Books can be great networking tools – as conversation starters, means for follow-up, or to enhance your personal brand. There is also a wealth of personal and career knowledge in books that we sometimes forget to tap into with so much information at our fingertips online.
That being said, finding your next read from a sea of bookstore shelves or the virtually endless expanse of the internet can be incredibly disorienting.
To help you narrow down your search (and motivate a break from your screen time), here are five recommendations from a few of The Forem’s Mentors – guaranteed to spark conversations with colleagues and/or help you grow as a professional.
Drive by Dan Pink
Recommended by Laurie Battaglia, Founder and CEO of Aligned at Work, Drive – though published in 2011 – is rife with evergreen insights. By diving into the science behind motivation, Daniel Pink challenges traditional beliefs around what keeps employees engaged at work.
(Spoiler alert: it’s not money.)
Many organizations are actively brainstorming ways to prevent attrition and burn-out, especially in the wake of “The Great Resignation/Reshuffle.” Having this text under your belt can help you participate in (and potentially lead) conversations around retention – ultimately creating a more collaborative, innovative company culture.
2. Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
Speaking of leadership…Dare to Lead by Brene Brown proves that the marks of a leader are not exclusive to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder. Sharen Phillips, Head of Platform Partners, U.S. Channel Sales at Google, recommends this book to ICs, people managers, and executives alike.
In Brown’s trademark edgy prose, she breaks down the core elements of a successful leader – generosity, curiosity, confidence, etc. – and offers strategies for cultivating these assets (in yourself and others) at every stage of your career.
3. Me & White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
We all have unconscious (or conscious) biases that influence how we interact with others. Each of our identities represents a breadth of histories and tensions – good and bad – that we must acknowledge in order to continue growing as individuals and as a society.
Jess Shuraleff, ex-Googler and current Founder/Host of the This is My Truth podcast, recommends Layla F. Saad’s deep dive into racial injustice – Me & White Supremacy – as an insightful tool for social stewardship.
For those who feel unsure where to start when it comes to “doing the work” to dismantle their own racism, this text doubles as a workbook with a month’s worth of journal prompts to encourage critical introspection and meaningful action in your community.
4. Boundaries by Henry Cloud
Most of us can agree: boundaries are a must for a successful work/life balance. Still, not all of us are great at actually setting them. Largely due to toxic stereotypes around “what it takes” to move up the corporate ladder (i.e., working over time, staying online during PTO, etc.) many of us fear that saying “no” – no matter how swamped we may be – is an express ticket to the bottom of our vertical.
Thankfully, as organizations come to recognize the legitimacy (and cost) of burnout, these pressures are fading at the institutional level. Still, for many employees, the psychological damage remains.
In case you are one of the millions of us that struggle to protect our time and energy (or you just need a reminder that it is perfectly ok to do so), Minnisa Shook, Professional Development Coach and Quality Manager at Bullhorn, recommends reading Boundaries by Henry Cloud.
5. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Many of us are guilty of simply saying “yes” to every project that comes our way, but over time, this can not only negatively impact our personal brands, but slow our progress toward meaningful career goals. Knowing how to decline, triage, and ultimately optimize your “to-dos” is a success habit that can greatly expedite your professional growth and impact.
This book empowers readers to consider the value of their actions, instead of the sheer volume of their tasks. In other words, McKewon forces us to question: what is the goal or meaning of this assignment, and is it the best use of my time – let alone my strengths? If not, a little self-advocacy could go a long way.