Latest Recommendations

Sean’s Recommended Reads and Listens

I will update this page regularly to reflect insightful and motivating Reads and Listens I come across. These are chronological in order and start from Jan 2015. 
3-8-14. Just listened to this great Podcast interview with Dr. Perlmutter on FatBurningMan:  Dr. Perlmutter is the author of the book pictured at right.

Some key themes: The food we consume modifies our DNA expression and genome. Mitochondrial biogenesis and keeping your mitochondria healthy! Ketogenic diets.  BDNF – Brain-derived neurotrophic factors. Growing new brain cells by eating wild fish. Cut the carbs and increase the heathy fat and vegetables. Extremely high correlation between fasted blood sugar level and dementia!! Memory function is highly correlated to blood sugar levels (even what are considered to be low levels 105-110 may actually be high) to Hippacampus (memory center) shrinks in proportion to blood sugar.  A1C is most common blood sugar test and there is direct correlation between rate at which your brain shrinks and your A1C level. Here’s a link to Dr. Perlmutter’s discussion on that.

Finally they discuss the benefits of learning music early in life and continuing to study it.


Just finished Bounce by Matthew Syed and I highly recommend it. The big takeaway is that excellence, success, skills are not innate (i.e. you’re not born with it…completely) but rather it largely comes from the right mindset and practice, practice, practice.   

One of my favorite parts (there are many) is the myth of the child prodigy, with Mozart used as example. Did you know his dad was an accomplished composer and performer, and was deeply interested in how music was taught to children…he even wrote an influential book on the topic. He started training baby Wolfgang at the age of 3. Wolfgang published Piano Concerto #9, a masterpiece, at the age of 21. But let’s remember, he had been through 18 years of intense expert training leading up to that.  

Ben Greenfield Podcast: Secrets Of The Navy Seals: How To Train, Eat & Think Like The World’s Toughest Fighters Possibly my favorite Podcast episode of all time. Mark Divine started off as an accountant and found his calling as a Navy Seal [close to my heart]. Podcast talks about Physical and Mental toughness.  

The body and mind can endure and achieve far more than most of us can even imagine.


Note: I listened to 2 awesome TED talks on a recent drive to Tahoe (and some that were so so, but it’s perception is all based on our experiences).  Anyway here they are! 

TED Talks: Simon SinekHow Great Leaders Inspire Action 

Simon has a simple powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.  

This is an older TED talk, but for me, it may be the best one I’ve ever heard! 

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we see ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy shows how “power posing” — standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident — can affect testosterone and cortisol levels in the brain, and might even have an impact on our chances for success. 
Amy’s research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply changing body positions.  


An interview with Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning. Very motivational. Activities he recommends one to perform in morning prior to starting day: Exercise, Meditation, Affirmations, Visualization, Reading and Journaling.

“Your Level of success will seldom exceed level of personal development.”


Praise Effort — not Talent

That’s a No No! 

You know you’re not supposed to tell children they are smart!? I think I knew that, but I’ve missed the mark numerous times. In short, tell someone they’re smart and they’ll be afraid to disappoint you, leading them to stop challenging themselves; tell them you are amazed by their effort and you teach them to never quit, take on new challenges and be resilient.

Parents, Teachers and Coaches should all understand the importance of praising effort as opposed to talent.  Most people may say they know that, but knowing it, practicing it, living it and doing it well are very different.

I was recently reading Bounce by Matthew Syed and he references some groundbreaking research performed by Carol Dweck a professor at Stanford and author of Mindset.  Dweck used the terminology fixed mind-set and growth mind-set: A Fixed Mind-set being someone who fundamentally believes intelligence is innate or you’re either born with it or you’re not and a Growth Mind-set meaning intelligence can be learned and gained through work and effort.  She performed a study on ~300 5th graders.  First she gave them a list of questions to help her classify them as fixed or growth mind-set.  Then they all worked on a series of progressively more challenging problems. Quoting Dweck “We saw that students in the helpless (fixed mind-set) group blamed their intelligence when they hit failure. What did the students in the mastery-oriented (growth mind-set) group blame? The answer, which surprised us, was they did not blame anything. They didn’t focus on reasons for the failures. In fact, they didn’t even seem to consider themselves to be failing…”

She went on to describe how the children in the growth mind-set were motivated to solve the challenging problems and even developed new strategies. The fixed mind-set group did not perform, or even stopped performing in the face of adversity.

When we say “you are so smart”, or after scoring a goal “you’re so good…or are such a great athlete”, or upon seeing their art project “you are a natural”, we are cultivating the fixed mind-set. We are teaching them that they didn’t need to work for that accomplishment; they were born with the ability.

On the contrary, responses such as “doing your homework every night really paid off” or “all those hours of practice you put in are really showing” or even responding with a question on the art “how did you decide on that color combination?” instill a different mind-set, attitude and motivation to continue to improve.

Here is a great article from the NY Times, written by Po Bronson, How Not to Talk to Your Kids. An excerpt: “When parents praise their children’s intelligence, they believe they are providing the solution to this problem. According to a survey conducted by Columbia University, 85% of American parents think it’s important to tell their kids that they’re smart…But growing body of research strongly suggests it might be the other way around. Giving kids the label of “smart does not prevent them from underperforming. It might actually be causing it.”

Ashley Merryman sums it up as praise what someone does, not who they are in this Primal Blue Print Podcast. She is the co-author of NurtureShock, along with Po, mentioned above.

She also talks briefly about whether its ok to tell girls they are pretty; clearly don’t want to do it a lot, but a sometimes may be ok…interesting!

I’m sure I’ll continue to tell my girls they are beautiful, but maybe not as much:) and of course, need to work on praising effort!