These books (and a short video) stand alone as the core drivers behind my unconventional thinking and decision to take life into my own hands.  I highly recommend them.  They might just be life-changing.

You don’t have to live your life the way others expect.
— Chris Guillebeau

The "Art of Nonconformity" is a fantastic, highly-inspirational book.  It's a quick and easy read, and it's very thought-provoking.  Chris also maintains a great blog documenting his own "unconventional strategies for life, work, and travel."

As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease.
— Eckhart Tolle

The classic "live in the present" book.  Although it gets spacey in the second half, the first half has serious life-changing potential. It's a bit of a tougher read then "The Art of Nonconformity," but it's worth it.  I read this after my first and second ACL surgeries and still refer back to it whenever I find myself getting caught up in regret (past) or anticipation (future).

The common sense rules of the ‘real world’ are a fragile collection of socially reinforced illusions.
— Tim Ferriss

Tim Ferriss's book, like "The Art of Nonconformity," is a highly interesting, easy read.  What differentiates this book, however, is Ferriss's mix of high-level concepts with actionable, detailed implementation strategies.  Even if you don't enact any, it's fun to think about!

Most people never see the trap they are in. Every morning, they get up, they get ready, and hurry out to work. Do they look happy to you? Why do they do it? Because everybody else is.
— Robert Kiyosaki

Ok, ok.  I know Robert Kiyosaki is infamous for writing all these personal finance books, then going bankrupt.  Even if he doesn't practice what he preaches, he preaches an extremely intriguing message!  "Rich Dad Poor Dad" stands as his seminal work - a classic, highly readable book exploring some unconventional thoughts about life, money, and business. I challenge you to read this and not start thinking differently.

Sometimes, Hem, things change and they are never the same again. This looks like one of those times. That’s life! Life moves on. And so should we.
— Spencer Johnson

A word of warning: this tiny book is simply a tale about two mice running around a maze.  It feels elementary, but you'll finish it in less than an hour and be amazed at how thought-provoking it is. If you're going through a life change - or struggling with making one - this will be doubly invigorating.

Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it...
— Steve Jobs

Mind = blown.  Please watch this 2 minute video.  The message is incredible.

Last but not least, here's a quick parable to get you thinking...

A Harvard MBA meets a Mexican Fisherman

A vacationing American businessman standing on the pier of a quaint coastal fishing village in southern Mexico watched as a small boat with just one young Mexican fisherman pulled into the dock. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. Enjoying the warmth of the early afternoon sun, the American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

"How long did it take you to catch them?" the American casually asked.

"Oh, a few hours," the Mexican fisherman replied.

"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American businessman then asked.

The Mexican warmly replied, "With this I have more than enough to meet my family's needs."

The businessman then became serious, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"

Responding with a smile, the Mexican fisherman answered, "I sleep late, play with my children, watch ball games, and take siesta with my wife. Sometimes in the evenings I take a stroll into the village to see my friends, play the guitar, sing a few songs..."

The American businessman impatiently interrupted, "Look, I have an MBA from Harvard, and I can help you to be more profitable. You can start by fishing several hours longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra money, you can buy a bigger boat. With the additional income that larger boat will bring, before long you can buy a second boat, then a third one, and so on, until you have an entire fleet of fishing boats."

Proud of his own sharp thinking, he excitedly elaborated a grand scheme which could bring even bigger profits, "Then, instead of selling your catch to a middleman you'll be able to sell your fish directly to the processor, or even open your own cannery. Eventually, you could control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this tiny coastal village and move to Mexico City, or possibly even Los Angeles or New York City, where you could even further expand your enterprise."

Having never thought of such things, the Mexican fisherman asked, "But how long will all this take?"

After a rapid mental calculation, the Harvard MBA pronounced, "Probably about 15-20 years, maybe less if you work really hard."

"And then what, señor?" asked the fisherman.

"Why, that's the best part!" answered the businessman with a laugh. "When the time is right, you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

"Millions? Really? What would I do with it all?" asked the young fisherman in disbelief.

The businessman boasted, "Then you could happily retire with all the money you've made. You could move to a quaint coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, play with your grandchildren, watch ball games, and take siesta with your wife. You could stroll to the village in the evenings where you could play the guitar and sing with your friends all you want."

Look for more Influences coming soon!