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Gracious reader,

Long before Marie Kondo had crossed my field of awareness, my dad built a beautiful bookcase in my NYC apartment.  

I kept buying books; my apartment stayed the same size.  Moar bookshelves.

At some point, it became clear that something had to give:  it was time for a purge. 

After sifting and sorting, I realized that many of my books-to-be-purged were business books.  

Some were texts from bschool.  I realized that others had been of-the-moment tomes, books I had purchased because “everyone” had been reading them.  

Many hadn’t aged so well.  I polished off my library card and vowed never to buy another business book again.

I also started thinking — too much — about how business books could truly be called classics.

This time, 5 books I find myself recommending to early-career professionals, over and over again.
Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success, by Sylvia Ann Hewlett  (library) (Indiebound)

It's popular for leaders offer exhortations like, Be Authentic

However, Bringing your Whole Self to Work can sometimes backfire.  Especially when your whole self does not comport with an organization's cultural norms.

Executive Presence unpacks some of the factors that make people seem credible at work.  Written more for people (women, actually) in large enterprises, I've recommended it to women in startups, too.  And more than a few men.

Being heard in the office involves navigating the way you're expected to act, look, and speak.  Hewlett breaks this down.

The daughter of a Welsh miner, Hewlett's own story of getting to Cambridge University packs a punch, too.
The First 90 Days, Proven Strategies for Getting Up To Speed Faster and Smarter, by Michael D. Watkins (library) (Indiebound)

This onboarding classic was originally written for senior execs, who typically don't get a lot of hand-holding from management when starting a new job.

The First 90 Days is a good book to go through, even in the weeks before you start a new job.  Even when you're not a senior exec, "onboarding" may end when you get the company swag.

Aligning your goals with your manager's expectations is critical to being considered successful in your role.

If your new manager doesn't sit down with you to articulate what's expected of you, it may fall on you to initiate and lead this dialogue.  These conversations are easier if you have a plan for your first days, weeks, and months in a role; this book offers structure that can help to make that plan.
Managing Oneself, by Peter Drucker (library) (Indiebound)

This short book is based on an HBR article.  (HBR subscribers can read it online.)

Drucker's focus is on knowing yourself, your strengths, and how you learn.  This brief clear, wise, and grounded in an understanding of institutional and business history.  

The audiobook version is often available for less than the proverbial cost of a latte!
Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, by Danny Meyer (library) (Indiebound)

Not every manager is great, or even good.  Sometimes entire companies manage people well.  Sometimes, not so much.  Understanding the difference is key.

Setting the Table is restauranteur Danny Meyer's memoir and origin story.  On one level.

It's also about how a great manager thinks about caring for and developing employees.  And in so doing, caring for customers. 

Meyer's innovations include a goal to eliminate tipping from his restaurants.  (Eater has coverage on tipping, including of the ups and downs of Meyer's efforts.)
What Color Is Your Parachute, by Richard Nelson Bolles (library) (Indiebound)

This essential guide has been around for a very long time.  It does cover mechanics of job search, and in that sense it is probably constantly a little bit obsolete, and is thus updated every year. 

What's classic, though, is the notion of working to uncover and identify your skills.  And figuring out out your competencies, and what you enjoy, may be deployed in many ways as you grow.

While there are a ton of exercises for people who enjoy them, I have used it as a reference guide, diving in and reading bits and pieces for inspiration every few years.

Bolles died in 2017 at 90 -- it will be interesting to see how the franchise evolves.
What are you reading?
Beyond books, the Internet chockfull of bits and bytes about the workplace and your career. 

Some of it is unequivocably bad.

What are you reading?  What's at stake?  Why is it believable? 

Interrogate everything you read about business.
In a recent interview, presidential historian Michael Beschloss said that Harry Truman... "said 'Not all readers become leaders. But all leaders must be readers.'  The point he was making was not that every president has to be a PhD in American History, but you at least have to know something about where earlier presidents and American citizens succeeded and failed so you don’t make the same mistakes."

Be more than a reader.  Be a careful, critical, selective reader.

Do you lead a team?
Copyright © 2019 Anne Libby Management Consulting LLC, All rights reserved.

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