Everyone knows, leaders are readers and learners are earners. Out of the thousands of books being published every month, how do you decide which ones to read? At Networking University we ask our faculty for their recommendations and present them in this column. Here are some resources that will help you grow as a leader, build your success, and keep you entertained in the process.

And while we're being taught, why not also be moved and entertained? Do you have a must-see or must-hear recommendation? Simply email dormouse@networkingtimes.com.


To Sell Is Human
The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
By Daniel H. Pink (2012)
Recommended by Chris Gross

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, one in nine Americans works in sales. Every day more than fifteen million people earn their keep by persuading others to make a purchase.

But dig deeper and a startling truth emerges: Yes, one in nine Americans works in sales. But so do the other eight.

Whether we’re employees pitching colleagues on a new idea, entrepreneurs enticing funders to invest, or parents and teachers cajoling children to study, we spend our days trying to move others. Like it or not, we’re all in sales.

To Sell Is Human offers a fresh look at the art and science of selling. As he did in Drive and A Whole New Mind, Daniel H. Pink draws on a rich trove of social science for his counterintuitive insights. He reveals the new ABCs of moving others (it’s no longer “Always Be Closing”), explains why extraverts don’t make the best salespeople, and shows how giving people an “off-ramp” for their actions can matter more than actually changing their minds.

Along the way, Pink describes the six successors to the elevator pitch, the three rules for understanding another’s perspective, the five frames that can make your message clearer and more persuasive, and much more. The result is a perceptive and practical book—one that will change how you see the world and transform what you do at work and at home.


Lean In
Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
By Sheryl Sandberg (2013)
Recommended by Dr. Josephine Gross

In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.
Chief operating officer of Facebook, Sandberg is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Viewed more than two million times, her talk has become a phenomenon, encouraging women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

Sandberg’s book digs deeper into these issues, combining personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to cut through the layers of ambiguity and bias surrounding the professional and life choices of female leaders. Sandberg recounts her own decisions, mistakes, and daily struggles to make the right decisions for herself, her career, and her family.

Sandberg provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career, urging women to set boundaries and to abandon the myth of “having it all.” She also demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women at work and at home.

Filled with humor and wisdom, Lean In is destined to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can.


The Power of Habit
Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
By Charles Duhigg (2012)

In The Power of Habit, award-winning New York Times business reporter Charles Duhigg takes us to the thrilling edge of scientific discoveries that explain why habits exist and how we can change them. With penetrating intelligence and an ability to distill vast amounts of information into engrossing stories, Duhigg brings to life a whole new understanding of human nature and its potential for transformation.

Along the way we learn why some people and organizations struggle to change, trying for years, while others seem to remake themselves overnight. We visit laboratories where neuroscientists explore how habits work and where, exactly, they reside in our brains. We discover how the right habits were crucial to the success of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and civil rights hero Martin Luther King. From Target superstores to Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church and NFL locker rooms, Duhigg shows us how implementing so-called keystone habits can earn billions and mean the difference between failure and success.

Duhigg argues that the key to exercising regularly, raising exceptional children, becoming more productive, and building revolutionary companies lies in understanding how habits work. He promises that by harnessing this new science, we can transform our businesses, our communities, and our lives.


How to Deliver a Great TED Talk
Secrets of the World’s Most Inspiring Presentations
By Jeremey Donovan (2012)

An avid public speaker, TEDx organizer, and long-time Toastmaster, Jeremey Donovan clearly spent countless hours of observing and learning from the masters before writing this little book. Referencing some of the most popular TED videos, he analyzes the different speeches to help the reader understand what makes them great.

Here are some topics he covers:
  • Opening a talk: A compelling opening can be a highly emotional personal story, a startling statement, or a powerful question. Immediately after your opening, inform the audience of the benefits they will gain from your presentation.
  • Building a speech body and transitions: The body of your presentation should use a proven narrative style, such as the situation-complication-resolution framework or the chronological narrative. Transitions between sections should reinforce the key message of the prior section while teasing the audience with benefits of the upcoming section.
  • Concluding a talk: The conclusion is your final opportunity to inspire the audience or call them to action with an easy next step. Possible conclusions are a call back to a personal story told earlier, a shocking statistic, or a compelling question.

Donovan also dedicates chapters to mastering verbal delivery, adding humor to a talk, managing your physical delivery, and creating visuals that inspire.

Whether you need to give a crucial keynote or just want to become a better presenter, this quick and easy read is an excellent step-by-step guide.


Why Things Catch On
By Jonah Berger (2013)
Recommended by Carlos Marin

Why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? What makes online content go viral?

Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has spent the last decade answering these questions. He’s studied why products get word of mouth and how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy to the clothes we wear to the names we give our children. In Contagious, Berger reveals the science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission by establishing six principles using the acronym STEPPS:

  • Social currency: We share things that make us look good (entertaining, clever, hip).
  • Triggers: Easily memorable information means it’s top of mind and tip of the tongue.
  • Emotion: When our hearts are touched, we talk about it.
  • Public: Making things more observable means they are easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular.
  • Practical Value: We share to help others save time, save money, or have a better experience.
  • Stories: We are wired for storytelling. Build a Trojan horse by embedding products and ideas you want people to share in your stories.

Contagious shows how to leverage these concepts to craft contagious content. Berger provides a set of specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread—for designing messages, advertisements, and information that people will share.


Tribal Leadership
Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
By Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright (2011)
Reviewed by Rosie Bank

Every company, indeed every organization, is a tribe, or if it’s large enough, a network of tribes—groups of up to 150 people in which everyone knows everyone else, or at least knows of everyone else. Tribes are more powerful than teams and companies, and yet their key leverage points have not been mapped-until recently.

A rigorous eight-year study helped the authors of Tribal Leadership refine and define a common theme: the success of an organization depends on its tribes, the strength of its tribes is determined by the tribal culture, and a thriving culture can be established by an effective tribal leader.

Although focused around corporate culture, the findings of Tribal Leadership apply to network marketing organizations in significant ways. For those who have little experience building teams or being part of a team, this book will help you cultivate a team mentality as well as the mechanics of growing a team. It will show you how to assess your organization’s tribal culture on a scale from one to five and then implement specific tools to elevate it to the next level for unprecedented success.

In network marketing, leaders coming from a traditional business culture will need a different roadmap for teamwork. “Lone wolves” have a harder time succeeding in network marketing. For those who have been entrenched in success models built on competition, one-way communication (boss to employee), and scarcity of top positions, this book can be a big help.


Five Talents for the Robotic Age
By Marty Neumeier (2013)

The Industrial Age taught us how to break problems into parts, but not how to reassemble parts into solutions. In today’s world, we’re baffled when confronted with complex challenges like recession, political gridlock, climate change, childhood obesity, pollution, and failing schools. We see them as separate ills, each requiring a separate remedy—if we can imagine a remedy at all.

Author Marty Neumeier suggests that our problems are merely symptoms of a much larger problem—our inability to deal with an interconnected, non-linear, and amorphous world in flux.

“It’s not that our problems are too difficult,” he argues, “but that our way of approaching them is obsolete.” Success in the post-industrial era demands that we move our thinking from the static, the linear, and the step-by-step to the dynamic, the holistic, and the all-at-once.

In order to do so, Neumeier presents five metaskills for personal mastery in a post-industrial era: feeling, seeing, dreaming, making, and learning. Developing these talents will keep you two or three steps ahead of the machines, the algorithms, and the outsourcing forces of the “robot curve.”

Metaskills offers a compass for visionary leaders and educators by painting a picture of the future that allows people from a wide range of disciplines, industries, and professions to envision new ways to create value together. The author promises that honing your meta-skills will also bring you greater creativity, higher purpose, and a deeper sense of fulfillment.


The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women
A Portable Mentor
By Gail McMeekin (2013)

Gail McMeekin is a business and life coach who specialize in helping women to activate their creativity, discover fulfilling work, restore inner peace, and grow their businesses.

Divided into twelve sections, her book offers a wealth of advice on some of the most pervasive issues many professional women face today, including:

  • Ways to break the vicious cycle of negative self-talk;
  • How to end distractions and follow through on new projects;
  • Ways to seek out the right partnerships and alliances;
  • How to develop the right negotiation skills to get what you want;
  • How to achieve long-term goals through creative visualization;
  • Ways to craft a business plan that helps you grow personally, generate prosperity, and enhance your overall lifestyle.

By recounting the professional experiences of forty-five dynamic and successful women, McMeekin’s goal is to inspire and provide readers with the tools they need to be successful in their careers.

“Dare to embrace your creative self and manifest your dreams,” says McMeekin. “Recognizing your creativity leads you into a life of self-expression, fulfillment, and contribution.”

The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women is a must-read for anyone looking to achieve success on their own terms by tapping into their innate creative spirit.