Stories of salespeople going from rags to riches are a dime a dozen. And books chronicling abuse and recovery often seem overly congratulatory and hazily constructed, with the most harrowing parts excised.
After reading all of the ways that Robert Radcliffe managed to almost kill himself before the ripe old age of 22, however, I’d say 180 Degrees stands out as something a bit different. Radcliffe, or “Robert R.” as his nom de guerre reads, writes about being a dropout addict who became a dealer to support his habit. He shares some pretty shameful stories, giving readers a believable inner narrative to go along with them. He explains the thinking behind what must have seemed like the erratic behavior of a crazy person, without requesting pity or subjecting readers to self-flagellation.
The book is split into two parts, one chronicling addiction and the other recovery. The first half of the book is addictive if only in terms of shock value and sheer honesty. Radcliffe exposes some pretty awful things done by a kid who was once deathly afraid of doctors’ office needles and who swore he’d never do drugs. As Radcliffe admits his self-destructiveness stemmed partly from the fact that he “never believed [he] would make it to adulthood,” you find yourself wondering how he did. Continue reading »
Double-dip recession! Recovery! Fiscal cliff! That old joke about how economists were invented to make weather forecasters look good gains traction as market reports become more contradictory. Add to that the constant assertion that “real estate is changing,” backed up only with vague sketches that don’t tell you how and when, and you might be looking for a comprehensive guide to the future of your career. That or a retirement plan.
Thankfully, a collaboration between renowned real estate consultant Christopher Lee and NAR’s Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM) has arrived to fill in the gaps. The book, Transformational Leadership in the New Age of Real Estate (IREM 2012) is part career road map, part motivational tome, and part crystal ball. Continue reading »
Change is difficult. It doesn’t matter whether it involves rolling out a new corporate initiative in a large company or trying to eat healthier for a New Year’s resolution. It’s not that the change itself is complicated. Oftentimes, it’s very simple. What’s hard is breaking out of habitual behavior.
There’s a scientific reason for that, as it turns out. As well-known business authors and academics Chip and Dan Heath point out in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard by (Broadway Books, 2010), making conscious judgments about what to do and how to do it requires using a mental resource — the part of your brain that makes executive decisions — that is very easily depleted.
Let’s say you’ve been smoking for 20 years and want to quit. The main problem is not the fact that you enjoy smoking or the addictive properties of nicotine, according to the Heath brothers, although those could play a role. The issue is that every “touch point” you have with cigarettes is ingrained in your consciousness so that you can do it automatically and practically without effort. You pick up a pack when you go to the drugstore or supermarket. You carry it around in your pocket. You take periodic breaks from working to smoke. You light one up after meals. And all of this is done without your brain actively telling you to do it.
Conversely, giving all of that up requires the kind of mental fortitude and focus you might associate with solving quadratic equations. You may stay strong in your resistance to smoking for a few days, but there’s a very good chance you’ll backslide at some point. And it’s not because you’re weak or a bad person, a common sentiment among people who beat themselves up for falling short of goals. It’s because human beings are wired to be creatures of habit. Being completely cognizant of what you’re doing, or thinking deeply and creatively about something new, is the equivalent of running an automobile engine at high RPMs. It’s fine for quick acceleration, but you’re going to burn out your brain if you keep it in that state over an extended period of time. Continue reading »
Buying a house, moving, home improvement… these are all things that can be funny, heartwarming and entertaining. It’s just that when you’re surrounded on all sides by boxes, closing documents and plaster, it’s hard to be coherent, much less endearingly hilarious.
Author Matthew Batt does not have this problem in his debut memoir, Sugarhouse: Turning the Neighborhood Crack House Into Our Home Sweet Home (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012, $14.95 US). His story of finding, purchasing and fixing the sort-of, maybe-someday perfect house in Salt Lake City with his wife is one of my must-reads for the summer.
Batt travels the roads you’ve seen so many new home owners go down. He manages to tumble through the common roadblocks with a healthy sense of humor and the entertaining vocabulary to back it up. He waxes poetic on the importance of countertops, the meaning behind carpeting, and the sheer weirdness of househunting. Continue reading »