Seven books you want to read this summer to cope with current challenges

Summer reads anyone? Definitely! Should we get started?

The COVID-19 pandemic might be taunting our usual definition of good, deserving holidays and, while many of us may not be able to relax on a beach or gather with a crowd of friends on warm summer nights, that doesn’t mean we cannot escape to somewhere far away — or realistically close. Much like jumping into the story of a book.

Even if this summer’s staycation reading spot is in your backyard, a tiny swimming pool on your balcony or the living room couch with the windows open, it’s the right moment to dive into topics that you usually don’t have time or the energy for when you’re working. 

In fact, one of the habits of successful people is reading. According to this article, Bill Gates reads one book per week, Mark Zuckerberg reads one book every two weeks and Oprah Winfrey reads one book every month. 

Regardless of your current role in life – business owner, entrepreneur, executive, employee, houseperson, you name it – fortunately there’s something new to learn every day. That’s especially true during times when change is as certain as the sun setting and welcoming the night. 

You can learn from your mistakes, from other business owners’ errors or from a mentor, but they likely won’t be there when the time to make critical decisions for your business comes. The good news is that you can learn how others dealt with significant challenges and the formulas they followed to overcome them. Experts’ knowledge on the subjects, their experiences, failures and successes might give you hints, tips, ideas and overall inspiration to move a step closer to your vision of innovation and overall transformation of your business and one step ahead of your competitors. 

Reading is the best method of vicarious learning. Instead of going for a full trial-and-error approach, you can learn from people’s management and life missteps. Their lessons learnt are invaluable gems.

Reading allows you to stand on the shoulders of people who have triumphed in their journey for change, overcame challenges and became successful. It allows you to learn from their mistakes and the strategies they adopted to go around them. Ultimately, reading might influence the way you do business through personal development and leadership skills.

Last week we asked some of our colleagues which books they recommend to read during the summer. For you to save some time, we gathered the reasons why one, some or all of them should make your to-read list this summer based on their opinions and supported by book reviews, and the lessons from each book.

Seven books you should reconsider reading this summer
Innovation Lab Excellence: Digital Transformation from Within

Author: Richard Turrin

Publication: 2019

Focus: Innovation, Best innovation practices, Digital Transformation

Lesson: By discovering how operating innovation labs work, you learn what mistakes to avoid while spotting opportunities for innovating, to be able to hit the ground running.

Why should you read this book? Would you like to understand, in detail, the conditions and practices necessary for innovation to thrive? This book offers expert analysis of some of the most common challenges when working to successfully unleash innovation in business.

It gathers a set of best practices taken from innovation labs, exploring how they focus on better serving business interests and how a human-centric focus is the key to adopting new technology, and to gaining acceptance of both innovators and innovation. It also makes you rethink what you know about adopting new technology. All this to help you find what you’re looking for: tangible results.

Shock of the New: The Challenge and Promise of Emerging Learning Technologies

Author: Chad Udell, Gary Woodill

Publication: 2019

Focus: Emerging technologies, technologies of the future, transformation

Lesson: While planning our response to disruption might be nearly impossible, all we can do is prepare. 

Why should you read this book? How do you, as a business professional, prepare for what you don’t know is coming? How do you know what’s important and what can take the backstage? Chad Udell and Gary Woodill developed a framework for anticipating emerging learning technologies, outlining six key perspectives. Either when implementing a new technology or simply when learning how to cope with the shock of the new, their approach is an ally for your business. The authors also point out that emerging technologies will help us make sense of our increasingly complex world and that more changes are to come over the next years.

The Cybersecurity Playbook: How Every Leader and Employee Can Contribute to a Culture of Security

Author: Scott N. Schober and Craig W. Schober

Publication: 2019

Focus: Cybersecurity, cybercrime, hackers

Lesson: The best defence against outside threats comes from the inside.

Why should you read this book? While many books tackle the technical side of cybersecurity, this one addresses, step-by-step, the everyday measures that boards, managers, and employees can apply to protect your business from unknown threats. It also teaches how to integrate good security habits into everyday business situations, showing how to identify weaknesses, assess possible threats, and implement effective policies.

10x Marketing Formula: Your Blueprint for Creating ‘Competition-Free Content’ That Stands Out and Gets Results

Author: Garrett Moon

Publication: 2018

Focus: Marketing, Content Marketing, Business growth

Lesson: Marketing shouldn’t be considered an extra weight. You can achieve great results by learning how to plan, publish and execute your content marketing program.

Why should you read this book? In a perfect world, content marketing is that indispensable and quasi-magical tool that makes a business stand out, contributing to profit growth and audience engagement by being an inbound sales machine. But reality is far from perfect, so what should you do? Garrett Moon answers the question, showing the formula of how to achieve great results using the example of his own startup CoSchedule. He tackles some of the main content-related issues of modern businessesthe lack of time, the struggle to produce content, the inability to engage with audiences, etcproposing strategic solutions and shortcuts to overcome these roadblocks and get better results. 

The Responsibility Revolution: How the Next Generation of Businesses Will Win

Author: Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen

Publication: 2010

Focus: Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility, Environment

Lesson: Build a socially and environmentally responsible and transparent business. 

Why should you read this book? The flaws of health systems and the impact we produce on the environment came fully to light with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This particular book is a must-read for all individuals and businesses that want to make a positive impact in the environment and become more sustainable. Hollender and Breen reveal how companies can build a better future and hold themselves accountable for their sustainable results. Additionally, this book provides actionable guidelines on how businesses can develop and include sustainable strategies and goals into their corporate strategies and core values. By becoming more transparent, businesses are halfway to gain and retain the trust of stakeholders in a time where environmental consciousness can no longer be ignored.

Inclusify: The Power of Uniqueness and Belonging to Build Innovative Teams

Author: Stefanie K. Johnson

Publication: 2020

Focus: Diversity and Inclusion, Leadership, Transformation management

Lesson: By mixing “diversifying” and “including”, business sets the pillars for diverse teams to feel engaged, empowered, valued, and most importantly, accepted.

Why should you read this book? Humans have two basic desires: to stand out and to fit in. Businesses might create groups that tend to the extreme—where everyone fits in and no one stands out, or where everyone stands out and no one fits in. How do we find that middle ground where employees can live their individuality and get a sense of belonging at the same time? Johnson’s research gives the answer, as she exposes the common issues that rise when leaders try to create diverse and cohesive teams. She also explains how they tend to underestimate the importance of group coherence and the dynamics that employees who do not feel like they belong, often have. 

This book reveals the many ways leaders undermine their teams without realising it, explaining how to recognise the drivers of these behaviors and providing practical strategies. It also dives into how leaders can find better ways to encourage employees to be themselves while ensuring they feel like they are fully part of the group.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Author: Mark Manson

Publication: 2016

Focus: Personal development, psychology, humour

Lesson: You’ll only become a better person and professional when you stop trying to be “positive” all the time.

Why should you read this book? This particular book was a common recommendation among our colleagues, and not just because of the title. Are you familiar with the expression “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? Mark Manson teaches you to put away the fruit press and to face life challenges head-on, all this backed up by academic research and scientific studies. In his unique creative and humorous style of writing, Manson teaches you why embracing our fears and flaws, and facing unpleasant truths is a step forward in becoming more honest, responsible and ultimately feel better about who you are.  

What we think

Andreia Nuno, Content Writer at PwC Luxembourg

Reading and summer, two words that go perfectly together. I think we are all readers, we just need to find the right content. Reading allows us to see the world through the eyes of someone else. We live their experiences and learn from them, their successes and failures that we might or not experience during our lifetime. In turn, they might just give you the hint or idea you need to overcome a challenge of your own. What you read and learn will ultimately make you a better person, a better manager and an inspiration for someone else.

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