Spring Reading: Decisive, Nice, and Hidden in Plain Sight

Regular readers of Conversation Agent enjoy discovering and engaging with fresh thinking and practical research and applications. Which is why I regularly write up recommended books.

I selected three for the spring edition based upon familiarity with the topics and the authors' body of work.

How to make better choices

Decisive-book-coverWe're constantly faced with the need to make choices.

At a time of increased uncertainty due to the accelerated pace of change and the complexity of the environment in which we work, plus often incomplete information, learning to make better decisions is critical.

Chip Heath and Dan Heath are back with a book about being Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.

Every day we need to make dozens of decisions, and yet we know so little about how to go about doing it effectively. This often produces either an analysis-paralysis loop, or a shooting from the hip effect. It doesn't have to be that way.

The Heath brothers offer solid, research-based ideas to help you break that impasse and cycle and adopt a more objective way of weighing your options. You'll be surprised what a shift in attention, or a pause can do to your ability to process and more forward.

Nice people do finish first

Nice-companies-finish-firstIt's an age old question: do nice people finish first?

Peter Shankman says they do. In his new book, Nice Companies Finish First: Why Cutthroat Management is Over and Collaboration is In Shankman brings to life the Golden Rule with many examples to help us focus on doing more of what works.

At a time when businesses are trying to figure out how to use social networks to generate leads through reviews and likes and get referrals from recommendations and links, one of the most overlooked steps is creating a good experience around their product and service by actually delivering on their promises.

You may be familiar with the companies and leaders Shankman researched — Jet Blue’s Dave Needleman, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Steve Jobs of Apple, Ken Chenault of Amex, Indra Nooyi of Pepsi, and the team behind Patagonia. 

However, do let an experienced and skilled communicator outline how these businesses and teams harness optimism, humility, a reverence for customer service, and other traits to build productive, open, and happy workplaces for the benefit of their employees, themselves, and the bottom line.

Hidden in plain sight

HiddenInPLainSightI confess I've been fascinated with this concept since a very young age. Partly because I have been called a "hidden gem" regularly throughout my career.

I do have a deeper affiliation with the topic of my third choice for spring reading. In Hidden in Plain Sight: How to Create Extraordinary Products for Tomorrow's Customers, Jan Chipchase explores how we think and behave.

The ordinary actions we take every day affect the choices we make. Keen observation through deep immersion leads to uncovering clues to help identify unmet needs.

FastCoDesign published an excerpt of the book recently. The chapter describes one of the best ways to explore and really get to know a city when you're traveling — be present, wake up early, cruise the streets when the shops open and the town starts humming with activity.

The book's official release date was yesterday.


Being decisive, nice, and blending with the fabric of a place to see through experience are my spring reading picks. I like to select books and materials that help push my thinking further.

Despite the increase in volume and similarity of titles, especially on business and marketing, I find there is still so much more to figure out, learn, and teach/share. The topics where I am often left wanting sharper thinking, research, and pragmatic advice are still fairly rare to come upon.

How about you?



Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.

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