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What do you want to learn this year?

Updated: Mar 13

The books I've read over the last year or more.

Working at Analytic Vizion has helped me grow in so many ways. One of the greatest gifts and learnings has come from our team readings and discussions. Yes, I get lots of learnings technically but I have enjoyed growing in the ways I think about leadership. Below I highlight a few of the books I've read over the last year or two and some of the learnings from each.

"The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen R. Covey is a timeless classic in the realm of personal development and self-help literature. It's revered for its insights into principles that can lead to personal and professional effectiveness. Covey outlines seven habits that, when adopted and practiced, can transform one's life, focusing on principles such as proactivity, prioritization, synergy, and continuous improvement.

I can honestly say I was familiar with this book before joining Analytic Vizion. It sounded like an ok book but I wasn't sure how exactly it would help or impact my life until I jumped in and started reading. "Start with the end in mind." This might just be one of the most impactful single lines I've read. It sounds so simple but focusing on our end goals shapes our behavior.

I also enjoyed the Four Quadrants. How do you prioritize work when everything you touch feels like a high priority? "Quadrant I – Urgent & important – for example, crises, deadlines, unexpected opportunities. Quadrant II – Not urgent, but important – for example, planning recreation, relationship-building, doing, and learning. Quadrant III – Urgent but not important – for example, interruptions, meetings."

I love breaking things down by urgency and importance and creating a clear plan for each quadrant.

"The Infinite Game" by Simon Sinek is a thought-provoking exploration of leadership and strategy in a world where traditional "finite" games with clear winners and losers are contrasted with the concept of an infinite game, where the goal is to keep playing and perpetuate the game itself. Sinek argues that businesses, organizations, and individuals who embrace an infinite mindset are better equipped to navigate uncertainty, adapt to change, and sustain long-term success.

The Infinite Game is a close second to my favorite. I enjoyed reading Simon Sinek and there were so many great takeaways from this book. A few of my favorite quotes are, "When leaders are willing to prioritize trust over performance, performance almost always follows.” In terms of work culture, what do you have without trust? How do teams function? The connection between trust and performance excited me. Several of the stories shared took me back to my HR career days. How did we evaluate performance? It was on a similar nine-box scale only we looked at performance and potential. Thinking about trust instead tips the conversation interestingly.

Another big takeaway for me was the idea of a worthy rival excited me. No longer did I need to think of the it's me or you but instead, look at others as worthy rivals for means of inspiration. “Traditional competition forces us to take on an attitude of winning. A Worthy Rival inspires us to take on an attitude of improvement. The former focuses our attention on the outcome, the latter focuses our attention on the process. That simple shift in perspective immediately changes how we see our own businesses. It is the focus on process and constant improvement that helps reveal new skills and boosts resilience. An excessive focus on beating our competition not only gets exhausting over time, it can actually stifle innovation.”

"The Servant" by James C. Hunter is a powerful leadership fable that emphasizes the importance of servant leadership. Through the story of John Daily, a businessman seeking guidance on leadership, the book illustrates how adopting a servant mindset can transform individuals and organizations. Hunter outlines key principles such as listening, empathy, awareness, and persuasion, showing how they can lead to more effective leadership and positive outcomes.

There are several quotes that stuck with me in my reading of "The Servant". They are as follows: “Leadership is simply character in action.” “Labors of leadership and love are character issues. Patience, kindness, humility, selflessness, respectfulness, forgiveness, honesty, commitment. These character building blocks,”

"Leadership begins with the will, which is our unique ability as human beings to align our intentions with our actions and choose our behavior. With the proper will, we can choose to love, the verb, which is about identifying and meeting the legitimate needs, not wants, of those we lead."

"Everybody Matters" by Bob Chapman and Raj Sisodia is a compelling exploration of the power of people-centric leadership and the impact it can have on organizations. Through the story of Barry-Wehmiller, a global manufacturing company, Chapman and Sisodia demonstrate how prioritizing the well-being and fulfillment of employees can lead to business success and create a positive organizational culture. The book emphasizes the importance of treating employees as valuable individuals and highlights the transformative potential of compassionate leadership.

“In the end, it is about truly caring for every precious human being whose life we touch. It is about including everybody, not just the fortunate few or the exceptionally talented. It is about living with an abundance mind-set: an abundance of patience, love, hope, and opportunity. Everyone wants to contribute. Trust them. Leaders are everywhere. Find them. Some people are on a mission. Celebrate them. Others wish things were different. Listen to them. Everybody matters. Show them. We don’t just need a new guide to leading in times of change or adversity. We need a complete rethink, a revolution.”

Can you imagine the culture change an organization experiences when leadership puts employees first? Not in the way of saying they do but make decisions based on an employee-first mentality. I loved the chapter, "Leadership is Stewardship" and reminding ourselves that every person we interact with is someone's precious child.

"Unreasonable Hospitality" by Will Guidara is a captivating exploration of hospitality as a transformative force in the restaurant industry and beyond. Guidara, a renowned restaurateur, shares his insights and experiences from his time leading the acclaimed Eleven Madison Park restaurant in New York City. The book delves into the philosophy behind creating exceptional guest experiences, emphasizing the importance of empathy, authenticity, and attention to detail. Guidara's approach to hospitality extends beyond mere service to encompass creating memorable and meaningful connections with guests.

Unreasonable Hospitality was an easy and fun book to read. The stories are easily relatable and the conversations around what it means to be hospitable and to serve people well have been exciting. “Black and white” means you’re doing your job with competence and efficiency; “color” means you make people feel great about the job you’re doing for them. Getting the right plate to the right person at the right table is service. But genuinely engaging with the person you’re serving, so you can make an authentic connection—that’s hospitality.” I love this quote from the book. Serving others isn't about solving a problem for them, it's about seeing the person in front of you and supporting them. Hospitality is enticipating their needs and exceeding their expectations. What a world we would live in if people were genuinely hospitable towards one another.

"Daring Greatly" by Brené Brown is a transformative exploration of vulnerability, courage, and wholehearted living. Brown, a renowned researcher and storyteller, delves into the power of embracing vulnerability as a pathway to authenticity, connection, and resilience. She challenges societal myths and expectations surrounding vulnerability and encourages readers to cultivate the courage to show up, be seen, and live wholeheartedly. Through personal anecdotes, research findings, and practical strategies, Brown offers profound insights into how vulnerability can fuel creativity, innovation, and meaningful relationships.

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.” Showing up is the easy part for me but letting ourselves be seen is another layer altogether. Letting ourselves be seen means letting others know our flaws and shortcomings, it means seeing us for who we truly are and not who we want to be. “Connection is why we're here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The power that connection holds in our lives was confirmed when the main concern about connection emerged as the fear of disconnection; the fear that something we have done or failed to do, something about who we are or where we come from, has made us unlovable and unworthy of connection.”

While each book may have its unique focus and perspective, several common themes emerge across "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," "The Infinite Game," "The Servant," "Everybody Matters," "Unreasonable Hospitality," and "Daring Greatly." Some of these overarching themes include:

1. Leadership: Many of these books delve into different aspects of leadership, whether it's personal leadership (as in "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People") or organizational leadership (as in "Everybody Matters" and "The Servant").

2. Empathy and Connection: Several books emphasize the importance of empathy, connection, and understanding in relationships, whether it's with customers, employees, or colleagues. This theme is particularly prominent in "Daring Greatly" and "Unreasonable Hospitality."

3. Authenticity and Vulnerability: Concepts of authenticity and vulnerability are explored in books like "Daring Greatly," where Brené Brown discusses how embracing vulnerability can lead to deeper connections and personal growth.

4. Service and Hospitality: "The Servant" and "Unreasonable Hospitality" both focus on the idea of serving others and providing exceptional experiences, whether in the context of leadership or customer service.

5. Continuous Improvement: The theme of continuous improvement and growth is present in many of these books, such as "The Infinite Game," which emphasizes the importance of adapting and evolving over time.

Overall, these books offer insights into personal and professional development, emphasizing principles such as empathy, authenticity, continuous improvement, and the importance of meaningful relationships.


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