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Leaders Should Be Readers - Part 3

If you've been reading along, you've probably found lots of books not commonly related to umpiring that can help you improve your game.

And lucky you - we have some more. Here we go with the third part in our three-part series on books to help you become a better umpire.

1. Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham and the Science of Success, by Matthew Syed

Shameless name drop here - A few years ago I attended a seminar by John Cleese of Monty Python fame, and this is one of the books he recommended. So I found it.

In the book, Syed spends a long time showing, with anecdotes, science and myth-busting, how talent is made, not born.

And he should know - Syed, at the age of 24, was the top table tennis player in Britain. He documents in detail the factors that all had to align to make him reach the top, and none of those factors had anything to do with who he was when he was born. It had more to do with things such as his parents buying a deluxe table tennis table when he was seven - even though neither of his parents played the game.

In addition, his older brother loved to play as much as he did, and his school teacher happened to care about table tennis more than almost anything.

From that start, Syed illustrates how almost anyone, with the right determination and training, can succeed at something if they really want it bad enough. It's a good example and inspiration for umpiring seeking to climb the ladder to better assignments.

2. The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience, by Carmine Gallo

Imagine you're in charge of a key presentation to your umpire group. Something fairly complicated. Maybe the advantageous fourth out, or batting out of turn. Or maybe you have several complicated presentations to make.

You could do worse than follow the example of Steve Jobs, whose presentations were legendary.

Gallo, a communication-skills coach, maps out a ready-to-use framework of presentation secrets based on Jobs' examples, that will help you plan, deliver, and refine your presentations.

Gallo breaks it down into three sections - Create the Story, Deliver the Experience, and Refine and Rehearse.

If Jobs could break down something as ground-breaking and complicated as an iPod into five words - "1,000 songs in your pocket" - you can learn how to simplify your presentation so everyone understands it.

3. How to Deliver a TED Talk: Secrets of the World's Most Inspiring Presentations, by Jeremey Donovan

Staying with presentations, this one shows you how to actually speak in front of an audience and make your presentation so that everyone has an enjoyable time - including you.

If you don't know what TED is, it stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. It started as a conference for a few hundred people and grew into one of the world's most popular presentation devices, challenging presenters to give "the speech of the lives" in 18 minutes or less.

A TEDx organizer and speaker, Donovan provides more than 100 tips - from opening with an explicit statement of audience benefits to framing your ideas as an action-outcome response.

It's a relatively brief book at 205 pages, but it's filled with practical and helpful tips, such as: add vocal variety by varying your speed, volume, and pitch; and start with a story when your speech is emotional and entertaining.

In addition to his 100 tips, Donovan breaks down speeches of other TED presenters and gives helpful insights from those as well.

4. Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional, by John G. Miller

Do you think of your umpire group as an organization or business? Perhaps you should. If you focus on how to retain customers and staff (leagues and umpires), increase market share and building your group's reputation, more success will no doubt come your way.

Miller's tips include short chapters on topics such as: Keep the Mission "Top of Mind;" Give People Tools, Not Slogans; Make Meetings Meaningful; and Value Ideas Over Politics.

There's enough in this small (206 pages) to improve any umpires' group.

Miller peppers the book with lots of personal stories so you can clearly understand the point he's trying to make each time.<