Looking back on what I read in 2014 was like flipping through a photo album of memories and mindsets. This year my books reflect the challenges I faced, creative outlets I embraced, my desire to lead well, and a totally new life stage.
Below are some notes of the ideas that resonated with me…
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High & Getting to Yes: Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In: Both of these helped me to design and initiate some crucial conversations, view negotiations in a new (less frightening) light, and gain confidence in my ability to work through critical, high stress moments without burning bridges or getting “emotional”.
The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup: Guide for navigating the tricky waters of startup negotiations and tough topics like equity, founder’s roles, and growth.
The Innovator’s Dilemma: Reminder that none of the big companies are bulletproof and sometimes you can fail precisely because you do everything “right”. There are times when you actually shouldn’t listen to the customer and times when you should pursue smaller markets over larger ones.
David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants: Don’t assume things are always what they appear. Challenge perceptions when things look like they are stacked against the underdog. Adversity can be an advantage.
How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character: The qualities that matter most in our children have less to do with test scores and IQ and more to do with soft skills such as: grit, curiosity, conscientiousness and optimism. Early trauma in childhood has lasting effects, but adversity can be overcome. Soft skills aren’t fluff–they matter.
Existing character education programs have no statistically relevant impact. Building soft skills and character are not t-shirt campaigns or assembly topics, they must be woven into the culture of the school and the community.
Parents want to protect, but children do need to experience and overcome adversity to develop grit.
Here is a discussion guide to go along with this book.
Creativity, Inc: The power of the “brain trust”, empowering employees, and creating a culture where creativity can flourish and we can be our best selves. Anyone in an organization should be able, and encouraged, to talk to anyone. Don’t get so busy trying to avoid errors that you don’t do anything. Managers should make others feel able to take risks. Look for the unseen before leading.
The Sketchnote Workbook: I really discovered Sketchnoting this year and have integrated it into almost everything, from my to do list practices, to my meeting synopsis. I have always enjoyed drawing, but now my drawing has an everyday purpose.
Recently I have ventured into applying this concept in the digital workspace and working with students to express their thinking in this way. I even tried it out during a keynote. Looking forward to presenting on this topic at TCEA in February.
Show Your Work: Meeting Austin Kleon was definitely a highlight of this year! His deceptively simple concepts have inspired me and become a part of the message I share with others. Finding your scenius. Embrace being an amateur. Share something small every day. Show people what is really going on behind the scenes. Do what you do best and link to the rest.
This little masterpiece is on my desk to remind me of all these bits of wisdom.
Maximize Your Potential: Grow Your Expertise, Take Bold Risks & Build an Incredible Career & Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, & Sharpen Your Creative Mind: I think I started these two last year, but revisited this year. Lots of helpful hints on productivity, workflow, habit creation, creativity, goal setting, and career planning. I also love their size and design–wouldn’t expect anything less from 99u of course.
The Year Without Pants: Unique perspective and lessons learned here on entrepreneurship, what work really looks like (especially at a tech company), building team culture, and communication. The enjoyable narrative and anecdotes made me feel like I was learning right alongside Scott.
Turn the Ship Around: One simple change David Marquet made on the USS Santa Fe that stuck with me was implementing the phrase “I intend to…” This would be another fantastic addition to school leadership’s reading list where a shift from leader follower to leader leader could spark some major cultural changes that are long overdue.
Leaders Eat Last: When leaders are willing to “eat last” they are rewarded with extremely loyal employees who will rally behind their leader and make their vision a reality. The politics, self-interest, and drama of the typical workplace are a far cry from the circle of safety, as Sinek refers to it, which fosters trust and collaboration.
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business: Anyone who has tried to kick a bad habit knows, it isn’t as simple as it seems. However, once you know how habits work you can begin to control them. Duhigg explains the habit loop, a the three step process for how our brain deals with and forms habits, made up of cues, routines, and rewards.
It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens: I became a true book nerd this year. Not only did I attend Danah’s book talk during SXSW, but I also joined a Voxer group book study of It’s Complicated. The Voxer group was a powerful way to go through the book. My ideas were challenged and I could wrestle with the meat of this topic with smarties from a variety of diverse backgrounds.
I put this under leadership with the thought that educational leaders should really dive into this book, along with parents, teachers, and anyone who interacts with children and young adults today (so pretty much everyone). The title is very fitting.
The Girl’s Guide to Being Boss: Without Being a B****: This one grabbed me at Half Price Books. I fell for the cover and title…like click bait. I was curious, but didn’t have high expectations. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Filled with informative and sometimes amusing stories of female bosses and how to handle leadership with grace. Finding the balance between pushover and dictator is tricky. Reminded me of some of Tina Fey’s lessons in Bossypants and Sheryl Sandberg’s movement to get rid of the word bossy.
The Advantage: A healthy workplace culture trumps everything. Makes sense. When I think about the stories I hear and the things I have experienced in different work settings, focusing on the organizational health (similar to the concepts in Leader’s Eat Last) will repay employers ten fold with productive, content, and empowered employees. Doesn’t this all start with soft skills?
I even read two fiction ones…
Atlas Shrugged: no comment…not sure why I read this. I guess I felt like I should.
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: intriguing mystery novel that I stumbled upon at a library sale.
New Life Stage
(And a bunch of other ones I skimmed…)
I read a bunch of baby books in preparation for my first kiddo’s arrival this summer. While I am glad I had the information and a couple reference books, nothing could have prepared me for the realities of becoming a parent for the first time.
Spoiler alert–there is nothing like it!