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  • Margaret Page

My Five Top Reads of 2020

I was grounded, like so many other frequent flyers, for the duration of 2020. The upshot? More time for my already voracious reading habit. My five top reads helped me refocus and rebuild when the rest of the world seemed to be falling apart. I hope you find inspiration in them, too.

Author Michael Useem is a professor at the Wharton School of Business who has mined crucial events throughout history (the American Civil War and the rapid failure of AIG shortly before the Great Recession, for example) to determine how and why great leaders succeed. He distilled these lessons into 15 short lessons that I find fascinating. As a result, I now regularly reference Useem’s checklist to ensure I’m following the right path in my own leadership journey.

This might be the most influential book I read all year! I find myself turning again and again to Kindra Hall’s storytelling tips and strategies. Hall makes the point that our ability to communicate effectively and persuasively hinges on our ability to connect with our audiences. Storytelling is the way to make it happen. This book is engaging, smart, and an impactful read for anyone, from sales representatives to marketing execs to people who want to improve their public speaking or writing skills.

How appropriate that this was written by a person named Jim Kwik! If you’re looking to do more in our increasingly fast-paced, time-strapped world, you’ll love the “3 Ms” Kwik outlines in his book. I may not have the ability to read a book three times faster than normal, as Kwik promises, but I love the empowering feel of his advice.

Bill McGowan is a consultant and correspondent who teaches people how to deliver their messages quickly and with maximum impact. As someone who regularly speaks in front of large audiences, I’m always on the lookout for advice on how to improve my skills — and McGowan truly delivers. His “principles of persuasion” are a must-read for anyone and can be used in your everyday life.

The last of my five top reads assists those of us in leadership roles. We have an obligation to do our best — and that involves ensuring the success of others. LearnLoft CEO John Eades makes the case that rapidly changing technology and organizations require a different type of leadership. One that is based on carefully encouraging others while keeping an eye on long-term goals. His book gave me a chance to examine and hone my own leadership style.

How about you? What books got you through 2020 and have inspired you to shoot for success in 2021? Have you read any of my five top reads? I’d love to hear your recommendations — I read a book a week, so your suggestion has a good shot at winding up in my must-read list!


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