About two years ago our team decided to start up a lunchtime book club. Since then, the inspiration and knowledge we’ve gained from the club have surpassed all expectations, and we now consider it to be an integral part of our workday. We launched the club not knowing exactly what to expect but have come to deeply value the discussions we’ve shared over great books. We have learned how to consider and implement new ideas, identify and foster individual and team strengths, and most importantly to develop camaraderie and teamwork.
The book club consistently leads to incredible ideas and dynamic conversations that infuse the team’s perspectives and approaches to current obstacles. In fact, we have enjoyed our book club and all that it has taught us so much that we decided to continue meeting virtually as we shelter in place.
Maybe these days you find yourself with a bit more free time on your hands, and we thought this would be a great time to share some of the hidden gems we’ve come across on business, finance, entrepreneurship, and creativity. Here are some titles from our Top Hit List:
Grit was the first book that our club decided to tackle and there could not have been a more perfect jumping off point for us! In Grit, research psychologist Angela Duckworth argues that the secret to outstanding achievement is not based on raw talent but rather on a unique combination of passion and long-term perseverance—”grit.”
In our book club discussion, we all shared stories of times in life that we had succeeded and showed grit and times that we had fallen short. We noticed that in times of success we had found true joy and were enthusiastic about the process. Newton’s biggest takeaways from Grit were, “Set a top-level goal and let it guide you; love what you do; practice what you love so that you can improve; believe in yourself and your work and keep at it; and put in effort all the way!”
Everyone on our team was familiar with Nike before diving into this book—either we love the brand, wear their shoes, or have studied the stock. Once we cracked it open, we were surprised to learn that we knew very little about Phil Knight’s story. After graduating business school, Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father and launched a company with one simple mission: “import high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan.” Knight gives an open and honest account about the extreme difficulties, lucky breaks, and amazing successes it takes to start a company that changes the world. The team absolutely loved this read!
“My favorite part of book club is opening myself up to different ideas and perspectives and sharing them with our team,” said Andy. “The biggest takeaway was Phil’s ability to overcome constant obstacles on the road to success and never give up, which I am sure is a common thread in every great company, no matter what industry.”
Originals examines how leaders can fight groupthink and champion new ideas and values that go against the grain, battling conformity and bucking outdated traditions. Using studies and stories from business, politics, sports, and entertainment, Originals explores how to recognize a good idea, how to speak up without getting silenced, building a group of allies, choosing the right time to act, and how to manage fear and doubt.
Once we started sharing our new ideas we couldn’t be stopped! This was our longest book club meeting—clocking in at 2.5 hours—and definitely our most out-of-the-box and inventive one yet.
Perfectionism can paralyze us from ever starting a project. In How to Be an Imperfectionist, Stephen Guise discusses how embracing imperfection brings freedom. How to Be an Imperfectionist discusses five subsets of perfectionism—need for approval, rumination, unrealistic expectations, concern over mistakes, and doubts about actions—and provides tools and techniques to get over these hurdles.
As a numbers-oriented group, our team often colors inside the lines. We walked away from this read with solid tools to help us color outside the lines more often.
This book made us think about how we perceive luck in our personal and professional experiences and what pattern biases we have held onto that lead us to create reasons and patterns for success. Written by veteran trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Fooled by Randomness addresses market movement around the world and how success in the financial markets is often due to lucky timing and randomness. Interestingly, most people chalk up their personal successes in the markets to skill while charging off their failures as unlucky. This sparked an awesome team discussion that helped shape our group investment philosophy.
“Nassim Taleb’s explanation about hindsight bias and the idea that we think ‘hindsight is 20/20’—but only because we have a hard time imagining how things could have gone differently once they have occurred—really stuck with me,” said Stacey. “[Taleb also explained] how we strive to look for patterns and therefore find more causality in the world than there actually is.”
Okay, okay…we chose this book by the cover, but can you blame us? Our team was enticed by the title and the baby blue book cover, so we set off to learn why some people perform better and work smarter than others. Management professor Morten Hansen conducted a five-year study of 5,000-plus managers and employees to answer this question. From his research, he identified seven “work smarter” practices.
Each of us had a favorite work smarter tactic or two and have done our best to incorporate them into our everyday habits. Frances’s top pick was the idea of “do less, then obsess.” She commented, “Often we can create laundry lists of things that we want to accomplish, but because the list is so long, we either don’t get to the important ones at all or we don’t get to put as much time into them as we should. The idea of ‘do less, then obsess’ is similar to quality over quantity.”
Former U.S. Navy SEALs Jocko Willink and Leif Babin show how the strong leadership techniques they learned from their time in the military can easily be applied to the business setting. From startups to Fortune 500 companies, Babin and Willink have helped clients in a range of industries build their own high-performance teams. If you are looking for a tough-love book that will teach you to take responsibility for your actions, this is the one for you!
“The biggest team take away from Extreme Ownership had to do with how a great leader can get results from ‘any’ team and not just the ‘most talented’ team,” said Julie. “The book was exceptional at outlining the value of each team member and highlighting the strong need for alignment and commitment as a team to accomplish anything. These points resonate with our culture on many levels.”
Did you know that a 2009 study on the stress levels of American students found that just 30 minutes of reading lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of stress just as effectively as yoga and humor? We think that’s a great reason to read more!
Do you have any favorite books that you’ve read while sheltering in place? We’d love to hear about it. From all of us at Garrison Point Advisors: be safe, be well, and stay tuned for our next Top Hit List. Happy reading!
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