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Choice Reading, Part I

By Chuck Violand

December 18, 2017

Anyone who knows me knows that reading is one of my favorite things to do, so it’s not uncommon for me to be asked to recommend a good book. Those asking are frequently interested in business topics, and since business is one of my favorite subjects to read about, I usually have a ready list of titles to offer.

I also like to receive recommendations, as some of the best books I’ve read have been suggested by others. As we’re approaching the start of a new year, I thought this would be a great opportunity to offer some suggested reading, and to go beyond my own recommendations by asking some of the folks here at VMA for theirs.

Tim Hull’s recommendation is The Difference: When Good Enough isn’t Enough by Subir Chowdhury. The author is Chairman and CEO of ASI Consulting Group, which specializes in operations and process improvement work with Fortune 500 companies.

This book is a short reminder that the most important aspects of improvement and growth aren’t always models and systems; they are attitudes and behaviors. The author does a nice job of reinforcing these points through the use of stories and examples. The impact is real, because you don’t have to be a scholar to apply these principles. You just need to make the commitment.

Chowdhury has authored 15 books to date, including The Power of Six Sigma and The Ice Cream Maker.

Scott Tackett recommends Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott, a leader and coach with companies like Google, Apple, Dropbox, and Twitter on her résumé, just to name a few.

This book details the importance of strong leadership though guiding your employees, ensuring team building, and getting results. The author states that you accomplish these objectives when you do two things: care personally and challenge directly.
In her book, Scott says that effective leaders recognize that caring personally and challenging directly are both critical to e
ffective leadership. The point throughout is that leaders need to find the sweet spot between being too aggressive and argumentative versus too sympathetic or soft on poor performers.

John Monroe’s choice is Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, current professor at the University of Pennsylvania and past advisor to the White House, the World Bank, NBA and NFL teams, and Fortune 500 CEOs. Her TED talk is among the most viewed of all time.

In this book, Duckworth points out that having grit is not determined by personal talent or luck, but by passion and long-term perseverance. Grit can be developed from within by discovering and deepening your interests, developing the habit of discipline to ensure that you practice relentlessly, and cultivating a sense of purpose.

All three of these books sound great! I hope you’re as eager to read them as I am. In Part II of this series, we’ll start the year off with a bang by recommending a few more.