NDO Creative


The thoughts, musings, and recent blog posts on design thinking and communications, from the team at NDO*Creative.

Change Your Life With These 20 Books

Spoiler alert: I’m a bookworm. You’d probably know that if you read this article I wrote years ago about 25 books that changed my life as an entrepreneur, a creative person, and a human being. It’s been a few years since then, so I figured I’d write this companion article on 20 more books which have been directly responsible for my progress and that of NDO as a creative agency.

Spoiler alert #2: I love the rapper Logic. As in “Bobby Tarantino”, as in Young Sinatra, as in the rapper from Gathesburg, Maryland. From YSIV to The True Incredible Story to Under Pressure – I’m a fan of all of it. Hook that shit up on my Spotify playlist, any day of the week. Honourable mention goes to the Rick & Morty episode he was on, too.

Logic has a track called “44 Bars” on his album “Bobby Tarantino I”, which he follows up with a track called “44 More” as a continuation on his album “Everyone”. This idea of continuation, much like Kanye West’s “Ghost Town Pt. I” on Ye and his follow-up “Ghost Town Pt. II” on his joint album with Kid Cudi, Kids See Ghosts, got me thinking: why not follow-up on some of the content you’ve already made?

And if you’re reading this far, think of your own content the same way: why reinvent the wheel every single time? I’m all about innovation, but if something worked really, really well for you – iterate on it.

Like this post I’m about to do about the books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in planes, trains, and automobiles this year which could change your life; I know they’ve changed mine as a creative entrepreneur, for the better, but above all as a human being.

None of these authors are sponsoring me to do this; it’s a genuine list of books that might help you along your way with whatever your craft and circumstance is. Enjoy!

Way of the Superior Man – David Deida

As a disclaimer: being superior in this book is only to oneself, and no one else (which is all you should be striving for anyways). Whether you are a man, a woman, or identify as something different, the ideologies in this book are crucial towards healthy, realistic self-development. Big themes in this are assertiveness, understanding vs. listening, and the patience required to progress in life.

Deep Work – Cal Newport

Fact: you’re distracted. You’re distracted probably as you’re reading this. In fact, you probably checked your Facebook feed midway through reading this article. Your phone is buzzing with text messages about plans tonight and IG messages about the Creed II tracklist that popped up – and it’s all distracting you from the thing you should be doing: focusing.

Deep Work did a wonderful job of helping me get rid of some of the distractions I had in my life and achieve my highest peak of productivity ever – all while being able to shutoff entirely, guilt-free, by 6:00 PM each night (which is something I would have never dreamed of before).

Birds In Aquariums – Matt Bandstra

Recommended by a friend, this compendium of poems is for when relationships wilt, when beliefs are uprooted, and when depression is a storm; for when you feel as out of place in your own skin as a bird trapped in an aquarium. These words ring deep, ring true, and are intended to be yours.

Date And Time – Phil Kaye

I’m pen-deep in writing a book of poetry myself next year, so I constantly find myself being inspired by the greats around me, like Phil Kaye. Date And Time is a testament to the fact that many stories have a beginning, middle, and end – but not necessarily in that order. For any millennial like myself who’s equal parts inspired by Seth Godin and Street Fighter Turbo, this book is for you.

Subliminal – Leonard Mlodinow

Say what you will, but your sub-conscious and your body language are almost always dictating how you really feel to the world. Whether it’s in business, in life, or in romance, we all have sub-conscious reasoning as to why we feel how we do, and why we do what we do in certain situations. Mlodinow helps to declutter some of the reasoning as to why, and how we can leverage it in certain situations.

A Little Book of Japanese Contentments – Erin Nimii Longhurst

Why is it that Japan has such a unique culture compared to the rest of the world? In the 17th century, Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu implemented an isolation policy which essentially shut Japan off from the rest of the world, creating a truly unique cultural landscape throughout all of the country. Erin, growing up in Japan and currently residing in London, details some of the cultural habits and contentments of Japanese culture and how you can embrace them in your life.

12 Rules For Life – Jordan B. Peterson

Don’t let your kid(s) do anything that would make you hate them; at least according to Jordan B. Peterson, psychologist, professor at the University of Toronto, and author of the book “12 Rules For Life”. In a very no-nonsense manner, Peterson highlights 12 specific rules which help to navigate the chaos of the world around us.

The Sun & Her Flowers – Rupi Kaur

If you area always reading books in the business or self-help section – I get it, but I’d encourage you to think about reading books by Hemingway, Kerouac, and authors like Rupi Kaur to expand your mindset beyond just the day-to-day productivity wheel. The Sun & Her Flowers is a fantastic, transcendent journey about growth and healing, ancestry and honoring one’s roots, and finding a home within yourself.

Milk & Honey – Rupi Kaur

I read this before Sun & Her Flowers: this is a compendium of poems about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity. Whether you consider yourself a feminist or not – give it a read. You’ll be moved.

Wiley – Eskiboy

If you’re in tune with music culture, streetwear, and graphic design trends, the grunge scene in the UK cannot be ignored in terms of its impact. The godfather of this genre is Wiley, regarded as the head-honcho by fellow grime artists like Stormzy, Skepta, and more. In 96 chapters, this book is a breakdown of over two decades of music, life, pain and triumph.

The Three Paths To Healing – Dominic Mitges

We’ve had the pleasure of working on Dominic’s web redesign and brand identity and had the pleasure of reading his book the Three Paths to Healing, and how it can set you on the path to redefining all the experiences life has brought forth for you. After reading this, we changed how we saw the beginning, middle, and end of the healing process.

Good Is The New Cool: Market Like You Give A Damn – Afdhel Aziz + Bobby Jones

There is a holy trinity between artists, non-profits, and brands which most people and companies are unaware of, yet could heavily maximize on in order to improve their reach and revenue. Good is always the coolest, and in this book, Aziz + Jones illustrate specific examples on how the new model of marketing is shifting towards an honest one.

“We are at a crossroads: either we can try to prop up the old, broken marketing model, or we can create a new model, one that is fit for the unique challenges of today.” —From Good Is the New Cool

Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg

Why do we do what we do in life? Why do we do what we do in business? Why do we feel enslaved to our habits? How do we change the patterns engrained in our brain, even our neuroplasticity itself, to revolutionize the way we act and think? Charles Duhigg presents an exhilarating argument on how changing your habits, little by little, will change your life.

The Dip – Seth Godin

Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out fun…then gets really hard, and not much fun at all. You might be in a Dip—a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac—a total dead end. What really sets superstars apart is the ability to tell the two apart – Seth Godin’s book “The Dip” is an examination of when you’re in a Cul-de-Sac vs. when you’re just on the brink of something great.

Purple Cow – Seth Godin

In Purple Cow, first published in 2003 and revised and expanded in 2009, Godin launched a movement to make truly remarkable products that are worth marketing in the first place. Through stories about companies like Starbucks, JetBlue, Krispy Kreme, and Apple, coupled with his signature provocative style, he inspires readers to rethink what their marketing is really saying about their product. In a world that grows noisier by the day – be the purple cow.

Pocket Principles of Design – Willop et al.

Architect? Artist? Designer? Plumber? It doesn’t matter: design applies to the tools you use, the clothes you wear – even the air you breathe. This is a handy pocket book of principles like proportion, white space, kerning, and more that you can apply in your daily life to understand the world around you through design-thinking.

Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari

Sure, this book is a hilarious exploration of the perils of dating in the modern age, but Aziz highlights some interesting pieces of information about social conditioning and how social media usage has shifted the psychology of millennials and thus the decisions we are making with dating, brands, and more, similar to findings in the book “Connected But Alone” by Sherry Turkle. (which is also a great read).

Get Your Shit Together – Sarah Knight

It’s a foul-mouthed book about cutting through the self-sabotage that we all go through on a daily basis which prevents us from doing the things we want to do, as well as we should be doing them. End quote.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck – Mark Manson

Speaking about foul-mouthed, this book is another foray into the world of self-sabotage: a dose of raw, refreshing truth about the things we should care about, and the things we shouldn’t. If anything, this book reinforces that we have a finite resource of care we can give on a daily basis: where we allocate it determines how our lives progress.

Watchmen – Alan Moore & David Gibbons

You may have seen the 2009 film adaptation directed by Zack Snyder; however, the comic book itself is something to read for creative inspiration, whether you have or haven’t seen the movie. Having revisited it recently, Watchmen is a great source of creative inspiration for any storyteller, illustrator, or artist.

What are the books you’ve read lately which have changed the way you think and/or operate on a daily basis? Let us know below! 📚🤓

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