I finished two books over the holiday weekend, Sick in the Head and Setting the Table. Here is why you might consider reading them.

I finished up two more books over the holiday weekend. I’m now at 8.5 for the year. With a realistic goal of one book a month, and a stretch goal of 20 for the year, I’m on a decent pace. To see the other books I’ve read this year (and the ones I’m currently reading) check out this page.

- Jim Carrey and Judd Apatow -

Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy — I love reading the stories of stand-up comics. Stand-up is so entrepreneurial in its nature. This is a really fun read by Judd Apatow in which he interviews a bunch of stand-up comics. Two of my favorite “lessons” from stand-ups:

“…that’s how you lead your life. Be generous and you can be the best person who ever lived.” ~ Albert Brooks. I fully believe this. I was fortunate enough to be influenced early in life by people who are incredibly generous, and I continue to believe that if you’re generous without an end-game in mind, that you’ll lead a blessed life.

“Don’t look into your neighbor’s bowl unless it’s to check if they have enough.” ~ Louis CK. Louis is amazing. He’s the only comedian I’ve ever traveled by plane just to see (Atlantic City). One thing I really enjoy about him is how he talks about parenting his kids. You can learn things from stand-up comedy if you really listen. He has a bit about how kids need to be able to express their emotions, so if they’re having a big breakdown, just let it happen, they need it. I think about that when my kids are freaking out :)

This particular quote about your neighbors bowl is terrific. I struggle with my kids always wondering what someone else has (usually their siblings) and wanting to make sure they got the exact same. Instead, they should be looking around wondering if someone else needs vs. what they personally have. It’s a great lesson and I’m going to continue to work on helping my children think that way.

- Danny Meyer in front of his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe -

Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, was fantastic. Can’t thank my man Daniel enough for recommending it. Really great for anyone working on company culture and purpose.

There are several things in this book that stuck with me. One of them, the concept of “the center of the table,” is something that I have asked Daniel to create a video for, because he explains it really well. When he does, I’ll share that here.

Concepts in this book that I loved:

  • Always ask the question, “Why does it have to be that way?” The author, incredibly successful restauranteur Danny Meyer, always asks this question when creating a new restaurant. It helps him find a unique place for his new restaurants to own, by challenging conventional wisdom.
  • Be thoughtful and purposeful with growth. Danny learned from his father’s failed growth strategies to grow in a smart way vs. an over-aggressive way. It can be tempting to try to boil the ocean, but it rarely works out.
  • Have your employees own and evangelize your culture. I’ve not seen a better example of this than in Danny’s business(es).
  • Invest in your community, and your community will invest in you. I love that one :)

So if you’re interested in stand-up comedy, I think the Apatow book would be an interesting read for you. If not, its probably not going to keep you interested.

If you are interested in startups, entrepreneurship, restaurants, or any combination of those things, then I think the Meyer book would be something you’d really enjoy.

Oh, and if you have any advice for books I should check out based on these two, I’d love to hear about them!


Originally published at jeffhilimire.com on July 6, 2015.

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