11 Must Reads

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by Rob Shaul


I’m a pretty voracious reader of non-fiction, and try to read or listen to 1-2 books/week.
My topic areas are wide and getting wider – everything from strength and conditioning, to business/leadership, public policy, national defense, biography, etc.

Most books leave no impression. Below are 11 I’ve read over the past 6-8 months that did, and I can recommend strongly.

Read any impactful books lately? Email me the title and why, and I’ll share with the rest of the MTI community. rob@mtntactical.com   



Faster, Higher, Stronger: How Sports Science Is Creating a New Generation of Superathletes – and What We Can Learn from Them, by Mark McLusky


Thorough book on some of the latest trends in sports performance. Sections on British rowing and Australian Institute of Sport are especially interesting and insightful. Discusses and debunks nutrition fads, 10,000 hour rule and the role of genes in sports accomplishment. Written by a journalist, and sometimes not as deep as I’d like, overall, full of great stuff.


The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance, by Steven Kotler

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Gave me a much greater appreciation for the accomplishments of extreme sport athletes such as big-wave surfers, freeskiers, climbers, kayakers and others who often get dismissed as adrenaline junkies. Focuses on the idea of “flow” as the key behind breakthrough performance and performance advancement. Discussion of flow isn’t as valuable as the breakdown of the rapid advancement in extreme sport accomplishment and the greater appreciation which comes when I finally could understand how incredible some of these athletes truly are.


Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable, Tim S. Grover


The author is a sports performance coach known for working with NBA stars such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade, “Relentless” is direct and uncompromising in it’s application of persistence, hard work, aggression and mental toughness. I recommend this book to all my sponsored athletes – so they can better understand what it takes to be consistently, great. Not just for sports … can apply to all fields and careers.


How Bad Do You Want It?: Mastering the Psyhchology of Mind over Muscle, by Matt Fitzgerald


Sports psychology and the “mental game” are faddy now. Fitzgerald uses case studies and research to identify different mental fitness techniques/approaches and their practical application. Unique in the sense it identifies different techniques. Another book I recommend to competing and professional athletes. 




Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz


Designed to help companies and others rapidly create new products, Sprint clearly outlines specific tools and clear procedures/schedule to get things done in small groups. Aimed primarily at technology products such as new apps, we deployed several of the group productivity tools during our own Scrum in June. Bringing teams together to solve problems can quickly devolve into a frustrating quagmire. The tools and procedure in Sprint can help teams avoid this fate.  Think of this as a book full of productivity tools for fast moving, results driven teams, business and organizations. Every field and industry can benefit.


Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, by Ashlee Vance


Business journalism these days celebrates internet and software billionaires like Facebook’s Mark Zuckengerg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos or Apple’s late Steve Jobs. Tesla and Space X founder Elon Musk is generally receives only taunting acknowledgement generally centered around Tesla’s missed production targets. This book will convince you the effort, vision, drive, intellect and incredible risk taking it takes to create a social network, shopping site, or smart phone pails in comparison to creating the first commercial company to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, or re-use a space rocket. Let alone, create not only the first viable electric car company, but along the way create a vehicle which is faster than any Ferrari, carries up to 5 people and received the highest initial rating ever from Consumer Reports. Don’t read this book if you are sensitive. Musk’s story will make you feel timid, lazy, and unaccomplished. The guy is as visionary and incredible as his companies and products.


Bold: How to Go Big, Make Bank, and Better the World, by Peter Diamandis, Steven Kotler


Could be a Silicon Valley manifesto, yet still brings to light multiple technology-driven trends impacting business and government including 3D printing, networks, the sharing economy, “internet of everything,” de-materialization, etc. Authors identify how technology is driving exponential growth and change, and predict what lies ahead. Thought provoking, motivating, and a little scary.


The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks, by Joshua Cooper Ramo


Things are unstable. I feel it in our crazy politics this year, anemic economic growth rate yet record high stock market, home grown – ISIS inspired terrorism, disrupted industries and exponentially advancing technology. Here, Ramo argues society is at the cusp of a new era not unlike that between the Dark Ages and the Enlightenment. Driving the change and forming the structure and rules for this new era are networks. “When you connect things, it changes their form,” Ramo writes. Understanding the rules and power of networks is the “seventh sense.” He argues nothing is unaffected – education, business, defense policy, financial systems – and already we’re seeing the effects of networks in developments none have witnessed before. Like “Bold”, thought provoking and scary, especially in the sense that we are so vulnerable now to the coders and hackers who understand this world we are now at the mercy of.



Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth


Dr. Duckworth and Grit have received quite a bit of media attention and certainly this book’s analysis of grit and it’s impact on accomplishment. This is certainly interesting and informative, but I found her discussion on deeper commitment to a field or career, and it’s hard earned blessings and enrichment especially insightful and helpful.


Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari


Thought provoking, concise and brilliant historical and scientific analysis and explanation of how our species succeeded in dominating the world. Explanations on the development of currency, how agriculture perhaps committed us to unhappiness, and the creation of religions are especially enlightening.


Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction, by Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner


An incredible book which discusses prediction and forecasting in general and how some of our most famous pundits are terrible at it, bet never held to account. Not only is the discussion of the traits of great forecasters stimulating, but also is the method these academics used to identify those traits … essentially a contest and rankings. Must read for anyone in the national defense, domestic policy and international relations fields.

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