6 Must Read Books & Stories to Inspire Your Career

Think job hunting is all about the internet? Think again! As Academic Book Week morphs into SFS National Storytelling Week we got to wondering about the power of books and personal stories to impact the way we think.

While we often recommend online articles the power of the book to inform and inspire should not be underestimated. Indeed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched a challenge in 2015 to read a book every two weeks in order to learn “about new cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies.”

Today we’re looking at books and stories to aid careers and self-development. So what better place to start than business guru Richard Branson?

1. Richard Branson, business magnate, investor & philanthropist suggests you read – Lean In: Women, Work & the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Not just for women or for ‘leaders’ this 2013 hit from Facebook’s COO examines what holds women back. Lean In provides down-to-earth solutions to help women achieve their full potential. Tweet: Lean In provides down-to-earth solutions to help women achieve their full potential @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView https://goo.gl/Rf1ugF
Combining personal anecdotes, data and practical advice on things like negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career Sandberg’s key takeaways are:
● To set boundaries and abandon the myth of “having it all.” As she says: “I have never met a woman, or man, who stated emphatically, “Yes, I have it all.'” Because no matter what any of us has—and how grateful we are for what we have—no one has it all.”

● Men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home Tweet: Men can benefit by supporting women in the workplace and at home @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView https://goo.gl/Rf1ugF

Listen to Sheryl’s TED talk here.

2. Sheryl Sandberg, COO, technology executive, activist & author recommends – Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham, Donald O. Clifton

When one interviewer asked Sheryl Sandberg to recommend the best business book she’d read in recent years she came up a book which had “…been instrumental in how we think about developing talent at Facebook.”

Based on a Gallup study of over two million people over 25 years NDYS uses what it calls a StrengthsFinder programme. The SF programme features 34 talents or themes and shows how they can be translated into success.

Each copy of the book contains a unique password which gives you access to the StrengthsFinder Profile which will help you discover your five most dominant strengths, which you can then apply on a personal and career level.

They reckon:

● The most important success predictor is how many people answered ‘yes’ to the question: “Do you have the opportunity to do what you do best every day?”

● They advise that: people should aim to land roles that utilise their natural strengths as often as possible Tweet: People should aim to land roles that utilise their natural strengths as often as possible @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView https://goo.gl/Rf1ugF
● Sounds obvious, but NDYS says most of us aren’t even sure what our talents and strengths are to begin with because society is built around drawing our attention to our flaws. Yikes!

Check out the Strengths Test here.

3. Marie Forleo, business coach says this is a must read for anyone who wants to create ANYTHING! – Do the Work – Overcome Resistance & Get Out of Your Own Way by Steven Pressfield

Marie Forleo is an entrepreneur who recommends a variety of inspirational books and shares motivational stories via her Marie TV channel to help you live a better life and Steven Pressfield is a perennial favourite.

An author and screenwriter SP knows all about the tyranny of the blank page (or starting something) and the ever present inner critic (that voice telling you can’t do it or you’re a failure, and so on…).

Do the Work offers straightforward advice not just applicable to creative types but also those in 9-5 jobs too. Tweet: Do the Work offers advice not just to creative types but also those in 9-5 jobs too @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView https://goo.gl/Rf1ugF
He says:

1. Start before you’re ready – sounds overly simple, but just try it! Many of us are way too busy trying to be perfect first…

2. Resistance is the enemy and it’s inside you – you may have real reasons (and some feeble excuses) but ultimately you generally put obstacles in your own way

3. What to do? – Just start!

Watch Marie Forleo interview Steven Pressfield here.

4. Viv Groskop, writer, critic and comedian says younger people know more about careers now – Pivot: The Only Move That Matters is Your Next One by Jenny Blake

Ever heard of reverse mentoring? The older Obi-Wan Kenobi-style mentor is making way for the social media and tech savvy youngster. Tweet: The older mentor is making way for the social media and tech savvy youngster @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView https://goo.gl/Rf1ugF
Why? Because the workplace has changed so much in the last decades that as Viv Groskop, writing for The Pool, says it’s the younger generations who know how ‘work works’.

Enter Jenny Blake a 30-something Silicon Valley business strategist and previously a career coach at Google – credentials not to be sneezed at. She tells us to forget the career for life: “Roles change constantly,” she says, “‘What’s next?’ is a question we all have to answer more frequently.”

Her “blueprint for getting unstuck, taking smart risks and navigating uncertainty now and in the future.” :

● Don’t strategise five years ahead – simply look at what you’re doing well right now

● Do more of that while you figure out the next most important step to take

For more tech and career tips check out her Pivot Method site.

5. Emma Haslett, City AM’s Digital Editor recommends an oldie but a goodie – How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

From the 30-something mentor to a 1930s classic. Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends offers timeless advice despite being over 80 years old. Tweet: Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends offers timeless advice despite being over 80 years old @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView https://goo.gl/Rf1ugF
And, British Media Award Rising Star of the Year 2015 Emma Haslett has obviously made much use of Carnegie’s advice! Comprising illustrative stories from a host of famous industrialists, practical advice and techniques on handling a range of social situations How to Win Friends has some enduring lessons for us all:

● Make friends quickly and easily – “A person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

● Make a better impression on your colleagues, and win new clients and customers – “Success in dealing with people depends on a sympathetic grasp of the other person’s viewpoint.”

● Communicate your point of view clearly and be more persuasive – “To be interesting, be interested.”

6. JK Rowling, world-famous author uses her own life story to tell us something about success in life: Very Good Lives – The Fringe Benefits of Failure & the Importance of Imagination

The Harry Potter author was famously a divorced, single mum on benefits when she started writing her wizarding series on a typewriter – remember them!? So when she gave a commencement speech to largely privileged Harvard University graduates she used her rags to riches story to talk failure.

Calling it a ‘benefit’ she says failing at a young age meant she “was set free because my greatest fear had been realised and I was still alive and I still had a daughter whom I adored. And I had an old typewriter and a big idea.”

Coined as “wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life” key messages include:

● Some failure in life is inevitable – “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”

● Your career is not you – “Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.”

● Imagination or the capacity to envision is key to all invention and innovation – “… it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

JK Rowling closed her Harvard address with a quote from Seneca: “As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.” Tweet: As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters @Angel_HR_UK #AngelView https://goo.gl/Rf1ugF
Watch JK Rowling give her Harvard speech here.

And, if you need a little career support along the way Angel is here.

Next Steps: Got any inspiring books to recommend? Enjoyed any of the books recommended above? Or are you looking to change your role and need some real-life help? If so let us know!

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