Books

I’m an avid reader of business books and I’m always looking for a chance to share the wisdom I get from them.  Here is a list of the ones that have had the greatest impact on my own leadership style.  Of course, I couldn’t resist adding my own comments.

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Finding Flow:  The psychology of engagement with everyday life; by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

It is my belief that everyone wants to get the most out of life . . . whether or not they openly admit it. I’m often in a role — usually as a support person or facilitator — in which my ability to help people “get the most” out of a situation is a positive reflection of myself. Being able to bring out the best in people around me, or to provide a space that causes personal growth, creativity or motivation, is what helps me “get the most” out of my life.  Csikszentmihalyi has written a number of books on the concept of flow — optimal experience — a state of being that most have felt at one time or another, but few can control or create at will.Finding Flow, the 2nd of Csikszentmihalyi’s books that I’ve read, helped me better understand just how accessible flow actually is. I will continue to read and learn about flow, not only to enhance my own life, but because I hope to demonstrate to others how to tap into the opportunities we each have to engage fully in everyday life, and get the most out of life . . . every day.

41m6WMwHixL__SL160_AA115_Firms of Endearment:  How world-class companies profit from passion and purpose; by Raj Sisodia, Jag Sheth, David B. Wolfe

We are all tired of the greed, scandal and corruption that have helped to drive our economy into its current state. It’s disheartening to think that the only way to succeed in business anymore is to behave like a criminal. Firms of Endearment was recommended by a client who wanted to create a mindshift within their organization emphasizing personal trust and respect as a basis for making business decisions. Reading it has restored my hope in the future of corporations. Filled with great examples of successful companies such as Costco, Toyota, Southwest Airlines and Patagonia, the point is well made that employee loyalty can be respectfully built, and can cause an organization to out-perform its competition by huge margins — all while operating honestly, humanely and beyond reproach. But it’s not just the employees who get heartfelt consideration in this formula.  ALL stakeholders — customers, suppliers, the community at large, AND stockholders — are connected through mutual accountability to create “emotional value, experiential value, social value and, of course, financial value.” Consequently, it is not just employee loyalty that results from this approach, but loyalty from anyone doing business with or for such an organization. I wish every business leader would read this book. But even if you’re not a member of the upper echelon of your company, the insight you’ll gain from Firms of Endearment can validate your natural tendencies to make decisions based on your knowledge of right and wrong — and know that it’s OK to do so, and it won’t prevent you from being successful. I also found the concepts in this book to be a great guide in my own decisions in choosing the companies I want to support and represent.

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Flow: The psychology of optimal experience; by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

I used to refer to it as “harmonic convergence” — that feeling I get when everything is going my way. When I read about Flow: The Psycology of Optimal Experience in one of my favorite magazines, Fast Company, I went out and bought the book immediately. Now I know that “Flow” is what I’m experiencing when everything seems right in the world; aka, the Optimal Experience. And, now I know that flow can happen as the result of my own intention, concentration, and personal choices.  I still welcome those moments when I feel like I don’t have a problem in the world, everyone loves me, and the stars are all perfectly aligned. But, Csikszentmihalyi’s extensive research convinces me that I don’t have to just hope and wait for the rare occurence of such harmonic convergence. I can consciously create my own optimal experiences. Although such a state requires a heightened awareness and considerable mental energy, it is not beyond reach.

41OsvV%2BquOL__SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA115_Made to Stick:  Why some ideas survive and others die; by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

“We all have great ideas. But, some people are just better at getting their ideas across . . . getting their ideas noticed and getting others to act on those ideas. This book identifies six elements that are the basis of good ideas. The elements are: 1) simplicity 2) unexpectedness 3) concreteness 4) credibility 5) emotion and 6) stories. While the elements are straight-forward, applying them still requires creativity and thought. This book presents documented studies and examples of ideas that have become famous because they include most if not all of these elements.  Made to Stick is more than just thought-provoking. The information and resources in it can be used to create tools and checklists that will improve the survival rate of your own good ideas. Whether you’re trying to develop an ad campaign or a compelling case for change, launching a new initiative or proposing a breakthrough project, you can gain inspiration from this book, and increase your idea’s chance for survival.”

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