After this last year, it’s no wonder this list is chock-full of resources for building up in 2021 and beyond. Feeling emotionally sore or mentally flabby right now? We’ve got just the WOD (workout of the day) you’re looking for. Consider these recommendations your personalized exercise regimen—a Crossfit for the C-suite if you will—curated to help leaders flip those metaphorical tires and blow through those business burpees. Suit up, hydrate, and let’s pump some intellectual iron!
The Obstacle Is The Way
by Ryan Holiday
Subtitled The Timeless Art Of Turning Trials Into Triumph, this short read details Holiday’s theory that obstacles don’t impede success; they create it. The concept stems from Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius’sz quote, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” Any studio owner who’s faced a financial, operational, or even personal setback (that is to say, all of us) will find useful insights in chapters like “In Praise of the Flank Attack” and “The Art of Acquiescence.” Don’t be deceived by its small stature—the book’s three parts are power-packed with timely advice from modern and ancient philosophers alike.
I Hate Running and You Can Too
by Brendan Leonard
You’ll blow through this funny and visually pleasing book over breakfast and not even realize you just read a whole book about running. That’s because Leonard isn’t really writing about running. Sure, he details tips and tricks for starting, persevering, and finishing, and there are loads of sporty anecdotes—but the core topic is stamina. Specifically, the mental and emotional stamina it takes to do just about anything (run a nonprofit, be a parent, launch a startup). Regardless of your own level of fitness, you’ll be drawn into the narrative, supplemented by more than sixty charts and graphs measuring everything from how much bears care about your problems (hint: they don’t) to why it takes so much time to go for a run (hint: it’s the procrastinating). Leonard suggests building up your stamina in the simplest way possible: just put one foot in front of the other.
Codependent No More
by Melody Beattie
A fascinating dive into human behavior and relationships, this iconic 1980s self-help book might surprise you with its relevance in today’s workplace. If you’ve read The One-Minute Manager Meets The Monkey by Ken Blanchard, Beattie’s book might feel familiar—she deals with the consequences of making other people’s problems our problems, and the emotionally draining drama that can ensue. Any leader who manages other humans will find useful guidance here.
Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business
by Gino Wickman
This is business school in a box. Whether or not your organization follows the Entrepreneurial Operating System (or EOS), you’ll appreciate Wickman’s clean and simple presentation of solid business principles, with systems and processes laid out for you to copy and paste or cherry-pick from as needed. Especially for creative types, Traction uses an easy-to-follow throughline with clear action steps. It’s just what the harried small business owner needs when time and—let’s face it—brain cells are short.
Algorithms to Live By
by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths
“The computer science of human decisions” is the focus of this book, which takes the sometimes intimidating and complex world of algorithms and illustrates how commonplace their role is in our daily lives. In everything from hiring a candidate to choosing a mate, our brains utilize algorithmic functions to make decisions, usually without our conscious knowledge. If you want to learn more about the science behind decision making, improve your own technique for making judgment calls, or just geek out on things like Bayes’s Rule, the Ebbinghaus Curve, and more, then this book is for you.
Quote of the Day podcast
by Sean Croxton
The perfect length to pop on during your morning skincare routine, QOTD does exactly what it says. In a bite-sized format according to Croxton’s tagline, “Changing Your Life In 12 Minutes Or Less,” it shares and dissects a meaningful quote each day. Everyone has time for that, right? Notable quotables range from the usual business leaders to spiritual and sports luminaries, including a refreshingly large number of voices of color.
Let’s Talk: Make Effective Feedback Your Superpower
by Therese Huston
According to Huston, 65 percent of employees wish they received more feedback. If you’re one of the many leaders who cringes at the thought of completing team evaluations and reviews, or you just hate having an awkward conversation, you need to read this book. Huston breaks it down into manageable, common sense chapters about the “Three Kinds of Feedback,” her “No Surprises” motto, and tons of useful tips on turning the heat down on some hot topics. Especially in 2021 when anxiety and depression are at all-time highs, who couldn’t use a little superpower when it comes to communicating with their team?
The Richest Man in Babylon
by George S. Clason
Stay with us here—first published in 1926 in the form of an ancient Babylonian parable, Clason’s book might seem like an unorthodox choice among the other self-help and financial advice tomes. There’s a reason that, almost 100 years later, it’s still in print and is regarded as a classic of personal financial advice. Number-haters and seasoned financiers alike, don’t pass this one by—many of Clason’s principles are easy to follow but easier to ignore. Let yourself go along for the ride and don’t be afraid to dog-ear and highlight those pages.
The Pandemic Population
by Tim Elmore
From the author who brought you Generation Z Unfiltered comes this book at the most opportune moment possible. Most studio owners are already leading Gen Zers (our employees or our students) now, and if you aren’t yet, you will be. The workforce of tomorrow has gone through a global pandemic at a formative age, and the effects of that experience will be significant and long-lasting. Elmore utilizes the latest research to offer tools for overcoming challenges without just rolling over and giving up. Avoiding the sink-or-swim advice that many Boomers or Gen Xers were famously given, The Pandemic Population details eight strategies to help Gen Zers (and maybe even yourself) rediscover hope.