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It is easy to think that having gone through college and having won your first job that you are done with your studies. Don't think that! To grow as a professional you will need to work at it and as well as listening to your managers and taking any available professional training courses, you can read. In addition to buying Early Stage Professional: starting off right (and excuse the plug!) the below are very strong books that will help build your professional skills.
One Minute Manager - Ken Blanchard. OK, so you won't be a manager in your first few roles, but this short, short read will give you some nice insight in terms of what to expect from your manager: not that they will do everything for you, but instead are there to enable you to get your job done. When you become a manager of other human beings, then this will also be a great start: sets out the importance of clear goals and being supportive and open to your team.
The Quick & Easy Way to Effective Public Speaking - Dale Carnegie. Ok, so this book may be old. It was first published in 1936 but nerves about public speaking are also pretty timeless and they may also be "old" for you too!. For anyone who has nerves about public speak or just wants to improve their performance this book is where I would start. It is accessible, detailed and I think credible. It helped me and hope that it helps you too!
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey. A classic book that focuses on the essentials for prioritizing what you should be focusing on. As you get more advanced in your career prioritize this book. If there's one thing to take away from Stephen Covery's book is how to ensure you prioritize the "urgent AND important" and not to get distracted by the "urgent but NOT important".
The Circle - Dave Eggers. It's fiction. That said it is a really interesting take on the importance of setting some good boundaries between work and the office. While companies that provide free food (and booze), a lot of social activities can seem ideal, are they? While this book takes the theme pretty far (it wouldn't be entertaining otherwise!) it does provide food for thought and gives an interesting take on the future of work, particularly at tech companies. Enjoy!
Getting to Yes - Roger Fisher & William Ury. A classic for negotiation and understanding the needs of those who you are partnering with. Will really help you when you start working across different business functions and finding ways of meeting both your needs as well as the needs of the teams you are trying to partner with. Instead of feeling weak by agreeing to another person or party's needs this books walks you through how to put yourself in someone else's shoes and by doing so come up with better outcomes (for you and them).
Checklist Manifesto - Atul Gawande. "But I got a degree. I am a professional. Why do I need a checklist?" I hear you. This book is written by a professional too: a surgeon who found that introducing checklists greatly improved the outcomes for his patients. Well worth reading if you find that you are making mistakes at work on tasks that you do over and over again. A simple checklist will help you and your teams function in a more collaborative and accurate way. Just ask pilots who have been using them for years how useful they really are.
10% Happier - Dan Harris. Helpful for managing stress as well as high-level interpersonal behaviors such "respond don't react". The focus of this book is on using meditation to help you not just deal today's exceptionally stressful professional as well as personal lives. It is a very accessible book on the now trendy topic of "mindfulness" and well worth the 3 hours you will spend reading it!
A Random Walk Down Wall Street - Burton Malkiel. This book instead should help you be a smarter investor of your money. It may sound like a good idea to invest with some brand name broker until you read this book, that is! This classic should change your idea on how to invest and stop with those ideas about "market timing". There really is no way to consistently beat the market so instead build strategies that will allow you to accumulate wealth over the long term. Just like there are no career short cuts so the same with building your nest egg.
Early Stage Professional: starting off right - Fergus Mellon. The companion book to this website. It is designed to be a very accessable and is only a 2.5 hour read covering the essential professional skills that anyone and everyone needs in today's complex and challenging workplace.
Running Meetings (HBR 20-Minute Manager Series) - Harvard University Press. Many professionals complain that they have too many meetings. This is typically because the meetings aren't always a good use of time (you don't typically complain if an activity is very valuable!). Take a read of this to ensure your meetings are a good use of yours and other's time. Some great, practical tips that will stay with you, presented in an easily digestible way.
I Will Teach You To Be Rich - Ramit Sethi. Want a book that will show you how to make a million in a year? If so this book is not for you! Instead it sets out how to be smart with your money and is hugely practical in terms of managing short term savings, retirement planning and even whether you should buy a house (no a slam dunk!). Not a get rich scheme, but a path to managing your finances in a sustainable and long term manner.
The Power of Nice: How to Negotiate So Everyone Wins. Especially You! - Ronald Shapiro & James Dale. OK, it's got a long, long title but if you are interested in creating successful and long term partnerships then this is a great book. Written by a seasoned negotiator it provides insight into how to really negotiate. Forget "I win, you loose" negotiation outcomes, read this to become someone who strikes deals that work for you while working for your "partner".
Emotional Intelligence at Work - Hendrie Weisinger. Interesting book on how to be aware of your emotions and not let them get in the way of being truly effective. If you've seen one too many office movie where individuals go "balls to the wall" and fight with colleagues and managers then this is a good level set! It's not about being a "Yes Person" more about ensuring you keep a level head and are influential in the workplace
Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success – Adam Grant. If you’ve ever doubted that being a good human can help you succeed, read this book. Great on setting out why you should be a “Giver” but also provides tactics on how not to be taken advantage of in the workplace. Adam Grant sets out the different traits of "Givers", "Matchers" and "Takers" and explains how those who help others end up benefiting themselves.
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