Career books

Books on Creativity & Innovation

Feeling stuck or devoid of inspiration? A problem irritating you to no end? Stuck with writer’s block?

Creative inspiration is an ideal answer to all these problems. In today’s knowledge economy, innovative ideas and creativity are the new currency for career acceleration. Also, as more jobs get automated, soft skills combined with innovative thinking is the only way to remain relevant and valuable in the marketplace.

Creativity & Innovation Thinking – the only way to save your job from being made obsolete by Automation!

So here is a list of 7 superb books that will turbocharge your thinking and sharpen your creativity muscles:

1. Alchemy. Author = Rory Sutherland.
2. Creativity Inc. Author = Ed Catmull.
3. Design Thinking. Author = Tim Brown.
4. 131 Boredom Busters & Creativity Builders for Kids. Author = Jed Jurchenko.
5. The Accidental Creative. Author = Todd Henry.
6. Creative Careers. Author = Jeffrey Madoff.
7. Tools of the Titans. Author = Tim Ferris. Review here

Some of these books also feature on my list of Top 25 books to read this year. A modified version of this article was also posted on Medium.com under the title “Best Books on Creativity & Innovation

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Welcome to Day 03 of #BookReviewBlogChallenge. Today’s prompt is “Golden Classics”. Any book published before 1995.

I chose Robert Cialdini’s evergreen bestseller “Influence” for today’s prompt. This book was published in 1984 but the evergreen content still holds true after all these decades!

Bestselling authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Tim Ferris suggest that everyone should read at least 3-4 books written 50-100 years ago. These books have stood the test of time, so the wisdom remains immortal across generations! Some other perennial classics are listed in the end of this blogpost.

  • Title – Influence
  • SubTitle – The Psychology of Persuasion
  • Author – Robert B. Cialdini, PhD

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

The book outlines six main principles of persuasion that you can use to influence others and be aware, so others do not take undue advantage of you! Must read for anyone looking to accelerate their career or business, not just marketing professionals or sales folks! If you work in product design, social media marketing or want to boost your personal branding, then please pick up a copy today!

The principles listed in this book have a very sound foundation in science and decades of research. But the book is never dry or boring and uses compelling examples to explain the topics. This book was a recommended reading for my organizational behavior and strategy class during my MBA program.

As a female immigrant, I sometimes encounter subtle prejudices and unconscious bias. I have used the principles of this book to great success to counter these effects.

One example of the effectiveness and ageless insights of this book is the principle of social proof. This book was written before the internet ever existed, but today we rely so heavily on social media reviews on Amazon, Google testimonials, Yelp stars and other proof before making even a $20 purchase.

Even Ramit Sethi, New York Times bestselling author of “I will Teach You to be Rich” and coach of Growth Labs also recommends this book as a must-read for anyone starting their business.

Similar Works

  • Books – “Alchemy” by Rory Sutherland, “Made to Stick” by Dan and Chip Heath.
  • Golden Classics – “Art of War” by Sun Tzu, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, “Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • TV Series – Mad Men
  • Genres – Applied Psychology, Social Psychology, Consumer Behavior, Marketing for Small Businesses.

Until next time, adieu and Happy Reading!

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Who is not impressed by a rocket scientist?
I certainly am, and I’ve also had the privilege to meet a couple retired ones in real life!

But I did not think there was any process to emulate their ability to think about solving problems with no known solutions. So the description of this book captivated me completely.

  • Title – Think Like a Rocket Scientist
  • Subtitle – Simple Strategies You Can Use to Make Giant Leaps in Work and Life
  • Author – Ozan Varol

Review Score = 5/5 *****

Compared to bestselling author, Nassem Taleb’s book “Black Swan” is the unlikely event that disrupts industries and bankrupts businesses, like a pandemic or housing bust. This book is the answer to avoid getting hurt badly when such situations, and they will happen at some point or the other, no doubt about it.

Whether you are a student, entrepreneur or mid level executive, this book will help you improve your critical thinking skills. You will emerge with new ways to innovate, see patterns and a fresh burst of creativity. The best way to describe it is as a crash course equivalent to an MBA business strategy class.

Nine brilliant thinking processes that you can use to boost your career.

Side note, the cover and title were so compelling, I only read the recommendations AFTER I put in my #NetGalley advance review request.

Did you know? This book comes recommended by:

a] bestselling authors like Adam Grant (Wharton professor and author of “Originals”) and Daniel Pink (“Drive”) ,
b] Tech titans I follow, like Satya Nadella and Bill Gates.

Honestly, did not think the request would be accepted, but being a Top Reviewer (see badge on right) seemed to help my case. So I figured I would get to the book ASAP, and also add a review.

In all fairness, my 5* review is 100% honest, and not at all swayed by the amazing other people who have praised this book. My review after all, is for regular readers like you and me, who read for entertainment or learning. Plus, I have read so many non-fiction books in the past that I can decipher (or so I like to believe!) when books are simply rehashing generic concepts or regurgitating content from a hundred other books.

In this book, I was looking for practical strategies to hone my critical thinking skills, and possibly ideas to accelerate my career. The book delivered everything that I expected and a little more! I got some wacky ideas for my website promotion, and early testing seems to show more positive response than I expected.

Brilliant book. 100% recommend to readers in all industries and stages of their career.

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An excellent book that teaches you about how to promote yourself, your product or your business in a noisy world, without spending millions. The author calls herself “anti PR” and handholds you through the entire process, complete with checklists and templates. I received this book as a professional reader on the site NetGalley .

REVIEW SCORE = 5/5 *****

Truth be told, the book includes a lot of exercises and templates (FREE) that entrepreneurs (or readers) will need to complete. But if you don’t want to spend large amounts of money, you must spend time. Also, even if you do have money to outsource your marketing or PR, chances are that most paid “experts” will make you answer the same type of Qs and exercises. So, do yourself a favor, and read this book! ?

The entire book can be read in a day, but the action items will take a lot more time to complete. Worth every minute spent if you are a solopreneur or small business owner trying to build a buzz around your products or increase sales. Please do go through the steps in sequence – it works and will help you exponentially improve your odds of success.

In a way, I really wish I had found this book years earlier during my stint as a freelancer, and initial days as a blogger. Many of the methods listed in the book are techniques I gathered after multiple rounds of trial and error, and devouring dozens of books. Luckily, I also had a SCORE mentor who took one look at my clueless face and asked me if I was running a business or a hobby. Then he proceeded to make me go through a list of Qs and action items, comparable to those listed in this book. This book, however, is far more detailed and covers a lot more of digital marketing, social media and tons of FREE resources.

Who will benefit from reading this book?

  • Solopreneurs and small business owners who want to increase awareness about their products, increase sales.
  • Bloggers looking to increase website traffic and/or conversions.
  • Individuals who want to establish themselves as an authority in their niche, and all the happy perks of being a subject matter expert like paid speaking gigs, job promotions, articles in prestigious magazines, etc.
  • Freelancers who want to land more clients, or higher paying clients.
  • Debut authors who want to launch their book as a smashing success, or self-published authors who want to boost lagging sales.
  • Newbies to the PR world.
  • Any business with a tiny (read non-existent) marketing/PR budget.  

In short, almost every person will benefit from reading this book! 100% thumbs up!

Similar Works

  • Books – Alchemy by David Sutherland. The New Rules of Marketing & PR by David Scott. Influence by Robert Cialdini. Contagious by Jonas Benger.
  • Movies – The Candidate
  • TV Series – Mad Men
  • Genres – Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media, Small Business Marketing, Advertising, Business & Finance, Small Business & Entrepreneurship, Women & Business.

Happy Reading and Promoting Yourself!

#HypeYourself #NetGalley

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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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