As New Year’s Resolution time approaches, many professionals aim to read more books. It promotes creativity, improves communication skills and exposes you to different ideas, cultures and ways of storytelling.
There’s ample proof that reading benefits both mind and body. Studies show it’s good for your overall health, helps de-stress and can improve interpersonal relationships. But a common hurdle to achieving those literary resolutions is not knowing which book to pick up.
We’ve got you covered with a list of our team’s moving reads—on business, life, leadership and creativity—for this, or any, year. Add some of these titles to your New Year “TBR” bookshelf.
“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu
Favorite Quote: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”
So much of our lives are about—just as this book is—AVOIDING battles by knowing ourselves and others better. And by planning for and moving toward victory before any fighting is necessary. This classic book on military strategy is actually about life and leadership strategy. Fundamental and simple human truths are timeless. All professionals, especially aspiring leaders, should read this book for important philosophies and actionable opportunities. It was written in the 5th century B.C. and is as relevant today as ever.
— Moira Vetter, Founder & CEO
“Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It” by Ethan Kross
Favorite Quote: “Our inner voice can be both a liability and an asset. The words streaming through our heads can unravel us, but they can also drive us toward meaningful accomplishments…if we know how to control them.”
While we often joke about the little voice inside our head, this book puts that voice—coined as ‘chatter’—into better perspective for me. It helps you reconsider your choices, tackle new and complex challenges and ideally gives you a healthy fear of the unknown. The flip side is that, too often, these logical thought patterns can get in the way and work against you.
Given that I often find myself lost in my head while trying to pull complex client challenges apart, I found this book especially insightful as a strategist. However, this book is relevant for anyone looking to ‘build mental strength and help regulate their emotions.’ It even has a handy toolkit you can start with, with useful tips to recognize and manage when this chatter may be working against you rather than for you!
— Nicole Wedekind, Director of Strategy
“The Practice: Shipping Creative Work” by Seth Godin
Favorite Quote: “Ultimately, the goal is to become the best in the world at being you. To bring useful idiosyncrasy to the people you seek to change and to earn a reputation for what you do and how you do it. The peculiar version of you, your assertions, your art.”
This book is a call to action for creatives at any level of an organization. It is about deliberately stepping out of your comfort zone to challenge yourself to do more. There are countless lessons about honing the best version of yourself and creating work you’re proud to present.
The author reframes fears to reveal how detrimental it is for you and your team to hold back when you have something to offer. I learned to encourage my team to stop hesitating to share their ideas regardless of role or level—to lead even without authority. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for tips on how to bring a more confident, authentic version of yourself to your professional life.
— Kari Hiner, Associate Creative Director, Design
“The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You” by Julie Zhuo
Favorite Quote: “What caring does mean…is doing your best to help your [people] be successful and fulfilled in [their] work. It means taking the time to learn what [they] care about. It means understanding that we are not separate people at work and at home—sometimes the personal blends into the professional, and that’s okay.”
Managing a team can be daunting. I think this book is great for anyone thinking about or currently pursuing a career in management. It offers thought-provoking ideas to help you decide if management is the right path for you, as well as great reference material for dealing with new challenges you’re likely to face. The author offers really vulnerable perspectives to equip your management arsenal, but professionals at every level will walk away with newfound knowledge about teamwork. The most valuable tidbit I learned is to make a concerted effort to connect with my team’s human-side to make work a more meaningful, productive place for all of us.
— Ellyn Zagoria, Associate Creative Director, Copy
“Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t” by James C. Collins
Favorite Quote: “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”
In this go-to classic, the author takes a systematic approach to researching several ‘great’ companies at length for 5 years and compiling the major common characteristics they share. Among them, discipline and team competency are some of the most valuable.
Instead of offering a roadmap to heightened success, he talks about the importance of having the right people in your court to help lean into what you’re good at, a lesson that I’ve carried with me throughout my career and life. For me, that’s one of my favorite parts about leading the Media team at Modo Modo, and I encourage others to find the right people to share their journey with.
— Melissa Nordin, Director of Media
“Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” by Ed Catmull
Favorite Quote: “If you aren’t experiencing failure, then you are making a far worse mistake. You are being driven by the desire to avoid it.”
This book illustrates so well that while visuals can be beautiful and garner attention, they are nothing without a well-developed story. You must uncover what is unseen. When people get caught up in the story and the emotion, you’ve succeeded—no matter what it looks like visually.
This book not only spoke to the creative aspects of working in an agency but specifically to my people management and leadership style. It is important to recognize and remember that failure is necessary and will happen. What matters most is finding a safe place for it to occur. I’m now more focused on creating that space for my team and fostering an environment in which we can all try, fail, learn and grow from one another.
— Alex Cortina, Group Account Director