What book do you recommend people read to help them through all the change?

Apr 24, 2020 - Joe Matar

We asked some leaders in the TA/HR space for some inspirational reads. Here's what they said!

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson

This is an oldie but goodie:  Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson.  I like it because it is a simple and quick read with a powerful message.  There are so many quick hitter quotes that are applicable to the crisis we are facing along with the rapidity of change.  "When you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you change course."  I feel that many of us resist change due to fear and uncertainty.  We like the cheese we already have.  COVID-19 has created the impetus for change that is forcing us to move past our fears and find new cheese!

- Brian White, Executive Director of Human Resources and Operations at Auburn-Washburn Unified School District 437

Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen

I loved Great by Choice when Stories Inc. was just starting, because it read like a guidebook for leaders navigating the unknown. It was filled with inspiring examples of companies who ultimately stuck to their values and prevailed. I'm re-reading to reinforce these concepts, and was further convinced when I reread the book description:  "Great by Choice is the result of a study of companies that rose to greatness... in environments characterized by big forces and rapid shifts that leaders could not predict or control." Yep. Great read for culture, business, and talent leaders right now.

- Lauryn Sargent, Cofounder and Partner at Stories Inc.

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink

I read Extreme Ownership, by Jocko Willink. It is a book on accountability, perspective, and leadership certainly. But also touches on how to lead with full accountability, honesty and how to handle crisis situations. It certainly puts things now in perspective since Jocko was a US Navy Seal and served several tours. I recommend his book to anyone in a leadership role.

- Justen Baxter, Strategic Sourcing Team Manager at SAIC

How Stella Saved the Farm by Chris Trimble and Vijay Govindarajan

I would recommend people reading a light but thoughtful book because something too heavy would be difficult to digest. A few years ago, my team and I read a book called How Stella Saved the Farm and I think it has lots of application in a time like this, but it’s also really an easy and quick read.  The whole point is that the different farm animals pitch in to find a different way for the farm to be successful using innovation.  I think that our farms and businesses today are having to think how they might operate differently to ensure survival and also give back to the greater good.   Where I have continued to be impressed today is when we use innovation to solve big problems, whether it is an NC Farm App that shows local farmers and the goods they sell or clothing manufacturers converting to make PPE or students at home using 3D printers to make masks. Ingenuity has always been our saving grace in this country.

- Jen Tracy, VP of Recruiting Solutions at Spectrum

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Great question here. I’m a HUGE fan of Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

McKeown suggests that we strictly focus and go “all in” on what is essential (less, but more) to get us to an objective, goal, etc. This makes sense during this time of chaos and uncertainty; distill down what is the highest of impact, and 10x your efforts to that goal using only what is essential. Huge fan.

- Blake J. Thiess, Director of Talent Acquisition at Prestige Care, Inc.

Most of us are finding there are just a few things that are truly essential given the shift in our lives during the pandemic. This book (a favorite from a few years back) is relevant more than ever. If you're looking for ways to only keep what is essential in your work and personal life once things start to pick back up again, there are so many tools and resources here to help you find your way.

- Jill Shabelman, Director of Client Services at Stories Inc.

Full Catastrophe Living by Jon Kabat-Zinn

This book focuses on the mind-body connection and how powerful mindfulness and meditation are to not just mental but also physical health and well-being. Full of scientific data and facts as well as real world stories, I find this the perfect topic for the world we are in right now. As a practitioner of meditation I have personally seen the benefits of the practice.

The Rabbit Effect by Kelli Harding

Also – The Rabbit Effect by Kelli Harding is also another good one. This is about how kindness in particular is beneficial to health and well-being. Lots of data and studies are shared along with more real-world stories.


- Jennifer Newbill, Director of University Relations and Recruitment at Dell

Staring Down the Wolf by Mark Divine

Of course, I am reading more than one book right now…in my spare time!

I recently had the opportunity to see a keynote by Mark Divine, retired Navy Seal and Founder of SEALFIT and Unbeatable Mind. He inspired me to purchase and read his book, Staring Down the Wolf. I was literally on the “Commit to Resiliency” chapter when we started really paying attention to this crisis. I finished the book but go back to that chapter often. His concept of the Five Plateaus is spot-on.

Pass It On  by Paul Vitale

For quick quotes that help me pause and reflect (in a nanosecond) is a book called “Pass It On”, quotations for all generations, compiled by Paul Vitale, another amazing speaker that I have had the pleasure of listening to. The quote by Theodore Roosevelt, “Do what you can where you are with what you have been given” seems quite relevant today!

- Theresa MazzaroSenior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Suburban Hospital, a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine

Poke the Box by Seth Godin

If you are not in leadership yet, but want to be. I'd recommend "Poke the Box" by Seth Godin. It's a great book about picking yourself and not just waiting there with your hand raised to get picked.

If you are in leadership already and want to get better. "Extreme Ownership" by Jocko Willink & Leif Babin is phenomenal! It teaches you how to not only take ownership for the success of your team, but also for the success of your boss and your peers. The book is great, but if you go with the Audiobook it is narrated by the authors. Who are two navy seals. So you really hear the war stories from their own voices and it is super engaging.

- Brandon Prideaux, Director of Talent Acquisition at HCA Healthcare


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