Career books

Presence – Amy Cuddy

Title β€“ Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office
SubTitle – Bringing your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges
Author – Amy Cuddy

From brain trauma accident survivor to Harvard professor to TED talk speaker with million viewers! Who would not want to listen to an author with such an incredible rags-to-riches story?

This is an amazing book, and once you start reading you will quickly realize why the book landed on the Amazon bestseller list, and the talk garnered 30+ million views on a generic topic like “confidence”.

SCORE: 4.5* out of 5

Some of the concepts may seem like common sense or something your grandmother would advise you – sit up straight, don’t hunch, etc. But here are some unique concepts to pique your interest:

[a] Wonder Woman or starfish Pose
[b] Nudging – how small changes can bring out large gains!
[c] iHunch (serious concept with a hilarious name)
[d] Fake it till you become it! Dealing with impostor syndrome.

Personal stories

The book certainly is filled with anecdotes from struggling actors who landed coveted Hollywood roles, homeless person, introverted kids giving public presentations, women leaders and so much more! It’s a self-help guide and a leadership training book for rookies and a motivational speech all rolled into one!

But I personally related very well to the book, because I have my own stories that prove the methods in the book work. Don’t ask me why, the reasons are listed in the book. All I care is that they miraculously work!

Here are some personal stories that make me believe in the book, 100%!

[a] Fearless girl – Have you seen the sculpture of the “Fearless girl” facing the massive Wall Street bull? Just the thought alone makes me feel more confident as a woman. My 7-year old niece always stands this way and she recently was awarded a memento at school for exemplary leadership in class, despite having changed school in the middle of the year, and only being there for 3 months! πŸ™‚
[b] Lucrative jobs interviews – A colleague confessed to trying out the “wonder woman” pose minutes before her interview for a competitive technical position at Nasdaq, the megalith fintech exchange! She landed the lucrative at a salary range far higher than she imagined. She admits the pose might not have been the tipping factor, but she is convinced she eliminated the “desperate” vibes that unemployed jobseekers unconsciously give that had been holding her back until then!
[c] Shrinking violet – take up your available space! When my mom returned after a 2-month trip caring for my ailing grandmother, neighbors and colleagues remarked that she looked “shrunken” and every bit her normal short 5 feet 5 inches frame. In truth, this is a far cry from the joyous personality who has made 6+ feet students quaver in fear! Interestingly, I’ve been told I look taller after I published my book and took a leadership role last year. Maybe confidence does make you taller and more attractive!

Boost your confidence – for the moments that matter!

Who will benefit the most?

This is not just a self-help book, and even though I have it listed under my “women” section, the book was not targeted solely for women.

So who all can benefit?

  • You are a stay at home or unemployed jobseeker, anxious about returning to the workplace and being unable to cope up.
  • Kids (or adults) who have been bullied or feel excessively shy.
  • Anyone with mental health, depression or anxiety issues.
  • Women of color, or anyone from a minority group who is eager to take their career to the next level, but facing feelings of “impostor syndrome”
  • Grad student stepping into a researcher or first professor role.
  • College students embarking on their first jobs.

I’ve already recommended this as a MUST-READ to all my mentees. This will also make an excellent graduation gift to students and young professionals!

Read more

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

REVIEW SCORE β€“ 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! πŸ™‚

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.

Read more

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!

Read more

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.
Read more

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.

HEALTH

Healthy body and productive mind
Healthy body = productive mind & more success!

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.

WEALTH

Strategies to make more money.

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

Money & Happiness – What everyone wants to achieve!

(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.

Read more