The Top 5

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Required reading for Life

Themes: The disciplined pursuit of less, essentialism

Practical: Provides a process to eliminate the unessential and execute the essential.

Summary: I read this book during a time in my life when I was struggling to understand the difference between what was pressing and what was important. We live in an age when more and more things are vying for our attention, and it can be difficult to know what is essential. The easy and undisciplined approach is to try and do it all. The more challenging and disciplined approach is to eliminate the unessential and give our very best to what matters most in our lives.


“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

“Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important. But an Essentialist has learned to tell the difference between what is truly important and everything else.”

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

Required Reading for Relationships

Themes: Vulnerability is courage, combatting shame culture

Practical: Presents a vision and practice to “dare greatly”.

Summary: I cannot overstate the power of Brene Brown’s research, as it brings light to some of the core societal issues of self-worth and vulnerability. We all want deeper and more meaningful relationships, but there is a major road block, and this book addresses it.


“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.”

“In shame-prone cultures, where parents, leaders, and administrators consciously or unconsciously encourage people to connect their self-worth to what they produce, I see disengagement, blame, gossip, stagnation, favoritism, and total death of creativity and innovation.”

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Required Reading for Parents, Coaches, and Educators

Themes: Growth mindset vs fixed mindset, talent

Practical: Shares practical ways to develop a growth mindset in yourself and those you lead.

Summary: Dweck’s research doesn’t just enlighten us on how to gain success and personal achievement, but also reveals a method for fostering a love of learning and perseverance.


“We are wrong in thinking they can hand children permanent confidence — like a gift — by praising their brains and talent. Teach them to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”

“As a society, we value natural, effortless accomplishment over achievement through effort.”

Drive by Daniel Pink

Required Reading for Leaders

Themes: Intrinsic motivation, carrots and sticks

Practical: Provides a toolkit for creating an environment that nurtures intrinsic motivation.

Summary: When it comes to motivation, what science and experience know does not match up with our current methods for leadership and education. Use this book to examine your beliefs about motivation and the environment you create.


“When it comes to motivation, there’s a gap between what science knows and what business does. Carrot-and-stick motivators — doesn’t work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: (1) Autonomy, (2) Mastery, and (3) Purpose.”

“When institutions — families, schools, businesses, and athletic teams, for example — focus on the short-term and opt for controlling people’s behavior — they do considerable long-term damage.”

Inside Out Coaching by Joe Ehrmann

Required Reading for Coaches

Themes: Transformational coaching, empathy and love

Practical: The book lays out a process to help coaches to move from transactional coaching to transformational coaching.

Summary: Whether you are an old school or new school coach, you need to read this book, as it will help you reflect on your entire approach to coaching and make a bigger impact on those you lead.


“One of the great myths in America is that sports build character. They can, and they should. Indeed, sports may be the perfect venue in which to build character. But sports don’t build character unless a coach possesses character and intentionally teaches it. Sports can team with ethics and character and spirituality; virtuous coaching can integrate the body with the heart, the mind, and the soul. But as my first memory shows, sports can also beat up young people and break them down so profoundly that they barely recover as adults.”

Books 6-12:

  1. 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid by Tim Elmore

  2. Burn Your Goals by Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert

  3. Business Secrets of the Trappist Monks by August Turak

  4. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson

  5. Leadership and Deception by the Abribinger Institute

  6. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

  7. Fearless by Eric Blehm

Books 13-26:

  1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

  2. Chop Wood, Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf

  3. Pound the Stone by Joshua Medcalf

  4. The Only Way to Win by Jim Loehr

  5. How to Stop the Pain by Dr. James Richards

  6. The Promise of a Pencil by Adam Braun

  7. Transformational Leadership by Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert

  8. Wooden on Leadership by John Wooden

  9. Deep Work by Cal Newport

  10. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle

  11. Power Relationships by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas

  12. Legacy by James Kerr

  13. Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougal

  14. The Freak Factor by David Rendall

-J.P. Nerbun