Posts Tagged ‘reading

11
Sep
14

full of knowledge or just full of it?

10347643_10154390695845296_5449585575170190089_nAs a publisher and personal-development enthusiast, I hear varied opinions about the influence of reading such material. Much to my surprise, I had two highly-successful individuals tell me on two separate occasions that they don’t read it. Their reasoning? They already know it.

While I agree there is nothing new under the sun, it’s also true that the facts don’t change; we change. When we deafen our ears and hearts at one time, at another we have the capacity to see through the glass darkly and be transformed.

Clifton Fadiman said, “When you re-read a classic, you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in yourself than there was before.” But if you already think you know it all, this continuous self-awareness is not an option.

If you have any issue going on in your life right now I implore you to open a book on the subject matter. Pain, like pleasure, has the capacity to get us to listen and to seek out the truth, to find a way to either eliminate the negative or accentuate the positive.

We are not programmed robots who perform based on a singular input. We are not “one and done.” It takes some of us a lifetime of hearing and re-hearing, reading and re-reading the same basic principles before they finally take hold. And even then it’s a constant discipline to make sure the transformation sticks.

Those who are genuinely high achievers know all too well how much they still have to learn. Muhammad Ali said, “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life”, and the legendary cellist Pablo Casals, when asked why he continued to practice at ninety years of age, replied, “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.” Don’t turn a blind eye to self-improvement. Chances are the more you think you know the more you have to learn.

04
Jun
14

Summer Reading Had Me a Blast!!

Summer Readin' (2)It’s almost the start of another summer vacation season filled with all kinds of schedule changes and time slots that need to be filled.

To paraphrase what my father said, “You’ll be the same person three months from now except for two things; the people you meet and the books you read.” Do you want to be a more tremendous version of yourself come fall? Do you want your friend’s jaws to drop when you reappear after summer break like John Travolta’s did when Olivia Newton-John completed her transformation in Grease?

Well, I’ve got just the ticket for you, and it doesn’t involve wearing spandex, having big/slick hair, or smoking cigarettes. I’m going to tell you how to really be too cool for school next fall. Well-a well-a well-a huh; Tell me more, tell me more!
Get a hold of your parents and review this Reading Contract with them. It originated when my father worked with my oldest brother, Jere, to instill in him a love of reading. You select books that teach, edify, and enhance your creativity, and agree on an amount of money to be paid for every book you read. No trash, please, because as you’ve probably already learned, trash in, trash out. For recommendations to get started, please check out our top titles listed here.

You’ll also have the chance to support some great organizations as you learn the tremendous power of tithing AND earning your own money!

My father went from zero to hero because of the books that he read. As a youth, he had no money, no role models, and no formal education. But he decided that reading was his ticket to everything he didn’t have and the rest is history!

Brian Tracy said, “To gain a competitive advantage in your career, read at least one hour per day in your chosen field. One hour a day will translate into approximately one book a week. One book a week will translate into approximately fifty books over the next twelve months. If you read an hour a day, one book per week, you will be an expert in your field within three years. Through continuous learning, you will be a national authority in five years, and you will be an international authority in seven years. All leaders are readers.”

So this summer, unplug the devices and engage your brain so you don’t find your summer days wastin’ away! Make the most of them by investing in yourself!! I can guarantee the rewards are slicker than Greased Lightning !

 

16
Oct
13

you’ll be the same person five years from now….

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Five years ago today my father triumphantly entered the gates of Heaven.  My mother and sisters and I all were with him when his soul left his body.  As C.S. Lewis said, “There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” And although my father lived each day as if it was the greatest adventure in the world, it was all because of his commitment to his faith in the absolute saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. His real joy came from the fact that he never, ever got over how God could love a wretch like him.

He always told me that I would be the same person five years from now except for the people I met and the books I read. With his return home, I was given the amazing opportunity to test this quote in a way I never had before. I can say with absolute conviction, that I am a completely different person than when I said my final goodbye to my father five years ago.

They say comparison is the thief of joy, so I knew that trying to “fill his shoes” would be an insult to both my earthly and heavenly fathers. I turned to 2 Kings 2 for my direction where Elisha picks up the mantel of ministry of Elijah and prayed for double the blessing; double the spirit of faith, obedience, and courage. I had no idea the transformation that was in store, nor did I have any idea of the ceaseless support of our friends and business colleagues.

Your constant encouragement, referrals, purchases and prayers enable us to donate money to 8 tremendous organizations: Bethesda Mission, Word of Life Ministries, Mennonite Disaster Service, Central Penn College, Lancaster Bible College, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region, Dayspring Christian Academy, and the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism.

Your constant prayers and support are what built the Charlie “T” Jones Conference Center. It is my prayer and hope that there are countless more interactions and books read in the years to come so that we, too, can leave a tremendous legacy. I smile whenever I walk into this facility because I could just imagine my father calling each of you all day long and holding marathon reading sessions in here.

This plaque allows everyone coming through these doors to know about the adventure upon which they are about to embark. Thank you for continuing to be such an integral part of this tremendous journey. It means more to me and my family and team members than words can say and we could not have carried on this mantle without you. People constantly cry out, “Where have all the great leaders gone?” and I answer with a tremendous shout, “They’re right here in front of me!”

03
Sep
13

If you build it they will come

_MG_9515It’s finally finished, the motivational Mecca in Mechanicsburg known as The Charlie “T” Jones Conference Center.  The decision to build this facility gelled from several areas. One of our strengths at Tremendous Life Books is that we are content rich, meaning that not only are we are the premier publisher of motivational material, but we also possess  the most tremendous network of friends, colleagues, authors and speakers thanks to the ceaseless work of our founder, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. As one of our top supporters, Jeffrey Gitomer, said, “People owe him a cosmic debt of gratitude.”

We also sought to capitalize on a very basic marketing principle: If you can’t get Mohammed to come to the Mountain, bring the Mountain to Mohammed. It’s much more effective for a book evangelist to bring the weary masses into our Conference Center and put on a soiree of nourishment for the body, mind, and soul, than to set up individual meetings or sales calls. The synergy of various laymen and business people sharing a book that changed their lives or turned their company around is infinite.

As a bureaucratic refugee, I am also a convert to the power of small and medium-sized businesses. They drive the world, the labors of the few, driven to actively pursue their goals, with the entrepreneurial freedom to do so. I want a place where they can find refuge, an oasis in the sea of expensive venues that gouge us for every drop of electricity we drain out of the wall.  I also wanted a much more intimate setting as my personal experience is that that’s where the magic happens. Small groups of people meeting face to face accomplish tremendous things.

And lastly, we built a conference center to honor two things: the people we meet _MG_9556and the books we read. Those who predict the future demise of books and face-to-face interaction have totally missed the boat. Books will never die and the interaction of human beings will never be replicated, I don’t care what technology we have. I’ve learned a lot in my first half-century of years as I lived all over the world and for decades sought out the next great job or title. Life isn’t about experiencing things, it’s about developing you to become the best version of yourself so you can go out and positively impact others.

We had our soft launch in August. The room was packed for the opening two nights and the speaker shared how reading just 15 minutes a day changed his life and made him what he is today. September is slated to continue bringing them in. We’ve got three book signings scheduled, a training session by one of our authors, a corporate day-long retreat, and two chamber mixers. These events will bring in hundreds of people intent on sharing their tremendous experiences with each other and, of course, buying more books. I cannot even imagine the seeds that will be sown by these individuals and cannot fathom what type of harvest they will reap. But I do know one thing: I am beyond humbled to be a part of it. If you have ever supported us in any way, words alone will never be able to thank you because you are why we were able to build it and why they will come.

You can check out all of our tremendous upcoming Charlie “T” Jones Conference Center events on our website. Hope to see you there!

08
Aug
13

Leakproof Leadership: The Security of Character

characterYou can’t go one second without the news of some major lapse in character from someone so trusted by the public that they definitely should have known better. We all know man is flawed and the good book says his heart is wicked beyond description, but here are three ways to stay above the fray and keep your character and integrity in check. Seems like we all could use a refresher course in integrity so, just in time for back-to-school, it’s the three R’s:

Responsibility:  Peter Drucker said, “Leadership is not magnetic personality. It is not making friends and influencing people. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights and raising performance to a higher standard.” Yet with every breach that’s broadcast, those in the perpetrator’s chain of command continue to circumvent and pass the buck. No one can be a rogue operator in your team because they are in your direct chain! Just because you didn’t know, or you turned a blind eye, does not absolve you of responsibility. You cannot dodge responsibility. Doing so only shows that you are truly unfit for leadership. To learn what lack of responsibility can cost, read A Ticking Time Bomb, by Joseph I. Lieberman, which painfully details the abject failure and gross negligence of the entire chain of command throughout Ft. Hood gunman Nidal Malik Hasan’s military career.

Respect: Elbert Hubbard said, “If you work for a man, in heaven’s name work for him! If he pays you wages that supply you your bread and butter, work for him, speak well of him, think well of him, stand by him and stand by the institution he represents. I think if I worked for a man I would work for him.” There’s an old adage that says a wise traveler never despises his own country. Now I have worked for some pretty despicable organizations, but while I was working for them I worked as hard as possible to uphold their standards, even if my own bosses did not. You see, no one can make you do anything illegal, immoral, or unethical. If your employer tries to make you do such things, you need to seek employment elsewhere and use the chain of command to bring it to the attention of others. To respond in kind to their behavior is unacceptable. Two wrongs never make a right. Recent examples of this are found in headline names such as Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and Edward Snowden.

Reading: Oscar Wilde said, “What you read when you don’t have to determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” Let’s face it, you are what you read. If you are not reading books that help you grown and realize your own personal convictions and develop your courage, you are wasting your time. What a person has on the bookshelf is a far better indicator of what’s really gong on inside them than any polygraph. You can lie through your teeth to your boss and he may never suspect otherwise. But your actions will eventually reflect exactly what is going on at the core of your character.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton said, “Self-development is a higher duty than self-sacrifice.” To learn more about the virtues of reading in a leader’s life check out the Top 8 Ways to Unleash Success at Your Company. All leaders are readers. If you’re not reading personal development material, you’re not leading. It’s that simple.

One of my favorite reads is John C. Maxwell’s, There’s No Such Thing as “Business” Ethics. He’s right. The bottom line is that only commitment can ensure compliance. No amount of non-disclosure, background checks or polygraphs can do that. If your character isn’t totally squared away to the point that you are ready to fall on your sword to protect what is moral, ethical, and legal, then you’d better not accept one iota of responsibility. Leakproof leadership is based on choosing your thoughts and actions based upon your values and not upon personal gain. Your convictions mirror your character. So take a good look at yourself in the mirror to make sure you are fit to report for leadership duty!

25
Apr
13

For a good time call 1-800-233-BOOK!

bookloveI was at an event yesterday beaming with pride as I stood behind the table of life-changing books we published this year. As one individual browsed the table I chimed in with my tremendous elevator pitch about how Tremendous Life Books was the leading publisher of motivational, inspirational, and personal-development material. The browser took a sweeping and critical look across the perfectly-staged books and responded, “Oh, you don’t have any fun ones.”

Interesting; certainly not a response I was expecting. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but “not fun” was never one of them. It’s true that we don’t have the bodice-ripping, gun-shooting, car-wrecking, blood-sucking, wand-waving, heavy-breathing fiction that litters the bestseller lists; but we’ve got books written by dogs for crying out loud! How fun is that? We’ve published a plethora of books on the importance of humor in communication. Oscar Wilde said, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”

You see, I believe that reading is a lot like sex. If you’re not having fun, you’rebookloveheart not doing it right. Forget about the job and the marriage. You’re the only thing you truly have in the world so you’d better learn to have a good time finding ways to make yourself the best and most highly-motivated version of yourself can possibly be! Then, and only then, can you fully enjoy personal and professional relationships to the max.

Hey, I like fiction too. Science fiction is my preferred genre. But I can’t live on it. The fantasy leaves me feeling empty and wanting more when I wake up the next day. Personal development books, on the other hand, make me feel like we’re in a lifelong commitment together. They have meat on their bones and give me something strong to hold on to, not just a good time. They are my soul books and let me know I’m amazing. They say the mind is the sexiest thing on a man or a woman, so why not take some time to work on that and have some real fun!!

01
Feb
13

Up from Slavery—The Freedom to Read by Aamir Musharraf

bookfreepeopleToday, February 1st, we celebrate our freedom to read. On this date in 1865 President Abraham Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing slavery. Lest we forget, for slaves, learning to read had been forbidden. Some slaves who dared to become literate were punished by having a finger chopped off in front of the whole slave community. Or worse. The following extracts from the 1833 Alabama Slave Code were once the law of the land in that state:

  • Section 31 – “Any person or persons who attempt to teach any free person of color, or slave, to spell, read, or write, shall, upon conviction thereof by indictment, be fined in a sum not less than two hundred and fifty dollars, nor more than five hundred dollars.”
  • Section 32 – “Any free person of color who shall write for any slave a pass or free paper, on conviction thereof, shall receive for every such offense, thirty-nine lashes on the bare back, and leave the state of Alabama within thirty days thereafter…”
  • Section 33 – “Any slave who shall write for any other slave, any pass or free-paper, upon conviction, shall receive, on his or her back, one hundred lashes for the first offence, and seven hundred lashes for every offence thereafter…”

Alabama’s lawmakers understood the power of literacy. They knew that it was a gateway to human liberty; therefore, they forbade it.

It’s been 148 years since such laws were abolished, yet many of us “choose” not to read. We give up reading after we finish school. This is a travesty. The old adage, “knowledge is power”, is even more relevant in today’s information-based society. Reading is the key to our success as individuals and as a nation. Not to exercise our right to read is like choosing slavery. Reading is the one vehicle that propels our lives forward. Reading is the spark that ignites the cylinders of thinking, and powers the engines of expression and creation. Reading great books transfers knowledge directly to the heart and unleashes the will to act. Reading tremendous books inspires provoking thoughts, which lead to understanding, happiness, and achievement. It works like magic. History bears testimony to ordinary people who accomplished the extraordinary through the magic of reading. People like Abraham Lincoln, whose formal education consisted of only about a year’s worth of classes. He was a self-taught man who used the power of books to succeed.

Read! We still have 333 days left to accomplish tremendous things in 2013.  We can make a difference. We can change ourselves and the world one book at a time.

31
Jan
13

read to succeed

motivationalbooksdangerous

Books, books, good for the soul

The more you read the more you know.

The more you know, the more you achieve

So read great books, if you want to succeed!

 

Do you know how much reading it takes to make a difference in your life? A few words are all it takes; and then a few more words and pretty soon you’re spouting this stuff off in meetings or to friends and they are marveling at your brilliant insights.

If you are paid to manage people or to lead a team; if you have direct reports; if you are responsible for getting the resources of various people garnered toward one common goal, then listen very carefully: Reading is not an option for you.  Those under you leadership depend on your judgment and your wisdom to lead them to their individual and collective success.

Do you want to improve? Do you want to improve the lives and status of those under you? If the answer is no, my advice is to immediately go to your HR or supervisor’s office and resign. There are two ways to learn at work : through On-the-Job Training and through the influence of various bosses, co-workers, and subordinates. In short, the people you meet and the books you read.

If you immerse yourself in corporate manuals, instructions, and regulations you become knowledgeable and this is good. But anyone who’s ever sat in the leadership chair for one minute knows that productivity has more to do with how you influence people for the good of the company than with any individual interpretation of a corporate document.

I can remember as a young Captain in the Air Force when a crew chief came up to me. I knew the regulations cold and could recite them in my sleep. We had the best statistics of any unit in the Department of Defense. But when he casually told me that people knew that I was really smart, but sometimes the problem was in how I came across, that bullet went straight to the heart.

You see, people really don’t care what they know until they know you care. I used to think such mantras were touchy-feely hogwash for people who weren’t very smart.  Chalk one up to immature leadership skills. Thank goodness I realized that knowing how to do a job let’s you drive it, but knowing why drives you! And once you’re in the driver’s seat, you can take the team exactly where they need to go with a much smaller chance of wrecks and detours.

So here’s a great way of showing your team that you’re not only a smart, but a very enlightened leader that is intent on truly making the work environment a place of growth and encouragement. Check out our Corporate Read to Succeed Program. For ten dollars per month per employee, you can all learn and think together and find ways to take your establishment to a whole new level! And check out some of the comments by trainers, managers, and speakers that have already seen the transformational power of books at work in their organizations!

14
Jun
12

the father i never knew

My father, the late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones, said that he knew Abraham Lincoln better than Lincoln’s own mother. He made this bold statement due to the amount of material he read that Lincoln himself had written. I thought this comment was a bit exaggerated (how could anyone know anyone better than their own mother?) until I found myself in a similar situation.

I traveled extensively with my father growing up. He took me with him on his business trips whenever possible and throughout summer breaks from school.  He was 36 years old when I was born so he had made his mark in the insurance industry and was off on his own as an entrepreneur publishing and motivating. At 18, I left central PA for 28 years to see the world and find my own place in it. During the decades I lived away from home I saw my father at meetings, over the holidays, in print, or on video.  I knew he was successful at what he did, but I was off to earn my own stripes.

 I returned in 2009, three months after my father had triumphantly entered the gates of heaven, to pick up where he had left off. Since then, I have had the poignant pleasure of going through every note, piece of paper, doodle, airline ticket, and journal he had ever written. To say I know my father in a whole new light is an understatement. My father always loved the written word because he said it had no tone and passed no judgment. You took from it what you needed to hear.  It spoke to your heart whereas people had a tendency to speak to your ear.

The same is true as I go through his mountains of material. There’s nothing he hadn’t said to me in person, but now I get to read it for myself without any childhood moods, teen angst, or adult drama. As I sift through the piles I see how he hustled to get his speaking career off the ground, often speaking for free or to very small audiences. I see first-hand how he would always look for local churches, schools, and prisons wherever he traveled so he could go there after his paid speech was completed. I see how he met each and every person before and after each speaking engagement to thank them for their smile and to give them a hug.

He worked so hard. He dealt with so much rejection. He was such an encourager to so many people. He was so authentic. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999, when he was 70 years old, but that didn’t stop him from living the next 10 years at a pace and with a passion not previously seen. I remember him telling me that the 70’s were the best years of his life. And there again I was sifting though letters, and articles, and speeches all validating exactly what he told me.

He pushed until his last breath. He ran the race like I could not imagine someone would. I know this because I saw his last written letters scribbled from his hospice bed.

I am so glad I got the chance to know my father in a way I never had before. I finally understand so much of the father/daughter dynamic and what he was trying to do with his life through the business. And although I miss him desperately each day, the fact that I get to read about him over and over again as I go through his material makes it seem like he’s not even gone.

On this Father’s Day, for those of you whose fathers have passed on, there’s still the chance to get to know them in a way you never did before. I can honestly say that I know my father better now than when he was living.

06
Jun
12

will you autograph my kindle?

As a publisher the number one question I get asked is, when books go the way of the dinosaur will I have to live in a van down by the river? What will I do with myself when books are no longer relevant; that if I don’t change my antiquated ways, I’ll wind up left on the floor like an overexposed negative, like the Kodak Corporation.

The publishing industry, like everything else on the planet, is in a constant state of flux.  But adapting to change does not mean you abandon what’s been a mainstay of civilization alongside other great inventions like fire and the wheel. The written word isn’t here just to entertain us; it’s what makes us human.

As a purveyor and publisher of the written word, I went with great anticipation, and a little bit of trepidation, to Book Expo America (BEA) held annually in NYC. If you’re a book lover, this is the closest thing to heaven on earth. Every publisher was on site along with their newest releases, their best and bestselling authors, winding lines of ecstatic fans, a kaleidoscope of colors, tons of touchable textures, tremendous and tantalizing topics; it was like a candy store for your brain!!

There were books everywhere!! And yes, I mean physical books, not virtual books. There were even hardcovers, which I had been told where a dying breed due to their size and shipping cost. But here they stood in their brilliant and gleaming dust jackets, drawing me closer and closer until I had no choice but to pick them up and look inside! There’s something about meeting the real thing in person….just ask anyone who’s ever done any Internet dating.

I publish physical books. I also have everything we publish converted to an electronic format. But the fish aren’t biting the virtual food. Our clientele like to give books away as much as they like to read them. How would you feel about parting with your Kindle or Nook after reading a book that changed your life so someone else could do the same? Don’t think that’s going to happen.

There were some digital publishers represented, the vast majority of floor space, by far, was devoted to traditional publishing houses where there were scores of people picking up the physical product. The children’s section was the most fun. Can a child get the same excitement by holding a Kindle in bed with their parent? There just aren’t enough sides to it to share, are there?

I got to read a book about sharks that had real shark teeth in it! I got to hold a book that had science fiction pop-up pictures! I even got to hold a stuffed animal that represented the main character in the book I had picked up! You see, books aren’t just for the eye to behold. There’s a whole other plethora of senses that are stimulated when you read a physical book. You can hear sounds, smell scents, touch fabric, and the coolest of all, see lenticular 3-D pictures!

And then I turned the corner and saw the beloved coffee table books, huge, glossy, gorgeous collections of galaxies, art, castles, dogs, everything under sun; the perfect accessory to any room and able to match any décor.

Think of reading a book like ordering a bowl of delicious, nutritious soup. I don’t care if you slurp it from a spoon, suck it through a straw, or gulp straight from the bowl itself. As long as you are getting fed, it’s all good, the delivery method matters not.

Books are here to stay. And book lovers are the ones who will shape and change the world as long as time exists. So let’s not argue over whether we are Kindle spirits when all that matters is that we are kindred spirits. We share a common love, a passion for reading and thinking. So if you don’t see me in a van down by the river, I’ll be poring over some transformational manuscript and evolving into a more tremendous version of me!




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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