One of the many perks of helping people write or edit their books is that I get to know some terrific people who have valuable messages to share. In fact, I sometimes boil my job description down to this: “To learn new things from smart people so I can help others by sharing what I’ve learned.”
Not a bad gig, and it pays the bills to boot!
I’ve been doing this for 20 years, although it’s only been my full-time job for about five. In that time, I’ve helped with 21 books – not including several that are still in the works. And I’ve never worked on a book I wouldn’t recommend.
So that’s what I want to do today: Recommend some books — five I helped with in some way that published in 2016 or that will publish in early 2017 and five that I read in 2016. I don’t think you can go wrong by reading any of these books or by giving them as gifts for Christmas (or some other occasion). Let’s start with the five I helped with in some way:
Go West: 10 Principles that Guided My Cowboy Journey by Jeremy Sparks. I met Jeremy about a year ago and helped him with this wonderful story about how his God-given calling (which he literally received when he was 12) led him to fight bulls in professional rodeo while also serving in the United States Air Force. He has an entertaining story that’s gritty and real and that brings to life some wonderful principles for life. The book is due out in early February, but you can pre-order it now from any online bookseller.
The American Immigrant, Volume One by Dick Gephardt and Mark Russell. This is the first of what will be several volumes of feature stories about immigrants who have helped make America the great country she is. I wrote most of the longer stories, which allowed me to interview some amazing people like Dr. Josephine Park, Nabiel Fareed, Rolando Rodriguez, and former big-leaguer Barbaro Garbey. Right now, it’s available only as a Kindle Single.
Leading Through The Turn: How a Journey Mindset Can Help Leaders Find Success and Significance by Elise Mitchell. If you are a leader at any level, this book provides some great lessons about balancing the pursuit of your goals without sacrificing the joy of the journey. I learned a ton about motorcycles and leadership while helping Elise with this project. It debuts in January, but, again, you can pre-order it from any online store.
Grow Like Jesus: Practicing Luke 2:52 Discipleship by me. I actually wrote this all by myself, and it came out earlier this year. Well, that’s not true. Many people helped inspire the ideas and craft the message, which boils down to this: Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, favor with God and favor with man; we should, too, and this book tells you how.
Forging Grit: A story of leadership perseverance by me and Mike Thompson. Grit is a critical leadership quality that we all need to make it through life, but Mike and I decided to tackle it in a slightly different way from the norm. Since most of us learn from stories, we decided to create a story that unpack the definition of grit and how we can develop it. This short story is about a leader who learns grit while stranded in a remote village in Nepal following a plane crash.
Here are five other books I read this year that I also recommend (other than reading them, I had nothing to do with these):
7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. My wife and I started reading this together early in the year and only made it about two-third through before one of us (OK, me) left it on an airplane. As the title suggests, this book profiles seven amazing men and what we can learn from them. I plan to buy a new copy someday and finish it. Anything by Metaxas is worth the read.
Forward: 7 Distinguishing Marks for Future Leaders by Ronnie Floyd. This book is by a prominent pastor and the principles are Biblical, but it’s a leadership book for all leaders, not just leaders in ministry.
Unseen: Angels, Satan, Heaven, Hell and Winners in the Battle for Eternity by Jack Graham. This is one of two books I picked up at a men’s conference. Graham covers a ton of spiritual ground in a well-written, easy-to-digest way.
Pray Like It Matters by Steve Gaines. This is the other book I picked up at the conference. It seems to me that many of us either don’t pray or we pray with very little passion or intentional focus. Gaines makes it clear why fervent prayer matters so much and provides a ton of practical ways to practice this critical discipline.
Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy by Donald Miller. Few people write so well and so transparently and with such insight as Miller. Even when he rubs me the wrong way it takes me in a good direction. You’ll not only relate to to his story, but you’ll learn from it (something missing in many memoirs).
- The Heart-led Leader: How Living and Leading from the Heart will Change Your Organization and Your Life (Crown Business, 2015) by Tommy Spaulding (I was an editorial consultant and ghostwriter on several chapters)
- Jumping in the Parade: The Leap of Faith That Made My Life Worth Living (BenBella, 2014) by Tim Brown (I was the ghostwriter)
- Untapped Talent: Unleashing the Power of the Hidden Workforce (Palgrave, 2013) by Dani Monroe (I was the ghostwriter)
- The Weekly Coaching Conversation (Evolve, 2012) by Brian Souza (I was a consulting editor)
- Up, Down, or Sideways: How to succeed when times are good, bad, or in between (Tyndale, 2011) by Mark Sanborn (I was the ghostwriter)
- Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce (Greenleaf Books, 2011) by Eric Chester (I was the ghostwriter)
- It’s Not Just Who You Know (Broadway Books, August 2010) by Tommy Spaulding (I was the ghostwriter)
- The One Minute Negotiator: Simple Steps to Reach Better Agreements (Berrett-Koehler Publishers; August 2010) by Don Hutson and George Lucas. (I was an editorial consultant)
- ViewPoints (BodyBuilders Press, 2009) by Steve Shadrach (I was an editor and publishing consultant)
- The Second Half: Real Stories. Real Adventures. Real Significance. (Halftime, 2008) by Lloyd Reeb. (I was the ghostwriter)
- Life@Work Workbook: Marketplace Success for People of Faith (Injoy, 2005) by John Maxwell, Thomas Addington and Stephen Graves (I was a contributing editor)
- Daily Focus (W Publishing Group, 2001) by Thomas G. Addington, Stephen R. Graves (I was a contributing writer)
- Building Blocks For Your Life@Work (Word Publishing, 2001) by Thomas G. Addington, Stephen R. Graves (I was the ghostwriter)
- The Life@Work Book: Sixteen respected leaders talk about blending biblical wisdom and business excellence (Word Publishing, 2000) by the editors of Life@Work (I was the editor)
- The Fourth Frontier: Exploring The New World Of Work (W Publishing Group, 2000) by Thomas G. Addington, Stephen R. Graves (I was a ghostwriter)
- The Cornerstones for Life@Work: A Case for Character, Skill Serving & Calling (Life@Work and Broadman & Holman, 1997) by Thomas Addington, Stephen Graves (I was the ghostwriter)