Women Of The Channel: What To Read10:00 AM EST Wed. Jun. 19, 2013
CRN's Women of the Channel still find time in their hectic schedules to put their noses in a good paperback (or Kindle, Nook, etc.) These books range from all-business to autobiographies to a little bit of everything. If you're looking for your next summer page-turner, give these 30 suggestions a shot.
"Fierce Loyalty" by Sarah Robinson is a great testament to the importance of loyalty in organizations, inclusive of customers and employees. Sarah suggests specific steps you can take to make loyalty the cornerstone of your business plan. In today's turbulent business climate, retaining your customer base while expanding it with new "soon to be wildly loyal" clients is a winning strategy. And I have seen time after time that when employees are loyal, results soar.
I am currently reading and loving Adam Grant’s "Give and Take." It’s been great to see research that supports what really feels right to me on a human level – which is that doing the right thing and trying to help others, pays off increasingly over time. My purpose in life isn’t to keep score – it’s to leave this world, in some small way, better off than I found it. Grant’s book is a delightful discovery that this strategy can also drive business success.
"Built to Last", authored by James C. Collins and "Who Moved My Cheese" by Spencer Johnson. Both books are simple in concept, yet from them I learned the importance of building a strong foundation with sustainability for the long term, while still being able to adapt to change quickly – this applies to both my business and personal life.
Sometimes I think EVERY (non-fiction) book I have read has helped me in business, even the ones related to world history. It's all how you absorb things and actively think, "what can I learn from this?". I am an avid reader who has recently found myself going back to the basics and re-reading classics like "How to Win Friends and Influence People," "The E Myth," and "Think and Grow Rich."
"Before You Leap" by Kermit the Frog, which has two overarching messages that are inspiring to me. First, regardless of the role you play in life or business, you’re you and you matter. The second core idea is that everyone has a dream that drives them and that by supporting each other to achieve that dream makes life meaningful. Connecting with what their dream is and doing my part in helping them to achieve that continues to motivate me every day. It’s something that is at the forefront of every decision that I make as a leader.
"Wild Swans" by Jung Chang, is an inspiring story about what can be achieved by determination and focus. Her stories remind me of how privileged I am to have had the education and career opportunities that have gotten me to my current role. I also enjoyed President Eisenhower’s biography, which is full of good leadership lessons and anecdotes. Another favorite book is George Washington’s biography. It paints a vivid picture of a man who had unique strengths, weaknesses, and he also had a strong, clear vision which he pursued despite obstacles and uncertainty. I most enjoy historical non-fiction and biographies.
"Give and Take"—I like the idea of balance that this book introduces. He explains how most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly. But, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return. I still believe in the Golden Rule and have tried to always honor "doing the right thing" in dealing with both professional relationships and business contracts. Always be fair.
John Maxwell's "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You" is one of my favorite books focused on leadership and business. It recounts leadership successes and mistakes across a broad range of industries, and has helped me to be better prepared for some of the leadership challenges I have faced throughout my career.
Years ago, I was given the book, "Whale Done - The Power of Positive Relationships" by Ken Blanchard, by a former manager during a meeting. The ideas and messages in this book have stayed with me for years. The book chronicles the relationship between trainers and orca whales at Sea World, and explains how this relationship can be used to shape the business interactions we have with our customers, partners, employees, and family. A valuable lesson I learned by reading Whale Done is to catch people doing the right things and recognize them for it.
Although neither of these books are new, Steven Levitt's / Stephen Dubner’s "Freakonomics" and "SuperFreakonomics" continue to be influential in my thinking. It’s easy to convince yourself you know "the story" behind the numbers and completely miss leading indicators. Levitt showed me that you have to be willing to check out the outliers and avoid brushing them off as bad data or anomalies. Not everything is a red flag, but if you keep your eyes open, you’ll find a few than can change your execution and outcomes.
"Pour Your Heart Into I: How Starbucks Built A Company One Cup At A Time" by Howard Schultz and Dori Jones Yang (Jan 6, 1999). This book was very inspirational on how Howard applied his vision and passion to become one of the world's most success and respected brands. Starbucks' approach to business with their flawless exection, well defined processes and commitment to quality; along with their strong and postivie corporate culture, great employee benefits, employee appreciation and value serves as a great role model for other companies to emulate and aspire to.
I recommend that everyone read "The Art of Possibility" by Benjamin Zander and Rosamund Stone Sander. The book provides a unique approach to giving people the benefit of the doubt and using leadership to help others find for themselves. It offers a fresh perspective at leading and helping others lead in today's hyper-competitive landscape. Another important book is Patty Azzarello's book "Rise." Patty offers some powerful advice on how to be authentic while still leading – and why everything you do impacts the bottom line.
There are two books that have definitely inspired me. First is "The Speed of Trust" by Stephen Covey. I believe that all relationships are built on a foundation of trust. It is essential to have trust in all relationships across your peers, your management team and within your own team. The second is "First, Break All the Rules" by Marcus Buckingham. I read this book when I first became a people manager. I wanted nothing more than to be the best leader I could possibly be for my team and felt that this book had some great insights to share.
While many books have inspired me, there are two books "The Effective Executive" by Peter Drucker and "Managing the Professional Services Firm" by David Maister that have helped me in business. Drucker's book showed me new ways to be an effective and time-conscious executive, understanding the art of prioritizing, delegating and leveraging my own talents for the good of the organization. Maister's book provided useful strategies and insight into the unique management principles and challenges of a professional service firm. His book armed me with useful strategies I can apply at work as COO of a professional services firm.
Malcolm Gladwell books constantly provide an interesting and fresh perspective on life, both personally and professionally. Nowadays, I find more and more articles on LinkedIn and other related sites which provide daily inspiration and a fresh perspective on current events and trends.
One of my all time favorite books is "The Speed of Trust" by Stephen M.R. Covey, which shines a light on trust as a critical factor for high-performance teams and organization. A more recent favorite of mine is "The Happiness Advantage" by Shawn Achor, which emphasizes how a positive mind-set can contribute to a more engaged, energetic and productive work culture. Happiness brings success is the key point, not the other way around.
There are quite a few books that have inspired me, but one to which I refer back frequently is "Success Built to Last: Creating a Life that Matters," by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson. It’s a great series of spontaneous interviews with "extraordinary individuals whose impact on the world endures," such as Richard Branson, Steve Forbes and Maya Angelou, to name a few. They share their personal insights and experiences regarding success and failure, enduring changes, and basic human issues such as "self-identity, self-renewal, and how to put true meaning into life and work."
There are so many great books, but one that stands out is "Leading With Soul" by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal. It is a great reminder that business is much more than the numbers. It is a cliche but a business is the people and the teams they form. Leaders that lose sight of that lose so much more than just the financial results. And, just like with families, it is the stories and the shared experiences that create a bond between us and that mean so much more than any paycheck.
I recently read "Shift Happens!" by Robert Holden. The book focuses on how we can empower ourselves and those around us to recognize our full self potential and not feel our ego’s get in the way. As I read the book I couldn’t help but focus on a number of topics which would help my management style including; "beware of 'I' strain" which is an individual perspective that you are independent and should never ask for help. As I read this, I thought that no team is independent, and success is achieved by teams -- not individuals.
"Blue Ocean Strategy" by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne has inspired and impacted my professional life. It states that in order to gain significant market share in the business world, you must leave the 'red ocean' of head to head competition and find your 'blue ocean' for success. Find your area of differentiation, find the untapped space, think outside of the box and define or build a new market segment or business need that aligns with your strengths and has opportunity for growth. This is key to my personal leadership style as well as my personal approach and experience.
"Work Love Pray" by Diane Paddison, CSO of Cassidy Turley and former COO of Trammel Crow (now CB Richard Ellis) and ProLogis. It is a great book for women professionals who need a little reminder about work life balance while climbing up the corporate ladder.
I continue to refer back to the basics: "Who Moved My Cheese," for example with the reminder to be flexible and patient during change. I cannot always control the situation and need to remind myself not to rush to judgment.
I recently read "Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel H. Pink, which discusses motivation and the scientific principles that managers in the business world are not putting into practice today. One of the things that I found interesting about this book was incentives around performance. If an employee already enjoys what they are doing, they are internally motivated. Therefore if you then provide them with a monetary reward, that could actually de-motivate them. Since I do have a relatively new team, I found this book helpful as far as how I should incentivize each individual.
I recently read "Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg, and I agree with her that women need to own their empowerment. I’ve also been motivated by "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. It shows how luck, timing and perseverance play a huge role in success. In my own life, I have seen how tenacity and hard work have helped me to become an effective a leader.
"Leading Out Loud" by Terry Pearce. This book discusses the importance of authenticity in leadership to build loyalty in organizations. It helps leaders find ways to effectively communicate their values and vision in order to inspire commitment. The book provides great tools as you lead an organization through change, which I found particularly useful given the ever-changing business environments most of us work in.
This is going to sound random, but I enjoy reading books on science and physics like "Black Holes and Time Warps" by Kip Thorne and "The Greatest Show on Earth" by Richard Dawkins. They are super-interesting, encourage analytical thinking, and help keep life and work in perspective.
I am passionate about being who I was created to be and to serve out the purpose I am meant to serve so I tend to read books and do studies that allow me to focus and develop purposefully. Bob Buford's book "HalfTime" talks about leading a life of significance and not only success. Pat Gelsinger's book "The Juggling Act" talks about creating balance with those things most important to you including faith, family and a career. These two highly successful career men offer inspiration as well as "job aides" for life or purpose and balance.
"Maverick" -- a great true story about a company who gave back the running of the business to the staff to see how they would manage things. Good insight into behavior and decision making when each decision has a direct positive or negative consequence to each worker.
"Social Media Strategies for Professionals and Their Firms" by Michelle Golden. Michelle does a wonderful job providing resources and real-life examples for professionals who want to utilize social media to communicate and interact with clients, partners, and colleagues. Simon Sinek's "Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" is another career-changing read.
I have been trying to finish "Mastering the Rockefeller Habits." I think this book shows some basic steps needed to transform an organization. I think it is especially helpful in our business as it is so fast-paced.