Building great workplaces and careers

I have found these titles the most useful to me, and recommended these titles to more people, than any others, not only for thriving in the workplace but helping with the parts of your life (like finances) that allow you to focus on your work when you’re at work.

David Bach, Smart Women Finish Rich: 9 Steps to Achieving Financial Security and Funding Your Dreams. New York: Crown Business Press, 2002 (rev. and upd.)  Don’t let the title put you off: this is not a go-for-the-greed book.  Along with this book, I recommend Elizabeth Warren and Elizabeth Warren Tyagi’s book, All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan. Either one of these is an excellent basic introduction to getting your personal financial house in order; without doing that, it’s much harder to focus on anything else.

Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right.  New York: Picador, 2009. Especially good on how integrating with teams and explicitly agreeing on roles improves work outcomes.  Very useful in conjunction with Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein, Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness.    New York: Penguin, 2009 (rev. and exp.).

Pat Heim., Ph. D., with Susan K. Golant, Hardball for Women: Revised Edition. New York: Plume, 2005 (rev. ed.). A good guide to the language of business that men speak, and how women can learn and use it. Helpful for understanding how men think of and use sports metaphors in their business worlds.

Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2011.  An exceptionally useful examination of the human decision-making processes.  Long but usefully divided into shorter essays.

Caitlin Moran, How to Be a Woman.  New York: Harper, 2011.  The best current expression I know of feminism, what it is for, and why we need it.  Speaks especially to younger women.  I recommend every woman and every man read this book.

Debra E. Meyerson, Rocking the Boat: How to Effect Change Without Making Trouble. Boston: Harvard Business School, 2008. An intelligent overview of how to make changes in an environment that may resist them. Better attention than usual to how the effort to make these changes can also affect you as you try to drive change.

Nate Silver, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — but Some Don’t. New York: Penguin, 2012.  Helpful for understanding how data and predictions are used and misused. Important for contextualizing the value of big data: what it means, what it is for, and how it is used in making decisions.

Robert I. Sutton, Ph.D., The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t.  New York: Warner Business Books, 2007.

Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Cheshire, CT: Graphics Press, 2001. Critical for understanding how to create information from quantitative data, and beautifully done. His other books on this topic are also very much worth reading: Envisioning Information and Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative.

Virginia Valian, Why So Slow? The Advancement of Women. Cambridge, MA: MIT PRess, 1999.  The single most useful book I have ever read for explaining why women tend to be undervalued in the workplace.  Particularly valuable for its integration of psychological, sociological, and economic factors and its analysis of how small disadvantages accumulate over time.  This is the book to give to anyone who believes women are no longer disadvantaged in the workplace.

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