Lifelong Learning Through Books

Graduation season is upon us and hundreds of graduates will be leaving high school and college to start a new journey – most either furthering their education or starting their career. We know it can be tough to find the right gift for a new graduate, but since continuous learning is a component of JDA’s core value of Relentless, I asked several senior women leaders at JDA to recommend books that enlightened, inspired or helped in their continuous career journey. There are some good ones here – for new grads as well as all anyone who has a thirst for lifelong learning. Some of these are new to me, and I plan to read them myself! Following is what they shared:

Jill Clark, GVP, Talent Development and Diversity Officer

I recommend “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg. This book takes a look at how habits are formed and how they can honestly be interpreted and used by individuals, companies, communities and even the U.S. military, which in fact is what led Duhigg on this quest to research this science further. It’s an insightful look into what you can do to change a habit. It also got me thinking about how leadership habits occur in organizations. It made me consider how can you diagnose your habits, analyze the triggers and then reprogram new healthier habits in place of the old. As a business and leadership coach, this idea intrigued me and led to greater insights as I coached and supported leaders on developing new habits. There are also some fabulous stories about companies using habits to both sell and predict when products would be purchased.

Jennifer Cook, GVP, HR Chief of Staff

I recommend “I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)” by Brene Brown.  This book talks about the struggle we all have with shame and guilt and how to overcome it.  I think as women, we are particularly prone to this and the book helps identify what is shame versus guilt so you can learn to manage it and forgive yourself.  I think a lot of us go through this especially as we grow and have other competing responsibilities.  It is a bit deep at times, but good a good topic to get a handle on. The second book I would recommend is “The Power of Moments” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. I haven’t fully completed it, but it is really good!  It is about creating moments that matter.  They explain that defining moments that matter have at least one of these four elements and often more than one:  Elevation, Insight, Pride and Connection.  Making these moments matter can improve your customer experience and your employee experience or for that matter any area of your life.  When you create moments that matter they have a lasting impact.

Amy Drevna, GVP, Sales, North America Retail

I recommend “A Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes. Shonda is a high-profile Hollywood writer and producer.  One Thanksgiving her sister told her “you never say yes to anything.”  It really shocked her, so she decided that for the next year, she would start to say “yes.”  It forced her to do things she otherwise would never have done.  It pushed her outside of her comfort zone and she found both new experiences and perspectives.  Saying yes was sometimes hard, as it often forced her to face and confront truths about herself and others.  In the end, she gained a new appreciation for her own empowerment, abilities, and self-worth. My daughter gave the book as a gift to me after she read it, so I think recent grads might like it.

Hebe Doneski, GVP, Global Deal Desk

The business book that I recommend most often is Robert Cialdini’s “Influence.”  “Influence” is great because it explains – by way of six easy-to-understand principles – the psychology behind people’s motivations and why we do not always make rational decisions.  For example, Cialdini’s “Reciprocity Principle” explains why we are more likely to donate to a charity when the solicitation includes 11 cents worth of address labels.  Not only did the insights from this book make me a better negotiator, they have enabled me to be more effective in managing and adapting to change.  Any new graduate would benefit from these insights as s/he makes his or her way into the business world for the first time.

Paula Natoli, GVP, Product Management

I found “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg to be really valuable, so I recommend her “Lean In for Graduates.” Given the value of Lean In, I can only guess that this one geared toward graduates would have some great advice.

Nancie Torrence, GVP, Government, Aerospace and Defense

I highly recommend Amy Cuddy’s “Presence – Bringing your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges.”  This is a great follow-on from her famous TED Talk.  This book will make you think about how you carry yourself in any type of situation.  Amy’s advice is very practical and will make feel a little braver, offering great advice on how to show up for any situation. It gives you your own Wonder Woman power.

Jean Yatska, RVP, Product Management

I recommend “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, or any other book focused on financial literacy.  I believe people come out of school with no practical knowledge on how to handle their finances, and this book offers good advice that many can benefit from.

So what do I recommend? For new graduates, I suggest “QBQ: The Question Behind the Question” by John G. Miller. It is simple, easy to read and focuses on personal accountability by helping the reader ask the right questions to achieve success. It also is a really quick read, which I know is important to some of us. A second recommendation is “Give and Take,” by Adam Grant. I’m still working my way through it, but so far, it’s great! It’s filled with research and real-world examples, which is perfect for someone like me who enjoys reading biographies. The book reveals why and how helping others can benefit us personally and professionally. It covers three fundamental styles of interpersonal engagement – taking, matching and giving – the benefits and drawbacks of each style, and which leads to greater success. His research is fascinating – and in some cases myth-busting!

So, I’m curious. What are you reading? What do you recommend? I’m always looking to learn new things – and recommend books to my teammates – as we all strive to grow personally and professionally. Share your recommendations – I’d love to know what books have made a positive impact on you!

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