This is a collection of my absolute favorite books!
Career path (aka your life is yours to do as you please)
If you think changing your career is unique and impossible, just read Work From The Inside Out. You will be immersed in the stories of 22 people who did exactly that - changed their careers (sometimes more than once!), so this means that you can do it too! This book shows that anyone can make a career pivot regardless of fear-based beliefs, responsibilities, and background. It takes work and time, but if others did it, you could do it too!
If you have ever considered changing your career, I encourage you to read Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career. A career change can take years, and reading the examples of many other people who succeeded in this process could be reassuring. The author promotes a process of small experiments and actions (vs. spending too much time in deep internal self-reflection). These actions and choices will eventually lead you to where you want to be. Oh, actions … music to my ears!
If you understand (and agree with) the concept that nobody is an overnight success, The Long Game by Dorie Clark will be a good company for you. When you plan for the long term and are willing to adjust and adapt, you can create extraordinary experiences. Big goals often seem – and frankly, are – impossible in the short term. But with small, methodical steps, almost anything is attainable.
Another practical book that can help you discover your career path is Finding Your Element. Ken Robinson has the most-watched ever TED Talk, and this book is a continuation of that. This was for me one of the most powerful sentences from the book: "Regardless of the distance, once you understand where you are and where you want to go, it’s essential that you figure out a way to get there."
If you have ever considered a generalist vs. a specialist career path, check out Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. The book makes a case for diverse experiences and interdisciplinary exploration. At the minimum, it encourages you to consider going for range first in your career and not specialize too quickly. While we will always need specialists, their number is in decline, and we will need fewer of them. This advice might be too late for some of us but could inform how you choose to raise your children and mentor the younger generations.
Biographies and autobiographies (aka the best motivational books)
If you want to get perspective on how hard it is to build something out of nothing, read The Shoe Dog. This is a memoir by Nike co-founder Phil Knight but above all is a story about perseverance in a messy, perilous, and chaotic journey riddled with mistakes, endless struggles, and sacrifice. I am not a Nike fan, but this book had a big impact on me. This is the type of motivational book I enjoy :)
One of my all-time favorites in the motivational books category is Matsushita Leadership – the story of the guy who founded what is now Panasonic. This reading will make your problems look so small compared to this lesson in resilience and innovation during and after the war! Plus, Matsushita said cool stuff like "people before products" and "your subordinates are superior to you in different ways" at the start of the 20th century. I wish more companies would say that today!
If you want to see a leadership masterclass in action, try Disney’s CEO book The Ride of A Lifetime. The reading will take you through all the twists and turns of managing an iconic business, like the several impactful M&As (the one with Pixar being the most famous) or the building of the streaming service that would host all of Disney’s content. Robert Iger is surprisingly candid, and his story exemplifies how to balance courage and self-confidence while taking professional moves that benefit long-term career results.
Whether you are building your own business or building a journey inside a company, you will get a lot of value from reading From Start-Up to Grown-Up: Grow Your Leadership to Grow Your Business. This book by Alisa Cohn will give you perspective on how other people ask for help, have doubts and learn to work through them, and how everybody has a coach. The book shares advice and practical tools you can implement right now to manage yourself, your colleagues, and the business. And the podcast is amazing too!
If you are interested in a fiction book that can make you forget about this world, go for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle or any other Murakami book.
Affiliate disclaimer: Yes, some of these recommendations are affiliate links. That means if you make a purchase, I may receive a small incentive. That said, these are all books that I have paid for and found useful.
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Career and Executive Coach