6 Books to Improve Yourself in Business and Life
1. Brave New Work
Are You Ready to Reinvent Your Organization?
By Aaron Dignan
Wherever he goes, organizational consultant Aaron Dignan meets workers and leaders who are frustrated by pressure to grow, deliver, and execute, all while being hamstrung by endless emails and meetings.
“This isn’t the way it has to be, or even the way it always was,” Dignan writes. “Our way of working was created, brick by brick, by gurus, industrialists, robber barons, unions, and universities—generations of managers and workers who came before us. We can thank them for what is still serving us, and we can change the rest.”
Dignan offers a number of solutions. Not all of his advice will be popular with everyone: Dignan’s idea to eliminate bonuses likely wouldn’t go over well in some offices. He invites you to use what you can and what you need, and to experiment in your workplace. Dignan presents his ideas in an accessible manner with worksheets, checklists and questionnaires to help. (February; Portfolio/Penguin; $27)
2. Wise Guy
Lessons from a Life
By Guy Kawasaki
Whereas many people write memoirs in a linear fashion, Guy Kawasaki tells his story in vignettes, giving the reader entertaining tales from his life with important takeaways. He also imparts a personal development spin. Rather than leaving the reader with vague lessons learned, Kawasaki spells it out with tips, advice and quotes.
Among the best nuggets: “Do the right thing, not what you can get away with when you achieve a position of power and wealth,” Kawasaki writes. “Money can’t buy scruples—indeed, money may prevent scruples. With money comes the responsibility to act magnanimous—not abusive.”
With advice on where to go for college (away from your hometown) to knowing when to keep your mouth shut, Kawasaki offers useful wisdom no matter your age or profession. From being a truck driver’s helper to the CEO of several multimillion-dollar companies, Kawasaki shares important stories that can be valuable to anyone looking to take the next big step in their professional or personal life. (February; Portfolio; $28)
3. Authentic Gravitas
Who Stands Out and Why
By Rebecca Newton
How do you become a better leader? It’s more than just how you act when all eyes are on you during meetings, it’s about what you do subtly and behind the scenes, writes Rebecca Newton. In Authentic Gravitas, Newton shares exactly how to build your gravitas.
“People with gravitas ‘lead the room,’ regardless of their place in the hierarchy; they respect authority but don’t wait for a title change to take ownership and make a positive difference,” Newton writes. In her book, Newton uses the examples of leaders and professionals to show how and how not to build your gravitas. She concludes each chapter with actionable items. Some of them are straightforward, and some are meant to make you reflect on past behavior.
No matter where you stand in your organization, the advice Newton offers can help you grow and make people take note of you as a leader. (March; TarcherPerigee; $26)
4. The Holy Sh!t Moment
How Lasting Change Can Happen in an Instant
By James Fell
In his experience as a motivation expert, James Fell has learned that inspiration doesn’t happen slowly and gradually. It occurs suddenly.
“Finding true meaning, uncovering your real self, revealing your life’s purpose—such things rarely happen via baby steps,” Fell writes. “These are transformations unleashed, suddenly, to great effect. Often, there is a
‘Holy s– -!’ thrown in to celebrate the momentous realization. The epiphany drives you forward, passionately pursuing the newfound aim.”
Fell tells stories and provides examples of such epiphanies, and follows up with actionable steps you can take. The advice isn’t typical. You’ll come across tips like: “Ponder until you ‘get stuck.’ Then engage in a diversion to let your unconscious continue working.”
The book examines exactly how we arrive at these moments and how to make the most of them. Whether your goal is to lose weight, battle an addiction or improve your relationships, Fell offers steps you can take to reach those goals. (January; St. Martin’s Press; $29)
5. Stress Less, Accomplish More
Meditation for Extraordinary Performance
By Emily Fletcher
When she was 27, Emily Fletcher was the understudy for three lead roles on Broadway, but it wasn’t all that it was made out to be. Whenever she had a bad performance, she was devastated.
Then she met another actress who was understudying five lead roles, yet—unlike Fletcher—seemed “calm and centered.” The actress told Fletcher it all came down to meditation.
At first she didn’t believe, but eventually Fletcher tried it, became hooked and ultimately quit acting to travel to India to learn more about meditation. That’s what led her to create Ziva Meditation and the Ziva Technique, which consists of meditation, mindfulness and manifesting.
Fletcher makes one thing clear. “This is not another meditation book heralding the benefits of higher states of consciousness without giving you any real tools to get there,” she writes. “This book is all about extraordinary performance.” Meditation, Fletcher argues, can not only improve your health and peace of mind, but it can also help you excel at whatever it is you do. (February; William Morrow; $27)
6. The Making of a Manager
What to Do When Everyone Looks to You
By Julie Zhuo
Sometimes we’re asked to become leaders regardless of whether we’re ready for it. That was the case for Julie Zhuo, who at 25 found herself a first-time boss with more questions than answers.
“This is the book that’s here to tell you that your fears and doubts are normal,” Zhuo writes. “And, like me, you’re going to figure it out.”
Using clear-cut examples of how great leadership looks in the workplace, Zhuo creates a practical guide. One example is the art of feedback and how to make it as effective as possible for bosses and their reports. Feedback should be specific, clarify what success looks like and inform next steps, she writes.
Though most of the book focuses on leading others, Zhuo also writes about leading yourself. Whether you’re a first time-boss or you’ve been doing this for a while, there’s something to take away from the book, including tips on growing a team and a culture. And, being a designer, Zhuo uses illustration to creatively explain some of her most important points. (March; Portfolio; $26)
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine.