizing prize--is not the 10,000 hours of practice made famous by Malcolm Gladwell; it is, Josh Kaufman insists, a mere 20 hours of the right kind of practice: focused, thoughtful, disciplined, and orderly.

He outlines the basic steps necessary for this kind of rapid skill acquisition in the first three chapters, then spends the rest of the book reporting on his own application of the methodology to learn six very different kinds of skills: yoga; a programming language; a non-QWERTY touch-typing system; an ancient Chinese strategy game called "Go"; the ukulele; and windsurfing. As you read through where he hit roadblocks and how he overcame them, you start to understand not only how it worked for him, but the way rapid skill acquisition might be applied to pretty much anything you might want to learn, along with the differences and special circumstances likely to occur with different types of learning situations--valuable added knowledge before investing your own time and energy on new projects.

There is a lot of supplemental material pointed to in the book, as well, which I've not yet looked at: web pages, videos, etc. My guess is that having a digital, web-connected device handy while reading would help a great deal in bringing the lessons to life. (I will absolutely do this when/if go back and re-read the section on learning Ruby, when/if I get off my own lazy ass and decide to learn a real programming language.) But the text alone does a fantastic job of making clear the decision tree involved in settling on flavors--equipment, instruction manuals, etc.--once the general decision to take a particular hill has been made. (And again, both parenthetically and with delicious symmetry, given how programming works, the chapter on learning Ruby does a masterful job of this.)

Full disclosure: this review is based on an advance reader's copy of the book sent by the author, who is also a personal friend. This makes reviews harder, not easier, for me to write, as I have an almost pathological need to be liked, even by strangers, and particularly hate the thought of disappointing a friend. So it is with great delight and relief that I read this author/friend's book, which I fully believe will make learning easier for many, many people for years to come.


The Laws of Subtraction: 6 Simple Rules for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything
The Laws of Subtraction: 6 Simple Rules for Winning in the Age of Excess Everything
by Matthew E. May
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.96
83 used & new from $2.31

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Subtract about 35,000 words and you'd have a mighty nice book, May 9, 2013
This book suffers from the affliction it's earnestly trying to help us avoid: excess. It contains some great stories, some useful techniques, a scant handful of useful personal essays from other contributors, but they're buried in flabby prose. I'm guessing it would be perfect at around 80pp: perfect Kindle-single length. Skim for ideas and resources, then go to the primary source material that interests you.


The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
by Chris Guillebeau
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.74
159 used & new from $8.52

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Creating meaningful work for a more meaningful life, May 8, 2012
Chris Guillebeau's philosophy is that the most rewarding work takes work, and that it should be done for personal fulfillment as much as for financial freedom. The 100 or so businesses used as case studies in the book reinforce this philosophy--each of these microbusinesses employs five or fewer employees (many are solopreneurs), and most are designed to stay that way.

This is not, in other words, a book about building a massive, franchised empire from a single taco stand, nor designing killer iOS apps that get bought by Facebook for a billion dollars: it's about helping you to come up with a solid idea at the intersection of your passion and a customer's need to create a business that can support your full range of needs.

To that end, the book provides a wealth of tested concepts and tools, intertwined with stories illustrating how they apply to creating success in a small business. There are checklists for evaluating the business-worthiness of your ideas and for prepping a product launch. There are formulas for constructing a marketing offer or creating a self-published work. There are charts that explain the different types of sales methods and that map the difference between passions that are fun for you and passions that will work in the marketplace.

As the author notes, this is not a book meant to be read for information only; it's intended as an actual blueprint for building a business, which means you'll need to supply the elbow grease. And at just over 300 pages, it's unlikely to serve as a complete guide to running a business, even the very particular kind of service-driven, internet-fueled micro-minibusiness featured inside.

But what The $100 Startup lacks in depth it makes up for in breadth and readability. There's more than enough inside to get you started, and even well on your way, if you're willing to do the work.


Communication With All Life: Revelations of An Animal Communicator
Communication With All Life: Revelations of An Animal Communicator
by Joan Ranquet
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.27
85 used & new from $5.29

4.0 out of 5 stars Fine-tune your communication with two-legged animals, too, April 19, 2012
As a species, mankind seems doomed to define "communication" as "talking," completely excluding the equally important (and far harder to cultivate) skill of listening. This lovely book is filled with stories about the benefits of slowing down and creating space to truly listen, along with gentle instruction in ways to begin. It's a wonderful introduction to a more intuitive way of connecting with the world.


The Long Secret (Harriet the Spy)
The Long Secret (Harriet the Spy)
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $5.98

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Odder and perhaps finer than its predecessor, July 30, 2011
I enjoyed every bit of Harriet the Spy as a girl, and, while it made me anxious to read (because you knew she was going to get caught!), re-read it many times.

But The Long Secret is the book I continue to re-read as a grown woman. It shares the same strengths of great character portraits, plotting, and sense of place that "Harriet" had, but this sequel has a more languid, mysterious, quirky feel, and dares to leave things hanging. Set on the shores of the wealthy New Yorkers' summer beach playgrounds (and back in the days before they were discreetly luxurious, before they became overrun with bourgeois ridiculousness), it is the perfect book to read in the waning weeks of summer.

Or to re-read.


Life Makeovers: 52 Practical & Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time
Life Makeovers: 52 Practical & Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time
by Cheryl Richardson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.48
204 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Four stars for incredibly helpful resources, August 14, 2010
Length:: 1:53 Mins

Cheryl Richardson's Life Makeovers: 52 Practical & Inspiring Ways to Improve Your Life One Week at a Time looks like one of those books designed to help you plot out your year. Given that each week does address a different aspect of self-development--overcoming fear, learning what your Most Important Things are, decluttering your life--you could certainly use it that way.

What I found of far greater use were the fantastic round-ups of further suggested reading on each topic that Richardson stuck at the end of each chapter. Like the best bibliographies, they include excellent, succinct summaries of exactly why and how the reader might find the item useful (some of the suggestions are for websites or physical resources, like retreats). Maybe because I was familiar with enough of them, I ended up with a list of additional books to read on various subjects of interest.

If reading for further reading doesn't thrill you, I'll add that there are enough interesting ideas, tips, hacks and reframing devices outlined in the book that even seasoned self-help vets (raises hand) will find a handful of interest. I especially liked the idea of an "Absolute Yes" list--taking time to identify the no-brainer top priorities in one's life, to make saying "no" a little simpler, if not easier--and looking at exercise as a de-stressing activity (an immediate win) rather than a weight-loss one (booooring and slow). There are another 3 - 5 ideas I made note of to try, as well.

Richardson's training and mode of coaching is something her teacher called "Extreme Self-Care"--the philosophy that if one doesn't take care of oneself first, one will be (eventually) unable to adequately care for anyone or anything else. As an overdoer, this philosophy really resonated with me. If it does you, this may be a useful book for you.


The Best Year of Your Life: Dream It, Plan It, Live It
The Best Year of Your Life: Dream It, Plan It, Live It
by Debbie Ford
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.48
205 used & new from $0.01

14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly motivational, with a few truly useful gems, August 6, 2010
Length:: 2:45 Mins

I'm always on the prowl for ways to improve my annual planning session--tools, tips and tricks as well as inspiring ideas and new ways of looking at trenchant problems. While this book boasts three outstanding tools for getting more out of your life (they're the ideas in chapters 9, 10 & 11), it falls down in the structure department. For my money, a far better goal-planning book is Your Best Year Yet!: Ten Questions for Making the Next Twelve Months Your Most Successful Ever, by Ginny Ditzler, which also came out of years of workshops, coaching and the author's own self-as-guinea-pig experiments. Please feel free to leave (thoughtful) rebuttals, addenda and comments, especially if they'll help me make these video reviews more helpful and less wordy.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 28, 2012 7:15 AM PDT


Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
by Seth Godin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.46
154 used & new from $0.01

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You are your own best cartographer., January 26, 2010
There are two chapters in Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, marketing genius Seth Godin's book, that you should go out and read immediately--even if you have to do it standing up in the bookstore.

The first is a stunning tour de force on Resistance, the bane of all artists and people who would create things that change the world.

Resistance is the voice that tells you to hit the snooze button instead of getting up to work on your vocal technique before you go to your Stupid Day Job. It's the evil spirit that lures you to the TV and computer, whispering understanding nothings about how you're so tired, you deserve a night off, watching reality TV or aimlessly surfing the Internet. It's what makes you choose consuming stuff over making stuff, and it is relentless in its pursuit of you as unproductive, timid, obedient sloth.

The second must-read chapter is the shortest in the book but the one I feel may be even more important to you in your scary, brave, wonderful life as an artist: "There Is No Map."

As in, no one can tell you how you will succeed in your artist's career. Not me, not Seth, not your teacher. Not any of the wonderful sources of advice you turn to for guidance, for illumination, on which is the best option out of a vexing array of options, and certainly not any of the evil ones. The best anyone who has succeeded can do is to explain what worked for them, but guess what? It will not work for you. Some of it may, but not all of it. Never all of it. Because not only is each of us a special snowflake, but the time in which we fall from the sky to the ground is different, as are wind conditions, temperature and myriad other factors.

There is much goodness on fear, art and the necessity of putting aside the former to create the latter throughout the book. Working artists will be familiar with much of it, but can always use a good reminder (remember those two chapters I mentioned up top?).

The greater group of beneficiaries of this book (in number, that is) will be those brave free-thinkers currently ensconced in sleepy organizations across the corporate world. You need this book the way we need you: to change the world--no more, no less.


Rightsizing Your Life: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most
Rightsizing Your Life: Simplifying Your Surroundings While Keeping What Matters Most
by Ciji Ware
Edition: Paperback
23 used & new from $1.67

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The right book for the upscale downsizer, June 23, 2009
The sweeping concept of this book is simple: as you move through the various stages of your life, stay awake to your needs and wants, and keep only what serves. If you can absorb the full meaning of that line and figure out the rest for yourself, godspeed. If not, Ware's book is filled with practical information about how to determine what's serving, as well as detailed information about the proper disposal of what's not.

There are sections on editing down everything from wardrobe to cookware to photos, plus resources for help with physical removal of stuff. There are ways of doing it on the cheap or the medium or the high end. There are timelines and how-tos for people with the luxury of time, and those with change breathing down their necks. There's discussion on how to handle the move and on "stuff control" after the fact.

Ware is a seasoned journalist, and it shows in the finished project. Rightsizing Your Life is a great all-in-one reference guide, with the luxurious added bonus of being (hallelujah!) lively and well written rather than dry and tedious. As other reviewers have mentioned, there is particular emphasis on the type of move your more well-heeled rightsizer might make, and definitely its value as a guidebook is for those people.

But even as one who downsized long ago (and similarly left the high-flying world of the upper-middles behind), I found value in the book for its core chapters on the actual downsizing process. Your mileage, like your originating lifestyle, may vary.


Free Again
Free Again
4 used & new from $19.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story songs, lovingly rendered, June 1, 2009
This review is from: Free Again (Audio CD)
I will confess to two things up front: a deep-seated weakness for great cover songs and a longtime admiration of Megan Mullally's skill at handling them. (And, in the interests of completely full disclosure, I'm not only a friend of Ms. Mullally's, I designed the CD cover under her art direction.)

Biases aside, I believe that anyone who enjoys well-wrought tunifying--and especially those who appreciate the art of the "story" song--will love this album. It's a rich and eclectic mix of songs from a variety of genres, beautifully played and produced. Mullally's strong theater chops allow her to breathe new life into old standards, while her great ear for a good song (and exacting standards in general) mean top-notch range and product.

Frankly, nothing beats hearing Megan and the band in person, especially in a small, theater or boite-like setting. But this disk comes as close as a disk could. Great fun, over and over again.


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