Eat & Run by Scott Jurek

 

I pre-ordered Eat and Run by Scott Jurek from Amazon last month, so right away, I was pumped to read it. Last week, it was delivered to my door step and I finished the book in three sittings. This is really fast for my reading speed. Scott Jurek is a “World renowned ultramarathon champion, U.S. record holder, and amateur vegan chef” and his book describes his journey from growing up near Duluth, MN to winning ultras to racing around the world.

I am fascinated with Scott not only because he is freaking good at running ultras in the mountains, but also because he has an earth conscious mind with vegan diet. Coming from a Midwest, flat lands and meat/ dairy background, it’s interesting to hear his story of tremendous internal drive to perfect one’s craft and way of living. Truly, inspiring.

Here are two passages I like…

“I’m healthier and I can run longer and faster because I eat a plant-based diet. but I don’t preach to my carnivorous friends or lambaste anyone who eats a baked potato slathered with butter and sour cream. Anyone who pays attention to what they eat and how it affects them will naturally move towards plants – and toward health.”

“The reward of running – of anything – lies within us…We focus on something external to motivate us, but we need to remember that it’s the process of reaching for that prize – not the prize itself – that can bring us peace and joy.”

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Into Thin Air was on my “do read list” for awhile and I finally got around to picking it up. I was excited because I loved, absolutely loved the author’s first book, Into the Wild.

Into Thin Air is about the author, Jon Krakauer, and his personal account of climbing Mount Everest and the ensuing disaster which takes the lives of 8 deaths. He explains in great detail the events from arriving at the Mt Everest Base Camp, to the various “teams” bidding for the summit, and the grueling task of climbing to an oxygen starved 29,002 ft summit. The expedition was marred by death, including two of the author’s guides and two of his teammates.

One of the many favorite passages:

Unfortunately, the sort of individual who is programmed to ignore personal distress and keep pushing for the top is frequently programmed to disregard signs of grave and imminent danger as well. This forms the nub of a dilemma that every Everest climber eventually coms up against: in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you’re too driven you’re likely to die. Above 26,000 feet, moreover, the line between appropriate zeal and reckless summit fever becomes grievously thin. Thus the slopes of Everest are littered with corpses.

Once I got into the book, it was hard to put down. One of those where you force yourself to stay awake at night to keep reading.

Remote Working…well, Works!

Inc. Magazine has a really good write up on Remote Working or coworkers who live far away from each other but interact throughout work hours. I’ve been fortunate to be on both sides of this situation (Office dweller and Remote worker) and can attest that remote working does in fact, work!

Jason Fried, the author, does a great job explaining the concept for his company 37 Signals.

Coming from traditional work environments, I especially concur with his thoughts on managing by observation.

“There’s one question I hear from entrepreneurs all the time: “How do you know work is getting done if you can’t see people doing it?” My response? Observing work take place is not the same as seeing work get done. In fact, I have found that it’s easier to know if people are getting work done when they’re remote. That’s because their work has to speak for itself. When you don’t have, just being there at the office, to hide behind, it becomes all about the work. And it’s hard to argue with that.”

Maverick (not the fighter pilot)

Tim introduced me to yet another book about how running a company can be done without conventional management, and many times run better. The book is called Maverick: The Success Story Behind the World’s Most Unusual Workplace by Ricardo Semler.

 

Below are some quotes from the book I like…

“Nothing seems more medieval than dress codes…What buyer has failed to do business with a company because a salesman wasn’t sufficiently fashionable?…when they come to work on weekends, people invariably dress in casual clothes. Because they feel more comfortable. Well, why shouldn’t they feel more comfortable every day?”

So what about the times where it’s nice to dress up? Or what if you want to dress up? Well, he offers a simple solution.

“every responsible adult knows how to dress correctly for these occasions”

I have to agree, we all learned back in middle school before our first class dance how to dress. Even churches let patrons decide what to wear, and that’s the Sunday best!

“Fixed working hours, organizational charts, and policy manuals are all so negative. They strip away freedom and give nothing in return but a false feeling of discipline and belonging. They elevate bureaucrats and ennoble conformity. By all means establish and promote a common goal, but recognize divergence and let people determine their own ways of achieving it.”

“Make time to think. Try blocking out a half day a week on your agenda. I find that Monday and Friday mornings are good, because I can clear away post- and pre-weekend distractions. During this half day, avoid your office. Camp out in an unused conference room or, even better, stay home.”

One of the best pieces of advice I received in college, was from a professor who told us to set aside a few hours each week and not work. Instead, think about how you can make your work easier or more efficient. This was so true at my last job, that I by far made up those “lost hours” by becoming much more efficient at my assignments. I was able to get more done in less time because I sacrificed busy work for thinking. Unfortunately, I was not rewarded for my results nor increases in productivity, but rather judge solely on time spent working. This quickly squashed all my motivation to keep improving efficiencies. Instead, it’d make more sense for companies to reward workers who become better at what they do with the freedom to decide how to use that time saved. Throw in some profit sharing and you’ll have one motivated and efficient employee!

 

Into the Wild (figuratively)

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
– Alexander Supertramp

This quote is from the main character in the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

It’s a great book and movie. One of my favorites.