mccormick


bookshelf 

"The impact on your life will be largely from the people you meet and books you read" -Rick Warren from Thinking. Loving. Doing.

I consider myself a humble man, there is not a lot I like to boast about, however I do take pride in the books I have read. Reading can be such a transformational act. Though it may only take a week to read a particular book, its words will stay with me forever. My mind can wrestle with certain ideas and concepts for eternity.

Though I remain loyal to a certain style of books, I do appreciate different genres, authors, and ideas that challenge my thinking.

Please click on the links below for my humble reviews.
Arranged by 
reviewed year, title, author, or category

Previous Years: 2018  //   2017  //   2016  //   2015  //   2014  //   2013

currently reading:

2019 reviews
(for earlier reviews please click on the title, author, or category link above)


2019: 6

review date:
2/14/19
The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker

“Executives are not paid for doing things they like to do. They are paid for getting the right things done.”

If you have read anything on leadership or management in the past few decades, you are probably already familiar with Peter Drucker. I first heard about Drucker a few years back while reading a book by a college president and over time Drucker’s name kept popping up everywhere.

It was difficult to determine which book to read first. He has written dozens of books, and all of them have been universally praised. I chose The Effective Executive because it seemed to have a simple, straightforward message and it was under 200 pages. However, I was a bit weary because the book was first published in 1967.

First, this book is amazing. It packed with great, applicable information. I actually think this book is more relevant today that it was when it was first written.

Second, the message is amazing. The overall message is simple, “effectiveness can be learned and must be earned.” There may be some individuals better suited for leadership roles, but to be an effective manager you need to develop the skill of effectiveness.

I will definitely be picking up more Drucker books in the future.

Here are some gems:

“Organizations are held together by information rather than by ownership or command.”

“Working on the right things is what makes knowledge work effective.”

“All in all, the effective executive tries to be himself.”

2019: 5

review date:
2/6/19
Salvaged by Roy Goble

“A willingness to step into the contradiction and messiness of leadership.”

I have read my fair share of leadership books, and most of them are rather forgettable. In those books, the authors give you generic inspirational clichés about inspiration and maybe an amusing anecdote or two. These books are forgettable because they seem to lack authenticity or any basis in reality. Leadership traits and values work really well in a vacuum, but the hustle and bustle of everyday life, theoretical leadership has no traction.

Roy Goble is not interested in theoretical leadership. He only wants to talk about tried and true leadership. He wants to talk about leadership that works not only in the boardroom but in the bowels of the junkyard.

This is a fantastic book on leadership. It does not try to candy coat anything. It is real and authentic. Being a leader is rewarding but it is also exhausting and tiring. Leading is not for the faint of heart. Every chapter includes a great lesson on leadership, one Goble has learned from experience. He caps off each chapter with a tie in from Scripture which at times feel like a sudden sharp turn but I definitely appreciate his focus on the true essence of serving within leadership.

Here are a few more gems:

“Sometimes boring isn’t just good – it’s essential.”

“Hire for character because competency can be taught.”

“Don’t be afraid to go your own way, even if everyone thinks you’re crazy.”

2019: 4

review date: 
1/30/2019
Leadership Jazz by Max DePree

“Knowing what not to do is fully as important as knowing what to do”

Leadership Jazz may be small book but it is huge on content. The book is littered with nuggets of wisdom and insight. I don’t remember the last time I read a book where I wrote quote after quote down.

Max DePree was a great leader. He was a great leader because he respected his followers and his followers respected him. I don’t think DePree had any supernatural executive powers, but I do believe he had a strong passion for others.

This book is a quick read and a must for any leader.

Here are some more nuggets:

“Good relationships are rooted in gratitude.”

“Leaders need an ability to look through a variety of lenses.”

“Followers really determine how successful a leader will be.”

“If you’re a leader and you’re not sick and tired of communicating, you probably aren’t doing a good enough job.”

“Followers need a chance to do their best; leaders need a lot of help.”

“I still try to remember how much there is that I don’t know.”

“Do you pick up towels because you’re the president of a company, or are you the president because you pick up towels?”

2019: 3

review date:
1/17/2019
Baseball Cop by Eddie Dominguez

In late 2007, former United State Senator George Mitchell published Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball. Commonly it is known as the “Mitchell Report.”

Almost 90 players were named in the report, including big names like Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Eric Gagne. The fallout was almost immediate. Major League Baseball intensified their drug testing program by increasing testing and penalties. Additionally, MLB created its Department of Investigations in 2008 to protect “the integrity of our sport” as stated by then Commissioner Bud Selig.

Enter Eddie Dominguez.

Dominguez worked for the Boston Police Department, was a member of an FBI task force, and a Resident Security Agent for the Boston Red Sox. He was recruited to join the newly formed Department of Investigations to help clean up baseball. And from the moment Dominguez took the job, he knew something was not right.

Though the Mitchell Report sent shockwaves throughout the nation and the professional sports world, there was still a lot of resistance. From the poor areas of Cuba where young boys dreamed of a life of baseball to the ritzy high rises of MLB headquarters in New York, the DOI faced challenges every step of the way.

Dominguez is a man of honor and integrity. Being told to stand down my MLB Executive Vice President and now Commissioner Rob Manfred, did not sit well Dominguez. Yet, Dominguez kept head down and he worked hard. Under his tenure, he was able to make positive changes in international dealings as well as help take down Anthony Bosch’s PED clinical call Biogenesis which in the end took down Alex Rodriguez among others.

Dominguez took the Mitchell Report and its recommendations as sacred. Dominguez saw the ugly underbelly of steroids and drugs while the rest of the world saw home runs and strikeouts. He saw problems in morality and society. In this book, he is brutal towards Selig and Manfred and I don’t really blame him.

This not the best written book. At times I was simply lost. There are long storylines and multiple characters that is was not easy to follow. However, this book does open your eyes to professional sports. I think we all believe things have gotten better since the relaxed PED days of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, but in reality the cheaters have become more cunning and clever.

As the saying goes, “If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying.”

2019: 2

review date:
1/14/2019
Souls in Transition by Christian Smith

“According to emerging adults, the absolute authority for every person’s beliefs or actions is his or her own self.”

“For an emerging adult to remain deeply involved in religious life, he or she probably have to feel greater sense of dependence and need…”

“Normally, the best predictor of where people are going is where they have come from.”

Young people - which includes adolescents and emerging adults - are essentially self-absorbed. We can argue if this quality is intrinsic or extrinsic, but the fact remains that young people are narrowly focused on themselves.

I believe the environment creates this egocentric behavior, but I do not blame the environment. As Smith states in this book, “the emerging adult years often entail repeated life disruption, transitions, and distractions.” As a simple defense mechanism, emerging adults simply convert to self-preservation mode. When your emotional, spiritual, and physical energy is spent surviving there is very little opportunity to thrive.

Souls in Transition is a great study on the spiritual lives of emerging adults. It challenges preconceived notions that young people are frankly disinterested in religion and that somehow our collective spirituality is at risk. Even though there is a dip in religious activity during one’s early twenties, there is very little change in the spiritual perspectives between one’s young life and one’s adult life.

Anyone working with college students would enjoy this book.

2019: 1

review date:
1/3/2019
The End of College by Kevin Carey

“The difference between watching a lecture live or on film is like the difference between reading Anna Karenina in two different fonts.”

I think this quote perfectly summarizes the entire book. Either you completely disagree with this statement or you wholeheartedly agree with it. I disagree with this. I think attending a lecture live and watching in online offer two completely different experiences, but I understand from an objective perspective it does not make any sense. The best argument I can offer is the difference between listening to a recorded song or going to a live concert. The recorded song will actually give you the best, most precise listening experience, yet going to a concert provides a communal, corporeal experience. The same can be said about watching a football game on television or sitting in the stadium. At home, you get better views, more information, and the ability to pause the game, but when you attend you feel a part of something bigger.

Now the irony, I would rather stream a song than attend a concert, but in most cases, I would rather attend a lecture than watch online. I had a traditional undergraduate experience and I learned a lot. I did a mix of in person and online for graduate school and the online features did not engage me. The online class made everything feel cold. I tried a MOOC in the past but I never finished.

College is way too expensive and (according to some research) is educationally ineffective. The author spends the whole book promoting the concept of the free, accessible college courses. Over and over again he shares stories of startups throwing millions and millions of dollars into resources online that can be available for free to absolutely anyone with an internet connection. He does make a lot of good observations, but I think there is a lot missing. He talks about hundreds of millions of dollars coming from venture capitalists from Silicon Valley or from the endowments of the established elite college of Harvard, MIT, and so forth but the author also complains about how much education costs. Yes, it costs a lot to develop these programs but once they are up and running the maintenance costs are minimal.

I agree a college degree is incredibly expensive, but when you break down the budgets I don’t believe there is a lot of fat. Sure, you can get rid of the football or art history, but then you alienate students and donors who want those programs. College is expensive because of its expensive workforce. Can you streamline things? Sure, but there is always a risk to that. Consumers like inexpensive products but they love quality. This is where the author and I differ. I believe massive open online courses can offer an inferior product. He does not believe so.

I could go on and on about how I think this book misses the point, but I do think his arguments are valid though perhaps one-sided.

And of course, no book that is critical about higher education costs is complete without a reference to a rock climbing wall. You will find that references on page 47 of the paperback version.