It’s summertime. Vacations at the beach, summer camp, poolside libations, all the things that make up summer. Plus books. And videos. And TED Talks. And podcasts.
So, in honor of summer, here is a highly curated (meaning stuff I like) selection of TED Talks, books, and podcasts that I think you’ll enjoy.
First, the books, because, well, books. I’ll start with fiction then move on to non-fiction.
The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson. I’ve been posting about this book all over Facebook – insisting that everyone read it. Joshilyn Jackson is one of my favorite authors of all time. People frequently categorize her books as beach reads, but they’re wrong. Sure you can read this at the beach, as long as you’re willing to end your day as red as lobster, wondering where the day went because you just couldn’t put the book down. Jackson’s characters jump to life from the first page. The meaning of the title unfolds in a beautiful tapestry of connections and surprises. The plot is unexpected and lovely. You’ll never regret reading this book. It is one of my top 5 books of all time.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. Oprah selected the book for her Book Club and so did my book club. We have great taste. I loved Jones’s exploration of the relationships and expectations of men and women; husbands and wives; parents and children and the society that surrounds them (as she did in her debut novel, Silver Sparrow, another great read). The plot centers on the main characters, Celestial and Roy, as they navigate Roy’s incarceration and its aftermath. This book isn’t about the penal system; it’s about how people react when life explodes in their faces. This is another book where the details about the characters and their interactions with each other drive an unexpected plot forward. I love and appreciate Ms. Jones’ voice. I can’t wait for her next book.
Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord. Non-fiction. This is a quick, easy, mind blowing read. McCord is famous for being half the leadership team that created the world renowned corporate culture at Netflix. McCord’s book explores her unique take on how the Human Resources departments in businesses can have an outsized impact on the overall culture and growth of the company. One of my favorite quotes from the book is in her introduction: “Here is my radical proposition: a business leader’s job is to create great teams to do amazing work on time.” They took the idea of creating and maintaining a productive and respectful company culture to new levels.
Among other things, Hastings and McCord believed in treating employees like the members of a sports team instead of a family – making critical hires to strategically fill critical jobs. One of my favorite things about their philosophy is McCord’s belief that Netflix should be a good place to be from. That HR has a responsibility to make sure people are in the right positions at the right time and that HR should always be looking out for ways to advance employees – even it means helping them find work elsewhere. I have all my executive coaching clients read this book.
When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by my favorite business author, Daniel Pink. Pink examines the research around timing and productivity and offers a treasure trove of action items that can help us increase our life and job satisfaction. Each chapter ends with exercises/prompts for incorporating the ideas in the chapter in our lives. He covers everything from sleep patterns, to napping, exercise, and productivity hacks, beginnings and endings. He even provides a plan for figuring out to make your day work best for you. The titles of his sections are works of art, for example, “Bermuda Triangles and Plastic Rectangles: The Power of Vigilance Breaks” and “Midpoints: What Hanukkah Candles and Midlife Malaise Can Teach Us About Motivation.”
I’ve read all of Pink’s books and written blog posts about many of their key concepts. Like his books Drive (about motivation) and To Sell Is Human (about how most of life is about selling), When explores weighty subjects with both humor and rigor.
I started out thinking I knew exactly which TED Talks I wanted to share with you. Then, as I started listening to them again, I changed my mind. So here are two Talks that made me sit up and pay attention. The number in parentheses after the title is the length of the Talk. I create a playlist of Talks on YouTube so I can watch TED Talks while I walk on my treadmill.
Art as Awe and Healing (13:10) Jennifer Allison. This TED curated event was filmed last summer right here in Atlanta. Jennifer Allison shares the wild story of how art literally saved her life. Ms. Allison suffers from Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), and in this TED Talk she eloquently describes the effect of SPD on her life and explains how re-discovering art saved her from addiction and pain. Ms. Allison works at UPS as a UX engineer – someone who designs products so that the most complicated tasks seem easy to accomplish. Favorite quote: “Art is not a choice. It’s a matter of life and death.”
Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection (12:40) Reshma Saujani. Saujani is the creator of Girls Who Code, a non-profit that encourages girls to explore technology and coding. In this Talk, Saujani brilliantly discusses one of the leading contributors to maintaining the glass ceiling – women are raised to fear failure and embrace perfection. She shares stories of girls who refuse to try things unless they can do them perfectly. I’ve read about this topic and heard about it all over the place – Saujani brings all the ideas that we have floating around in our heads about perfectionism and exposes the price we as a nation are paying for it. As she puts it, “…we’re raising our girls to be perfect and we’re raising our boys to be brave.” Which is a problem, because the race goes to the person who’s brave enough to start and finish it.
I love listening to podcasts. Luckily for me, there are literally thousands out there to choose from. Here are 3 of my favorites. Clicking on the links will take you directly to the episode – you won’t need to download any apps to hear it.
The 1-3-20 Podcast with Daniel Pink. Pink chooses one book that has influenced him, asks the author 3 key questions about the book (including why it matters!), all in 20 minutes.
What Makes a Leader Great with Nancy Koehn
The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups with Dan Coyle
By the Book with Jolenta Greenberg and Kristin Meinzer. Jolenta and Kristin choose a different self-help book to live by for two weeks. The episodes are frequently hilarious (Jolenta is a comedian), sometimes harrowing, and always surprising. Their husbands cooperate in living by the book and the resulting conversations are priceless. PS I’m glad I included them in this post because I didn’t know their 3rd season was out!!!!
This podcast is NSFW – it contains explicit language.
Uniquely Brilliant with Becky Berry and Diana Bader. Have to include my own podcast! Every week, Diana and I discuss our uniquely brilliant approach to life and work. We have been known to crack ourselves up. Hope you like it!
Oh, by the way, if you haven’t seen the movie, Black Panther, go now. It’s beautiful, inspiring, and amazing. So glad I saw it in the theater!
So, what do you think? Let me know – love them, hate them, there are better choices out there…. Let me know!