A third essential book: Building a Second Brain

For a long time, when I’ve had the chance to recommend books to people starting on their leadership journey, I’ve recommended one about how to manage ourselves and how to manage our work.

The first book, the starter on how to live our lives is Stephen Covey‘s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” I had the privilege of being in Dr. Covey’s seminars with him personally on two occasions and I am sorry for all those who cannot see him live anymore. One of the important take aways from that book is about developing a personal mission statement and I grudgingly did that in his seminar because I did not really believe in its value. I refer to that document everyday and it guides my thinking everyday. I call them my five “F”s — Faith, Family, Fatherhood, Friendship, and Freedom. It’s a foundational read and I reread it every couple of years.

The second book — David Allen‘s “Getting Things Done” — guides how I keep up with all my projects and tasks and its organizational schema and logic have served me exceptionally well over the years. It’s foundational idea – to get things out of short-term memory (RAM) and into a trusted system brilliantly recognizes the flaw of trying to keep everything you need to do in your brain instead of thinking you’ll remember things.

I’ve come across a third book that I am excited to think might be a worthy companion to these two, if I am ever called upon to make this kind of recommendation again. Tiago Forte‘s “Building a Second Brain” covers a terrific methodology for how to handle the firehose of inputs we receive each day. The way we work and acquire knowledge had changed the same way the news cycle has changed. As a kid I had a daily newspaper and a half hour evening news show. Now we have multiple 24×7 streams of news channels, web sites, podcasts, etc. And we still have to be effective in this flood of information. If Covey tells us how to set our values and behave as leaders, and Allen tells us how to keep up with our outputs, Forte provides a methodology for keeping up and creating value from our inputs. One of the things I love about it, the core idea layering on to my systems, is that information stored in our second brain (notes in our electronic systems) must be actionable towards our projects and goals.

I’m not through reading it yet, but I think I’ve found a golden set of ideas and I wanted to share it.

I’d welcome your thoughts on the books you would recommend to a new leader.

More later of course.