Here at The Muse, we spend a lot of time talking about careers. Whether it’s how to start it, change it, or enhance it, we’ve thought about it all. So, it probably comes as no surprise that we also spend plenty of time reading about how we can move further along our own paths.
Below, our team shares seven of their favorite recent reads and explains how their picks have helped them do their jobs (even) better.
1. Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives by Randi Zuckerberg
I’m currently reading Dot.Complicated by Randi Zuckerberg. I love reading about her perspective on tech-life balance and stories about Facebook’s early days. This is great for anyone who’s interested in learning more about the company’s history and for anyone who is craving to understand how technology’s changing the way people interact with each other.
2. Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport
The point of the book is to better understand how distraction and shallow tasks take away from us producing our bigger projects—i.e., the deep work, strategic thinking, new ideas—that we’re really hired to do.
What Newport calls ‘deep work’ is the opposite of the environment we have by default in most offices. The book is about building repeatable rituals to overcome those defaults, with practical methods like time blocking, fixed scheduling, systematically saying no to different obligations, and how to make the most of your unconscious mind. (Quick tip: Give it room to breathe rather than pulling out a screen.)
3. Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others by Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas
Right now I’m focused on improving my ability to better understand clients and guide them to realize that they want and need. This book succinctly walks through insightful and original questions to boost a business conversation or how to improve a personal relationship. It’s an easy read and extremely actionable.
4. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
It’s not a traditional career book, but I’m finding it very applicable in both my career and life. I’m personally always feeling bogged down and overwhelmed by all the things I have to do. This book is teaching me that by decluttering my physical things, I create more space for things that matter.
Similarly, she has a lot of good nuggets of positive thinking advice about tidying up your mental state. By creating space in your physical life, you’re freeing up mental space to pursue the things you love and were made for!
5. Covert Persuasion: Psychological Tactics and Tricks to Win the Game by Kevin Hogan and James Speakman
It was recommended to me when I was asking around for a great sales read to help me improve in my role here at The Muse. One of the best takeaways I got was how to turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ by focusing on practical tools that work. One thing I’ll say after reading a lot of sales books is that they’re not just for people in sales. After reading Daniel Pink’s To Sell Is Human (another great read), you realize everyone, in one way or another, is in sales and can benefit from these books.
6. The Compass of Zen by Seung Sahn
It seems tangentially relevant since I see mindfulness, and sometimes meditation, mentioned a lot in career advice or personal growth writing. But in these writings, direct references to Buddhism sometimes get filtered out to keep folks from turning away. I don’t think that’s always necessary, and I’ve generally found the more ‘unfiltered’ source material a lot more helpful regarding personal growth and very relevant to daily life.
7. Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation by Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor
It applies data and metrics to the elusive and hard to measure importance of company culture. As The Muse is scaling, the more we understand about how our culture is developing, the better prepared we’ll be to keep making it stronger and to keep attracting driven and high-performing Musers.
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What are some of your favorite career-oriented reads? Let me know on Twitter.