9 Books of 2016 Every Leader Must Read

“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

-Harry S. Truman

I firmly believe in this quote by HST.

As a leader, ‘self-development’ is not intended for you.  Self development is for the people who look to you for guidance.  Those of whom you lead, deserve your absolute best in every capacity – morally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

This not only refines your ability to lead, but, most importantly, your ability to serve those whom you lead.

These 9 books, all released in 2016, will make you, not only a better leader, but a better person.  Accompanying each recommendation is a video (a little ‘hack’ to save you the time) which highlights the main takeaway of each work.

Each work will challenge you.  They will challenge your perspective.  They will challenge your past.

They will force you to reflect.  Reflect on your experiences.  Your successes.  Your failures.  Your shortcomings.  Your victories.  These books will make your 2017 better than your 2016.

Let me know your thoughts, and any recommendations you have in the comments below.


Ego is the Enemy


When Breath Becomes Air

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

Deep Work




Code of the Extraordinary Mind


Stoic Sundays – Resilience and Duality

The works of Marcus Aurelius, and Seneca have greatly impacted my perspective over the last year.  An introduction through Ryan Holiday’s works, The Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy (one of my ‘Must Reads of 2016’), and Daily Stoic; stoicism provides a balance of both guidance and uncertainty which instills resiliency.  Uncertainty in that many questions arise and opportunities for self reflection and self evaluation as we navigate life.

Each Sunday, I intend on sharing a passage from one of the stoics with a couple of thoughts and initial reactions.  Here we go.

Some men have shrunk so far into dark corners that objects in bright daylight seem quite blurred to them. 
-Seneca, ‘Letters from a Stoic,’ Letter III.

Things in life just are.  As we interpret these things; our individual emotions, experiences, and perspectives offer meaning.  Ever meet someone who always interprets an event as something negative?  Hell, you can donate to charity, purchase someone a cup of coffee, but there will always be someone who looks at it through the lens of negativity.

“Oh, they just did that for themselves.”  So what.

Hell, I have caught myself doing it, too.  Professional athletes give huge donations to charity, but a more cynical Pat would just decry these athletes were doing it for a tax write off.  Purity of intent?  There is still a charity receiving six figures from the athlete.  Colin Kaepernick pledged $1,000,000 over 10 payments of $100,000.  Many STILL complained that his action (or inaction) was not justified.  To these individuals – when was the last time you donated $1,000,000 or provided  $1,000,000 worth of your time to a charitable cause?

No matter how bright the object shines, their darkest recesses will paint a grim picture – these people must be avoided at all costs.  Their misery spreads like wild fires through their narratives and rhetoric.

As we act our lives with intention, view the world as it is  and nothing more.  Some will confine into dark recesses, while others will be drawn to the light (Star Wars reference).  Being mindful of each end of this spectrum provides balance in order to remain centered as we encounter  others, but most importantly, as we encounter ourselves.

The Perfect Storm – Army/Navy

West Point – send Temple University, Hurricane Matthew (the National Weather Service will suffice), and the American Athletic Conference a thank you note, NOW.  If you ever had a year to defeat the Midshipmen since your last win in 2001, 2016 is that year.

Hurricane Matthew caused a delay in the playing of the East Carolina University game from its original date of October 20th to November 18th.  The end result of the November 18th ECU/Navy contest earned Navy the right to play in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Game today – one week before Army/Navy.

This is significant.  The injection of the AAC Conference Game into the schedule does the following:

  • Eliminates the bye-week,
  • Will mark the 7th of 8 consecutive weeks played without a bye, and
  • Forces the Midshipmen to line-up against another Top 30 team.
    • Final Score:  Temple 34, Navy 10.  Navy looked outplayed and gassed.627396092-e1480796779555There was a lot of this in Annapolis Saturday

In marque rivalry games, all bets are off.  The deciding factors in each are preparation, discipline, and execution.  Now, Navy is being asked to prepare in half the time while coming off a bruising, and costly contest against Temple.  What was essential to preparation, and equal importance, recovery – the bye week.

College football schedules mirror that of human performance – there is a build to a peak, and then a deload before building back up to another marquee game.  Huge, big game matches are common place in Week 1 of the season because programs have had all off-season to prepare for that one game.  Relatively winnable games are contested to work on execution, followed with an important conference or rivalry game (see Air Force).  Playing 8 consecutive weeks of football takes a toll on the human body and its capacity to perform at a high level, week in, and week out.  Injuries accumulated during Temple impacting the outcome.

“But Pat come on, Navy is so much better than Army.”  Agreed; however, that notion is hubris when Army/Navy is played.  The difference between the two programs is substantial, and it has been substantial over the last 5 years, too.  Oh, the results of 4 of those 5 games – decided by one possession.  Three of which were decided by 4 points.

I will always ‘believe that we will win,’ but the conditions are prime for Army to win in 2016 thanks to this perfect storm.

Welcome to ‘Renaissance Nerd’

What is ‘Renaissance Nerd?’

Yes.  If pressed to summarize within a ‘mission statement’ (because everyone just loves these):  a platform to express, and exchange our collective, yet diverse experiences and interests.  But, I believe this blog is and will evolve into much more than that.

renaissance man/woman/person is (according to Wikipedia) a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems.

A nerd (again, according to Wikipedia – best site ever) is overly intellectual, obsessive, or lacking social skills…wait.  Scratch that.  Worst site ever.  Okay, let’s see what Webster has to say:  an unstylish (lame), unattractive (lame), or socially inept person (lame); especially one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits .  Awesome – thanks, Webster.  We’ll just leverage the ‘devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits’ portion.

The intersection of the idea of these two words, Renaissance (Person) & Nerd, is what inspires me.  Am I able to become more ‘knowledgeable to solve specific problems?’  Am I able to ‘slavishly devote (myself) to intellectual or academic pursuits?  Emphatically – yes.  A brilliant quote from an amazing 2016 work, ‘When Breath Becomes Air:’

You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.


We, collectively, are all ceaselessly striving towards betterment within our respective personal and professional roles.  This blog, this forum, this platform – together we will share our stories of success, failure, hardship, and triumph.  We will share our life’s experiences and perspectives.  We will share our passions, interests, and desires.  We will share – Yes.

Welcome to ‘Renaissance Nerd’ – what is your asymptote?