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This month’s books are about talking with other people and understanding, and bringing the best out in, each other. As I announced last month, my book about creative work There Is No Right Way to Do This, is available at my website here. Best of Books is free, but it isn’t cheap. If you’ve gotten any value out of this newsletter, you can support it by buying the book


How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish


Whether you are a parent or not, this is a great book on how to talk to other people. It doesn’t show in the quotes here, but I particularly like the comics inside the book with sample dialogue. I enjoyed covering this book for Forge a few months back as well




On self-forgiveness: Every time a parent says to himself, "I wish I hadn't said that. Why didn't I think to say…,” he automatically gets another chance. Life with children is open-ended… Compassion is always appreciated, whether it comes sooner or later.


On empathy: The time for empathy is when a child wants you to know how he feels… It’s his negative emotions that require our skill. That’s where we have to overcome the old temptation to ignore, deny, moralize, etc. 


On authenticity: Sounding patient when I'm feeling angry can only work against me. 


Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss with Tahl Raz


Whether it’s for a car, or a mortgage, or a salary, everyone has to negotiate at some point in their lives. This book is the key to getting more out of those conversations. It has sat on my shelf for years. If I’d read it earlier, I could have saved myself thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars—not to mention plenty of time spent selling, or stressed and not understanding what went wrong in a conversation. I usually binge read, but I did the opposite with this book—I read it 2–10 pages at a time, usually in less than ten minutes a day, and I finished it in several weeks. You can do it too. 




On learning: Your goal at the outset is to extract and observe as much information as possible. Which, by the way, is one of the reasons that really smart people often have trouble being negotiators—they’re so smart they think they don’t have anything to discover.


On empathy: Tactical empathy is understanding the feelings and mindset of another in the moment and also hearing what is behind those feelings so you increase your influence in all the moments that follow. It's bringing our attention to both the emotional obstacles and the potential pathways to getting an agreement done.


On labeling: Labeling is a way of validating someone's emotion by acknowledging it. Give someone's emotion a name and you show you identify with how the person feels.


This Is Not a T-Shirt by Bobby Hundreds


A few years ago, I edited this guest post the editor in chief from The Hundreds wrote for Shopify Plus. I’m far removed from fashion and clothing these days, but I’ve always loved the brand and ethos behind The Hundreds. I appreciate its blog, its approach to storytelling, and the community it has built—connecting with one person at a time. It was a fun read. 




On practicality: I was trying to become a lawyer so that I could be an artist, and although that sounds as dumb to me now as it did to everyone else back then, I was crestfallen with how my plan was backfiring.


On self-discovery: I had the luxury of crafting my brand identity for years before I met my audience. I attribute much of our longevity to the blogging spirit and this fundamental mantra: DIY and DIFY. Do it for yourself.


On building an audience: There is no viral craze that will convince your audience overnight. The routes are long and onerous, but warm handshakes and baby photos win elections.



Whether you love or hate him, you can’t ignore him—through his content and products, Kanye has built something that people and businesses are betting on. I wrote a piece to define what exactly it is, and to unpack why it resonates with us. If you’re interested in art, leadership, or thinking, you’re going to enjoy this piece. 



I hope that some of these passages unlock the hidden doors of your mind. Maybe some will serve as catalysts for change. And remember, they’re signposts. It’s up to you whether you want to apply them or not. Reply to this and let me know which quotes or books resonate with you, what you think of the newsletter, and if there’s anything I can support you with.




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