Non-Fiction books

Presence – Amy Cuddy

Title – 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! 🙂
[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!

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Happy International Women’s Day!

March 8th is International Women’s Day, so this month is dedicated to all the amazing women authors out there, as well as books that advocate for women. Below is my reading list for the month, so also hoping to accomplish a good chunk of my reading goals and “clear the clutter” Goodreads challenge. So many birds with one stone! 😉

March 2020 Reading list

  1. Presence, by Amy Cuddy.
  2. Women Still Don’t Get the Corner Office. Author Lois Frankel.
  3. Squeezed by Alyssa Quart
  4. America for Beginners. Author = Leah Franqui. (Fiction)
  5. Head over Heels, Lila Monroe. (Fiction)
  6. Husband Material. Author = Emily Belden. (Fiction)
  7. You are a BadAss, by Jen Sincero.
  8. 365 Days of Facebook. Author = Nirupama. (Fiction)
  9. Achtung Baby, by Sara Zaske.
  10. You Woke up Worthy, Britny West.
  11. To Winter at Wildsyde, by Emma Leech. (Fiction)
  12. Mirror Work, Louisa Hay.
  13. The Profitable Content System, by Meera Kothand.
  14. Evening is the Whole Day. Preeta Samarasan. (Fiction)
  15. HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Women and Leadership. Harvard Business Review.
  16. Secrets of Six-Figure Women. Barbara Stanny. Non-fiction business.
  17. The Big Book of Juices. Natalie Savona. Health & Living.
  18. Why Not Me? Mindy Kaling. Non-fiction business.
  19. The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae. Stephanie Laurens.
  20. The Marriage Clock: A Novel. Zara Raheem.
Go Girl Power!

Happy Reading!

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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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Money moves – build a happy financial future

February 14th is Valentine’s Day, so let’s show some love to our future selves by building a financially secure future.

This post is about 2 excellent books on managing your money smartly, whether you are just out of college and tackling a mountain of student debt, or a seasoned professional worried about retirement savings, or a parent wondering how to save for your kids’ college fees, or anywhere in between.

Smart Women Love Money

Title – Smart Women Love Money
Author – Alice Finn

REVIEW SCORE – 4/5 ****

About 90% of people have absolutely no clue about how to save or the basics of investing. Colleges sadly don’t teach this important life skill, and young people are thrown unprepared into the adult world. This is a great starter book for anyone (not just women) who want to create financially security for life!

However, if you already have a 401(k) account with index funds and 6 months of emergency funds, then this book will feel very basic. I felt the whole book could be condensed into a simple blog post “list” type article. That said, appreciate that the author provided lists of index funds for various risk appetites, and some good pointers on saving more on taxes.

30-day Money Cleanse

Title – The 30-Day Money Cleanse: Take Control of Your Finances, Manage Your Spending, and De-stress Your Money for Good
Author – Ashley F Gerstley

REVIEW SCORE – 5/5 *****

Love this book because it is practical and actionable! The book has a simple flow and makes it easy to start working on the core principles of saving and investing – understand cash flows, assign budgets to broad segments and automate savings. It doesn’t matter whether you are just out of college or earning a 7-figure income. This book will coax you to get on the right path to a stable financial future, without waiting for retirement to have a fun and enjoyable life!

Unlike many other authors (and financial gurus), this book does not reprimand or guilt you about money mistakes in the past. This book will literally allow you to cleanse away any past money “sins” and get on the right track!

Even if you have good money habits, I suggest the book as an annual exercise, to ensure you are on the right path, and to confirm you don’t have unnecessary subscriptions that are subtly hurting your financial goals. I found myself canceling online magazines that I never read and some unnecessary fees that I had overlooked. These may seem like pennies, but they add up to hundreds over a 3-5-year time frame.

Fantastic book, and I highly recommend.

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