Another month, another dose of the best books and articles I've been reading. I love the conversations that come from this email. Please don't hesitate to drop a note and share great content you've read!
Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker
Packed with entertaining stories and solid research, Barking Up the Wrong Tree teaches what actually determines success and how we can achieve it. The book is broken into six chapters, each one packed with unconventional yet insightful advice on topics such as work-life balance, when to quit, and whether nice people finish last. Here are my favorite lessons:
Why Valedictorians aren’t very successful. "There are two reasons. First, schools reward students who consistently do what they are told. The second reason is that schools reward being a generalist. There is little recognition of student passion or expertise. The real world, however, does the reverse."
Is flattering your boss effective? "Research has shown flattery is so powerful that it works even when the boss knows it’s insincere. Jennifer Chatman, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley, did a study to see at what point flattery backfired . . . but she couldn’t find one."
The benefits of job hopping. Economist Henry Siu said, “People who switch jobs more frequently early in their careers tend to have higher wages and incomes in their prime-working years. Job-hopping is actually correlated with higher incomes, because people have found better matches—their true calling.”
The importance of networking. “Harvard researcher Shawn Achor found that the workers least likely to develop workplace friendships were also the least likely to get promoted.“
Barker is an excellent writer and I had a lot of fun reading his book. I think you will too.
The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday
Designed to be read over the course of a year, The Daily Stoic consists of 366 small chapters, each one starting with a quote from Stoics such as Marcus Aurelius and Seneca. These quotes are followed by a more modern take on the principles being taught.
I listened to the audio version, mostly while walking to work. This book served as a daily pep talk, helping me mentally prepare for the day. Here are a few highlights:
- Epictetus on why self-deception is our enemy: “It is impossible for a person to begin to learn what he thinks he already knows.”
- Thomas Jefferson once joked in a letter to John Adams, “How much pain have cost us the evils which have never happened!” I'm so guilty of this. Too much of my time has been spent worrying about things that never came to pass.
- When Abraham Lincoln would get angry with someone, rather than taking it out on that person directly, he’d write a long letter, outlining his case why they were wrong and what he wanted them to know. Then Lincoln would fold it up, put the letter in the desk drawer, and never send it.
- From Epictetus: “It isn’t events themselves that disturb people, but only their judgments about them.” An event is inanimate. It’s objective. It simply is what it is.
As the author states it, “The single most important practice in Stoic philosophy is differentiating between what we can change and what we can’t. What we have influence over and what we do not.” While I don’t regularly read philosophy, I enjoyed this book for its practical application.
I also read Hillbilly Elegy this month. There's no career angle, but it's one of the best memoirs I've read. I'm late to the game on this book, but check it out if you haven't already.
Around the Web
The Genius Problem-Solving Method Elon Musk Learned From Aristotle
Exceptional article about the importance of taking a first principles approach when solving problems. It's so important at DoorDash that it's one of our company values.
A Playbook for Finding Your Next Job
My friend and fellow career coach Al Dea wrote a thorough 9-step guide to help you find your next gig.
Find Out If Your Job Will Be Automated
Step 1: Click the link. Step 2: Find out where your job sits on the 2x2 matrix (compensation vs. vulnerability to automation). Step 3: If your job is high on the vulnerability scale, double your efforts to become the best at what you do (or read the Playbook for Finding Your Next Job article I shared earlier).
3 Better Things to Do Instead of Obsessing Over Finding Your Passion
At some point in our careers, if not all the time, we stress about whether we're pursuing our passion. In my latest article for The Muse, I recommend three alternatives to thinking about your career.
Upcoming Webinar: 10 Rules for Thriving in Today's Workplace
The team at Zoom invited me to host a live webinar on August 22. I'll be sharing the tools and strategies that are critical to launching and growing a meaningful career in today’s world of work. Here's the link to register.
Thanks for reading! My goal is to write and share great career-related content. If you've read anything worth sharing, please let me know. And do let me know if there's anything I can do to help you.
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