During this month and next, I'm revealing my picks for the best business books of the year, first by category and finally (on December 15th) the very best of the best. The categories I've already posted are:
This column reveals the top 10 books of the year that will help get you motivated to change your life and career for the better.
1. Rejection Proof
Subtitle: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible, One Rejection at a Time
Author: Jia Jiang
Five-Second Summary: A hilarious and enlightening account of an introvert's attempt to overcome the fear of rejection by trying to get rejected and blogging about the experience.
Best Quote: "I was starting to see just how important my communication style was to the outcomes I was getting. When I was confident, friendly, and open, people seemed more inclined to go along with my request; even if they said no, they at least stay engaged longer to ask questions. If I could just figure out the right way to communicate each situation, I might increase my chance of being accepted--and also decrease my fears about a possible rejection. Maybe rejection was much less black-and-white than it seemed--it wasn't just about being in the right place at the right time to get what I wanted or not. Maybe there were things I could do to influence or even change the outcome."
2. The Achievement Habit
Subtitle: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life
Author: Bernard Roth
Five-Second Summary: Through examples and exercises, this book explains how to manipulate your beliefs and change your perception of your experience in order to create the quality of life that you want and deserve.
Best Quote: "Your life has no meaning. I'm not telling you this to make you think about jumping off the nearest bridge; instead I mean it in a much more contemplative way. Let's first acknowledge that the meaning we find in people, objects, and our own circumstances is subjective. These things have no inherent meaning. Functional and dysfunctional behavior both result from choices people make based on meanings they create. This also means that we have the power to alter our perceptions, revising perceptions that bring us down and enhancing those that help us. Your outlook on life is deeply entwined in your propensity for success. Miserable blowhards can achieve; however, they still wind up miserable. That's not success. Success is doing what you love and being happy about it."
3. The Business Romantic
Subtitle: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself
Author: Tim Leberecht
Five-Second Summary: This books turns the entire idea of "work is toil" on its head and reveals that work can be (and frequently is) is a source of great pleasure in our lives.
Best Quote: "For many of us, our co-workers are more intimately involved in our lives that our neighbors or friends, or even our families. In fact, studies suggest that we are likely to have more employees, and entrepreneurs, because we love business. We love the drive of it; we love its opportunities for connection and social exchange. Some of us start our own businesses; others work at the forefront of innovation or management. Still others work creative fields such as music and publishing--industries ever on a tight rope between commerce and culture--while too many of us still speak softly if at all. We stash our wistful longings away when we enter our cubicles in the morning, all the longings for an opportunity to express our truest selves at work, for an experience that makes us feel fully alive in our jobs, throughout our careers."
4. Big Magic
Subtitle: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Five-Second Summary: A series of essays, meditations, and anecdotes about putting aside fear and harnessing the innate creativity in all of us.
Best Quote: "Look, I don't know what's hidden within you. I have no way of knowing such a thing. You yourself may barely know, although I suspect you've caught glimpses. I don't know your capacities, your aspirations, your longings, your secret talents. But surely something wonderful and sheltered is inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels--that's creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place--that's what separates the mundane existence from a more enchanted one."
5. Rising Strong
Subtitle: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution.
Author: Brené Brown
Five-Second Summary: This books helps you redefine the struggles you've had in your life, and your determination to recover, as manifestations of strength and courage.
Best Quote: "When we make the choice to dare greatly, we sign up to get our asses kicked. We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can't have both. Not at the same time. Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage."
6. A Curious Mind
Subtitle: The Secret to a Bigger Life
Authors: Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman
Five-Second Summary: A Hollywood producer (Apollo 13; 24) explains how he's interviewed hundreds of "accomplished strangers" in order to fuel his own creative ideas.
Best Quote: "Especially with the recent proliferation of standardized testing, questions can derail the lockstep framework of the day's lesson plan; sometimes teachers don't know the answers themselves. It's exactly the opposite of what you would hope, but authentic curiosity in a typical seventh-grade classroom isn't cultivated--because it's inconvenient and disruptive to the orderly running of the class. The situation is little better in workplaces where most adults spend their lives. Sure, software coders or pharmaceutical researchers or university professors are encouraged to be curious, because it's a big part of their jobs. But what if the typical hospital nurse or bank teller gets curious and starts questioning how things are done? Outside of some truly exceptional places like Google and IBM and Corning, curiosity is unwelcome, if not insubordinate. Good behavior--whether you're 14 years old or 45--doesn't include curiosity."
7. Calming the Chaos
Subtitle: A Soulful Guide to Managing Your Energy Rather Than Your Time
Author: Jackie Woodside
Five-Second Summary: A practical step-by-step guide for managing your energy rather than your time, thereby overcoming stress and experiencing life more joyfully.
Best Quote: "What does it mean to manage your energy rather than your time? Traditional methods of managing time focus on externals, as if time is something outside of you. The truth is that we live in time, and how we move through and relate to time determines the quality of our experience in life. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. How often do we find ourselves living a "someday" life? Someday I am going to slow down. Someday things will feel less chaotic. Someday I will be peaceful. Unfortunately, it is too often the case that someday never comes."
8. Clay Water Brick
Subtitle: Finding Inspiration From Entrepreneurs Who Do the Most With the Least
Author: Jessica Jackley
Five-Second Summary: The co-founder of the micro-lending platform Kiva explains how and why entrepreneurism has the potential to change the world for the better.
Best Quote: "Some of these stories are great business successes, in which real people have had a genuine "rags-to-riches" journey. And some stories are special because those entrepreneurs taught me a crucial lesson that I needed to learn along my own journey, such as how to see opportunity in an unexpected place, how to empower other people, or how to believe in myself. My goal in sharing their stories, and my own, is a simple one: to inspire you to live a more entrepreneurial life. I believe we can all achieve a more hopeful, more creative, and more positive existence together by realizing the incredible entrepreneurial potential that exists in every human being on this planet."
9. Are You Fully Charged?
Subtitle: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life
Author: Tom Rath
Five-Second Summary: This iconoclastic book explains that the quest for meaning and meaningful action in your life is more likely to make you happy than the explicit "pursuit of happiness."
Best Quote: "But the more value you place on your own happiness, the more likely you are to feel lonely on a daily basis. When participants and experiments were deliberately induced to value happiness more by reading a bogus article extolling the benefits of happiness, they reported feeling lonely. And samples of their saliva indicated corresponding decreases in progesterone levels--a hormonal response associated with loneliness. Seeking your own happiness and nothing else results in feelings of futility. But if you spend as much time creating meaningful interactions as you do pursuing happiness, you will be better off in both areas."
Subtitle: Leaving a Job With No Plan B to Find the Career and Life You Really Want
Author: Tess Vigeland
Five-Second Summary: A host of public radio's Marketplace program uses anecdotes and thoughtful observations to help already-successful people find the energy and courage to pursue a more satisfying career.
Best Quote: "One of the most common questions I've been asked since I left my job is how to know when it's time to go. I can't answer that for you, and I don't think there's one answer for everyone--you are the only one who can figure out what's right for you. But if you're asking yourself the question, it's well past the time to start exploring the possibilities. And in all likelihood, your body is already you showing you the signs. For me, my hair stopped growing. For a good number of the people I interviewed, it was an unusual, and inexplicable, pain or other maladies somewhere in their bodies. For some it was a searing back pain, and for others it was exhaustion far beyond what could be explained by their work hours. I'm not a doctor, but I do know it's important to pay attention to those signals and to ask yourself whether they might be tied to your feelings about your work. Don't just ignore them."