These five books published in 2017 could serve as your guide.
I didn’t intentionally choose to read these books for this theme, but that’s certainly their point of view.
These five rose to the top of my 2017 reading list for their helpfulness, the quality of their writing, and their positive impact on my ability to remember and recommend them to others.
The books are listed here in no particular order. As in recent years, the list is intentionally short to avoid overloading your working memory and contributing to your end-of-year stress level.
After the five books, I’ve included six additional book titles. Five are from my reading queue for those who are curious. The sixth is a special book for which I served as a “Quote Judge” who helped determine the book’s content.
- Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era by Daniel J. Levitin. The author started writing this book while teaching a college course on critical thinking. After its 2016 publication as Field Guide to Lies, Levitin said he became alarmed by the proliferation of lies as well as the Oxford Dictionary proclaiming “post-truth” as its Word of the Year for 2016. So he wrote a new harder-hitting introduction, renamed the book, and had it republished. The book is a useful primer for all of us to navigate today’s land mines of misinformation.
- Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us about Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. This Harvard-educated economist, former Google data scientist, and New York Times writer confirms what many of us have suspected all along. People lie to their friends, doctors, lovers, surveys and even to themselves. Now we’ve got the data from the internet to learn what people really do, think and want. This fascinating and entertaining book shows the positive power of data mining in the right hands.
- We Can’t Talk About That at Work! How to Talk about Religion, Politics, and Other Polarizing Topics by Mary-Frances Winters. The author emphasizes that employees are talking about sensitive subjects at work all the time. Rather than deny the fact and run the risk that the conversations contribute to a more polarized and divisive environment, we should deal with these “taboo topics” in a way that brings people together rather than drives them apart. She explains the cultural contexts that shape people’s perceptions, habits, and communication styles and gives detailed guidance for structuring healthy, productive conversations.
- The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything by Bob Johansen. This book is a superb extension of Johansen’s Leaders Make the Future: Ten New Leadership Skills for an Uncertain World, which is one of my favorite reference books. Each of the new five new literacies links to the 10 skills from the first book. Yet the new book includes enough substance to provoke your thinking about how to thrive in a VUCA world, especially around seeding realistic hope for ourselves and others.
- Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone by Satya Nadella with Greg Shaw and Jill Tracie Nichols. The Microsoft CEO explains how leaders and employees can “hit refresh” to reenergize themselves, stay relevant and ensure their organizations are still serving them, their customers, partners and suppliers in a rapidly changing world. Besides writing about his leadership principles, the importance of empathy, and how he’s changing Microsoft, Nadella provides his perspective on new technologies. He talks about the future of mixed reality, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing and their impact on humans. Nadella is just the third Microsoft CEO in the company’s 40-year history, and has transformed the company the most, especially from a culture of “knowing” to “learning.”
As for what’s on my reading list, which covers themes other than disruption, I’m looking forward to starting:
- Humility Is the New Smart; Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age by Edward Hess and Katherine Ludwig
- Who Can You Trust? How Technology Brought Us Together and Why It Might Drive Us Apart by Rachel Botsman
- Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson
- Barking up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know about Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker
- The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by two of my favorite authors, brothers Chip Heath and Dan Heath.
And if you’re looking for a gift book for someone who likes quotes or for yourself, check out Fired Up! Selling: Great Quotes to Inspire, Energize, Succeed, envisioned and published by Ray Bard. This beautiful book with its high quality photos, thick paper and rounded edges is a great example of smart mob organizing. More than 1,200 individuals, including me, served as the panel of “Quote Judges” who selected the quotes to include.
What are your favorite books this year from a professional development perspective?
And what’s on your reading list now? Please share!