Friday, December 15, 2023

FALL BACK TO READING SERIES – Featuring Ludmila Praslova

This year, as the seasons change and we enjoy fall, I’ve launched my FALL BACK TO READING SERIES. The series will feature two dozen leadership and marketing experts, who will share their inspiration in both fiction and nonfiction, and hopefully, provide the impetus to read more. To quote New York Times Bestselling author Kristin Harmel, “If you give a person a book, you give him the world.” For today’s post, I’d like to introduce Ludmila Praslova.

Ludmila N. Praslova, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, is the author of “The Canary Code: A Guide to Neurodiversity, Dignity, and Intersectional Belonging at Work” (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, April 2024). A Professor of Graduate Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Accreditation Liaison Officer at Vanguard University of Southern California, she is a global inclusive talent strategy expert with extensive experience in global diversity and neurodiversity. Dr. Praslova is also the editor of “Evidence-Based Organizational Practices for Diversity, Inclusion, Belonging and Equity” (Cambridge Scholars, 2023) and the special issue of the Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, “Disability inclusion in the workplace: From “accommodation” to inclusive organizational design.” She regularly writes for Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, Psychology Today, and SHRM blog and is the first person to have published in Harvard Business Review from an autistic perspective.

QUESTION: What book did you read in high school or college that, to this day, you still remember vividly, and why?
LUDMILA PRASLOVA: I was a voracious reader, gifted, autistic, working class, under-challenged by the school curriculum, and feeling out of place in the mundane world of chores and responsibilities. I read everything I could get my hands on. I raised myself on a combination of French adventure, British romanticism, loosely defined, Russian poetry, and a good dose of everything else. My middle school and early high school reading was everything by Alexandre Dumas, read over and over again (The Three Musketeers, in particular), plus the poetry of Robert Burns and Mikhail Lermontov. But in the later part of High School and college, I graduated to The Soul Enchanted by Romain Rolland, a much more mature read with themes of gender roles, economic inequality, WW1 – and also incredibly vivid details in descriptions of human emotions and nature.

QUESTION: Who is your favorite author, and why?
LUDMILA PRASLOVA: Defined as the author that most impacted my formative years from about 10 to 20 years old by a wide margin, Alexandre Dumas. I am not sure why. I think the extraordinary richness of his imagination opened up multiple worlds to play in, and presented a fleshed-out cast of distinct, powerful characters to get to know.

SHARE THIS: The extraordinary richness of Dumas' imagination opened up multiple worlds to play in. ~@LudmilaPraslova #DebbieLaskeysBlog #ReadingOpensMinds

QUESTION: Which three business books have made the biggest impact on your career?
LUDMILA PRASLOVA: Considering my early reading list, to even have a career in a world that had very little to do with honor, chivalry, and adventure, I NEEDED help with getting my head out of the clouds and at least somewhat into reality. For that, I should credit Dale Carnegie and How to Win Friends and Influence People. I probably owe this book my ability to keep a job and understand the basic American practicalities of life.

A business classic I keep referring to in my work as an Organizational Psychologist is Deming’s Out of the Crisis. Deming’s thinking transcends times and cultures and points to foundational truths about organizational functioning.  

Finally, a recent favorite business book that is quite close to my own genre of justice and inclusion in the workplace is Winning with Underdogs: How Hiring the Least Likely Candidates Can Spark Creativity, Improve Service, and Boost Profits for Your Business by Gil Winch. This book is focused on creating workplaces that welcome disabled and other marginalized people, and is written with a passion for justice and humanity rarely found in business books.

QUESTION: Do you intersperse fiction with your business reading? If yes, what was the last work of fiction that you read, and what caught your attention about it?
LUDMILA PRASLOVA: Not necessarily the last, but pretty recent: Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao. I think I saw an excerpt on Goodreads and HAD to read it. It is a hard, painful story, and mournfully beautiful. The raw power of Rao’s writing and her exposure of the glaring injustices of the world, along with very relatable characters, and the glimmers of good among the horrors of poverty and abuse are hard to describe. Think Victor Hugo and Dostoevsky, but set in modern India and the US, and undeniably female.

QUESTION: If you created a nonprofit organization to promote reading to children and young adults, what would you name it, and why?
LUDMILA PRASLOVA: Probably Journeys, to stress the many worlds opened up by reading.

My gratitude to Ludmila for participating in this year’s fall back to reading series and for sharing her inspiring recommendations!

Image Credit: Amazon.

I "met" Ludmila after reading her article entitled, "The Radical Promise of Truly Flexible Work" in the Harvard Business Review in August 2023 - here's the link:

Connect with Ludmila at these links:
Psychology Today:
The SHRM Blog:
Vanguard University:

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