Book Summary: Three keys to unlock your influence.

Book cover: Influencer

Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change

by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

The premise of this book is that leaders are agents of change. Whether they’re heading an organization, leading a social change movement, or parenting, genuine leaders are always trying to create something better and more impactful. And to do that, influence is the most critical tool in the leader’s tool belt.

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Book Summary: Motivation for the 21st century

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

by Daniel H. Pink

The premise of this book is that motivation practices in many organizations have yet to catch up with our expanding understanding of human nature. We’re still using industrial-age management techniques while trying to succeed in a knowledge-age world.

Using psychological research and case studies, Dan Pink outlines three levels of motivation, which he names Motivation 1.0 (based on our survival drive), Motivation 2.0 (based on our drive to seek rewards and avoid punishment), and Motivation 3.0 (our drive to seek autonomy, mastery, and purpose).

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Book Summary: Proposals for a TL;DR world.

The One-Page Proposal: How To Get Your Business Pitch Onto One Persuasive Page

by Patrick G. Riley

Do you have an idea or initiative that you want to get out into the world? A one-page proposal can be a great way to develop and communicate the concept quickly and effectively to potential allies and supporters.

The One-Page Proposal can help ensure that your one-pager hits the mark. Written by longtime entrepreneur Patrick Riley, the book covers the structure of a successful one-page proposal and its development process. It also includes many examples.

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Book Summary: Reap the rewards of taking smarter notes.

How to Take Smart Notes: One Simple Technique to Boost Writing, Learning and Thinking

by Sönke Ahrens

Better note-taking leads to better thinking, learning, and writing. That’s the premise of How to Take Smart Notes. But it’s not the disposable notes that most of us take, nor is it the haphazard note-taking process many of us use.

You’ll be introduced to Niklas Luhmann’s slip-box note-taking method. Luhmann, a lawyer/civil servant turned university professor, by the end of his career, had published 58 books and 400+ articles aided by his slip-box. (Some sources say 70 books, including those published posthumously from work in progress.) He wasn’t just prolific but influential. He’s considered one of the most important social theorists of the 20th century and a prominent thinker on systems theory.

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Book Summary: Expand your memory. Boost your thinking.

Building a Second Brain: A Proven Method to Organize Your Digital Life and Unlock Your Creative Potential

by Tiago Forte

Every day we face a flood of information. Some of it is useful. Much of it not. Some of us try to hoard as much as we can. Others let the bulk of it slide because they don’t have good filters for what’s useful or they’re too overwhelmed to deal with it. But, embedded in what’s slipping by are bits of information—gems—that could be invaluable for improving our relationships, advancing our careers, or developing our organizations.

The hoarders don’t fare better. Much of what they collect (warehouse) molders out of sight and certainly out of mind. In both cases, the gems are out of reach of the only place they could be useful, our attention. What if we could harness the power of technology to deal with the onslaught, capture the useful stuff, put it to work or organize it for future use, and ultimately benefit from the wealth of information we face every day? That’s the question this book answers.

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Book Summary: Better engagement = better outcomes (and reviews).

The Workshop Survival Guide: How to design and teach educational workshops that work every time

by Rob Fitzpatrick and Devin Hunt

The Workshop Survival Guide is a straightforward guide to workshop design and facilitation. Author Rob Fitzpatrick teaches early-stage startups how to get customer feedback. Co-author Devin Hunt teaches mid-stage entrepreneurs on a variety of business topics. They’ve created and delivered workshops for audiences ranging from professionals to executives, undergrads to MBAs, disadvantaged youths to others.

The book has three sections. Part one covers design fundamentals. Part two is about facilitation. The appendix describes additional teaching formats and an example of a process for developing a new exercise.

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Book Summary: Time management should start here.

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

by Oliver Burkeman

Four Thousand Weeks puts everything else you read or learn about time management and productivity into a better, more meaningful context. Don’t read it; instead, experience it. Let it have the serious impact on your life that your life deserves.

After basking in the warm promises of ever so many other books on time management, this one felt like a plunge into the icy water. Shocking but clarifying at the same time. A leap from the warm, comforting pretense that, if we find just the right combination of tools, we can get it all done into the cold reality that we can’t. And by the way, here’s a reminder that life is absurdly short, so what will you do with it?

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Book Summary: A manual for conversations that matter.

Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, Third Edition

by Joseph Grenny, Kerry Patterson, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, and Emily Gregory

Relationships, careers, organizations, and communities benefit when the people involved have the skills to openly and successfully discuss high-stakes, emotional, controversial issues — when they have the skills to engage in and guide crucial conversations successfully.

Crucial Conversations walks you through an entire toolset for staying cool and getting results during these challenging conversations. In addition to the opening chapters that describe crucial conversations, the book is organized into three parts. Part one covers what to do before a conversation. Part two addresses how to manage crucial conversations, including managing yourself. Part three outlines how to wrap up crucial conversations and move from dialogue to action.

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Book Summary: Find time for your most valuable work.

Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

by Cal Newport

The state of many of our workplaces seems to be geared toward busyness rather than productivity. We have to run fast to keep up with the barrage of emails and chat notifications, not to mention the stream of seemingly pointless meetings. They make us feel productive but, in the big picture, do little to advance our careers, especially when we stop to consider what they displace.

We long for stretches of time to focus on the things that will make a difference—projects and breakthroughs where we can do our best work. The work that we know we are capable of if only we could find the space for it amid the demands and distractions.

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Book Summary: Find your focus.

The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth About Extraordinary Results

by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

The ONE Thing answers the question, what’s the path to success? Opportunities are everywhere, but that abundance is overwhelming. Plus, we swim against the tide of myths about success that keep us playing small. This book explains how focusing on your ONE Thing allows you to do less while having more, achieve exceptional results, and live an extraordinary life.

The key tool is the “focusing question:” What’s the ONE Thing I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary? It’s a disarmingly simple question that can have a profound impact when applied. It has the power to keep you laser-focused on what matters most — for your long-term goals and any area of your life.

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