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

“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.

Mentioned on The Show:

Books by Mike Matthews

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


Hey, this is Mike from Muscle for Life, and I’m often asked about books. People ask me for book recommendations on various topics. They ask me what book I am currently reading, and what books I have recently read, and what my favorite books are, and so forth. And as an avid reader, I am always happy to oblige and get some book recommendations in return as well.

I also just like to encourage people to read as much as possible because I think that knowledge benefits you much like compound interest benefits your bank account in that the more you learn the more you know and the more you know the more you can do and the more you can do the more opportunities you have to succeed.

And on the flip side I also believe that there is little hope for people who aren’t perpetual learners. I know that might sound a little bit pessimistic or cynical to you, but let’s face it, life is overwhelmingly complex and chaotic. And if we look around, we can find plenty of evidence that it simply suffocates and devours the lazy and ignorant.

So if you are a bookworm and you’re on the lookout for good reads, or if you’d like to just get into the habit of reading more, then this book club is for you. The idea is very simple. Every week I’m going to share a book that I’ve particularly liked and I’m going to tell you why I liked it and give you several of my key takeaways from it.

I’m also going to keep these episodes short and sweet so you can quickly decide whether or not a book is likely to be up your alley or not. Now, before we get to the show, If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me help more people get into the best shape of their lives, please consider picking up one of my best selling health and fitness books.

I have bigger leaner, stronger for men, thinner, leaner, stronger for women. I have a flexible dieting cookbook called The Shredded Chef, as well as a 100 percent practical hands on blueprint for personal transformation called The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation. These books have sold well over a million copies.

And have helped thousands of people build their best body ever. And you can find them on all major online retailers like Amazon, Audible, iTunes, Kobo, and Google play, as well as in select Barnes and Noble stores. So again, that’s bigger, leaner, stronger for men. Thinner Leaner Stronger for Women, The Shredded Chef, and The Little Black Book of Workout Motivation.

Oh, and I should also mention that you can get any of my audiobooks for free when you sign up for an Audible account, which is the perfect way to make those purchases. Little pockets of downtime, like commuting, meal prepping, dog walking, and cleaning. A bit more interesting, entertaining, and productive.

And if you want to take Audible up on that offer and get one of my audiobooks for free, just go to legionathletics. com slash Audible. Audible and it’ll forward you over and then you can sign up for your account. Okay. Let’s get to the featured book, which is steal like an artist by Austin Cleon. Now, many people who are looking to do better in life, skip over.

this book because they’re not an artist, but they are missing out on a short and insightful read that I think everyone can benefit from. There is practical advice in this book on how to be more creative, of course, but also how to be more productive, more successful, more satisfied, resilient, and Joyful, and Austin’s simple and warm tone helps it all go down easy, like mom’s gravy and potatoes.

Now, if you generally don’t go in for books like this because you don’t think of yourself as a creative person, you can change that, and very easily. You can change it by just exercising your imagination, using your creative intelligence. And, as with anything, that’s The more you do that, the better you get at it.

And that is not some small thing. That is really the big secret to being a more creative thinker, a more creative problem solver, and a more creative artist, if that is your thing. The key here being putting in the reps, doing the work. Now, why bother with that, you might be wondering, if you’re not an artist, because life is essentially an IQ test.

It is a long and complex series of problems to solve, and the stronger our creativity muscle is, the better we will fare at the test. So, look at it this way. Nearly every problem we have ever had, and will ever have, has a solution. If we are creative enough, we can find a way past it. Now, it might not be the solution we want, but it’ll be a solution.

It might not be something that is easy or enjoyable to do, but who cares? Who said that it would be, or even should be, easy and enjoyable? No matter how difficult or daunting our circumstances might be, a flash of creativity, of creative intelligence will always reveal something we can do about it.

Whether we do anything or not. is on us, but there’s always a solution. Everything is figureoutable. So if you want to squeeze more nectar out of your life, if you want more sensation, more love, more enthusiasm, action, cooperation, and purposiveness, You want to hone your creative instincts, and this book is a good place to start.

It will help you move in that direction. So, let’s get to my five key takeaways from this book. The first one, quote, You have to be curious about the world in which you live. Look things up. Chase down every reference. Go deeper than anybody else. That’s how you’ll get ahead. Now, my note here is This is one of the simple secrets to doing great work, taking greater pains than everyone else, scrutinizing every idea, attending to every detail, polishing every inch.

A good example of this is in the Star Wars Archives book, the big thick book from Tashin, I believe. George Lucas explained that This mindset, this approach was a crucial element to how he created not just a movie to watch, or movies to watch in the case of the original three Star Wars movies, but an alternate reality to enter.

So here’s what he said, quote, One thing I learned from Kurosawa, who was a Japanese filmmaker that he really liked, is to try and instill an immaculate reality and attention to detail that makes it real. Whether you’ve got dust or a rattling thing on the side of the ship, that adds another little element to it that keeps it looking real.

What that does is say you believe where you are, no matter where you are. I think I accomplished that. People think are places are real. There’s never a sense of, oh, I’m watching a science fiction movie, and that is why Lucas. Carefully created every object in every frame of his iconic movies. Every character, every creature, costume, fork, napkin, tray, fixture, gun, chair, gadget, everything.

Alright, takeaway number two, quote, Draw the art you want to see, start the business you want to run, play the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read, build the products you want to use. Do the work. You want to see done now, my note here is one of the surest routes to success in business is creating products and services that a solve your own problems or problems you once had and be that you want would like to use.

In other words, scratching your own itch and betting that others have the same hankering. Now, many people miss this key business insight and instead try to scratch itches they don’t understand. And sometimes that don’t even exist by chasing trends and creating stuff that resonates with nobody themselves included.

This never works. As Eric Ries says in the book, The Lean Startup, success is not delivering a feature. Success is learning how to solve the customer’s problem. So for instance, my foray into the fitness racket started with writing a simple book back in 2012 called Bigger, Leaner, Stronger. And this book contained what I wished someone would have just taught me back when I started.

I figured at the time, if I had this book that I was writing, I would have made far fewer mistakes, and I would have enjoyed far better results in far less time. It would have been much nicer. And I had spent enough time in gyms over the years to know that the same was true for many other guys as well.

And so I wrote the book and published it and it turned out I was right. My itches were not uniquely my own. Many other guys were trying to scratch the same areas. And today bigger, leaner, stronger is already one of the best selling fitness books of all time with over a half a million copies sold. Now I took the same approach.

with my sports nutrition company Legion as well. That company started with a simple question. What problems do I have with supplements and how can I solve them in a way that appeals to me? And again, I had interacted with enough people over the years, by the time I started to think about this, to know that I was not the only one.

with those problems and sensibilities. Okay, takeaway number three quote. It’s so important to have a hobby. A hobby is something creative that’s just for you. You don’t try to make money or get famous off it. You just do it because it makes you happy. A hobby is something that gives, but doesn’t take. So my note here is this appealed to me because I have gone for long stretches with no hobbies.

or really any activities at all to look forward to outside of work, working out and spending time with my kids and wife. And that type of life makes for a very highly productive existence, but also a rather monotonous one devoid of highs and lows. One that makes more dollars than cents. It’s like Living in a black and white movie.

You can get by, but eventually you yearn for some color. And I’ve found that the antidote is very simple. Fun. Just doing some stuff that’s fun because it’s fun. And a hobby is a fantastic way to do that because it’s also what Robert Green refers to as a live time where we are learning and acting and doing as opposed to dead time where we’re just passively consuming or.

Waiting. So for me, the fun hobby, fun activity I’ve chosen is golf, which is something that I give a few hours per week to and not only enjoy while I’m doing, but also anticipate throughout the week. I look forward to it, which is a powerful mood booster. And that in turn has enhanced my productivity and my relationships because it just puts me in a little bit better mood.

And when I have more time that I want to give to hobbies, I’ll probably take up something creative like drawing, which is something that I used to enjoy when I was younger. All right, takeaway number four. Quote, Hugh McLeod says, quote, The best way to get approval is to not need it. So my note here is, In his Journal his his little book meditations Marcus Aurelius said ambition means tying your well being to what other people say or do Sanity means tying it to your own actions In other words, we shouldn’t strive to please or impress others, but simply to live up to our own standards of what is right and admirable if we can do that We can achieve a peace of mind that is only possible through the self satisfaction that comes from doing our best to become the best we are capable of being.

This is something Warren Buffett has talked about. He has talked about an inner scorecard and an outer or external scorecard, and that too many people focus too much on the external scores in life, on merely the Winning and neglect the inner scores of how their efforts and how their actions match up with their standards with the best that they are capable of doing because winning is not the whole picture people can get lucky and win or exploit and abuse others and win or cheat and win.

Those with higher standards, however, are not just concerned with winning. They’re equally concerned with how they win. They win. So it’s not just the outcomes, but it’s how the outcomes are produced. To some people, an unearned win is actually less satisfying than an unlucky loss because they’re simply playing by a different scorecard than most others.

All right, takeaway number five quote. Establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time. So my note here is think of the relationship between time and routine like the sun and a magnifying glass. So to harness its power, Time must be concentrated and focused, and you do that with routine.

Otherwise, time just spills everywhere, touching everything and disturbing nothing. And this is why establishing and keeping a routine can be even more important than having a lot of time. With the right structure in your life, small stretches of time can be transformed into outsized achievements. And without The right structure, vast swaths of time can generate nothing but aimless chaos.

Remember, most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years if they just don’t stop. There is tremendous power in living a regular and orderly life. Routine can unlock your potential. Routine can set you free. All right, well that’s it for today’s episode.

I hope You found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, could you please leave a quick review for the podcast on iTunes or wherever you are listening from? Because those reviews not only convince people that they should check out the show, they also increase the search visibility.

and help more people find their way to me and to the podcast and learn how to build their best body ever as well. And of course, if you want to be notified when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and whatever app you’re using to listen, and you will not miss out on any of the.

New stuff that I have coming and last, if you didn’t like something about the show, then definitely shoot me an email at Mike at muscle for life. com and share your thoughts. Let me know how you think I could do this better. I read every email myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback. All right.

Thanks again for listening to this episode. And I hope to hear from you soon.

View Complete Transcript