The winter months are prime reading time, and last quarter was no different. I was able to read a great biography, some classic fiction, and books to improve my work. I’ll tell you a little about each of them.
Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson was one of the better biographies I have read recently. I found Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs to be engaging throughout, as was this one. This book details Franklin’s humble beginnings as a run-away apprentice in a new city and details his inspiring come-up as a printer who sometimes writes under pseudonymous names like Silence Dogood but mostly preaches industry and frugality. After becoming financially independent at 40 Franklin turned his focus to science and politics. An inspiring figure indeed. Isaacson gives an honest account of the man and doesn’t hold back on sharing the flaws he has as well as his estranged familial relations. I really enjoyed this read and would also recommend Franklin’s Autobiography.
The 5 Languages of Appreciation In The Workplace by Gary Chapman is great for both managers and individual contributors. The basic idea of this book, as well as his original, The 5 Love Languages, is to meet people where they are. Said another way, what motivates you might not be the same thing that motivates another worker. Showing genuine appreciation is something I am trying to get better at as a leader. My takeaway from this book is to use words of appreciation more often, not just by saying “thank you”, but by describing, labeling, and praising what specifically someone did well.
Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert is the second book in the Dune series which I started in October, though I haven’t seen the movie yet. Over the last two years, I’ve been developing a deeper respect for fiction and the lessons they hold. For example, I have found the “litany against fear“, which the main character recites when he is facing his fears, to be something that has stuck with me in my personal life. It turns out this litany ties back to Shakespeare’s writings.
The Greatest Salesman in the World by OG Mandino and Presuasion by Robert Cialdini are two books that can help improve your sales. The former being a short parable-ish book that is motivating, the latter being more research & tactics-based.
- The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- The Old Man and The Sea by Hemingway
I hope this list prompts you to pick up a book, be it one of the books listed above or another one. Both to treat our education like the job that it is and to do brain calisthenics.
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