Thursday, September 22, 2022

Fall Back to Reading with These 9 Thought-Provoking Books

Those of us with a passion for reading (and consider reading an essential part of life) often start the summer with a large pile of books. However, life's commitments intervene, and the pile of books sometimes seems just as high at the end of the summer as it was at the beginning. Today may be the first day of fall, but I completed all of the books in my pile during this past summer: 9 business books featuring memorable insights about leadership, marketing, and customer experiences. I highly recommend that you add them to your fall or winter reading list. A suggested Tweet (or a few) for each book is included at the end of each book's mini review.

BRINGING UP THE BOSS, Practical Lessons for New Managers by Rachel Pacheco
One of the nuggets in this book is the importance of feedback. To quote Pacheco, "To be a great manager, not only do you have to be great at giving feedback, but also, you have to be great at receiving effective feedback from your team." Effective feedback results in quality work. Feedback also leads to employees who feel productive, confident, motivated, fulfilled, and valued. These types of employees climb the corporate ladder and improve the business.

Another important aspect of leading involves a sense of purpose. Pacheco shared a story of a dog pulling a tire. You'll have to read the book for the full story, but suffice it say that the dog was happier when pulling a tire along the beach. Can you say that all your employees have a sense of purpose, and even more importantly, do they understand how their roles impact the entire organization's brand promise?

Lastly, as Pacheco wrote, "When you become a manager, there is a fundamental shift in how you approach your work, and there is a fundamental shift in how others think of you." As a leader, this is something to genuinely understand.

TWEET THIS: Often we are put into positions of management before we're actually ready. ~@rachelbpacheco #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: We have the power to help someone grow, develop, and thrive; we also have the power to overburden, confuse, and wreak havoc. ~@rachelbpacheco #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: What no one ever said: I wish my manager communicated LESS. ~@rachelbpacheco #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

CHIEF JOY OFFICER, How Great Leaders Elevate Human Energy and Eliminate Fear by Richard Sheridan
Sheridan explained that he wanted to build a joyful company once he was promoted to VP of R&D for Interface Systems in 1997. He wrote, "I wanted to implement this joyful dream in an industry not exactly known for delighting customers or employees - software design...Let's get you to a place where you bound inside those doors (of the office) with enthusiasm and energy and share that with others as the leader. Where those on your team can become leaders in their own right because you've built a culture where leadership can thrive."

Sheridan provided a very good visual. He compared leaders to airplane pilots. "They are responsible for a lot, but they can't do their jobs safely entirely by themselves. They depend on help from others and are aided by systems that keep them as safe as possible while allowing them to get where they are going."

Another memorable visual that Sheridan shared was in a section he called "Own Your Mask." Here's the explanation. As part of a grief counseling session for teens experiencing the loss of family members or friends, they participated in an exercise to write on plastic white masks. On the outside, they wrote "I'm doing okay," "Thank you for asking about me," and similar thoughts. However, on the inside of the masks, feelings were raw, feelings that these teens did not want to share: "I'm lonely," "I'm sad," "I'm angry," and "Why me?"

This was an excellent lead-in to Sheridan's explanation of leaders and THEIR masks. On the outside, the masks may say "strong, confident, competent, ambitious, etc." However, for most leaders, the inside of the mask would look like this: "scared, worried, overwhelmed, stressed."

Sheridan also referenced one of the greatest books of all time, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. If you haven't read it, add it to the top of your reading list immediately! I won't spoil the experience for you - I read it the first time in elementary school, and many times since.

TWEET THIS: Business has to give people enriching, rewarding lives, or it's not worth doing. ~@richardbranson via @tom_peters for @menloprez #DebbieLaskeysBlog

Dedicate "to anyone who has gone out of their way to help a customer," this is a playbook for organizations that strive to add a remarkable customer experience strategy to their day-to-day operations. As Gingiss explained at the outset, "When happy customers share their positive experiences with friends, family, and social media followers, it is far more powerful and persuasive than any brand campaign. But most of the time, companies are so focused on acquiring new customers that they forget to provide positive experiences to their existing customers. This makes things infinitely harder on the sales and marketing teams, which are constantly saddled with higher and higher acquisition goals each year while many existing customers are heading for the competition."

Some of the memorable customer experience stories that Gingiss shared were the IKEA ad for pregnant women, the romance writer who experienced her stories before publishing them, Target's easy-to-assemble media stand, the fresh approach to Instagram by the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, the Savannah Bananas baseball team antics, and the Crock-Pot storyline featured in the February 4, 2018, episode of the amazing TV series This Is Us.

TWEET THIS: One of the easiest ways to improve the #CX is to find the customer pain points and then alleviate them. ~@dgingiss #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: A common recommendation in #CX is to walk in your customer's shoes. ~@dgingiss #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: Every interaction a customer has with a brand is a customer experience opportunity. ~@dgingiss #CX #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: When you go above and beyond to solve a customer's problem, they will love you even more - despite the fact that something went wrong. ~@dgingiss #CX #DebbieLaskeysBlog

MANAGING UP, How to Move Up, Win at Work, and Succeed with Any Type of Boss by Mary Abbajay
Abbajay began the book by explaining, "By learning how to effectively manage those who manage you, you put yourself in the driver's seat and take control of your career...Managing up is not about brownnosing, sucking up, or becoming a sycophant. Managing up is about consciously and deliberately developing and maintaining effective relationships with supervisors, bosses, and other people above you in the chain of command."

First, you need to determine if your boss is an introvert or an extrovert. Then, you need to assess your boss' workstyle personality as well as if he/she/they is a difficult boss, which can be the following according to Abbajay: micromanagers, ghosts, impulsives, narcissists, pushovers, best friends, workaholics, incompetents, seagulls and nitpickers, and truly terrible (psychos, tyrants, bullies). At the end, there is a cheat sheet of 50 ways to manage your manager.

TWEET THIS: We need to know how to manage those who manage us (which is itself a form of leadership). ~@maryabbajay #EmployeeExperience #DebbieLaskeysBlog

FIND YOUR HAPPY AT WORK, 50 Ways to Get Unstuck, Move Past Boredom, and Discover Fulfillment by Beverly E. Jones
Since research has shown that a large majority of people are disengaged at work, Jones shares ideas for re-engaging. She posed the idea that there are three keys to finding satisfaction at work, also known as the three points of the engagement triangle: purpose, people, and performance. She explained, "You can't flip a switch to make yourself feel more contented, but you can steadily, methodically cultivate happiness." Jones ended her book with a list of ten key takeaways for finding "your happy" at work.

PURPOSE: It's easier to love your job if you're working for something that matters more than just a paycheck.

PEOPLE: Your job can feel more satisfying because of your colleagues, your broader circle of clients and professional contacts, and other people you encounter in the course of your career.

PERFORMANCE: You're more likely to love your job if you invest effort in your tasks, build expertise and remain invested in your work, and exercise some autonomy.

TWEET THIS: Remember that you own your career. You can change your work life if you want to. ~@beverlyejones #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: Having a passion for reading books can help you learn, make you happier, and stimulate your career. ~@beverlyejones #DebbieLaskeysBlog

NOTE: How's that Tweet in reference to my introductory paragraph???

THE JOURNEY TO WOW, The Path to Outstanding Customer Experience and Loyalty by Shaun Belding
As Dave Carroll, singer-songwriter and creator of United Breaks Guitars, explained, "The Journey to WOW was a treat to read. The topic of customer experience can sometimes be dry and formulaic, but Shaun understands that we are all storytellers and so the most effective way to convey important insights is through a well-written story. The difference between perfection and excellence; the importance of delivering consistently high service; being congruent in your brand and understanding that an outstanding customer journey is a never-ending process for the provider; all of those insights are woven tightly inside an engaging character-driven narrative. This book should be required reading for everyone if the customer experience space."

TWEET THIS: There is no end to the journey of creating an outstanding customer experience environment. ~@ShaunBelding #CX #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: Your internal #CX is as important as your external #CX. ~@ShaunBelding #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: Customer experience needs to be actively championed at the top. ~@ShaunBelding #CX #LeadershipTip #DebbieLaskeysBlog

MAKING WORDS WORK, A Practical Guide to Writing Powerful Content by Kim Scaravelli
Scaravelli wrote this book for copywriters, content writers, business owners who write content for themselves, folks who have personal projects on the go (like blogs or books), and business leaders who pay others for words. "Keep your notebook open while you read, and if a fire ignites, shift to a keyboard and begin actually writing something. Notebooks are for ideas, not content assembly. The online world is where your words will live, so that's where you should plant them."

Like me, Scaravelli is a fan of reading and believes, "Reading is how you come to appreciate and understand the art of writing." Her tips include: (1) start with an easy time commitment, say 20 minutes a day; (2) highlight phrases and passages that resonate with you; and (3) read hard copy books with paper pages.

According to Scaravelli, "Content that serves a clear purpose is more apt to thrive online." Therefore, content's primary purpose will fit into one of these three categories: (1) informing or educating; (2) entertaining; or (3) inspiring readers to do something.

Scaravelli shared a memorable story to illustrate her writing tip called, "Find Your Angle." In an art class, all students painted basically the same bowl of apples. However, during the class, there was constant shuffling noises of a chair being moved. It turned out that the sketch painted by the student who kept moving her chair had created an aerial view of the fruit bowl - completely unique and much more interesting. As Scaravelli advised, "Your job is not to reinvent the fruit bowl - it's to move the chair."

TWEET THIS: You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. ~Maya Angelou via @KimScaravelli #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work. ~@StephenKing via @KimScaravelli #DebbieLaskeysBlog

TWEET THIS: The secret is to write like you're speaking to an audience of one. Talk to them as though you're seated beside them on the sofa. ~@KimScaravelli #DebbieLaskeysBlog

RBG'S BRAVE AND BRILLIANT WOMEN, 33 Jewish Women to Inspire Everyone by Nadine Epstein with introduction and selection by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
While written by journalist Nadine Epstein, the list of women included in this book were chosen by former Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the final year of her amazing life. The women featured include Deborah, the first woman judge in the bible; Emma Lazarus, a poet whose words adorn the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty; Golda Meir, the first and only female prime minister of Israel; Anne Frank, whose diary during World War II became famous; and many more.

According to Epstein, "What (the women in this book) all have in common is that they transcended what was expected, allowed, or tolerated for a woman of their time. They chose difficult or unusual paths and stayed true to their talents and missions despite the obstacles. They achieved what was unimaginable, and the unimaginable led to the advancement of women, to breaking barriers in previously men-only fields, and to changing the world for the better."

TWEET THIS: RBG was determined that this book would be part of her legacy. ~@NadineEpsteinDC #RBG #DebbieLaskeysBlog


Written by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, this book is a combination of storytelling, history lessons, and images of wearable art from all over the world. Albright explained, “A foreign dignitary standing alongside me at a press conference would be happier to see a bright, shining sun attached to my jacket than a menacing wasp. I felt it worthwhile, moreover, to inject an element of humor and spice to the diplomatic routine. The world has had its share of power ties; the time seemed right for the mute elegance of pins with attitude.”

She explained, “As my pins became more expressive and drew more comments, I had cause to reflect on the relationship between appearance and identity. To what extent, to adopt the old saying, do pins make the woman or, for that matter, the man? After all, the display of pins has never been confined to one gender. Medieval knights wore elaborate jeweled badges that defined their status and conferred a group identity...George Washington sometimes wore a spectacular diamond eagle that included no fewer than 198 stones...Finally, our armed forces also use pins – in the form of ribbons and medals – to convey messages about accomplishments, stature, and rank.”

TWEET THIS: The world has had its share of power ties; the time seemed right for the mute elegance of pins with attitude. ~Madeleine Albright #ReadMyPins #DebbieLaskeysBlog

Before this post ends, I must mention 8 memorable works of fiction that I also read during the summer:
* Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
* The Lies I Tell by Julie Clark
* The Pilot's Daughter by Audrey J. Cole
* 22 Seconds by James Patterson
* The Favor by Nora Murphy
* The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
* After the Wedding by Laura Elliot
* Movieland by Lee Goldberg

What did YOU read this summer, and what's on your reading list for the fall?

Image Credit: Debbie Laskey’s Library.

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