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:  People skills matter! Merit, competency and hierarchy are baselines for success, but excellent people skills will propel you like nothing else.  How to conduct realistic job interviews, to hire more efficiently.  Making the most of appraisals, irrespective of which side of the table you are on.  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.  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.
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!
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.
Physical Books I own:
The Star Attraction. Allison Sweeney. Romance.
The Inseparables. Stuart Nadler. Drama.
Evening is the Whole Day. Preeta Samarasan.
The Woman who stole my Life. Marian Keyes.
The Black Widow. Daniel Silva. Thriller.
The New Abs Diet. David Zinczenko. Health &
Designing Data-Intensive Applications. Martin
Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and
Behavior. Dennis Coon & John Mitterer. Psychology.
OH, MIND RELAX PLEASE. Swami Sukhabodhananda.
Spark of Light. Jodi Picoult. Drama.
House of Spies. Daniel Silva. Thriller.
Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe. Bill
HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Women and Leadership.
Harvard Business Review.
The 30-Day Money Cleanse. Ashley Gertsley.
Smart Women Love Money. Alice Finn. Non-fiction
All Things are Working for Your Good. Joel
Osteen. Non-fiction business.
Secrets of Six-Figure Women. Barbara Stanny.
You’ve Got 8 Seconds. Paul Hellman. Non-fiction
You Woke up Worthy. Britny West. Health &
12 Rules for Life. Jordan Peterson. Non-fiction
Capitalism. Ayn Rand. Non-fiction business.
The Success Priniciples. Jack Canfield.
You are a Badass. Jen Sincero. Non-fiction
The Big Book of Juices. Natalie Savona. Health
The Accidental Creative. Todd Henry. Non-fiction
Rule #1: The Simple Strategy for Successful
Investing in Only 15 Minutes a Week! Phile Town. Non-fiction business.
Connect: The Secret LinkedIn Playbook. Josh
Turner. Non-fiction business.
The Happiness Hypothesis. Jonathan Haidt.
Inviting Disaster: Lessons From the Edge of
Technology. James Chiles. Non-fiction business.
Invested. Danielle & Phil Town. Non-fiction
The Pledge: Your Master Plan for an Abundant
Life. Michael Masterson. Non-fiction business.
The Truth About Managing People. Stephen
Robbins. Non-fiction business.
Foods that Harm Foods that Heal. Joe Schwarcz
& Fran Berkoff. Health & Living.
Zero Belly Smoothies. David Zinczenko. Health
10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. JJ Smith. Health
The Beauty Detox Solution. Kimberly Snyder.
Health & Living.
You Can Heal Your Life. (Gift Edition) Louise
Hay. Health & Living.
Earn It. Mika Brzezinski. Non-fiction business.
Why Not Me? Mindy Kaling. Non-fiction business.
Kiss Your But Goodbye. Joseph Azelby.
End Game. David Baldacci. Thriller.
How to Talk to Anyone. Leila Lowndes.
The Greatness Guide Book 2. Robin Sharma.
Corporate Finance: The Core. Jonathan Berk &
Peter DeMarzo. Technical.
Big Data. Bernard Marr. Technical.
The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae. Stephanie
The Marriage Clock: A Novel. Zara Raheem.
Everyone Worth Knowing. Lauren Weisberger. Drama.
When Life gives You Lululemons. Lauren Weisberger.
Presence. Amy Cuddy. Psychology.
Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office.
Obsessed or be Average. Grant Cardone.
Ultralearning. Scott Young. Non-fiction
Range. Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized
World. David Epstein. Non-fiction business.
Never Split the Difference. Chris Voss.
The Phoenix Project. Gene Kim, Kevin Behr &
George Spafford. Non-fiction business.
The Like Switch. Jack Schafer & Marvin
The Millionaire Fastlane. MJ DeMarco.
Creating Personal Presence. Diana Booher.
The Science of Social Intelligence. Patrick
eBooks from Various Apps & Subscriptions:
Make Money from Non-fiction books. John Tighe. Non-fiction business.
Unlocking Potential. Michael Simpson. Non-fiction business.
Who doesn’t want a successful career, million dollar savings account, fame in their community and the chance to explore the world? Well, look no further. This book will give you practical, proven strategies to do all that and more. This book is also listed in the Top 25 reading list for 2020.
REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****
If you only have time to read one book this year, then this should be it! This book is simply that valuable! The book is divided into 3 sections – health, wealth and wisdom and each contains easily digestible chapters, each one from a different industry leader.
The book has remarkable stories and advice from chefs, actors, world famous athletes, technocrats, venture capitalists, Harvard professors and even YouTube stars! No matter which field or career stage you belong to, you will find tips to guide you to greater heights. Think of the book as a “mentor in a book”!
Here are some pearls of wisdom that truly resonated with me, and to give you a jump-start, if you are unsure where to begin.
The book has a lot of techniques to improve your health, and I don’t need to tell you that good health automatically translates into higher productivity, better salary and more success. My favorite chapters in this section teach the following:
(1) How to sleep more efficiently, so you wake up feeling truly refreshed, not groggy and grumpy. (page 138) Better sleep means the same 6-8 hours leaves you without a mid-day energy slump, sharper memory and higher efficiency.
(2) There are description on how some common over-the-counter multivitamin supplements work, which can aid in better sleep, digestion and energy booster. For example did you know melatonin helps to beat jet lag (excellent for travelers) and magnesium supplements aid digestion, mineral absorption and can improve your exercise regimen? There are some other medicines too, recommended by doctors and athletes, which are easily available with few side effects (compared to the amazing benefits) Refer page 21, 129 and many more chapters.
(3) You and I barely spend 3 hours per week in the gym. Instead of worrying how to increase the length of your workouts, try hacking the intensity and efficiency! Learn how the best athletes train and CEOs stay fit. Pages 14, 57 and others.
Read on if you want answers or advice on the following:
(1) Are you a struggling artist or under-paid teacher or a solopreneur who is unable to make ends meet? Go from being a minimal wage employee to earning $500+/hour using the chapters in this section. (P292, p296) Won’t be overnight, for sure, but at least you will see hope to bring you out of despair. Again, this book has so many industry influencers that you should be able to find something that works for your exact circumstances.
(2) Website getting zero traffic, or boss does not recognize your contributions? Don’t worry solutions to monetize your branding and visibility are also listed.
(3) How to identify lucrative investments or start off as a venture capitalist. (P343)
(4) Want to fund a “real-life” MBA? We got you covered in this book. (P250)
Wisdom & Personal Growth
(1) Are you curious about transcendental meditation? If you’ve never heard of it, then this is a meditation technique that celebrities and CEOs swear has changed their life, and allowed them to scale new heights of peak success. This book contains multiple references, and you will be compelled to apply it to your own life. (P151, p176)
(2) What beliefs are holding you back? The concepts that worked for our parents and grandparents may not be relevant anymore, but unless you think or test them gently, you will never know what is possible. Read the brilliant chapter on “17 Questions that changed my life” on page 595.
(3) How to conquer your fear. (P474, p463)
(4) Hack learning using the same techniques that propelled a small-time journalist into the American Memory champion in less than an year. (p577)
Hopefully, the snippets above would have whetted your appetite for the book. So get started, and let me know what you think! And best of luck for a new year filled with unlimited possibilities.
Make 2020 an amazing year, by finishing this list of Top 25 Books to read this new year. Books on career acceleration, earning more money and other life hacks.
As the New Year approaches nearer, many of us start thinking about resolutions and the determination to make the most of the new year is at an all-time high! Sadly, most of us give up by end of Jan, if not the quarter. But if you really want to make a difference this year, then look at this amazing reading list for the Top 25 must-read books for 2020.
Aim to read at least one book a month, and you will get the adrenaline dose of motivation to keep you on track to make 2020 an epic year! Best part, even if you fail, you will have read 10+ amazing books in 2020, which itself is something 90% folks never accomplish.
I’ve added some broad categories, but really anyone can read these books, irrespective of age, work domain or stage of career. Yes, all are non-fiction, and some fall into multiple categories, but I’ve placed them only once to avoid duplication.
You might notice a lot of these are New York Times bestsellers and come with rave reviews from top influencers. There is a REAL reason – these books are truly fabulous, and totally worth the hype! I’ve personally read all of them, else they would never have made this list! Even if you get one important tip from each book, your life will definitely be that much richer and more rewarding! (Speaking from experience…)
Amazon links are added, but if you are worried about breaking the bank, look for copies in your local library, or look for second hand copies in thrift stores. Amazon and Google Books are both currently offering discounts, so see if those might work for you, too.
Without further ado, here is the list.
Personal Development Books:
 Tools of the Titans – Tim Ferris. A detailed book review is available here. Learn the habits and behaviors of millionaires and world class leaders. The book is divided into 3 sections – health, wealth and wisdom and each contains advice from luminaries across industries and countries. So everyone will find some valuable information to accelerate their life. Topics include sales, becoming a world famous artist, app developers, bio-hacking, dealing with grief, venture capitalism and even how to fund your MBA with other people’s money!
 Antifragile – Nassim Taleb. The world is full of uncertainty; markets fall, disasters strike and life gets complicated. This book equips readers with the critical life skills needed to handle all of these curveballs and still forge ahead to success.
 Influence – Robert Cialdini. Whether you are a student or a top-level CEO, entrepreneur or blogger, being able to influence others is a key skill to success, so this book is a must read for people from all walks of life. This book will help you understand the principles behind decision making and how you can increase your powers of persuasion and influence.
 Alchemy – Rory Sutherland. This is similar to the above book, in the sense that it shows how and why people make decisions. However, this is even more brilliant since it is a practical book that looks at why some ideas convert into millions in revenue, while others bring in peanuts. The author is an advertising genius who unveils the curtains behind the campaigns that attracted millions of dollars in sales. Some clients were non-profits, so please don’t worry that you will need to pay a ton to see similar results.
 Mindset – Carol Dweck. Why do some people fail in the face of adversity while others rise and shine under pressure. The answer is a “growth’ mindset which allows us to adapt to ambiguity and increased complexity. Everyone can learn this skill and apply it to improve their life, whether you are a student struggling in class, a frustrated entrepreneur, or just an employee feeling “stuck” in your current position.
 The Power of Habit – Charles Duhigg. Have you wondered why we brush everyday (no matter how grumpy we feel) but we can’t hold on to healthy diet or sustain New Year resolutions beyond the first quarter? This book offers simple tips to help you cultivate new habits by explaining the psychology behind how habits are formed, and how to keep going even when we feel tempted to cheat.
 Change by Design – Tim Brown. This is the definitive guide in design thinking, a concept used everywhere from hospitals to websites to how businesses think about creating a “WOW” customer journey.
 Factfulness – Hans Rosling. A unique perspective that teaches us how to separate fact from fiction when forming our opinions. Must-read in a world filled with contrasting opinions, fake reports and extreme divisiveness. Recommended by Bill Gates himself, so enough said already.
 Only Humans Need Apply – Thomas Davenport & Julia Kirby. If you have ever wondered (or worried ) about the impact of technology on jobs and salary bands in the future, then you will find this book answers all your questions. This is NOT a book aimed at technical professionals, instead it serves as an excellent reminder on what skills will become critical in our knowledge economy, as technology invades every niche and domain.
 Sun Tsu: Art of War for Managers – Gerald A Michaelson. Use ancient Chinese military strategies to win forward in corporate America (and elsewhere). Ideal for middle level managers and above.
 The Millionaire Master Plan – Roger Hamilton. If making more money feels like a perpetual struggle, then you will benefit from this excellent book. Take the quiz and get a personalized plan to understand your strengths, and then leverage those to accelerate your money goals. Best of all, the book takes into account the current state of your finances whether you are in deep student debt, or a middle class employee trying to expand your nest egg.
 I will Teach You to Be Rich – Ramit Sethi . A 32-oz expresso coffee shot wake-up call on how to control and manage your finances without having to live a sad life of scrimping or becoming a miser. Instead of asking folks to save a dollar per day on lattes, Ramit focuses on the big ticket items that can maximize savings and increase earnings. It’s a witty, no-nonsense kick in the pants, written in short chapters devoid of jargon, so you can take action immediately.
Books for Marketing / Bloggers / Small Business owners:
 Content Inc – Joe Pulizzi. Grabbing attention of customers is almost impossible, thanks to the din of social media, without remarkable content and extraordinary marketing. However, the latter is useless without content that is valuable to the reader. This book helps you create such captivating content.
 Lost and Founder – Rand Fishkin. We all know about rare successful entrepreneurs who went from rags to riches, after they become rich and famous. But they offer no hope or guidance for the average solopreneur or small business owner, who is muddling through life, trying to keep things together. This book offers a rare look into a thriving business owner, all the mistakes he made along the way, and valuable encouragement to get through the tough moments owners invariably face.
 Made to Stick – Chip & Dan Heath. A fantastic book on how to make your ideas gain traction and support and even go viral. Use it to get your business pitch approved, or increase your personal branding or make your content go viral. If you like this book, and are a senior executive, you might also want to look at the book “Decisive ” by the same authors.
 Business Brilliant – Lewis Schiff. Growing a business and earning money is tough, and expertise does not always translate into revenue. If you are an entrepreneur, freelancer or in sales, then this book will offer practical strategies to achieve your goals.
 Ready, Aim, Fire – Michael Masterson. Brilliant book that outlines a master plan to increase revenue, based on stages of a company. The book shows what types of management decisions and styles should be prioritized for each stage (startup, growing and mature). If you are a freelancer, or hustling on the side, you may also want to refer to the book “Seven Years to Seven Figures ” by the same author.
Job Search Help books:
 How to Answer Interview Qs – Peggy McKee. No matter what your role or domain, behavioral questions form the lion’s share of any interview process. This book will help you prepare for those questions. You can scout all the job search sites you want (including Glassdoor.com) but you will never find a question that is not a variation of those listed in this book. The book has a sample answer that is easily customizable to your specific background. Recommended by recruiters and managers worldwide.
 Data Science Jobs – Ann Rajaram. Whether you are exploring careers in Data Science, or already in the interview stages this book will help you prepare for both technical and HR interviews in this field. The book also offers guidance on resume tips, how to create an impressive “employable” project portfolio and networking tips.
 Cracking the Coding Interview – Gayle Laakmann McDowell. If you are in a programming or IT role, then this is the definitive guide to ace your technical interviews.
Career Acceleration books:
 The Selfish Career – Matthew Tucker. A detailed career manual that will change how you think about work and career advancement and give you practical tactics to achieve the success you desire and deserve. Ideally suited for folks who have at least 3-5 years experience in the workforce.
 Promoted – Bozi Dar. Would you like to be in the Top 10% club? The ones who get invited for newly open roles, assigned the most prestigious projects and praised by everyone from the CEO to the janitor? These folks are not necessarily the most qualified or talented, yet they move from triumph to triumph that eludes the rest of the employees. If you’ve wondered what magic is at play, then read this book.
 Women Who Rise – Sally Hegelson and Marshall GoldSmith. A Bible for women who want to advance in the workplace, but are unable to get past invisible barriers and prejudices. Learn how to rectify behavior traits that seem like strengths, but are actually crippling your career.
Books for Women:
 Girl, Wash Your Face – Rachel Hollis. Written in a funny, irreverent style and at times with disconcerting honesty. This is the advice you would love to receive from a beloved young aunt or college senior, yet rarely do. Most of us learn this in the fall of our lives, via the hard way (experience) when it is too late to chase our dreams. This book will allow you to rise above petty ideas of conformance and impostor syndromes and the permission to lead your best possible life!
 Becoming – Michelle Obama. A fantastic read on the factors that shaped one of the most revered First Ladies in the history of US. Detailed book review here.
Happy Reading, and wishing everyone a brilliant and fulfilling 2020!