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Director’s Desk: Recommended Reading

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by Angela Bole, CEO, Independent Book Publishers Association

Angela Bole

Last month I had the pleasure of dining with Rana DiOrio, founder of Little Pickle Press and member of IBPA’s board of directors. As dinner companions go, Rana is topnotch. Her unbelievable knack for picking great restaurants is surpassed only by her always direct and meaningful conversation. I consistently walk away smarter.

During this particular dinner we talked about many things—work-related and personal—that eventually led her to recommend a book that’s been making the rounds: Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brené Brown.

You may recognize the phrase daring greatly from Theodore Roosevelt’s famous speech, “Citizenship in a Republic.” In this speech Roosevelt said:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

This speech, important on many levels, served as inspiration for the 12 years of pioneering research Dr. Brown draws on in Daring Greatly to prove her argument that vulnerability is culture’s most accurate measure of courage. In addition to the findings from her research, Dr. Brown includes a good deal of autobiographical detail which humanizes the book—she’s not one to take herself too seriously—and she’s funny.

I’m always looking for books that help me work smarter. I’m sure you are, too, which is why I wanted to use this Director’s Desk to recommend Daring Greatly along with a couple of other books that have had a strong impact on how I think about my work and life. Happy reading.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Author: Brené Brown
Publisher: Avery

Why it matters: It’s amazing how often many of us get in our own way by refusing to step outside our comfort zones. Dr. Brown’s down-to-earth approach to vulnerability helps us understand how to embrace the unknown without fear, shame, or the anxiety that comes when we don’t think we’re good enough for the job. There is danger in pursuing certainty and control above all. The world needs more guides like Dr. Brown who are able to show us a different way.

From the book: “When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make. Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t

Author: Jim Collins
Publisher: HarperCollins

Why it matters: Two words: the Hedgehog Concept. Good to Great has been around since 2001, so you may already be familiar with the Hedgehog Concept and its focus on the ability to identify the one thing your company is the best at in the world and then stick to it. Even if you’ve already identified this once, it helps to reconnect with it every now and then to be sure it’s still relevant. How have you narrowed the focus of your company’s resources to suit your distinct field of competence?

From the book: It is “not a goal to be the best, a strategy to be the best, an intention to be the best, a plan to be the best. It is an understanding of what you can be the best at. The distinction is absolutely critical.”

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success

Author: Adam Grant
Publisher: Penguin Books

Why it matters: I was thrilled to find this book. It was named one of the best books of 2013 by Amazon, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal, as well as one of Oprah’s riveting reads, Fortune’s must-read business books, and the Washington Post’s books every leader should read. It explains how success is more dependent on how we interact with others than on drivers that usually come to mind, such as passion, hard work, talent, and luck.

From the book: “If we create networks with the sole intention of getting something, we won’t succeed. We can’t pursue the benefits of networks; the benefits ensue from investments in meaningful activities and relationships.”

Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual: How to Write, Print, and Sell Your Own Book

Author: Dan Poynter
Publisher: Para Publishing

Why it matters: People are always asking me for a step-by-step guide to self-publishing. When they do I point them to Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual. Now in its 15th revised edition and its 19th printing, this book is a complete reference to writing, printing, publishing, promoting, marketing, and distributing your own book.

From the book: “Nearly everyone wants to write a book. Most people have the ability, some have the drive, but few have the organization. Therefore, the greatest need is for a simple system, a road map. The basic plan in this book will not only provide you with direction, it will also promote the needed drive and expose abilities in you that may never have been recognized.”

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear your reactions to this short list of recommended reading. Please e-mail me at angela@ibpa-online.org to share your thoughts and your own recommendations. I’ll include them in an upcoming blog post at ibpa-online.org.

Just before Angela Bole became IBPA’s Executive Director, she was Deputy Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group, Inc. (BISG), which fosters conversation and consensus across all sectors of the book business. Before that, Angela served for two years as BISG’s Associate Director and two years as its Marketing and Communications Manager. Angela also serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of IDPF, the International Digital Publishing Forum.

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