Author Archives: randy

In Transition?; Working on the Next Chapter of your Life? – Read these three very good books to help you on your journey

Life is lived best when it is lived in chapters
D. Elton Trueblood


Even in this thriving economy, I seem to meet a lot of people “in transition.”  Sometimes, their status is due to changes in an organization. Other times, they really are trying to figure out their answer to the age-old challenge:

What shall I do with the next chapter of my life?

RangeI have a recommendation for such folks.  If you are in the midst of such a search, reading some good books is worth the time and effort.  So, I have three books to recommend; to very strongly recommend.  Three very good books.  Read these, and you will be better equipped to answer your question of what to do in the next chapter of your life.

My recommendation is that you read them in this order:

#1 – Start with Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein. Riverhead Books (2019).  This book makes the case that it is good to learn broadly (and, by the way, to learn slowly).  The more, different kinds of things you know, the better able you will be to discover what you would most like to do.  This is a very good book.

(I presented this at the July First Friday Book Synopsis.  My synopsis will be available soon – see below — and I will post, probably by the end of this week, my lessons and takeaways from this book on this blog).You Can Do Anything

#2 – Then read You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education by George Anders. Little, Brown and Company (2017).  This book reminds us all that the Liberal Arts are worth knowing; whether from our school days, or “catching up” now.

Part of the reason: soft skills are needed in every kind of work situation.  The liberal arts will better help you understand, and master, such skills.

Here is the link to my blog post about this book, with my lessons and takeaways: You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education by George Anders – My six lessons and takeaways.


#3 — Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. Knopf (2016).  This book is based on the very popular class taught at Stanford University, taught by the authors.  This book provides an actual game plan to follow: “Do this to find your next life chapter.” Terrific book.

And, here is the link to my blog post for this book, also with my lessons and takeaways: Design! – Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans; my lessons and takeaways.

Designing Your LifeAll three of these books agree that in this modern, more complex era, you might end up doing more than one thing in your life (you will end up doing more than one thing in your life).  And the books will help you as you make your way on that journey.

Click on the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page to purchase my synopses of these books.  (Reminder: my synopsis of Range will be available by the end of July). Each synopsis comes with my multi-page, comprehensive handout, along with the audio recording of my presentation (just over 20 minutes), recorded at our Dallas event, the First Friday Book Synopsis.


Here’s the direct link to my synopsis of You Can Do Anything.

Here’s the direct link to my synopsis of Designing Your Life.

There are many, many more synopses available on our site; of many good books.


Never Split the Difference & Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders – coming for the August 2 First Friday Book Synopsis

We had a wonderful session this morning at the July First Friday Book Synopsis (on the 2nd Friday of July , because of the July 4 holiday).

For next month’s session on August 2, I have again selected two books which provide valuable insight and actionable lessons.

One is a book dealing with negotiation and communication.  Never Split the Difference was written by a former international hostage negotiator for the FBI.  (This book was published in 2016, but slipped by us.  So, I’m catching up…).

The other book, Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?: (And How to Fix It) deals with a really hot topic – issues of gender equality and equity, especially in positions of leadership.

(And, we will have a useful bonus session on Artificial Intelligence; Intro to AI, led by Andrew Louder — from 8:30-9:30, immediately following our regular session).

Here is the flier with al the details for the August First Friday Book Synopsis.  Please mark your calendar for August 2.  You will be able to register soon from the home page of this website.

Click on image for full printable view

Click on image for full printable view


Here is the New York Times list of Best Selling Business Books for July, 2019 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown at #1; Range by Epstein at #2

The New York Times has published its list of Best Selling Business Books for July.

RangeI follow this list closely.  And of the ten books on this month’s list, after this Friday’s session, we will have presented synopses of 8 of the 10 at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  After Friday, I will have presented synopses of 7 of the 10, and my former colleague, Karl Krayer, presented one other.

This Friday, I am presenting #2, Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein.  I think this may be the most important book I have read this year.

And I am also presenting #9, WOLFPACK by Abby Wambach.  This is a great week to present this book.  Abby is the former superstar of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (now retired).  And, of course, the U.S. team won the World Cup yesterday.

In addition, I have presented Dare to Lead by Brené Brown (#1), Atomic Habits, Outliers, Extreme Ownership, and Principles.  And my former colleague Karl Krayer presented Grit.

{Our synopses are available for purchase at the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page.  Each synopsis comes with our multi-page, comprehensive synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of our presentation, recorded at our monthly event.  Click here for our newest additions.}

Here is the New York Times list of Best Selling Business Books for July, 2019. Click over to the New York Times site for more information on these books, along with links to NY Times reviews of four of the books.Dare to Lead

#1 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#2 – Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein
#3 – Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
#4 – I Will Teach You to be Rich, Second Edition by Ramit Sethi
#5 – Atomic Habits by James Clear
#6 – Outliers by Malcolm Galdwell
#7 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#8 – Grit by Angela Duckworth
#9 – WOLFPACK by Abby Wanbach
#10 – Principles by Ray Dalio

Customer Service Basics – Get These Right, Every Time, or…

This was prompted by two recent dining out experiences.

One was at the Park City Club in Dallas.  This is the club where we hold our First Friday Book Synopsis.  This club is wonderful in every way.  A great place; breathtaking view of the city; great food; and truly terrific service.

My wife and I went there for a rare dinner out at the club.  One tends to forget what truly exceptional service is like until they receive it. In other words, it is pretty rare.  Try describing it this way; in addition to pleasant interactions, what they provided was full attentiveness, with no lapse of time in meeting every need and request, whether requested, or just observed by the servers.

In other words, glasses were kept full, and there was no delay on any request; nor any delay in getting the attention of a server.

The other recent experience was at a slightly upscale chain restaurant.  We have eaten there before.  But this time, the service was…well…nothing like the Park City Club.  Never a refill on our water glasses.  Utter disregard for a specific request.  It was a disappointing enough experience that I talked to the manager as I left.  He was embarrassed, but did not fully respond well either.

So, here are the lessons. Whatever your business, trust me – you are in the customer service business. If you don’t sense what your customer wants and needs, and respond to that customer in a timely way, while being pleasant in the process, then you have left a bad impression.  Too many of those bad impressions equals a customer lost – with, even worse, bad word of mouth.


Pay attention.
Sense what is needed before it is requested.
Deliver what is needed, and requested – as soon as you possibly can.
And never let up. Not ever!

We really should eat dinner more often at the Park City Club.

Here are 3 Ways I Help People

Randy Mayeux

Randy Mayeux

I had lunch recently with a marketing person who attends the First Friday Book Synopsis, and she dropped a simple hint:  “you should put that in your ‘How I Help People’ list.”

So, it got me to thinking – how do I help people?  And, of course, it should lead you to ask: how do you help people.

Here are some of the ways I help people:

#1 — I help people become more literate, and is so doing, help them become more effective and successful.

I present thorough book synopses. And I also write posts on my blog with key lessons and takeaways from the best books – the best business books, and the best books dealing with issues of social justice.

For nearly 22 full years, I have read business books, and prepared comprehensive, thorough, multi-page synopsis handouts. I use these to accompany my live in-person presentations of these synopses.

I first present these at our First Friday Book Synopsis event – our monthly event in Dallas.  These are short presentations – around 20 minutes, or so. (We have presented synopses of over 510 books at these events.).

I then present longer sessions of these presentations within companies and organizations; for leadership teams especially.  For example, recently, I presented my synopsis of Measure what Matters by John Doerr for a leadership team at a  large law firm.  Here is the description of the value of the event, shared by the woman who brought me into the group:

The senior manager team really enjoyed your presentation and had a fruitful discussion immediately afterwards.

That’s what these presentations really provide – they jump-start fruitful discussions.

Here’s the result:  after you attend one of my synopses, you will know more, you become more literate, and you will make progress in your business endeavors and in your life.

{Check out this blog post for a pretty good list of “essential” books: You should read these 30 books – Book Suggestions from Randy Mayeux of the First Friday Book Synopsis (ok – 30, + a few). I have synopses available of all of these titles – and many more}.

#2 – I help people become better speakers.

I teach Speech at the Community College level.  My academic training includes graduate work in Communication: Rhetoric and Public Address.

And I lead seminars and workshops on Speech Basics, and on Advanced Public Speaking for Executives.

Sitting through a less-than-good speech or presentation is a big time waster, and a huge wasted opportunity for both the speaker and the audience.  I help people speak better, through my seminars and workshops.

I also write blog posts designed to help people speak more effectively. Check out this post, with links to many of the specific posts: Here Are A Number of My Blog Posts Dealing with Speaking/Presentation and Communication Issues.

(I have my next public seminar planned for late August: Executive Public Speaking. Check this web site and blog for information, coming soon).

#3 – I help people understand issues of poverty, racism, and other social justice concerns.

I do this by presenting synopses of books dealing with these issues. I have presented these synopses, one book a month, for over 12 years for the Urban Engagement Book Club, sponsored by CitySquare.  Click here to learn more about these sessions: Here’s the line up of books I will present on Social Justice Issues at the 2019 Urban Engagement Book Club.

I have also presented some of these synopses for the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, and for a few area churches.

I have a theory:  if an organization brought me in for a few sessions on books dealing with gender diversity, racial diversity, poverty, and other issues of social justice, it might bring a new perspective to such issues within the organization.  It might jump-start needed conversations in a whole new way.

A friend of mine – a successful consultant, who attends the First Friday Book Synopsis — observes that people do not have time to read the books they know they need to read.  But, they are hungry to know what is in the best books.  My event, and my longer synopses, provide deep dives in a short amount of time into these books.  My synopsis handouts provide substance and depth.  They are useful; valuable. That’s her view of what I provide. I think it rings true.

So, here are the three ways:

#1 — I help people become more literate, and is so doing, help them become more effective and successful.
#2 – I help people become better speakers.
#3 – I help people understand issues of poverty, racism, and other social justice concerns.

These are some of the ways that I help people.  Send me an e-mail by clicking here, and let’s talk about how I could be of help to your team.


“The average American is woefully undereducated about the history of race in the United States” – On this point, Marianne Williamson was exactly right

marianne-williamsonI do not believe—I do not believe that the average American is a racist. But the average American is woefully undereducated about the history of race in the United States.
— Marianne Williamson, at the Democratic Candidates’ Debate, June 27, 2019
(click here for full transcript)


This was a moment that jumped out at me.  It was the second night of the Democratic Candidates’ debates.  Marianne Williamson is in the lower tier of candidates.  The discussion was about the police shooting in South Bend, Indiana; a question given to Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  As others responded, Marianne Williamson said these words:

I do not believe—I do not believe that the average American is a racist. But the average American is woefully undereducated about the history of race in the United States.

This is true. First, it is true that the average American is woefully undereducated on many subjects and issues.  And it is especially true about the subject of the  history of race.

For over a dozen years, I have read books dealing with social justice issues. One book a month – for the Urban Engagement Book Clubin Dallas.  I read the book; I prepare a multi-page comprehensive synopsis handout on the book; and then I present my synopsis at a lunch meeting. Many of the books I have presented have taught me much about the history of race in this country.

Though I had some knowledge of this history, and though I have studied, pretty diligently the speeches of the Civil Rights movement, I have come to see that I knew way too little.  I had so much to learn. I still have so very much to learn.

Most recently, I presented a synopsis of Myths America Lives By: White Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning by historian Richard T. Hughes. (Read my blog post, with my lessons and takeaways, here).the-new-jim-crow-m-alexander-pic

But the list of books is pretty long.  I have presented synopses of books by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow); W. E. B. DuBois; Chris Tomlinson; Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, and many, many more.

Here is some of what I have come to know:

#1 – Black people were intentionally shut out of opportunities of every kind; from education, to loans, to neighborhoods, to…well everything.

#2 – Every step forward, every bit of progress, was done over the objections – the ugly, violent, even deadly objections – of the white people in power.  And it was always white people in power.

#3 – And, though things are better, they are not better enough.

For those who believe that there were good slave owners; please read some history. Maybe start with Charles Dew, The Making of a Racist.

For those who believe that the Civil War was not about slavery, please read the Cornerstone Speech by Alexander Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America.

If you are from Texas, read the Texas Ordinance of Secession.  (Or, if you live in a different state that was part of the Confederacy, pick the one for your state).  The Texas statement is based entirely on white supremacy, and the inferiority of the “African race” whose rightful place was that of slave. (Read the full statement here). Remember, this is the official document, signed by teh leaders of Texas, seceding from the Union and joining the Confederate States.

Here are the key paragraphs from the Texas Ordinance of Secession, February 2, 1861:

We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.
That in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race, as existing in these States, is mutually beneficial to both bond and free, and is abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator, as recognized by all Christian nations.

And for those who think it all just went away after the Civil War, well you have some reading and studying to tackle.  From red-lining, to police brutality (for example, just read about the police activities against the Freedom Riders), the history is painful to read.  But it is history that we should read.

This is not a column about Marianne Williamson and her candidacy for President.  But, I will agree with this – her statement about how Americans are woefully undereducated about the history of race in this country is absolutely correct.

And there is a remedy.  Start reading. Read, and ponder, and learn.  This is a path available to all.


StampedBeginningHere are a few more of my blog posts on books I’ve presented on issues of race: