A Summer Reading List (Or, Dude, You Need to Lighten Up)

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Summer! Finally! Friends, travel, backyard cookouts, hikes, warm weather and summer reading.

As a voracious reader, I’m often asked what I’m reading. The short answer is ‘lots of stuff.’ I have wide-ranging interests, but my current list runs in the direction of economics, personal and professional development and history. For many people a list like that would be a summer bummer, but I’m pretty jazzed. So, since you asked, here are a dozen books I’m reading.

Paid to Think: A Leader’s Toolkit for Redefining Your Future, by David Goldsmith. The business community of Fort Collins pays me to see that good things get done economically and business-wise. But you’re also paying me to think ahead and try to influence important issues. This book is a bit of a tome, but for me it has been insightful.

The Coming Jobs War: What Every Leader Must Know About the Future of Job Creation, by Jim Clifton. This is on my recently read list. Clifton is the Chairman of Gallup. According to their research, a good paying job is the top issue on the minds of a majority of people on the planet today. Around the globe we only have half the number of such jobs desired. Our companies and the jobs they provide are the prospects of every city, town and village on the planet. His point: keeping your community’s employers and their jobs is Job #1 of all community leaders.

When Boomers Bail: A Community Economic Survival Guide, by Mark Lautman. If you’re younger than 45, you probably can’t wait for the Baby Boom Generation to get the heck out of the way. They’re blocking your path to a bigger job, or even just any job. You might want to rethink that. Lautman makes the case that we are in for an interesting 25 years. Flat population growth has consequences. We are about to enter an era of winning and losing communities. Communities that are great places to live will continue to attract talent; those that are not will see population loss and a corresponding economic decline.

Helping: How to Offer, Give and Receive Help, by Edgar H. Schein. As social beings dependent upon each other, asking for and giving help is a common occurrence. Yet, we don’t always get this exchange right (guilty!)

Rumsfeld’s Rules, by Donald Rumsfeld. Love him or hate him, Donald Rumsfeld has had a remarkable career in business and government. This book is an interesting distillation of some of the management and leadership lessons he has learned over the decades.

The Brain that Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge. The field of neuroplasticity is fascinating and is revolutionizing how we think and learn. We literally have the ability to physically change our brains with our thoughts and actions. What does that have to do with anything? I don’t know. I guess as I stumble into the second half of my life I need hope that I can continue to grow and change!

The Evernote Bible: The Guide to Everything Evernote, by Brandon Collins. A friend gave me an iPad late last year. What a fantastic work and productivity tool! One of the best apps available is Evernote. It allows me to capture all the miscellany of my life in one place and access it easily and quickly.

The Leader’s Checklist: 15 Mission-Critical Principles, by Michael Useem. Managers and leaders spend a good part of every day making decisions. Few of us were taught how to do so. This book has 15 guiding principles and tools to help.

Leading Change, by John P. Kotter. We’re living through a remarkable time of change. While exhilarating, it can be confusing and feel chaotic. Leaders are responsible for leading their organizations successfully through such times, but how do you manage the change process? Kotter offers an 8-steop framework.

Beating Obamacare: Your Handbook for Surviving the New Health Care Law, by Betsy McCaughey. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi once infamously said that the voluminous health care act would have to be passed so we could know what’s in it. Well, good luck with that without an interpreter. McCaughey does a good job of explaining the law in layman’s terms.

Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink. Primate research done in the 1940s but largely ignored revealed unexpected insights about motivation. Motivating yourself and others is about a lot more than the traditional carrots and sticks approach.

The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace, by H. W. Brands. In his time, Grant was revered in the North, despised in the South but generally recognized as a capable leader. In time his reputation was sullied by the corruption of people in his administration. Brands does a great job of letting the humanity, courage and decency of Grant come through.

Fun list, right?! Well, maybe not for you, but remember the old saying: ‘One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure!’ I’m looking forward to finishing these books this summer.

And, I’m always looking for recommendations. Send me an email at davidmay@fcchamber.org if you have a favorite read.