Books as Personal Media, Most Interesting Titles for Reading

  Write your own endingEvery season has its books. Winter seems to have come early in the Northeast this year, which means curling up with a good book. I love learning through reading. Reading is the most intimate conversation we have with an author. So in this sense, books are the highest form of personal media.

    This reading list is based on personal interest, not pitches from publicists. It includes a variety of works with upcoming release dates, and also some older and worthy titles. The books we haven't read yet represent untapped potential.

    All progress begins with an idea someone expressed, others discussed, some acted on and more built upon. I'm grateful for the ideas (and work) the following authors have put forward for us to discuss, act on and build upon with our own ideas and work.

    In no particular order, some of these books I mentioned in Learning Habit, our community of thinkers and doers, others are in my antilibrary:


Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes

We talk a lot about transformation and not enough about transition. Transition is part of life, says William Bridges. Think of the change of seasons, for those of us who live in places that have them. This book deals with the complex inner psychology of periods of change in our lives. The most valuable aspect of the book is that it can help have a conversation with your feelings. Transitions take a longer time than change, which is more like a trigger. Becoming more aware of the process can help us support those around us who are dealing with change.


Savvy: Navigating Fake Companies, Fake Leaders and Fake News in the Post-Trust Era

Out January 2019. Can you tell a fake? Drawing upon principles from psychology, real-world business experiences and with a peek into some of the technology advances taking place in innovation hotspots like Silicon Valley, this book explores how we get through this muddled state and what we all need to do to succeed in tomorrow’s world.


Rule Makers, Rule Breakers

I'm a huge fan of understanding culture. If you've ever wondered why some cultural groups are so lax while others are so stringent or why working-class parents often tend to be stricter than middle-class parents, this book holds the answers. It provides a useful framework to interpret world events and human behavior.


The Art of Gathering

Have you ever wondered why sometimes when you go to an event, you don't feel welcome or it doesn't feel worth our time? I have. The book focuses mostly on business, but the advice is useful for any kinds of gatherings and events. Getting into the holiday season, we're probably doing a bit of both — attending and hosting.


The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success

The title sounds gimmicky, the focus is on the science of networks and how success is the product of collective work. Barabási puts some meat behind the statement, Your success isn't about you and your performance. It's about us and how we perceive your performance.


Humans are Underrated

In a world were technology is taking over so many jobs, including the more sophisticated like automated anesthesiology, our roles will shift. The skills of deep human interaction are still needed and even more valuable. This is the main theme of the book. While technology continues to eliminate some jobs, it creates the need for new ones. It's been happening since the dawn of time. We're moving from the Information Age to a new Relationship Age. The value is relationship-building, collaboration with others, brainstorming and leading. To remain relevant, we need to master these uniquely human abilities.


Brave New Work

Out February 2019. Anyone can create positive change in their organizations, regardless of where you sit in the org chart. This book is a practical guide on how to create meaningful change in all organization types. It includes case studies on new ways of working and tools to make it happen.


Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling

This book exposes the cultural gap between what we say and what we do. We keep saying we cheer for the team, but we end up praising and enriching the individual for accomplishments. People put tasks and achievements ahead of relationships, without a second thought to the damage to colleagues or families. Curiosity and questions are good in theory, yet we keep elevating people who appear to / have the answers. Our culture hails “tellers” not questioners.


Rebel Talent

We all tend to default to what we should do instead of asking what we could do. The rules say one things… but things change fast, and staying open to trade-offs may lead to better solutions. We also tend to shy away from conflict ― including internal conflict. Yet tension introduces constraints that could help us become more creative. Francesca Gino includes references to Osteria Francescana in Modena. But that wasn't the reason why I got curious about it. The message about breaking the rules did. Do you want to follow a script—or write your own story? 


Never Stop Learning

Learning is not a theoretical exercise, it's a practical one. Bradley R. Staats is a behavioral scientist and operations expert and he's spent fourteen years figuring out the principles of dynamic learning. Operations is about improving outcomes. Which means you look at processes ― how inputs convert into outputs ― to make them better. To deconstruct processes you want to figure out the parts, but also how they fit together. Behavioral sciences explains how the fundamental properties of human nature affect a person's ability to learn. Combine the two and you have three steps ― what you need to do to become a dynamic learner, why you don't do those things, and the steps to take to overcome the challenge.


Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Something to watch about the work of Fred Rogers. For when you're in need of inspiration… and even a good cry. A business example of humanity. To avoid cuts that might have ended public television early on, Mister Rogers went to Washington to testify before the Senate Appropriations Committee, headed by Rhode Island Senator John O. Pastore. The senator has been described as “cynical, caustic, and outrageously sarcastic.”

    Rogers’ widow Joanne in an interview reveals the nervousness and fear her husband felt that day.  But the footage shows a firm and carefully deferential demeanor, a quietly modulated voice resembling the tones and cadence Rogers used to communicate with preschoolers. In contrast to the Senator's tone, Rogers recites the lyrics to a song he composed for an episode of his show, highlighting the importance of people helping others. It's a six-minute presentation. Senator Pastore looks down at his hands and says, “Well, it looks like you’ve just earned $20 million.” 


Write your own ending.

Find past reading lists here.

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