5 Books to Transform Your 2016

As the sun rose over frosty Houston Texas, I felt a tickle of inspiration and opened my eyes. It was new year’s day and I had just spent the last several weeks planning 2015. In a little over a month I would turn thirty. The race was on.

Not even 6 am, and you can see the fingerprints of the books I read in 2014 on my day. A cup of bulletproof coffee500ml of cold water, and a cold shower, I nurse my hangover from last night’sNew Year’s eve party, and it’s out the door of my sister’s house to go for a jog in the biting Texas cold. “At least I’m not in Boston,” I think, as I lace up my zero drop sneakers, open Pandora to “Pop and Hip Hop Power Workout Radio” and hit the pavement. 3 miles today, 1 mile tomorrow, then 3 again. I was training for a marathon and reading Hal Higdon’s “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide” and using his Novice 1 iPhone app as my guide. This was going to be the best year of my life.

I would give dozens of speeches, teach 31 workshops, speak in New York City on mindfulness, Meet Tony RobbinsTim FerrisRyan HolidayLewis Howes, and several other authors I’d only known from their bylines. I’d discover the deeper benefits of meditation, spend incredible moments in the desert of Nevada loving people and expanding my consciousness, and I would walk on fire. I would also re-connect with loved ones I hadn’t spoken to or had a meaningful relationship with in years. I'd learn how to hack flow, how to master my trade, and how to work a room with the ability to both read and speak body language. This would be the year when I finally take my wife on her anniversary Nordstrom shopping spree, buy the Mercedes and get the big house in Austin. More importantly, we would take the communication, authenticity, and passion in our marriage to a level of connection I didn’t think was possible. I would no longer keep my journey hidden deciding to launch this blog, a podcast, and my public identity. In short, 2015 was going to deliver much more than I had expected. More than anything, and little did I know it, 2015 would be the year I discovered how to finally remove the blocks in my own psychology that create limitation and, rather than copying everyone else’s strategies in hope of greater success, I would learn how to live a life of my own creation.

So, how did all of this happen? On my laundry list of goals for 2015, was to read 2 books a month. A goal that I was on track to accomplish until pivoting after I attended Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within where I decided to begin attending more transformational events. A good weekend seminar or workshop is the equivalent of reading 10 books, an excellent one is like reading 20 - 50. I’ve attended a few that were akin to consuming a life-time of reading in only 3 or 4 days. But that’s the topic of another blog post. And while I plan to attend 20+ seminars, masterminds, and conferences this year (as a guest, not a speaker), I also plan to read 40 books. Because what I truly owe the transformations of my life to are books. Books open windows of possibility that alter not only our designs but our desires.

“It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it.”

― Oscar Wilde

So here are the 5 books that rocked my 2015


Mastery - Robert Greene

Author of 48 laws of Power, a book I’ve seen on the shelves of many of my colleagues, mentors, and one that I’ve read a couple of times. I had reservations with using too much of the 48 laws because the people I knew who could quote it chapter and verse were typically the nefarious type. Nonetheless, I have Mastery a try and was blown away.

Not only is the content fresh, Green delivers the time-tested strategies of mastering any area of your life. Replete with strategies for mentor seeking, social intelligence, and relying on hard-won intuition. This book is a work of art and a must for any entrepreneur, artist, or athlete looking got master their work. There is no question, I will re-read this book in 2016.

Willpower Instinct - Kelly McGonigal

This one was a surprise. In late 2014, Audible was running a Black Friday sale, so I added this to my queue. More than 50% of my book reading last year was audiobooks. When you fly over 100,000 miles a year, you really start to appreciate being able to consume knowledge while you walk through airport terminals, ride in the back of Taxi’s, drive, or even jog on the treadmill. I digress. I just love audiobooks.

McGonigal’s book was transformative in my understanding of my own ability to follow through. What parts of my brain were lighting up when I took certain actions. Besides completely shifting my paradigm on when and how to plan my work I also learned a willpower hack that I use almost every day: breathing to increase my heart rate variability. Which I utilize in my 10 minute guided gratitude session.

Digging into the evolutionary role of willpower, coupled with neuroscience this book is more than “how to.” It will shift your paradigm and give you tools you can start implementing immediately. Added bonus: Paula read this as well, and we use some of the tools in this book to support and keep each other accountable.

Outwitting the Devil - Napoleon Hill

Back from the dead, in 2012 Napoleon Hill’s family finally released his seminal work on deconstructing what made the created the most successful men in the twentieth century. Digging deeper than Think and Grow rich, Hill uses a conversation he has with the devil (that I’m going to assume is an analogy) to reveal truths about the human mind and it’s ability to achieve.

My major take away from this book: the Law of Hypnotic Rhythm. Once you are on the right course of action, don’t let anything interrupt your rhythm. Head down, peddle to the metal, it will take you there. The opposite of hypnotic rhythm, he calls “drifting.” I could immediately see times in my life where I had very predictable outcomes as a result of which mode I was in.

Even if you’ve ready Think and Grow Rich, I highly recommend putting this on your must read list for 2016 as it can put you in a sort of success trance if utilized.

The Game - Neil Strauss

Here’s a fun one. Why would a guy who has been happily married for 5 years with no desire to cheat, who is actually quite obsessive about his wife, and never shuts up about his family read up a ten year old book on becoming a pick up artist?

After one of my workshops last summer, I was speaking with one of my mentors who is an incredible public speaker. I had heard rumors of many sales people using pickup tools to seduce customers and clients and now he was telling me that you could use them to be more influential when giving talks as well.

Interested, I picked up Strauss’ book. His story telling had me riveted as he masterfully worked in the techniques, and how-to’s of getting laid by girls you just met. I constantly caught myself giggling at the concept that men who could master this art might still have only about 50% of the power of pickup that women do. Just the same, the lessons were loud and clear. People are attracted confidence, power, success, and what they can’t have.

The Game is not a stand alone read however, as it leaves you unresolved and short to task. Lucky you, Neil also wrote Rules of the Game and his new, Bible-esque white leather book, The Truth, released towards the end of last year which appears to be an atonement for his Bible-esque black leather book “The Game.”

Waking Up: A Guide to Sprirituality Without Religion - Sam Harris

I was born and raised in Texas. People ‘round here don’t take kindly to heretics and atheists. However, reading his book was opportunity to expand my consciousness, to see the world from a different place and, unlike some eastern religious doctrine that compels you to simply trade one God for another, Harris utilizes his expansive knowledge base as a traveler, philosopher, and neuroscientist to separate what is known from what is unknown with a healthy observation of what we believe cannot be known.

With examples of split brain tests, scientific evidence of the benefits of meditation, and exploring a new origin of the soul, this book empowers you to ask questions of you own consciousness that may have once feared would come at a cost of spiritual abandonment. In fact, I never felt more aware of my consciousness than the days just following reading this book. (disclaimer: I did read it right before I wen to Burning Man, so that may have amplified the effect a bit.)

2015 was hands-down the most transformative year of my life. And I have high expectations for 2016. To get more book recommendations, articles, and podcast interviews, subscribe to The Self Hacker Journey email list here.

Live in Creation,

Trey Stinnett