Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on YouTube

Life can be compared to an IQ test. It’s a series of difficult problems that you need to solve with limited time, resources, and information. 

Winning in life requires avoiding catastrophic moves that forfeit all your previous hard work. 

That’s why books like The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking are worth reading. It provides profound ideas that, if embraced, can significantly improve your decision-making skills. The book is highly practical, offering concrete examples of how to apply the information in daily life. 

In this podcast, I’m sharing my top 10 key takeaways. 

“Can you recommend a book for…?”

“What are you reading right now?”

“What are your favorite books?”

I get asked those types of questions a lot and, as an avid reader and all-around bibliophile, I’m always happy to oblige.

I also like to encourage people to read as much as possible because knowledge benefits you much like compound interest. The more you learn, the more you know; the more you know, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more opportunities you have to succeed.

On the flip side, I also believe there’s little hope for people who aren’t perpetual learners. Life is overwhelmingly complex and chaotic, and it slowly suffocates and devours the lazy and ignorant.

So, if you’re a bookworm on the lookout for good reads, or if you’d like to get into the habit of reading, this book club for you.

The idea here is simple: Every month, I’ll share a book that I’ve particularly liked, why I liked it, and several of my key takeaways from it.

I’ll also keep things short and sweet so you can quickly decide whether the book is likely to be up your alley or not.

Alright, let’s get to the takeaways.


0:00 – Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe and leave a comment!

9:47 – Why did you like this book?

11:41 – What are your takeaways?

13:55 – Midroll Ad

Mentioned on the Show:

Save up to 50% during our Spring Sale! Go to and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% on any non-sale items or get double reward points!

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Hello, hello, and welcome to another episode of Muscle Four Life. I am your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for another book club episode where I discuss a book that I liked enough to want to recommend it to others. I. Often get asked for book recommendations or people want to know what book or books I’m reading right now.

And so I thought every month or so I would come here on the podcast and share a book that I’ve really liked, why I liked it, and some of my key takeaways from it, some of the key learnings. And so today’s book, Is the Five Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward Berger and Michael Starbird. Kind of a cool last name.

And this book teaches you how to become a better problem solver and critical thinker, and that then teaches you how to live a better. Life. I read books on a rotation. I follow a rotation of genres. I actually have two rotations because I have a personal column in my little spreadsheet of stuff that I’m just personally interested in or that is related to improving as a person.

And then I also have business. So I have a rotation of genres related to business. And for anyone listening who is interested here, let me pull it up and I’ll share, although I actually do need to work these over and I’ll explain why. But for some time, my work genres, the rotation has been marketing slash persuasion.

So I would read one or two books related to marketing slash persuasion before. Moving on to the next, the Next Business slash Work slash Leadership. The Next Health and Fitness, the next Art slash Creativity slash. And the final master work, which to me just means books on how to create really good work, how to do extraordinary things, how to create extraordinary products and services and experiences for others.

How to be the best, I guess, and do the best. And then on the personal side of things, biography slash history, be smarter slash better fiction slash literature slash poetry, and then financial slash miscellaneous. And so what I do is I read one or two books in. Let’s say I’m starting with Marketing slash Persuasion, so I’ll read one or two books related to Marketing slash Persuasion, and first I will look through any book summaries that are available through like Insta Read or Blinkist or get Abstract or others before I read the book.

And if. I don’t like the summary. If I don’t find myself making highlights in the summary, or if the summary is not really selling me on reading the book, I skip it. I only read books, particularly with work because there are so many books that you can read about marketing slash persuasion, business slash work slash leadership and so on.

And once you’ve read the classics that are time proven and that are often very good, it can be frustrating to. Find a, a new book. It’s a New York Times bestseller. All these people have many great things to say about it. You read it and you’re a hundred pages in and you’ve made, you know, a handful of highlights and you’ve wasted time.

And I am willing to quit a book if it’s not worth continuing, but I am resistant to it. I’m just the kind of person who likes to finish things that I begin. And so again, first I look for a book summary. I check that. And if I like that enough, then I will actually read the book. And that system has worked out well for me in that it helps me weed out the clunkers.

So I’ll read one or two books about marketing slash persuasion, and then I’ll flip over to my personal column. So let’s say that starts with biography slash history, and I’ll read one or two books related to those genres, and then I’ll come back to work. And the next one on work is Business slash work slash leadership.

Go back to personal. The next there is be smarter slash better, and I generally just follow my rotation unless circumstances dictate deviation. Sometimes there are opportunities in my work. Or in my businesses that I want to read about and learn about quickly because there’s a window of opportunity here.

And so I might end up jumping from, you know, one genre. Down a couple or up one, or I might read more than one or two books on something if I really want to learn about it more deeply because of urgency. But generally I just kind of stick to my rotations and those rotations reflect my priorities in my work and my interests in my work and my priorities and interests in my personal life.

And I mentioned that I’m gonna be reworking these. And that’s on my, my list of things to do this week because of where my businesses are at. I’m not sure. For example, it makes sense for me to continue reading about marketing slash persuasion, even though I like those topics to achieve the goals that I want to achieve in my work and with my businesses over the next few years.

Doesn’t require me to know more about marketing and to be an even better marketer. I’ve read scores and scores of marketing books at this point, and I’ve done a lot of marketing and I’ve reached a certain level of competence and I, I do think that, The level that I’ve reached is more than sufficient to achieve my shorter term work slash business goals, and therefore it does not make sense to weight that genre as equally as my business slash work slash leadership.

Bucket, which can encompass many different types of books, of course, but which will be more heavily weighted toward strategy and toward growing the value of the business, which doesn’t necessarily mean just growing the business with marketing activities or business growth activities. There is more that goes into creating a very.

Business than simply making sales or even simply making sales in profit. And again, that shift is, is because circumstances are different. Now, I’m no longer the quote unquote CEO of Legion. I’m really just the founder of Legion and I’m not very involved in the day-to-day operations. I do have a regular rhythm of meetings and so forth to be as involved as I need to.

And to be kept up to date on important things. But my role outside of Legion, of course, is creating content writing in the next book, recording podcasts, doing social media things, email marketing, blah, blah, blah. But in the context of Legion, the most value I think I can bring is more strategic in character because now there, there is a fairly large team.

80 to 90 of us. Now, if you include full-time and part-time employees, we have a lot of people who can do a lot of things, and we have done a good job over the years creating strategic plans and executing on them. But the business is big enough now that even slightly better strategic. Plans can result in disproportionately better results.

And so if I look at my understanding of business strategy, it’s not bad because I have read a fair number of books over the years regarding business strategy, and I do have a fair amount of experience doing business strategy. But I would say that I know far more about marketing and. Than I do business strategy.

I’m a much better marketer and salesperson than business. Ians probably not a word, but you get what I’m saying. And so I will be updating my genre rotation for work to reflect that and some other. Changes that necessitate change in how I am spending my time educating myself. And on the personal side of things, probably nothing will change there now that I look at it, but I guess I’ll, I’ll think about it after I fix up my.

Work rotation. And so anyway, that was a long tangent. Hopefully you found it at least a little bit helpful. That’s why I shared it. And the book that I’m gonna be talking about in today’s episode is one of my. Be better slash smarter books in my personal rotation. So this Five Elements of Effective Thinking Book.

And I liked it because in some ways I think you can liken life to a big IQ test. It’s, it’s a long series of problems. Some of them. Simpler, some of them more difficult that you have to solve and you often have limited time and you have limited information and you have limited money and you have limited other resources.

And that’s one of the reasons why living a good life is difficult and why many people struggle to get there. And I think you could work in an analogy to chess as well, because to win in life, you don’t just have to make far more good move. Than bad moves. You have to also never make certain catastrophic moves because those are the ones that forfeit all of the advantages of all of your previous moves, if not the game altogether.

So it’s not just like an IQ test where you can get several questions horribly wrong and pick the wrongest answer in the, let’s say it’s multiple choice and still score quite. No. In life there are certain scenarios that the wrongest answer produces Cal. And so books like The Five Elements of Effective Thinking are Worth Reading and Internalizing.

And the three primary reasons I enjoyed this book and I am featuring it here, are one delivers a high amount of value per page, which is crucial with any non-fiction reading. Ultimately, that’s what we’re going for these. This is a how-to book. We want to know how to get better. So give me a lot. Meat. We don’t want an interesting idea, something that we highlight, followed by 10 pages of boring anecdotes or unnecessarily detailed descriptions of scientific research.

So many self-help books in particular have just been way over extended with too much boring and useless minutia and stories. This book is not one of those books, so I appreciated that. This book also contains a number. I thought pretty profound ideas that if truly embraced, can really produce a quantum leap in your ability to make winning decisions.

And third, this book is highly practical and it gives a lot of concrete examples of how you can immediately apply the information in your life. And that’s helpful because many people, and this has been shown in scientific research, they struggle to go from abstract theory, abstract principles that they underst.

Theoretically they understand them intellectually. Two, actual implementation to action items, things that they can do right now to put that principle into use in their life in a specific situation. So it always helps when a book like this, Gives a number of those examples because even if the examples don’t directly apply to your life, they spark ideas.

They help you bridge that chasm, so to speak, from theory to practical. Okay, so let’s get to my top 10 takeaways from this book. The first one is quote, often we are persuaded by authority and repetition rather than by evidence and reality. Two. One profound habit of thinking individuals is to first acknowledge their biases and then intentionally overcome them asking challenging questions Can.

Passionately argue an issue from the opposite point of view and ask probing in difficult questions that challenge your original stance. Be brutally honest and see what’s actually there rather than what’s expected. Get in the habit of asking, do I really know and refuse to accept assertions blindly?

Number three, there is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all, and that was a quote from Peter Trucker. Four solutions to little problems generate solutions to great problems. Five, good progress is often the herald of great progress. Six. Do you or don’t you truly know the basics?

Consider a subject you think you know, or a subject you’re trying to master. Open up a blank document on your computer without referring to any outside sources. Write a detailed outline of the fundamentals of the. Can you write a coherent, accurate, and comprehensive description of the foundations of the subject?

Or does your knowledge have gaps? Do you struggle to think of core examples? Do you fail to see the overall big picture that puts the pieces together? Seven, the simple and familiar hold, the secrets of the complex and unknown. The depth with which you master the basics influences how well you understand everything you learn after.

Eight. You can’t always get it right, but you can always get it wrong and learn something. Get to failure fast. Nine. The goal is not to make stupid obvious mistakes. Good mistakes lead to insights that lead to workable solutions and good results. 10. Don’t try to create something great, create something bad, and then make it.

If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, please do consider supporting my sports nutrition company Legion, because while you don’t need supplements to build muscle, lose fat and get healthy, the right ones can help. And that’s why over 350,000 discerning fitness folk have chosen Legion.

Well, there’s that and there’s our 100% natural products, our clinically effective ingredients and doses, and our Noha. Money back guarantee. But wait, there’s more. Because right now Legion is holding its big annual spring sale. We do this once per year, and that means you can save up to 50% on some of our most popular products, including our protein powders, our pre-workout, our post-workout, our fat burners, multivitamin, joint support, and more.

So if any of that sounds interesting to you, skedaddle on over to buy, B u i Legion dot. And take advantage of these savings before something that you might want runs out of stock. I know, I know. But seriously, every big site-wide sale we do, Legion does a few of them per year results in at least a flavor or two or three or a product variation or two or three running out of stock.

And we’ve tried to prevent that from happening with fancy software that does fancy analy. But those analyses were never right, and so now we’ve just accepted it. We do our best to keep everything in stock, but every single time there’s some inexplicable surge in demand for certain flavors, certain variations, and so all of that is to say again, just head over to buy now.

Lock in your order. Lock in your savings. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.

And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you. Uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for, muscle f o r and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.

View Complete Transcript