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. 

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.

In Play Nice But Win: A CEO’s Journey from Founder to Leader, founder, chairman, and CEO of Dell Technologies, Micheal Dell reflects on the three major battles waged for the soul of Dell Technologies: launching it, keeping it and transforming it. Dell describes the highs and lows of running the business in the midst of changing technology industry.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

American billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad. shares lessons learned and strategies that made him successful in his six-decade experience of building institutions in the four industries that he had ventured into – Accounting, Real Estate, Retirement Savings and Philanthropy. Eli also narrates his successes and mistakes on his path to greatness and unreasonable which led to building two fortune 500 companies (KB Home and Sun America).

“Over the past six decades, I have had four careers: accounting, homebuilding, retirement savings, and philanthropy. I became the first person to build two Fortune 500 companies from the ground up in two different industries.”

Eli argues that unreasonable thinking can help you achieve goals others may tell you are out of reach, and how to silence the voice of conventional wisdom that too often keeps most of us from attempting to achieve our goals.

“Eli Broad’s life is a great American story, not only because it is a story of hard work and success, but because it’s a story of dreams—of pushing into new frontiers and believing that the impossible can be achieved.”  – Michall Bloomberg“Eli Broad’s life is a great American story, not only because it is a story of hard work and success, but because it’s a story of dreams—of pushing into new frontiers and believing that the impossible can be achieved.”  – Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York City

The inferior man’s reasons for hating knowledge are not hard to discern. He hates it because it is complex— because it puts an unbearable burden on his meager capacity for taking in ideas. Thus his search is always for short cuts. All superstitions are such short cuts. Their aim is to make the unintelligible simple, and even obvious.” – American critic H. L. Mencken

Starting as a college dropout with no family money, Felix created a publishing empire, founded Maxim magazine, and made himself one of the richest people in the UK.

“The bottom line is that if I did it, you can do it. I went from being a pauper—a hippie dropout on welfare living in a crummy room without the proverbial pot to piss in, without even the money to pay the rent, without a clue as to what to do next—to being rich. And I am certainly no business genius, as my rivals will happily and swiftly confirm.” – Felix Dennis

It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life is the story of Armstrong’s journey from inauspicious beginnings through triumph, tragedy, transformation, and transcendence. In 1996, at the prime of his career, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which later spread to his lungs, abdomen, and brain, and was only given a 40 percent chance of living. 

In It’s Not About the Bike, American former professional road racing cyclist, Lance Armstrong reflects on his upbringing, upstart as a triathlete, cycling career, battling and surviving testicular cancer, and coming back to win multiple tour de France competitions.

In Confessions of an Advertising Man, founder of Ogilvy & Mather and “Father of Advertising,” David Ogilvy shares his philosophy, pioneering ideas and strategies for becoming a successful advertising man. Other topics covered include people management, corporate ethics, office politics, and insights for building a successful advertising business.

The confessions of an Advertising Man was first published in 1963, and it is considered as essential reading for advertising students and practitioners.

In The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel,  Hungarian-American journalist Kati Marton chronicles the rise and reign of Germany’s first female chancellor, and how this triple outsider—an East German, a scientist, and a woman transformed Germany into the leader of Europe—not just an economic leader but a moral one too—and into an immigrant nation by accepting one million Middle Eastern refugees. 

A pastor’s daughter raised in Soviet-controlled East Germany, she spent her twenties working as a research chemist, entering politics only after the fall of the Berlin Wall. And yet within fifteen years, she had become chancellor of Germany and, before long, the unofficial leader of the West.

In Revolution, Emmanuel Macron, the youngest president in the history of France, reveals his personal story and his inspirations and discusses his vision of France and its future in a new world that is undergoing a ‘great transformation’ that has not been known since the Renaissance. He chronicles his journey from his rural upbringing to the role of mentors in his life, key moments and seizing the right opportunities. The book is part biographical and part a manifesto of his vision for a more prosperous and vibrant France.

At the age of 39, Macron became the youngest president in French history.

Emmanuel Macron was born in Amiens on 21 December 1977. He studied philosophy at Paris Nanterre University, a master’s degree in public affairs from Sciences Po ( Paris Institute of Political Studies) and graduated from the École nationale d’administration in 2004.

 Macron was elected to a second term in the 2022 presidential election, again defeating Le Pen, thus becoming the first French presidential candidate to win re-election since 2002.

 ‘Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result’

Barrack and Michelle Obama are one of my favourite living people and couples alive. I love them both for their confidence, journey, inspiration and consistency. I committed to reading their memoirs back to back: A Promise Land (Barrack) and Becoming (Michelle). Reading the former POTUS and FLOTUS biographies made me humanize them, and connect more to their story, struggles, trials and tribulations. Their stories epitomize what it means to dream bigger than their society.

In Build: An Unorthodox Guide to Making Things Worth Making, former Apple employee and co-creator of the iPhone and iPod Tony Fadell shares lessons learned, mistakes made and advice for navigating the roller coaster of creativity. He writes about starting out in business, Joining Phillips as CTO at age 25, failing with General Magic, Joining Apple as a consultant, co-creating the iPhone and iPod, Starting Nest Labs and his life in building life-changing products. Fadell calls the book “An advice encyclope­dia. A mentor in a box.”

“I was incredibly lucky to lead the team that made the first eighteen generations of the iPod. Then we got another incredible opportunity—the iPhone. My team created the hardware—the metal and glass that you held in your hand—and the foundational software to run and manufacture the phone. We wrote the software for the touchscreen, the cellular modem, the cell phone, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc. Then we did it again for the second-generation iPhone. And then again for the third.”

American engineer, designer and entrepreneur Tony Fadell is often referred to as the father of the iPod. He joined Apple in 2001 and served as the Senior Vice President of the iPod and iPhone division. His team was in charge of building the hardware and foundational software for the iPhone and iPod. He left Apple in 2010 to start Nest Labs with Matt Rogers in a garage in Palo Alto.

Nest Lab was acquired by Google in 2014 for $3.5 Billion. Fadell has over 300 patents to his name and was named as one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in 2014.

Career Highlights: Lead software & Hardware Engineer at General Magic, CTO of Phillips at 25, Joined Apple in 2001 as a consultant, his team built the hardware and foundational software for the iPod and iPhone, Started Nest Labs in 2014 with Matt Rogers, Google acquired Nest for 3.2 Billion dollars.

“The day, and it was a day, that writing started to be fun for me, the day things began to really click, was the day I stopped trying to write sentences and started writing stories.”

James Patterson is one of the most prolific writers in the world with over 400 million copies of his books sold. He is also the first person to sell 1 million e-books. In his memoir, he writes about his humble upbringing to becoming the world’s most successful writer. Patterson shares his writing regimen, his life as an advertising professional, golfing with presidents, worldview and thought process. He had always wanted to write the kind of novel that would be read and reread so many times that the binding breaks and the book literally fall apart – so he did.

I wanted to write the kind of novel that was read and reread so many times the binding broke and the book literally fell apart, pages scattered in the wind.

James Patterson by James Patterson is a great book on how one of the most successful writer of a generation does it. Patterson’s strategies include telling stories, outlining and collaborating with co-writers.

I remember where I was on November 4th, 2008, when then-Senator Obama was declared the winner of the 2008 U.S Presidential election,  becoming the first African American to become the president of the United States. Obama’s acceptance speech that night made me cry a lot; I had goosebumps hearing him speak and had renewed hope for the future and the power of possibility. The chant of “Yes we can” by those at the Chicago venue made it more inspiring. Obama started the speech with the following lines:

“If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

I fell in love with Barrack Obama during the 2008 election and I still get goosebumps and teary when I hear him speak. Barrack is one of my favourite living people for his audacity of hope, conviction, sense of purpose and charisma. I took me a while to finish “A promised Land” but it was worth the read.

A Promised Land is Barack Obama’s memoir that focuses on his tenure as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. He chronicles his early upbringing, early political campaigns, family life, and his first term as president, and the book ends with the events leading to the killing of Osama bin Laden in 2011. I love Barrack so much that I bought both the 28-hours audiobook version and the 768 pages paperback version. I bought the book in November 2020 but did not get to reading it till around May-June 2022.

A promised Land is a great book that humanizes Obama and made me respect him more. Barrack writes about the challenges in his personal life, such as trying to deal with his smoking addiction, the rollercoaster challenge of balancing his political career with his marriage and family. He also spoke about how he got into politics as a way to inspire others and make sense of his mixed heritage. Barrack shared insights into the decision-making process of various tough decisions that he had to make as the most powerful man in the world. He describes the highs and lows, joys and frustrations, unpredictability, and tensions and how he navigated it with a sense of calm.

 The first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency—a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

A Promised Land – Runaway Bestseller

According to Penguin Random House, the publishers of the memoir: A Promised Land sold more than 3.3 Million units in U.S. and Canada in its first month of publication. International editions have a combined 2.85 million copies in print, bringing the book to 7.55 million copies in print worldwide.

Published on Tuesday, November 17 2020 by Crown, the hardcover U.S. edition of President Obama’s critically acclaimed memoir now has 4.7 million copies in print in the U.S. and Canada, following an initial printing of 3.4 million copies.

Favourite Takeaways from Reading – A Promised Land by Barrack Obama

Seeking Refuge in Books

“Growing up in Indonesia, I’d seen the yawning chasm between the lives of wealthy elites and impoverished masses. I had a nascent awareness of the tribal tensions in my father’s country —the hatred that could exist between those who on the surface might look the same. I bore daily witness to the seemingly cramped lives of my grandparents, the disappointments they filled with TV and liquor and sometimes a new appliance or car. I noticed that my mother paid for her intellectual freedom with chronic financial struggles and occasional personal chaos, and I became attuned to the not-so-subtle hierarchies among my prep school classmates, mostly having to do with how much money their parents had.

And then there was the unsettling fact that, despite whatever my mother might claim, the bullies, cheats, and self-promoters seemed to be doing quite well, while those she considered good and decent people seemed to get screwed an awful lot.

“All of this pulled me in different directions. It was as if, because of the very strangeness of my heritage and the worlds I straddled, I was from everywhere and nowhere at once, a combination of ill-fitting parts, like a platypus or some imaginary beast, confined to a fragile habitat, unsure of where I belonged. And I sensed, without fully understanding why or how, that unless I could stitch my life together and situate myself along some firm axis, I might end up in some basic way living my life alone.”

Mother instilled a reading habit

I didn’t talk to anyone about this, certainly not my friends or family. I didn’t want to hurt their feelings or stand out more than I already did. But I did find refuge in books.

The reading habit was my mother’s doing, instilled early in my childhood—her go-to move anytime I complained of boredom, or when she couldn’t afford to send me to the international school in Indonesia, or when I had to accompany her to the office because she didn’t have a babysitter. Go read a book, she would say. Then come back and tell me something you learned.

Smoking Addiction and quitting

THERE WAS A final stress reliever that I didn’t like to talk about, one that had been a chronic source of tension throughout my marriage: I was still smoking five (or six, or seven) cigarettes a day.
It was the lone vice that had carried over from the rebel days of my youth. At Michelle’s insistence, I had quit several times over the years, and I never smoked in the house or in front of the kids. Once elected to the U.S. Senate, I had stopped smoking in public. But a stubborn piece of me resisted the tyranny of reason, and the strains of campaign life—the interminable car rides through cornfields, the solitude of motel rooms—had conspired to keep me reaching for the pack I kept handy in a suitcase or drawer.

After the election, I’d told myself it was as good a time as any to stop—by definition, I was in public just about anytime I was outside the White House residence. But then things got so busy that I found myself delaying my day of reckoning, wandering out to the pool house behind the Oval Office after lunch or up to the third-floor terrace after Michelle and the girls had gone to sleep, taking a deep drag and watching the smoke curl toward the stars, telling myself I’d stop for good as soon as things settled down.

“Sometimes it didn’t matter how good your process was. Sometimes you were just screwed, and the best you could do was have a stiff drink—and light up a cigarette.”

Finally quitting smoking

“Initially, the pool game had also given me an excuse to duck out and have a cigarette on the third-floor landing. Those detours stopped when I quit smoking, right after I signed the Affordable Care Act into law. I’d chosen that day because I liked the symbolism, but I’d made the decision a few weeks earlier, when Malia, smelling a cigarette on my breath, frowned and asked if I’d been smoking. Faced with the prospect of lying to my daughter or setting a bad example, I called the White House doctor and asked him to send me a box of nicotine gum. It did the trick, for I haven’t had a cigarette since. But I did end up replacing one addiction with another: Through the remainder of my time in office, I would chomp on gum ceaselessly, the empty packets constantly spilling out of my pockets and leaving a trail of shiny square bread crumbs for others to find on the floor, under my desk, or wedged between sofa cushions.”

Faced with the prospect of lying to my daughter or setting a bad example, I called the White House doctor and asked him to send me a box of nicotine gum.

All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

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