2020 was by all accounts a dumpster fire of a year, but out of the ashes arose a few phoenixes, one of which is that I personally read more books in 2020 than I’ve read any year in the last two decades. Of course, my list included a few professional development reads, which I’d like to share. To put these in context, when I’m not running this website, I’m a mid-career creative professional and my professional development reading reflects this.
That said, here are the three books I read for my own professional development in 2020:
The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
I picked up this book as a follow-up to The Culture Code, also by Daniel Coyle, which I read last year as a companion book to The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni, a book my manager at my day job asked all of their direct reports to read. (As an aside: Hooray for my manager for introducing professional development reading into our team at work!) While The Five Dysfunctions of a Team delves into the difficulties and pitfalls working groups can encounter, The Culture Code uses real-world examples to examine what makes a successful team. The Talent Code focuses not on teams, but rather where individual talent comes from and how it can be nurtured. All three books together make for an interesting reading pod, and for me helped to elucidate how successful creative teams work.
Stretch by Scott Sonenshein
I read this book after listening to Brené Brown’s conversation with the author on her Unlocking Us podcast. (Which I also highly recommend, along with all of Dr. Brown’s books.) Stretch is really about reconsidering the mindset that infinite resources equals success. Instead it posits that constraints can actually promote creativity and innovation — something I’ve personally experienced as a creative professional — and teaches us to embrace the resources we already have.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
I was fortunate enough to hear Mrs. Obama speak in person at the Pennsylvania Conference for Women in 2017, and she was inspiring. I’m also a big fan of reading biographies for professional development. (They’re actually fantastic gateway books for newcomers to professional development reading. More on that here.) So it was a no-brainer for me to pick up her memoir, which is a fascinating look at a very ambitious and successful professional woman who, despite her extraordinary experiences as First Lady, seems completely down-to-earth and relatable.
Maybe some of these books might appeal to you as well. Looking forward to all of the great professional development reading to come in 2021!