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Six Great Books To Read This Year

I am proud to say that one New Year’s resolution I have followed is to read more books. At the beginning of the year, I made a list of a lot of books that I wanted to jump into but did not read because of the usual excuses (no time being the biggest).

Here is a quick summary of all of the books that I have read so far this year. I will preface this by saying that 1) I highly recommend them all, 2) all of the books are non-fiction/mostly business – this is my preference (sorry fiction fans), and 3) I guarantee that you will learn something incredibly valuable in every book on the list.

Drum roll, please. Here is my list of books for 2019 (so far). 

The 5-Minute Recharge – Addie Greco Sanchez and Lynne Everatt

The 5-Minute Recharge is an excellent read on how to recharge your mental, physical, and emotional health. The book has 31 proven techniques for thriving at work and in life. Here is what the authors have to say about it:

"Take five minutes out of your day to experience the small win of a mental, physical and emotional recharge that could change your life. Researchers have discovered the formula for living a good life, so why is depression still the world's leading disability and anxiety the most common mental health disorder in North America?

Most people don't know what will truly make them happy, and far too few make proven wellness practices a part of their lives. To cope with all the stresses we encounter, we need to actively care for ourselves, which includes heeding our ancient programming that demands that we move our bodies, connect face-to-face and get enough sleep. Science has proven that you have the power, through your habitual ways of thinking and behaving, to renovate the space inside your head, making it brighter, more resilient, and a more enjoyable place to hang out.”

I like the book because it is practical and not preachy. The advice makes sense, but it is not statements of the obvious. The authors capture how small wins make all the difference. Too often we fool ourselves into thinking that the only meaningful change is one that involves a major life disruption. Quite often, small steps will serve you well on your journey.

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets To Happy Living – Meik Wiking

Last year I wrote a blog about my trip to Portland, Oregon, and how I fell in love with the place and all of its self-professed weirdness. In trying to explain my feelings about Portland, I came across the term “hygge,” a Danish term that means:

 “a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).

I was surprised when my daughter Robin gave me The Little Book of Hygge as a Christmas gift (I was even more surprised that she read my blog). I found the book to be fascinating. It is no surprise that hygge, pronounced “hoo-ga,” does not easily translate into English. I have seen that just enjoying the small moments can be hard for me. The book got me to a place where I now start to look for those hygge moments that can bring me joy (one was reading the book on a cold winter afternoon with tea and candles – you will see that this is as hygge as it gets). Also, the book is written by the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute. No snickering please – this organization is the real deal. We all can learn to allow some more happiness into our lives.

Future Proof Your Career: From the Inside Out – John Fitzgerald

I am lucky that my firm, CMP, is a member of OI Global Partners (OIGP), a strategic alliance of human capital management firms across the globe. One of the members of OIGP, John Fitzgerald of Harmonics in Ireland, wrote a great forward-thinking book about how to manage your career in the 21st century.

Future Proof Your Career is a guide on how to manage your career for the long term. With careers that now span fifty years (maybe more), the rules for career success have dramatically changed. To thrive in the knowledge-based economy of the future, professionals will need to be building and updating their skill set continually. Those who choose not to follow this path will face irrelevancy, job disruption, and diminished career opportunities. Welcome to the new World of Work!

John’s book is upbeat and inspirational – not negative or full of gloom. His advice is sound, and I have seen the impact of his thoughts with several of the outplacement candidates who I have given the book to.

Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable For The Rest Of Us – Dan Lyons

Speaking of the new world of work, Dan Lyons has written a must-read book about how the Silicon Valley workplace model has blown up (in a big-time negative way) the workplace of today. Dan delves deeply into and challenges all of the hypocrisy, platitudes, and misguided thinking of Silicon Valley and how it has made the workplaces of today a stress-ridden hell where job security is non-existent and dehumanization is escalating. Tough news, but not at all surprising for anyone in the workplace today.

Dan’s first book, Disrupted: My Misadventures In The Start-Up Bubble, was a brilliant takedown of the start-up culture and the ageism that exists in tech today. I eagerly looked forward to his current book and was not disappointed. Dan’s book is a rallying cry for everyone to demand that we need to fix the workplace of today. The “we are not a family, we are a team” approach sounds great, but what you are left with are employees (much more often contractors) whose well-being and development are not a concern of the company anymore. It is an “everyone is out for themselves” world that needs to change. There are examples in the book of companies that have made the workplace better, and there is a call to get the pendulum swinging back away from the shareholder/investor-first mentality. As John Lennon once sang, “you can say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

I’m Not Done: It’s Time to Talk Ageism in the Workplace – Patti Temple Rocks

Speaking about ageism, this book is an excellent summary of all that is wrong about age discrimination in the workplace. Discrimination in any form is horrible, and the sad truth today is that age discrimination is all around us. Sadly, it is not called out for the harm that it inflicts. Also, it is a horrible misuse of intellectual capital. A blog that I recently wrote, Want to Win the Talent War? Hire Overqualified Candidates, had a big response from my blog subscribers and my LinkedIn followers because it struck a chord with the over-fifty professionals who now see that their experience and expertise are now a detriment to them landing a new job.

Patti Temple Rocks (how cool is her name!) does not just devote her book to a long tale of misery; she provides some great advice to employees and hiring managers alike on how to fix this mess. I found that her book matched up well with John Fitzgerald’s book Future Proof Your Own Career. As we age in our careers, we have to push ourselves always to be learning – still be trying new things. This learning journey has no end. The learning mindset will keep you mentally fresh and relevant for the knowledge economy that we are now in.

Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins – Mark Schaeffer

I will always be a marketer at heart. I still enjoy reading and talking about marketing and am still lucky to be a practitioner at CMP. I have been a longtime listener of Mark Schaefer’s Marketing Companion podcast and was eager to read his new book about where marketing is headed.

Marketing Rebellion is an excellent guide to where marketing is today: diminished (if nonexistent) customer loyalty, where the customer is the marketing department. It points out how the digital world now gives the customer the power of information. The customer now has a significant part in a company’s marketing strategy – say goodbye to the mass media campaigns of the past.

Mark’s book has a lot of relevancy for non-marketing professionals,  showing us how organizations need to find strategies to connect on a personal level. These relationships can be with the potential B2B purchaser of your product/service, or it can be a job candidate applying on your company career page. Mark’s book reveals strategies to build a useful business model for today and the future.

These are my book reviews so far this year. I am looking forward to reading my next batch of books.