The Original Shrewd Political Insider

Nicole Schilnger Dying Everyday

Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James S. Romm

If you have read Ryan Holiday’s books — including Ego is the Enemy, The Obstacle is the Way, or The Daily Stoic — and think you have a decent understanding of Seneca, you are wrong.

You think you know Seneca? If you haven’t read this book, you don’t know Seneca.

Dying Every Day is the story of Seneca’s life and the circumstances in which he wrote his greatest works of fiction and philosophy.

In his time, Seneca was known as a shrewd political insider — much like a Karl Rove or David Axelrod of his day. As the tutor of the young Emporer Nero, he either knew about and may have played an active role in Nero’s murder of his brother, Brittancus, and mother, Agrippina, herself an amazing political power broker.

Many of his works were designed to be political propaganda, and only at the end, when the alligator he fed eventually came to eat him, did he seem to recant and wish to have led a more ascetic life.

Did Seneca know he wasn’t living his life in accordance to his principles? Is that why he chose to write such enduring works of Stoic philosophy?

I look forward to seeing what Ryan Holiday has to say on this in his upcoming book: Lives of the Stoics which will be released on September 29th.

Nicole Schlinger The Queen's Secret

The Queen’s Secret: A Novel of England’s World War II Queen by Karen Harper

This book is a fictionalized account of the amazing role Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (a.k.a. “The Queen Mother”) played as the Queen of England during World War II.

There are many “ripped from the headlines” scenes including Edward VII’s abdication, her husband’s George V’s coronation, many meetings with Winston Churchill, the bombing of London and young Princess Elizabeth’s first meeting of Prince Phillip. Hitler even called the Queen “The most dangerous woman in Europe.”

However, in this fictionalized account, the Queen harbors some very deep, dark secrets that pertain to Edward VII and Wallis Simpson.

All that should make for a very dramatic, very exciting story. However, the author’s constant repetition of Elizabeth’s internal monologue about having these secrets was just offputting. It seemed as if every other page the reader is reminded that Elizabeth has some secrets, and eventually she’ll let you in on them, rather than alluding to such secrets and letting the story unfold.

If you like WWII England historical fiction, it’s worth a shot. If I had it to do over, I’d take a pass.

Literary Grilled Cheese

Nicole Schlinger russell wilson

It Takes What It Takes: How to Think Neutrally and Gain Control of Your Life by Trevor Moawad

This book came at the recommendation of Ryan Holiday. The premise is a good one: Winners do what it takes to win. They don’t whine or complain. They don’t pick and choose what parts of the process to follow. Once you have decided to do what it takes, you no longer have choices. It takes what it takes.

Trevor Moawad is a passionate, talented, ambitious young man. He’s an amazing force of nature. The fact that he spends so much time in the book focused on “neutral thinking” rather than positive or negative thinking shows how much he struggles with keeping his emotions in check every minute of the day. He’s found a way to conquer it and thrive.

The problem with the book is that it’s just too personal. So personal that it was hard for me — a 45 year old woman — to see myself or relate to any of his examples. The book promised to show how his sports philosophy would apply to business, but time after time, his examples were entirely about sports. At times, it seemed like you needed to know Trevor and all of the inside baseball about who coached where and who attended some training camp to even understand the anecdotes.

I understand the philosophy and see the value in it. If I were a 25 year old man, this book would be my everything. But it just wasn’t for me. Hopefully he takes another shot at it because the world could use some more Trevor.

Nicole Schlinger Jane Austen

The Jane Austen Society: A Novel by Natalie Jenner

This debut novel by Natalie Jenner was an easy, heartwarming read, like the literary version of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

This novel is set in the small English town of Chawton, the final home of Jane Austen for the last decade of her life. Set in the early Post War years, each characters has faced a devastating loss and has found comfort in Austen’s works.

This motley crew including a farmer, a house girl, teacher, doctor, movie star, and heiress joins together with the goal of preserving Austen’s legacy and creating a permanent museum and memorial. The building of the museum proves to be the rebuilding of their lives.

Just pure escapist pleasure. Perfect pandemic timing. Look forward to reading more from Natalie Jenner. This is a great one for Rep. Elise Stefanik— a relaxing read after spending the day defending our country from those who wish to destroy it.

Book Review Time

Nicole Schlinger Upstream

Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen by Dan Heath

I began reading this oddly prescient book on March 8th, just a few weeks before Governors across the country closed schools and businesses, forcing millions of people out of work.

It is a discussion about why societies continually deal with problems downstream, putting out fires that are already ablaze instead of preventing them from starting in the first place. The primary problem remains that you cannot mandate upstream action in a free society. Unless you are the leader of the Chinese Communist party or a member of the Kim Family in North Korea, you do not get to decide what is “good” for others and force your worldview upon them, no matter how much you believe you know best.

To his credit, Dan Heath does not try to use his cry for upstream, preventative action as a rallying cry for big government overlords. His examples are, for the most part, local, voluntary, and effective.

This is one of many great reads by Dan Heath and his brother Chip.

You may also want to check out: The Power of Moments Why Certain Experiences have Extraordinary Impact.

nicole schlinger fix this next

Fix This Next: Make the Vital Change That Will Level Up Your Business by Mike Michalowicz

Mike Michalowicz (Author of Profit First) understands what it’s like to build a business from a crazy idea into a real thing that exists in the world.

If that’s your dream and your struggle, go out and get yourself a copy of Fix This Next.

As entrepreneurs, we see many challenges and opportunities all at once. The question (or problem) is which one to tackle first.

Mike has adapted Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to business and given entrepreneurs a quick, effective decision-making framework to help you figure out what’s next. Being an entrepreneur is a lonely job. Even when you have a great team around you, the ultimate responsibly lies with you and you alone. So a framework like this is like having a trusted mentor and friend, like having a Yoda on your shoulder in those important moments. Let Mike be your Yoda. You won’t be disappointed.

If you haven’t read Mike Michalowicz’s other books, you should check them out. If you are just getting started, read The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. If you are spending every penny that comes into your business paddling like a dog underwater just to stay alive, try Profit First. And if your business is running, but all the gears require you to spin them, stop EVERYTHING you are doing and read Clockwork. Check out my review here.

Another Day, Another Book Review

Nicole Schlinger Rebecca Serle

In Five Years: A Novel by Rebecca Serle

After Rebecca Serle’s last dumpster fire of a book, you may wonder why I picked this one up. Once again the premise for the book seemed so compelling, the execution just had to be worth the ride. Once again, disappointment.

As the story opens, “Type -A Manhattan lawyer” Dannie Kohan is on the cusp of getting everything she wants. She is about to get the job she has not only dreamed of, but doggedly, determinedly worked towards every day of her life. She is about to get engaged to a man who by all rights, seems perfect for her. Not a wallflower. Not a lazy lout. But content with Dannie being the one whose career takes precedence in their upcoming marriage. On the eve of all this joy, Dannie has a weird dream where she wakes up five years in the future, in a different apartment, next to a different man. From there, the rest of the book is a journey of discover to find out what happens to screw up her life so that it does not end up as planned. I won’t spoil the surprises if you plan to read the book.

Here’s my problem with the premise of this book. Just because she has this weird dream, just because some terrible things happen to people she cares about, does not mean that the career she’s fought for and man she picked suddenly is not good enough. This woman goes from being completely all there and put together to being a typical Chick-Lit “Bridget Jones” mess. I just don’t buy it. Read my prior review here:


Nicole Schlinger allison pataki

The Queen’s Fortune: A Novel of Desiree, Napoleon, and the Dynasty That Outlasted the Empire by Allison Pataki

This book had everything I look for in historical fiction: action, suspense, and an education.

I’d never heard of Desiree Clary and her amazing, lifelong connection to Napoleon Bonaparte. She was Napoleon’s first fiancé and eventually his sister in law. She was a lady in waiting at the court of Empress Josephine. And it was Napoleon himself who introduced her to her eventual husband, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, the future King of Sweden.

Fun side note — Allison Pataki is the daughter of former NY Governor, George Pataki. He was given little chance of defeating Mario Cuomo in 1994, that glorious year of the Republican revolution. He came to Syracuse University where we few college Republicans valiantly waved signs on his behalf. Unbelievably, he won and became the longest serving Republican Governor of the State of New York. It was George Pataki who suggested Desiree would make an incredibly subject for Allison’s next book. Once again, he was right.

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

Nicole Schlinger Ryan Holiday

And then the pandemic started.

If this was your first existential crisis … welcome. Hope it didn’t kick you too hard.

For those of us in the arena, whose backs have been up against the wall before, who have had to make the decision “do I live or die today?” … do I put up my hands in surrender or do I turn and fight? We’ve been practicing for this our whole lives. We’re made for this. Like Marcus Aurelius says, “What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do?

So when it felt like the walls were closing in, I picked up my copy of the Daily Stoic, ironically on March 20th. “Ready and At Home.”

I read the entire year again in under a week. If you want to come out the other side of this mess as a winner, read this now. If you need further convincing, check out my prior review.

Thanks for reading,


Nicole Schlinger


P.S. – If you’re looking for some page turners, check out my complete book list for 2018 for a good place to start.

Nicole Schlinger’s Pandemic Reading

Hey friends — how has your pandemic reading been going?

If you haven’t been using this time to expand your knowledge, get organized, make plans and set goals … you have missed out. The world is opening back up, and given the history of pandemics, it’s not likely you’ll have another chance like this in your lifetime. Shakespeare wrote Macbeth during a pandemic. Newton called his semester away from school his “year of wonders.” It was during this time he first set forth his laws of motion.

Like Robert Greene says, it’s either Dead time or Alive time. Either way the time will pass. What will you make of it?

Check out this fantastic podcast clip from Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss here:


If you’ve been wondering about the reading I’ve been doing during the pandemic (of course you’re wondering) you can always follow along very closely on my Medium page . 

In the meantime, here is a quick look at a few books I spent some time with:

Nicole Schlinger Country Living

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living: A Novel by Louise Miller

I read this book at the recommendation of Elise Stefanik. Yes, that’s right. The very same Rep. Elise Stefanik who represents NY’s 21st District, the youngest Republican woman ever elected to Congress, who persisted while being repeatedly called out of order by an older man of the opposing party, reads for at least 30 minutes before going to bed each night. She publishes the list of books she’s read each year.

Now, onto the book itself.

This is the kind of engaging, light-hearted story that will take your mind off the day’s troubles. A fast, fun, easy read.

However, don’t mistake this book for an accurate depiction of rural life. If you are a city dweller seekingthe permanent social distancing of rural life, do not expect country folk eagerly embrace sassy, urban newcomers with purple hair. Expect the nail that sticks up to get hammered down.

Nicole Schlinger all the ways we said goodbye

All the Ways We Said Goodbye: A Novel of the Ritz Paris, by Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, Karen White

If you like historical fiction, it doesn’t get better than Beatriz Williams. While most Beatriz Williams novels have two intersecting plot lines, this one has THREE! This is because Williams has teamed up yet again with Lauren Willig and Karen White. Each one writes a different point of view and the result is amazing.

All three plot lines — World War I, World War II, and peacetime 1960’s — center around the Ritz Hotel in Paris. The WWI and WWII plotlines have plenty of excitement, suspense, and adventure. It was fun to unravel how the characters in one era would show up in the other. However, the 1960’s characters seemed shallow and contrived, as if their only purpose was to tell you what eventually happened to the earlier characters.

As always, characters from Beatriz Williams’ previous novels made cameo appearances, and it’s quite possible a minor character in this book will show up as the star in a future one. So while this wasn’t my favorite Williams novel, it’s definitely worth a read.

Nicole Schlinger the power of bad

The Power of Bad: How the Negativity Effect Rules Us and How We Can Rule It by John Tierney

Well, it’s fitting that I read this right before a global pandemic decimated the economy. Who knew the American people would surrender their liberty so willingly?

The long and short of this book is that you are genetically hard-wired to look on the negative side of most events. People who tend to see the good in everything are outliers, and natural selection weeds them out over time. Thank goodness, because they are terribly annoying!

This book spent a lot more time on why negativity is so powerful than on “how we can rule it.” So if you want advice on that, check out The Daily Stoic instead.

I’ll be back with more books next week. In the meantime, drop me a line and let me know what you’ve been reading or if you have anything you think I should check out.
Nicole Schlinger

Flash Reading List – Part III

Welcome to the third installment on my series of super short book reviews! I hope these flash reading lists give you some inspiration to pick up something new and different.

You can catch the first two sets of reviews HERE and HERE.

As we enter the second half of the year, I’m just finishing book #21, roughly 9 books behind average and a full 14 off my personal best.

Let’s get right to the next five books that YOU may want on your reading list …Click through to read my reviews. 

Nicole Schlinger Victoria's daughtersNicole Schlinger America's First DaughterNicole Schlinger Park Avenue SummerNicole Schlinger David McCulloughNicole Schlinger I will teach you to be rich
Which ones look interesting to you? I’d love to know.
Have a great week,
Nicole Schlinger and Chief Canine Officer Martha Waffles
Nicole Schlinger

A Look Ahead

Well, after the giant dumpster fire that was my 2018 reading list, I’m setting the bar at 55 books this year. For a book to be “counted” that means reading the first page, the last page, and every page in between. No skimming, no summaries, no cheating.

While I’ve been known to finish the year with a quick re-read of Seth Godin (short) masterpiece “The Dip” … I ordinarily do not let the length of the book or the time it will take to finish influence my selections.

This year, I’m starting off with The Life of Elizabeth I by Allison Weir, albeit not the super cool leather bound edition pictured below.

Check out the rest of what I’m reading this year on my Medium post here: 

What are you looking forward to reading this year? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email.



Nicole Schlinger, President of Campaign Headquarters

Start Your New Year Off Right

Now that we’re getting settled into 2019, I thought I’d give you the perfect way to start your year off right – with 5 good books for you to try.

If you’re new here, you should know I’m a book lover and I am constantly looking for good recommendations and enjoy sharing a few thoughts of my own. In fact, I started a Medium page solely dedicated to book reviews. Be sure to follow it here 

Anyway, here are my Top 5 reads from last year – you should pick these up today.

1. Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, by Ryan Holiday

2. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

3. Sales Differentiation: 19 Powerful Strategies to Win More Deals at the Prices You Want by Lee B. Salz (Nicole Schlinger book review coming soon!)

4. Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

5. Hetty: The Genius and Madness of America’s First Female Tycoon by Charles Slack


Conspiracy and Bad Blood were full of action and adventure. Conspiracy was the story behind Peter Thiel’s decade-long quest for revenge against Nick and Gawker. Bad Blood was the larger than life, almost unbelievable tale of the rise and fall of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes.

Sales Differentiation delivers much more than its fishy title implies. It’s a real, how-to guide for giving your customers extraordinary value.

Principles by Ray Dalio is an instant classic. It delivers on its promise as an operating system for life and work. (And even suggests that we should not try separating the two.)

And last by not least … Hetty. You probably didn’t learn about Hetty Green in public school. She was caricatured and ridiculed in life and death. So much of what’s said about her is an exaggeration, and never … ever flattering. This is the true story of the first female tycoon in America. It’s not pretty. But I challenge you to come away from this book without respect and admiration for this American pioneer.

I hope you’ll pick up a new book this year.


Thanks for reading,


Wrapping Up the Year in Books

I know we closed the books on 2018 a few weeks ago now, but I thought I’d take a quick look back on the year in terms of books.

Coming in at 38, this is the fewest books I’ve read in a year since I began tracking in 2013.

Like Ryan Holiday says, “I promised myself a long time ago that if I saw a book that interested me, I’d never let time or money or anything else prevent me from having it … Enjoy these books, treat your education like the job that it is, and let me know if you ever need anything.”

I’m setting might sights on 2019 to for more exciting books to come (which I’ll preview in another post). But here is my complete book list for 2018, if you’re interested.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read any of these or suggestions for books to add to my 2019 list.

Keep reading, friends.

Nicole Schlinger, President of Campaign Headquarters