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DAVID AND GOLIATH
If you have ever read any of Malcolm Gladwell’s books you know that he has multiple points and many stories throughout each one. In the book David and Goliath, I enjoyed the story examples and focus on the idea that “Conventional wisdom holds that a disadvantage is something that ought to be avoided – that it is a setback or a difficulty that leaves you worse off than you would otherwise. But that is not always the case….” He goes on to give examples and talk about “desirable difficulties” that make us stronger and give us an advantage that others don’t have. The one example that was most interesting was when he talking about dyslexia and how a high number of successful entrepreneurs are dyslexic. “ …they succeeded, in part, because of their disorder – that they learned something in their struggle that provided to be of enormous advantage.”
There are examples of artists, of David vs Goliath from the Bible and others that if you re-examined their perceived disadvantage, you realized it gave them an advantage. They just had to realize it and use it. For small businesses, you have advantages over larger businesses. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have (revenue), focus on how your perceived disadvantage could provide you skills, time, flexibility, etc.
Definitely easier said than done. Malcolm admits that being the underdog with the perceived disadvantages can be hard.
As he further discusses perceived advantage, he also discusses Big Fish-Little Pond theory as it relates to students choosing colleges based on perceived advantage and known prestige. I found the points Malcolm was making with the examples and research was very interesting as he proved his point that “we all assume that being bigger and stronger and richer is always in our best interest.”
Malcolm also dives deep into the ideas of authority and legitimacy and how near misses create hope.
Although I enjoyed the first half of the book the most as it talked about the Advantages of Disadvantages and the Disadvantages of Advantages, the entire book made me think and helped me see stories and scenarios from a different perspective. And for me, that is a good book.
I recommend this for someone who likes to think through things differently or someone who is struggling with feeling like the underdog or misfit in your life or career. This may give you the hope and perspective you need.
THE IDEAL TEAM PLAYER
I highly recommend The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni. I found it so helpful and simple to read, that I bought an extra copy for a friend. I was able to start and finish the book in a week! That never happens for me. This book is great for any professional at any stage but I think especially for young leaders and seasoned leaders. The first half of the book is a fable and the last half is teaching you the 3 qualities of a team player. It is simple to understand but incredibly thought-provoking as you examine yourself and those you lead.
Structure of the Book
The first half of the book is a fable about a man named Jeff who ends up taking over a construction business before he felt he was ready. The company had all the potential in the world but could easily fail because of the culture and people. You have probably experienced this at some point in your career. As you read the story of how they will turn the company around by focusing on hiring and examining the people they have, you learn that each team member needs 3 qualities.
Lencioni shares that Humility is “the single greatest and most indispensable attribute of being a team player”. And as I look back over my career and the teams I have worked in and have led, I agree. The lack of humility can be damaging to culture and client experience. It affects everyone. We have all heard that “Humility isn't thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” I think it is also important to remember that the lack of humility can look like arrogance but also people who lack confidence. These two types of people are very different but both struggle with insecurity. Knowing this and seeing this in ourselves and others can help us understand and communicate better.
Hungry people are always looking for more. But those who are healthy and hungry, aren't doing everything. A healthy yet hungry team player practice "a manageable and SUSTAINABLE commitment to doing a job well and going above and beyond when it is truly required. This is easier typed than done. That line is fine. I struggled with being unhealthily hungry. And as leaders if we aren't paying attention to this in our team members, you risk them being burnt out, unproductive, and leaving. We need to be aware of our teams. Those who are less hungry, motivate them. Those who are naturally hungry, how are you helping them to create boundaries?
When you first read “Smart” you might think - experienced, savvy, intelligent. But what it actually means is being smart about people. It is about common sense. Knowing how to communicate and work with others. Not just nice customer service. How to work with people different from yourself. How to respond (not react) to those who are difficult. When you hire smart people, you never have to worry how they are representing your business and brand. When you surround yourself with smart people, you can be grow exponentially. And when you are smart yourself, you are an example to others. People will watch you and ask you to help them be smart.
NO RULES RULES
When books challenge the norm or provide a new perspective, I am hooked! I really enjoyed reading about the leadership style and company culture of Netflix in the book No Rules Rules. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix writes this book with Erin Meyer, the author of The Culture Map. Throughout the book, they are both contributing to the topics in the chapters, giving two perspectives on the same topics.
They allow you to see how Netflix’s Freedom and Responsibility approach affects leadership, hiring and firing, team work, communication, the lack of policies, and compensation. They give specific examples and stories for each area, and don’t skim over failures or issues but actually focus on them to show what they have learned along the way. It was refreshing to see a glimpse of the process it took to refine the culture. It didn’t happen instantly and it is still evolving as the company becomes more international.
I have had the opportunity to work with many companies, large and small and I have witnessed many different leadership styles and company cultures. I don’t believe there is one correct style or culture but I do see how we focus too much energy on trying to control each aspect to the point that nothing is moving forward. Following processes and systems trumps creativity and innovation. Success is measured in how well we followed the protocols.
Leading with Context, Not Control
If you are a leader of any form, I encourage you to read this book to learn about this concept alone. Micromanagers may not like this approach at first but once you read through the examples, you will see how it provides freedom to all. In order to lead with context, there has to be dispersed decision-making across the team. The leader provides clear vision and direction from the beginning and then allows ...Allows what?
Whisper Wins, Shout Mistakes
This is does not mean you need to minimize your team’s wins and only focus on the mistakes. It means when you as a leader win, let others talk about it more than you do. And when you fail, claim it loudly in front of your team so that all can learn.
We are not a Family. We are a Team.
This part of the book was eye-opening and interesting to me because I did not realize how much I equated good company culture with the feeling or closeness of family. Netflix does not want to feel like a family. They want to be more like a sports team. As Erin says “A family is about staying together regardless of performance.”. But in a business or job, if you are not performing, you probably shouldn’t be in that role or company. It isn’t benefiting anyone. If you view your company as a team, you create “strong feelings of commitment, cohesion, and camaraderie, while also making tough decisions to ensure the best player is manning each post.” If this gets your mind thinking like it did for me, I encourage you to read more about this in the book.
Reed and Erin also talk about creating and increasing candor in order to create a productive and innovative environment that isn’t weighed down by gossip, drama, and miscommunication. The basis of the approach is to “say what you really think (with positive intent)”. This is easier said than done. Especially in a world where we only say what we really think behind the safety of our keyboards. I hope to re-read these chapters and begin modeling this more for our team and clients.
I encourage those who are leaders and growing in their career to read this book. Business owners and entrepreneurs should definitely read this book as it provides encouragement by seeing the challenges and issues another company needed to work through.
On Fire by John O’Leary was not originally on my reading list but after Aaron heard him speak at a baseball conference and read his book, he encouraged me to read it. John’s story is really incredible. Not just because he survived a horrendous fire explosion as a child, but because he was able to take his pain and learn from it.
As he tells his miraculous story, you learn about the people in his life that impacted him and helped him survive and then thrive. You would expect his parents and family to help him, but it was the ones who didn’t know him and didn’t have to invest in his life that really made an impact. Some of the stories brought tears to my eyes as I thought about the hard things people had to push him to do to help him survive.
He talks about inflection points that changed his life. The interesting thing is that they all involve a person. People and relationships change lives. As I talk with clients through important decisions or friends in hard seasons, I see how each of these circumstances could possibly be an inflection point. An impactful moment that could change the course of life and business. It is almost comforting to view stressful or hard times as inflection points. Reminds us there is purpose through the pain.
Throughout the book there is a theme and mentality of “what more can I do?” At first you see this from the perspective of someone helping or serving someone else. Which is such a good reminder for all of us because a simple action or consistent action can impact someone more than we will ever know. What more can we do for others? What can we do to impact someone’s life?
But you also see this idea of “what more can I do” from John’s perspective. After leaving the hospital and returning to life, he was forced by others to think beyond his limitations. He was forced to not focus on what he couldn’t do because he lost his fingers. But focus on how he was going to do it in spite of his limitations. Later in life when he began asking himself “what more can I do?” and he finally found his passion and calling. When we ask what more can I do, inflection points happen.
I encourage you to read this book and ask yourself, “what more can you do?”
WHO IS THIS FOR?
This book is great for individuals who need inspiration, leaders who have others watching them, someone going through a hard season, or someone who wants an easy read and loves true stories.
I will be honest, I did not think I was going to love this book knowing it was going to tell me to reduce my time on my phone and computer (which is how I work...) But I knew I needed to read something that addressed something that dominates my life. And I am so glad I did!
I first needed to understand what Digital Minimalism is.
It is “a philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else."
It is not saying you need to remove all technology from your life. But you do need to pay attention to when and how you are using it. I am guilty of grabbing my phone as a knee-jerk response to boredom. Cal Newport encourages you to use technology for its purpose but don’t let it replace in-person conversations that are complex and teach us about others and the world, solitude that your mind desperately needs for growth, and active leisure that builds skill and self-worth. The chapters on active leisure were so interesting.
We have replaced craft with screens and have lost an outlet to recognize self-worth.
This can then spiral into not finding fulfillment in life or lead to increased anxiety. Newport discusses the research that focuses on the links between technology/social media and anxiety in young people.
I thought about active leisure and the comparison game that can happen on social media for my career and business clients. Often times they share that they are unfulfilled in their job. I wonder what the lack of active leisure and the abundance of social media plays into it. If we don't pursue activities and hobbies outside of work that utilize our skill or play to our passions, we may be trying to find all fulfillment from our jobs. We want our job and career to fill the voids. No job can do this. No boss can do this 100%. We can’t find all of our fulfillment, worth, and skill in our jobs. We have to create space in our lives for active leisure. If you are at work 8-9 hours 5 days a week, that means you have 15-16 hours each week day to find worth and rest. Though rest and responsibilities to family are necessary, can you find any time to exercise, read, learn a new skill, work outside, pursue a hobby, etc? The arguments may be that you don’t have time or one more thing in your schedule will make you exhausted. But it has been found that the more you designate time to your hobbies/exercise/projects, the more you find AND the more fulfilled you are!
I don’t know about you but I am energized by completing
something or doing something new even when I am tired.
Though I don't agree with cutting off all social media, Netflix or texting from my life. I do agree with Newport when he pleads us to not let passive interaction with our screens (binge-watching, scrolling, gaming, etc) be your primary way to unwind. Higher quality leisure requires more planning than mindless activities. But most worthwhile pursuits do require more effort.
BUILDING A STORY BRAND
Sometimes the most simple concepts are the most profound. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller has been one of the most eye opening and impactful books I have read as a branding consultant and designer. He helps you realize that your customers are the hero of your brand’s or business’s story. Too often we think we are the hero to our client’s story. That they have the problem and we will save the day. But really they are the hero and we are the guide that helps them achieve their goal or fix their problem. When you think of it from this perspective, it changes how you design your websites and write the copy of your marketing. I highly recommend this book for small business owners or PR/Marketing students and professionals. Donald shares examples throughout the entire book that make it easy to understand and to read quickly.
GIRL WASH YOUR FACE
I really enjoyed this book. I laughed out loud at some chapters and felt like Rachel Hollis was speaking right to me in others. If you need a motivational and funny book - I highly recommend for any woman at any stage in life!⠀
I want to share 3 of my favorite parts in hopes it encourages you:⠀
1. "Don't let someone else's opinion of you determine your worth. Don't miss out on the change to live the life of incredible possibility in front of you. You were not made to be small."⠀
2. "SOMEONE ELSE'S OPINION OF YOU IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS."⠀
3. "Every year you close a new chapter in your story. Please, please, please don't write the same one seventy-five times and call it a life.” ⠀
This book is a great book to help you re-fuel. When you give a lot in your job and work with a lot of different people, you need books like this to remember why you do what you do and why you care. This book reminded me to love people where they are. ⠀
A good friend said it perfectly "We expect others to give us grace for our craziness but we forget to give grace to others." This book talks helps you give grace and love people where they are and how they are without internalizing it.
I REALLY enjoyed reading Contagious by Jonah Berger. If you are in marketing, communications, public relations, advertising, or branding, I highly recommend this book. If you are interested in "Why Things Catch On" and stories like that, you would also like this book. It’s a very easy read. ⠀
I loved this thought "Research by the Keller Fay Group finds that only 7 percent of word of mouth happens online...people tend to ignore the importance of offline word of mouth...Facebook and Twitter are technologies, not strategies. Word of mouth marketing is effective only if people actually talk." ⠀
As a branding consultant, I am always asking the question "how can we think outside the box and reach the customer in their need?" Sometimes the need isn't online. Sometimes it is showing up, connecting, and communicating directly with people. ⠀
DISCOVER YOUR CLIFTON STRENGTHS
If you don't know who you are, what your strengths are, what your motivators are, what your weaknesses are .... how will anyone else? ⠀
I love using Strength Finders to understand professionals better and how their strength themes apply in relationships and the workplace. I encourage you to purchase this book on Amazon. It comes with a code to take the online assessment. The book then helps you understand your results better. Great for those looking for internships, jobs or fulfillment. ⠀
I read Business Boutique by Christy Wright early on in my business and it was the right combination of encouragement and motivation. Considering a new business or product or service can feel daunting and lonely. Christy makes you feel less alone and makes you realize there are other women doing business and you can too!
I definitely recommend other aspiring women entrepreneurs to pick this up. You will want your highlighter and pen to take notes. This book is very practical and actionable. Christy focus on the importance of knowing and believing in your why so that when the days and weeks get hard, you can push through.
Christy Wright is a part of the Dave Ramsey organization and has many other resources available online. Go check them out!
I have really enjoyed how easy Atomic Habits by James Clear is to read. ⠀
So many people have read this book and agree that it is easy to read but very impactful. It helps you actually break and create habits in your life. We are always wishing we would do something or stop doing something but we don’t do anything about it. We just talk about it. We just focus on how big or hard it seems to do. This book is actionable and will motivate you. The perspective that James provides is what really made an impact for me.
Highly recommend for anyone in any stage of life.
Hey Leaders, Managers, and Business Owners - I highly recommend this book if you are in a place of leadership for your company. It is an even better book to do as a team looking to refine processes. It walks you through the actionable steps to achieve Organizational Health. Which is the number one advantage you want over your competition.
With a workforce craving more than a higher paycheck in order to stay, we need to start leading from a place of clarity, decisiveness, and over-communicating. I love when Patrick Lencioni said "employees see financial rewards as a satisfier, not a driver." Want to drive your employees to be more? Consider giving more than compensation. ⠀
TALKING TO STRANGERS
Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell focuses on the idea of learning how to perceive, communicate, and work with others.
I highly recommend this book for those who want a deeper investigation into perceiving and communicating with strangers and non-strangers. I think those who we "know" well are actually strangers as well based on some of the stories and examples Malcolm has already shared. He has a whole chapter devoted to the show Friends and how we can watch an entire episode on mute and still understand what is happening because each actor perfectly expresses what they are feeling or want to say. This blew my mind - we consume content with dramatic expressions each day. But we don't actually act like that during interactions with people. No wonder there is miscommunication, misperception, and conflict.
There are many other examples and eye opening concepts that Malcolm discusses. I encourage you to stretch your perception and mind with this book! You can also listen to his podcast (@RevisionistHistory) episode with Opra to get a great overview.
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell breaks down the most successful people throughout history and how they were able to achieve what they did. It is not all luck. It is not all hard work. And it is not all smarts. It is opportunity, timing, dedicated work over a long period of time, and initiative that made the greatest of the great Outliers in our world. ⠀
Makes me realize that we have been given opportunities that no other generation has had - technology. I highly recommend this book!
EVERYTHING IS FIGUROUTABLE
LOVED THIS BOOK! ⠀
You know how there are some authors that speak right to you because they speak your language, make you laugh, and tell you what you NEED to learn? ⠀
Marie Forleo’s book Everything is Figuroutable made me laugh with her Jersey attitude, made me highlight many pages because of her truth bombs, and helped me put a name on what many of us creatives struggle with ... being a Multi-passionate Entrepreneur. ⠀
Highly recommend this book for entrepreneurs and creatives who need practical words with a spicy undertone! ⠀
DARE TO LEAD
Brene Brown has an incredible mind as a researcher, a warm heart to connect through the pages, and a spice that makes her real and relatable. She has a Netflix episode from one of her talks. I highly recommend watching it to see her personality. You will then hear her talking right to you when you read Dare to Lead.
I have read this book twice. I have been in very different seasons of life when I read it each time and I have gained new and different insights the second time reading it. She talks about vulnerability and what that truly looks like as a leader. She breaks down what it looks like to lead with armour on (Armored Leadership) and what it looks like to lead daringly (Daring Leadership). As a researcher, she supports every thought and lesson with statistics, research, and personal stories. She herself is vulnerable and shares the lessons she has learned as a leader and CEO of a growing company. What she is teaching is achievable but it isn’t easy. It takes strength, courage, and intention.
I greatly enjoyed and took a lot from the chapters on Shame and Empathy. It not only helps you realize how your speech, responses, and actions affect others but also helps you understand why others might be acting the way they are. The sections on empathy are practical and can greatly help all of us become better friends, family members, co-workers, and leaders. Have you ever been in a situation where you don't know what to say or how to help someone in a distressing or upsetting situation? Strengthening your empathy skills will help!
If you are in a leadership role, I encourage you to read this book. And if you are a new leader, you may want to read "Be the Boss Everyone Wants to Work for: A Guide for New Leaders.”
WHEN LESS BECOMES MORE
I wanted to read Emily Ley’s book When Less Becomes More because I love watching Emily On Instagram as she navigates growing a business with a remote team while being a mama with a full life. She is an advocate for seeking "less", "the good", and "quiet" instead of "more", "the great", and "noise.” With my business growing and life being full, this was a good reminder as I start the new year. ⠀
Though she refers to her children and the book is written to her daughter, all women (no matter your phase of life) can relate to her nuggets of truth. ⠀
Here are a couple of my favorite nuggets:⠀
"It's when we focus on the short term that we will fill our lives with too much and cannot thrive in the long term."⠀
This sentence spoke to me as I made big decisions to reduce my one-on-one career services in order to offer more branding services and educational content. It is too easy for me to say yes to the short term requests when I forget the long term purpose. ⠀
“In a world of constant comparison, it's easy to believe we aren't measuring up to everyone else ... that our aspirations as women and as family aren't sparkly or big enough."⠀
This stood out to me because I hear girlfriends and female clients look down on their current lives or simpler goals because they aren't large or glamorous or new. ⠀
What if the "sparkly" wasn't in the aspirations, but instead when you see beauty in your life even if it looks different from someone else's?⠀
THE FOUR TENDENCIES
If you enjoy personality and strength assessments, you will enjoy this book. ⠀
If you are tired of assessments and don't want to do one more, I still encourage you to do this one and read your results. ⠀
It focuses on Inner and Outer Expectations and what motivates you to act.⠀
I had never thought about what truly motivates me until I took the 8 question assessment online and then read the intro and my results. ⠀
Then, I started to realize that outer expectations motivated me more than the expectations I put on myself. ⠀
For example: I will stick with healthy eating and working out 3 times a week if I have to sign up for a class and know there is a trainer waiting on me. The expectation of the trainer and the accountability of a meal plan keeps me motivated.⠀
Once you figure out what motivates you and what your weaknesses are, you can create structure and accountability that works for you! ⠀
This is also a great read for a team leader who is trying to figure out how to motivate and encourage his/her team members.
THE TIPPING POINT
I highly recommend The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, especially for those who enjoy marketing, advertising, consumer insight, and interesting research studies.⠀
Although I loved the chapters on the Power of Context to understand people and their behaviors, it was the pages that talked about the "strength of weak ties" that made me smile! Why? Because it was talking about a study that found 56% of people found their last job through a personal connection. But that personal connection was not a best friend or family member. It was a connection that they saw occasionally. "Your friends occupy the same world that you do...How much, then, would they know that you wouldn't know? Your acquaintances, on the other hand, by definition occupy a very different world than you. They are more likely to know something that you don't." ⠀
Don't miss an opportunity to tell someone what you are looking for and what you do. You never know who you are talking to!⠀
If you love storytelling, you will love this book. I didn't plan it, but this book is perfect as I complete a health challenge.
Grit by Angela Duckworth defines GRIT and how it is the common denominator for any successful or influential person in history. No matter their intellect, education, circumstances, or physical ability. Grit and perseverance is what makes the difference because "Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare." The people in Angela Duckworth's book not only worked hard, but they allowed themselves time for their goals and dreams to happen. ⠀
Highly recommend this book!
UNDER OUR SKIN
Watson shares his 13 feelings about race. I enjoyed this book because I got to read about race and gain perspective from someone who has lived and experienced things differently than me. Having been a kid in Maryland and grown up as an adult in the South, I have seen differences in viewpoints, backgrounds, and perspectives related to race. But I also need to be educated. By reading books like this my perspective has been stretched and I am thankful for it. I will keep reading and learning. I hope you will too.
FASTER SMARTER LOUDER
I enjoyed how Aaron and Gian taught from the perspective of being the solution for customers. They quoted Maya Angelou "At the end of the day, people don't remember what you said or did. They will remember how you made them feel." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
From this quote, they reminded me that no matter what we are creating (website, social media post, flyer, etc.) we need to focus on the solution to people's problems rather than the features of our product or services. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
I liked how they combined art and science, heart and mind, creative and strategic as they taught on building credibility, guest posting, speaking, in-bound marketing, digital ads, Facebook groups, ambassador programs, landing pages, delighting customers, and so much MORE.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you are starting in the Branding, Marketing, and Advertising industries, read this book. If you are a college student in any of these areas, read this book. If you own a business and want to understand on a strategic level the different things your business could be doing, read this book. Then get your team to read it!
I decided I would read a book that would teach me about something that I want to improve. I have challenged myself to guest speak more. I am on track but know I need to continue to improve my delivery. So I decided to read Ted Talk. I love the examples throughout each chapter and highly recommend to those who teach, speak, or motivate. Work through it as a text book, highlighting and taking notes throughout.⠀
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
I have LOVED this book. I know this book has been around since the 1930's and many of you have read it for school but I encourage you to read it again. I promise you it will speak to you in new ways and will affect your personal AND professional life. It is actionable and easy to read.⠀
It is incredible to me that what Dale Carnegie observed in the early 1900's is still true of humans today. I started practicing some of his advice on communicating and relating to others and I have seen a difference! Just by being intentional about remembering other's names, conversations have unfolded and opportunities presented themselves. ⠀
GIRL STOP APOLOGIZING
So many good reminders in this book. If you need a friendly kick in the butt, this is a good book for you! ⠀
Here are some of my favorite lines from the book:
1. "Hope is not a strategy.” - stop hoping for things to change, do something about it.⠀
2. "Confidence is a skill.” - it can be learned and strengthened!⠀
3. "If not now, then when?" - stop waiting for your life and career to begin - it already has! ⠀
4. "Girl, stop comparing your beginning with my middle.” - Amen!⠀
WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
This is a great summer read and isn't professional development or marketing/branding!
This book is also a movie but I encourage you to read the book FIRST! I couldn't put it down! It was suspenseful and I didn't know where it was leading or what the ending would be until the very end. I liked that it had short chapters, even though it was a longer book.
FINLAY DONOVAN IS KILLING IT
I picked Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimand after seeing others recommend it. I have really enjoyed this book! It's a funny mystery that kept my attention the whole book. It's an easy read and great to read before bed instead of staring at your phone or thinking about work.