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My 2019 Reading List

Included in the scary lofty goals I set for 2019, I have a stack of books I want to read. Everyone has a stack of books on their bedside table, right? I’m excited to dig into these books and spend less time mindlessly watching videos online. Here’s what’s on my reading list, in no particular order.

Note: These are all affiliate links. If you click on a link and purchase any of these books, you’ll pay the same as everyone else, but I’ll get a small commission.

My Bedside Book Stack

Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Business by Joe Pulizzi
As the godfather of content marketing, when Joe Pulizzi speaks, I shut up and listen. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him speak since joining the Content Marketing World family in 2015. I come away from each of his talks with pages of ideas and actionable steps to apply to my content. After devouring Killing Marketing earlier this year, I’m excited to read this book.

 

Break the Wheel: Question Best Practices, Hone Your Intuition, and Do Your Best Work by Jay Acunzo
I started following Jay Acunzo’s podcast, Unthinkable, after seeing him speak at Content Marketing World. I spent many mornings running with his interviews with non-traditional entrepreneurs in my ears. He highlights people who found success by ignoring “best practices” and doing what made sense for them. I believe my intuition is never wrong (though sometimes inaccurate), and I look forward to reading about other entrepreneurs who follow their gut instincts.

 

Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together by Pamela Slim
I consider Pam Slim to be one of my entrepreneurial mentors. I lovingly call her “Aunt Pam.” She has exceptional business instincts and she’s nurturing of others. Many entrepreneurs do a lot of different types of work and this book should help me tell my story effectively and “continually reinvent and relaunch [my] brand.”

 

The Definition of Success: What Living Homeless Can Teach You by Derek Snook
I heard about this book at Content Marketing World this year. Derek Snook voluntary became one of the people he was trying to help in order to learn how to best provide for their actual needs, rather than speculate what their needs are as an outsider looking in. Additionally, I’m drawn to the belief that the definition of “success” is personal. As a minimalist, I know my definition of success has nothing to do with the car I drive or what jewelry I wear.

 

The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming into the Void, and Make People Love You by Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow
I was impressed by Joe Lazauskas’ talk on storytelling at the Intelligent Content Conference this year. I hope this book will help me engage and connect with my audience by telling more powerful stories related to my work.

 

With Lolly the Llama

Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin
I loved Jay Baer’s talk on talk triggers at Content Marketing World this year. These are things that companies do to get people to talk about them – like the chocolate chip cookie you get when you check into the Doubletree Hilton hotel or how everything at Content Marketing World is orange. Jay’s book has llamas on the front and he sent it to me with stuffed llama toy. I’m curious to read the book and learn about the connection.

 

Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days by Chris Guillebeau
I like Chris Guillebeau because he seems like a quiet guy in person, but beneath that calm exterior, he’s dripping with grit and determination. I started reading this book a few months ago and it lays out what you can do day-by-day to bring an idea to market in under a month. Reading his work helps me not get bogged down in the minutiae of creating a “perfect” product but rather focus on bringing the minimum viable product to market and revise based on actual customer feedback.

 

Your Brightest Life Journal: A Creative Guide to Becoming Your Best Self by Caroline Kelso Zook
Earlier this year, I bought Jason and Caroline Zook’s future. I paid a flat fee and every time they come out with a new product or service, I automatically get it. I’ve used Jason’s products in the past, and it made sense to make this investment. This is my first Caroline-create product and I’m excited to see her thoughts. I think I might be like her – someone who was hesitant to get into the product-creation business, but willing to try because she had something of value to offer.

 

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly and Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
I picked up these two books at an invite-only event for lawyers called TBD Law that was only open to forward thinking practitioners. Other attendees spoke well of both books. I’m all for more focused work and success, especially with everything I have on my plate.

 

DMCA Handbook for Online Service Providers, Websites, and Copyright Owners by Connie Mableson
Connie Mableson is a lawyer and a colleague who works in my building. She knows the DMCA forwards and backwards, and I’m always looking for resources that will make me a better practitioner and help my client be more effective in protecting their intellectual property.

 

The E-Myth Attorney: Why Most Legal Practices Don’t Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber, Robert Armstrong, and Sanford Fisch
I read the general E-Myth book early in my experience as an entrepreneur and I was enormously helpful. It helped me think about creating systems and a master document for how my business should be run. I hope this book gives me suggestions about how to be a more effective business owner.

 

Alight and Alone by Scott Sigler
These are the second and third books in the Generations Trilogy Series. I’ve already read the first book, Alive. I rarely read fiction because my brain knows it’s not real, so it doesn’t easily remember the storyline. Scott Sigler is one of the few writers who captivates my attention. If you like sci-fi, I highly recommend him. I’ll be reading Alone along with the audio version of the book that he put out via his podcast.

 

Books I’m Re-visiting in 2019
Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses are Turning Marketing Costs into Profit by Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose
I devoured this book in three days while Rosie and I were on vacation this year. The pages are filled with underlined passages and notes in the margins. I came away from it teeming with ideas for creating more blog content. I’ll definitely be going back to review my notes.

 

Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans by Peter Shankman
I’m interested in doing more research and speaking about integrity. As a lawyer, I know there’s a huge difference between what someone can do and what they should do. So many issues (legal and otherwise) would be prevented if people merely did the right thing. I know this book has many examples of companies doing the right thing by their customers, at least after a substantial misstep.

What’s on your reading list?

Undeniable Recap of 2017

2016 was bad. I felt as if that year couldn’t end soon enough.  But it’s as if 2017 started the year saying, “Hold my beer” and it went downhill from there. I had a lot of challenges this year including reconstruction at Castle Carter after my condo flooded, death of my childhood coach, being in a car accident, studying for the California bar exam, and processing my gender identity.

My jar of happy memories

Thankfully, I started a new tradition of keeping a jar next to my bed where I wrote notes about things that happened in my life that made me happy or giggle. Even on bad days, I could look over at my jar that was filling with notes and be reminded that life doesn’t suck all the time. It was a joy to go through them while I wrote this post. Here are my top 5 events/activities from 2017:

Me and my skateboard

1. I got a Skateboard at CMWorld
Content Marketing World always does an excellent job taking care of its speakers. I look forward to this conference every year and I’m proud to be part of Team Orange. When they announced that Casey Neistat would be one of the keynote speakers, I started tweeting at them that I wanted an orange skateboard as my speaker gift. (They usually get us each a wireless mouse/laser pointer.) Shortly after I checked into my hotel room, the hotel dropped off a big box for me. It was a mini orange skateboard! I love this thing, not just because it’s awesome, but because it made me feel like part of the CMWorld family. Once I finish my marathon in 2018, I’m going to take a skateboarding lesson and learn how to ride it properly.

I love this tattoo

2. “Don’t Be What They Made You” Tattoo
I saw Logan in the theater. When I heard this line, I instantly knew I wanted it tattooed on my wrist. A few months later, Hollis at Iconic Tattoo made it a reality. This is a daily reminder and inspiration for me.

3. “But I’m still your Tranpa”
Accepting that I’m non-binary made me feel like I was a baby queer all over again. I felt especially vulnerable a few months ago and sent an email to trans entertainer and advocate Buck Angel, just an open invitation for lunch the next time he’s in Phoenix. He responded and signed it “Tranpa.” I wrote back and said, age-wise, we’re more like cousins. (We’re only about 7 years apart.) He responded, “Hahaa but I’m still your Tranpa ❤️.”

This warmed my heart. It matters to talk to people who “get it.” Buck is someone I reach out to when I experience dysmorphia or feel like I live in a world that wasn’t made for me.

Still smiling after running 20 miles – and rocking some mad hair

4. Running with David
I’m training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2018. After getting a DNF at my last marathon attempt, I decided to hire a coach, David Roher. He lives on the east coast, so we communicate over email, text, and phone. He gives me my assignments and tracks my workouts via Strava, plus we talk about nutrition, stretching, injuries, and life in general.

David always has a word of encouragement when I need it – often to remind me that I have the ability to do any assignment he gives me and not to push myself too hard. When I finished my 20-mile training run a few weeks ago, I was pleased with my pace and by how good I felt at the end of it.

5. Ethics and Ice Cream
I had a flash of brilliance at the beginning of August to do a continuing legal education seminar looking at what Arizona lawyers were being disciplined for during the last few years to look for patterns and commonalities. I pitched the idea to do this for ASU CLE and call it “Ethics and Ice Cream.” They loved it and we scheduled the event for about a month later. I recruited fellow lawyer and comedian, Matt Storrs, and we reviewed all the Lawyer Regulation reports since 2015 and pulled off a successful event.

This event made this list, not because I created a CLE, but because I put this idea into action and made it work.

As I read all the notes in my jar, I noticed there were at least six notes that mentioned hugs or being the “little spoon.” Besides giving me a warm fuzzy trip down memory lane, these notes reminded me how important the people in my life are to me.

Rosie Dog – Go check out her Instagram

Firsts in 2017
Flying in/out of a city in one day (for Ungagged Las Vegas)
Standing ovation for singing “O Holy Night” at the Community Church of Hope Christmas Show
Love and Complements Rally
Interview on The Out House Podcast
Foods: Almond butter (meh), Vegan gourmet shreds (cheese-like, not bad), Cashew milk ice cream (best non-dairy ice cream), Almond milk yogurt (not food), Cashew yogurt (not food), Pumpkin seeds (so good), Spirulina (meh)
Events: ICON, Law Launcher, TBD Law, BlogHer

Minions make me smile

Celebrity Sightings
Tom Green
Joseph Gordon Levitt
Chris Guillebeau
Casey Neistat
Paul Risser
Minions

In Memoriam
George Seivert
Don Rickles
Andrea Esquer
Laurel Graver
Dorian Kreiling

What Am I

I’m training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in 2018. When I do my long run for the week, I prefer to listen to podcasts instead of music. It’s easier to be distracted from the pain I’m inflicting on myself and find a rhythm with 30-minute episodes rather than 3-minute songs.

Recently I’ve used my training to catch up on the podcast Unthinkable, hosted by Jay Acunzo. I met Jay in 2016 when we were both speakers at Content Marketing World where he spoke about how being different leads to success in business. I always get something good out of every episode.

Be an Authority
This run started with his interview with marketing consultant, author, and speaker Robert Rose. Robert says he prefers to be called an “authority” rather than an “expert,” in part because the words “authority” has the root “author.” An expert knows a subject, but an author created it. I love this! I am absolutely stealing this for two reasons:

  1. I love the idea of being an authority on social media law (I did write the book on this stuff), and
  2. The State Bar doesn’t allow lawyers to call themselves “specialists” unless you’ve been certified through their process. This gets around that issue.

Be an Exception
Jay says, “To be exceptional, you have to be an exception.” Statements like this remind me that it’s ok to be me, and when I embrace and run with my unconventional ideas, things tend to work out. And I don’t do what I do just to be weird, but because it’s what works for me. I’m just being me. When I try to fit into someone else’s box is when things go sideways.

Jay is all about intuition. He highlights people who are successful because they trusted their gut. They ask the right questions and find the answers from within. I believe in this too. My gut feeling is never wrong – sometimes inaccurate, but never wrong. I know when I’m going with my gut, I’m doing what’s in alignment with who I am.

What Am I?
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been mulling over this question. It started back in September when I saw my friend, Ari Kaplan, speak at ASU Law School about making opportunities for yourself. I don’t know what Ari said, but it inspired me to write, “I’m an artist” in my notebook.

When it comes down to the basics, I think that’s what I am. I’m a writer, a musician, a creator. I’m happiest when I’m creating, learning, sharing, and when what I do makes a difference.

Looking to the future, I can picture myself taking music lessons and going to ballet classes (in male attire with Rocky’s leg warmers). I also see myself zipping around on my orange skateboard and learning how to be a survivalist (not that I like camping, but I bet it’s handy stuff to know). Being a lawyer pays the bills, but more and more, I accept that this is what I do. It’s not who I am.

For now, I’m putting more energy into being creative. On the wall where I put my to-do items on sticky notes, I added one that says, “Just Write.” When I saw Ann Handley speak at Content Marketing World, she inspired me to devote time to writing every day, even if no one ever sees it. And I’m listening to more music, pulling from my entire iTunes library, and not just my race day playlist.

I Ripped the Ads Off my YouTube Channel

Earlier this month, I attended Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio and I attended podcaster Jay Acunzo’s talk entitled “Unthinkable Marketing.” He told a story about a time he wanted to show a video to his roommates and their anticipation was jilted by a YouTube ad. He had gotten them excited about this video, and then he had to work even harder to keep their enthusiasm up while they waited for the ad to play through. The lesson I got from this story was “Don’t put barriers between your target audience and the content they want.” We live in a world where having to sit through a 30-second ad could be enough to make someone leave the site in annoyance, instead of watching your work.

march07 374 by Lord Jim from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

march07 374 by Lord Jim from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Jay’s story made me think. Why do I have ads on my YouTube videos? I make little Question Of The Day videos where I respond to questions the people ask me via email or the weird stuff people Google and end up on my website. Some people ask me about some really messed up situations – both hilarious and cringe worthy.

I monetized these videos because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time, just a lease I got enough views to earn a few bucks from it. Here is the reality: these videos are never going to get enough traffic to make running ads worth it. These are videos are only valuable to people who have a specific question at that time and my friends who just like to watch me pontificate to my web cam. There is no reason for me to run ads on any of my videos. If anything, they annoyed or confused my audience over the years, which doesn’t do anything to help my desired reputation for creating knowledgeable and accessible resources about legal issues.

Vehemently, I grabbed my pen and scribbled myself a note to rip my ads off of every video on my YouTube channel. They contribute no value to anyone or anything I care about. After I got home, one of the first things I did was sit down and edit each of my 272 videos, removing the ads from each one. (YouTube should create an option to un-monetize every video on the channel with one click. That would have saved me an hour.)

I support the idea of people being paid for their work. They deserve to be compensated for adding value to others lives. However, I don’t support the idea of doing it in such a way where it creates an obstacle between the artist and their audience.

And if you are an artist who relies on YouTube ad revenue, be careful about your business plan going forward. Many YouTubers recently learned how easy it is for YouTube to disrupt their expectations with its monetization policies.

Day 92/90 – Gearing Up for the Next Adventure

That’s it! The 90 Days of Awesome are complete! How did I spend my last day of this adventure? Gearing up for the next one!

Photo by Joseph Abbruscato, used with permission

Photo by Joseph Abbruscato, used with permission

September means cooler weather and fall conferences for me. I’m hitting the road next week to attend and speak at Content Marketing World in Cleveland. I spent a good chunk of time today verifying my flight and hostel reservations, emailing my co-panelist, and making plans to see some of my awesome legal eagle friends in Cleveland – including David Mills – one of my Sponsor A Law Kid sponsors that I’ve never met in person

Looking through my posts from the last 92 days, I noticed that the best days were the ones I got to spend with friends. More and more I realize that it’s the relationships that matter in my life, not what I do or where I go – but with who I share the adventure.

So what’s next? I’ll go back to writing posts 1-2 times per week on this site. I have at least 3 trips planned for the fall and I’m working on a fourth. And September is my birthday month so I’ll have to figure out some shenanigans to commemorate my 36th trip around the sun.

Thank you all for joining me for the 90 Days of Awesome. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did.

In case you missed it: Day 91 of the 90 Days of Awesome – My life oscillates between warp speed and crash-and-burn.