Business & Management

Be Career Smart – not just “nice”

Title – Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office
Author – Lois Frankel

Happy International Women’s Day!

Women have achieved so much in the last 50 years in terms of breaking the glass ceiling, conquering water and space, but we still have a long way to go. And if there is one book, I could recommend to all my young friends, nieces and any female I care about – this would be it! This brilliant book is packed with more than 150 mistakes women make at work and the practical ways to stop doing the things that really hold them back.

This book is something every woman should read, whether you are fresh out of college, or already in a high-ranking successful career. There are so many pearls of wisdom, it is amazing. For most readers, you will feel convinced that you make every single mistake in the book (or have done in the past!) Do NOT worry, awareness is half the battle, we can only correct what we know!

SCORE: 4.5* out of 5

To be honest, this book easily deserves a 5 on 5. However, I disagree quite a lot with the “How You Look” Section. To me some of the advice seems a little outdated, especially if you work in tech roles. However, I totally agree with the author that it is better to err on the side of conservative dressing, at least in the beginning of your career. You can choose to stand out for your dress sense or style after you’ve established your brand beyond question. Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, mentioned something very similar in one of her townhalls I attended (as an employee), and she is the leader of the largest stock exchange platform and one of the biggest fintech companies in the world.

Aside from this short qualifier, I have nothing but praise for the rest of the book. Indeed, the gist of the book is to play to your feminine strengths, while making you aware of common career mistakes that derail your career in subtle but concrete ways. I’ve made many of these and sadly seen many wonderful women get stalled in their careers for the same reasons, while other (men) overtake them to extraordinary heights. Women often never reach their full potential due to what I like to call “Death by a thousand cuts” – small mistakes here and there. Just one or two won’t hurt you, but like compound interest, over a period of 10 years, they make a huge and NEGATIVE difference.

I have the audiobook version, and honestly the author’s narration sounds like a conversation with my favorite aunt or a strong and honest mentor. I’ve read the paperback version but loved the audio format much more for this very reason. Plus, its easy to listen to audio at 2X speeds and while I am doing manual chores like cleaning, traveling or just for a quick 2-minute dose of inspiration and pointers before an important presentation!

Nice AND successful! Avoid tactics that subtly sabotage your career.

Some Takeaways (mistakes) that Resonated with me personally:

  • #1 – Pretending It Isn’t a Game. #2 – Assuming the Rules are the same for Everyone.
  • #3 – Pinching Company Pennies. I stopped doing this very recently, and no one cared or asked why! Not even the finance department!
  • #24 – Polling Before a Decision. I do this a lot, so I sometimes must bite my tongue and assume silence is a sign of no objections.
  • #33 – Denying the importance of Money. Job satisfaction is important but earning top $ is a sure-shot way of skyrocketing motivation!
  • #44 – Making Miracles.
  • #56 – Ignoring the Importance of Network Relationships. Similarly, #17 – unwilling to capitalize on relationships.
  • #66 – Waiting to be Noticed.
  • #77 – Couching statements as Questions.
  • #85 – Using Qualifiers
  • #120 – Tolerating Inappropriate Behavior. On the same vein, is #15 – Protecting Jerks.

Overall, must read. If you mentor women or girls, or want to give a graduation gift for a female in your circle, then this book will be perfect!

Similar Works:

Books – Lean In, By Sheryl Sandberg. How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job; by Sally Helgesen. Girl, Stop Apologizing; by Rachel Hollis. Secrets of Six Figure Women, by Barbara Stanny. Own it, by Sallie Krawcheck.

Movies – Late Night (2019), Joy (2015), The Associate (1996).  

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Title – Unlocking Potential: 7 Coaching Skills That Transform Individuals, Teams, and Organizations
Author – Michael Simpson

REVIEW SCORE – 4.5/5 ****

Since last year, I’ve been involved as a mentor in my company’s formal mentoring program for women and diversity initiatives. So I was looking for a good book to “up my game”, so mentees can make the most of my (limited) time and experiences. This book came in as a recommendation, and Amazon was already offering me some ebook credits for being a voracious reader! So the timing seemed fortuitous!

So glad I bought this book!

Good leaders are those who can act both as effective managers and trusted coaches who take their employees to the next level. Unfortunately most training guides teach managerial skills focusing on results, not coaching. This book fills that cavernous gap.

Every team has diverse employees and a one-size-fits-all approach rarely brings out the best in every member of the team. Plus, most managers are already crunched for time, so 1-on-1 time is often used for getting random project updates rather than discussing career development goals and critical feedback loops. This book will help both employees and managers put that limited time to better use. Already, my manager and my mentees are responding positively as we are accomplishing more in 30 minutes than we did over weekly meetings in the entire quarter! 🙂

Improved mentoring sessions and group meetings

Whether you are a first time manager, professor/ teacher, sports coach, a seasoned manager who wants to help employees who seem “stuck”, or simply accelerate career development for the whole team. Even professional coaches will find this book useful to give better sessions with clients.

What I love about the book?

Did I mention this book has a foreword by THE Marshall Goldsmith? That alone guarantees a high quality of content, but interestingly I read the foreword only AFTER buying the book.

Aside from the halo effect of Goldsmith, I genuinely loved that the book is immensely practical – strategies that you can take action on, immediately! Some of what I’ve started to use are listed below:

  1. Questions to ask employees to make the coaching sessions more effective, how to measure results and the SARAH model.
  2. How to help difficult employees accept negative feedback.
  3. Separate methods for 1-on-1 vs group/team coaching. I do both, and so will you – if you are a professional coach, or lead large teams.
  4. How to give feedback to get employees/ clients so they are encouraged to take constructive action.

Overall, highly recommend for managers, teachers and coaches.

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Book Marketing Techniques

Title – How to Market a Book
Author – Joanna Penn

REVIEW SCORE – 4.5/5

This is the BEST book for all first time authors, to learn all the different methods to market your book and earn sales. The book covers important concepts on how to build an author platform, market books online and offline, as well as monetization techniques using merchanside and books in multiple formats.

I do have to specify that the book is slightly older, so some of the topics on Amazon policies and online paid ads have changed, competition for ebooks has increased dramatically. Nevertheless this is a fantastic guide for debut authors, especially because the author is a bestselling author with both fiction and non-fiction books. So the topics and core principles of the book are relevant and true till today. Hence this is a truly evergreen book.

New authors reading this book will find useful information, irrespective of your writign genre, or even if you write under a pseudonym. If you already have some books published, then this book has techniques to spike up your sales.

Higher sales and revenue through self publishing

Other practical ideas presented in the book include:

  • How to get more reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Google, etc.
  • Which paid ad platforms return the highest ROI
  • Ad stacking, which the author used to hit the prestigious New York Times bestseller list. Hitting the list is much harder now, but the method is definitely useful to jack up sales and author ranking, which is the final goal.
  • Concept of “30-60-90” day content cliffs.
  • How to quickly and easily build your email lists.
  • Top 10 mistakes made by newbie authors.
  • how to use traditional media (TV, newspapers and radio) and conventional methods of Public relations to increase brand awareness for your books.

Overall, highly recommend to all authors who are yet to see five figure annual sales numbers!

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Good Leaders & Managers

Title – The Truth about Managing People
Author – Stephen P. Robbins

REVIEW SCORE – 5/5 *****

I first bought this book for an MBA class on organizational behavior. Compared to the dry, and sometimes boring texts on management, this book was really unique because of the bite-sized chapter. Very similar to Seth Godin (marketing and consulting) and Avinash Kaushik (web analytics and data visualization) as I am a huge fan of both.

As a new manager, I found this a valuable resource, especially since I don’t have direct reports but supervise a bunch of contractors from our vendor-partners. I also lead a 1000+ member meetup, and inter-disciplinary projects at work, which means I often have to lead without a title and persuade people to agree on conflicting agendas.

However, even early career professionals will benefit from the book because it makes you understand what skills and behaviors will help you accelerate your career. For new and experienced managers, there will be many “A-ha” moments when you finally understand why your colleagues, peers or even executive leadership behave the way they do!

This book essentially summarized the best research on management principles into short, usable strategies. There are sections on motivation, hiring, conflict management, so the book is like an MBA-in-a-box. Similar to “Tools of the Titans”, but shorter and more focused on managerial topics. So you will want to keep a copy handy and refer different chapters at different stages and situations.

Pearls of Wisdom from the Book:

Some gems that resonated with me, and things that you will learn:
[1] People skills matter! Merit, competency and hierarchy are baselines for success, but excellent people skills will propel you like nothing else.
[2] How to conduct realistic job interviews, to hire more efficiently.
[3] Making the most of appraisals, irrespective of which side of the table you are on.
[4] I never heard the term “buddy” system, even though my company has it (called “shadowing”). I definitely attribute my success to the fact that this helped me shorten the learning curve and socialize faster with key stakeholders.
[5] Visionary leadership matters. I think women managers especially get hindered by this, but the fact is that a lofty goal motivates employees to find workarounds and creative solutions for near-impossible goals.

There are many more strategies for being both an efficient manager and a brilliant leader, but I will let you learn those directly from the book!

What I disagree:

The only point I disagreed slightly was the chapter on “mentors”. Like Sally Helgesen (Women who Rise) and Lois Frankel (Nice Girls still Don’t Get the Corner Office), we need “advocates” not mentors to get ahead in the career ladder. Mentors are important, but most corporate programs haven’t morphed these into sponsorship, which to me, defeats the purpose of mentoring. Still, I do agree that mentoring is important, especially early in your career.

Conclusion:

Overall, I love the book! Conversations with my managers and perceptions about me as a worthy leader, have improved since I started applying the principles in this book. In short, a Must read!

Similar authors – Tools of the Titans (Tim Ferris), Seth Godin’s blog , Avinash Kaushik’s blog Occam’s Razor – , Jack Welch, Robin Sharma, Carol Dweck (Mindset), Peter Drucker (Management/ Marketing), Adam Grant (Originals) .
TV shows – Not really applicable, but if you like Boston Legal and Shark Tank, you should test ride this book too!

Happy Reading!

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2020 Reading Challenge

Goal 2020 = Read 100 books, as part of “Clear the Shelves” Challenge.

I’ve been a GoodReads user for years now (who isn’t? ) but never really completed a reading challenge even though I read a ton of books, based on my WSJ subscription or what catches my fancy at the library or even random Google recommendations to use up my e-book credits. However, with the dawn of a new decade (Hurrah 2020), I decided to login and just check the reading challenges posted for this year. And boy, they are amazing!

GoodReads currently has reading challenges in various themes and genres. Don’t like picking any single one? Use the “Bingo” challenge to cover multiple genres. I chose the “Clear the Shelves” Reading challenge, because I realized I have a sea of books at home, on my Kindle/ BookShout/ GooglePlayBooks and other apps. I’ve started many, and some I read so long ago that I can’t recollect anything.

So the Clear the Shelves challenge seemed perfect. NO buying new books, ebooks or audible titles until I’ve cleared this list. Was not very consistent in adding my “read” shelves either, so planning to post reviews on Goodreads an Amazon. After all, as an author myself, I understand the potent power of reviews, so it makes good karma that I return the favor.

To further add accountability, I am adding the list publicly on this blog, too:

  • Physical books = 50
  • eBooks = 40
  • Audible = 10
  • Total = 100

Obviously, at some point in the future I will cave in and get other books or read books by other indie authors I like, but having this “to-do” list seems like a good way of making sure I tackle this long overdue task.

Tackle my friends – lovely paperbacks & hardcopy books!

Physical Books I own:

  1. The Star Attraction. Allison Sweeney. Romance.
  2. The Inseparables. Stuart Nadler. Drama.
  3. Evening is the Whole Day. Preeta Samarasan. Chicklit.
  4. The Woman who stole my Life. Marian Keyes. Chicklit.
  5. The Black Widow. Daniel Silva. Thriller.
  6. The New Abs Diet. David Zinczenko. Health & Living.
  7. Designing Data-Intensive Applications. Martin Kleppmann. Technical.
  8. Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior. Dennis Coon & John Mitterer. Psychology.
  9. OH, MIND RELAX PLEASE. Swami Sukhabodhananda. Non-fiction business.
  10. Spark of Light. Jodi Picoult. Drama.
  11. House of Spies. Daniel Silva. Thriller.
  12. Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe. Bill Bryson. Travel.
  13. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Women and Leadership. Harvard Business Review.
  14. The 30-Day Money Cleanse. Ashley Gertsley. Non-fiction business.
  15. Smart Women Love Money. Alice Finn. Non-fiction business.
  16. All Things are Working for Your Good. Joel Osteen. Non-fiction business.
  17. Secrets of Six-Figure Women. Barbara Stanny. Non-fiction business.
  18. You’ve Got 8 Seconds. Paul Hellman. Non-fiction business.
  19. You Woke up Worthy. Britny West. Health & Living.
  20. 12 Rules for Life. Jordan Peterson. Non-fiction business.
  21. Capitalism. Ayn Rand. Non-fiction business.
  22. The Success Priniciples. Jack Canfield. Non-fiction business.
  23. You are a Badass. Jen Sincero. Non-fiction business.
  24. The Big Book of Juices. Natalie Savona. Health & Living.
  25. The Accidental Creative. Todd Henry. Non-fiction business.
  26. Rule #1: The Simple Strategy for Successful Investing in Only 15 Minutes a Week! Phile Town. Non-fiction business.
  27. Connect: The Secret LinkedIn Playbook. Josh Turner. Non-fiction business.
  28. The Happiness Hypothesis. Jonathan Haidt. Psychology.
  29. Inviting Disaster: Lessons From the Edge of Technology. James Chiles. Non-fiction business.
  30. Invested. Danielle & Phil Town. Non-fiction business.
  31. The Pledge: Your Master Plan for an Abundant Life. Michael Masterson. Non-fiction business.
  32. The Truth About Managing People. Stephen Robbins. Non-fiction business.
  33. Foods that Harm Foods that Heal. Joe Schwarcz & Fran Berkoff. Health & Living.
  34. Zero Belly Smoothies. David Zinczenko. Health & Living.
  35. 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. JJ Smith. Health & Living.
  36. The Beauty Detox Solution. Kimberly Snyder. Health & Living.
  37. You Can Heal Your Life. (Gift Edition) Louise Hay. Health & Living.
  38. Earn It. Mika Brzezinski. Non-fiction business.
  39. Why Not Me? Mindy Kaling. Non-fiction business.
  40. Kiss Your But Goodbye. Joseph Azelby. Non-fiction business.
  41. End Game. David Baldacci. Thriller.
  42. How to Talk to Anyone. Leila Lowndes. Non-fiction business.
  43. The Greatness Guide Book 2. Robin Sharma. Non-fiction business.
  44. Corporate Finance: The Core. Jonathan Berk & Peter DeMarzo. Technical.
  45. Big Data. Bernard Marr. Technical.
  46. The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae. Stephanie Laurens. Romance.
  47. The Marriage Clock: A Novel. Zara Raheem. ChickLit.
  48. Everyone Worth Knowing. Lauren Weisberger. Drama.
  49. When Life gives You Lululemons. Lauren Weisberger. Drama.
  50. Presence. Amy Cuddy. Psychology.

Audible Titles

  1. Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office. Lois Frankel.
  2. Obsessed or be Average. Grant Cardone.
  3. Ultralearning. Scott Young. Non-fiction business.
  4. Range. Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. David Epstein. Non-fiction business.
  5. Never Split the Difference. Chris Voss. Psychology.
  6. The Phoenix Project. Gene Kim, Kevin Behr & George Spafford. Non-fiction business.
  7. The Like Switch. Jack Schafer & Marvin Karlins. Psychology.
  8. The Millionaire Fastlane. MJ DeMarco. Non-fiction business.
  9. Creating Personal Presence. Diana Booher. Non-fiction business.
  10. The Science of Social Intelligence. Patrick King. Psychology.

eBooks from Various Apps & Subscriptions:

Eliminate the Hoard of eBooks!
  1. Make Money from Non-fiction books. John Tighe. Non-fiction business.
  2. Unlocking Potential. Michael Simpson. Non-fiction business.
  3. Head over Heels. Lila Monroe. Romance.
  4. Montana Mistletoe. Kim Law. Romance.
  5. Influencer. Brittany Hennessy. Non-fiction business.
  6. The Profitable Content System. Meera kothand. Non-fiction business.
  7. The Telomere effect. Elizabeth Blackburn & Elissa Epel. Health & Living.
  8. Creativity Inc. Ed Catmull & Amy Wallace. Non-fiction.
  9. Manipulation Secrets. Patrick Lightman. Psychology.
  10. The 1-page Marketing Plan. Allan Dib. Non-fiction business.
  11. The Happy Mind. Kevin Horsley & Louis Fourie. Psychology.
  12. Instabrain. Sarah Weise. Non-fiction business.
  13. Discipline Decoded. Stephen Taylor. Psychology.
  14. Supportive Accountability. Sylvia Melena. Non-fiction business.
  15. But I am Not an Expert. Meera Kothand. Non-fiction business.
  16. People First. Mike Nutley. Non-fiction business.
  17. Don’t Lie to Me. Willow Rose. Mystery.
  18. LinkedIn Riches. John Nemo. Non-fiction business.
  19. Influencer Fast Track. Gundi Gabrielle. Non-fiction business.
  20. Kindle Bestseller Publishing. Gundi Gabrille. Non-fiction business.
  21. Data Jujitsu. DJ Patil. Technical.
  22. The Science of Human Nature. William Pyle. Psychology.
  23. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. Benjamin Franklin. Memoir.
  24. To Dare A Duke. Emma Leech. Romance.
  25. Essentialism. Greg McKeown. Non-fiction business.
  26. It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work. Jason Fried & David Hansson. Non-fiction business.
  27. Getting Things Done. David Allen. Non-fiction business.
  28. The Internet of Money. Andreas Antonopoulos. Non-fiction business.
  29. Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | Navigating Life. Tonianne DeMaria Barry.
  30. What you do is Who you are. Ben Horowitz. Non-fiction business.
  31. Cold Storage. David Koepp. Thriller.
  32. The Education of an Idealist. Samantha Power. Memoir.
  33. Squeezed. Alissa Quant. Non-fiction business.
  34. An Elegant Defense. Matt Richtel. Non-fiction business.
  35. Sapiens. Yuval Noah Harari. Non-fiction business.
  36. Chaos Monkeys. Antonio Martinez. Non-fiction business.
  37. Kissinger the Negotiator. James Sebenius. Memoir.
  38. Just Sit. Sukey & Elizabeth Novogratz. Health & Living.
  39. Remix. Lindsey Pollak. Non-fiction business.
  40. Iris Apfel: Accidental icon. Iris Apfel. Memoir.
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