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  • Writer's pictureMarcus Kowal

Reflecting on 2022 - Books & Lessons

Updated: May 12, 2023

This is very delayed but the beginning of 2023 has been nothing short of a whirlwind. The difference is, it's a positive whirlwind compared to the last few years.

It's interesting to read a post of mine from the beginning of 2022. We were hopeful at the beginning of the year that the pandemic was coming to an end but we weren't sure. We had a lot of reserved optimism as to what the new year would bring...and then on the 2nd of January, Omicron hit. Not only did I get it myself but many others in our surroundings did. It was as if Covid wanted to tell us "I'm still here motherf*****rs." For a small business, in one of the heaviest hit industries, in a state that had us shut down for 15 months, It had been a rough two years and the beginning of 2022 didn't look much better but as the weeks went on, we were able to start building back and ultimately, didn't just build back to where we had been before the pandemic but even stronger. Building back stronger for Systems didn't only mean going back to where we were but rather realizing what we truly wanted for our members, where we were challenged, and truly focusing on what we could do both better and differently. Thus, building back stronger meant building back better.

For the past almost three years, we had very little time to focus on our nonprofit, Liam's Life Foundation for a few reasons: First and foremost, we had to focus on the survival of the business because if there is no business, there is no non-profit. What I also realized along the way was that in order to make the changes that we have sought to make, we need to help create the next generation of leaders ourselves. In order to continue to create a better U.S., we have to do our part in our community and help people grow and become the best versions of themselves, so that they can be an asset in their community and thus, a reliable pillar within the state and the country. I'm very excited about what is to come and to be able to show the work we have been planning and doing.

I managed to get another 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of running in and seeing some beautiful trails and places along the way. Start running, there are few things that compare!

We continued growing our online self-defense program which has been something we've been working on for some time. We continued growing on both Tik Tok and Instagram but it was our growth on YouTube that was really unexpected. We've gone from non-existent to over 100,000 subscribers, which is way more than we could have ever asked for, so thank you so, so much!

We had not one but two retreats to Nosara, Costa Rica with Krav Maga Syndicate, which I'm also very excited to announce more about in 2023. I know there was a lot of interest to do a retreat with us and I'm actually curious: 1. Would you come with us and 2. Where would you want to go? Thailand, Costa Rica or Sweden? Please leave your requests in the comments below.

I was recommended some amazing books and as per usual, I wanted to share what I read with you.

  1. The Gift of Fear - Five stars - It’s funny, I thought I had read this book and was just going to re-read it but it so happens that I never actually had read it in the first place. It happened to me twice this year, some type of Mandela effect. Regardless, I’m very glad that I finally got to read this masterpiece by De Becker, who is one of the leading body guards in the United States and the world.

  2. To Raise a Boy - 5 stars - I’m going to be honest, the book didn’t start off as a book that I was much interested in. Yet, I continued reading it because it had been recommended to me and I wanted to give it a chance and I’m very glad I did. This book along with The Gift of Fear were two of the most influential books I read in all of 2022 and have both played a big part in the big-picture vision of the work that I do and want to continue to improve.

  3. How to Out-sell, Out-Market, Out-Promote, Out-Advertise Everyone Else You Compete Against - 5 stars - a great sales book that truly intertwines the selling, marketing, and promoting of a business, regardless of size.

  4. Made to stick - A great book on branding and telling a special story.

  5. Never Split the Difference - 5 stars - Yet another great book on negotiations that teaches some great human behaviors by one of the best negotiators in the world.

  6. Start with No - 4 stars - another great negotiations book that explains the power of the word No and why not to be afraid of it. Great book for salespeople trying to take their skills to the next level.

  7. The Talent Code - 5 stars - Great book on what it truly takes to be great. Yes, our DNA plays a role but at the end of the day, both nature and nurture will play a part and the nurture part can greatly improve our quality of life, regardless of what DNA we are born with.

  8. The Confidence Code - 4 stars - Same author and similar in many ways to the Talent Code but the focus here is on confidence. Also a great book but in my personal opinion, not as great as The Talent Code.

  9. Mentoring 101 - Great book on leadership and mentoring others. We need more good leaders in this world, to mentor and lead those who it doesn’t come as natural to.

  10. My father’s autobiography - 5 stars - It was one of the best gifts I’ve found. My dad came to Sweden as an asylum seeker from war-torn, post-WWII Poland. He is often a man of few words when it comes to his own story and this Christmas gift I got him had him answer a question every week for a year, which ultimately became his book. It’s honestly the best gift I can think of for both fathers and mothers (reading my mother’s book this year!)

  11. 5-second rule - 5 stars - Great book, giving you a tool to ignite the engine. A way to give you that push needed in the right direction. It seems so simple but simple isn’t always easy!

  12. The Lean Startup - 5 stars - a great book that not every entrepreneur should read any CEO, VP, and senior manager. It really teaches you how to stay lean during all cycles of the growth of a company.

  13. The Silva Mind Control Method - 2 stars - I'm a huge proponent of mindset growth, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), etc. However, I am not a believer in supernatural powers and although the human mind is insanely powerful, more powerful than many of us can even imagine, it also can't perform magic. This is one of the worst books I've read in a long time.

  14. Failing Forward - 4 stars - another great management book that every entrepreneur should read but it can also be a great book for any athlete or any individual trying to grow and get over the fear of failure. Failure HAS to be pa

  15. The monk who sold his Ferrari - 3.5 stars - I’m a huge fan of Robin Sharma and I love his 5 am book, which has both influenced and inspired me a lot. I have heard of this book for years and finally read it and perhaps I had too high expectations but the reading just wasn’t my style. It’s still full of knowledge though.

  16. Measure what matters - 5+ - Probably the best business book I’ve read this year and one of the best books ever! If you are in any type of leadership position or want results in any area of life, you have to read this book.

  17. Relentless - 4 stars - I love Tim Grover's mindset and his approach to both physical as well as mental toughness. He's worked with some of the most resilient minds ever created. Two words: No excuses.

  18. Peak Performance - 5 stars - Another amazing book on what's needed for the highest level of functioning as individuals. If you want to grow, read this!

  19. Flow - 4 stars - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is an amazing psychologist and the Father of Flow. Flow is the psychological state where humans have complete focus on one task.

  20. The Artist Way - 4 stars - a great book for anyone wanting to find themselves and daring to try new things. A book for anyone who wants to fulfill dreams that might have been stifled throughout life.

  21. The hard things about hard things - 5 stars - A great book for any CEO. A book on the hardest and loneliest job on the planet: Chief Executive Officer. On how to deal with the stress and pain of the job.

  22. How to talk so little kids will listen - 5 stars - This book was recommended to me by my wife Mishel. I know I'm just a tad biased but her understanding of child psychology is amazing. Kids, not just our kids, are drawn to her. Her bright, creative, fun-seeking mind makes make them have the most magical time when she creates her own world for them to be in. Hence, I got the book right away, put a pause on another book, and started reading and the knowledge and understanding of how to communicate with children are incredible. It breaks down a child's view of a situation and how communication is perceived and the more I read, the more I realized that's not just something needed for children; those needs are the same for adults as well and I recognize how my communication with adults has improved as well.

I'm excited for 2023 and all the continued opportunities to inspire, be inspired, and the continuous journey to grow and learn!

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