“The more you read, the more you will write. The better the stuff you read, the better the stuff you will write.” – Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Dillard.
In the deep dark depths of the pandemic in January 2021, I decided to reinvigorate a rather sleepy reading habit. I have long kept my Kindle on the nightstand, but I read at a book-a-month pace. (It was more like six to eight weeks, if we’re being honest.) I’m proud to report that I read 38 books in 2021, all fiction ranging from National Book and Pulitzer award winners to palate-cleansing Reese’s Book Club selections.
This year, I am off to a great start on the fiction front with four titles under my belt as we head into February, but I’d like to add some non-fiction to the roster as well, specifically from the career and business genre. Last year, many of the business bestsellers dealt with the evolving customer experience. With all that has transpired in the last two years, from a shapeshifting pandemic to a racial reckoning in the US and beyond, I am particularly interested in reading some tomes that will help us reframe the world of business ahead with a new perspective. Here are five books that will be published in the next several weeks that will be discussed for the rest of the year.
'Anti-Racist Leadership: How To Transform Corporate Culture In A Race-Conscious World'
Author: James D. White
Release Date: March 22, 2022
Diversity has continued to grow in importance, and organizations are being heavily scrutinized for their words and actions or lack thereof. With more than 2000 CEOs pledging to ACT ON supporting more inclusive workplaces, how do you step up to make real, lasting change as a leader?
Forbes listed this title in its 10 Must-Read Career And Leadership Books For 2022, saying, “The 2022 publishing roster is flush with books about diversity and inclusion, but few are written by a CEO who’s been in charge of making change.” Former Jamba Juice Chairman, President, and CEO James D. White is a black man who has served in the highest levels of corporate America. In this book, he provides a comprehensive plan for executive leaders who are ready to get serious about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in their organizations.
What excites me most about the promise of this book is Mr. White’s acknowledgment that capitalism is built on a foundation of systemic racism and that executive leaders will need to understand the important position they hold in that power structure. A DEI plan that doesn’t tiptoe around systemic racism? Count me in.
'The Next Age of Uncertainty; HOW THE WORLD CAN ADAPT TO A RISKIER FUTURE'
Author: Stephen Poloz
Release Date: February 22, 2022
Who amongst us hasn’t thought, “oh geez, what next?” the last couple of years as the news of the day rocked and rolled our worlds. According to a survey by Deloitte, 60 percent of strategy executives are making their strategic planning cycles more dynamic since the onset of COVID-19 and are starting to use scenario planning to prepare for the unknown. Mr. Poloz, the former Governor of the Bank of Canada and a leading, frequently quoted economist, gives us a roadmap to the crises and opportunities ahead of us and the ideas that will allow us to navigate them. An aging workforce, mounting debt, rising income inequality, technological advances, and climate change are the realities tackled in this book. He examines human history, giving us clues as to how these issues will evolve and how we can solve them, but I hope that the author can also take out his crystal ball and let us know how we can best navigate the next crisis.
'The Cryptopians: Idealism, Greed, Lies, and the Making of the First Big Cryptocurrency Craze'
Author: Laura Shin
Release Date: February 22, 2022
Listed in Business Insider’s The 22 books on Big Tech to watch out for in 2022, Laura Shin, a former senior editor at Forbes and successful podcast host of Unchained, takes us on a rollercoaster of the story behind the cryptocurrency craze. Beyond the idea of getting rich quickly, in-depth discussions on cryptocurrency have a trytophanic effect on me. That said, just about any subject can be made interesting if you delve into the human story of it all, and this book that introduces the reader to larger-than-life characters like Vitalik Buterin, the Web3 wunderkind who created Ethereum; his short-lived, 26-year-old CEO, Charles Hoskinson; and Joe Lubin, a former Goldman Sachs VP who became one of crypto’s most well-known billionaires. When big personalities enter byte-sized arenas, there’s bound to be conflict.
'Pay Up: The Future of Women and Work (and Why It's Different Than You Think)'
Author: Reshma Saujani
Release Date: March 15, 2022
Listed in USA Today’s 20 winter books we can’t wait to read, Reshma Saujani presents her plan to address pay inequality and burnout among American working women. Without significant systemic change to corporate culture, it is possible that leaning in is leading to burnout in women. Adding a pandemic on top of carving out a career, continuing to have primary child-rearing and housekeeping responsibilities, and aging parent issues has led to a major exodus of women in the workforce in 2021. Which Vice President Harris called a “national emergency” in her op-ed article for the Washington Post.
We now have the lowest numbers of women in the workforce since 1988. I’m excited to read a well-researched, data-driven book by the founder and CEO of Girls Who Code (who has a list of awards longer than a CVS receipt, to boot) that challenges us to change the system and stop suggesting that women just aren’t trying hard enough.
'Competing in the New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest'
Authors: Keith Ferrazzi, Noel Weyrich, and Kian Gohar
Release Date: February 15, 2022
According to a Forbes article, some of the top leadership traits companies are looking for in a post-pandemic world are flexibility and adaptability. The article advises, “Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, leaders will need to avoid the temptation to “stick with a decision” in an attempt to appear decisive and instead be willing to regularly review new data, information, and feedback and change course if necessary.”
New York Times bestselling author Keith Ferrazzi writes about how to use radical adaptability to win in a world of unprecedented change. Remember thinking that Zoom was merely a beloved PBS program from the 1970s? (If you are a Millennial or Gen Z, fire up some YouTube clips. Those songs really slapped.) We have all learned a lot in the last two years about more efficient and effective ways to work simply because we had to. I’ve wondered all along how businesses could best harness these positive changes. The authors challenge the reader to fully leverage the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leap forward and grow stronger as a business. I look forward to seeing how the best businesses harness this “crystallizing crisis” of a pandemic and continue to build it better.