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Amy Lindgren: More Spring Books: On seeing things differently

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Thursday, March 31, 2016 09:00 pm

 I’m continuing a theme begun in last week’s column of welcoming spring by reviewing books that celebrate change and growth. This week’s titles are focused on changing your approach or viewpoint – because sometimes seeing things differently is all you need to unlock your career potential.

No Fears, No Excuses: What you need to do to have a great career, by Larry Smith, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016, $26. I was going to give this book a pass, based on words that were springing off the page as I thumbed through. I’m just not a fan of advice about following one’s passion, and that’s what I thought I was seeing. As it turns out, Smith’s frequent use of the word is more of a warning, as in: Don’t be so busy looking for your passion that you miss building your career.

As a longtime economics professor, Smith has spent decades advising young adults. This expertise eventually led him to deliver a TEDx talk bluntly titled “Why you will fail to have a great career.” His book is no less direct in tone, and yet it is also very readable. It’s an especially good choice for undergraduates and new workers who can benefit from specific advice in lieu of hopeful platitudes.

To Sell is Human: The surprising truth about moving others, by Daniel H. Pink, Riverhead Books, 2012, $16. This isn’t a new book but it easily fits my theme of changing your mindset in order to open doors in your career. For one thing, it’s a darn good read, as all of Daniel Pink’s books turn out to be, and the information is good. Sold!

Which is kind of Pink’s point in this book. We all sell things, whether it’s ideas or products or something else, so imagining otherwise is nearly hallucinatory. Nor should we ignore this vital aspect of daily living by pretending that it’s not happening or that we can hold ourselves apart from it.

Indeed, once you’ve finished being entertained and educated by Pink, I’d place a bet you might even consider an actual career in sales. If you did, you’d be opening doors to relationships, experiences and income that few careers can replicate. It’s worth a look, isn’t it?

Think Like an Entrepreneur, Act Like a CEO: 50 indispensable tips to help you stay afloat, bounce back, and get ahead at work, by Beverly J. Jones, Career Press, 2016, $15.99. Another book I was going to donate, until I saw the subtitle, ending in “and get ahead at work.” As much as I love business startup stories and processes, I’ve grown a bit weary of the flood of books on the topic. Somehow we seem to be slipping into “entrepreneurship is the new black” territory.

That said, Jones has a good idea here. It’s smart to look at what makes successful entrepreneurs and business leaders tick so that you can apply the appropriate lessons to your own life. Her direct style of writing, peppered with “get over it” and “suck it up” phraseology keeps things on the narrow road between precious and philosophical, which I appreciate. It’s a good book for workers who want to transform themselves into leaders.

WELLth: How I learned to build a life, not a resume, by Jason Wachob, Harmony Books, 2016, $26. Despite its title, there’s virtually nothing in this book about resumes, work situations or building a career. Ha! Talk about messing with my mindset. As it turns out, that’s pretty much the point. Wachob, a self-described wellness entrepreneur (founder of mindbodygreen), wants to draw attention away from the constant chase for a dollar and back to the fundamental quest for a healthy and fulfilling life – which is what most of us imagine we’re working for in the first place.

I’m not expert enough to rank this book against others in its genre but I found it interesting, informative and personally challenging. I’m glad I had the chance to read it.

Sprint: How to solve big problems and test new ideas in just five days, by Jake Knapp, Simon & Schuster, 2016, $28. I couldn’t resist including this book as the last of eight titles I’ve reviewed in the past two columns. Now that you’re geared up for change and growth, it’s time to test some of the ideas you’re developing. But who’s got time for that?

Luckily, Knapp has a quick process. Even more luckily, he’s written a very clear set of steps for testing ideas and solving problems. Although this book was written with teams in mind, I found the steps to be adjustable for more personal issues. When you need to make a decision relatively quickly, it’s nice to know there’s a process to help.

Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at alindgren@prototypecareerservice.com or at 626 Armstrong Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102.


Amy Lindgren owns Prototype Career Service, a career consulting firm in St. Paul. She can be reached at alindgren@prototype ;careerservice.com or at 626 Armstrong Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55102.


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