Books That Changed My Life

 George reading Dylan

I’ve been into Tim Ferriss lately, and notice how he asks his mentors which books they recommend — which books have changed their lives.

Which books have changed my life?

While randomly thinking about this question the other day in the shower, my answers became clear. In sharing this, I am opening up about personal issues I have faced that are so ingrained in me that I forget others might not be aware of them.

These books were all “a-ha” moments in my life (mostly during university), and have helped me look at problems in a more productive light. Though I’ve read some of the most influential English literature of the last century, my life-changers are all self-help books:

Feel The Fear … And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers

Feel The Fear cover

This self-help classic — along with a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) class at CAMH for social anxiety — changed my life by getting me to live by its title motto.

“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” It enforces what you learn through CBT — that most fear is in your head, and the only way to realize this is to constantly challenge fear through action. I suffered from debilitating anxiety, but through confronting it, I realized that my worst case scenarios never came to pass — they were kept alive by my imagination.

Confronting your fears is not only exhilarating and courageous, but it’s the only way to live up to your full potential and get what you want out of life. Replace fear with excitement by looking at it in a positive way. Befriend fear by confronting it. I’ve come a long way since then and still have a long way to go, but confronting fear daily is the only way to progress.

In addition to fear challenges, Jeffers provides creative assignments (which I totally did) throughout this book. She’s pretty rad.

Delivered From Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell & John J. Ratey

Delivered From Distraction cover

This is the book that caused me and my parents to self-diagnose ourselves with ADD within weeks of each other. It also caused me to question my entire life while rampantly try to find a doctor who diagnosed ADD. When I finally got diagnosed by a psychiatrist, I got a psychotherapist and life coach, tried every attention and antidepressant drug (while it was free under my university health plan), weaned myself off everything, and ultimately concluded that the best cures were the natural ones: meditation, exercise, good relationships with people, good self care and routine.

I think this book can be beneficial to everyone because it emphasizes the importance of keeping your life in check through healthy routines and relationships, which are usually the things we avoid when we’re overwhelmed, depressed or in pain. It helped me realize that I could optimize my life by focusing on health, progress, and using ADD to my advantage by harnessing the traits I already had, like hyperfocus and creativity. It also focuses on the importance of play, which is a great reminder for any adult: embrace fun.

The Cult of Done Manifesto by Bre Pettis

Cult of Done

While complaining about the same old negative cycle that had been repeating in my life for way too long on a LiveJournal account I have long since deleted, someone recommended this thing called The Cult of Done Manifesto by this person Bre Pettis (who I always thought was a girl until now, when I looked him up and realized he is a highly successful entrepreneur, which is probably why his manifesto got crazy viral exposure).

The Cult of Done is a set of simple rules that effectively battle procrastination and — my biggest hindrance for a long time — perfectionism. My favourite rule after “Laugh at perfection; It’s boring and keeps you from being done,” is that “Failure counts as done.” From a perfectionist’s perspective, failure is the ultimate fear, however when we see failure as a success that we can move on (and hopefully learn) from, it loses its power, and most of the fear associated with it. I have failed a lot in my life, and I hope to fail a lot more, because each failure has taught me lessons about what I don’t want, and perhaps what I still need to work towards. When you embrace life to get done, you take the emotion out of decisions and it becomes a whole lot easier — even fun. After all, “Done is the engine of more.”

A graphic artist used typography to make The Cult of Done rules fit in an aesthetically pleasing way on one page, which I have kept on my desktop for many years. Many other productivity manifestos have formed out of this example. Some of my other favourites:

The [Expert Enough] Manifesto

The Rebel’s Manifesto

Steal Like An Artist → By a Tim Ferris-recommended author that I am also getting into quite rapidly…

Tim Ferriss and his “4-Hour” Books

4-Hour Books

Ferriss won my heart when he talked about meeting with Nina Hartley to learn about female orgasm from an expert in The 4-Hour Body. That and this (very straight man directed) quote about learning how to give a female an orgasm: “This should be required education for every man on the planet.” Yes, this book that is all about self-improvement and biohacking is also sex-positive and feminist. I recently went slow-carb while reading this book, since I already love the vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, select fruits and red wine the diet allows. Stay tuned for my results.

I just began The 4-Hour Workweek, which actually enforces lessons learned through all the above texts, so it’s a good reminder that I’m on the right track. My favourite part thus far is when he talks about positive stress, called eustress, which is basically healthy stress from the people or actions that encourage you to be your best self, instead of belittling and limiting you. “The more eustress we can create or apply to our lives, the sooner we can actualize our dreams,” says Tim.

I’m currently on the part about everybody being insecure, believing in yourself and asking your mentors for advice.

This book is awesome for the people who are already settled in their careers and looking to free time. I’d like to ask Tim a few questions about what he thinks I should be doing to make my money, though. Hey Tim: will you let me ask you three questions?

Let me know what you think of this article by commenting here, and tweet me @ccprmaven with your list of life-changing books — I am genuinely curious.


I did EdgeWalk for the Fearless Challenge

Evelyn EdgeWalk Fearless Challenge

I did it. Confronted one of my biggest fears AND raised money for charity. I set a goal that was specific (I’m scared of heights), measurable (I want to raise $250), achievable (to confront my fear), realistic and timely (in under a month). I had fun participating in the Canadian Cancer Society’s Fearless Challenge. I even wrote about the campaign here.


I did the CN Tower EdgeWalk with my friend James at the end of August. I was just $25 shy of my goal the day of the walk. It was scary but exhilarating. The facilitators playfully eased my nerves (death jokes kept me on edge) and exhibited amazing customer service by encouraging us and enforcing safety. All eight of us EdgeWalkers did team building exercises, confronted our fears and let go of it all as we leaned over a beautiful sunset (and Jays game!) 1168 feet over Toronto.

Ev EdgeWalk August 25

A very nice Canadian Cancer Society representative, Ali, both called and emailed me to encourage and congratulate me. It was really nice. Family and friends supported me, and it started conversations about fear and vulnerability. Reading all the blog posts from cancer survivors on the Fearless site is a powerful experience that I didn’t have much of a glimpse into before. One of my mottos (thanks to Susan Jeffers) has always been Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway. Thanks to the Fearless campaign, that motto represents strength to me louder than before the challenge.

You’re Doing It Wrong: #Hashtagging


I see it all the time on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. People #hashtagging #every #random #word. Here’s a note to the oblivious, because I was once you (and will occasionally hashtag random words in order to click on them and see what pops up): hashtags exist to connect you to a desired audience. When you hashtag something with millions of hits, it’s unlikely anyone is going to see your post. When you use a targeted hashtag? You have an audience.

I recently blogged about this with Pfizer’s use of the hashtag #FOGO, which means “fire” in Portuguese, and hence loses the community it is trying to reach (those who are talking about their Fear Of Getting Old).

I love experimenting with hashtags. I usually search a hashtag before using it, and try to use targeted hashtags. I created a hashtag for my dog (#BrodyJettHallertau), which will let me track her growth from cute puppy to cute adult dog (and easily create a #dowgie collage, rather than search the thousands of photos I post to the very addictive Instagram). Though #craftbeer is one of those rare overused hashtags that tends to get lots of (fleeting) hits, your post won’t be lost if you use a hashtag like #ontariocraftbeer. Again: it hits a more targeted audience. The Ontario craft beer scene is smaller than the world’s craft beer scene.

And there you have it. How to hashtag: don’t be random.

For those who don’t know how to #tbt, here’s a great post on Throwback Thursday etiquette.

Keep calm and hashtag on!



Last week, my coworker Laura Creedon sent around an email about an exciting new campaign: The Canadian Cancer Society’s Fearless Challenge. The gist of the campaign: pledge to conquer one of your fears for an amount of money raised for the cause, and then prove you’ve done it once you hit your target. A bunch of celebrities are on board to draw media attention to the campaign. My favourite is Kevin Zegers, who is a skinny actor taking on a sumo wrestler for $10,000!

The first response I had to Laura’s email: My Fearless Challenge would be the CN Tower EdgeWalk. Ever since a fateful day in February, where we had to present about a sentimental object we had for presentation skills class and one of my friends chose her EdgeWalk photo, I have known that I too need to conquer this fear. However, I thought I’d be doing it a year or so from now. The next day after this email, one of my friends told me he wanted to do EdgeWalk at the end of the month. I told him about the challenge, and knew I needed to seize the opportunity. Conquering one of my biggest fears with a friend by my side is a support system that makes the idea of hanging off the CN Tower less scary. I know we’ll laugh about any panic attacks that come about from leaning both forwards and backwards off the tower, which I intend to do.

Ultimately, it’s your support system that makes any struggle in life worthwhile.

I pledged $250, even though the suggested minimum is $500, because, as someone who has minimal money to donate to charity (though I wish I could donate so much more!), I know it can be hard to reach a high goal. The rule of goal setting we learned in CCPR: be realistic; don’t aim too high. So far my pledge is the lowest declared on the site, however I hope targets can be exceeded!

So: what fear would you conquer for charity?

Sponsor me here! I’ll make a post about the experience after I have reached my goal.

Evelyn’s Beer Story

Brauhaus one year ago (2013)


Haven’t written a blog post in a whiiile. I’ve been busy. When I’m not at Pilot, there’s a good chance I’m working a beer event. In fact, it’s recently been brought to my attention that if you look at my Instagram without knowing me, you might think I’m an alcoholic because I post an obscene amount of craft beer photos.

Okay, so here’s the truth: I’m a beer nerd. I honestly don’t drink very much – but when I do – I make sure it’s damn good beer (and sometimes cider, wine or bourbon). I’ve been into craft beer since university, but got really into it in the last year. I started learning about homebrewing, comparing different styles of beer, and have made some amazing contacts who are helping expand my “bevucation” and beyond that, are great friends. I’ve also managed to network through beer, and make a little money this summer (which I’m pretty much putting right back into craft beer, because it’s an obsession): I’m currently working for Toronto craft breweries Black Oak Brewing Co. and Junction Craft Brewing. Both of these breweries make phenomenal, award-winning beer, and it’s an honour to represent them. Both are cool with me working for competitors. Contrary to what you may think, breweries are supportive of each other and want to see each other succeed. This year alone, more breweries than ever are collaborating together on awesome small-batch beers (Indie Alehouse, Bar Hop, Sawdust City, Great Lakes Brewery‘s Project X and Tank Ten Series, Amsterdam Brewery‘s BrewHouse barrels and bar Volo’s House Ales come to mind). It’s a really great time to be into beer in Toronto.

I got the job at Black Oak through Erica, who I know from The Society of Beer Drinking Ladies, and I got the job at Junction through Sean, who I met the night of the Craft Beer Passport launch and he hired me on the spot. I’ve brewed with Jen and Taylor Shute of Ltd. Supply, am going to do a tasting (and maybe brewing) with Crystal Luxmore, and just might get my Cicerone level one this fall. All of this in the course of a few months… I can’t wait to see what the future holds!

I could go on and on about how beer is a living thing, is incredibly dynamic, creative, and has narrative ingrained in it, as well as expand upon Toronto’s thriving scene… but I’ll leave that to future posts. 😉

Any stories you’d like to share about your craft beer journey? I’d love to hear them!

– Evelyn

Event Maven

You should know who this man is. He’s kind of a big deal.


Barry and Me at Pilot PMR’s Pride is My Co-Pilot event. I sourced a couple presenters, beer, wine, and the fabulous artist and curator James Fowler, whose 10×10 Photography Project was featured throughout the office.

Next up in the world of events: I am on the sponsorships subcommittee for the 2015 PodCamp Toronto conference! Later this month, I will learn how to source some big sponsors from some great new mentors. Excited.