Category Archives: Randy’s blog entries

Entries by Randy Mayeux

How Many Books will you read in 2022? – A suggested, realistic goal for those wanting to learn: Six serious-reading-to-learn books for the year

How many books did you read in 2021?

How many books do you plan to read in 2022?

From the article on the Gallup survey

From the article on the Gallup survey

Gallup has come out with its annual survey of reading habits, Americans Reading Fewer Books Than in Past, and here is the bottom line finding: Americans say they read an average of 12.6 books during the past year, a smaller number than Gallup has measured in any prior survey dating back to 1990.”

Two problems with this:
#1 – they are asking people to remember how many books they read in the last year. And, people do not always remember well.


#2 — they are asking people to remember how many books they read in the last year. And, to be blunt about it, people tend to over-report desired behaviors rather than their actual behaviors in such surveys.

(For example:  a number of years ago, some serious researchers concluded, after some extensive actual counting efforts, that people vastly over-reported their church attendance practices to the Gallup survey folks).

But…let’s say that this is true:  that the average American reads 12.6 books per year.  Then you have to probe a little more deeply into what kinds of books.

I read at least 12 thrillers and mysteries a year.  Daniel Silva, and Nero Wolfe (Rex Stout), and Orphan X (Gregg Hurwitz), and John Grisham, and… I thoroughly enjoy this reading, but it is not my “serious-reading-to-learn” reading.

So, if one were to take out all of the thrillers, mysteries, romances, fantasy books, and other fiction, one wonders how many “serious-reading-to-learn” books people read in a year.

Now some people are book readers of the highest order.  They read many, many books.  If you are one of those, skip the rest of this post.  You’ve got this down.

But for the rest of us, I have a simple proposal.  What if you aimed to read one serious-reading-to-learn book every two months. Six books for the year.

(Your other 6.6 books to make up the 12.6 can be six thrillers or mysteries or…, with one short story thrown in).

Six serious-reading-to-learn books for the year seems realistic, and doable.

And, now, what books do you read?  This is where it gets especially difficult.  The temptation is to primarily read new books.  I read plenty of new books each year for the First Friday Book Synopsis and the Urban Engagement Book Club, where I present a total of three synopses of books each month..  That’s my job…

But, if you ask me what books I would most strongly recommend, and you give me a category , I would have some mix of older books with an occasional newer book.

The First Friday Book Synopsis focuses on business books.  So, for example, if you want to read about:

still the "bible" on time management

still the “bible” on time management

Time Management – I would recommend Getting Things Done by David Allen.

How to actually encourage the people you lead (a rather big-time job for every supervisor/manager) – I would recommend Encouraging the Heart by Kouzes and Posner.

How to make a bigger impact in your current position – I would recommend Impact Players by Liz Wiseman (this book was recently published: 2021).

Aim for books that are the “classic” selections in their category.  Learn the basics first. Then, read to expand your understanding with additional books in future months/years. If you choose wisely, and do what the books recommend, you might be more effective; productive; successful.

To get started:  pick six categories for your six books. Google “what is the best book on __________?”  Then read those six books.

(Suggestion:  read through this blog.  I have quite a few suggested reading lists.  Like this one:  Five+ Categories – 28 Books – A Whole Lot of Learning.

Here’s an analogy:  think of the classic pieces of a basic wardrobe.  Get a few pieces right; buy high quality; and you are good to go.

So, think of the tasks before you.  Pick out the best, classic books dealing with those issues.  Choose serious-reading-to-learn books.  And then, read them; read them well, thoroughly, thoughtfully.  Read to learn.  And then put what you learn into practice.

Now…what books will you read in 2022?


Here are a few more of my “suggested reading lists” that I have posted on my blog.  Yes, this is way more than six books.  But peruse these, and they might help you choose your best-six selections for the year.

The Essential Baker’s Dozen – 12 (OK – 13) Books to Read to set yourself up for more success in business and in life, in 2021; and beyond

A More Comprehensive Reading list for leaders – So many good books; so much to learn

Seven Books that Might be Helpful in Your Moments of Difficulty – (Plus, an eighth recommendation, just because…)

Big Picture Books; Narrow Focus Books – Maybe we need both

The Future is Coming, and We Are Not Ready – a reading list: here are some books that might help us get ready

You should read these 30 books – Book Suggestions from Randy Mayeux of the First Friday Book Synopsis (ok – 30, + a few) 

Coming for the February 4, 2022 First Friday Book Synopsis (in-person, & on Zoom) – Making Numbers Count by Chip Heath & Karla Starr; and Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman


First Friday Book Synopses
Friday, February 4, 2022
7:00 am, CST

Randy Mayeux provides thorough synopses of the content of useful, best-selling business books. He provides a comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, that concludes with his own lessons and takeaways from each book he presents.

“I love good books; and I read books
And share their core concepts
To help people become more literate
And know what to work on
To do a better job
To build a better company
And, ultimately, to build a better life.”

Randy Mayeux

What we know, we know because we have learned.

And, our learning begins with the thoughts we think, and the words we read and hear.  And, of course, the observations we make.

And, one good way to keep learning – some would argue the best way to keep learning – is to learn what is in the best books.
I hope you can join us to learn from two terrific and important books.

February, 2022 – Park City Club and Zoom

1. Making Numbers Count: The Art and Science of Communicating Numbers by Chip Heath and Karla Starr.

2. Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman.

What to expect:
Two fast paced synopsis presentations.

For In-person participants, you will be given the two handouts.  For those attending remotely, you will receive a synopsis handout to download for each of the two books, delivered the day before the event, via e-mail.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ THE BOOKS IN ADVANCE! – No pre-reading of the books required!

If you are like many, you do not have time to read all of the books you would like to read. The First Friday Book Synopsis is designed for you.

Our synopses are comprehensive, thorough, and they will give you plenty of the key content from the book. You will learn, and be able to ponder the ideas in a useful way. And, even if you have read the book, my synopsis will help you remember more of what you read.

I hope you can join us.

For in-person participants: click here to register for in-person attendance.

For remote participants:
The cost of this remote meeting is “free.”
But, if you would like to contribute to participate, Randy would welcome you to send $12.00 directly to him through PayPal. Click here for a direct link to “donate” through PayPal.
For remote participants, here is the Zoom info.  The Zoom meeting requires no registration.

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: First Friday Book Synopsis, Feb 4, 2022 07:00 AM

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 897 1213 8204
Passcode: 060540

Here is the New York Times list of best-selling business books for January, 2022 – Yes, Atomic Habits by James Clear is still at the top spot, as it has been for nearly the entire pandemic…

The New York Times has just published its first list of best selling business books for 2022; the January, 2022 list.

For the first time in my memory, we have presented fewer than half of the books on the list at our monthly event, the First Friday Book Synopsis.Four Thousand Weeks

But, I will present one of the books I had not yet selected at our February event; Four Thousand Weeks.  And I will also present Ray Dalio’s now book, Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order at our March First Friday Book Synopsis.

The four we have presented are:  Atomic Habits, Dare to Lead, Thinking, Fast and Slow, and Extreme Ownership. 

As has been true for so many months during the pandemic, Atomic Habits by James Clear is again at the top spot.  This is a very good, very practical book.  Everybody has some harmful habits to get rid of; and some desirable habits they wish they could cultivate.  This book helps with both.  (I presented my synopsis of this book at the December, 2018 First Friday Book Synopsis).

Atomic HabitsHere are the ten books from this month’s New York Times list of best-selling business books.  Click over to the New York Times site for a link to a review of one of these books.

#1 – Atomic Habits by James Clear
#2 – Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order by Ray Dalio
#3 – The House of Gucci by Sara G. Forden
#4 – Vanderbilt by Abderson Cooper and Katherine Howe
#5 – Dare to Lead by Brené Brown
#6 – Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
#7 – Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
#8 – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
#9 – Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkman
#10 – Flying Blind by Peter Robison

I presented my synopsis of this book early in 2019

I presented my synopsis of this book early in 2019

You can purchase our synopses presentations from the buy synopses tab at the top of this page.  On that page, you can search by book title. And click here for our newest additions.

Each synopsis comes with my comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, plus the audio recording of my presentation delivered at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.

Download the two Synopses Handouts for the Friday, January 7, 2022 First Friday Book Synopsis (over Zoom) — Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown and Rule of the Robots by Martin Ford

We are in Year #24 of our monthly gatherings.

Jan. 7, 2022 FFBS







Atlas of the Heart., cover

Click on image to download the two synopsis handouts

You are invited
First Friday Book Synopsis,
Friday, January 7, 2022, 7:00 am/7:25 am (Central Time), on Zoom.
I hope you can join us!

Meeting both In-person at the Park City Club
Click here to register.

On Zoom

Well over 100 people have been joining us on our “Remote” First Friday Book Synopsis gatherings. We have had participants from all over the country. Please share this word far and wide — all are welcome!

You are invited!

This Friday, January 7, 2022 – Zoom

Two Book Synopses: 

1. Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything by Martin Ford.

2. Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brené Brown.

Where: on ZOOM
When: This Friday, January 7 — presentations begin at 7:25 am (Central Time)
The presentation will conclude around 8:20 am
Speaker: Randy Mayeux will deliver both synopsis presentations.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 897 1213 8204
Passcode: 060540


We are all set for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis.

#1 — Download, and print both synopses handouts by clicking here.

If you have ever attended our event, you know that I am handout intensive. You really will be able to follow along better with physical copies of the handouts in front of you. So, if you have a printer, please print the handouts.

#2 — Come on in for conversation whenever you can. I have enabled the “enable join before host” button. You will arrive in the waiting room, and be let in quickly. So, you can come in, and talk to folks. (I will not be able to participate in the conversation on Zoom, but you all can).

#3 — Here is the info, with the link to join the gathering:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: First Friday Book Synopsis, 2022

Time: Jan 7, 2022 07:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 897 1213 8204
Passcode: 060540

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Reminder: The cost of this remote meeting is “free.”

But, if you would like to contribute to participate, Randy would welcome you to send $12.00 directly to him through PayPal. Click here for a direct link to “donate” through PayPal.

(Note: you can also send money through Zelle, at Randy’s e-mail address).

(Randy’s e-mail address for PayPal, and Zelle, is ).

Please help spread the word far and wide; help make this a success.


You might want to read this post. It has a printable one-sheet reminder on how to make the most of your remote learning experience.

Remote Learning 101 – Read this before attending your learning session.


Think Again by Adam Grant is my selection for the Business Book of the Year, 2021 — with some very good, very close runners-up

Think Again• Yet in a turbulent world, there’s another set of cognitive skills that might matter more: the ability to rethink and unlearn. 
• Questioning ourselves makes the world more unpredictable. It requires us to admit that the facts may have changed, that what was once right may now be wrong.

• Reconsidering something we believe deeply can threaten our identities, making it feel as if we’re losing a part of ourselves.  
• This book is about the value of rethinking. If you can master the art of rethinking, I believe you’ll be better positioned for success at work and happiness in life. Thinking again can help you generate new solutions to old problems and revisit old solutions to new problems.
• We laugh at people who still use Windows 95, yet we still cling to opinions that we formed in 1995.   
Adam Grant, Think Again


For 2021, my selection for the best business book of the year is Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know by Adam Grant.

But it really was a close contest.

For the last few years, I have made my own selection for the best business book of the year.  I do not make this selection from a comprehensive list of all business books published during the year.  This is my own selection, selected from among the books I presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis, in Dallas.  Now in our 24th year, each month we presented synopses of two books in 2021.  These books are carefully selected from book reviews, and best-sellers lists (especially the New York Times monthly list, and the constantly updated Amazon list).

Among books I selected in years past as the best business books were:Range

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin
Willful Blindness:  Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril by Margaret Heffernan
Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein.

All of these are still relevant, and absolutely worth reading.

My selection this year, Think Again by Adam Grant, is a powerful book for this simple reason:  you are very likely wrong about something, and you really should be ready to re-think your ideas, your strategies, your tactics, your positions.

You should learn the disciplined skill of “thinking again.”

I always include lessons and takeaways in my synopses.  Here was lesson and takeaway #3 from this presentation:

#3 – Seek to discover your own blindness – your own blind spots.

I think that if you read Think Again – slowly, carefully – you might be better able to do your own re-thinking.  And this could be quite useful.

{You can read my blog post about Think Again here: Think Again by Adam Grant – Here are my six lessons and takeaways).

Power of PressureBut, there were also some excellent “runners up” for this year:

The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism by Hubert Joly described how demonstrating love for all the members of the team really matters in a company’s success.  Mr. Joly was the CEO of Best Buy, leading the company through a remarkable turnaround, by really caring about his employees.

Humble Inquiry, Second Edition: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling (The Humble Leadership Series)  by Edgar H. Schein and Peter A. Schein is a remarkable book about listening well.  It champions empathy.

Change: How Organizations Achieve Hard-to-Imagine Results in Uncertain and Volatile Times by John P. Kotter, Vanessa Akhtar, Gaurav Gupta is a must-read about how to build an organization that finds ways to keep innovating.  A terrific book.

The Power of Pressure: Why Pressure Isn’t the Problem, It’s the Solution by Dane Jensen is the only book I bought as a gift for some of my friends.  It is about how to prepare for, and handle, and grow through, high-pressure moments and circumstances.  This is a needed book.Impact Players

Impact Players: How to Take the Lead, Play Bigger, and Multiply Your Impact by Liz Wiseman is an incredibly practicable book on how to make a greater impact in your work.  It is a career-building must-read book.

And, the more I have thought about the book, the more convinced I am that it contains insights that could be adapted, helping your overall organization have a greater impact.

(Note:  I recommend giving this book to every new employee in every organization.  Maybe, also, have them listen to my synopsis of this book).

Other really good books I presented were: 

Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire by Rebecca Henderson.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates

Just Work: Get Sh*t Done, Fast & Fair by Kim Scott.

The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World by Dorie Clark.

Each of these offers needed and useful insights and lessons.

I presented synopses of 23 books this year at our monthly event.  (Karl Krayer, my former colleague, presented one book also).  There was not a bad book throughout these selections.  But, if you made me choose the best book of the year, I would go with Think Again…by a narrow margin.


Go to the search box on this blog page, and type in the book title plus “lessons,” and you will find my blog post about the book.

You can purchase my synopses of each of these books.  Each comes with the pdf of my comprehensive, multi-page handout, and the audio recording of my presentation.

I have many synopses available Click on the buy synopses tab at the top of this web page to search by title. And click here for our newest additions.  (My synopsis for Impact Players will be added soon).

An open letter from Randy Mayeux – about the January 7 First Friday Book Synopsis

An open letter from Randy Mayeux

December 29, 2021


I want to ask you to make an extra effort to attend the January 7 First Friday Book Synopsis; in person, if you can.

Though our event will be both in-person and on Zoom, for the foreseeable future (really; from now on…), if you are “local” and can attend, I ask you to make an extra effort to do so on January 7.

It’s not just a new year; it is a first-time-back during the pandemic era.  We have not met in person since March, 2020, and many of us are definitely ready to be back in person.

I have been vaccinated, and boosted, and am being careful, wearing a mask except when I eat and speak.  (I have to take my mask off when I am giving a talk; I just can’t pull it off with the breathing challenges).

Seth Godin wrote a few years ago that we get what we support.  If we believe in the value of a gathering or group, we have to support it by our participation, or it will go away.

We consistently filled the room at the First Friday Book Synopsis sessions before the pandemic hit.  It would be great if we could come back with a large group; to start (again) strong.

{And, of course, if you cannot attend in person, I welcome you on Zoom.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate in any conversations on Zoom, either before or after the synopsis presentations.  But, you will be able to see and hear each of the two synopsis presentations, and as I have been doing, I will e-mail you the handouts’ link the day before the event so that you can print them out.  And, I suspect, you will enjoy having conversations with each other.

You do not need to register for the Zoom session.  There is no cost: but you can participate financially, if you so choose.  Details in the link below}.

If you can attend in-person, click here to register and pay.

If you cannot attend in person, click here for all the details; including the Zoom info.

I hope to see you; either in-person, or over Zoom.

Happy New Year!

Randy Mayeux
First Friday Book Synopsis

When:  January 7, 7:00 – 8:20 am
(Note:  especially for Zoom participants; the presentations at about 7:30).
Where:  The Park City Club, Dallas (University Park) – (and, on Zoom)