My 2016 year in books

The amount of reading I do goes in waves. I aspire to read much more than I did in 2016. A good year for me is 10-15 books, but this year was far fewer: just 5. I typically read non-fiction (biographies, business, behavioral economics, personal improvement, etc), but this year 40% of the books I read were fiction. Here is a list of what I read in 2016:

Gideon's Children by Howard G Franklin

I actually started this book in 2015 but it took me a while to finish it, mostly due to its size. This book was written by a family friend who passed away in 2016, a couple months after I finished reading this book. Gideon's Children is historical fiction, based on the early adulthood of the author. It chronicles the efforts of a group of public defenders in the Los Angeles area during the 1960's as they fought for the rights of African American's in the legal system. If you are a legal wonk or a student of civil rights, you'll enjoy this book.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Shoe Dog is the first person telling of Nike's origin story. As a life long sneaker head, University of Oregon alum, occasional entrepreneur, and former Nike employee, this book was exactly what I needed in 2016! Knight focuses the book on the years after Stanford, and leading up to the company's IPO. Its a great telling of the entrepreneurial journey that often comes with financial woes, growing pains, relationship struggles, and more. I'd recommend every entrepreneur read it, as well as any Nike or footwear enthusiast.

A Hero is Always Alone Sometimes by Jonny Effing Lucas

Another book written by a friend, this short story was a fun tale of a lonely man dreaming to be a super hero. Its a great read for a teen or an adult looking for a quick escape. As someone that doesn't read much fiction, I didn't expect to like the story as much as I did (the twist at the end got me)! Jonny's next book is coming out soon, and he even has a teen novel published under a similar, but more noble author name!

Sprint by Jake Knapp

A business book, and the most simple books I've read, but one I really enjoyed! Sprint uses real world examples and a straight forward framework to teach teams & entrepreneurs how to validate product ideas quickly. Using this framework, in just 5 days, teams can select a problem to solve, generate ideas, select a path forward, build a prototype, and test with customers/users. After reading this book, I am determined to use this process in my work during 2017! If you are an Engineer, Product Manager, or Entrepreneur of any kind, I highly recommend this book. Think outside the box, its not just for software or technology products!

Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott

This book came as a recommendation from one of the Product Management leaders I work with at New Relic. Its part "how to turn the ship around" and part "how to be honest and direct in work conversations." Effective communication is something I am fascinated with, in part because I screw it up more often than I'd like. I am in the middle of this book, a victim of my choices to spend free time doing less valuable things than reading, but I am committed to finishing it up soon.

What books did you read last year, and what are your reading goals for 2017? Share by tweeting at me!

My 2016 year in travel

Over the last few years, I've made it a priority to travel more. In the past, I had years where I either didn't have the time, didn't have the money, didn't have the interest...and in some years I didn't have all 3! When I went through some major personal and professional life changes in 2014, I made it a priority to see more of the world. About 6 months ago I wrote a bit about the various travel opportunities I've had and how it helps me be better at my job.

The year 2016 was a pretty good travel year for me. I started the year out in Cozumel, Mexico for a New Years trip. After a canceled trip to New York City in early February, I made up the trip in late February. In total I went to the east coast 3 times in 2016, adding Vermont and Connecticut to that Feb NYC trip. Of course, I had stops in Nevada (Las Vegas), Washington (Seattle), and a ton of trips to California (San Francisco 15 or so times, San Louis Obispo, Healdsburg, etc). One of my favorite trips of the past couple of years was to Mexico City, where I went in a desire to go somewhere that most others don't. Its an amazing city, with incredible history, culture, food, and people. I'll absolutely be back!

Of course, the highlight of my year in travel was 2 weeks in Spain with my girlfriend. I needed to be in Barcelona for work, so she joined me and we took a second week of vacation to explore San Sebastian, Haro, and Madrid. With two trips to Spain in the past 2 years, España is quickly becoming one of my favorite places in the world!

In total, it looks like I flew 48,510 miles in 2016, on exactly 50 flights (segments), which makes my average flight length just 970 miles. A whole lot of 550 mile flights to/from San Francisco will really bring down that average!

While nearly 50,000 miles and 50 flights seems like a lot, there were many places I didn't go. In 2016, I had hoped to travel to South America on vacation. I also wish I would have spent time in more states, specifically Illinois, Colorado, Georgia, and Massachusetts. Hopefully 2017 will bring me to these US outposts, and more! We have Hawaii booked for February, are talking about a Europe trip in the summer (France & Italy), and by the end of the year I'd love to work remotely from Argentina for a month.

What new and/or exciting locations are you traveling to in 2017? Let me know via Twitter or Facebook!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
— Mark Twain