Randall Payleitner

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What I Learned From the Seven Most Important Books I’ve Ever Read

When we read certain books at certain times in our lives they smack us right in the face. Had I read some of these books a few years earlier or later, they would have objectively been just as good, but perhaps they wouldn’t have had the impact on me that they did then.

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Book Review #12: Originals

The idea of this book, as far as I can tell, is to help the reader begin to see themselves as one who values originality. We ought not stifle it, run from it, belittle it, or talk trash about it, or else we’ll be relegated to the bin of history where the Polaroid camera, the Segway, and the video rental store reside.

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Editing and Writing Aren’t the Same Skill

Then I experienced being edited. I honestly don’t remember any specific changes that editor made to any of my pieces, but I do know they got shorter, clearer, and less inside my own head. Even though I didn’t realize it then, I think that’s when I decided (somewhere in the deep recesses of my brain) what I wanted to do. But was it writing or was it editing? And what was the difference?

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Where Books Usually Lose People

I was going to start writing about how to keep a reader interested in your book. How to make sure that page one is interesting enough for them to turn to page two, etc. But instead I thought it’d be more fun to flip the coin over and look at the places most readers usually check out… And then encourage the bookmakers of the world to address them with each aspect of their books.

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Book Review #11: Three Days in January

Two of the top 10 greatest speeches ever given by U.S. presidents were given within three days of each other. Eisenhower and Kennedy were politically, generationally, ideologically, and culturally opposed and yet they understood the magnitude of the day, the seriousness of the foe in communism, and the need to preserve one of America’s greatest strengths: the peaceful transition of power.

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Book Review #10: Winning

Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, focuses on helping anyone who works for any company succeed wherever they are. From getting promoted to dealing with terrible bosses to managing people to merging two companies together—Welch covers the gamut. He speaks and leads with specificity, which is refreshing in a land filled with used up generalities.

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How I Retain What I Read

I read mostly non-fiction. Over the years I’ve tried reading and retaining on my iPad (which mostly sits and gets dusty these days). I’ve listened to audiobooks, which I enjoy very much, but audiobook retention seems to be a hopeless case as well. These non-500 year old technologies are great for serial reading, but less great for actually remembering and referencing the content.

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Book Review #9: China Road

It was the early 2000’s—before the Beijing Olympics, but after the great migration from the country to the cities had begun. Gifford’s journey, more than any other modern road trip book I’ve read, encapsulates a very specific window of a country’s history. China was rising, but how fast? Could it sustain itself? Did it want to?

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