More than a decade ago, I quit consuming television on a daily basis and instead focused my attention on reading. Now that books are available in hardcopy, digital and audible, I get to squeeze in even more reading because a book is just an arm's length away. I have to confess that I sometimes read three or four books simultaneously. Sometimes a chapter requires more reflection before moving on. I use to beat myself up about reading several books at the same time and then realized the education system developed that habit in me. Last year, I read 67 books- some small and some epic- from a learning perspective or from an entertainment perspective.
The messages in the business books below are my favourites of 2021 and stuck with me. I hope they help guide you in 2022, too.
The Power of the Other: The Startling Effect Other People Have on You, from the Boardroom to the Bedroom and Beyond — and What to Do About It by Henry Cloud. We often think of important people or celebrities having teams or entourages: The pop star with his publicist and hair stylist and wardrobe team, or the CEO with her advisory board and mentor and therapist. But it’s not only the rich and powerful who are affected and shaped by the people around them; according to Cloud, your friends, family, co-workers, and significant other can make or break your success. This intriguing book will walk you through the people and ideas that consciously or unconsciously affect your life. I found it eye opening, especially for team building.
A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink. My work often focuses on soft skills like relationship building and empathy, so you can imagine how excited I was to peer into the future that Daniel Pink envisions for us. The best-selling author believes that many left-brain professions, like accounting or medicine, will soon be outsourced to artificial intelligence. To succeed in the years ahead, Pink argues, soft skills will become both prized and necessary, lifting us out of our rigid thinking and opening up new worlds of possibilities.
The Edge: How 10 CEOs Learned to Lead — and the Lessons for Us All by Michael Useem. Standard ways of dealing with business problems went out the window sometime around March 2020. Modern-day leaders must grapple with key decision after key decision in a world that is changing so rapidly that most of us can’t quite keep up. Useem, who is one of my favorite leadership writers, interviews changemakers like Bill McNabb of Vanguard and Tricia Griffith of Progressive Insurance to determine how they plan for a future that is constantly shifting. I found their insights fascinating.
The Gap and the Gain: The High Achiever’s Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success by Dr. Benjamin Hardy and Dan Sullivan. According to Dan Sullivan, many people who are focused on progress feel frustrated because they choose to look at the gap, or the space between where they are and their ideal. Instead, they should be focusing on the gain: The space between their previous selves and their current state. This book is an invitation to sit down and look at how far you’ve come in pursuit of your dreams. As someone who puts a premium on reflection and gratitude, this book reinforced my notion that such practices are an essential part of the growth process.
Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients for Business Success by Gary Vaynerchuk. This is another book about the importance of soft skills, and it’s worth the read for Vaynerchuk’s personal explorations of his own success. The way he shares his story makes his points seem real and doable — a must for any business publication. If you’re someone who finds it difficult to grasp why traits like empathy and listening are so important, you’ll put down this book with a new perspective.
What were your favorite books of 2021 and why? I’m always looking for new suggestions, so please add yours in the comments, and share this blog!