What would summer be without a sun lounger, a parasol and a good book? (Okay and a tall alcoholic drink with plenty of ice cubes as well.) We’ll leave you to sort your own drinking and seating arrangements but here’s the Bec Development guide to the best summer reading.
We asked colleagues and associates to come up with two book choices – one that delivers business benefits and another just for fun.
Neuroscience is increasingly being applied in a business context. Our MD and founder Helen Tiffany suggests Alive at Work: The Neuroscience of Helping Your People Love What They Do by Daniel M. Cable (Harvard Business Review Press).
“It’s starting point is that disengagement at work isn’t a motivational problem but a biological one and looks at ways to encourage creativity from that starting point,” explains Helen. “It will give you a fresh take on why people do what they do and why they don’t do what you hoped they would.”
Her fun read is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (HarperCollins), the movie rights for which have been bought by Reese Witherspoon. “A funny and sometimes moving account of what it might be like if you’re on the spectrum. At least that’s what I read into it.”
Tackling your inner voice
Our very own Sue Feehan is an author in her own right. A journalist, university lecturer, business writing mentor, and screenwriter, her latest book – Make Punctuation Your Bitch: Punctuation wrangling without the fuss (Writer At Work) has just been published.
Her business book recommendation is The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield (Black Irish Entertainment LLC). “This is a tough love book about resistance and fear — the demons that stop us from getting things done. It tackles the voice in the back of our head that tells us to slow down, to put something on a back burner, or perhaps forget about it completely because we might fail or because people might point and laugh at us for daring too much. If it doesn’t make you wince when you read it, you need to read it again.”
Her fun book is Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard (Pheonix), which has been made into both a film and a television series. “A short, fun book by a gifted writer. A cynical, caustic story about a mob guy who shows a mixed bag of Hollywood oddballs how the world really works. Definitely a story for our times, as Hollywood’s tinsel has become heavily tarnished recently.”
Bec Development associate Eoin Cannon focuses on increasing individual and team resourcefulness. He recommends Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck by Chip and Dan Heath (Arrow Books). “The authors show how we react to communications using brilliant examples. They have a simple model and great resources on their website too. It’s also unexpectedly funny. It demystifies marketing and we are all in the communications business now.’’
Eoin’s fun recommendation is What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami (Vintage Books). “Lovely musings on running by an amazing Japanese runner-writer. His tale of doing an ultra-marathon – 50km long – put paid to any long distance running ideas I had.”
Value driven communication
Greg Keen delivers sales, negotiation and presentation training for us. His business book recommendation is Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek (Penguin).
“A book that shows how a value-driven communication model is often more effective with colleagues than one primarily driven by facts alone. It’s also a fantastic pitch structure for salespeople.”
His fun read is And Then We Came to The End by Joshua Ferris (Viking). “Hilarious satire on a US advertising agency in meltdown. Very recognisable tropes and situations on this side of the pond too. It’s narrated in first person plural which is unusual and the writing is wonderful.”
Greg is has two novels of his own out: Soho Dead and Soho Ghosts (Thomas & Mercer). The third in the series, Soho Angel, is out at the end of this year.
Emma Johnson, Bec Development’s Client Service & Programme Director recommends Radical Candor: How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean by Kim Scott (Pan Macmillan). “A great read about getting the balance right between brutal and aggressive communication versus the overly empathetic avoiding what you really mean. Designed to help people be authentic managers through better more honest conversations. This book is great as it is written by someone with real life experience in roles at companies such as Google and Apple.”
Her “fun” book is Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (Barnes & Noble). “Loved this book so much when I read it for the first time, I started it from the beginning again as soon I finished the last page. The power of storytelling is so rich and brought to life through narrator Nellie Dean’s re-telling of the intricacies of history, legacy and relationships.”
Building confidence and distracting you inner critic
How to Be Yourself by clinical psychologist and award-winning podcaster Ellen Hendriksen (St.Martin’s Press) is recommended by Zena Everett, whose expertise is in career management and productivity. (We also recommend Zena’s latest book, Crazy Busy: How to do more in a day than you do now in a week (Filament Publishing), which crams tips on how to banish procrastination, make your emails a sprint, shorten waffly meetings and get your priority tasks done, in a mere 35 pages.
“Using practical tips, case studies and latest science, Ellen Hendriksen explains how to build confidence, distracting our sneery inner critic that reminds us we are never good enough” says Zena. “Ideal for those of us who feel anxious in unfamiliar situations, such as speaking out in meetings, or are nervous of putting our hand up for new opportunities in fear of being judged or not fitting in.”
Her fun read is This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay (Picador). “Painfully funny stories by a junior doctor in obstetrics and gynaecology. A tale of 97 hour weeks, cancelled holidays, bodily fluids and ‘lost’ objects.”
Children’s book for business minds
Suzanne Hodgins, our Business Development Manager, recommends a book that is actually aimed at children: “But the principles hold true in business”. You Are Awesome: Find Your Confidence and Dare to be Brilliant at (Almost) Anything is by Matthew Syed (Hachette). “I read this book with my mildly dyslexic son with a view to showing him that anyone can be awesome and that with the right mind-set you can achieve anything. The same is true in the workplace.”
When it comes to something to read for fun, she agrees with Zena and chooses This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay. “A rollercoaster of hilarious highs and depressing lows about our beleaguered NHS. Possibly don’t read this if you’re pregnant.”
The psychology of persuasion
Anne Caborn, Head of Content Strategy at Bec Development recommends Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (HarperCollins); “It really speaks to the heart of selling and influencing. For fun, read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson (Harper Collins). It’s mad as a box of frogs but it’s interesting how a short book can pack so much in – a lesson there for presentations and overly fulsome emails I think).”
Joanna Head our Operations Manager refused to be drawn on a business book but heartily recommends Dead Simple by Peter James (Pan Macmillan). This was the first case for fictional detective Roy Grace. “I was so caught up in it that I hated to put it down so I kept my copy by the kettle and would snatch a quick read of it while I was waiting for the water to boil.”
We’ve put some quick links to the books on Amazon below…