I am always on the lookout for books that inspire me, motivate me, and sometimes even challenge me. For me, every book has a nugget of information that I try to put into practice or that helps develop or deepen my point of view on something. In sharing these books with you I hope you find yourself pausing and reflecting – and maybe even causing you to look at things a bit differently or start you down a path you might not have gone down before.
And please, share with me via Facebook or LinkedIn what you are reading! I’d love to hear from you.
When I graduated college many moons ago, I imagined my career spanning 30 to 40 years. I also thought of myself as working with a few companies—maybe three or four—and then “retiring”. Whatever that meant.
I picked up this book to explore the concept of how jobs have evolved and will evolve. And that topic is certainly addressed. However, the introduction of what working lives might look like in the future was an additional concept I latched on to. The author challenges us to think about the population’s (in general) increased lifespan and how that might translate into working lives that span many more years than in the past.
Ultimately, the book’s premise is about how the education received through an early traditional four-year program will serve you if your career now spans upwards of 50-plus years. Historically, a professional career would span maybe 25 to 30 years.
While the book focuses on how the existing education system must adapt to meet this new working ecosystem, the information provided about what skills and capabilities the marketplace values and how those might be learned at different points in your career are additionally valuable. Michelle’s book also reminds us of the need to continually identify and understand the relevant skills for the future and how to get them.
“At just the time when skills of human interaction are becoming the key to people’s economic value, young people are abandoning those very skills in favor of digital communication … empathy has become a wasting muscle”.(Humans Are Underrated, author Geoff Colvin, page 9)
Understanding the skills that will set you apart from your competition in the job market is essential. Dr. Weise discusses these human skills—sometimes referred to as softer skills—as those that define our competitive edge over robots and machines and support the future of work. Dr. Weise’s examples are social intelligence, adaptability, flexibility, judgment, resilience, systems thinking, and communication.
“The jobs of the future will require technical, industry, managerial, and integrated thinking skills; they often require skills in communication, persuasion, and teamwork.“(Josh Bersin, page 11)
In Chapter 4, you are introduced to Seamless On- and Off-Ramps. If you are looking at making a transition this chapter will be one you will find interesting. As adults make multiple career transitions, Dr. Weise discusses that with a longer work life and technological advancements, a more continuous learning approach will be required. Therefore, knowing what pathways are available and how to learn those skills will be necessary for this community. Dr. Weise’s premise is that we will need a new learning “ecosystem” to accomplish the continuous learning model of the future.
“Adults facing a layoff or life transition need to understand domain adjacencies, or how the work they’re doing now can port over to what they might do in the future. They need understandable and more obvious ways to catalog their strengths, capabilities, skill sets, and experience to get guidance on promising pathways to new careers that would meet their needs, interest, and motivations”. (page 85)
Friend of a Friend . . .: Understanding the Hidden Networks That Can Transform Your Life and Your Career
One of the things I do in my work is to help people understand how their network can support their job search strategy. I often tell my clients that the best source of information and opportunity is often through friends or friends of friends. So, when I heard of the book by David Burkus, I was very intrigued. It seemed to align with my philosophy. The book is all about understanding your hidden networks.
Synopsis: Burkus defined a network this way, “A network is basically a set of people and the connections between those people.” For some, networking has a negative connotation. It might feel contrived or insincere. In the past, people have approached me under the guise of “networking,” and I walked away feeling a bit used and manipulated. Burkus shows us in this book how to approach networking sincerely and advantageously for both parties.
The research reviewed in the book supports that being connected to a strong network provides tremendous advantages. Through your network, you have access to diverse skills and perspectives, you might learn about private information, and what expertise and influence you might need to enter into the area you want to pursue. It was the first time I had heard the term social capital. We often think of our capital as wat physical capital. Things like resources or property etc. But this book is really about your social capital.
His research also shows that new information typically comes from weaker or more dormant ties. And as I thought about it and he explained more, I realized this is on point. He mentions that most of our stronger ties connect to each other. And by virtue of this type of connection, the cluster of people we typically go to during job search knows the same information. So, the trick is to expand your network to learn new information. That’s where the weaker ties that used to be stronger can be more impactful. This classification of relationships or connections is dormant ties, as defined in the book.
So, where to start? One suggestion in the book is to begin with your dormant ties and make them stronger again. Because they were once stronger ties, the theory is that you can build that relationship quicker, and the person might be more motivated to help you because of your past relationship.
What is excellent about Burkus’ book is that he provides you with exercises to help you identify your network and then connect with and maximize your relationships. So, for those of us who like action plans over theory, this book may be for you.
Dr. Graham’s book provides a balance of the art and science of going after what you want. For the “art,” the book follows the concept of “Your The Career Switch Road Map,” which outlines five critical steps necessary to stay focused and reach success. Within each phase, Dr. Graham provides various exercises to help you put into action the concepts. She also summarizes key points from the chapter, so you have a quick reference guide to go back to.
Synopsis: Today, many of my clients are pivoting from one career to another. Dr. Dawn Graham, the host of Career Talk, outlines how to undertake this process. She refers to these types of people as “switchers.”
One of the steps (and chapters) that hit home to me was on branding – or rebranding – yourself for the new function or industry you have decided to target. This is where I find many people lose momentum and settle back into the familiar because it can be difficult. Identifying your value proposition to a potentially new company in perhaps a new role is daunting. With this book, you will have a viable method for attacking it and therefore, moving forward.
As for the “science,” you will find a plethora of tools, tips, and best practices you need to know to hit the ground running. This is the tactical side of things all in one place.
Overall, an excellent resource and must read for those in transition and focused on making a switch in their professional journey.
Check out this book on Amazon.
Synopsis: Being brave isn’t a characteristic I typically associate with myself, so the title of this book intrigued me. It also caught my eye because I often tell my clients to “be brave, tell your own story.” Seeing the word brave in the title made me think – “what do I really mean – be brave?”
For anyone out there contemplating or actively working on what is next for them professionally, or even personally, I recommend reading the book and following the exercises the author outlines. Here’s why:
- There is a PROCESS! I love a great process, and Adam Kirk Smith outlines The Bravery ProcessTM which is made up of five stages. Understanding these five stages was helpful to me in that I could identify with each stage and see where I was stuck when it came to moving forward with some aspect of my life. For those like me who love processes, this is made for you!
- Mr. Smith validated what I held vital to me in my own journey. The concepts of engaging others to vet ideas or paths forward, tapping into mentors, crystallizing what it means to leave a lasting impact, and identifying the facts and risks and taking emotion (partially) out of the analysis, were identified as a critical piece of The Bravery Process.
- I, like many of my clients, are making transitions later in their careers. Our fears aren’t unique, nor are they permanent obstacles. How Mr. Smith addresses those fears will give you new confidence as you work through your plan.
- Finally, it was a reminder to me that fear is entirely “normal,” warranted and, perhaps most importantly (for me anyway) a building block on the process of bravery.
After reading this book, you will come away feeling more comfortable with fear, but more importantly, ready to be BRAVE!
Finding Your Own North Star
Synopsis: If you read O Magazine, you probably already know about Martha Beck. You may have already read this fantastic book on how to identify and follow your North Star to the “life you were meant to live.” If you haven’t read it or don’t know of Martha Beck, I encourage you to add this to your reading list. There are many concepts Ms. Beck brings out in this book that will forever stay with me.
- The Essential Self vs. The Social Self
- Meeting Your Everybody
- Best Case and Worst Case Scenarios
- Making Fear Your Ally
- The Change Cycle. What I found in Ms. Beck’s writing are practical ways to approach what makes me who I am, determining what paths I might want to take in life, and how to support those goals. She offers a plethora of worksheets and exercises to guide you on your way.It is a thorough, and sometimes complicated read, but stick with it. You will find it worth your while.
Synopsis: During my consulting career, I solved problems for clients. I reviewed processes; designed new approaches; provided very systematic and logical ways to attack issues. It is no wonder I LOVED this book! Throughout the book, Burnett and Evans give very tangible models and worksheets to design and build, your path forward. They address five mindsets you need to design your life: Be Curious, Try Stuff, Reframe Problems, Know It’s a Process, and Ask For Help. The book draws out the dysfunctional thinking we all fall into when in transitions (like finding a new position or switching careers) and reframes it so can embrace the forward momentum. The exercises and worksheets give the reader something concrete to execute in the context of a more extensive process. The scary transition doesn’t feel so big and scary when it is broken down into these real activities and steps.
– Check Out on Amazon –
The Crossroads of Should and Must
Synopsis: A fun, short, but very impactful read. Most of our lives are filled with statements about what we SHOULD do. Elle Luna suggests we focus on MUST. Must is where we will find our calling. It isn’t just philosophical either. She offers some quick, easy, and practical ways to start your journey of Must.
Start With Why
Synopsis: I had heard about Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk and went to watch it on YouTube. ( Here) I was enthralled, so I had to read the book. You should too. What struck me was how such a simple theory in many ways could be so profound. Yes, I used the word profound. Mr. Sinek’s concept of the Golden Circle is something I viscerally understand. The idea is about defining WHY you do what you do and supporting that with the HOW you do it and WHAT it is that you are producing (or doing). Most people and companies start with WHAT they do (I am a Botanist) not WHY they do it (I want to help create sustainable crops). This book will have you looking at your WHY and then thinking about how your life, your career, your decisions, align to that WHY.
Synopsis: It started with a TED talk. One you should watch if you haven’t. Then the book. What I found most appealing about Ms. Cuddy’s book is that she gives you the science behind the mind-body effects that power or powerlessness have on presence. And if that isn’t enough, she gives us ways to help ourselves – real, actionable steps to move us forward and perform at our best. It’s not just about your Power Pose but that is a big part of establishing your presence. One passage in the book summed it up for me – “Your body shapes your mind. You mind shapes your behavior. And your behavior shapes your future.”
Synopsis: Someone at work suggested I watch Angela Duckworth’s YouTube video and after a few minutes I knew I needed to read the book. And I am glad I did. For years I have told people that I am “not the smartest person in the room, but few can out work me.” Now I know that what I was trying to say is that I have GRIT. Angela Duckworth and others throughout the book helped me understand the role talent, skill, and effort all have in achieving success. Equally impactful to me was reading about how grit can grow and develop. “Our potential is one thing. What we do with it is quite another.” – Angela Duckworth This is a great read to help you understand how to maximize your effectiveness in all areas of your life.
Synopsis: I admit to being slightly intimidated by this book title. A guide to a wholehearted life? The concept of a wholehearted life sounded ominous to me. I am so glad I didn’t pass on this just because of the title. This thin paperback helped me to understand worthiness from a practical and internal place. It isn’t about being perfect; it is about being worthy. And that can be defined in a lot of ways. The author talks about having courage, compassion, and connection to go on this journey. The ten guideposts – or daily practices the lead us on the journey – are specific and grounded in the here and now. They are not lofty or difficult. For each guidepost you will see how being courageous, showing compassion for others and yourself, and how you feel seen, heard and valued, are a vital part of being worthy of a wholehearted and joyful life.