The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography is a book of reflection by Bahamian-American actor Sidney Pottier wherein he reflects on lessons learned during his seventy-plus years of sojourn in life. Sidney described what he absorbed through his early experiences, lessons learned from his parents and adventures. Sidney Pottier was the first black actor and the first Bahamian to win the Academy Award for Best Actor.

In Becoming Trader Joe: How I Did Business My Way and Still Beat the Big Guys, the founder of Trader Joe, Joe Coulombe, shares the founding story of building the grocery store chain, lessons learned in the process and insights for navigating the entrepreneurial journey. He started the company in 1958, and as of 2020, the company generated revenue of US$16.5 billion and employed 50,000+ people.

As a partner of Rexall, Joe had started Pronto in 1958 as a copy of 7-Eleven, because there were no 7-Elevens in California.

Trader Joe’s was conceived from those two demographic news stories. What I saw here was a small but growing demographic opportunity in people who were well-educated. 7-Eleven, and the whole convenience store genre, served the most basic needs of the most mindless demographics with cigarettes, Coca-Cola, milk, Budweiser, candy, bread, eggs. Dimly, I saw an opportunity to differentiate ourselves radically from mainstream retailing to mainstream people.

In Am I Being Too Subtle?: Straight Talk From a Business Rebel, American Billionaire, and Real Estate Entrepreneur Sam Zell shares his story of how a restless, curious boy who grew up in Chicago made it to the Forbes 400. He describes the risks that paid off and those that didn’t and what he learned in the process. Sam is best known for building several commercial real estate companies with investments also in other industries such as energy, manufacturing, retail, travel, logistics, and health care.

Sam is the son of Jewish immigrants who fled Poland to escape the Holocaust and come to the United States. A former lawyer, he is the founder and chairman of Equity Group Investments, a private investment firm, founded in 1968.  According to Forbes, Sam has an estimated net worth of USD $5.2 billion as of March 2023.

Abiola Bawuah was recently appointed to become the first female CEO of the United Bank for Africa (UBA) Africa operations. With her appointment, she joins the UBA Group Board as an Executive Director, overseeing the Group’s operations across the African continent, outside Nigeria. She was formerly the regional CEO of UBA, in charge of six countries (Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone).

In Government Cheese, author Steve Pressfield narrates his roller coaster journey of becoming an author, how he dealt with resistance, the multiple jobs he undertook (Marine Corps reservist, truck driver, secretary, orchard picker, copywriter, cab driver, Golf Caddie, Janitor), navigating the challenges of becoming a creative and the mentors that guided him on his path to greatness.

Steve Pressfield’s story is an excellent reminder of what a lot of creatives go through before they eventually get their breakthrough. Pressfield dealt with shame, poverty, resistance, self-doubt and rejection. But in spite of all these challenges, he persevered, endured, kept showing up daily and eventually achieved his goal of becoming a writer.

In Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, Coach Wooden shares timeless wisdom about every aspect of life, his personal philosophy on family, achievement, success, and excellence. Coach John Wooden won 10 NCAA champions in his 12 years reign as the UCLA Bruins, including seven national championships in a row: 1967, 1968, 1969,1970, 1971, 1972, 1973. He is considered one of the most successful National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) coaches.

Iron Mike Tyson is considered one of the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time. In a career that spanned thirty years (1985-2005), he reigned as the undisputed world heavyweight champion from 1987 to 1990. Tyson made over 400 million dollars in his boxing career. However, he lost most of his wealth due to a series of poor financial decisions, drugs, alcohol and sex addiction. In 2003, Tyson filed for bankruptcy with $23 million dollars in debt.

In It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, Captain D. Michael Abrashoff shares his experience commandeering the once-underperforming destroyer USS Benfold, to becoming the best ship in the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

He reflects on lessons learned, successes and failures made and leadership principles garnered  leading the ship.

“My biggest mistake was to focus down the chain of command, trying to improve my ship and my crew, instead of seeing myself as one captain in a battle group.I didn’t do enough to collaborate with my fellow captains as a member of a larger team. Instead, Benfold’s achievements stood on their own, and as a result the battle group wasn’t as strong as it could and should have been.”

Self-mastery is an unending process. Your job is NEVER  FINISHED!

 In Never Finished: Unshackle Your Mind and Win the War Within, David Goggins takes readers inside his Mental Lab, where he developed the philosophy, psychology, and strategies that enabled him to learn that what he thought was his limit was only his beginning and that the quest for greatness is unending.

Living the Dream: My Life and Basketball by Hakeem Olajuwon is one of my favourite sports biography of all time. I have read loads of biographies and autobiographies, but living the dream stands out. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, just like Hakeem. Most of the places and peculiarities about being a Nigerian are very familiar to me, and being of the Yoruba tribe like Hakeem makes the book more relatable.

“Being a Nigerian is abysmally frustrating and unbelievably exciting” – Chinua Achebe 

In Living the Dream, Nigerian-American former professional basketball player Hakeem Olajuwon chronicles his life trajectory from growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, in a middle-class Nigerian family. The star of the Houston Rockets chronicles the cross-cultural journey from his Nigerian childhood to the heights of fame with the NBA, discussing his life on and off the court, rivalry with other players, confrontations with owners and referees, and his religious faith.

Jeff Benedict’s biography of Tiger Woods is based on years of reporting and interviews of more than 250 people who worked, played and interacted with Tiger Woods. Benedict is an American author and special features writer for Sports Illustrated, who has written 16 nonfiction books. His biography of Tiger Woods was the basis of a 2-part documentary on HBO, in which he was an executive producer.  The book is currently being developed into a scripted television series, which Benedict is also executive producing

The authors could not get either an on-the-record or off-the-record conversation or interview with Tiger Woods himself. Tiger is extremely private and the authors were also unwilling to meet Woods’ condition for such an interview.

The book is a great account of one of the greatest sportsmen/golfers of a generation. The authors describe, among other things – Tiger’s upbringing, his parents’ relationship, growing up as an only child, his father first marriage, and how his parents programmed him for greatness. Tigers rise and fall from grace through gambling, sex addiction and association. The book was a great read as it helps the reader connect various dots about the life of Tiger Woods. The ups and downs, insights on raising a protege and strategies for handling crisis.

The past should be left in the past, or it can steal your future. Live life for what today can bring and not what yesterday has taken away.

While at Duke, Jay Williams was a rising star – he won the 2001 NCAA Championship, won the Naismith College Player of the Year Award, and was named NABC Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002. He was a unanimous first-team All- American. He was drafted by the Chicago Bulls as the second overall pick in the 2002 NBA draft.

Everything was going well for Jason: he was living his dreams with endorsement deals, a luxury condo, a huge NBA salary, fame and a bright future. It all came crashing after a motorcycle accident in 2003.

Every tree has leaves, branches, and roots. Some people are leaves—hanging there for a minute, but a gust of wind can come along, and they’re gone. Some people are branches—holding firm for a while until something more powerful occurs, and they snap and break away. Then, if you are extremely lucky, you meet a root. A root is a person who holds firm regardless of the elements. 

In No One Succeeds Alone: Learn Everything You Can from Everyone You Can, American Entrepreneur and CEO of online real estate company Compass, Inc., Robert Reffkin, shares lessons and insights learned in his entrepreneurial and life journey. How he became the youngest-ever White House fellow, created multiple nonprofits, and founded a multibillion-dollar company. 

Rich Roll’s Podcast is one of my favourite podcasts to listen to as part of my 365 Podcast Listening Challenge. Rich interviews ultra-athletes, wellness evangelists and personal development professionals to demystify what makes them thick. In Finding Ultra, Revised and Updated Edition: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself, Rich Roll writes about the mid-life transformation and self-discovery that he underwent at the age of 40, his approach to endurance adventure (Ultraman World Championships,  EPIC5 CHALLENGE) and a plant-based diet.

Finding Ultra is a very inspiring book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone on a journey of self-discovery and self-actualization. Rich shared lessons learned, the roller coaster of endurance training and sustaining the lifestyle of an endurance athlete.

They say that the mental aspect of sports is just as important as the physical part. There can be no doubt about that: Being mentally tough is critical. At an Olympic final, you know everybody has physical talent. So, who’s going to win? The mentally toughest.

In No Limits: The Will to Succeed, Swimmer and Olympian with the most medals (28), Micheal Phelps shares the secrets, insights, and lessons learned on becoming one of the most remarkable athletes of our generation. True to one of his mottos: “Performance is Reality,” Phelps is relentless in his training regimen, mental preparation and passionate about execution through visualization and other techniques.

Phelps also writes about the influence of his family (mum and sisters) and his coach, Bob Bowman on his performance and worldview.

No Limit

If you put a limit on anything, you put a limit on how far you can go. I don’t think anything is too high. The more you use your imagination, the faster you go. If you think about doing the unthinkable, you can. The sky is the limit. That’s one thing I definitely have learned from Bob: Anything is possible.

It’s like that at the Olympic Games. Years of training, of hard work, of desire and discipline—all of it compressed into minutes, sometimes just seconds, and time seems to stand still as history plays itself out.