Those who have been to any of my Retreats on Lake Travis just outside of Austin, Texas, don’t have to ask. They are all about books. I give away at least two as gifts to everyone. I hold up and reference no less than a dozen or more wore-out, tattered copies. I hand out a Recommended Reading List of 34 must-read books. Why? Because books can change lives. I know. Mine was changed by 1 book and 2 men. Got time for a story?

In 1990, after having taking a 21-year college break (partially because I was tired of reading books), a rookie on my sales team in Dallas called to share the most remarkable story. It involved a man’s peaceful subway ride that was suddenly disrupted when a father with several unruly youngsters boarded. After a few minutes of chaos, the man chastised the father for their bad behavior. Shaking his weary head, the dad apologized. “I’m so very sorry,” he responded, hands trembling with emotion. “We just left the hospital. My wife just passed away. My kids have no mother. We’re lost without her. Please forgive me.” That was my introduction to paradigms, and paradigm shifts.

I asked where he heard that story. It was powerful. It moved me. “I didn’t hear it,” he replied. “I read it.” Wow! A paradigm shift for me! “Where can I get a copy?” I quickly inquired. “I’ve got to read that book!”

“Your copy is sitting in the car seat beside me. I thought you’d want one.”

That book was THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE – the book that would change my life and prompt me to read no less than several hundred books since then. The author? Dr. Stephen Covey, one of the 2 men who would do the same. The man who introduced me to Dr. Covey, and the joy of reading? Rick Andreen. Because of that gift, and business book after business book I purchased, read, and applied that followed, I’ve been told I experienced the fastest climb to a corporate position with a major public homebuilder ever! Five years from first stepping onto a sales floor, I was honored to become an executive at a high-rise corporate office in downtown Dallas – the National Director of Training for Centex Homes.

Interestingly enough, that book didn’t just affect me, or Rick, who later became a executive for several major corporations. Because of Rick’s influence, by the time he and I moved on to other opportunities, every Division President and Executive within Centex attended Covey’s SEVEN HABITS workshop at the Sundance Mountain Resort just outside Provo, Utah.

I caught up with Rick in Nashville a couple months back on my S.M.I.L.E. Pre-Release Book Tour. I was speaking to real estate companies. He was there celebrating his daughter Caitie Marie’s CD Release Party. Over lunch I offered Rick a gift, and asked for a favor.

The gift? An autographed copy of S.M.I.L.E. – my 2nd book. A book – like my first – that would have never been written without getting hooked on THE SEVEN HABITS and a study full of books I have read since.  

The favor? I asked Rick to autograph that old worn-out book he blessed me with 29 years ago. The picture is of Rick autographing that cherished treasure!

So, back to the original question? Why books? Now perhaps you better understand my answer. They can change lives. Now I’m an author. But, not an author who writes for the notoriety, or for the money. I write books, as well as recommend books by other authors, for one purpose: in hopes they might change someone’s life and career for the better – just as they changed mine.

One of the greatest rewards I have to show for what I do, came from a Facebook message from Will Sherman, a graduate of one of my Retreats. Here’s a portion of his message…

“I wanted to send you a quick hello and a thanks as well. I learned a lot while I was at your retreat, which I’m thankful for. But it actually changed me as a person which prepared me for one of the biggest moments of my life. After leaving your class I started reading more and more – 28 books last year to be exact. I focused on changing myself in my personal and professional life. It was amazing and rewarding. But last year I had to deal with a marriage that was falling apart, and because of the circumstances, no way could be saved. Had I not changed and realized how strong of a person I was, or could be, I feel that it would have devastated my life. I have since used this experience to “fall-up” (as opposed to falling down). The books you recommended were some of the ones that really helped me through my hardest times. The one that sticks out the most was THE TRAVELER’S GIFT. I’ve since gotten divorced, I have full custody of my 9 year old son, and I’m in San Antonio now. My life is better than it’s ever been and I’m a better person because of what I went through at your Retreat. Thank you for inspiring me with all the books you’ve read and shared!”

Wow! It did happen – books did change a life! Now you might think that’s the end of Will’s story. And it’s a good one for sure. But if you’d like to learn how to sell $10M worth of homes in 6 months using social media, click on  to purchase a copy of Will’s book, SMACKDOWN. That’s right, he’s now an author.

While you’re at it, you might also get a copy of S.M.I.L.E. by clicking on

Could reading these books, and others, inspire you to become an author? Who knows? Stranger things have happened! But regardless, you can rest assured you will become a better version of yourself, and that’s what’s most important.