Our Favorite Personal Development Books, March 2017
SUCCESS magazine’s monthly Reading List features the best books in business, personal development and well-being. Here are the top titles from The Confidence Issue:
The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm
By Christian Madsbjerg
March; Hachette Books; $28
Who would imagine that an analyst with an algorithm could understand baseball better than coaches, scouts and managers? Yet Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane was lionized for that idea in Moneyball. This era’s fetish for big data threatens every aspect of human life, warns consultant Christian Madsbjerg, from marginalizing employees to dehumanizing customers, undermining governments and imperiling savings.
Even in liberal arts universities, the pressure to elevate science, technology, engineering and math at the expense of literature, philosophy, art, music, religion and language is enormous. It’s not just that the humanities make life worth living. Nuanced engagement with human culture is the secret behind some of today’s most successful companies and entrepreneurs, Madsbjerg says. Sensemaking reveals the humanistic perspective that Madsbjerg has brought to enthusiastic clients such as Ford, Adidas and Samsung.
A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers
By Suze Yalof Schwartz with Debra Goldstein
March; Harmony; $23
When Suze Yalof Schwartz moved from New York to Los Angeles, she traded a high-profile job as a fashion editor at Glamour magazine for an entirely new career as a “spiritual entrepreneur.” Aside from the self-evident contradiction in that job description, Schwartz has set herself on a serious mission: making meditation safe for the busy, overwhelmed and disbelieving. One of her first steps was founding Unplugged, a meditation studio in LA.
Unplug is written with a no-nonsense approach. She blows up common misconceptions about meditation and explains the science behind why it works. Schwartz provides practical techniques to enable busy people to fit meditation into everyday life. For starters, she says, a quick meditation while standing in line for coffee can jumpstart your day. If you’re curious about what meditation can do for you, Unplug is a great place to begin.
3. Radical Candor
Be a Kickass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity
By Kim Scott
March; St. Martin’s Press; $27
“If you can’t say something good about someone,” Alice Roosevelt Longworth famously said, “sit right here by me.” That’s funny, but it’s not what consultant Kim Scott means by “radical candor.” No, she’s talking about “the unnatural act” of delivering honest criticism—and praise—to employees. Praise sounds patronizing, Scott says, and criticism can be brutal. As a result, most bosses avoid genuine open communication altogether, which makes them bad bosses.
Scott has worked as a CEO coach at several Silicon Valley outfits, including Google, Dropbox, Twitter and Apple. She has developed three simple principles for hitting the Goldilocks zone between “obnoxious aggression” and “ruinous empathy”: Make it personal, get [stuff] done and understand why it matters. Scott shows how to receive criticism as well as give it, and how to encourage multidirectional feedback.
4. Boss Bitch
A Simple 12-Step Plan to Take Charge of Your Career
The youngest anchor ever at CNN, Redbook’s first-ever money columnist, and now the star of the syndicated reality competition show Hatched, Nicole Lapin has developed a 12-step career strategy, beginning with “Be the boss wherever you are,” and finishing with “Girls just want to have funds.” In between, this is a witty book with hard-nosed advice. You don’t have to be the boss of anyone but yourself to benefit.
5. Leadership in Focus
Bringing Out Your Best on Camera
By Vern Oakley
March; Greenleaf Book Group; $25
In the age of TED Talks, it’s no longer enough to write well, or even speak well, if you want to move your “tribe,” what veteran filmmaker Vern Oakley calls your target audience. An award-winning director for the children’s show Reading Rainbow, Oakley presents the best ways to relax and be your authentic self on camera. In this book, he provides a comprehensive and accessible guide for making the most of YouTube and other new video technologies.
6. Eyes Wide Open
Overcoming Obstacles and Recognizing Opportunities in a World That Can’t See Clearly
By Isaac Lidsky
March; TarcherPerigee; $26
The same year Isaac Lidsky was cast on the ’90s sitcom Saved by the Bell: The New Class, he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that caused the gradual loss of his sight. Nonetheless, he earned a law degree at Harvard University, became the only blind law clerk in the history of the Supreme Court and now co-owns a construction business in Central Florida. A busy motivational speaker, he shares his insights on how to overcome fear, assumptions and discouragement to live with grace, humor and success.
Related: 13 Must-Read Books on Success and Being Successful
This article originally appeared in the March 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
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Chauncey Mabe is a freelance writer, book critic, and blogger in Miami, Fla. For 23 years he served as Book Editor and Senior Entertainment Writer at the Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. He was Book Blogger for the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, the parent organization of Miami Book Fair International, from 2009 to 2012. He also blogs for the Betsy Hotel South Beach hotel, which sponsors literary events year round. His reviews and feature stories have appeared in publications such as the Toronto Globe & Mail, the Serving House Journal, Inspicio, the Palm Beach Arts Paper, the Baltimore Sun, the Juneau Empire, and the Chicago Tribune.
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