Higher Learning – Start Strong Edition

young woman sitting on a bench in the city writing in her diary.

With 2021 on the horizon, the ultimate fresh start awaits! There’s simply nothing like January 1 to make you feel like anything is possible. With the lessons of 2020 under your belt and the dance season underway, let this clean-slate motivation kick your new year into high gear. This curated list of resources is meant to remind you how much you love being a leader and to ignite that passion you feel for your work. Ready to improve your studio culture? Need to amplify your marketing? Looking to connect more with your team? Want to be inspired by other business owners? You’ll find all that and more here in these recommendations that will energize your entrepreneurial soul.

The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster

The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster

by Darren Hardy

Even if you’ve never read this book, you probably lived through your own version of it in 2020. Personal growth leader Darren Hardy warns that 66% of small businesses crash because of internal, emotional failures rather than outside economic forces. “The unexpected and terrifying emotional roller coaster an entrepreneur experiences is the greatest factor in why most quit and ultimately fail.” Published in 2014, well before any of us had “global pandemic” on our radar, The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster lays plain what we all now know we need: the foresight to predict stomach-churning drops and the safety equipment needed to survive them.

The You Are A Badass® series

by Jen Sincero

“You need to go from wanting to change your life to deciding to change your life.” This basic statement, from You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, sums up the author’s approach to self-help, also featured in You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth and You Are a Badass Every Day: How to Keep Your Motivation Strong, Your Vibe High, and Your Quest for Transformation Unstoppable. Using real (sometimes irreverent) language to confront real (sometimes awful) problems, Sincero’s advice presents complex cognitive behavioral principles in an easy, entertaining package.


Fascinate: How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist

by Sally Hogshead

Explore the “seven languages of fascination” in this book about creating the right brand communication for your audience. Make 2021 the year you learn how to fascinate your audience by getting strategic about your brand personality and the advantages it brings, such as passion, innovation, trust, or power. Full of real-life anecdotes from the business world, practical examples of nontraditional marketing, and plenty of Venn diagrams, Hogshead makes you think differently about how to develop an engaging, memorable message based on your business’s unique point of view.

The Next Right Thing: A Simple, Soulful Practice for Making Life Decisions

by Emily Freeman

Raise your hand if you became intimately acquainted with the term “decision fatigue” this year. Between information overload, the stress of trying to—quite literally—save other people, and the 24-hour news cycle cluttering our psyches, small business owners are in need of guidance. We are all addicts, Freeman posits, and “there’s nothing like an unmade decision to smoke out our addictions.” Whether you’re addicted to approval from others, the idea of perfection, or the illusion that it’s possible to have all the information before making a choice, or just want to make smarter decisions faster,  you’ll find peace inside these pages.

The Next Right Thing
Dare to Lead Cover

Dare to Lead

by Brené Brown

This transformative read, inspired by Brown’s in-depth research into shame and vulnerability, was created specifically for leaders. Its focus on self-awareness, values, trust-building, and curiosity requires you to look inward—sometimes uncomfortably—but with the goal of bringing your heart and mind in sync so that you can become a courageous leader who’s not afraid to rumble with tough conversations. Dare to Lead is an eye-opener you’ll want to read again and share with your team. Take off your armor and go all-in.


With their website, blog, print magazine, and loads of bonuses like their e-store stocked with leadership legends, SUCCESS offers it all. No excuses here: only have 5 minutes between Zoom calls? Grab a quick digital article. Still too many words for you? Watch the (embedded) YouTube video on the same subject. There’s just no reason not to benefit from topics like “How To Hack Your Courage” or “10 Tips To Help You Grow Now”. Go deeper with features from greats like John Maxwell or get personal with real stories from working moms, solopreneurs and survivors. It’s the ultimate, all-in-one resource for the lazy leader—ahem—I mean, lifetime learner.

How I Built this

How I Built This

with Guy Raz

If you get inspired by personal stories of business success, you’ll love this podcast hosted by Raz. Learn how the creators of companies like Wayfair, Brooklinen, FitBit, S’well, and more got their ideas and built their businesses from the ground up. Search for episodes in the “How I Built Resilience” series for meaningful conversations about how business leaders and their organizations are persevering—and even thriving—in the pandemic. Want more? Earlier this year, Raz published a book: How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World’s Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs.

At the Table

with Patrick Lencioni

With each episode clocking in under a half-hour, this conversational podcast is devoted entirely to organizational health and success. Lencioni, known for his approachability, immediately makes you feel welcome in each discussion. Topics range from office politics and culture to courageous teamwork. Straddling the balance of entertainment and actionable advice, each minute begs for note-taking so you can implement your favorite takeaways immediately. Every Chief Reminding Officer (that’s you!) needs to listen to the “Don’t Make Me Repeat Myself” episode.

At the Table
The Happiness Advantage

The Happiness Advantage

by Shawn Achor

A research-driven read that’s as entertaining as it is educational, Achor takes you on a journey to understand that success comes from positivity, not the other way around. Within each of his seven principles, including The Tetris Effect and The 20-Second Rule, there are golden nuggets of advice for training yourself (and influencing others) to witness, practice, and share the positive, even when life gets difficult. If the science behind happiness is any indication, your organization has the potential to become a hub of positive psychology, leading to fulfilled employees, confident leaders, and satisfied clients—the picture of success.


You Win In The Locker Room First

by Jon Gordon & Mike Smith

Through a simple step-by-step outline, the authors detail a strategy for business success from the culture of the locker room (Smith was a celebrated NFL head coach of the Atlanta Falcons) to the tough realities of the C-suite. Gordon recounts an inspiring story of accountability in their “Commitment Requires Sacrifice” segment, where Smith takes personal responsibility for his team’s wins and losses and resists the temptation to shift blame—a lesson many small teams could stand to relearn. This quick read is chock-full of no-nonsense lessons for motivating your team, communicating goals and objectives, and staying the course when things don’t go according to plan.

You Winn In the Locker room

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