Tag Archives: books

5 top tips for learning on the go

Learning is a life long process and as I’ve mentioned many times before, the more you know is the more you realise that you don’t know. Like many of you, my life is busy but I’ve always made learning and acquiring new knowledge a priority, because I believe it’s the most important investment you can make in yourself and it will always pay dividends. As the saying goes, you can always find time for the things that are important to you, so if learning is a priority for you too, here are a few top tips that work for me:

1.  Sign-up to Audible

The number one way to acquire knowledge is through books, yep not even the Internet can replace the value of a good book. My absolute favourite pass time is to find somewhere secluded, preferably with a nice view and a cup of tea and just read for hours. Unfortunately life rarely affords such luxuries, so the next best thing is Audible. Audible is Amazon’s audio book division, there are various subscription options available and a great mobile app that allows you to download and listen to books whenever and wherever you are. I subscribed to Audible in 2010 and can’t recommend it enough, I’m one of those people that can’t bare to waste time so it’s a great way for me to utilise the three hours a day I spend commuting to and from work, and provides a great companion while doing the housework.

2.  Use mobile apps to capture your thoughts

Yes we can learn a lot from others but we can also learn a lot from ourselves. Many ideas come to our minds each day and we often fail to acknowledge them, simply dismiss them or forget them. You never know when a good idea will come in handy so I recommend capturing your thougts and ideas whenever you feel that they’ll be worth recollecting at some point in the future. The main app I use for this is Evernote it allows you to quickly type, and store notes, record voice notes, capture pictures, screen grabs and more on the go. The clip below pretty much demonstrates how I use the app regularly, if you only have one app on your phone to boost productivity it should probably be Evernote.

3.  Always have a book in your bag ( or a Kindle)

I’m a little bit obsessed with books so I tend to have a few paperbacks in my car and my Kindle in my bag at all times (I know my husband thinks it’s over kill too lol). But the thing is you never know when you’re going to have an inbetween moment and a few free minutes e.g. waiting in a queue or arriving early for a meeting, and as I mentioned earlier I hate to waste time and a good book is a great time filler.

4.  Listen to podcasts

A podcast is a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or portable media player, typically available as a series, new instalments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.

Podcasts are a great wat to keep up to date with authors, speakers and thought leaders that are prominent in your industry and beyond. Stitcher is my latest, favourite app.

It’s great for making sure I never miss an episode of my favourite podcasts which include:

5.  Become a professional listener

You can learn something from everyone and anyone, we often miss nuggets of wisdom imparted by others in our daily lives because we’re more interested in expressing our own opinions as opposed to listening to those of others. Much can be gained from listening keenly to what others have to say.

I hope you’ve found theses tips for learning on the go useful and I’d love to hear if there are others you’d like to recommend so feel free to comment below.

Speak soon,

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Literary Pearls of China

So I was reviewing my blog at the back end of last year, and I realised that despite reading nearly 30 books I only told you about 1, which is pretty shocking given that I read some goodens and the 1 I told you about was far from my fav.

Anyway, thought it was about time I told you about 3 that touched me.

I was going through my Goodreads 2012 reading list and I realised that 3 of the books that inspired me most had a common theme running through them ‘China’. This struck me because these are 3 very different books, I read them for different reasons and came across them in different ways.

The first was Pearl of China by Anchee Min:

Pear of ChinaA fictional representation of Pearl Buck a missionary’s daughter, the story is of a life-long friendship and her journey to becoming a bestselling author and Nobel laureate.

I found this whilst searching Audible for an easy read, with a light theme. I read books like people watch TV, I switch between books like most switch between channels and often settle on the one (of about five at any given time) that best suits my mood and frame of mind. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this on my drive to and from work, it was an easy read that eased my mind and helped me switch mental gears during my daily commute. It gave me a glimpse of Chinese culture in the late 20th century that both engaged and intrigued me.

Although perhaps not historically accurate it stirred in me a curiosity to find out more about China and its people. To be honest I didn’t and still don’t know that much about China other than the speel that is pushed out by mainstream media, but it at least painted a picture for me of the softness of missionary hearts and that of underground Christians set against the harshness of Communist rule and dire poverty, a picture that although fictional resembled truth during this period of time.

The next was The Heavenly Man: The Remarkable True Story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun

Heavenly ManThis book, a work of non-fiction moved me and cut me to my core, it’s a dramatic autobiography of one of China’s dedicated, courageous, and intensely persecuted house church leaders ‘Brother Yun’. I’ve known about this book for a long-time and have actually had the paperback on my book shelf for a few years but never read it. There are some books that you just know will challenge you and course you to face internal truths that you’d rather avoid, this was one of them.

Anyway, for me, last year was about ‘facing God’, re-igniting my relationship with Him and conforming to the simple word I heard burning in my spirit ‘stay close’.  So I purchased this and began listening, what moved me the most was how utterly dependent Brother Yun and the Chinese brethren were on God. When you are faced with the reality that you have nothing apart from God, ‘Christianity’ takes on a whole new meaning, which was apparent throughout this book. God is Brother Yun’s ONLY source and the miracles that ensued in Brother Yun’s life as a result of his unyielding trust, belief and dependence on God, is utterly mind blowing. In places this book reads more like fiction than fact and I was blown away by the fact that these things were taking place in China as recently as the 80’s and early 90’s, probably still today.

I was both encouraged by this book and saddened. Encouraged by the powerful and intense way God shows up when we simply trust and depend on Him. But also saddened because in the West few of us experience the reality of God in this way, I believe this is because we rarely reach the end of ourselves, the point of utter surrender and helplessness. For me Brother Yun exemplified what it means to truly ‘let go and let God’, in the midst of being tortured, battered and beaten almost to death he let go and experienced unfathomable peace in the midst of unspeakable hardship. This book was a stark reminder to me that to truly meet God we must first reach the end of ourselves, the benefits of doing so are amazing, there is no safer place than the arms of God.

So, at the beginning of this post I said I’d tell you about 3 books, However you might have realised I’ve only covered 2 – at 746 words and 11:34pm I figured it was time for me to sign off and tell you about the other book another time, but I will give you a hint Watchman Nee.

Blessings x

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Managing by Mintzberg – book review

I read this book as part of my 90 day plan – an action plan for my first 90 days as a new manager. My motivation for reading it was that I had never really grasped what a manger does and even when I got my current job managing a team of four, I really was none the wiser. Of course I knew in general terms, such as ensure marketing campaigns are run successfully and the team is well organised, but in terms of what a manager does day to day I really had no real clue (until I actually started doing the job and was hit squarely with the realities of managing).

As a marketer responsible for the operational elements of planning and running a campaign, tradeshows etc. prior to this,  I new and understood what this entailed, but once I found myself stripped of operational responsibilities and positioned as strategic planner and figure head it required not just a physical shift but more importantly a mental shift. I felt that I needed some direction with regard to the nuances that ‘managing’ entails, this book helped provide that.

It was very valuable to read this book whilst encountering many of the scenarios it describes. I wouldn’t say this book was a highly enjoyable read, as it felt quite tedious at times, very much like an academic text.  But it is a very valuable read and may even go as far to say it is a necessary read for managers and aspiring managers, I definitely understand why it is the ‘CMI Management Book of the Year 2010′.

My favourite things about the book

  • This book is based on Mintzberg’s observations during a day spent individually with 29 managers across a range of sectors this is incredibly value as the book is steeped in management practice which makes it all the more relevant and relatable.
  • I believe that currently there is an over emphasis on leadership and not enough on management, this skew is clearly evident in the comparatively disproportionate amount of leadership books on the market compared with management books. Mintzberg maintains that leadership is overrated, it is an integral part of management but not the be all and end all – he puts leadership in perspective and I really liked this.
  • Mintzberg asserts that management cannot be taught it has to be practiced – you will not get what a manager does until you are yourself a manager, it is a mesh of so many different threads that the manager is tasked with bringing together in a dynamic balance.
  • This book dispels many management myths and outlines clearly what managing is through a comprehensive description of management roles and a very useful model for managing.

This book has many nuggets of wisdom, it’s pragmatic, comprehensive and it’s honesty is reassuring – it’s comforting to know that the many dysfunctions and conundrums that I face on a daily basis are actually common place.

This book isn’t perfect – the chapters are very long and it’s not particularly easy to read but it’s definitely a worthy addition on any manager or aspiring managers bookshelf. Even if you just have a passing interest in management or you’ve just always wanted to know what it is that managers do, I would highly recommend it.

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