Ever heard the proverb about teaching a man to fish? Anyone who has ever worked with vulnerable populations knows that charity is great, but there’s nothing more empowering than education. Knowledge is power, and we’ve gathered just the right resources here to give you the super-strength you need to get the job done.
Make a note to visit this list when you’re feeling not-so-strong and need a reminder of who you are and all your capabilities, or when you’re already feeling equipped and are ready to blast to the next level. Either way, prepare for an executive turbo boost! Note: if traditional book format doesn’t work for you, check out the audiobook versions of these selections on services like Audible, Google Play, and others.
Think Like A Breadwinner: A Wealth-Building Manifesto for Women Who Want to Earn More (and Worry Less)
by Jennifer Barrett
Girls are taught to save and budget; boys are taught to invest. Barrett seeks to replace our parents’ and grandparents’ model (which kept women passive and ignorant about making, keeping, and growing their money) with her “wealth-building manifesto.” Even today, Barrett says, women are raised to marry a breadwinner rather than become one, and some of us might find ourselves woefully unprepared if thrust into the role of financial decision-maker due to death, divorce, or job change. Using clear and accessible language, Barrett teaches the basics of true financial independence along with other useful tools like negotiating, networking, and how to evaluate how much money you truly need.
Giftology: The Art and Science of Using Gifts to Cut Through the Noise, Increase Referrals, and Strengthen Retention
by John Ruhlin
A book about strategic gift-giving could easily come off as crass, consumerist, or cynical. This one earns its place in an issue about empowerment because in 31 micro-chapters that are perfectly sized for your coffee break, Ruhlin lays out the psychology of gifting (hint: it’s about reciprocity), the power of appreciation, and how to make an impression when you don’t have an unlimited budget. One of our favorite nuggets is “choose an item that will serve as an artifact of your relationship, something that becomes woven into the fabric of their lives.” Now, doesn’t the word artifact create a decidedly non-cynical response in your brain versus gift or swag or retail item? By making you more connection-driven, Ruhlin will help you view gift-giving in a whole new light, one that places the power to create and sustain quality relationships squarely in your hands.
Know What You’re FOR: A Growth Strategy for Work, An Even Better Strategy for Life
by Jeff Henderson
Fans of Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why” TED Talk will recognize the big client-centric questions Henderson asks here, encapsulated by foreword author and leadership giant John Maxwell as, “Do you like me,” “Can you help me,” and “Can I trust you?” You might say you care about your client, but do you invest in the systems and the staff to demonstrate it (what used to be called putting your money where your mouth is)? Henderson guides you to focus on what really matters to you: what are you FOR? Psst: don’t blink or you’ll miss the Justin Bieber anecdote.
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway: How to Turn Your Fear and Indecision into Confidence and Action
by Susan Jeffers
Don’t let the 1987 publishing date fool you—Jeffers’ little book on how to face your fears (of making decisions, public speaking, asking for what you deserve, and others) is as timely as ever. Here’s her thought on what it means to break out of a victim mentality and truly take responsibility for your own life: “If you know you can create your own misery, it stands to reason that you can create your own joy.” Worth the price of the book is the Pain-to-Power chart alone, a simple visual tool that will help the reader recognize passive language and limiting beliefs and gently begin to embrace a stronger, more active role in his or her own life. In this 60-minute read, Jeffers presents an empowerment message that never goes out of fashion.
How To Have More Than Enough: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Abundance
by Dave Ramsey
Ramsey fans won’t be surprised to see the inclusion of this user-friendly, workbook-style guide in this empowerment issue’s list; after all, isn’t financial freedom one of the hallmarks of true power? The American financial guru takes the reader through his “10 proven keys to increasing your wealth and family harmony,” which resonate not just because they are savvy money-moves (they are) but because Ramsey understands the why behind the wealth: fulfillment, happiness, and hope. Whether your financial position is one of insufficiency, sufficiency, or abundance, you’ll find that at least one of Ramsey’s keys is a perfect fit.
The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win
by Maria Konnikova
A book less about gambling than it is about introspection and self-control, The Biggest Bluff details the author’s journey into the world of professional poker and what she learned about the world around her along the way. You’ll be so caught up in the yarn Konnikova spins you won’t even realize you’re learning, but boy, will you learn. An absolute masterclass on decision-making under pressure and reading other people’s behavior, the book teaches (among other things) about the dangers of the Dunning-Kruger effect, otherwise known as unconscious incompetence, and how it relates to our own tendencies as studio owners to over-educate and under-execute. Plainly said, this very book compilation you’re reading right now is only as useful as what you end up putting into action. Duly noted.
You Had Better Make Some Noise: Words to Change the World
by the editors of Phaidon Press
Perhaps better known for their eye-candy coffee table books, Phaidon has compiled quotations here that will fuel your inner activist. This bright, graphic little book offers empowering words from a broad range of notables such as Barack Obama, Lillian Hellman, Malala Yousafzai, and Malcolm X. Readers are encouraged to tear out individual quotes by the perforated lines on each page: just try feeling feeble when you’re staring at “‘Dare them to censor you.’ —Ken Loach” taped to your bathroom mirror. Anyone who needs a mental megaphone to keep up their motivation will draw power from these words.