“What are you reading?” It is one of my favorite questions to ask new Junior Officers who check into my command.I ask it for two reasons. First, I made a commitment to be a life-long learner. I delight in finding new resources, and quite often these new Junior Officers educate me on a resource I never knew existed. Second, this question immediately lets me know the type of person I’m talking with; is he interested in fitness, guns, or philosophy, or is he well read across multiple subjects? Does he reach for Men’s Health on his next cross-country flight, or The Atlantic?
One of my favorite quotes is from the philosopher Jordan Peterson, who claimed: “What you value determines what you look at, what you look at determines what you see”. By knowing what someone is reading, I can easily understand what they value and also start to understand their view of the world. While it obviously doesn’t explain their entire life experience and persona to me, it opens a door to connect with them on a personal and professional level. And as a leader, that is arguably one of the most valuable tactics for producing a more cohesive work environment. Furthermore, I set an example of a “thinking man” to my subordinates, challenging them to also become life-long learners, starting with that simple question of “What are you reading?” I call that a win-win.
While hard copy and now e-books have previously been the primary staple for readers, the Internet has opened up a dynamic range of leaning tools such as blogs, podcasts, online only journals, videos, and even apps. These allow the thinking man to educate himself in ways unheard of even 10 years ago.
Below is my personal electronic “What are you reading?” list and the online resources that I follow on a regular basis. If you have a new, interesting, or relevant resources that you’re excited about, please let me know below.
Military Professional Journals and Magazine
- Navy – Proceedings Magazine: Published by the nonprofit US Naval Institute, this magazine offers a full menu of podcasts, news, history, books, leadership articles and book reviews for the professional mariner. Of all the service-specific magazines, Proceedings is the most in-depth one that I’ve come across.
- Army – Modern War Institute: The Modern War Institute is a government-funded organization that operates out of West Point and is chartered to provide the Army and Nation with an intellectual resource for solving military problems. The MWI produces podcasts, research, and battle field assessments along with commentary and analysis.
- Army – Army University Press: The Army’s University Press is an official command under the Army’s multimedia branch. They publish two magazines, the Army’s Military review and the NCO Journal.
- Marine Corps – Gazette & Leatherneck: Both the Marine Corps Gazette and Leatherneck Magazine are published by the nonprofit Marine Corps Association. Leatherneck is written for Junior Marines in mind with a tactical focus, while the Gazette has a higher level operational and strategic focus.
- Air Force – Air and Space Power Journal: The Air Forces’ Air and Space Power Journal is published by the Air University out of Maxwell AFB Alabama, with the intent of being the intellectual center of the Air Force. Most of the articles and book reviews are written by students attending Air University.
- Coast Guard – Proceedings: Like the Navy, the Coast Guard also has a Proceedings magazine; however, this magazine is an official publication of the Coast Guard. Proceedings is published three times per year with tactical and operational level articles from mid to senior level Coast Guard leaders.Joint – Joint Forces Quarterly: The “purple magazine” found on every flag officer’s coffee table. JFQ is published by the National Defense University Press with articles written by senior military leaders in order to support decision making by the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Military Single Author Blogs
- The Military Leader: Hosted by an 18-year Army Infantry officer with experience in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The Military leader contains blog posts focused on leadership, professional development and staff life.
- The Field Grad Leader: Is a blog hosted by the Military Leader blog and contains weekly guest posts from Army Officers and Senior Enlisted on a wide variety of military-focused topics.
- From The Green Notebook: Hosted by Joe Byerly, an active duty Calvary Officer with topics focused on military lessons learned, how-to guides, book reviews and opinion pieces. His blog normally produces one high quality article per week.
- General Leadership: A privately operated non-profit blog designed to provide leadership perspective and conversation on character and integrity from senior military leaders. The Foundation has won several awards for their blog, including the Top 100 Socially-Shared Leadership Blog and a Top Leadership Insights badge from skipprichard.com.
- Angry Staff Officer: “Of history, leadership, warfare, and alcohol.” This dry-humor Best Military Blog of 2019 covers an array of topics, from World War I to Foreign Policy to Star Wars. The blog also contains their War Stories Podcast.
Military Multiple Author Journals
- Task and Purpose: Task and Purpose is a younger but more professional version of the Military Times (Army Times, Navy Times, USMC Times, Air Force Times) family of websites.
- War on the Rocks: War on the Rocks is a strategy focused blog They have both a weekly podcast and
- The Strategy Bridge: A journal focused on those in the policy, national security, and military affairs world. The Strategy Bridge contains both Journal articles, a podcast, writing contents and mentorship programs.
- The Long War Journal: This journal provides “reporting and analysis of the Long War (also known as the Global War on Terror). This is accomplished through its programs of embedded reporters, news and news aggregation, maps, podcasts, and other multimedia formats.”
Non-Military Blogs & Journals
- Farnam Street: Helps you master what others have already figured out via mental models, articles, podcasts, and even workshops. They also offer speaking opportunities for a variety of events! Defined for those with a “shared passion for avoiding problems, making better decisions, and lifelong learning.”
- Wait but Why: Explains big things with little drawings…computer paint stick figure drawings, that is. With new posts out every week, you can guarantee that this blog will brighten up your day with a little laughter over a big topic. Plus, you can peruse their nifty online store once you’re done reading.
- Zen Habits: A blog by Leo Babauta about “finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of our lives.” Includes links to free webinars about similar topics. The minimalist aesthetic of the website reflects the themes proposed in Babauta’s articles.
- The Daily Stoic: Bringing that Thinking Man back into the picture, here you have the chance to glimpse into the minds of the first American Stoics, George Washington and the New England Patriots (no, not the football team). Stoicism encourages becoming the best version of yourself via patience and forbearance in challenging times. The Daily Stoic offers a free 7-day Intro to Stoicism delivered right to your inbox, along with videos and podcasts for your viewing pleasure.
- Art of Manliness: One of the flagship self development blogs for men. AOM looks to the past and pulls principles, techniques and rules for becoming the best man possible. They also have a podcast covering everything from fashion to adventure. Art of Manliness is to men as what Men’s Health is to boys.
- Ryan Holiday: Bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying and other books about marketing, culture, and the human condition. His company, Brass Check, has advised both multi-billion dollar companies and multi-platinum musicians. You can follow his blog, reading list, newsletter, and even enroll in marketing courses developed by him. He subscribes to the Stoic philosophy as well.
- Fabius Maximus: Daily posts that speak to the world as it was, is, and might be. Their goal: “to find ways to reignite the spirit of a nation grown cold,” which speaks to their value of upending political bias in their blogging.
- War on the Rocks: War on the Rocks is a platform for analysis, commentary, debate and multimedia content on foreign policy and national security issues through a realist lens. It features articles and podcasts produced by various writers with deep experience in these matters: top-notch war scholars, those who have served or worked in war zones, and more than a few who have done it all.
- Jocko Podcast: Retired Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink and Director, Echo Charles discuss discipline and leadership in business, war, relationships and everyday life.
- Mind of the Warrior: Mike, the host of the Sheep Dog Project, has made it his mission to save lives both on and off the battlefield, and to spread the ethos of what it means to be a Sheepdog. From Law enforcement officers and First Responders, to combat veterans and martial arts masters, the Sheepdog Project explores every aspect of what it means to be a modern Sheepdog.
- The Joe Rogan Experience: Joe Rogan is a renowned American comedian, actor, sports commentator, martial artist and television host. He hosts long-form conversation video and audio podcasts that feature dynamic individuals. Several of his stand-up shows have been featured on Netflix and Comedy Central. Joe Rogan will take the most pedestrian subjects, and weave them into a fascinating and gripping story.
- Jordan Peterson: Dr. Peterson expounds on philosophical and psychological topics such as the nature of human personality, the role of fundamental rights, and the relationship science and religion, values, and perception.
- Philosophy Bites by Edmonds and Warburton: “Podcasts of top philosophers interviewed on bite-sized topics.” Based out of the United Kingdom, the podcast-turned-book series boasts over 16 million downloads since its inception. David Edmonds is an author and writer for the BBC, and Nigel Warburton is a freelance writer and podcaster.
- Ted Talks: The TED website is a world of its own. You have a question or a curiosity? TED probably has a 15-minute video for that. It’s the YouTube for presentations. One of my faviorate videos is “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” by Simon Sinek, the author of “Start with Why”.
- The Atlantic videos: Bolster your news intake with in-depth videos that both inform and indulge the curious mind.
- NPR: National Public Radio, one of the public broadcasting networks of the United States. Notorious for their in-depth reports and debates on–you guessed it–the radio.
- BBC: Based in the United Kingdom, this mega station is the world’s leading public service broadcaster and a formidable source for world news, among other subjects and telecom channels, broadcast in 40 different languages.
- The Atlantic: This magazine has a rich history. Founded in Boston in 1857, the authors boldly promoted “the free exchange of ideas across ideological lines…,” starting with the inclusion of women and African-Americans in their publications. It’s continued to be a formidable news source to this day, but the certainly haven’t forgotten their humble roots.
- Smithsonian: Their tagline is “Smart news,” in which they do not disappoint. Their main focus is on historical and scientific news.
- RAND: “Objective analysis, effective solutions,” states their tagline. They boast a robust research focus, with 1,870 active projects and a staff wherein 54% hold a doctorate. Other media includes journal articles, dissertations, and brochures.
- 10% Happier/Headspace: If the word “meditation” makes you think of sitting on the floor in a lotus position, then consider mindful as a suitable word replacement. Both apps will help you become more mindful of your feelings and emotions, thereby helping you recognize and regulate those emotions before they become harmful.
- 12 Minutes/Blinkist: Both apps turn non-fiction books into bite-sized condensed reads. Time frame? Self-explanatory for the former, and 15 minutes for the latter.
- A Phone Use Tracker: Most people spend upwards of 3-4 hours per day on their phone. That’s more than 35 days a year! If you are intentional about your sleep, intentional about your diet and intentional about your exercise, then you need to be equally intentional about your phone use. Both RescueTime and Apple iPhone iOS 12’s Screen Time Function are mentioned in the linked article.
- Stay away from Brain games: Forget about apps such as luminosity, elevate and peak. Those brain training apps make you better at playing the game, but no smarter.
Please comment below if there are additional online resources that should be added to this list. If you would like me to consider your resource please include a short 2-3 sentence description of the resources.