Category: Books

April 24 2018

A Book A Day #6: Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker

Girl Power! If there’s one book that’ll make you proud to be a girl it’s this one. I first came across the series, Strong is the New Pretty, when I wrote a blog post about it on My Modern Met back in 2015. Shortly afterwards, in 2017, the photographer and mom behind it, Kate T. Parker, released a book, celebrating the strength and spirit of girls being completely themselves. Parker traveled all over the country, shooting almost 200 girls to capture beautiful, raw and real stories. This picture book is neatly divided into sections like Wild is Strong or Creative is Strong, giving you a sneak peek as to what photos you’ll be viewing next.

Brief Synopsis: Kate T. Parker’s goal in shooting the images for this book was to inspire girls and women to be their best selves, to challenge and test their limits. She wants these images to combat the negative voices that tell us we’re not good enough. “I want these girls to be able to hear their own voices through these images, and to inspire them to use them and continue to use them. Loudly.” Each image is paired with a quote from a strong girl. You’ll be amazed at how wise these girls are! All I could think about when I was turning each page was, “How relevant is this book today?!”

Top 5 Quotes:

“Many girls grew up dreaming of a hero to save them. I grew up dreaming of becoming one.” – Lesley, age 18

“True beauty is the result of the persistence, resilience, and confidence that comes with being a strong woman.” – Sophie, Age 17

“Family and friends may help along the way, but resilience is about harnessing an inner strength to fuel a fierce persistence in the face of hardship.”

“Challenge yourself: Launch an idea and know that your colleagues and peers will support you. Put faith in your legs and climb that mountain, one step after the next. Sign up for a class a subject that terrifies you. Start something new. Fearless girls are able to separate their fear from what they have to do in the moment: learning to fly a plane despite a few of heights, twirling in the air and trusting your teammates to catch you, or believing in your ability to conquer something that no one, even you, thought you could do.”

“I wanted to stop. I never did.” – Michelle, age 9

Story: “Strong is someone who takes hardships life throws at them and never gives up. When my parents died from cancer months apart from each other, I worked really hard in school so that I could make them proud.” – Faith, age 18

“Cancer stole part of my leg but not my joy. I choose happiness. Being happy is my superpower.” – Grace B., age 12

Statistics or Research:

Women earn an estimated average of just 79 cents for every dollar their male counterparts make.

In sports broadcasting, female athletic competitions represent 5% of the allotted airtime.

In film and tv, female protagonists make up 12& of cinematic roles.

Takeaway Tips:

Don’t be afraid to be completely yourself. Celebrate who you are.

Be fearless, take risks, have courage, that’s the best way to live a life you love.

Find your inner strength. You know it’s in you.

My Biggest Takeaway: It’s never too late to grow, to challenge yourself. When you have that childlike spirit, you believe anything in possible. Harness that energy and put it towards something positive.

Who Is This Book For: Every girl and woman on this planet. (Boys and men, give this book to your daughter, sister, or niece too.)

Why Do I Recommend This Book?: This book reminds me of how, when we believe in ourselves, we’re truly limitless. If I had a daughter, I’d love to read this book to her. Just as captivating as the pictures are the quotes that go along with them. I love the fact that each girl was unabashedly herself!

April 23 2018

A Book A Day #5: The One Thing by Gary Keller

I’m always looking for books that will help me live a simpler but more meaningful life. How can I increase my productivity while minimizing my stress?

Gary Keller is an American entrepreneur, he’s the founder of Keller Williams Realty International, which is the largest real estate company in the world by agent count. His books include The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, The Real Estate Investor, and The ONE Thing.

The ONE Thing has been on more than 400 national bestseller lists, including #1 Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today. It has won 12 book awards and has been translated into 30 languages. It’s been voted as one of the Top 100 Business Books of All Time on Goodreads.

Brief Synopsis: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results helps you focus on what matters most in your personal and professional life. It’s a simple lesson, focus on the one thing that is going to help you the most. It asks you to zero in on your most important priority and focus in on that. Then, it gives you tips on how to boost your productivity.

Top 5 Quotes:

“Achievers operate differently. They have an eye for the essential. They pause long enough to decide what matters and then allow what matters to drive their day. Achievers do sooner what others plan to do later and defer, perhaps indefinitely, what others do sooner. The difference isn’t in intent, but in right of way. Achievers always work from a clear sense of priority.”

“Instead of a to-do list, you need a success list – a list that is purposefully created around extraordinary results.”

“Success is actually a short race – a sprint fueled by discipline just long enough for habit to kick in and take over. When we know something that needs to be done but isn’t currently getting done, we often say, ‘I just need more discipline.’ Actually, we need the habit of doing it. And we need just enough discipline to build the habit.”

“The surest path to achieving lasting happiness happens when you make your life about something bigger, when you bring meaning and purpose to your everyday actions.”

“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” – screenwriter Leo Rosten

A Good Story: As an example of a CEO who believed in “going small” or saying no a lot was Steve Jobs. In the two years after his return from Apple, in 1997, he took the company from 350 products to ten. He explained, “When you think about focusing, you think, ‘Well, focusing is saying yes.’ No! Focusing is about saying no.”

Statistics or Research:

Individuals with written goals are 39.5% more likely to succeed. Individuals ho wrote their goals and sent progress reports to friends are 76.7% more likely to achieve them.

Takeaway Tips:

Do what matters most first each day, when your willpower is the strongest.

Think BIG, aim high and act bold. “Avoid incremental thinking that simply asks, ‘What do I do next?’..Ask bigger questions. Set a goal so far above what you want that you’ll be building a plan that practically guarantees your original goal.”

Rest and recharge. Take that time off. Block out long weekends and long vacations. “You’ll be more rested, more relaxed, and more productive afterward.”

Find time to reflect on where you are and where you want to go. Block an hour each week to review your annual and monthly goals.

My Biggest Takeaway: Find your purpose in life. For me, that means inspiring and empowering women to be bold as well as helping to erase the stigma of mental illness. “When you have a definite purpose for your life, clarity comes faster, which leads to more conviction in your direction, which usually leads to faster decisions. When you make faster decisions, you’ll often be the one who makes the first decisions and winds up with the best choices. And when you have the best choices, you have the opportunity for the best experiences.” It’s taught me to write down my goals and keep them close.

Who is This Book For?: Anyone who’s interested in simplifying their life while still achieving a high level of productivity.

Why Do I Recommend This Book?: This book taught me that life comes down to finding your purpose and setting your priorities. “Purpose without priority is powerless.” Work on the one thing that matters most to you. “Tap into your purpose and allow that clarity to dictate your priorities.” It’s all about purpose and priorities!

April 23 2018

A Book A Day #4: Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

Yesterday, I was busy putting together a photo shoot for Mother’s Day so I didn’t have enough time to read a brand new book. Instead, I reread a book that I recently loved. What popped up in my mind? Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss.

I’ve told many friends about this behemoth of a book and I’ve even gifted it to a few of them.

Tim Ferriss is author of self-help books including his breakout hit, The 4-Four Workweek. He’s an angel investor and advisor to startups like StumbleUpon, Evernote, Shopify, and TaskRabbit. The New York Times listed Ferriss among their “Notable Angel Investors” while CNN said he was “one of the planet’s leading angel investors in technology.” The latest book he’s written is Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice From the Best in the World.

Brief Synopsis: Tribe of Mentors is the result of Tim asking 100+ brilliant people the very same 11 questions he wanted to answer for himself. Eight of the questions were “rapid-fire” questions from his podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, the first business podcast to pass 200 million downloads. The questions included everything from “What is the book you’ve given most as a gift and why?” to “In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?” The answers that followed were incredibly enlightening!

Top 5 Quotes:

“Courage was more important than confidence. When you are operating out of courage, you are saying that no matter how you feel about yourself or your opportunities or the outcome, you are going to take a risk and take a step toward what you want. You are waiting for the confidence to mysteriously arrive. I now believe that confidence is achieved through repeated success at any any endeavor. The more you practice doing something, the better you will get at it, and your confidence will grow over time.”

Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by? “Hands down it would be ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’ We spend far too much time complaining about the way things are, and forget that we have the power to change anything and everything. I’d have a secondary quote too: ‘I’m starting with the man in the mirror’ – Michael Jackson. Same message; different delivery.” – Bozoma Saint John

“Life will present you with unexpected opportunities, and you won’t always know in advance which are the important moments. Above all, it’s the quality of your relationships that will determine the quality of your life. Invest in your connections, even those that seem inconsequential.”

“In moments when you don’t believe in yourself, you need other people who believe in you. They can hold you up when you falter and keep you from hitting the ground. Other people see you differently from the way you see yourself.”

“Be original. It’s straightforward. It says what it is. Be you. Embrace you. Celebrate you.”

A Good Story: Ben Silbermann, co-founder and CEO of Pinterest describes how it took him a while before he “struck gold.” He left Google in 2008 to start acompany, the first two or three things didn’t work out. Pinterest launched in 2019 and it didn’t really start growing quickly for another year or two. It really took off around 2012. “That’s a four-year period where thing weren’t going awesome,” he states. “But I thought, ‘That’s not that long. That’s like med school before you go into residency.'”

Takeaway Tips:

Give without expecting anything in return. “Whenever I’ve given purely for giving, for helping, for supporting, for aiding, for encouraging – with zero expectation or interest in any return whatsoever – it’s ben thoroughly fulfilling,” John Rawls stated.

Listen to your inner voice to tell you what to do, be patient. “It is the ability to wait quietly for the right moment, rather than rushing about aimlessly, that can lead even an ambitious success-hunter to capture the biggest game,” said Tim O’Reilly.

The books that, time and time again, were high recommended are: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker, Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, and Poor Charlie’s Almanack by Charlie Munger.

My Biggest Takeaway:

To take time out of my day to meditate and to be mindful. To spend time with the ones I love. “Be here now,” Ben Stiller states as the quote he lives by. “Because life is short, and we only have the current moment…As I get older, I am trying to live fully in the moments with the people I love and care about.”

Who is This Book For?:

Anyone interested in learning about what goes on inside the minds of extraordinary people. This book is also for those who love to read! (Lots of good book recommendations.)

Why Do I Recommend This Book?:

I, personally, love this book because after reading it, you can decipher what it takes to become extraordinary. You can make the connections between a whole, long list of interesting people. A lot of them practice some form of meditation. Many keep a gratitude journal. Everyone seems to have gotten through some sort of failure in their life but they all came out stronger in the end.

April 22 2018

A Book A Day #3: Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

I decided that day three would be dedicated to mindfulness. It’s a topic that I’m interested in learning more about, to really live in the present and not worry about the past or future. It sounds so easy to do but I know it takes a tremendous amount of practice.

I was introduced to the Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh by my father-in-law, who practices his walking meditation. Nhat Hanh coined the term “Engaged Buddhism” which refers to Buddhists who are seeking ways to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental, and economic suffering and injustice. When he was just a teenager, he left home to become a Zen monk. He’s taught at Columbia University and was nominated by Martin Luther King Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize. Can you believe how many books this monk has written? Over 100 with more than 40 in English! I could go on and on about Nhat Hanh, he’s established schools, built healthcare clinics, and helped rebuild villages, but it’s time to get down to business.

Brief Synopsis: Peace is Every Step reminds us that we can find peace in any available moment. To him, a ringing bell can be a gentle reminder to call us back to our true selves. He’s a firm believer in practicing mindfulness, truly experiencing the present moment, everywhere we can, in the kitchen, driving a car or even walking in a park. He provides exercises to increase awareness of our own mind through conscious breathing and he shares beautiful poems that you can’t help but want to remember. His thought-provoking, beautiful stories will captivate you and will really make you see how we’re all interconnected.

Top 5 Quotes:

“Breathing in and out is very important, and it is enjoyable. Our breathing is the link between our body and our mind. Sometimes our mind is thinking of one thing and our body is doing another, and mind and body are not unified. By concentrating on our breathing, ‘In’ and ‘Out,’ we bring body and mind back together, and become whole again. Conscious breathing is an important bridge.”

“While we practice conscious breathing, our thinking will slow down, and we can give ourselves a real rest. Most of the time, we think too much, and mindful breathing helps us to be calm, relaxed, and peaceful. It helps us stop thinking so much and stop being possessed by sorrows of the past and worries about the future. It enables us to be in touch with life, which is wonderful in the present moment.”

“We usually think that parents have to nourish their children, but sometimes the children can bring enlightenment to the parents and help transform them.”

“One word, one action, or one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring him joy. One word can give comfort and confidence, destroy doubt, help someone avoid a mistake, reconcile conflict, or open a door to liberation. One action can save a person’s life or help him take advantage of a rare opportunity. One thought can do the same, because thoughts always lead to words and actions. If love is in our heart, every thought, word, and deed can bring about a miracle.”

“The secret to happiness is happiness itself. Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, the wonder of our breathing. We don’t have to travel anywhere else to do so. We can in touch with these things right now.”

A Good Story: Nhat Hanh has a friend who is an artist. Forty years ago, before he left Vietnam, his mother held his hand and told him, “Whenever you miss me, look into your hand, and you will see me immediately.” Over the years, his friend would look into his hand many times. He feels her spirit and her hopes. When he looks into his hand, he sees thousands of generations before him and thousands of generations after him. He never feels lonely.

Takeaway Tips:

We have the ability to transform our lives right now. Practicing mindfulness can be something we incorporate into our daily lives.

When we look at our parents with compassion, we can see that they were only victims who never had a chance to practice mindfulness. They could not transform the suffering in themselves. If we can see them with compassionate eyes, we can forgive them.

The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the suffering of others and put ourselves in their shoes. We can meditate about a person who is suffering and not just say “I love him very much” but instead “I will do something so that he will suffer less.”

My Biggest Takeaway:

I recently had a fight with my husband Sam and both of us had been stewing over seemingly nothing for a few days. There’s this chapter in the book called Living Together that talks about, how when we live together, happiness is no longer an individual matter. “If the other person is not happy, we will not be happy either.” He suggests saying to your partner, early on, “Darling, I think we’d better discuss a conflict I see growing.” The root cause of most problems is a lack of understanding. If we can stop a fight before it gets worse, and recognize the misunderstanding, we can easily untie the knot.

Who is This Book For?: Anyone who is open to studying mindfulness. If you feel overwhelmed with life and need to find ways to enjoy it more, read this book.

Why Do I Recommend This Book?: I decided that from now on, I’ll only write about books I love. I started reading a book today and had to stop a quarter of the way in because it didn’t speak to me. That’s why I’m changing “Do I Recommend This Book” to “Why Do I Recommend This Book?”

I recommend this book because the simple stories make you smile. It’s light but deep.

April 20 2018

A Book A Day #2: High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard

I came across this book from listening to a “girl boss” podcast. Brendon Burchard is a #1 New York Times best-selling author and “the world’s leading high performance coach.” His latest book, High Performance Habits, was a Wall Street Journal best-seller and named by Amazon as one of its top three best business and leadership books of 2017. So was it good? Well, I can tell you that it was long! I actually started reading this a few weeks ago, I was halfway through it so I only had to read the other half in one day. Still that took me a few solid hours. However, because it was so motivational, it felt like the time just flew by.

Brief Synopsis: High Performance Habits is the culmination of Brendon Burchard’s two decades of studying extraordinary people. “What made them succeed?,” he wondered. He dug deep and decided to write a book about six habits you need to become a high performer. Here it is: you must seek clarity, generate energy, raise necessity, increase productivity, develop influence, and demonstrate courage. (There, now you don’t need to buy the book. Kidding!)

Top 5 Quotes:

“You simply can’t beat the norms if you’ve driven yourself into the ground. As it turns out, high performers’ sustained success is due in large part to their healthy approach to living. It’s not just about achievement in a profession or in just one area of interest. It’a about creating a high performance life, in which you experience an ongoing feeling of full engagement, joy, and confidence that comes from being your best self.”

“High performers love challenges and are more confident that they will achieve their goals despite adversity.”

“Demonstrate courage by expressing your ideas, taking bold action, and standing up for yourself and others, even in the face of fear, uncertainty, threat or changing conditions. Courage is not an occasional act, but a trait of choice and will.”

“Clarity on who you are is associated with overall self-esteem. This means that how positive you feel about yourself is tied to how well you know yourself…That’s why self-awareness is so key to initial success. You have to know who you are, what you value, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and where you want to go. This kind of knowledge makes you feel better about yourself and about life.”

“Next, you need to have unambiguous and challenging goals. Decades of research show that having specific and difficult goals increases performance, whether those goals are created by you or assigned to you. Clear ‘stretch’ goals energize us and lead to great enjoyment, productivity, profitability, and satisfaction in our work.”

Adding a 6th Quote (because it’s just that good):

“The fundamentals of becoming more productive are setting goals, and maintaining energy and focus. No goals, no focus, no energy – and you’re dead in the water.”

A Good Story: Backstage at a conference that gathered 15,000 people, a girl named Aurora, an Olympics medal winner, asked Burchard,” Are you always this on?” She meant energized and happy. He asked, “Why?” She went on, “But aren’t you nervous? I feel like I’m going to be sick. I can’t keep my thoughts in order. You look so relaxed. How do you get so confident?” To which Burchard replied,”I definitely wouldn’t say I’m calm! I feel plenty of nerves, too, but I’m not really thinking about it. I’ll worry about the 15,000 when I get to them. I was just enjoying my conversation with you.” He coaches her, “You’re a champion. Now, how does this champion sitting right here in front of me want to connect with her people today?” She says, “I want to love on them. I want them to know I got a medal because of their support.” Finally, he says, “Then go love on them. Let that be your emotion. Let that be your message.” She kisses him on the cheek. “You’re right, Brendon” she says, “I’m a hundred pounds of love. Let’s go love up on these people.”

Statistics or Research:

People who set goals and regularly self-monitor them are almost two and a half times more likely to attain their goals!

Studies have shows that having a specific plan to your goal can more than double the likelihood of achieving it. (Got to plan, baby!)

We spend over 28% of our workweek managing emails and on other worthless activities, things that have nothing to do with real productivity.

Did you know that the average American watches four to five hours of television a day!?

Takeaway Tips:

Burchard talks about honoring the struggle. He sees struggle as part of growing our character. Struggles will either destroy us or develop us and ultimately that’s our choice. View struggles as stepping-stones to strength and high performance.

Live a life that’s yours. Don’t seek the approval of doubters. Express your own truth and pursue your own dreams.

Slow down, say no often and be more strategic.

Who is This Book For?:

People who are want to be the best person they can be whether that means being an Olympic athlete or a CEO.

Entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out what can make them successful.

My Biggest Takeaway: After having clarity on who you are, you must think about what you want or what your specific goals are. Then, you create a clear plan. As I was eating dinner with a friend and telling her about my business, Skylar Yoo, she asked me, “So, what’s your goal?” I was dumbstruck. Why didn’t I have goals written down? With no goals, I had no plans, which meant I just aimlessly went about my day, answering emails and trying to manage advertising campaigns. This book and that conversation made me realize that it all starts with goals. Write them down, share them with your employees, and then create plans to achieve them. As Burchard writes, “Productivity starts with goals.”

Do I Recommend This Book?: Absolutely! A lot of this book is common sense but the author makes you believe that anyone can be a high performer, you don’t have to be superhuman. You just have to develop strong habits like thinking more before acting and planning everything out, from your workouts and your meetings to your vacation time. If anything, you’ll be inspired to be the best version of yourself!

April 19 2018

A Book A Day #1: Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I did it! Despite the fact that it was the day of my kindergarten son’s first play, I managed to squeeze in enough time to read a book cover to cover. (This is a big feat because it’s a frickin’ jam packed work day!) First book up is Essentialism by Greg McKeown!

I bought this book years ago (it came out in 2014) but all of the content that’s in there is very relevant for anyone who’s leading a busy life. I’m going to follow a specific format for these 365 book reviews so it’s easy for you to skip to your favorite parts.

Brief Synopsis: Once we know our purpose in a project and we do our work well, this leads to success. What happens then? New opportunities arise. You think this is a good thing but these options unintentionally distract us and steal our time. We lose clarity and we start spreading ourselves too thin. Instead of really contributing to a project or, in a larger sense, this world, we’re pulled in a million different directions. The only way out? To live as an Essentialist. What does that mean? It means living a simpler life where you explore and evaluate all the options, eliminate most of them and then execute only on what’s truly important. This leads us to a life of meaning and purpose.

Top 5 Quotes:

“Ask three questions: ‘What do I feel deeply inspired by?’ and ‘What am I particularly talented at?’ and ‘What meets a significant need in this world?’…We are looking for the highest level of contribution: the right thing the right way at the right time.”

“What if society stopped telling us to buy more stuff and instead allowed us to create more space to breathe and think?”…What if instead of we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?”

“Working hard is important. But more effort does not necessarily yield more results. ‘Less but better’ does.”

“To discern what is truly essential we need space to think, time to look and listen, permission to play, wisdom to sleep, and the discipline to apply highly selective criteria to the choices we make.”

“It’s official. Sleep, that rare commodity in stressed-out America, is the new status symbol.”

A Good Story: When a woman named Cynthia was a little, 12-year-old girl, she made plans with her father to have a “date night.” They planned the whole itinerary down to the last minute – everything from attending the last hour of his presentation, taking a trolley, eating Chinese food, watching a movie, taking a nighttime swim and then ordering a hot fudge sundae from room service. That day was all going according to plan until the father ran into an old college friend and business associate after his speech. His friend wanted to invite the two of them to a seafood dinner at the wharf. Cynthia’s father responded: “Bob, it’s so great to see you. Dinner at the wharf sounds great!” The little girl was crestfallen, her daydreams dashed. But then the dad said, “But not tonight, Cynthia and I have a special date planned, don’t we?” He winked at her, grabbed her by the hand and they spent an unforgettable night in San Francisco. Who was this man? None other than Stephen R. Covey of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People! What a dad. Here’s how Cynthia remembers this day: His simple decision “Bonded him to me forever because I knew what mattered most to him was me!”

Statistics or Research:

Warren Buffet and his firm make relatively few investments but keep them for a long time. He only invents in businesses that he’s absolutely sure of and then bets heavily on them. He owes 90% of his wealth to just ten investments.

In regards to sleep, pulling an all-nighter or having a week of sleeping just 4-5 hours a night “induces an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of 0.1%”

Nearly 40 percent of our choices are deeply unconscious.

Takeaway Tips:

Read something from classic literature for the first 20 minutes of the day. Don’t check your email as soon as you wake up. This practice centers you and broadens your perspective. Recommended books include: Zen, the Reason of the Unreason and Tao: To Know and Not Be Knowing.

Keep a journal. Write less than you feel like writing, that way it’s not a chore. Once every 90 days, take an hour to read your journal entries from that period. Focus on the broader patterns and trends. Notice the changes you made in your life.

Continually ask yourself “What’s important right now?” Pare your list down to the essentials.

Take some time to think before you make a commitment and say yes to something.

Set aside some time out of your day to just think.

Prepare everything you can ahead of time so you don’t stress yourself out later.

Who is This Book For?:

Busy, working moms who are trying to juggle it all.

CEOs and managers who need to lead and motivate a team.

Entrepreneurs who are trying to figure out what to prioritize.

My Biggest Takeaway: In this book, I learned about “constraints” or the obstacles holding the whole system back. Even if you improve everything else, if you don’t address the constraint, your project can’t improve. You need to ask the question, “What is the obstacle that is keeping you back from achieving what really matters to you?” Instead of looking for the most obvious obstacles, look for the ones slowing down progress. What is the bottleneck?

I applied this to getting my sons dressed in the mornings. My husband relies on me to pick out the children’s clothes. He’s always asking me to give him their clothes so that he can dress them. This causes both of us to stress out. We’re all rushed to get out the door. So what did I do? I realized that I was the “obstacle” and decided to pick out the clothes the night before and leave them at the top of the stairs. Now, Sam can get them dressed while I get ready. I did this for the past two days and OMG! There’s no more yelling, no more stress. Mr. McKeown, you have drastically improved my home life!

Do I Recommend It?: Absolutely! This book makes you want to live a simpler yet more meaningful life. I love how the author believes family (or relationships) should be at the top of your priority list. At the end of the day, isn’t it all about priorities?

April 18 2018

My 365 Day Challenge: Read a Book a Day!

I love books. The knowledge you can absorb from a good book is mind-blowing, it can literally change your life. Books make you see things from a different perspective, they open up whole new worlds for you. It’s because of my love for them that I’m starting a new challenge…to read one book every single day for one whole year or 365 days! I firmly believe that the universe has brought me to this idea:

1. My friend Kat just completed a 44 words of expression day challenge on Instagram. (I loved this one.) That got me thinking, I want to challenge myself, too!

2. In one of his 5-bullet Friday email newsletters, author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss wrote this:

“What I’m reading —
Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature — This book was introduced to me under unusual circumstances that I might write about another time. For now, I can offer this context: I ordered it in response to a therapist saying to me, ‘I suggest you explore art, music, and so on. The problem with most books is that there are too many words!’ If this exact book sells out, nearly all of Andy’s books appear gorgeous, and his Twitter account shares many examples of his art.”

Now I’ve been a land art fanatic since my days at My Modern Met. I firmly believe that no one does it better than Andy Goldsworthy. Here’s an article dated back to 2013 that shows some of his breathtaking art.

While reading Tim’s blurb, I wondered to myself, do I have that exact book he recommended? Hell yes, I did! I went home and saw it sitting right on my bookshelf. Now, what Tim’s therapist told him is absolutely true, instead of just reading book with lots of words, we should also appreciate books with breathtaking pictures. We should learn about different fields and expand our knowledge. That’s why with this 365 day challenge I’ll cover topics that I’m passionate about as well as ones where I’m interested in learning more.

(On a side note, if you’re not doing it already, I highly suggest signing up for Tim’s email newsletter. This man has experienced so much in life and talked to so many thought leaders, his suggestions on what to read, watch or even buy is always super cool.)

3. I had this epic, life-changing talk with my sister Grace on Sunday. I asked her to “life coach” me because I’m feeling a bit stuck as to where to take Skylar Yoo next. She gave me some solid advice and then told me about a “Tony Robbins“-type guy that she thought I’d love. Jay Shetty. Have you heard of him? He’s a former monk who calls himself a “host, storyteller, and viral content creator.” He’s got over 8.8 million followers on Facebook which is astounding given that he only started growing his own, personal brand two years ago. His tagline? “Make wisdom go viral.” Catchy, isn’t it?

Last night, I watched this video he created called “How I Read A Book A Day.” Jay gave some great tips on how to speed read and soak in knowledge.

So now that I’ve explained to you the inspiration behind this crazy challenge, here’s what you can expect to find.

1. Topics will include:

What I’m passionate about:
Mental Health

What I’d like to learn more about:

The photo you see here consists of books I’ve already read (and plan on rereading) as well as books I’ve bought but haven’t had the time to read. They’re a small sample of the 365 books I plan on diving into.

Update: After thinking about it some more, I’ll include a few of the books pictured here in this challenge but, for the most part, I’m going to try to read new, life-changing or thought-provoking books instead.

2. How I’ll share what I learn:

Instagram: Here you’ll see which book I read the day prior and some of my favorite quotes from that book.

Adventures of Yoo blog: I’ll go into further detail as to what I learned. I’ll share a story that inspired me, a statistic, and my favorite quotes.

If you want to recommend a book to me, I’d absolutely love that! Please leave it as a comment either on my Instagram or my Adventures of Yoo Facebook page.

Wish me luck!

May 9 2017

Inspiring New Book: In the Company of Women

For those women who’ve always wanted to strike out on their own, especially in a creative field, there’s an inspiring new book that just came out called In the Company of Women. Founder of the established design blog Design *Sponge, Grace Bonney, conducted a Q&A with who, what I’d call “creative entrepreneurs”, or who you’d call designers, artists, fashion designers, musicians, (you get my drift). The general feeling I got from this book was that despite their fears, these women jumped in.

For instance, here’s Jodie Patterson, a Beauty Entrepreneur’s answer when she was asked: Name the biggest overall lesson you’ve learned in running a business:
“Winners are losers who got back up. Full stop. If you want something, grab it. Get it. It’s yours, damn it.”

Here’s another Q&A I liked with Lisa Hunt, designer and artist in Brooklyn: In the moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up?
“I am nothing if not resilient! I’ve nurtured the ability to feel nervous but jump in anyway and know that if I make a mistake or misjudgment, I have the smarts to work things out. It wasn’t always like that – with age comes wisdom.”

There’s a lot of these great nuggets of wisdom spread throughout the book. You’ll want to buy a stack of these to give them out to your friends. The book is that inspiring!

P.S. It was overjoyed to see Oh Joy! and Swiss Miss in the book. As a female entrepreneur, they’re my inspiration.

Here’s an LA Times article of Grace Bonny discussing the insights and overall patterns she found. Fascinating!

April 12 2017

New Book: The Moth Presents All These Wonders – True Stories About Facing the Unknown

It’s been a little while since I recommended a book. (Sorry, been spending my nights catching up with the Fast and Furious series. #5 was awesome!) A few months ago, my sister suggested that I listen to The Moth podcast. I, not really being a podcast type, (well, that’s not entirely true, I did listen to almost all of the How I Built This series), was happy to find out that they had a book. Yay! Time to read on the Kindle.


The book, called The Moth Presents All These Wonders: True Stories About Facing the Unknown, takes the best out of the 20,000+ stories ever performed in Moth shows around the world and adapts them for readers. OMG! This book is gripping! For those of you have slight ADD (ok, raise your hand, don’t be shy), it’s an easy read because each chapter is super short, I’m talking about 10 minutes of reading time tops.

There’s one story about an Afghanistan family that just floored me. What’s best about the stories is that they’re told from the heart. These people lay out their craziest, most fascinating moments in their lives and you can’t help but feel like you’re standing in their shoes.

So read this book! It’ll change your life or at least the way you look at the world.

From the Moth website:
“All These Wonders features voices both familiar and new. Storytellers include Louis C.K., Tig Notaro, John Turturro, and Meg Wolitzer, as well as a hip hop “one hit wonder,” an astronomer gazing at the surface of Pluto for the first time, and a young female spy risking everything as part of Churchill’s “secret army” during World War II. They share their ventures into uncharted territory—and how their lives were changed forever by what they found there.

These true stories have been carefully selected and adapted to the page by our creative team, and encompass the very best of the 20,000+ stories performed in live Moth shows around the world. These tales will make a great gift for story lovers everywhere.


“Honesty matters. Vulnerability matters. Being open about who you were at a moment in time when you were in a difficult or an impossible place matters more than anything.”

– Neil Gaiman, from his introduction to All These Wonders

December 15 2016

Book to Read: Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

In today’s world, there’s no denying the fact that one of the most sensitive discussions we’re having is about race relations. Groups like Black Lives Matter have spurred us to look deeper into outright racism especially when dealing with the police.

In the book Small Great Things, author Jodi Picoult tries to get its readers to see how life might be in the shoes of a black person. Without giving away too much away, the story is about a black labor and delivery nurse, with more than 20 years of experience, who, during a routine shift, was told by white supremacist parents that they don’t want her to touch their baby.

The hospital complies with this request. Ruth is told to stay away from the baby, however when the team is short staffed she’s the only one to care for him and he goes into cardiac distress. Ruth must decide whether to obey orders or intervene.

The baby dies and, subsequently, Ruth is charged with a serious crime. The book is told from three different perspectives: Ruth, the white supremacist father and Ruth’s lawyer.

In the Acknowledgments, Picoult thanks those who helped her write the book. They include doctors and nurses who helped her with “their lingo”, her “crackerjack legal team” for “vetting the court scenes for accuracy’s sake” and even a social justice educator who “vet” her words. You could tell there was a lot of homework involved, from the hospital scenes to the legal ones.

I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. It is a true page-turner!

As Amazon states,”With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.” I couldn’t agree more.

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