How I learnt to love books

Getting naked book cover


My Nan loved books. Her house was full of them. History, biography, novels, map books – a little bit of everything.

I took longer to love books, all I wanted to read when I was at school was the books they made me read (and really I only read them to try and get to a higher level of reading books than my friends. Competitive six year old Kristian was sweet…) and comics like the Beano and Dandy. My parents even went into my school to find out why I refused to read books at home, only comics. The teacher wasn’t worried, said my reading was of a good standard and it was good that I was reading anything.

I loved that teacher.

I stuck with the comics and enforced reading until school year 4 or 5 (age 8 – 9), then I discovered the Goosebumps books by RL Stine. I really don’t like horror movies – as in I will never watch them, who knows why I loved these books but I did. I read every single one of them.

When my Nan found out that I liked them I would get each new one as soon as it came out. She wanted me to read, but waited until she found what I liked (my nan was also a large part of my source of my Beano and Dandy collection).

My love of reading morphed into loving magazines and newspapers in my teens to age 22 when I bought my first ‘business’ book. I was catching a flight to Austria to do some football coaching and wanted people to think that I was a businessman (I was not) so I went into the airport book shop and bought a book about personality and ego. I don’t even remember the title because I didn’t read it. I just put it on my fold out tray on the plane so people would think I was a businessman.

I really, really wish I was kidding.

Shortly after that I pledged to only read books that interested me. Since then I have read hundreds of business, spirituality and biography books.

I read on average about 20 books a year. When I don’t feel like reading anything for a while, I don’t. 

I am just coming out of a month where I didn’t feel like reading anything. My friend said I should read some Patrick Lencioni. I had heard of him because lots of friends saw him speak at the HTB leadership conference a couple of years ago. I had the books my friend lent me for a couple of weeks and kept meaning to get started but other things came up. On Wednesday evening I read the first chapter.

I was hooked. I then proceeded to read half of the book in one sitting. It is Friday morning and I have just finished it.

It is now classed as one of my favourite books I have read in the last few years.

I may work on a fuller review of the book  later on. This post is just to say ‘Hooray for books’ and I hope you are reading something in your downtime that is inspiring you and you are enjoying. If you aren’t, put it down and start something that really catches your attention. Life is too short for boring books.



Sxsw, vinyl and what’s next

I said in an earlier post that I love music.

I really do.

The first song I remember loving was ‘Birdland’ by the Manhattan Transfer. I’m not sure why but I just loved it. Then many, many years later my Dad played me the Weather report version and my head exploded (not literally obviously) and Jaco Pastorius became my hero.

The power rangers theme tune made 6 year old me hyper, the Raggy dolls made me think deeply about how toys should all be loved and Coronation Street still makes me think it’s Sunday, my hair has been washed and I have to go to school the next day.

I was listening to a sxsw playlist earlier today and I didn’t like any of the first 20 songs I listened to.

My first thought was, its over. You’re going to be that guy saying ‘it was so much better when the Chili Peppers released By the Way. Those were harmonies’.

Then I thought. What if I haven’t given the songs enough of a chance? What if one listen isn’t enough. Lots of the songs I love grew on me.

I very quickly treat music like a service. Hear the new thing and move on.

I have begun collecting vinyl to stop myself just consuming music, to try to sit with a record and enjoy it.

Sometimes things need some time to settle, to develop. Maybe it could be said some of the best things require it.

My Dad took the his copy of Kind of Blue back to the shop after buying it on release day. He hated it that much (to confirm, he then went back to it a month later and between us we must have bought 20 copies of it). 

I didn’t think I would keep watching the West Wing after 1 episode.

My challenge to myself today is not to run off and try to hear all the music, but to just enjoy a couple. Really listen and try to understand what the person is saying.

It’s all very pretentious I know, but I really don’t mean it like that.

I shall let you know what album I settle on.

More disciplined than you think

We all know the story, it goes like this:

‘He wakes at 4am and gets straight on to his e mails. Once he has had a simple breakfast of organic oats, harvested and blessed by surfer monks from Fiji he gets on the treadmill for 2 hours and holds FaceTime calls with his core team. By the time 6am comes around he has achieved inner peace and launched 17 new products.’

I exaggerate slightly (2 hours on the treadmill is too much…). If you read a business book, magazine or watch the ‘behind the founder’ interviews you may have read similar things.

The problem? What if that isn’t the only way to be productive, what if the morning routine should look different for us?

I always want to know about the habits of successful people, how they do what they do and why they do it. I then try and roll that out in my life.

The issue is that it doesn’t make me happy. It exhausts me.

It felt good to confess that.

I’m Kristian, and I’m a routine copycat of those I have never met.

At this point I should say that I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a morning or night person, it is just routine. I have to wake up in the morning to go to work, therefore I make a choice to be in bed by 11.

That’s a start! A disciplined part of my routine.

I am finding that enforced discipline can be one of lifes great gifts to me.

I need to get a train at X time so I need to leave the house by Y. This is a good staring framework.

It is custom to my routine, not enforced by my love of Silicon Valley founders or how I want to present myself. I can use that as my kick off point to build the other parts that give me energy.

I’m going to talk more about the things I am trying to add to my morning routine in a later post.

I will end here, we all have things we are aiming for and the morning can be a great place to get some wins under your belt and launch the day well.

Find an anchor point for routine, the things you have to do anyway and celebrate that you did them.

‘I have to get up to walk the dog/feed the kids/get to work.’

You have more discipline than you realise, use it this week to feel a win then add the things you need/want to.

Creating something lasting

I recently went to Venice. Venice is now in my favourite places in the world. 

The churches, the locals, the coffee, the boats and houses on the river. 


My wife and I went round lots of old churches. For such a small place there really is an abundance of churches. 

The picture above really does no justice to how wonderful the churches are. 

I won’t turn this into a travel journal, or even a thesis on architecture (largely because I know nothing about either). 

What all this beauty made me think was as follows:

Is there any one who can still make beautiful art on this scale? Did the skill get lost when cathedrals weren’t as popular as building projects? 

Closely followed by:

Hundreds of years ago someone used their talent and built something lasting, beautiful and grand. Centuries later I’m stood enjoying their work, thinking about legacy. 

This week I shall be thinking more about what we build that lasts. 

The statement is as follows, ‘websites, projects and legacy can fade – what do we leave that lasts?’ 

Happy Monday to you and yours.