Wednesday, April 11, 2018

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Start With Why by Simon Sinek (Excerpts)

1. Just about every person or organization needs to motivate others to act for some reason or another. Some want to motivate a purchase decision. Others are looking for support or a vote. Still others are keen to motivate the people around them to work harder or smarter or just follow the rules. The ability to motivate people is not, in itself, difficult. It is usually tied to some external factor. Tempting incentives or the threat of punishment will often elicit the behavior we desire. General Motors, for example, so successfully motivated people to buy their products that they sold more cars than any other automaker in the world for over seventy-seven years. Though they were leaders in their industry, they did not lead.

Great leaders, in contrast, are able to inspire people to act. Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained. Those who truly lead are able to create a following of people who act not because they were swayed, but because they were inspired. For those who are inspired, the motivation to act is deeply personal.

2. If someone were to hold up a bank with a banana in his pocket, he would be charged with armed robbery. Clearly, no victim was in any danger of being shot, but it is the belief that the robber has a real gun that is considered by the law. And for good reason. Knowing full well that fear will motivate them to comply with his demands, the robber took steps to make his victims afraid. Fear, real or perceived, is arguably the most powerful manipulation of the lot.

3. If fear motivates us to move away from something horrible, aspirational messages tempt us toward something desirable. Marketers often talk about the importance of being aspirational, offering someone something they desire to achieve and the ability to get there more easily with a particular product or service. “Six steps to a happier life.” “Work those abs to your dream dress size!” “In six short weeks you can be rich.” All these messages manipulate. They tempt us with the things we want to have or to be the person we wish we were.

Though positive in nature, aspirational messages are most effective with those who lack discipline or have a nagging fear or insecurity that they don’t have the ability to achieve their dreams on their own (which, at various times for various reasons, is everyone).

4. People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it. This is the reason Apple has earned a remarkable level of flexibility. People are obviously comfortable buying a computer from Apple. But people are also perfectly comfortable buying an mp3 player from them, or a cell phone or a DVR. Consumers and investors are completely at ease with Apple offering so many different products in so many different categories. It’s not WHAT Apple does that distinguishes them. It is WHY they do it. Their products give life to their cause.

5. Dell came out with PDAs in 2002 and mp3 players in 2003, but lasted only a few years in each market. Dell makes good-quality products and is fully qualified to produce these other technologies. The problem was they had defined themselves by WHAT they did; they made computers, and it simply didn’t make sense to us to buy a PDA or mp3 player from them. It didn’t feel right. How many people do you think would stand on line for six hours to buy a new cell phone from Dell, as they did for the release of Apple’s iPhone? People couldn’t see Dell as anything more than a computer company.

6. Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful, but it is the only way to maintain a lasting success and have a greater blend of innovation and flexibility. When a WHY goes fuzzy, it becomes much more difficult to maintain the growth, loyalty and inspiration that helped drive the original success. By difficult, I mean that manipulation rather than inspiration fast becomes the strategy of choice to motivate behavior. This is effective in the short term but comes at a high cost in the long term.

7. Consider the experience of buying a flat-screen TV at your local electronics store. You stand in the aisle listening to an expert explain to you the difference between LCD and plasma. The sales rep gives you all the rational differences and benefits, yet you are still none the wiser as to which one is best for you. After an hour, you still have no clue. Your mind is on overload because you’re overthinking the decision. You eventually make a choice and walk out of the store, still not 100 percent convinced you chose the right one. Then you go to your friend’s house and see that he bought the “other one.” He goes on and on about how much he loves his TV. Suddenly you’re jealous, even though you still don’t know that his is any better than yours. You wonder, “Did I buy the wrong one?”

Companies that fail to communicate a sense of WHY force us to make decisions with only empirical evidence. This is why those decisions take more time, feel difficult or leave us uncertain. Under these conditions manipulative strategies that exploit our desires, fears, doubts or fantasies work very well. We’re forced to make these less-than-inspiring decisions for one simple reason—companies don’t offer us anything else besides the facts and figures, features and benefits upon which to base our decisions. Companies don’t tell us WHY.

8. Once you know WHY you do what you do, the question is HOW will you do it? HOWs are your values or principles that guide HOW to bring your cause to life. HOW we do things manifests in the systems and processes within an organization and the culture. Understanding HOW you do things and, more importantly, having the discipline to hold the organization and all its employees accountable to those guiding principles enhances an organization’s ability to work to its natural strengths. Understanding HOW gives greater ability, for example, to hire people or find partners who will naturally thrive when working with you.

9. I’d like to introduce you to our imaginary friend Brad. Brad is going on a date tonight. It’s a first date and he’s pretty excited. He thinks the woman he’s about to meet is really beautiful and that she makes a great prospect. Brad sits down for dinner and he starts talking.

“I am extremely rich.”

“I have a big house and I drive a beautiful car.”

“I know lots of famous people.”

“I’m on TV all the time, which is good because I’m good-looking.”

“I’ve actually done pretty well for myself.”

The question is, does Brad get a second date? (nope :)))

10. Now consider how most companies do business. Someone sits down across a table from you, they’ve heard you’re a good prospect, and they start talking.

“Our company is extremely successful.”

“We have beautiful offices, you should stop by and check them out sometime.”

“We do business with all the biggest companies and brands.”

“I’m sure you’ve seen our advertising.”

“We’re actually doing pretty well.”

11. Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not. Unless you give motivated people something to believe in, something bigger than their job to work toward, they will motivate themselves to find a new job and you’ll be stuck with whoever’s left.

12. The feeling of trust is lodged squarely in the same place as the WHY—the limbic brain—and it’s often powerful enough to trump empirical research, or at least seed doubt. This is the reason why so many manipulations are effective; we believe that, for better or worse, others know more than we do. Clearly, four out of five dentists know more than us when choosing chewing gum (but what about the one holdout . . . what did he know that the others didn’t?). Of course we trust the celebrity endorsement. Those celebs are rich and can use any product they want. It must be good if they are putting their reputation on the line to promote it, right?

You probably answered that question in your head already. Clearly they are endorsing the product because they are getting paid to. But if celebrity endorsements didn’t work, companies wouldn’t use them. Or perhaps it’s the fear that they “might” work that fuels the million-dollar wink and a smile that encourages us to choose one car over another or one lipstick over another. The fact is, none of us is immune to the effect of someone we know or feel like we trust influencing our decisions.

13.All the products and services that the company sells, all the marketing and advertising, all the contact with the world outside communicate this. If people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it, and if all the things happening at the WHAT level do not clearly represent WHY the company exists, then the ability to inspire is severely complicated.

14.In the course of building a business or a career, we become more confident in WHAT we do. We become greater experts in HOW to do it. With each achievement, the tangible measurements of success and the feeling of progress increase. Life is good. However, for most of us, somewhere in the journey we forget WHY we set out on the journey in the first place. Somewhere in the course of all those achievements an inevitable split happens. This is true for individuals and organizations alike.

15.Money is a perfectly legitimate measurement of goods sold or services rendered. But it is no calculation of value. Just because somebody makes a lot of money does not mean that he necessarily provides a lot of value. Likewise, just because somebody makes a little money does not necessarily mean he provides only a little value. Simply by measuring the number of goods sold or the money brought in is no indication of value. Value is a feeling, not a calculation. It is perception.

Continue reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek (Excerpts)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

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Chasing His Puma by Golden Angel (Personal Review)

Review -- Chasing His Puma, Golden Angel

To be honest, I'm kind of ashamed I'm starting to review books by the amazing Golden Angel beginning with this particular title. If you've checked out my website before, you know I am a huge fan of erotica because it relaxes me like no other genre. Sure, in many cases, the books from this genre are predictable, and if the writers don't have a lot of experience behind them, they can be poorly written.

But that is definitely not the case with Golden Angel's books. She is an amazing writer and I came to read one of her works by accident. I stumbled upon a freebie on Instafreebie and it's called Stripping the Sub. It was one of the most unique books I ever read that deals with BDSM, and I, of course, went on to read all of those that are part of the Stronghold Doms series, which I won't be able to forget too soon. I'm eagerly waiting for the next release, Hot Vanilla, which is said to come out somewhere in the month of October of this year (2018).

Seeing how I loved her writing so much, I came to the conclusion that I should give her other books a try, too. That's how I ended up getting the entire Bridal Discipline series for my Kindle (I have a Voyage I am totally in love with). Since it's mostly about BDSM, too (even though the action is set somewhere at the end of the 19th century, if my memory isn't playing tricks on me), I ended up loving that series, as well.

I then moved on to an entirely different genre - paranormal romance. I love my shifters, especially werebears, and I donate to a bear protection program within the WWF (so yeah, I definitely have a thing for them), but I've never been particularly keen on the other types of shifters. Wolves are too high maintenance, felines are too lonesome, and maybe dragons are the other kind of shifters that I might like, since they're so hot - literally.

So when the opportunity to read Golden Angel's paranormal romance books arised, I said hell to the yeah and ordered them from Amazon. I liked the first, 'meh'ed the second,and now I'm writing about the third in the Big Bad Bunnies series.

What's it about?

If you end up reading the third book in the series first, you won't have lost anything in particular. Sure, the first two are great, too, but this one can be read as a standalone.

The Bunson family is one of a kind. They were kidnapped when they were kids and experimented on by a crazy doctor who managed to turn them into shifters. All of the brothers and sisters initially thought they were regular humans, but since they had shifter genes (they had had turtles, bears, and bunnies in their ancestry), they were a successful experiment. The only problem is that all of them turned out to be a mix of these three types of animals - they're huge and have claws and sharp teeth (ergo bear-like), they're fluffy and have big ears (ergo bunny-like), and they have a shell underneath their skin (ergo turtle-like).

To cut things short, I'm going to say that one of the main characters in this book is one of the Bunson brothers, Brock. Brock is a quiet type of individual who's looking to get revenge on Dr. Montgomery, the one who experimented on him and the rest of his family. Doc is a puma shifter who is a doctor and who tries to help Brock both physically and mentally. She's extraordinarily upbeat and optimistic even though she doesn't have the best past, either. But Brock doesn't know that, and so he tries to bring her down just a bit, every time they have a conversation.

Long story short, there's a lot of taunting and a bucket of sexual tension in this book. They end up going on a mission together, and they have to save themselves from a group of shifters who are on their tails (quite literally, since Doc has a pretty one). One thing leads to another.. and all that taunting might mean something else, not just that they're having a hard time working with each other.

Did I like it?

Well yes, of course I liked it. After all, that's why I'm reviewing it! I liked it a lot better compared to the second book in the series. I know we need a lot of information regarding the organization that Dr. Montgomery was a part of to be able to understand why it's still running and who the leader is. But honestly, Chasing His Squirrel was too long for me. Probably the shortest one in the series is the first, Chasing His Bunny, which I liked, as well. That one's pretty hot, too.

Simply put, this is a pretty good book if you're into paranormal romance, especially shifter romance. I don't consider myself a huge fan of the genre, but you might find me reading one once in a while.
On to the next books by Golden Angel, then! And I can't wait to review all of those in the Stronghold Dom Series.

So, definitely check it out if you're into this kind of thing.

Continue reading Chasing His Puma by Golden Angel (Personal Review)

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

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The Red Scot by Twyla Turner (Personal Review)

The Red Scot by Twyla Turner Review

I really liked this book, which is also why I decided to give it a five-star rating on Goodreads. This is not my first encounter with the magnificent Twyla Turner, who is an incredible storyteller in my opinion and whose novels I will continue to read in the future. I also read Damaged Souls series and Winter's Beast, which I will both review as soon as I get the chance. I thoroughly enjoyed the Damaged Souls series!

Since this isn't my first novel by this author, I didn't really know what to think about it when I started reading it. The story is totally different compared to those from Winter's Beast and Damaged Souls, so I was a little taken aback. However, I loved the whole 'shy curvy girl meets shy brawny Scottish dude' plot. They were both adorable.

What's it about?

When she was a freshman in college, Payton almost got molested. If it hadn't been for three other girls who happened to be in the area where the event happened and who got her out of the entire situation, she could've ended up being raped. From that point, she lost her trust in pretty much all men aside from those related to her. She never went on a date again and ended up being a virgin at the age of 29.

One day, Payton decides that she would start going to the gym (called The Red Scot after the looks of the owner). She's coaxed into it by a work colleague, and when she gets there, she meets (or rather, sees for the first time) the owner, Bradyn MacTavish. He is a hunk of a man - very tall, muscly, strong, and an MMA fighter. Needless to say, Payton hates any kind of violence, so she's scared out of her mind whenever she has some kind of contact with him.

Bradyn is a bit awkward himself, especially when it comes to talking to women. He's had his one-night-stands before, but those didn't involve conversation. Now, he knows that what he wants with Payton is far more than just sex and he's willing to wait for her to realize that he's not the bad guy.

But somewhere in the dark, there's a threat that might be lethal to Payton...

I'm not going to reveal anything else because I don't want to spoil the book for you.

Is it worth reading?

If you like romance with a bit of sexiness, definitely give this book a shot. It's one of the most relaxing novels I've read in quite a bit. I'd like to make a note and say that it isn't kinky in the least. There are several steamy scenes, but there isn't anything that might shock erotica fans, for example.

I loved the whole 'curvy girls stay strong' vibe I got from this book. I found the relationship that Payton has with her friends to be endearing. They're always caring, and they've got each other backs. That's what true friendship really is. I'm looking forward to reading the next installment in the series (yes, The Red Scot is the 1st book in the A Curvy Girls Club series) featuring Mia, Payton's friend, as the main character. While I was reading her description, I got the feeling she's like Samantha from Sex and The City, if you know what I mean ;). I'd like to live vicariously through her experiences.

In a nutshell, this book is sweet and hot enough to get your panties on fire. It was the perfect mix for me. The guy is tough, yet at the same time, really caring and attentive, and the girl is curvy and panicked but learns to drop her defenses once she finally starts trusting him. They make a lovely couple. I thoroughly enjoyed Bradyn's Scottish accent - that's how his lines are written. Note: she's African American, and he's Caucasian, so I really hope that doesn't bother you - it definitely did not me, it was SO HOT.

Get the book here if you want it.

Read some of my other posts:

The Villain & The Dove by Victoria Vale - Personal Review

J.K. Rowling's Favorite Books

Oprah Winfrey's Favorite Books
Continue reading The Red Scot by Twyla Turner (Personal Review)

Monday, April 2, 2018

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The Villain & The Dove by Victoria Vale - Personal Review

Review :: The Villain & The Dove by Victoria Vale 

Let me just take a second to take a breath and understand what I'm about to write. I finished The Dove, the 2nd book in the duology yesterday evening and I cannot stop thinking about the two main characters, the plot, everything in these two novels! I haven't been this excited about an erotica book since... wait for it... never! Well, maybe since I read the Mercy Trilogy by Lucian Bane. That one was also dark enough to make my skin tingle.

Oh, I can't tell you enough how much I enjoyed these two books. Ironically, if the first one hadn't been on sale on Amazon, I would've never found out about Victoria Vale. Now I am hooked and want to read all of her books! Yes, they were that good.

I'm going to make an effort to keep this review as composed as possible, but I can't make any guarantees. I am just too excited about this duology to stop myself from fangirling about them.

What are they about?

So, first off, these two are categorized as Regency Romance, so the action takes place somewhere between the end of the 1700s and the beginning of the 19th century, aka 1800s. I had to specify this detail because you'll get the main picture (historical background, how people used to behave/dress/talk etc). The action takes place in the United Kingdom - partly in Scotland and partly in London.

I enjoyed the way the first book, The Villain, began. Daphne is horseriding in the rain and in the middle of the night toward a destination we have no idea about. She is going to seek out a man, Lord Hartmoor, who lives in a palace, Dunnottar. (which, by the way, actually exists! I looked it up on Google, and it's there!)

Daphne wants to know why Lord Hartmoor has been after her family for some time and why eventually, his efforts ended up with her relatives being close to bankruptcy. As you probably imagine, it was really important for people back then to be financially potent, especially for women. If a lady didn't have a dowry, it was practically impossible for her to get a suitable marriage.

Adam (Lord Hartmoor) convinces Daphne to make a deal with him and give herself to him for thirty days and thirty nights in exchange for the answers she seeks so desperately. Needless to say, she had left the home of her parents without their knowledge, so she basically ran off to Scotland to demand answers from a (HOT) Scottish lord. The gesture was rather irrational, for a woman at that time, but Daphne wasn't known to abide by all of the rules of her society.

I can't give you any other details because I don't want to spoil the duology, but MAN! The things that Adam does to Daphne and how their story evolves over the course of the two books - I literally can't say anything other than OMG.  I can't even!

These two are like water and oil. One's pure, innocent, but highly corruptible, and the other's dark, vengeful, and tired of living with a burden for five years. While they don't seem to get along at the beginning, their bizarre relationship grows over time. They become accustomed to each other, and Daphne learns A LOT about herself and her physical needs. And yes, in case you were wondering, that deal I was mentioning earlier on also includes her having to give Adam her virginity. Which, as you know, was the 'get out of jail free card' of that time, meaning that ladies could get married only if they were pure - sexually.

What did I like about these two books?

I really enjoyed the characters and the way they were described. As a reader, I was actually capable of telling how Daphne and Adam looked like, so much so that I managed to picture them in my head (that rarely happens if the characters aren't interesting).

These two are at one another with a force that I haven't seen in other 'couples.' They both try to think they're in control, when in fact, none of them is. Sure, Adam is stronger than Daphne on all accounts, but in the second book, we get to see another side of him. He isn't the ruthless lord constantly seeking retribution anymore. In fact, he's pretty confused as to what he's feeling for Daphne and isn't willing to admit that he has other types of feelings for her. However, he might at times wish that she wasn't a member of the Fairchild family.

I also enjoyed the backstory, how the things that happened five years ahead of Daphne meeting Adam were explained, and the reasons that he is so hell-bent on getting his revenge. Nothing is what it seems in this duology, and I loved that a lot! It's very rarely that a novel manages to surprise me, and this one did! Sorry, but I read a lot of fluff erotica this year and last year and I've pretty much had it with the 'billionaire meets virgin who's willing to try BDSM' plots. Those are stupid.

But this book is intelligent, well-written, and it has you hooked so much that I finished both books over the course of one week - and I work full-time, and I'm pretty tired at the end of a working day.

Finally, I couldn't avoid telling you about the SEX they have. Sweet Cheeses! This guy... if only he existed in reality, really! Sure, there might be some rough scenes that not every erotica fan might enjoy, but he basically tries out all of his kinkiness on Daphne, and she adores it. Her body craves it and wants more of it although her mind is not willing to surrender. But when it comes to giving up her power sexually, she does it because she can't help herself. And Adam is especially good at convincing her. Really good. Believe me and read the book!

I'm sorry if this seemed like a big ole ramble, but I couldn't help myself. I am going to read everything that Victoria Vale ever publishes - she's won me as a reader forever.

*The featured image is Dunnottar Castle in Scotland. (via Pixabay)

Get the books here, if you want'em.
Continue reading The Villain & The Dove by Victoria Vale - Personal Review