In the cafe where I’m writing this, you can tell it’s the holiday season. I hear carols overhead, watch families haul in shopping bags, and lust over heavily frosted cookies shaped like stars and trees. While the season implies fun, for many busy professionals, it’s just a ball of stress once they start tracking down the perfect gift for all the people on their list.
Let’s make it easy, shall we? Here are some of my favorite career and success books, both current and classic, that might be perfect for your best bud, your boss, or even yourself if you want help wearing your red cape every day.
Note: the Amazon links are affiliate links, which means that Amazon pays me a few cents when you buy using that link. Use it for convenience, or use Amazon Smile and the megaseller will make a donation to your favorite charity.
Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day, by Todd Henry
I’m the kind of person who runs the other way from movies and TV shows with the word “die” in them. But as a fan of Henry’s Accidental Creative podcast, I knew this book wouldn’t be deadly.
Instead, Die Empty offers ways to structure your work and life to create urgency that inspires you to do your boldest and best. My favorite are the provocative questions offered to help you find your own voice within your work.
Also for the professional creative in your life, check out Henry’s earlier book, The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice.
David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell
If you know someone who’s been holding to their red cape amid strong corporate winds, this book about how underdogs become champions is a great choice.
Gladwell’s usual myth-busting is alive here, telling you the real story behind stories you’ve long believed and showing you how a perceived weakness can often be a strength.
Don’t get intimidated by the book’s girth. Gladwell’s work, although academic and highly referenced, somehow remains entertaining storytelling that will stick with you for a long time.
Flourish: A Visionary Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being, by Martin E.P. Seligman
What if you had the secrets to truly thriving today? Seligman, founder of the positive psychology movement (a basis for the professional coaching I do) shares radically simple yet transforming ideas on what will create a life of personal and professional fulfillment and meaning.
This isn’t some squishy self-help book. U of Penn professor Seligman shares specific stories about organizations using advanced well-being techniques and ideas to create better people experiences and get better results. One of the surprising groups using these tools is the US Army, and Seligman’s work will give you tools and ideas you can apply within your own company—and your own life.
(If you’re interested in the idea of well-being in your organization, the good people at The Wellbeing Edge share great tips monthly. I’m part of their cadre of coaches. Sign up here to join their email list.)
Harvard Business Review
Okay, you got me–this isn’t a book (although each issue contains the equivalent of one). But if your givee wants to stay ahead of the curve of what’s innovative and insightful in today’s business world, HBR’s an excellent gift.
I used to flip through HBR and yawn, finding it was a bit stodgy and old-boy CEO focused. But I’ve been impressed at the broad scope of their content in past years, including increased career and life-at-work management ideas. (Harvard Business School itself has been working on this transformation, so it makes sense it’s reflected in its mag.)
You can buy a print subscription for less than $100 (Kindle’s even cheaper) and your subscription gives you access to more of HBR’s rich online database of videos and articles.
But Wait! There’s More . .
Earlier this year, I shared recommendations for these great reads:
- To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, by Dan Pink. (Meeting him in person this year was one of my highlights. I’m a Pink groupie, so basically, anything he writes rates with me)
- Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg (note: not for women only)
- Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference, by Jennifer Kahnweiler, Ph.D (listen to or read my interview with the author here.)
- The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?, by Seth Godin (or anything by this prolific, insightful commentator on work, success, marketing and innovation.)
Finally, since it’s my blog, I’ll add my own book, “Bring Your Superpowers to Work: Your Guide to More Clarity, Confidence & Control,” a fun and easy gift to stimulate some fresh thinking about what success can look like for you and your career.
(Shameless plug: you can buy bulk copies of “Superpowers” directly from our office for less than the online cost. Email us or call our office at 404.857.2738.)
YOUR TURN: What are your favorite books to give–and receive? Tell us in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook.
Great list, Darcy! Here are a few of my favorites…
Business: “Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies from a Life at Disney” – Lee Cockerell (former EVP, Operations, Disney Resorts)
Life: “A Return to Love” – Marianne Williamson (author, speaker, advocate for peace, candidate for Congress)
Fun: “Rama” series – Arthur C. Clarke
Thanks, Travis! I don’t know Creating Magic or Rama, so will have to check those out. And Marianne’s work can be very inspiring always. Appreciate the suggestions and thanks for reading!