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Executive Spotlight: The Books EVERY Professional Should Read This Year

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Reading books is one of the best ways to learn something new and improve your communication skills. But the benefits don't stop there. Most of the benefits of reading books can help you succeed at work and in your personal life. If you're a professional who hasn't picked up a book in a while, or you're an avid reader with a career who's looking for more book recommendations, you're in luck.

We recently asked our executives what books they think every professional should read this year.

Here are their responses...

John Cox, Advertising & Marketing Executive

I’ll cheat a little bit and cite two books: Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt and Herding Tigers by Todd Henry. I finished the former in late 2022 and I am about halfway through the latter with plans to finish it by the end of January 2023.

Both, broadly speaking, are about leveling up to become a better team member and a better leader. In some instances, that means how to achieve better clarity in your work through more efficient use of your time, or, in other instances, it means better delegation in order to level up your team.

On the topic of delegation, one takeaway that really resonated with me was scoring delegation tasks 1-5 so that team members have absolute clarity on how much latitude they have with a particular task.

Both books have been a nice refresher at the start of a new year on how I might become a better leader for my team over the next 12 months.

John Cox has 20+ years of performance excellence in advertising and marketing, leveraging Google-certified skill sets in pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and paid search strategy, web planning and conversion measurement, and creative direction and graphic design.

Ana Smith, Talent Architect & Global Learning Strategist

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In my particular case, I strongly would recommend Attention Span by Gloria Mark (2023).

There are many reasons why, yet there is one in particular: Currently, the currency that we have (does not matter how old or young or where you reside on the planet) is attention. Attention is the common currency that we all have across the board!

Attention Span by Gloria Mark is a groundbreaking book that reveals how technology affects our attention and how we can restore balance, happiness, and productivity in our lives. The author is a psychologist who has conducted decades of research on a) distraction and b) multitasking.

She debunks four (4) popular myths about our attention and technology, such as "why multitasking hurts rather than helps productivity." She offers practical strategies to follow our own rhythms of attentional peaks.

I think this book is super relevant and helpful for anyone who wants to improve their focus and well-being in the digital age.

Some of the key strategies that Gloria Mark suggests to improve your attention span are:

  • Identify your goals at the start of the day and write them down.
  • Imagine how you want your end of the day to be and answer two questions:
    • How do you want to feel?
    • What do you want to have accomplished?
  • Practice super-awareness of your actions, which means being aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  • Consider the time of day when your attention peaks and plan your most important tasks accordingly.
  • Use mindless activities like playing simple games or browsing social media as a way to replenish your mental resources, but limit them to short breaks and avoid using them as a way to procrastinate.
  • Turn off notifications on your devices and check them only at designated times.
  • Create a physical and mental space for focused work by minimizing distractions, setting boundaries with others, and using cues like music or lighting to signal your intention.

Hope these are helpful!

Ana Smith helps people & organizations achieve their full talent potential by developing and co-creating people strategies and customized solutions, and turning them into impactful outcomes and collaborative relationships, using coaching as the "red thread."

Michael Willis, Sports Business Operations Executive

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The Art of Work by Jeff Goins

How do you find your true calling? Finding your true calling is a path. Not a plan. You have to remain flexible. There will be twists and turns. Just like a map, your path is a journey.

7 Common Steps in Finding Your True Calling:

Preparation Phase

1. Awareness - Listening
2. Apprenticeship – Let your mentors in
3. Practice – The pain in the journey

Action Phase

4. Discovery – Fiinding your "why"
5. Profession – This is not a hobby
6. Mastery – Refining your skills
7. Leaving a Legacy

In my work at the NFL, I have experienced a journey from the beginning. I started out working for a developmental grassroots project called NFL Europe. I learned how a team works and the team’s interaction with players, coaches, and other staff.

When that league ended after 12 years, I continued my journey working in Football Operations with the game officials. My previous role had prepared me for this role. I grew in this role by understanding my audience by becoming a liaison between the NFL and the Game Officials’ Union. I pride myself on calming relations between the two entities. I created trust and a better working relationship.

Michael Willis has 18+ years of experience working with accounting & sports organizations and has managed P&Ls of $10M - $125M+ with budgets of $3M-$50M+. He worked for the NFL for 22 1/2 years, mainly with the game officials working on the financial/accounting side of the business.

Mark Taylor, Product & Operations Executive

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Therapists Phil Stutz and Barry Michels have written two books: The Tools and Coming Alive.

If you’re looking for simple, concrete “business” ideas that can be easily translated into e.g., “having more effective meetings,” then these books are not for you.

"The Tools" themselves are highly empirical “runes” that you run when life gets in the way of you—or you get in the way of life. The authors are at pains to note that they don’t care if you don’t understand or agree with the techniques. Just do them on an ongoing, consistent basis.

As you read deeper and begin to implement, you find that they are a conduit to understanding how life really works. Phil in particular is Yoda-like in his insights.

For me, such insights are becoming bedrock foundations for an adult outlook on the world as well as a basis for sound life and business decisions.

Mark Taylor has 20+ years of risk, technology, and product management experience working in global and regional financial services firms in the UK and the U.S. He's managed teams of 40+, successfully addressed 100+ regulatory issues, and has saved companies $15M+.

John Hoffman, Creative Producer

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Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has significantly influenced my career as an experiential marketer, creative producer, and storyteller. This classic book has resonated with me on two crucial levels:

1) I find immense satisfaction in the challenges of my work. As a foundational text in positive psychology, Flow explores the concept of "optimal experience" or "flow," emphasizing the happiness that comes from fully immersing oneself in an activity and pushing oneself to the limits.

2) This idea is especially relevant to my work, where I create immersive experiences that bring people into the moment and leave a lasting impact. These moments that captivate and engage consumers help build deep-seated brand loyalty. Flow has been instrumental in teaching me how to recognize and create those "optimal experiences" in my life and the lives of my client's customers.

Let's chat if you seek richer experiences and deeper connections in experiential marketing!

John Hoffman has 15+ years of leadership experience creating and producing video content, branded entertainment, PR stunts, and experiential and live events. At his core, he's a storyteller who has mastered the creative map and can scale logistical mountains.

Lynn Holland, VP Sales & Business Development

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I’m a curious, self-improvement, continuous learning/growing junkie so I LOVE books and am usually working my way through three or four meaty books at one time.

I guard these precious hours to feed my soul and challenge myself to drown out distractions, strive smarter, and catapult my business outcomes as I help SaaS companies get to market and create a modern buyer experience that sells.

If kin to your priorities, this is a recap of two reads that I recommend:

Sell the Way You Buy: A Modern Approach to Sales That Actually Works – David Priemer

Learn how buyers are often unaware of what they want and need, and the mechanisms they use to make decisions.

You’ll also gain scientifically supported methods to understand the customer, identify their needs, and move them toward the right solution for them while avoiding the behaviors that make most people hate salespeople. You’ll find yourself in the customer’s shoes as you ask questions, listen, tell your brand story, and communicate to truly connect with your ICP.

Jump: Dare to Do What Scares You in Business and Life – Kim Perrell

Are you hungry for a new career, ready to start a business, or eager to rewrite your current script in life?

If your next move isn’t a step but a jump, a leap into the unknown, this book will give guidance and shortcuts to make life-changing decisions with actionable steps to make a change, overcome doubts, and draw deep on your courage to take calculated risks that will pay off.

Lynn Holland is a business development executive with 18+ years of experience taking operational, IoT & retail technologies, products, & consumer engagement to market with a focus in petroleum & convenience retail.

Percy Leon, Digital Media Content Executive

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If you’re looking to accelerate your career success, Atomic Habits by James Clear is one of the best books out there. It’s an incredible read that can help you develop better habits and stay on track with your goals no matter what stage in life or career you are in.

Atomic Habits covers topics such as how to build a system that reinforces positive habits and how to break bad ones, which will help you become more successful in your professional life.

Atomic Habits has helped me organize and prioritize. Forgetting about goals and instead developing systems, creating your own identity, and making small changes leads to better habits and a much more productive day.

This is why I feel Atomic Habits is the perfect roadmap for building habits that stick and can be applied long term. It provides practical advice on how to develop self-discipline, stay motivated, and make lasting changes to your lifestyle.

Percy Leon is a digital media content producer specializing in educational technology and entertainment. He is interested in web3, metaverse, and the use of virtual reality for storytelling.

Lisa Perry, Global Marketing Executive

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As a brand marketing executive, I immerse myself in brand marketing books. But, recently, I've ventured off course. The reason is that in 2023, the single word that defines my professional focus is "abundance." Abundance in professional wealth and success. Specifically on making an additional $100,000 this year. Crazy, right? I didn't know how this would be possible until I read the book You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero.

This book helps you create a more abundant life to master the mindset of wealth. In addition, the book provides practical tips, exercises, and real-life examples to help you overcome limiting beliefs and take action toward your financial goals. Here are six things I've learned:

  • Get Clear On Your Financial Goals: Set your financial goals and clarify why you want money, what you intend to spend it on, and how great it will feel once you finally have it.
  • Be Willing To Change: If you want to make more money, you must be willing to make changes, even if it pushes you out of your comfort zone.
  • Be Grateful For Everything: There is a positive way to look at everything, but it takes work. You can even be grateful for things you don't have by picturing what they will look like and letting yourself feel it.
  • Tack Decisive Action: Create a plan and break it down into small steps, but be flexible and open to new opportunities.
  • Invest In Things That Help You Grow Financially: You must spend money to make money. I'm investing in promoting my book, How To Develop A Brand Strategy: A Step-By-Step Guide. Be sure not to let the fear of spending keep you from your financial goal.
  • You Can Do Anything: Be patient and stay focused because you can do anything.

This quote from Jen Sincero sums up the book for me: "Everyone arrives on this planet with unique desires, gifts, and talents, and as you journey through life, your job is to discover what yours are, to nurture them and bloom them into the most authentic, gleeful, and badassiest version of yourself.”

Lisa Perry helps companies build leadership brands, driving loyal customers & delivering profitability. She does this through a process that builds brands consumers love. Her goal is to help companies develop, monetize, and grow their brands.

What books do you think every professional should read this year? Join the conversation inside Work It Daily's Executive Program.