As you know, I have become particularly interested in the future of work, how we can do what we love/love what we do and ways we can help our kids get ready. The number of times I start conversations with “I read this book and it said…” is ridiculous and so I was asked at a Times Like Ours night (that I run with my friend Harriet) to put up a reading list. Here it is. If you have read anything else in the same vein lately, I’d be really interested in hearing about it. Just post a comment below!
Making a living doing work you love
Be a Free Range Human – Marianne Cantwell
The book that changed how I view work and kickstarted my whole interest in how we can create meaningful, fulfilling work. It provided me with food for thought on how dangerous it might actually be to rely on employment as a sole source of income, given the changes going on in our economy. Contains practical exercises to help guide you through. While, it’s unlikely that you will have a firm idea of what to do next at the end of this book (unless you’re really lucky) but it did give me the motivation to keep searching. The beauty of Marianne’s writing is that she makes you feel that it is possible. Whatever ‘it’ may be. Her blog is here.
Screw Work, Let’s Play – John Williams
This covers a lot of the same stuff as Free Range but it’s particularly useful in setting out a ‘play project’ – something you can use for a defined period of time to test whether you actually like doing what you think you will. More info here.
The Element: How Finding Your Passion changes Everything – Ken Robinson
This is less of a how-to book, instead setting out the argument that schools squeeze creativity out of us at an early age and if we are to adapt to economic and wider social and environmental problems, we need to unlearn a lot of what we have been taught. Ken’s TED talks are brilliant.
Refuse to Choose – Barbara Sher
Barbara Sher was the first person to coin the phrase ‘Scanner’ to explain someone who has multiple interests and finds it hard to stick to one project for any length of time. If you answer yes to any of these questions, the chances are you’re a scanner too and Barbara’s book gives some help in designing a ‘portfolio career’ to suit your interests:
◾I’m fascinated by something new every week
◾I can’t commit to anything – I’m afraid I’ll miss something better
◾I start so many things but finish almost none of them
◾I know I should focus on one thing, but which one?
Well I like the idea, it didn’t really provide me with enough meat to really make a difference to what I should do next.
So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Cal Newport
Cal Newport presents an argument against following your passion stating that this can be dangerous, given that most of us don’t really know what our passions are and a lot of the current literature on the matter encourages people to make “big leaps of faith” which can backfire dramatically. Instead, he suggests “loving what you do”, starting by trying lots of different things and then employing deliberate practice until you become so good they can’t ignore you. You can then exchange this for greater control over your career.
Personal stories of people who do what they love
All of these books are personal accounts of how they have gone about doing what they love and making a good living from it. Interestingly, what I’ve been reading if very male dominated. Where are the women??
Choose Yourself – James Altucher
Very funny account of a man who’s failed 16 out of 17 of his businesses and what he’s learned from it. He sets out how the world of work is changing and his approach to adjusting to it. It’s also a steal on the kindle.
Let Go – Pat Flynn
I love this guy. This is his story of how he changed his outlook on work after being made redundant. He is king of how to develop passive income streams (selling virtual products online like e-books, courses etc.) He also took the time to respond to my email about how I help my kids prepare for a less certain future in work.
Crush It! – Gary Vaynerchuk
The personal account of how Gary spent years building his family business from a local wine shop into a national industry leader through the internet and becoming a social media pro.
How I made £100k online doing what I love – Henri Junttila
Sounds dodgy I know, but I like his website so I read the book about how he has created his online business helping other people find and do what they love. He is also another lovely guy who responded to my questions about bringing up entrepreneurs.
Changes in the economy and structure of work
Meconomy – Markus Albers
“We survived the financial crisis, now we have to reinvent ourselves.” A good account of how the economy has changed and what it means for us in our careers. It was interesting to reading a non-US account of this.
Icarus Deception – Seth Godlin
I love Seth Godlin. In this book, he puts forward his theory that while Icarus was told not to fly too close to the sun, he was also warned not to fly too close to the waves. The safety zone of work has moved i.e. a good way of making a living, has moved but our comfort zone hasn’t registered and realigned. So by reaching too low he argues, we are actually risking our future livelihood. In our new economy, we must all be artists, creating work that connects with other people. I wrote a kind of review in a previous post.
New skills/mindset required in our new economy
Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential – Carol Dwek
This is a really accessible book to the psychology of what helps and hinders us to learn and grow. Carol sets out what a “Fixed” mindset looks like (i.e. I’m good at English but can’t do maths to save myself) and the dangers of it for ourselves and our kids. Instead she argues we can all cultivate a “growth” mindset, where our intelligence is not fixed but can be expanded through learning and encouragement. A great book, especially if you have kids.
Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality – Scott Belsky
From the creator of Behance, an online platform for creative people to showcase their work, this book shows the importance of being organised and using your networks to turn your ideas into reality. It has some nice practical tips for how to do this.
To Sell is Human – Dan Pink
Many of us think that selling is reserved only for sales reps. However, this book shows that we sell our ideas every day. To our kids, spouses, bosses, team members. Dan sets out some tips and exercises for how we can get better at this new skill.
Drive – Dan Pink
In this book, Dan goes into the scientific theory of what motivates us. He finds that the commonly perceived ideas of using money, status etc to motivates us don’t work and, in some cases, can actually reduce our productivity. He outlines the ideas in his TED talk.
Daring Greatly – Brene Brown
Again, I love Brene Brown. She studies how to live wholeheartedly and has discovered that to do this, we have to “be seen”. However, we all have a level of shame (i.e. I’m not smart enough, good looking enough, rich enough) that stops us from being as this vulnerable. Powerful stuff. Again, her TED talks are amazing.
The Flinch – Julien Smith
From the blurb: “your flinch mechanism can save your life. It shortcircuits the conscious mind and allows you to pull back and avoid danger faster than you can even imagine it’s there.
But what if danger is exactly what you need?
What if facing the flinch is the one best way to get what you want?” Julien is so committed to spreading the word on this subject that you can download the ebook for free.
On my list, just waiting
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
This is a 1946 book chronicling Viktor’s experiences as an Auschwitz concentration camp inmate during World War II. He used his knowledge of psychotherapy to survive by deciding that while his captors could do anything to him, he had the choice in how he responded to it and he chose to focus on a more positive outcome.
I was Blind but Now I see – James Altucher
This is James’ follow up to Choose Yourself.
Feel free to add anything else you’ve read in the comments below. I’m always looking for my next read!